The Bitter Secret of ‘Wormwood’ – Frank Olson – MK-Ultra, Archbishop found guilty of concealing child sex abuse
May 30, 2018 Comments Off on The Bitter Secret of ‘Wormwood’ – Frank Olson – MK-Ultra, Archbishop found guilty of concealing child sex abuse
” We do know that the cold war bequeathed a branch of behavioral science built around the desire to discover universal psychological mechanisms through which human beings could be manipulated.”
The Bitter Secret of ‘Wormwood’
….In Errol Morris’s new series, Wormwood, which blends documentary with dramatic reconstructions, he sets out to explore an episode in the history of US intelligence that is irresistibly sensational, the CIA’s cold war “mind control” program of the 1950s and 1960s. Code-named MK-ULTRA, the program involved agents experimenting with methods for gaining full control of a person’s thoughts and behavior using LSD, hypnosis, electric shocks, and other bizarre means—the films The Ipcress File (1965) and The Parallax View (1974) show cool, stylized versions. The thesis offered by Wormwood’s principal subjects is that, during the same period, the CIA ran an authorized, extrajudicial execution program of dissenting agents who were active in the agency’s secret operations.
….The six-part series focuses on the death of Frank Olson, an army scientist who worked on biological weapons research at Camp Detrick, a US army camp in Maryland, but who subsequently became a CIA operative involved in Project ARTICHOKE, a predecessor to MK-ULTRA that focused, with brutal rigor, on interrogation methods. When the Rockefeller Commission (established by President Gerald Ford in 1975 to investigate potentially illegal CIA programs, and led by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller) examined records of his death, which occurred in November 1953, it reported that Olson had been secretly dosed with LSD by the CIA several days beforehand. The existing CIA documents (many had been destroyed) created the impression that Olson had then sunk into a severe depression before jumping not just out of, but directly through, his New York hotel room’s thirteenth-floor window, smashing its glass pane.
….Surprisingly, though, the most jarring and psychologically revealing interviews are not with Olson’s son, but with Hersh. More than forty years after Hersh broke the story, Eric Olson confronted him in 2016 (the year before Morris made the documentary) with fresh evidence, including a new autopsy report that, he claimed, demonstrated the suicide story was false; it was a murder. Eric also insisted that Hersh had been taken in, by the CIA, that he had “swallowed the cover story” about LSD, when, in fact, his father was silenced because of his involvement in Project ARTICHOKE and in bioweapons research, about which he had loudly expressed serious moral qualms. After initially dismissing Olson’s theory, Hersh went back to a CIA source, someone he describes as a trusted friend, to investigate further.
….To date, the Senate’s Church Committee reports and the White House’s Rockefeller Commission report on the US intelligence agencies have been by far the most comprehensive studies holding these agencies to account that have yet been made public; they came out now more than forty years ago. The House Committee that investigated the same affairs, chaired by the Long Island Democrat Otis Pike, didn’t release its report because of congressional opposition. The published reports contained lurid and shocking information, including CIA drug experiments and assassination plots, FBI harassment of dissidents, the deliberate incitement of violence (including murder) in the black community, and the manipulation of elections in democratic countries. These were dark times for the agencies. The story of Frank Olson’s supposedly LSD-induced suicide was one of the episodes that dominated coverage, shedding light on the sinister mind-control program, which captured the public imagination. But if Wormwood’s claims are true, this public reckoning was itself tainted by lies, elaborately concocted cover stories, and forged documents.
The forces that had been set in motion after the war by the new Central Intelligence Agency (established in 1947) could not entirely be reined in. Nelson Rockefeller already had some experience of this independent momentum. He had been an early proponent of psychological operations, targeting Latin American populations that were subjected to Nazi propaganda during World War II. Serving under Eisenhower as Special Assistant to the President for Foreign Affairs, he tried to establish institutions for coordinating security policies—and this was broadly understood to mean psychological operations—from the White House, by creating boards that included representatives from the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA. But Rockefeller couldn’t secure the cooperation of either John Foster Dulles, then secretary of state, or Allen Dulles, the CIA director.
