Note to readers:
This essay is an edited and abridged version, with content reformatted, of that originally posted here. It is updated with some new material and full references. A list of the most important references is at the end of the essay, before the notes. I deleted the small portion on P. W. Botha because I was unable to locate my primary reference which was text extracted from the Truth and Reconciliation hearings held in South Africa. The content was testimony by one of Botha’s underlings at a hearing that Botha refused to attend. Rather than leave questions about the validity of statements, I deleted that section.
The United States government funded and performed countless psychological experiments on unwitting humans, especially during the Cold War era, perhaps partially to help develop more effective torture and interrogation techniques for the US military and the CIA, but the almost unbelievable extent, range and duration of these activities far surpassed possible interrogation applications and appear to have been performed from a fundamental monstrous inhumanity. To simply read summaries of these, even without the details, is almost traumatising in itself.
In studies that began in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the US Military began identifying and testing truth serums like mescaline and scopolamine on human subjects, which they claimed might be useful during interrogations of Soviet spies. These programs eventually expanded to a project of vast scope and enormous ambition, centralised under the CIA in what would come to be called Project MK-ULTRA, a major collection of interrogation and mind-control projects. Inspired initially by delusions of a brainwashing program, the CIA began thousands of experiments using both American and foreign subjects often without their knowledge or against their will, destroying countless tens of thousands of lives and causing many deaths and suicides. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations and jointly operated by the CIA, the FBI and the intelligence divisions of all military groups, this decades-long CIA research constituted an immense collection of some of the most cold-blooded and callous atrocities conceivable, in a determined effort to develop reliable techniques of controlling the human mind.
MK-ULTRA was an umbrella for a large number of clandestine activities that formed part of the CIA’s psychological warfare research and development, consisting of about 150 projects and sub-projects, many of them very large in their own right, with research and human experimentation occurring at more than 80 institutions that included about 50 of America’s best-known colleges and universities, 15 or 20 major research Foundations including Rockefeller, dozens of major hospitals, a great many prisons and mental institutions, and many chemical and pharmaceutical companies. At least 200 well-known private scientific researchers were part of this program, as were many thousands of physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and other similar. Many of these institutions and individuals received their funding through so-called “grants” from what were clearly CIA front companies. In 1994 a Congressional subcommittee revealed that up to 500,000 unwitting Americans were endangered, damaged or destroyed by secret CIA and military tests between 1940 and 1974. Given the deliberate destruction of all the records, the full truth of the MK-ULTRA victims will never be known, and certainly not the death toll. As the inspector general of the US Army later stated in a report to a Senate committee: “In universities, hospitals and research institutions, an unknown number of chemical tests and experiments … were carried out with healthy adults, with mentally ill and with prison inmates.” According to one government report, “In 149 separate mind-control experiments on thousands of people, CIA researchers used hypnosis, electroshock treatments, LSD, marijuana, morphine, Benzedrine, mescaline, seconal, atropine and other drugs.” Test subjects were usually people who could not easily object – prisoners, mental patients and members of minority groups – but the agency also performed many experiments on normal, healthy civilians without their knowledge or consent.
There were 149 subprojects listed under the umbrella of MKULTRA. Project MONARCH has not been officially identified by any government documentation as one of the corresponding subprojects, but is used rather, as a descriptive “catch phrase” by survivors, therapists, and possible “insiders”. MONARCH may in fact, have culminated from MKSEARCH subprojects such as operation SPELLBINDER, which was set up to create “sleeper” assassins (i.e. “Manchurian candidates”) who could be activated upon receiving a key word or phrase while in a post-hypnotic trance. Operation OFTEN, a study which attempted to harness the power of occult forces was possibly one of several cover programs to hide the insidious reality of Project MONARCH. There were also operations BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MKNAOMI, and MKDELTA.