The Secret Agenda

By Dr Armen Victorian

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the Western allies identified the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries as their new enemy. An entirely new kind of non-war began, a Cold War. With growing paranoia surrounding communism, fuelled by its 'Black Budget', the US renewed its interest in the subject of mind control.

The methods and technologies that were developed over the following five decades resulted in as much pain and suffering for the targets of these operations as during the 'real war' which had just ended. In most cases, the victims could not begin to understand the logic of their becoming a target in the silent global warfare between the emerging superpowers. Mostly, the victims were innocent people caught in the crossfire. At other times people were used as guinea pigs in the experimental and development stages of the new science of mind control .

Almost five months after the CIA's creation in December 1947, the National Security Council held its first meeting. James Forrestal, the Secretary of Defense, pushed for the CIA to begin a 'secret war' against the Soviets. This was in response to the growing concern in America that communist agents had infiltrated all levels of society and needed to be flushed out and destroyed. It is interesting to note that by May 1949, Forrestal had become intensely paranoid about being surrounded, or followed, by communists. Whilst under treatment for a mental breakdown at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, he killed himself jumping out of an open window. Forrestal, in a sense, became the first victim of the growing paranoid, overkill policy by the United States and which, in many ways, continues today.

I just received this information below about Forrestal in an email (29th Jan 2005) -

I see that you have repeated the popular myth that America's first Defense Secretary, James Forrestal, committed suicide. If you go to and follow the links you will see that I have gathered evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he was murdered. I trust that you will correct your error.

You can get a running start into the evidence by reading a couple of my letters to historians on the subject at .

British policy up to this time had been somewhat different. Today in the Public Records Office, there are over 16,000 document files covering the development of psychological warfare up to 1948.

Forrestal's initiative at the 1947 meeting led to the issue of a secret order, NSC-4A, under the CIA's new director, Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter. He was instructed to commence the execution of psychological warfare operations (psy-ops) in Europe. This involved answering a crucial question - did the CIA have a legal, not to mention moral, right to conduct such activities abroad? General Counsellor Lawrence Housten declared in a memorandum that the CIA had no legal jurisdiction as an intelligence agency. He added that it would also be illegal for the CIA to be used by the President as a 'secret army'.

Nonetheless, it was decided that the communist threat was an issue that took priority over constitutional rights. NSC-4A was therefore supplemented by a further instruction, NSC-10/2, to create a Presidential Secret Order which had the effect of greatly increasing the CIA's powers. As a result, the CIA formally established its covert action branch; the Office of Policy and Co-ordination (OPC).

The Agency immediately embarked on a wide range of research programmes and operations, the aim being to discover the best means of utilising psy-op techniques in combating the enemies of Western democracy . This work was not new and, as we shall see later, it was based on research dating back as far as 1923.

As a result of events during the Second World War , the concept of running a secret 'black' project was no longer novel for Western military and intelligence planners. Projects such as the Manhattan Project (the US secret atomic bomb programme) had given birth to an entirely new generation of operations and, because of them, a moral precedent had been established which made it much easier for psy-op programme champions to argue their case. The existence of all these operations - 'Black Projects' funded by 'Black Budgets' - were withheld not only from the public, but also from Congress for reasons of national security.

The basic concept for the first of these Black Projects was conceived, as far as we can tell, on 9 October 1941 - two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese...

The basic concept for the first of these Black Projects was conceived, as far as we can tell, on 9 October 1941 - two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese.

Vannevar Bush, the Dean of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), explained to Franklin D. Roosevelt how a 25 pound atomic bomb could explode with the estimated power of 3.6 million pounds of dynamite, providing the means for the US to win the next war. Roosevelt decided, without consulting the representatives of the people in Congress, that the US should proceed immediately, in utmost secrecy, to develop such a weapon. He also decided to make the funds for the project available from 'a special source available for such an unusual purpose.'

