MK Ultra. The CIA’s Mind Control Program That Terrorised Unsuspecting Citizens For 20 Years.

When Conspiracy Theories Turn Out To Be True. A Look Into The CIA’s Controversial MK Ultra Project That Used Various Methods Of Psychological Torture In Order To Manipulate The Human Mind For Interrogation Purposes.

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Project MK Ultra, most commonly known as the CIA’s mind control programme, was set up in 1953 amidst the heights of the Cold War tensions. The project consisted of trying to develop mind controlling and brainwashing techniques that would be used on Soviet spies and Politicians. The project was organised though the Office Of Scientific Intelligence of the CIA and coordinated with the US Army Biological War Laboratories. Its activities at times were deemed illegal and sparked high levels of controversy when the projects documents were revealed to the public in 1975. This is story of Project MK Ultra, the conspiracy that turned out to be true…

Project MK Ultra.

The CIA had been following the trial of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Cardinal Josef Mindszenty in Budapest in 1949. They believed that the cardinal’s confession had been manipulated by some unknown ‘driven force’ which they eventually then concluded that it must have been the practice of hypnotism. The CIA saw the potential this could possibly have for their own interrogations. They also received some intel  that US prisoners of war in Korea were being psychologically tortured and were being mind controlled by the enemy. Eventually in 1953 the director of the CIA, Allan Dulles, gave the go ahead for the US to do their own research and experimentation with mind control, and so Project MK Ultra was born.

The programme consisted of over 150 human experiments including the superstitious administration of drugs, such as strong psychoactive substances like LSD, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, electro shock therapy and various other methods of torture. These tests were performed on US citizens who sometimes would have no idea what they were getting themselves into. The tests were conducted at Universities, Hospitals and Prisons across America and Canada. It’s not clear to how many people were involved in the tests as the vast majority of records had been destroyed before it could become public knowledge. Due to the majority of the records being destroyed before they could be released it makes us wonder what else the CIA had been getting up to…

Sidney Gottieb. Image via http://www.

Sidney Gottieb

Sidney Gottieb, American chemist and spymaster, was one of the most prominent people involved in the project. He believed that we could utilise the mind altering properties in LSD for brainwashing and psychological torture. After continuously administrating the drug on a big sum of unsuspecting people they eventually concluded that LSD was too unpredictable for use in counter intelligence. However, they didn’t just stop at LSD, they also administered MDMA, Heroin, psilocybin and Methamphetamine to patients. Other than MK Ultra Sidney Gottieb was also involved in  a handful of top secret CIA operations such as ;developing a poisonous handkerchief to kill an Iraqi general, creating array of toxic gifts to be delivered to Fidel Castro and a constructing a poison dart to kill a leftist leader in the Congo. However none of these plans succeeded.

Operation Midnight Climax.

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Official CIA documents that were released to the general public confirming the activities of MK Ultra.

Operation Midnight Climax was an illegal operation initially established by Dr. George Hunter White under the alias of Morgan Hall for the CIA and was perhaps the most controversial operation of the entire MK Ultra project. The operation consisted of government employed prostitutes luring unsuspected men into CIA ‘safe houses’ where they would undergo numerous of drug experiments against their own will. They were given high doses of LSD and a various cocktail of other drugs so the agency could observe the affects these would have. The safe houses had numerous hidden recording devices for the purposes of observing and recording all of the mens behaviour. The operation stretched across New York, California and San Fransisco and the operation was even expanded further than the allocated safe houses across restaurants bars and beaches in order to get mote results. It was admitted that the entirety of the project had next to no supervision so who knows what else they had been getting up to.


A comically redacted MKULTRA report. CIA photo via Wikimedia.

The Victims.

The most infamous victim of the MK Ultra project was scientist Frank Olson. Olson was an American bacteriologist, biological warfare scientist, and Central Intelligence Agency employee who worked at Camp Detrick in Maryland. In 1953 Olson was spiked with a high dosage of LSD without his knowing. A few days later according to the CIA Olson had become unstable and had threw himself out of the 13th floor of a hotel. His death was labelled as a suicide but this is widely speculated. Olson’s family members claim that he was murdered by CIA agents after he had learnt about a high number of secret torture sites in Europe which left him well and truly disturbed . Upon witnessing these atrocities he wanted to resign from the CIA. When he returned back to the US he was taken to a secret meeting at deep creek lake, Maryland. This is where the spiking had taken place. His family believe that the CIA murdered Olson in order to make sure no information about the torture camps was leaked to the public.

Frank Olson. image via

Another victim from the project was James Stanley. Stanley had a very promising military career, he enlisted at the age of 15 and became a master sergeant at the age of 20. He had volunteered for an experiment which was supposed to be for the testing of gas masks and protective clothing however this was not the case. Stanley was exposed to LSD during the experiment and claims that this is when his life took a turn for the worst. He did not actually know for certain that he had been spiked with the drug until 1975 when the army got in contact with all of the volunteers to inform them of what had actually been going on. James Stanley then realised that his odd behaviour and feelings of confusion were the result of chemical testing that he had not agreed to, so he attempted to sue the US military but was initially unsuccessful in doing so. According to the Supreme Court, it didn’t matter whether his allegations were true. He lacked standing to sue because military personnel can’t sue the government or their superiors for damages, no matter how severe or even unconstitutional they may be. However 18 years later congress eventually passed a bill meaning that Stanley could in fact be compensated and he was awarded a sum of $400,000.

Singer Ruth Kelly also fell victim to the MK Ultra project. before she was set to perform on stage a CIA agent had spiked her with a high dose of LSD in order to observe the affects they would have on her on stage. According to a deposition by a CIA investigator “the LSD had definitely taken some affect during her act”. Ruth Kelly had managed to finish her performance but then began to completely freak out and was rushed to hospital where she stayed until the affects had worn off.

The fact the the majority of the documents for the project were destroyed make us think what else the CIA had been getting up to…

All of the documents that have been released from the project are accessible through the CIA’s archives online.


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