Mind Control & Propaganda

1977 Senate Hearing on MKUltra

Mr. Laubinger corrected his testimony regarding Subproject 54 during the September 21, 1977 hearings before the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Human Resources Committee. The relevant portion is reproduced below:

Mr. LAUBINGER. On project 54, it has got a rather sensational proposal in there, in terms of the work that they propose to do, and you asked about the proposal and I said, in fact, it was never funded under MKULTRA. Now, I overlooked -- at least, my memory did not serve me correctly when I went through that file folder to see one memorandum dated January 10, 1956, which makes it quite clear, as a matter of fact, that that proposal was based on prior work that was funded by the Agency.

Senator SCHWEIKER. By what?

Mr. LAUBINGER. By the CIA. So, that information was in their file folder. It did not happen to be in my head when I testified.

Senator SCHWEIKER. I think I might have read you that, and that is why I argued at the time with you, because I think I had in front of me, as I recall, some indication that it was funded there. I did read that to you. So, you did supply it to us; there is no argument about that information.

Mr. LAUBINGER. Perhaps I am sort of headstrong, myself, and in my own view, I am reading under the ULTRA project, that if it had been funded under ULTRA, it would have had a project number and identified as such. The thing that threw me was that it was funded, apparently, outside of any MKULTRA activity and it was under the normal contracting process, so that it was not included in MKULTRA as any work done under that funding umbrella.

The file folder that you have and I have, right here, makes it quite clear, however, that a year's work was done through navy funding -- a navy funding mechanism -- on which the proposal was based that ultimately came into the MKULTRA program. That second proposal was never funded. So, there was conflict and I, personally, I think, introduced a little bit of confusion in that in my testimony.

Senator SCHWEIKER. Well, do you agree or not agree with DOD's statement here that even though the initial funding was navy, it was really I conduit for the CIA?

Mr. LAUBINGER. I think that is correct.

Senator SCHWEIKER. Yes; I would appreciate that. I would like to know how it went from ONR to CIA after a year. Somebody made a decision to make that transfer, and to make this an MKULTRA subject. There had to be some sort of review that led to a decision to continue that kind of concussion -- total blackout, maximum amnesia, and whatever else it was you were interested in -- study and testing.

Mr. LAUBINGER. Senator, if I may try to say a few words on that, the files that were available to us for inspection, which are limited, indicated that there was a project being carried on by the Navy having to do with the, effects of brain concussion. The CIA developed an interest in that, and considered funding it, but actually never did, and as the admiral testified, the MKULTRA is merely a funding mechanism, a place they go for money to do such things, but there is no evidence that I know of that that project was ever funded.

Senator SCHWEIKER. Well, I am confused, because here again is another quote from a document that we have seen, which you have released and supplied to us:

Following is the technical progress made under the current [deleted] contract:

(a) Specializing instrumentation and numerous testing techniques have been developed to obtain the desired dynamic data;

(b) considerable data has now been obtained supporting the resonance-cavilation theory of brain concussion; and

(c) preliminary acceleration threshold data has been obtained for a fluid-filled glass simulated skull.

It goes on to talk about a blast range and a 2,500-square-foot laboratory. The document notes that "Three blast test series have been run to date." It describes a special blackjack device, "a pancake-type blackjack giving a high peak impact force with a low unit surface pressure."

I agree the records are inconclusive as to the results of this work, but it certainly seems that some testing was done.

Mr. LAUBINGER. Senator, you are putting us in the same position I think you were stating that you were in earlier referring to documents not before us, but I believe you are quoting from a proposal that someone sent to the Agency to fund this work, and he is referring to past work. The past work would have encompassed a lot of things like that, but CIA was not involved with that.

Senator SCHWEIKER. What do you mean, Admiral, on page 6 of your testimony when you mention projects using magician's art? How do magicians get into the spook business?

Admiral TURNER. I have interpreted this as to how to slip the mickey into the finn, but I would like to ask my advisers here to comment.

Mr. BRODY. I think that is essentially it, Senator. It is surreptitious administration of material to someone, deceptive practices, how to distract someone's attention while you are doing something else, as I understand it. It was also some type of a covert communication project involved with the study of how magicians and their assistants perhaps communicate information to one another without having other people know it. This is the type of thing that was involved, sir.

Senator SCHWEIKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator INOUYE. Senator Huddleston?

Senator HUDDLESTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Admiral, in your checking these newly discovered documents and interviewing members of the CIA staff, did you find information that would confirm the contention described by the reporters for the New York Times that this type of experimentation was begun out of a fear that the Agency that foreign powers might have drugs which would allow them to alter the behavior of American citizens or agents or members of the Armed Forces who were taken into custody, and which would have resulted in false confessions and the like? Is my question clear?

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir. I haven't personally read the documentation on that. In my discussions with the people who are well informed in this area at the Agency, I am told that that is the case.

Senator HUDDLESTON. Was there any evidence or any indication that there were other motives that the Agency might also be looking for drugs that could be applied for other purposes, such as debilitating an individual or even killing another person? Was this part of this kind of experimentation?

Admiral TURNER. Yes; I think there is. I have not seen in this series of documentation evidence of desire to kill, but I think the project turned its character from a defensive to an offensive one as it went along, and there certainly was an intention here to develop drugs that could be of use.

