Project MKUltra: One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time

Picture about Project MKUltra, One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time
Project MKUltra, One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time


Project MKUltra: It is one of the most shocking CIA programs of all time.

The project involved CIA conducting shocking mind control experiments on American citizens, the declassified documents of which also reveal sex abuse.

Picture about Project MKUltra, One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time
Project MKUltra, One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time


The startling message talks about the Project MKUltra in United States of America, which has indeed been one of the most shocking CIA programs of all time. Let us discuss it in detail.

What is Project MKUltra?

Project MKUltra, also called the CIA’s (Central Intelligence Agency) Mind Control Program, is the code name of a U.S. government human research operation that experimented in the behavioral engineering of humans – against law and ethics. CIA conducted dozens of experiments on the effects of biological and chemical agents on American citizens and others — without their knowledge. The covert Project MKUltra began officially in 1953 and went on till 1964; it was carried on in 1967 until it was officially halted in 1973, when they realized they could not reliably achieve their goals.

Project MKUltra was organized through the Scientific Intelligence Division of the CIA, where some 149 subprojects were contracted out to various universities, research foundations and similar institutions. Reports say that at least 80 institutions and 185 private researchers participated in this covert operation of human mind control – some not even aware of the actual intentions. The aim of Project MKUltra was to find drugs that control human mind, which would bring out deep confessions, or wipe out a subject’s memory. The program also hoped to create a ‘robot agent’, or a programmable assassin.

The Tests

The covert tests of Project MKUltra included subjecting the unwitting people to hallucinogenic drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals. MKUltra also employed various other ways to manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain functions, like hypnosis, sensory deprivation, electroshock therapy, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse.

The project included experiments including administering of drugs like LSD to mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts and prostitutes, i.e. the people who can’t fight back. Also, LSD was administered to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, and the general public in order to study their reactions. This way Project MKUltra engaged in many illegal activities; in particular it used unwitting U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects. Worse, the MKUltra scientists were authorized to research “additional avenues to the control of human behavior” including “radiation . . .[and] paramilitary devices and materials.”

How it was Revealed

In the wake of the Watergate wiretapping scandal and other domestic-spying revelations, in 1973, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered to destroy the MK-ULTRA project files. Some records were however overlooked during this destruction.

In December 1974, The New York Times raised allegations that the CIA had conducted illegal activities and experiments on U.S. citizens during the 1960s. It prompted investigations by the U.S. Congress, in the form of the Church Committee, and by Rockefeller Commission, a presidential commission. Following this, the Project MKUltra program was brought to light in 1975. In 1976 and 1977, the U.S. Senate conducted investigations, held a joint committee hearing on Project MKUltra, and then published most of what was discovered.

Notable Cases

During the Project MKUltra, often it happened that the randomly selected subjects used to become ill for hours or days, and also included hospitalization in at least one case. Few notable cases that came into limelight are mentioned below:

1. Theodore Kaczynski was one of the twenty-two Harvard undergraduates who were used as a guinea pig in ethically questionable MKUltra experiments conducted by Henry Murray. During these experiments, each student received a code name, like Theodore was named “Lawful”. Among other purposes, Henry Murray was focused to measure people’s reaction under extreme stress. The unwitting undergraduates had to face assaults to their egos, cherished ideas and beliefs, in what Murray himself called “vehement, sweeping and personally abusive” attacks. Theodore is an American mathematician who went on to become a serial murderer, and came to be known as Unabomber.

2. Dr. Frank Olson, a 43-year-old microbiologist who worked for the U.S. Army and also CIA, was another unwitting recipient of the ‘CIA acid’. During a 1953 meeting with MK-ULTRA head Dr. Sidney Gottlieb and other CIA employees, Olson and four other scientists drank a glass of Cointreau that was secretly spiked with LSD drug.

They were told about it around 20 minutes later, after which Olson apparently had a severe reaction and left in an agitated state, who even threatened to resign afterwards. Claiming that Olson suffered a sudden bout of extreme paranoia and depression, they sent Olson to a psychiatrist in New York for consultation. Later, he died in a “fall” from the 10th floor of his New York hotel room. Several years later, in the 1990s, when Olson’s son had his father’s body exhumed and examined, it was discovered that his father might have actually died from a blunt force trauma to the head, which may have been received before he fell from the window.

3. In one case, LSD was administered to a mental patient in Kentucky — for 174 days. In another case in Kentucky, seven volunteers were given LSD for 77 consecutive days.

Because of these unethical, illegal and inhumane experiments, and also for the fact that most of the records were destroyed, MKUltra has been a part of many conspiracy theories thereafter. What’s more saddening is, couple of lawsuits arising out of MKUltra activities that made it to the Supreme Court ended up protecting the government over citizen’s rights.

The Bottom Line

In the name of Project MKUltra, for 20 years from 1953 to 1973, the American CIA funded and conducted unethical tests on human subjects – without their knowledge. The purpose of the project was to develop effective means to control human minds – for the sake of spying and other military aid. The purpose aside, it is alarming to see a government killing the liberty of its citizens, and in the name of experiments, putting their lives at risk in covert ways. Turning the unsuspecting humans into guinea pigs for their research into mind-altering drugs is wicked, cruel and unethical. And it is unfortunate that history has shown this is not the first time the US government has messed with the lives of their own citizens.

Hoax or Fact:


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Project MKUltra

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Prashanth Damarla