If you have not heard of Project MKUltra, then you are in for a treat, my friend. Most commonly known as the CIA’s mind control program, this is by far one of the most controversial human experimentation projects ever conducted in the world. It might just be the most controversial ever conducted inside the United States. From the early 1950’s until the Watergate fiasco, the CIA conducted a barrage of experiments involving human test subjects, with the intent of finding a way to control the human mind.
That sounds a lot like a horror or action movie plot, doesn’t it? That is because a lot of movies and television shows have actually been based on the information that was released from Project MKUltra over the years. For example, all of the Jason Bourne books and films were based on project MKUltra experiments and techniques. Of course, The X-Files had an episode dedicated to MKUltra too. The movie The Men Who Stare at Goats is also based on MKUltra experiments. Remember The Killing Room? That whole film built its cornerstone on MKUltra facts. More recently, we have the juggernaut example of Stranger Things. Where do you think the creators of the show got the idea for the experiments that were conducted on Eleven before the show began?
Yes, it has mostly become pop fiction at this point in time, but Project MKUltra was a dangerous illegal operation conducted by the CIA in America’s home turf. And just so you won’t get lost in the interesting parts, we are here to disclose 15 chilling myths (and facts) about the CIA’s project MKUltra.
15. Operation Midnight Climax
To start off this list, we decided to go with our favorite Project MKUltra operation. We have to admit that in all of the years this project was active, they could not come up with a better operation than Operation Midnight Climax. This little CIA experiment consisted of a group of operatives using a San Francisco brothel as an experimentation site.
What the CIA agents did there was use street walkers to lure prospective clients into a building that was under CIA surveillance. Once they were in there they gave their customers heavy doses of LSD just so the CIA people could watch from a two-way mirror as the effects played out in the unsuspecting test subjects. So, if you are an older man who visited 225 Chestnut St. in San Francisco between the years of 1955 and 1965, there is a good chance that the CIA did the same to you.
14. Where Experiments Were Conducted
You just heard about the location of Operation Midnight Climax. But clandestine brothels were not the only place in which the CIA experimented on unsuspecting human subjects. As a matter of fact, once information about the project surfaced, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who participated in the hearings in which the project was scrutinized by the Senate, said that several American institutions were compromised because of Project MKUltra. Apparently, as many as 86 universities or otherwise respectable research centers were involved with this black-op. Not only universities but also prisons and hospitals were used to conduct experiments.
If you think that the mere idea of these places conducting secret CIA experiments is bad enough, get ready for your stomach to turn. In some of the hospitals that participated in Project MKUltra, terminal cancer patients were used as test subjects. The reasoning behind it? Well, some of the scientists believe that the experiments would have long-lasting and even deadly effects, so why not use them on people who were about to die anyway? That’s just disgusting.
13. The Purpose
We have glossed over the purpose of Project MKUltra. It is commonly known as the CIA’s mind control program, but there is some background to why the CIA would want to do it. Sure, those of us who are more prone to believe or create conspiracy theories would not think twice about the idea of the CIA wanting to be able to control people’s minds just for the hell of it, but for everyone else, they gave a “good” reason.
“The development of a comprehensive capability in this field of covert chemical and biological warfare gives us a thorough knowledge of the enemy’s theoretical potential, thus enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are.”
That was the answer given to investigators and the public during the U.S. Senate investigation that occurred in the 1970’s. The enemies mentioned were supposed to be the Russian and the Chinese. Apparently, the CIA had reason to believe that the communist powers had already developed a successful mind control program and that if the U.S. didn’t follow suit, it would be left behind.
12. George H White
Now, we have to assume that a lot of the agents who were involved with Project MKUltra might not have agreed with what they were doing, but it was their job, so they didn’t have much of a choice. That was not the case with the man who spearheaded Operation Midnight Climax in San Francisco. George H White probably had the most “entertaining” job when it comes to being a head of a MKUltra experimentation site. After all, his job was pretty much that of a sober friend watching out for his drunk buddies during a night out.
The problem was that White was not really cut out for the job of watching other people under the influence; mostly because he ended up taking a whole lot of LSD during the operation as well. And for lack of a better expression, this led to a complete sh*t show. Some neighbors of the experimentation site claimed to have constantly watched as “men with guns in shoulder straps [were] chasing after women in various states of undress.”
