Skip

In the name of Defense.
March 26, 2012 3:32 PM   Subscribe

In December 1974, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's front-page account (paywall) of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program documented their illegal domestic intelligence operations against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States. The article eventually prompted investigations by the Rockefeller Commission and the Church and Pike committees. "There have been other reports on the CIA's doping of civilians, but they have mostly dished about activities in New York City. Accounts of what actually occurred in San Francisco have been sparse and sporadic. But newly declassified CIA records, recent interviews, and a personal diary of [George H. White,] an operative at Stanford Special Collections shed more light on the breadth of the San Francisco operation." SF Weekly: "Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA doped San Francisco citizens with LSD." MK-ULTRA: Previously on Metafilter. (Via)
posted by zarq (29 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's amazing the places this charming Dick Cheney fellow manages to pop up!
posted by sendai sleep master at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


For extra credit:

1.) Try imagining a mainstream "journalism" outfit reporting on this today.

2.) Try imagining Fox News' response.

3.) Try not putting a gun in your mouth.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


This is just what the CIA wants you to find out.
posted by adamrice at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have an interest in what most people would call conspiracy theories, which is a term that America uses to silence its dissidents. The CIA figures prominently in many of these, which gets people's eyes rolling from the get-go. But with MK ULTRA we have irrefutable black-and-white proof of the agency committing heinous acts and it's pretty much just a footnote of history. Trying to get anyone to consider the CIA crack/contra connections or other theories that don't have such extensive, bulletproof documentation like this is pretty much impossible.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


Links under the words Rockefeller, Church and Pike go to their published reports. The final Pike report was not officially published, (it is included in the link but labeled "Draft") but was instead leaked to the Village Voice by Daniel Schorr.
posted by zarq at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The crack/contra stuff has great documentation; the CIA's own Inspector General's office confirmed there was a connection Wikipedia has it:
The contents of the actual report were largely ignored by the national media. In the 623rd paragraph, the report described a cable from the CIA's Directorate of Operations dated October 22, 1982, describing a prospective meeting between Contra leaders in Costa Rica for "an exchange in [the United States] of narcotics for arms, which then are shipped to Nicaragua."[16] The two main Contra groups, US arms dealers, and a lieutenant of a drug ring which imported drugs from Latin America to the US west coast were set to attend the Costa Rica meeting. The lieutenant trafficker was also a Contra, and the CIA knew that there was an arms-for-drugs shuttle and did nothing to stop it.[15]
The report stated that the CIA had requested the Justice Department return $36,800 to a member of the Meneses drug ring, which had been seized by DEA agents in the Frogman raid in San Francisco. The CIA's Inspector General said the Agency wanted the money returned "to protect an operational equity, i.e., a Contra support group in which it [CIA] had an operational interest."

Link.
You can read the original report, which talks about the information coming from an informant.
posted by wuwei at 3:49 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


zarq: "MK-ULTRA: Previously on Metafilter."

YO I'M STILL HERE
posted by mkultra at 3:53 PM on March 26, 2012 [29 favorites]


And one of those unwitting LSD patients, one that nobody loved, grew up to be Steve Jobs. And that is the rest of the story.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


You're supposed to read a police blotter?
posted by hal9k at 4:25 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


hal9k: "You're supposed to read a police blotter?"

Yes. :)
posted by zarq at 5:14 PM on March 26, 2012


In ten years we’ll leak the truth
By then it’s only so much paper
posted by Relay at 5:21 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


You get the government espionage agency Merry Pranksters you deserve, I guess. Wait - does this mean Ken Kesey isn't responsible for the sixties anymore?
posted by sneebler at 5:54 PM on March 26, 2012


Damn the early 70s were a great era for investigative journalism. I remember all the Journalism students either wanted to emulate the New Journalists like Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson, or the investigative reporters like Woodward & Bernstein. But the smart ones wanted to emulate Sy Hersh. You know, I recently talked to a young woman who was a J School student, I asked her who her role models were. She said Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer.

But anyway..

Intelligence officers conceded that the drug-testing exposed the agency to a serious "moral problem."

Yeah, I can see that. Perhaps the 70s were a simpler time, but I might prefer moral dilemmas about drug and booze fueled sex parties with hookers, as opposed to other moral dilemmas like oh, say, torture.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am available for any further testing deemed necessary, US government.
posted by mannequito at 7:58 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I might prefer moral dilemmas about drug and booze fueled sex parties with hookers, as opposed to other moral dilemmas like oh, say, torture.

Not mutually exclusive given the crowd.
posted by ryoshu at 8:56 PM on March 26, 2012


Mefi's own maias on the topic in Time.

"It sounds like something out of a paranoid dream. And indeed, before the documentation and other facts of the program were made public, those who talked of it were frequently dismissed as being psychotic. But the U.S. government’s history of secret human experimentation ought to be kept in mind, particularly when we consider the power we grant to it and the way we regulate drugs."



