April 13, 1953: CIA Mind-Control Program Launched!

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A Brief History

On April 13, 1953, Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles signed the order authorizing Project MKUltra, research into how to use mind control drugs against Soviet and Chinese targets during the Cold War.

Digging Deeper

During the Cold War, the US and the Western democracies engaged in a struggle for world domination against the Communist countries, mainly the Soviet Union and China.

The Korean war was just wrapping up at the time, and tales of US servicemen that had been taken prisoner and “brainwashed” were terrifying the country!  Obviously, we needed our own program to counter theirs, and rather than doing it the old fashioned way (?) we were going to use cutting edge technology, especially as to drugs.

Although there had been rumors about the program, the first substantial information became public in 1977 when 20,000 related files were released under the Freedom of Information Act, and in 2001 when more information became available as it was declassified.

Starting right after World War II, US researchers consulted ex-Nazi doctors and psychiatrists and studied the Nazi files for any information that could be put to use in mind-control applications.  Drugs such as LSD were front and center, but the use of radiation and biological “treatments” were also experimented with, sometimes on volunteers and often on unsuspecting human guinea pigs!  Various forms of torture were studied, as was hypnosis, verbal abuse, sexual embarrassment and a host of things we are not too proud of today! (Some of these techniques were apparently used against prisoners in the “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

This program was a massive ongoing effort, and universities and other public and private entities were involved in the research, sometimes knowing who and what was behind it and sometimes not. Well over 100 projects and nearly 100 institutions were involved!  This practice went on until finally ended (or was it?) in 1973.  Not just unwitting Americans were experimented on without their consent, but Canadians too!

In 1964 the focus became a search for the elusive “truth serum” and the name of the program was changed to MKSearch. LSD was not the only drug experimented with, and hard corps drugs such as morphine, heroin, psilocybin, mescaline and even marijuana were used! (It would appear not many drugs were not experimented with!)

Famous subjects of the CIA’s drug experiments include Ted Kaczynski (The UNABOMBER) and Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)!  Numerous other people have claimed to be willing or unwilling participants in the studies, and conspiracy  theorists add more to the potential list.

Movies such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962 and 2004), The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009), and Jacob’s Ladder (1990) and their associated books deal with the subject of secret government projects concerning mind-control.

Many other programs before, during and perhaps after MKUltra dealt with related types of research, and though the US government claims the research has stopped, we have no way of knowing if it really has!

Do the potential benefits of these programs outweigh the invasion of privacy and possible harm to human test subjects?  Let us know what you think!

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Historical Evidence

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.