11. The Canadian Front
Here we get to the international part of Project MKUltra. People in the U.S. had it bad, but it came nothing close to what happened to the individuals who were experimented on in the Canadian site of Project MKUltra. Apparently, the tests conducted in the Canadian front were so bad that the CIA didn’t even want to risk conducting them in American soil. And the man responsible for coming up with these terrifying experiments was a Scottish psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Donald Cameron.
Prior to joining MKUltra, Dr. Cameron had been experimenting with the idea of reprogramming the human mind. He also delved into the field of erasing memories. Needless to say, the CIA put this guy on their payroll without a second thought. It is believed that some of the experiments that Dr. Cameron conducted as the head of the Canadian front of Project MKUltra involved hypnosis and drug-induced comas. For example, there were rumors that he used electroshock therapy on patients but with the voltage reaching even 40 times the regular potency. There were also rumors that mentioned sensory deprivation experiments.
10. Files Destroyed
If there is one event in American history that the CIA and other government agencies that conducted secret operations despise the most, it has to be the Watergate scandal. After Nixon got caught doing what he did, everything went downhill when it comes to secret government operations. After Watergate, the people actually started to care about what the government was doing. And Project MKUltra was such a bad idea in human rights and ethical parameters that as soon as Watergate hit the news, the head of Project MKUltra ordered everyone to destroy everything that had to do with the project.
Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for everyone else, they did not manage to destroy everything, and more than 20,000 documents that mentioned or were about Project MKUltra were later discovered in investigations. Unfortunately, most of the documents were about financial aspects of the project and not about the scientific branch of MKUltra, but they were enough to spark an investigation that would change people’s perspective of the CIA.
9. Robert Hunter
One of the things that you will find out after a little bit of research is that there were some famous faces involved with Project MKUltra. One of them was actually a victim of the secret experimental project. Robert Hunter, a musician who constantly collaborated with Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, was one of the test subjects for Project MKUltra.
Hunter later revealed that he was getting paid to take psychedelics for research, but the problem was that he had no idea what these were for. His testimony and an interview he gave to Reuters helped shed some light on at least one of the ways that the CIA used LSD and psychedelics to experiment on their subjects. Apparently, after taking the drugs, the scientists would continuously check to see if Hunter was more susceptible to hypnosis while under the influence of the psychedelics. Let this be an example of why you should ask for and read a contract before agreeing to become a subject for experimental research.
8. Sirhan Sirhan
Okay, take a deep breath because we are about to get deep into conspiracy theory territory here. Do you remember Robert Kennedy? In 1968, he won the California Democratic primary and was on target to challenge Richard Nixon for the chance to work in the Oval Office. However, just hours later, Kennedy was murdered by a lone gunman.
A 24-year-old Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan was instantly tagged as the murderer by countless witnesses, who saw him firing at Kennedy. But here is where things start to get weird. According to the autopsy, the shot that killed Kennedy was fired from behind, while witnesses saw Sirhan fire in front of Kennedy. There were also more bullet holes in the place than Sirhan’s gun could hold. And here is the weirdest part. Sirhan didn’t remember shooting Kennedy. Not even under hypnosis did he remember.
This led several psychiatrists to believe that the Palestinian young man was a “hypnotically programmed assassin.” After the details of Project MKUltra were released, it didn’t take long for conspiracy theorists to connect the dots and claim that the CIA assassinated Kennedy. But did they?
7. Dr. Frank Olson
After watching a bunch of action movies and reading conspiracy theories, it is hard to deny that it must be exciting to be involved in something like MKUltra. However, there is a downside. Sometimes, there is no way out. That is supposedly what happened to Dr. Frank Olson. After working in Project MKUltra for some time, the doctor seemed to be veering away from the path that the CIA allegedly wanted him to take.
The beginning of the end for Dr. Olson started when he attended a conference with other scientists in a cabin at Deep Creek Lake, Maryland in November of 1953. During that conference, the researchers were drugged with LSD (the irony, right?). While most of his colleagues came unscathed from this little experimentation by their bosses, Dr. Olson started having psychotic episodes, and it was deemed that he needed medical treatment.
It was arranged for him to get that treatment in New York, but before ever getting to the facility, Dr. Olson spent a night in a hotel room with one of his superiors. Everything seemed fine, and the doctor even asked the front desk for a wake-up call for the next morning. However, at 2:30 AM, the doctor “jumped” through the glass window of the 10th-floor hotel room and fell to his death.