It was estimated at the time that the entire project would cost $100 million. This proved to be drastically wrong. Over the next four years $2.19 billion of American tax-payers money was spent. According to General Leslie R. Groves, the Commander of the Manhattan Project, such huge spending 'required unorthodox' and 'unusual procedures'. The creation of such a system of funding provided the blueprint for other clandestine projects, some of which continue to this day.

Secrecy shrouded the Manhattan Project to the extent that Vice-President Harry Truman knew nothing about it. (In fact it remained so secret that it was several years before a President was allowed to see the military plans for using such a bomb.)

The two key figures involved were Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who had secretly agreed between themselves in September 1944 that the bomb, 'might, perhaps, after mature consideration, be used against the Japanese. 13

Roosevelt died on 12 April 1945, and when Truman took office, the project remained top secret. The Secretary of War, Henry Stimpson, found a moment to murmur in Truman's ear that America had 'an enormous project to build a new explosive of almost unbelievable power.

In later years Truman recalled Stimpson's words and commented: 'His statements left me puzzled." Such was the scale of secrecy surrounding the first American Black Project.

The Manhattan Project meant that by the time the newly created CIA obtained the go-ahead to establish its covert operations branch in Europe in 1947, the US Government had already gained vast experience in the initiation of secret operations conducted without the knowledge of Congress. Furthermore, now that the CIA was no longer just collecting foreign intelligence, it quickly evolved to become the President's secret army.

One of the main areas to be investigated by the CIA was mind or personality control. In fact, many other branches of the US Government took part in the study of this area, including the Atomic Energy Commission (Department of Energy), NASA , and various Department of Defense sub-units.

Under the protection of 'national security', these branches embarked on a wide range of macabre programmes, including assassination squads, brain washing programmes, civilian spying, drug trafficking, illegal arms sales, fomenting civil wars and toppling foreign governments.

Although not officially endorsed, each President in turn gave his approval for the continuance of such projects. While the CIA developed its science of psychological warfare techniques, it also expanded the programme to include such subjects as UFOs and Extra Sensory Perception (ESP).

The initial CIA mind control projects brought about encouraging results and it was decided they merited further investigation. General William 'Wild Bill' Donovan, director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), had already tasked his team - which included Drs Edward Strecker, Winfred Overshulser, George White and Harry J. Anslinger - to modify human behaviour and perception through chemical means.

Donovan's team was determined to create a 'truth serum' by experimenting with ego relief narcotics such as scopaline, barbiturates, peyote, marijuana, and mescaline. These efforts received an extra boost when a number of Nazi chemical specialists (brought into the US via the Operation Paperclip programme) began to work closely with the American secret services.

Scientists such as Karl Tauboek, whose efforts to create a 'truth serum' were crucial in the history of mind control, provided the CIA with a wealth of important information. Tauboek obtained his data from ruthless human experimentation. Frederick Hoffman, another Nazi researcher, discovered a paralysis-inducing conch shell venom. At the same time another group of Nazi scientists - Karl Rarh, Theodore Wagner-Jauregg and Hans Turit - continued their previous wartime covert research. They worked from American laboratories, developing poison and nerve gases such as tabun and sarin. They worked on these projects despite their active and known involvement in the Holocaust. A decision had obviously been taken determining that the military necessity to develop new mind control drugs and techniques outweighed any moral issues raised by the origination of the research data.

In 1977 Sidney Gottlieb, an important MKULTRA administrator, (MKULTRA will be discussed in more depth later) was taken before a Senate sub-hearing. He was there to answer important questions put to him about CIA mind control operations and related projects. He revealed that the CIA had indeed funded a series of such operations.

The revelations from the sub-hearing opened up many areas for subsequent investigation by investigative journalists and provided absolute proof that such work had been consciously carried out under the authority of successive administrations.

