CIA Project Bluebird
In 1950, the CIA initiated Project Bluebird, later renamed Project Artichoke, whose stated purpose was to develop “the means to control individuals through special interrogation techniques”, “way[s] to prevent the extraction of information from CIA agents”, and “offensive uses of unconventional techniques, such as hypnosis and drugs”.
The purpose of the project was outlined in a memo dated January 1952 that stated, “Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self preservation?”
The project studied the use of hypnosis, forced morphine addiction and subsequent forced withdrawal, and the use of other chemicals, among other methods, to produce amnesia and other vulnerable states in subjects.
In order to “perfect techniques for the abstraction of information from individuals, whether willing or not”, Project Bluebird researchers experimented with a wide variety of psychoactive substances, including LSD, heroin, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, mescaline, and ether.
In 1952, professional tennis player Harold Blauer died when injected with a fatal dose of a mescaline derivative at the New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University, by Dr. James Cattell.
The United States Department of Defense, which sponsored the injection, worked in collusion with the Department of Justice, and the New York State Attorney General to conceal evidence of its involvement for 23 years.
Cattell claimed that he did not know what the army had given him to inject into Blauer, saying: “We didn’t know whether it was dog piss or what we were giving him.”
CIA Project QK-HILLTOP
In 1954, the CIA’s Project QK-HILLTOP was created to study brainwashing techniques, and to develop effective methods of interrogation.
Most of the early studies are believed to have been performed by the Cornell University Medical School’s human ecology study programs, under the direction of Dr. Harold Wolff.
Wolff requested that the CIA provide him any information they could find regarding “threats, coercion, imprisonment, deprivation, humiliation, torture, ‘brainwashing’, ‘black psychiatry’, and hypnosis, or any combination of these, with or without chemical agents”.
According to Wolff, the research team would then:
…assemble, collate, analyze and assimilate this information and will then undertake experimental investigations designed to develop new techniques of offensive/defensive intelligence use … Potentially useful secret drugs (and various brain damaging procedures) will be similarly tested in order to ascertain the fundamental effect upon human brain function and upon the subject’s mood …
“Where any of the studies involve potential harm of the subject, we expect the Agency to make available suitable subjects and a proper place for the performance of the necessary experiments.” (Dr. Harold Wolff, Cornell University Medical School)
Operation Midnight Climax
Operation Midnight Climax was initially established by Sidney Gottlieb and placed under the direction of Narcotics Bureau officer George Hunter White (under the alias of Morgan Hall) for the CIA as a sub-project of Project MKULTRA, the CIA mind-control research program that began in the 1950s.
Another of the MKULTRA subprojects, this one consisted of a web of CIA-run safehouses in San Francisco, Marin, and New York which were established in order to study the effects of LSD on unconsenting individuals.
Prostitutes on the CIA payroll were instructed to lure clients back to the safehouses, where they were surreptitiously plied with a wide range of substances, including LSD, and monitored behind one-way glass.
Several significant operational techniques were developed in this theater, including extensive research into sexual blackmail, surveillance technology, and the possible use of mind-altering drugs in field operations.
The safehouses were dramatically scaled back in 1962, following a report by CIA Inspector General John Earman that strongly recommended closing the facility. The San Francisco safehouses were closed in 1965, and the New York City safehouse in 1966.
A special procedure, designated MK-DELTA, was established to govern the use of MK-ULTRA materials abroad. Such materials were used on a number of occasions.
Because MKULTRA records were destroyed, it is impossible to reconstruct the operational use of MK-ULTRA 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.
Drugs were used primarily as an aid to interrogations, but MK-ULTRA/MK-DELTA materials were also used for harassment, discrediting, or disabling purposes.