6. The Unabomber
Most of our younger readers might not remember, but back in the late 1970’s until 1995, there was a span of killings carried by a man with quite the talent for making bombs. He became known as the Unabomber, but his real name is Theodore John Kaczynski. Before he became a domestic terrorist, who killed three people and injured 23 more, Ted Kaczynski was quite the bright mathematician and scholar. He was considered by many as a child prodigy and was accepted to Harvard College by the age of 16.
What many people don’t know is that during Kaczynski’s time as a researcher at Harvard from 1959 to 1962, the school was allegedly performing experiments for the CIA’s Project MKUltra.
Now, no one has proven nor known for sure if the Unabomber was ever involved with activity from Project MKUltra, but how big of a stretch is that? Do you think there is even a chance that the Unabomber was a test subject? Sorry, we might’ve drank the Kool-Aid for a second there.
5. Ken Kesey
You know how some people say that there is a silver lining to everything? That is one of those sayings that the majority of us just dismiss, saying this is what glass-half-full people have to say to make you feel better. But things like Project MKUltra may sometimes lead us to believe that there might be good things that come out from terrible situations. Now, whether you agree or not with that scenario will depend a lot on what you think about the hippie movement. Yeah, hippies weren’t born and didn’t die at Woodstock. The hippie movement might have actually started with Project MKUltra, believe it or not.
We say that because one of the people who is acknowledged as a primary idealist behind the rise of hippies in America is Ken Kesey. Now, you guess where this guy started taking LSD.
This is one conspiracy theory that will be tough, if not impossible to prove, but one that makes some sense. The Jonestown massacre was by far one of the worst events in recent memory when it comes to subjects like religious freedom and people being coerced to do bad things. There is no doubt that Jim Jones was one hell of a public speaker, but some people don’t believe that Jones’ tongue was the only thing behind the establishment of the Jonestown colony in Guyana and the ultimate fate of the people who were unfortunate enough to agree to go to that place.
Some people have even claimed that Jonestown was nothing more than another Project MKUltra test site and that Jim Jones was a secret CIA operative. Now, that sounds like a whole bunch of BS. But some disturbing facts linked the CIA to weird things that happened in Jonestown. The most bizarre of these facts was the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan in a visit to Guyana. Of course, Ryan was an avid CIA critic.
3. It Was All For Nothing
You know what the worst part about Project MKUltra is? It is the fact that it was all for nothing. If at least the CIA operatives and scientists had managed to pull something out of the disgusting and disgraceful experiments they performed on unwilling and unknowing citizens, if they had attained any solid results, they would at least have something to show. But no, as far as the general public was told, the decades of experiments were for nothing.
According to the man who ran the show, Sidney Gottlieb, all of the experiments conducted during Project MKUltra were nothing but a big fat waste of time. Not even the invasive and terrifying experiments carried out by Dr. Cameron in Canada heeded any solid results that would at least explain why this whole thing even happened. Now, there is the genuine possibility that these guys managed to do something and just decided not to disclose it to the public, which is about as scary a prospect as the idea of them utterly failing in the first place.
2. Did It Actually Stop?
Now, here is where we get to the big question that will probably never be answered unless some Edward Snowden kind of person involved with the project decides to come forward and is not assassinated before he or she can do it. Is Project MKUltra really over?
The government says it’s over, the CIA says they don’t do this kind of thing anymore, but why should anybody believe that? That seems to be the consensus in the forums and discussion boards online. Those are some fascinating reads if you have the time to check out Reddit and read the theories of people on how experiments like those conducted in Project MKUltra might still be happening. Either way, there is very little that the government or news agencies can do to stop people from thinking like this. The only way folks would really believe something like this was not still happening would be if it didn’t happen in the first place. The idea for conspiracy theorists is that if they did it once, why wouldn’t they do it again?
1. No One Was Held Accountable
Another eerie fact about Project MKUltra is that no one was really held accountable for what they did. As far as we know, there were a pair of Project MKUltra lawsuits that reached as high as the United States Supreme Court in the 1980’s. But unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court of the time decided to rule in favor of the government instead of making anyone accountable for what happened to the many citizens who suffered a terrible invasion of privacy, to say the least.
Not only was no one was held responsible, but the names of the people involved with Project MKUltra that were discovered because of the documents that CIA operatives were not able to destroy were ordered to be kept secret by the Supreme Court. Most notably, all the scientists, institutions, and other researchers who took part in the secret operation had their identities kept secret. And the Supreme Court decision is final. Not even through a Freedom of Information Act would anyone be able to get their hands on the identities of those involved with Project MKUltra.
Government 1, People 0.
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