"When we look at our drug laws, the senselessness of MK-ULTRA appears in bold relief. Here we have an institution that was supposedly protecting Americans from the harms of drugs actually drugging its unwitting population. This was “research” being conducted on human beings without any concern for their lives or welfare. And at the center of it was a substance that thousands — including Apple’s Steve Jobs — have said brought deep meaning and inspiration to their lives.

What’s unfortunate is that rather than having a democratic discussion about the proper role of LSD and similar drugs for consenting adults — and conducting legitimate research into their potentially beneficial uses — we are instead enmeshed in a culture of knee-jerk prohibition that produces repeated, uncontrolled and sometimes deadly human experiments."
posted by gingerbeer at 9:29 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter is not generally so open-minded on "conspiracy" theories. When Bin Laden was killed, I foolishly was skeptical at the stories that we were getting initially - I was massively lambasted here.

When it turned out, while the thread was active, even!, that all of those stories, with Bin Laden coming out with guns blazing and using a human shield, were completely and utterly wrong, I warned that people should continue to be really skeptical until we had hard evidence, well, the response made the first one seem quite cordial. I was called all types of fool, compared to a 9/11 denier, and told that evidence would be there and I'd be shown to be an idiot.

As I said at the time, I had no particular evidence to believe that the government's story was false, but after being bitten again and again, I'm no longer unskeptical of government stories without hard evidence.

Well, here we are almost a year later, and not only have we seen absolutely no hard information about the Bin Laden death, the Pentagon says it has no records and the CIA has simply refused to answer a Freedom of Information Act request.

What do I expect? I expect that the true story is probably something like what we were told - but I simply have no evidence so I'm skeptical. Would I be surprised if, say, Bin Laden's body was not buried at sea (as the some of the recent Wikileaks documents weakly suggest)? A little surprised, but not a lot. Would I be surprised if Bin Laden were already dead before the raid went down? Surprised, yes - but not astonished. It would certainly explain why he suddenly stopped making those videos years before his alleged assassination.

As they tell us all the time, if they have nothing to hide, then why all the secrecy?

Regarding MK-ULTRA and Operation Midnight Climax, I've known about these for decades, and consider them both more or less proven, at least in their central details, for ten years. But you try telling people about it - I've had people screaming at me that I must be a liar.

But heck, I've had more than one person scream "Liar!" at me for daring to mention that the Taliban offered to give up Bin Laden, and George W. Bush refused to negotiate (source), so it's about par for the course.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:54 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


All this effort for nothing. Seriously, they dosed people? For what?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 PM on March 26, 2012


But heck, I've had more than one person scream "Liar!" at me for daring to mention that the Taliban offered to give up Bin Laden, and George W. Bush refused to negotiate (source), so it's about par for the course.

You didn't even read your own source clearly.
posted by empath at 10:16 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


But with MK ULTRA we have irrefutable black-and-white proof of the agency committing heinous acts and it's pretty much just a footnote of history.

It's a footnote because it was totally stupid. It served no real purpose and affected few people. No idea why these idiots did this small time stuff. Even looking at the big ones, Aldrich Ames, Kim Philby, James Jesus Angleton--they never did anything that really had any effect on anything serious or important.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:18 PM on March 26, 2012


Ironmouth: they didn't just dose random people - they dosed each other by surprise "to keep them on their toes"; they dosed a reputable US scientist, causing him to commit suicide; they might have dosed an entire French town; they even discussed dosing a New York subway car but despite that rather hysterical link, most people think that that never got past the planning stage.

Why? You could make fancy analysis, but you might as well just break down and say they were all batshit insane. My best theory involves the fact that they all had ready access to amphetamines...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:20 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


> You didn't even read your own source clearly.

Do you mean the article, "Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over" that starts "President George Bush rejected as "non-negotiable" an offer by the Taliban to discuss turning over Osama bin Laden if the United States ended the bombing in Afghanistan."

Or what about this one: "A senior Taliban leader said Sunday that the Islamic militia would be willing to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country if the United States halts the bombing of Afghanistan and provides evidence against him."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:25 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would I be surprised if Bin Laden were already dead before the raid went down? Surprised, yes - but not astonished. It would certainly explain why he suddenly stopped making those videos years before his alleged assassination.

Not to change the subject, but years before? Really? This is why people second guess conspiracy theorists.
Video release: January 21, 2011. He discussed French troops in Afghanistan.
Death: May 2, 2011
Posthumous audio release: May 19, 2011. He discussed the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt of earlier in the year.
posted by inigo2 at 4:49 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


It doesn't surprise me that people with access to high quality LSD were giving it to unsuspecting people, as several "hippies" I knew did this as revenge against "straights" back in the 60s. For whatever the reason, subjecting anyone to an intense LSD experience without their foreknowledge and consent is one of the most despicable acts I can think of.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:27 AM on March 27, 2012


I wouldn't give LSD unknowingly to my worst enemy, and I love the stuff... It just seems like one of the most unbelievably cruel things you can do to someone. When you've got nothing else, you usually still have your sanity, and to make people doubt that is just evil.
posted by empath at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2012


Not to change the subject, but years before? Really? This is why people second guess conspiracy theorists. Video release: January 21, 2011.

