Friday, May 15, 2009

Naomi Klein on CIA Project MK-ULTRA

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
predated MK-ULTRA.
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):


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the Naomi Klein speech - it's a great book.

Kenneth Dowst said...

And thanks for the feedback, ciamemoryhole. I'm definitely adding the book to my "To Read" short-list!
-- Ken

Anonymous said...

Do you have any leads to the origin of the image of the "Child victim of MK-ULTRA" that you posted here? I figure that the image is still contained within the file in which it was found. Where did you get the info about the "ca 1961"? Do you not think that this may refer to the year the subject was born and not the year it was taken?
Thanks for the informing us all.

Kenneth Dowst said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for taking the trouble to write. I found the photo through a Google image search on "mk-ultra." Google cites the source as

The typed caption added to the top center of the photo identifies the date as "about early 60s." (I had to magnify the photo to 150% to read the dang thing!)


Anonymous said...

...and around we go..
I checked this source months ago and this site it the start of my search and they referenced the image to

which seemed to be out of the middle east. When I contacted this site, they replied (in clear written English) that they had gotten the image off line at a site that no longer exists.

When I pull up the image by itself, the info documented at the top of the computer...hhtps:/ it made reference to the c1961

I seem to be at a wall. If you get any info on this.... I'll check back to this message from time to time.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

PS I am confident that this image was taken of the child in 1971 (give or take a year)while the 1961 gives reference to the year she was born.

Kenneth Dowst said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm sorry I can't be of much further help to you. I know nothing of the MK-ULTRA victim in the picture except what the original caption states. You seem already to know more about her than I do! (Care to tell us more?)

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

I think the picture of the child is me. I think it was 1964 -ish, not 1961. It looks exactly like my other child pictures, and many dates and events match. I would like more info. on this.

Kenneth Dowst said...

Dear Anonymous (of 9/6/2010),

Thanks for writing. All I know about the photo is discussed in the Comments before yours, in this blog entry. Good luck in your investigation.


Anonymous said...

As to the comment made by the last anonymous comment relating to the image being either taken in 1964 or referring to the birth date being 1964- either would be erroneous. 1961 would be the correct date as originally documented.