"I recommended, and my boss agreed, to destroy all of the individual records of the evaluations because things occurred during the interrogation situation, while they were under the drug, that could have been taken out of context later and used against them in an adverse manner, and so to protect the individuals who were involuntarily reacting to these situations, I destroyed the individual records involved."
- Testimony of Col. Lawrence W. Jackley
A declassified 1976 Army Inspector General report, Use of Volunteers in Chemical Agent Research, was recently posted by governmentattic.org. The 264-page document chronicles some 25 years of Army chemical research, development, and testing on humans. Composed in the wake of 1970's Congressional inquiries and hearings, points of interest in the report include:
- From 1950 to 1975 the Army studied approximately 34,500 chemical compounds, with 32 agents, including hallucinogens such as LSD, selected for clinical testing on volunteers.
- The scope of the operations included the Army Medical Research Laboratory, which in 1954 employed 32 college-educated officers, 130 enlisted scientific and professional personnel, and 117 civilian workers educated at Harvard, Stanford, Duke and other leading universities.
- The Army supplied personnel for a secret Special Purpose Team which conducted field tests on global "nonvolunteers." Aspects of the operation took place on a strict needs to know basis and "was clear from the outset to the conclusion the project violated Department of Defense and Department of the Army policies and procedures for conduct of chemical/medical research."
- Although most American military test participants were termed "volunteers," the report concluded coercion occurred, with one psychiatrist at Fort McClellan, 1959-1961, stating servicemen who declined to submit to experiments were sent to him for evaluation as to why they chose not to take LSD.
- While defending its integrity and competence, the Army nonetheless acknowledged records were lost or nonexistent in some cases, protocols were subject to wide interpretation, and the chain of command was not always sought to approve test conditions as required. Informed consent was clearly not obtained from all test subjects, and in some instances women and members of other demographics prohibited from screening were used anyway.
- A soldier accused of removing classified documents was never charged after "prolonged interrogations" conducted by the Special Purpose Team included hypnosis and administration of LSD. A decision not to court martial was reached for reasons including the desire to uphold secrecy surrounding the activities of the team, "the soldier's recollections of the 'bizarre methods' employed" by the group, and the unanimous opinion of consulting psychiatrists the man had severe psychiatric disorders. He was issued a General Discharge in 1961.
- In 1958 tests conducted on members of the 7th Special Forces Group included monitoring the soldiers as they attempted to resist interrogation after having been clandestinely administered hallucinogens. The project officer, Col. Lawrence W. Jackley, testified in 1975 there was so much variance in reaction the exercise was useless. He and his boss made the decision to destroy all of the records, Jackley stated, because "things occurred" during interrogation and he wanted "to protect the individuals who were reacting involuntarily to these situations."
|"An English calvaryman and his horse |
ride through a gas attack wearing protective masks
and body cover, 1934," according to History in Pictures
Particular emphasis is given to the importance of Russian advances in the field. Historians and researchers will correlate the reference with American justifications for behavior modification, or mind control, projects. Works such as The Search for the Manchurian Candidate by John Marks documented at length how U.S. officials blamed Russian research efforts for the need to conduct such operations as MKULTRA, justifiably or otherwise. Marks notably quoted a CIA officer, who wrote of the project in a memo to his boss, "If this is supposed to be covered up as a defensive feasibility study, it's pretty damn transparent."
Interestingly, the Army IG took the justification a bit further than simply blaming states hostile to U.S. interests, and suggested the Army was placed in a no-win situation by the American press: The media, the IG argued, covered and repeatedly emphasized the Russian threat of chemical warfare to such an extent the Army was criticized for not taking strong enough defensive action and later criticized for action it took. It's actually a rather well presented point - and would carry even greater weight - were it not for the things we now know can be read between the lines of the IG report, talented as its authors may have been.
It should be emphasized, as was the case in the report, the material covered is not intended to address ventures by the CIA such as MKULTRA, Department of Defense operations such as Project 112, or other biological and chemical weapons testing involving humans outside the direct responsibility of the Army. The subject matter nonetheless overlaps. The report acknowledges it was a massive undertaking to attempt to effectively summarize the 25 years of circumstances, and clarifies it was simply not possible to obtain documentation where records were missing or admittedly destroyed. The IG stated license was taken at times to attempt to fill in the gaps.
The report documents assembly of a Special Purpose Team, the existence and activities of which correlate with research published by Hank P. Albarelli, Jr. and Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, and considered in my book, The Greys Have Been Framed. The team conducted missions into the 1960's consisting of field experimentation later denounced by the IG, including plans to subject Vietnamese prisoners of war to chemical experiments. The report states no evidence was obtained to indicate the mission was carried out. Nonetheless, plenty of documentation is provided of related activities undertaken by the group and its questionable, yet unnamed, personnel and their international assignments. For several reasons I'm not entirely confident evidence of the Vietnamese mission would have surfaced even if it existed.
