May 03, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Mind-Control: It Wasn't Just About MK-Ultra

Today's article is a follow-up to my previous one on MK-Ultra. This one demonstrates that the program was not the only secret project of its type. While MKUltra was certainly the most infamous of all the CIA-initiated mind-control programs, it was very far from being an isolated one. Indeed, numerous sub-projects, post-projects and operations initiated by other agencies were brought to the Committee’s attention. One was Project Chatter, which the Committee described thus: "Project Chatter was a Navy program that began in the fall of 1947. Responding to reports of amazing results achieved by the Soviets in using truth drugs, the program focused on the identification and the testing of such drugs for use in interrogations and in the recruitment of agents. The research included laboratory experiments on animals and human subjects involving Anabasis aphylla, scopolamine, and mescaline in order to determine their speech-inducing qualities. Overseas experiments were conducted as part of the project. The project expanded substantially during the Korean War, and ended shortly after the war, in 1953.”

Then there was Projects Bluebird and Artichoke. Again, the Committee dug deep and uncovered some controversial and eye-opening data and testimony: “The earliest of the CIA’s major programs involving the use of chemical and biological agents, Project Bluebird, was approved by the Director in 1950. Its objectives were: (a) discovering means of conditioning personnel to prevent unauthorized extraction of information from them by known means, (b) investigating the possibility of control of an individual by application of special interrogation techniques, (c) memory enhancement, and (d) establishing defensive means for preventing hostile control of Agency personnel." The Committee added with respect to Bluebird: “As a result of interrogations conducted overseas during the project, another goal was added - the evaluation of offensive uses of unconventional interrogation techniques, including hypnosis and drugs. In August 1951, the project was renamed Artichoke. Project Artichoke included in-house experiments on interrogation techniques, conducted ‘under medical and security controls which would ensure that no damage was done to individuals who volunteer for the experiments. Overseas interrogations utilizing a combination of sodium pentothal and hypnosis after physical and psychiatric examinations of the subjects were also part of Artichoke.”

Thousands of CIA "mind-control" papers from the 1950s-era are now in the public domain

Interestingly, the Committee noted that: “Information about Project Artichoke after the fall of 1953 is scarce. The CIA maintains that the project ended in 1956, but evidence suggests that Office of Security and Office of Medical Services use of ‘special interrogation’ techniques continued for several years thereafter.” MKNaomi was another major CIA program in this area. In 1967, the CIA summarized the purposes of MKNaomi thus: “(a) To provide for a covert support base to meet clandestine operational requirements. (b) To stockpile severely incapacitating and lethal materials for the specific use of TSD [Technical Services Division]. (c) To maintain in operational readiness special and unique items for the dissemination of biological and chemical materials. (d) To provide for the required surveillance, testing, upgrading, and evaluation of materials and items in order to assure absence of defects and complete predictability of results to be expected under operational conditions.” Under an agreement reached with the Army in 1952, the Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick was to assist CIA in developing, testing, and maintaining biological agents and delivery systems – some of which were directly related to mind-control experimentation. By this agreement, the CIA finally acquired the knowledge, skill, and facilities of the Army to develop biological weapons specifically suited for CIA use.

The Committee also noted: “SOD developed darts coated with biological agents and pills containing several different biological agents which could remain potent for weeks or months. SOD developed a special gun for firing darts coated with a chemical which could allow CIA agents to incapacitate a guard dog, enter an installation secretly, and return the dog to consciousness when leaving. SOD scientists were unable to develop a similar incapacitant [sic] for humans. SOD also physically transferred to CIA personnel biological agents in ‘bulk’ form, and delivery devices, including some containing biological agents.” In addition to the CIA’s interest in using biological weapons and mind-control against humans, it also asked SOD to study use of biological agents against crops and animals. In its 1967 memorandum, the CIA stated: “Three methods and systems for carrying out a covert attack against crops and causing severe crop loss have been developed and evaluated under field conditions. This was accomplished in anticipation of a requirement which was later developed but was subsequently scrubbed just prior to putting into action.”   

