Out of all the shadowy research projects conducted by government agencies, MKUltra remains one of the most controversial and mysterious. It’s known that the project was launched in 1953 by CIA director Allen Dulles as a means of developing mind-altering or mind-controlling drugs and techniques for use in interrogation of Soviet bloc spies. The project’s ultimate goal was reported to be the development of a “truth drug” which could aid in extracting information from persons of interest and then wipe the memories of these extractions from their minds.
Much of the work of MKUltra remains unknown, as it’s believed that the vast majority of MKUltra-related documents were destroyed in 1973 amid the fallout from the Watergate scandal. However, close to 20,000 documents which were incorrectly filed alongside financial records were unearthed by a FOIA in 1977 and investigated by the US Senate, leading to disclosure of the CIA’s domestic mind-control project. Many of MKUltra activities were deemed illegal, as they were conducted without test subjects’ consent or knowledge. It’s alleged that dozens of participants were unknowingly administered LSD, leading to at least one death.
While bringing justice to those responsible for this abuse of power has proven difficult due to the fact that much of the documentation surrounding MKUltra was destroyed decades ago, the records of one McGill University professor have led to a class-action lawsuit filed by the families of alleged victims of MKUltra. The lawsuit claims that Dr. Ewan Cameron, a psychologist at McGill’s Alan Memorial Institute in Montreal, conducted mind-control experiments involving LSD and electroshock therapy on unwitting patients who were seeking treatment for minor psychological issues.
“These were innocent people that went in for mild depression. They came out completely ravaged and their life was ruined,” says Marlene Levenson, who claims her aunt was an unwitting victim of Dr. Cameron’s MKUltra experiments. Many of the other plaintiffs in the suit cite similar cases of family members seeking routine treatments only to be subjected to some of the most experimental, controversial, and destructive brain-altering techniques available at the time.
Alan Stein, the lawyer representing the victims, says he “can claim moral damages as a result of the experiments when Dr. Cameron used these people as guinea pigs,” and believes the victims’ families are due compensation and a public apology. Neither the Quebec provincial government nor the Canadian federal government have publicly commented upon the case.