"The opinion of witnesses [which were Special Purpose Team members] as to why the project was aborted varied," the report states. "In fact, no two offered the same reason..."
Concerning another project executed by the Special Purpose Team, the report explained, "Arrangements were made with the intelligence staff members [redacted] to provide orientals of various nationalities for use in LSD experiments."
Research conducted on U.S. servicemen included a scheme to assemble, drug, and interrogate subjects at a cocktail party-like event. Those familiar with related declassified material will recognize the correlation to a plan hatched by CIA behavioral research czar Morse Allen, who envisioned snatching an unsuspecting individual from a social event and programming them via drugs and hypnosis to conduct an assassination. A few variations of the objective of Allen's proposal existed, including prioritizing the implementation itself, as compared to whether or not the kill was actually carried out (see The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, page 138).
|Sid Gottlieb and attorney, circa 1977|
It is noteworthy The Black Vault obtained and posted an FBI file on Sidney Gottlieb. It indicates in 1975 the Bureau wanted to interview the CIA man concerning the destruction of records. It appears after exchanges between the FBI and Gottlieb's attorney the interview never took place. I find the FBI file of historical significance, including its copy of a 1975 WaPo article referencing such CIA records destruction.
Experiments on the 7th Special Forces Group covered in the Army IG file included dosing the soldiers with LSD while they were assigned guard duty and instructed to deny entry to an area by anyone not having a special pass. "Penetration of the guard post was accomplished easily," the report stated.
Research in question took place in some circumstances in direct violation of clear orders to refrain from conducting involuntary testing. The chain of command was persistently ignored, be it by design, due to drug-induced dysfunction or combinations thereof. We see templates of the same schemes arising again and again over the years and from one operation and declassified document to another. Sensory deprivation, interrogation techniques, airborne compounds rendering military units disoriented, and similar themes come up repeatedly. In my opinion, this suggests a majority of researchers were unaware of the classified activities of other departments, while better informed agency directors and key personnel attempted to tweak concepts now seen repeatedly surfacing in what were widely conducted, ongoing experiments. The circumstances also lend support to the long held criticism that similar "research" activities were conducted across blurring project lines in attempts to skirt accountability. And sometimes personnel were just stoned.
Despite worthy efforts by the Army to frame its activities as professional, organized and systematic, the disarray is evident. While it is not denied in some instances, it's not directly addressed in others. Among them are the testimonies cited of Dr. Van Murray Sim.
Sim, as history now shows us, was a mess. He's one of the guys, readers will recall, who dropped acid and partook in other substance abuse while drugging and supposedly monitoring volunteers at Edgewood Arsenal. He was also appointed by the Secretary of the Army as physician responsible for volunteers in chemical warfare research. Twice. The Army IG report fails to detail Dr. Sim's less respectable activities.
Nonetheless, I found the report to be an important read. It's historical context is relevant. Dozens of institutions and thousands of volunteers are referenced as taking part in Army chemical testing, and the report contains a wealth of information for potential future FOIA requests. I find it intriguing to note ways certain circumstances are glossed over or omitted from mention of which researchers are now aware.
While some chemical testing projects spiraled into dysfunction (one unit was cited in which LSD "demonstrations" became part of orientation exercises, later nixed by Army brass due to the fact the practice had nothing whatsoever to do with actual research protocols), we should not allow the semi-comical stories to overshadow the truly disturbing circumstances. A realistic analysis of research into chemical warfare and behavior modification conducted by the American intelligence community includes, in my opinion, acknowledging that ineptitude and competence were both involved. The combination of competence and circumstances of potentially relevant yet currently unpublished details may quite possibly be a primary reason so much of the material was intentionally destroyed and/or remains classified.
For instance, Dr. Kaye recently explained how his 2016 FOIA request was denied for the 1957 CIA Inspector General report on operations of the Technical Services Division, which included Project MKULTRA, behavioral research and related activities. That's 60 years now that docs are still withheld. Kaye indicated the CIA responded the request was denied for reasons including the report contained information about "the identity of a confidential human source or a human intelligence source; or... key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction."
I think it's more than evident from the declassified material that a much different scenario emerges of the intelligence community than is contained in the popular narrative. We simply have no way of knowing what else would be revealed by the docs that remain classified. I have my doubts we'll ever fully know, or that we can completely trust the integrity of the declassification process, but I hold out hope we'll continue to obtain increasingly clear pictures.