The Committee concluded with respect to MKNaomi that the project was “…terminated in 1970. On November 25, 1969, President Nixon renounced the use of any form of biological weapons that kill or incapacitate and ordered the disposal of existing stocks of bacteriological weapons. On February 14, 1970, the President clarified the extent of his earlier order and indicated that toxins - chemicals that are not living organisms but are produced by living organisms - were considered biological weapons subject to his previous directive and were to be destroyed. Although instructed to relinquish control of material held for the CIA by SOD, a CIA scientist acquired approximately 11 grams of shellfish toxin from SOD personnel at Fort Detrick which were stored in a little-used CIA laboratory where it went undetected for five years.” Recognizing, however, that when it came to mind-control and manipulation, MKUltra was the one project that more than any other was worth pursuing as part of its efforts to determine the extent to which the CIA had bent and broken the law and flouted the rights of citizens, the Committee had far more to say on the operation: Time and again the Committee returned to Project MKUltra. Not surprising, as it was, after all, the principal CIA program involving the research and development of chemical and biological agents, and was, in the words of the Committee: “…concerned with the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.”

The Inspector General’s survey of MKUltra, in 1963, noted the following reasons for the profound level of sensitivity that surrounded the program:  “Research in the manipulation of human behavior is considered by many authorities in medicine and related fields to be professionally unethical, therefore the reputation of professional participants in the MKUltra program are on occasion in jeopardy. Some MKUltra activities raise questions of legality implicit in the, original charter. A final phase of the testing of MKUltra products places the rights and interests of U.S. citizens in jeopardy. Public disclosure of some aspects of MKUltra activity could induce serious adverse reaction in U.S. public opinion. as well as stimulate offensive and defensive action in this field on the part of foreign intelligence services.” Over the at least ten-year life-span of the program, many “additional avenues to the control of human behavior” were designated as being wholly appropriate for investigation under the MKUltra charter. These included radiation, electroshock, various fields of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology, graphology, harassment substances, and paramilitary devices and materials." Needless to say, this was a grim list.

(Nick Redfern)

A 1955 MKUltra document provides a good example of the scope of the effort to understand the effects of mind-altering substances on human beings, and lists those same substances as follows. In the CIA’s own words: "Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public. Substances which increase the efficiency of mentation and perception. Materials which will prevent or counteract the intoxicating effect of alcohol. Materials which will promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol. Materials which will produce the signs and symptoms of recognized diseases in a reversible way so that they may be used for malingering, etc. Materials which will render the induction of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness. Substances which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so-called “brain-washing”. Materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use."

The CIA continued: "Physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use. 
Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc. Substances which will produce pure euphoria with no subsequent let-down. Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced. A material which will cause mental confusion of such a type that the individual under its influence will find it difficult to maintain a fabrication under questioning. Substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts. Substances which promote weakness or distortion of the eyesight or hearing faculties, preferably without permanent effects. A knockout pill which can surreptitiously be administered in drinks, food, cigarettes, as an aerosol, etc., which will be safe to use, provide a maximum of amnesia, and be suitable for use by agent types on an ad hoc basis. A material which can be surreptitiously administered by the above routes and which in very small amounts will make it impossible for a man to perform any physical activity whatsoever. In other words, when it came to mind-manipulation, more than half a century ago, the CIA already had all bases covered."

Moving on: "A special procedure, designated MKDelta, was established to govern the use of MKUltra materials when specifically utilized in overseas operations. Such materials were used on a number of occasions. According to the Committee: “Because MKUltra records were destroyed, it is impossible to reconstruct the operational use of MKUltra materials by the CIA overseas; it has been determined that the use of these materials abroad began in 1953, and possibly as early as 1950.” The Committee expanded further: “Drugs were used primarily as an aid to interrogations, but MKUltra/MKDelta materials were also used for harassment, discrediting, or disabling purposes. According to an Inspector General Survey of the Technical Services Division of the CIA in 1957 - an inspection which did not discover the MKUltra project involving the surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting, non-volunteer subjects - the CIA had developed six drugs for operational use and they had been used in six different operations on a total of thirty-three subjects. By 1963 the number of operations and subjects had increased substantially.” 

 Aside from the CIA, the Committee learned that the Army was up to its neck in mind-control-related projects too. In its 1977 report, the Committee wrote: "There were three major phases in the Army’s testing of LSD. In the first, LSD was administered to more than 1,000 American soldiers who volunteered to be subjects in chemical warfare experiments. In the second phase, Material Testing Program EA 1729, 95 volunteers received LSD in clinical experiments designed to evaluate potential intelligence uses of the drug. In the third phase, Projects Third Chance and Derby Hat, 16 unwitting non-volunteer subjects were interrogated after receiving LSD as part of operational field tests.” But what of the post-MKUltra era: did the official world really cease its operations and destroy its files en-masse, in 1973, as had been alleged? Probably not: In a 1977 interview, fourteen-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti stated that the CIA’s claim that MKUltra was abandoned was nothing more than a “cover story.”

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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