The CIA’s Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A ‘Poisoner In Chief’


MK-ULTRA, which operated from the 1950s until the early ’60s, was created and run by a chemist named Sidney Gottlieb. Journalist Stephen Kinzer, who spent several years investigating the program, calls the operation the “most sustained search in history for techniques of mind control.”

“Gottlieb wanted to create a way to seize control of people’s minds, and he realized it was a two-part process,” Kinzer says. “First, you had to blast away the existing mind. Second, you had to find a way to insert a new mind into that resulting void. We didn’t get too far on number two, but he did a lot of work on number one.”

Kinzer writes about Gottlieb and MK-ULTRA in his new book, Poisoner in Chief.

As part of the search for drugs that would allow people to control the human mind, CIA scientists became aware of the existence of LSD. MK-ULTRA director, Sidney Gottlieb, can now be seen as the man who brought LSD to America. In the early 1950s, he arranged for the CIA to pay $240,000 to buy the world’s entire supply of LSD.

Now, the people who volunteered for these experiments and began taking LSD, in many cases, found it very pleasurable.

The CIA mind control project, MK-ULTRA, was essentially a continuation of work that began in Japanese and Nazi concentration camps. For example, Nazi doctors had conducted extensive experiments with mescaline at the Dachau concentration camp, and the CIA was very interested in figuring out whether mescaline could be the key to mind control that was one of their big avenues of investigation. So they hired the Nazi doctors who had been involved in that project to advise them.

The end of Gottlieb’s career came in 1972, when his patron, Richard Helms, who was then director of the CIA, was removed by [President Richard] Nixon. Once Helms was gone, it was just a matter of time until Gottlieb would be gone, and most important was that Helms was really the only person at the CIA who had an idea of what Gottlieb had been doing. So as they were both on their way out of the CIA, they agreed that they should destroy all records of MK-ULTRA.

Read the full article here

Poisoner in Chief

Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control

by Stephen Kinzer

Hardcover, 354 pages | purchase


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