Senator Richard Schweiker asked Gottlieb about a notorious secret project known as RHIC (Radio Hypnotic Intercerebral Control) whereby people would have a miniature receiver implanted in them. Gottlieb answered that the technique did not exist. He continued, however. 'I am trying to be responsive to the terms that you used. As I remember it, there was a current interest, running interest, all the time in what effects people standing in a field of radio waves have, and it could easily have been that, somewhere in the many projects, someone was trying to see if you could hypnotise someone easier if he was standing in a radio beam. That could seem like a reasonable piece of research to do.' When Senator Schweiker added that he had heard testimony that radar (i.e. microwaves) had been used in animals to wipe out memory, Gottlieb responded. 'I can believe that, Senator.'

The main advocate of these programmes was Edward Hunter, a CIA contract employee operating undercover as a journalist. He later became a prominent member of the right-wing John Birch Society. The programmes in question were code named MKULTRA, MKSEARCH, MKACTION, MKNAOMI, ARTICHOKE and BLUEBIRD, which involved people being used as human guinea pigs in mind experiments. As a result of this increasing range of programmes, many subjects had lost their sanity and at least two people died. A letter from the CIA to the author states:

'The files of this agency do contain evidence that research sponsored by the CIA and involving human testing was conducted prior to 1963 in the field of behavioural control, using techniques involving hypnosis and drugs - primarily LSD - under Project MKULTRA and some related projects. The designator MKDELTA referred to a special procedure governing the use of MKULTRA materials abroad.'

MKULTRA was not limited to the use of drugs alone. Sensory deprivation, religious cults, microwaves, psychological conditioning, psychosurgery, brain implants and several other areas of research were also gathered under the MKULTRA cover. In total it consisted of 149 sub-projects plus another 33 additional closely related sub-projects, all funded through the black budget.

Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 215,000 pages of records released by the CIA are merely records of the financial aspects of these programmes. They contain glimpses of evidence for the period when the CIA conducted its work through the Office of Security in 1953, and later through the Technical Services Staff (TSS) up to 1962. Several records are available from 1962 onwards when mind control research was transferred to the Office of Research and Development (ORD). However, from the 1950s to 1962 most of the original records, documents and research papers were deliberately destroyed.

Although in Senate Committee hearings during the 1970s some of the CIA's clandestine activities surfaced, a great deal more remained hidden in the military intelligence archives. Other Department of Defense departments were involved, as well as several private scientific institutions and laboratories working for the DoD and the CIA in the United States and especially in Europe.

One of the staunch theorists and believers in the use of hypnosis during warfare, George Eastbrook, secretly hypnotised two of his friends when trying to prove his point, whilst impressing guests at a party. He led the victims to believe the British Prime Minister had just arrived and the two spent over an hour conversing with their imaginary VIP guest. As the late Miles Copeland, a former CIA officer of some rank, said to a reporter. 'The congressional sub-committee which went into this sort of thing got only the barest glimpse.'


1. Vannevar Bush's memorandum to James Conant, Bush-Conant files, Office of Scientific Research and Development, S-1, Record Group 227, National Archives.

2. Leslie R. Groves, 'Now It Can Be Told' (New York, Harper and Row, 1962), pp 359-66.

3. The aide-memoir of Quebec agreement between Roosevelt and Churchill is in the Foreign Relations of the United States; The Conference at Quebec, 1944 (Washington DC: GPO), pp492-93.

4. Harry S. Truman, 'Memoirs' by H. S. Truman, Vol. 1, 1945: Year of Decisions (New York, Signet 1965), pp 20-21.

5. Human Drug Testing by CIA, p 202. Joint Hearing, Before the Select Committee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, US Senate. 95th Congress, 1st Session, 3 August 1977.

6. Edward Hunter is a veteran of the China theatre, which later produced personalities such as Richard Helms, Fred Crisman, Paul Halliwell and Mitch Werbell. Hunter coined the term 'brain washing'. See Miami News, 24 September 1950.

7. CIA letter to author, dated 19 October, 1990.

8. Robert Eringer, 'Secret Agent Man', Rolling Stone 1985.

( categories: )