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The Project MKULTRA Compendium
The CIA's Program of Research in Behavioral Modification

Stephen Foster

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher :

Published : 2009

Copyright : Stephen Foster 2009

ISBN-10 : PB 0-557-05084-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-557-05084-0

Publisher's Write-Up

In the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA undertook a series of research and operational programs aimed at gaining control of human behaviour, commonly known as mind control. The most famous and notable of these was MKULTRA, which from 1953 to 1964 spawned 149 subprojects that developed and studied "a number of procedures for influencing and predicting human behaviour by chemical and psychological means." The intention for the techniques was to "have both defensive applications... and offensive applications (e.g. the use of psychochemicals to control or discredit an individual)." The Project MKULTRA Compendium presents the results of investigations into these programs, offering views on the ethics and limits of medical research.

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Review by Peter McLachlan (310809) Rating (8/10)

Review by Peter McLachlan
Rating 8/10
In the 1950s, a group of men on the east and west coasts spent months dosing random people with LSD. They dosed them in public, in bars, or lured them using prostitutes back to an apartment, where they were slipped drugs and watched from behind a two-way mirror. They were not only interested in the effect of LSD and other drugs on people, but also potentially embarrassing sexual secrets that could prove useful in the field. Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the true story was that it was completely funded on the taxpayers' dime.

The men in question were from the Bureau of Narcotics, on assignment and funded by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA's program was called MKULTRA, but the Narcotics folks somewhat jokingly called their own work "Operation Midnight Climax."

When the CIA's Inspector General got wind of the project, he recommended shutting it down, writing that if it were discovered that the Agency was committing illicit and illegal acts, it would have severe consequences both in terms of public reaction and causing diplomatic problems internationally. The operation, however, continued and was eventually discovered, due at least in part to the fact that two employees died as a result of the "experiments."

What harm the project caused to the public is unknown, though it is known that at least one other person ended up in the hospital because of it. MKULTRA came to the public's attention through a series of investigations into the CIA by the United States Congress, led by Nelson Rockefeller, Frank Church, and finally, Ted Kennedy in 1977.

The Project MKULTRA Compendium chronicles these investigations and the CIA's own look through the remainder of project files in their possession (the majority of files were destroyed a few years before the operation was publicly revealed). The project spanned from 1953 to 1964 and contained a total of 149 subprojects, varying in scope from research into hypnosis to testing deadly chemicals.

The book makes for fascinating and chilling reading, giving insight into what goes on in the shadows when the law is out of sight and the powers that be believe they have right and the national interest on their side. One aspect the book could have included was part of the aftermath, which included a successful lawsuit against the government by a group of hospital patients subjected to CIA experimentation in Montreal, Canada.

The book is helpful in shedding light on a largely forgotten and disturbing aspect of U.S. history. As one Bureau of Narcotics employee wrote to Sidney Gottlieb (head of MKULTRA) after the project's conclusion, "I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and bidding of the All-Highest."
Peter McLachlan (31st August 2009)

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