This week in New World Notes, #64, May 19 & 22:
Without their knowledge, American and Canadian citizens were used as guinea pigs in a bizarre series of top-secret experiments funded by the CIA. The series was known as Project MK-ULTRA. (The MK designates the particular CIA department in charge.)
Sensational revelations in the 1970s focused on the project's use of LSD on unwitting subjects. This caught viewers' attention, but LSD was just the tip of the iceberg. The MK-ULTRA experiments used a wide variety of powerful and sometimes antagonistic drugs in attempts to erase the contents of the subject's mind so that new content could be implanted. They used large and repeated doses of electroshock to complement the drug cocktails. To this they often added long periods of sensory deprivation.
None of the subjects of the experiments had consented--or were even aware that they were being used as guinea pigs.
Top: Author Naomi Klein.
Bottom: World's worst psychiatrist: Dr. Donald Ewen
Cameron (1901-1967). An early public justification of MK-ULTRA--when the project finally was exposed--was that it sought to understand "brainwashing" or "mind-control" techniques supposedly employed by the enemy in the Korean War. More recent statements by intelligence officials suggest that the main focus was on developing new and more effective methods of torture to extract information from "enemies."
In recent years, the Bush-Cheney stooges who tortured detainees in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, and elsewhere followed the MK-ULTRA playbook to the letter.
In a chapter of The Shock Doctrine (2007), Canadian journalist Naomi Klein tells the story of Gail Kastner. In the 1950s Gail had been an unwitting guinea pig in MK-ULTRA experiments performed on her in Montreal by Dr. (Donald) Ewen Cameron--an American, one of the continent's most distinguished psychiatrists. The experiments--involving bizarre drug cocktails, sensory deprivation, and massive doses of electroshock--failed to erase her mind. However, they did induce schizophrenia ("with hysterical tendencies") and also permanent amnesia of her life from birth through the time of her "treatment" (early 1950s). They permanently damaged her mind, to this day.
Gail, then a nursing student, had gone to Cameron seeking treatment for anxiety.
Top: Cameron at Work (1940s?) His mind-control experiments
Bottom: Child victim of MK-ULTRA, ca. 1961
In this episode of New World Notes, Klein reads aloud--and very well--most of her chapter on Kastner, Cameron, and MK-ULTRA.
It's a scary story that leaves you wondering: If they'd do this, what else are they capable of?
And they did such things starting in the administration of one of the 20th century's sanest and least warlike U.S. presidents, Dwight Eisenhower.
What did they do under maniacs like Bush-Cheney??
Allan Memorial Psychiatric Institute, McGill University--lair of
Ewen Cameron and other CIA-funded medical researchers.
This week's music:
Midnight Oil, Short Memory
I chose the song because of its theme--the American government's habit of making the same mistakes over and over again. Later it dawned to me that my choice of song might be seen as mocking the memory loss that Kastner and other victims of MK-ULTRA had experienced. No such mockery is intended.Catch New World Notes (all times Eastern):
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