You should actually read the source you present to me - and I could say the same to the three people who favorited you. From your reference:
On January 21, 2011 Osama bin Laden said the release of French hostages depends on a pullout of France's soldiers in Afghanistan and warned Paris of a "high price" for its policies, in a tape broadcast on Friday. "We repeat the same message to you: The release of your prisoners in the hands of our brothers is linked to the withdrawal of your soldiers from our country," said the speaker on the audiotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera television.[63] This was the final tape released by Bin Laden prior to the confirmation of his death on May 2, 2011. A new audio message that Osama Bin Laden recorded before his death was released on May 7, 2011.

A recording purported to have been made by Osama shortly before he died has been released by al-Qaeda. In the message, he praised the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and speaks of a "rare historic opportunity" for Muslims to rise up. The 12-minute audio message came out on a video posted on Islamist websites, and has been translated by the SITE Institute.
I stand by my claim - we hadn't seen a video tape from Bin Laden for years. If you search for "last bin laden video" you'll get this article, for example - you will note that, for example, the video freezes when Bin Laden talks about contemporary events and then unfreezes when he goes back to platitudes.

And note that I absolutely did not claim that Bin Laden was already dead at the time of his supposed capture - I specifically said that I would be "surprised but not astonished" if it turned out to be the case.

I do rather resent being called a "conspiracy theorist" when in fact I have not expressed any positive belief whatsoever - but merely a healthy skepticism about the US government's completely uncorroborated story.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:49 AM on March 27, 2012


I hope I didn't come off as too snarky - but I also hope my point is well-taken.

You would think that the idea that you should be skeptical about what you're told by your own government without hard evidence would be completely uncontroversial in 2012... but people so want to believe that their own government couldn't possibly lie to them that they'll misremember, misread, and misrepresent facts, or your own statements - not "deliberately", I believe, but more out of desperation. (The most prime example is people today denying that Ronald Reagan raised taxes, or that Dick Cheney ever talked about a "mushroom cloud".)

One point to remember is that often I think the official story is the most likely story. For example, I believe that if I knew all the facts about 9/11, it would very likely be very much like the official government story.

The reason I can't say that the government's story is correct is that the 9/11 Commission didn't start their work until over a year later, had no subpoena power, and never finished but simply ran out of money. Compare and contrast with, oh, the Titanic - where the first of around a dozen investigations started before the survivors even made it back to New York City.

I don't have any better idea as to what happened on 9/11, and, as I said, I believe that the government's story is probably more or less correct, but it's hard for me to be convinced by such an obviously lackadaisical "enquiry". So I remain skeptical.

It used to annoy me, but now it amuses me, that when I'm dubious about the 9/11 Commission, I'm immediately lumped in the same boat as people who believe that George W. Bush used explosives to bring down the World Trade Center. (I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I would be "astonished" if that were to be proven to be true.)

The other point that seems to be hard for people to grasp is that my skepticism, my lack of belief, is absolutely not the same thing as actively believing some other story - just in the same way that theists refuse to believe that my "atheism" is not a positive belief in the non-existence of "God" but a simple lack of belief. Just as in my example above, I'd be surprised if some "God" existed but not astonished - while I suspect that "God" doesn't exist, I don't have a strong conviction about this matter because I simply don't have adequate evidence one way or the other.

And one more point - I'm not that skeptical about most things, simply because we have really good evidence. My parents died of AIDS, for example, but I consider the idea that AIDS is germ warfare or deliberately spread to kill of gays and minorities to be "extremely far-fetched" simply because there's so very much solid work on the origin and spread of AIDS. I'm not at all skeptical about the moon landings, because it was followed by many countries in real-time, and because humans left a mirror on the moon that anyone can bounce a laser off - and many people have. (And for a hundred other reasons...)

I urge you to join me. It's a little unsettling to become a skeptic, but you find that you disagree with the consensus only in a few places, and you have the great advantage that you don't have to eat your words so often...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:25 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This shit has always been interesting to me so thank you poster.

So much is wrong with how our covert government agencies work, its down right depressing and I would argue unconstitutional.

Eh, at least I have a wonderful half ounce of MKUltra to smoke while reading these posts after work/class
posted by handbanana at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2012


handbanana: I'll trade you for a few grams of this excellent Midnight Climax...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:39 PM on March 27, 2012


« Older "Sound matters more than smell in terms of...   |   New York Dick Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post