Friday, November 17, 2017

MK Ultra Project: the CIA's plan to control the mind during interrogations

Being able to have control over what citizens do and think has been one of the highest priorities of any intelligence service on the planet. In the mid-twentieth century the US invested tens of millions to get it.

Since the end of World War II, one of the main obsessions of those responsible for the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States (CIA) was to find the perfect way to get all the information to an inmate during a interrogation and then reset the interrogated person's memory so that no trace of what happened was left.

For this purpose, it was tried to sign the most prestigious scientists of the time in fields as diverse as chemistry, psychology, psychiatry or neurology. Many of these experts came from Nazi Germany through what is known as Operation Paperclip.

Synthetic drugs, electroshock devices, hypnosis therapies and a large number of torture techniques were designed by these researchers, who had the backing and funding of the CIA. The secret nature of the program made these experiments outside the control of the authorities and the US government.

During the IIGM the spy tactics of the secret agents had been professionalized to the maximum and every time it cost more to be able to access the information available to a spy when he was arrested. For that reason, during the years of the Cold War large amounts of money were invested and many efforts were made to unravel all the secrets hidden by agents belonging to the Soviet bloc.

The project was christened 'Project MK Ultra', and the first experiments began in the early 1950s. Thus, medical institutions, prisons, universities or pharmaceutical companies were financed by the CIA so that their researchers could develop techniques and drugs that would help in the purpose of mental control of people.

Throughout the following years thousands of individuals from the United States and Canada participated in numerous experiments without being aware that they were part of a secret project of the intelligence agency.

Many of them were students who had volunteered at their faculties in exchange for earning a few dollars with which to reach the end of the month. But most of the participants were forced to do so: vagabonds, inmates, patients in psychiatric hospitals ... With all these individuals the experimentation was forced to the maximum, often leaving the matter to them. A large number died and others were left with mental faculties totally depleted.

One of the researchers who most actively worked on the MK Ultra Project was the psychiatrist of Scottish origin Donald Ewen Cameron, who put into practice numerous techniques of torture with electroshock, providing high doses of LSD or having the 'volunteers' whole days without power sleep while they were forced to listen to recordings with subliminal messages. All with the intention of developing an effective technique with which to get as much information as possible during interrogations.

Who also had a prominent role in the project was the American psychologist Henry Alexander Murray, a prestigious professor at Harvard University who carried out an experiment between 1959 and 1962 with about twenty of his students who volunteered and were later crossed out as a "cruelly atrocious experiment".

At the beginning of 1970 the numerous rumors about the secret project of the CIA began to see the light, and several were the requirements so much judicial as governmental for that it was contributed documentation on the same. But instead of presenting the reports what was done from the direction of the intelligence agency was to destroy most of them.

Despite the fact that several investigation commissions were started, all the information that could be gathered at that time was thanks to testimonies offered by people who had participated in the experiments, many atrocities and tortures coming to light.

Due to the obstruction made by the director of the CIA, Richard Helms, the government had no choice but to remove him from office - although he was sent as Ambassador to Iran.

All the successors of Helms - among them George H.W. Bush-refused to give information about the MK Ultra program, until in 1977 he was appointed director of the agency Stansfield Turner, a retired Navy admiral who put at the disposal of the Justice more than twenty thousand documents related to the experiments, investigations, torture and people involved. This dismantled a program that had enjoyed almost three decades of absolute impunity.

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