….Allen Dulles was unrestrained in his cultivation of behavioral science initiatives that would assist in the manipulation of individuals and societies. The dramatic term “brainwashing” became popular in describing this attempt to discover fundamental mechanisms through which human thought and behavior could be controlled. Many of America’s most distinguished behavioral scientists, who had served in the OSS (forerunner to the CIA) during the war, competing with the Nazis to develop techniques of manipulation, then transitioned seamlessly into this new cold war effort. (The Americans prosecuted Dachau’s doctors at Nuremberg—but not before they had plundered Dachau for the results of the Nazis’ studies on the use of mescaline and other drugs for mind control.)
In a 1949 study for the US Air Force, Yale’s Irving Janis claimed that the Soviets were using hypnosis, drugs, electroshock, and other means to extract false confessions. He thereby helped to lay out the program followed in the CIA’s mind-control research. This program was funded primarily via the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation, and, under various pretexts, the most prominent social psychologists at America’s Ivy League universities experimented very freely with those methods.
….But mind-control research was not confined to the attempted manufacture of “Manchurian candidate” obedient spies and the spread of propaganda in Communist countries. The cold war, it was thought, could be won abroad through the capturing of hearts and minds, but it could equally be lost at home if the American people lacked commitment or resilience. There was a great deal of concern within the national security community that Americans were not as psychologically resilient as the Soviets and would therefore be less able to cope with the threat of a nuclear strike, or to absorb a first strike by the USSR. Janis authored an important RAND report on this topic, entitled Air War and Emotional Stress: Psychological Studies of Bombing and Civilian Defense, in which he used data collected from interviews conducted after air attacks during World War II in order to outline research proposals addressing “the problem of providing adequate psychological preparation for the American population so as to prevent inappropriate and disruptive behavior.” The study of large-scale psychological manipulation was intended to find ways of producing conformity to norms of “appropriate” behavior during a thermonuclear war.
The precise extent to which active deception was necessary to acclimate the American public to the horrifying absurdities of the cold war is still unknown. In Wormwood, we are told that Frank Olson came to believe that the American public was being elaborately deceived about the US use of biological weapons in the Korean War. Morris shows footage of articulate but apparently “brainwashed” prisoners making “false confessions” to using germ warfare.
….We do know that the cold war bequeathed a branch of behavioral science built around the desire to discover universal psychological mechanisms through which human beings could be manipulated. The most famous experiments of mind-control research from the era are the shock experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale in 1961–1962. (Peter Sarsgaard, as it happens, played Milgram in a 2015 movie about these tests called Experimenter.) Milgram led his subjects to believe that they were administering electric shocks to a man in an adjacent room whenever he got an answer wrong on a quiz, but the man apparently screaming in pain was a hired actor. In one study, 65 percent of the subjects were prepared to turn the shocks up to the maximum level, labeled “Danger. Severe Shock.” Both the Office of Naval Research and the National Science foundation were interested in funding this research into “action conformity” in which Milgram aimed to compel people to act “in violation of deeply rooted standards of behavior.” His research proposal claimed that he would shed light on the techniques used by “the red Chinese in trying to extract compliance from our troops in POW camps” (later, in the press, he would represent the experiments to the public as attempts to understand obedience to the Nazis).
In Experimenter, and in Milgram’s own films of the experiments, we can watch in horror and fascination as the duped subjects, anxious and perspiring, obey. Sarsgaard’s Milgram keeps a very straight face (Milgram himself confessed to being inspired in his experimental designs by the TV show Candid Camera), but we can smirk as we watch. The real secret Milgram hid, though, was that his work was intended to confer on America’s intelligence community superior knowledge of how to control people’s minds. He was part of a profession that claimed to know us better than we know ourselves…..
Archbishop Philip Wilson found guilty of concealing child sex abuse
By Sam Rigney 22 May 2018
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has been put on notice that he could expect a jail term after he was found guilty on Tuesday of concealing historical child abuse allegations against another priest.
In a landmark decision that could have wide-reaching implications for other high-ranking clergy members, Magistrate Robert Stone found Archbishop Wilson had been told by a 15-year-old boy in 1976 that he had been indecently assaulted by notorious Hunter paedophile priest Father James Fletcher, but chose not to go to the authorities despite believing the allegations were true.