January 23, 2017

1977. Revelations About the CIA's "Project MKUltra"

ABC News Reports on the CIA's Mind Control Program

ABC Evening News

July 20, 1977

FRANK REYNOLDS: There were new revelations today about cloak-and-dagger spy operations by our side. The CIA Director, Admiral Stansfield Turner, met with the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session to provide more information about "MKUltra." MKUltra is a CIA program started nearly twenty-five years ago to control human behavior through the use of drugs, electric shock, psycho-surgery, and other rather sophisticated techniques.

The CIA now says it has discovered documents relating to the program that apparently were not filed in the right place. Acting under the Freedom of Information Act, a former State Department official, John Marks, has obtained a number of other documents on MKUltra. He made them public today.

Bill Downs has that story.

BILL DOWNS: John Marks says the latest CIA documents show that in the 1950s the CIA secretly contracted with an unidentified professor of neurology to go to an unnamed state prison for an experiment on an unrevealed number of convicts. The agency had learned that the Russians were testing a drug called bulbocapnine.

MKUltra wanted to know if the drug actually could induce loss of willpower and memory. Another documented case involves two suspected Russian CIA agents which the agency feared might have been compromised. Both agents were drugged, then hypnotized. The relived past incidents in their lives, the documents report. Interrogations were very successful.

Among the MKUltra documents produced today was a 1949 letter outlining ways of killing a person without leaving evidence of murder—try smothering with a pillow or strangling with a thick towel However, the letter's classic revelation: put an individual into a relatively tightly sealed small room with a block of CO2 dry ice. It is highly probable that death would result without detection.

JOHN MARKS: Admiral Turner says the experimentation now has stopped. Even if that is so, there still remains the huge body of research, technology, equipment, and other means that the CIA developed over the years. This research product is a potential threat to our most basic freedoms if it gives the government or anyone else the ability to manipulate human behavior. These techniques do not just smack of 1940—of Nineteen Eighty-Four—they open up the prospect of totalitarian control.

DOWNS: Bill Downs, ABC News Washington.

REYNOLDS: The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a public hearing on MKUltra late next week. The principal witness will be the CIA Director, Admiral Turner.

This is Frank Reynolds.
ABC Evening News

August 3, 1977

BARBARA WALTERS: The chief of the CIA told the Senate today that eighty institutions such as colleges, prisons, and hospitals were used in top secret mind control research in the Cold War years. He gave details of some frightening experiments, as Bill Downs reports.

BILL DOWNS: More than five thousand well-laundered and sometimes lurid documents were released today by the CIA as agency Director Stansfield Turner outlined parts of the CIA's 144 human behavior control projects before a joint Senate committee. They included experiments secretly involving hospitals testing drugs on terminal cancer patients and enlisting prisons to experiment on criminal sexual psychopaths.

Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy said that prostitutes were employed to entice unwitting victims to so-called CIA safe houses in New York and San Francisco to test LSD and knockout drops. Disavowing the past, Admiral Turner had strong ideas about the CIA's future.

STANSFIELD TURNER: It is totally abhorrent to me to think of using a human being as a guinea pig and in any way jeopardizing his life and his health, but I can assure you that this is totally beyond the pale of my contemplation of activities that the CIA or any other of our intelligence agencies should undertake.

DOWNS: Turner's testimony today revealed that the CIA secretly funneled money through scores of research foundations, colleges, hospitals, and clinics, including a $375,000 grant through the Geschickter Research Fund here in Washington.

For that story, here is Margaret Osmer at Washington's Georgetown University.

MARGARET OSMER: Georgetown University is one of the institutions that received money from the CIA. Money that came from a reputable foundation here in Washington and was used to help construct these new university buildings. University officials don't deny they got the money, but they do deny knowing anything about the CIA connection.

DR. MATTHEW MCNULTY: We have no—looking at our plans, which we've done just as recently as again this morning—there's no space that matches whatever is that the comment made at the hearings. And so we don't know what they're talking about. Now, whether there was an arrangement made with the CIA—with some other agency—to do something that was never done—which I think was Admiral Turner's response this morning that he didn't know what that was about—but it never did come to pass, we don't know.

OSMER: Dr. McNulty says he finds it despicable for a democracy not to ask an institution if they want to be involved in such an activity. Perhaps, he added, the plus of a democracy is eventually we learn about everything.

Margaret Osmer, ABC News, Georgetown University.

WALTERS: ABC's John Scali reports that CIA Director Turner has lost his bid to take over the Pentagon's intelligence apparatus as well as the CIA. President Carter will make the announcement tomorrow.