Senator HUDDLESTON. The project continued for some time after it was learned that, in fact, foreign powers did not have such a drug as was at first feared, didn't it?

Admiral TURNER. That is my understanding. Yes, sir.

Senator HUDDLESTON. Is there any indication that knowledge gained as a result of these experiments has been useful or is being applied in any way to present operations?

Mr. BRODY. Senator, I am not sure if there is any body of knowledge. A great deal of what there was, I gather, was destroyed in 1973. I would like to defer to Frank here. Do you know of any?

Mr. LAUBINGER. I know of no drugs or anything like that developed under this program that ever reached operational use or are in use today.

Senator HUDDLESTON. So apparently any information that was gathered was apparently useless and not worth continuing, not worth further development on the part of the Agency.

Mr. LAUBINGER. I am having difficulty hearing your questions.

Senator HUDDLESTON. I can hardly hear myself.

Admiral TURNER. I think the answer to your question is that we have no evidence of great usefulness on this, and yet I think we should remember--

Senator HUDDLESTON. Well, is it accurate to say that this experimentation produced few useful results or had little application at all to the operations of the Agency or anybody else as far as we know?

Admiral TURNER. I think that is basically correct. At the same time, I would point out that we had two CIA prisoners in China and one in the Soviet Union at this time, and we were concerned as to what kinds of things might be done to them, but I am not saying that--

Senator HUDDLESTON. Have you detected any sign that any other nation is continuing or has in the past conducted experiments similar to this or with a similar objective?

Admiral TURNER. I am not prepared to answer that one off the top of my head, sir, but I will get it to you.

[The material referred to follows:]

We maintain no files of up-to-date information on the testing of drugs in foreign countries. Some years ago we occasionally would review foreign research on antibiotics and pharmaceuticals in connection with public health and civil defense assessments. For a few years beginning in 1949 we assessed foreign research on LSD under Project ARTICHOKE because of concern that such drugs might be employed against Agency and other U.S. personnel. Information relative to this work has already been provided to relevant Committees. In this early work we also occasionally looked at foreign human experimentation; we long ago eliminated our holdings on this subject and no collection requirements are any longer served. As consumer interest in this area has dropped off and higher priority areas need attention, we have virtually no present coverage with the possible exception of an occasional scanning of the literature for a specific program. To the best of our knowledge no other unit in the Intelligence Community is tracking this subject now.

Senator HUDDLESTON. You don't know whether any of your agents anywhere in the world have been subjected to any kind of procedure like this?

Admiral TURNER. We certainly know of other powers conducting research in these areas, yes.

Senator HUDDLESTON. Do you know how they go about that research?

Admiral TURNER. It is pretty sketchy, the information we have.

Senator HUDDLESTON. Do you know of any other organization in this country or any institution that has conducted extensive research on unwitting individuals and through unwitting institutions?

Admiral TURNER. Well, I have read something in the newspapers about this, but I have not familiarized myself with it in specifies.

Senator HUDDLESTON. It is not a normal mode of operation for hitman research, is it?

Admiral TURNER. No, sir.

Senator HUDDLESTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator INOUYE. Senator Wallop?

Senator WALLOP. Mr. Chairman, I only have one to follow up on Senator Huddleston's questions and my earlier ones. You are not really saying, are you Admiral Turner, that there are no mind-altering drugs or behavior modification procedures which have been used by foreign powers?

Admiral TURNER. No, sir, I am not.

Senator WALLOP. I drew that inference partly in answer to my question that you knew of no truth serum. Maybe that is a misnomer, but surely there are relaxants that make tongues looser than they would otherwise be. Isn't that true?

Admiral TURNER. Yes.

Senator WALLOP. So I think it is fair to say, too, that the experience of many American prisoners of war in the Korean conflict would indicate that there are behavior modification procedures in use by foreign powers of a fairly advanced degree of sophistication.

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir.

Senator WALLOP. Again, I will just go back and say I think this must have been part of the motivation. I don't think you would have mentioned Cardinal Mindszenty had you thought his behavior was normal at the time or had anybody else. So, I would just again say I think it is a little bit scapegoating. I don't think the object of this hearing is in any way to lay blame on those passed or those dead or otherwise, but I think it is a little bit scapegoating to say that it stopped with the directors of the CIA or the DCT's of the time. Also I think it is a little bit scapegoating, to say they didn't even know it, but that it was some lower echelon acting alone.

I think this was a behavior pattern that was prevalent in those years, and I think the object lesson is that we have discovered, we think and we hope, through your assurances and other activities of the Congress, means of avoiding future incidents of that kind. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator INOUYE. Senator Chafee?

Senator CHAFEE. No questions.

Senator INOUYE. Senator Kennedy, I think you have another question.

Senator KENNEDY. Just talking about the two safe houses on the east and west, coast as being the sources for the unwitting trials, now, the importance of this and the magnitude of it, I think, is of significance, because we have seen from your records that these we're used over a period of 8 or 9 years, and the numbers could have been considerable. You are unable to determine, at least, in your own research, what the numbers would be, and what the drugs were, how many people were involved, but it could have been considerable during this period of time.

It would certainly appear to me in examining the documents and the flow charts of cash slips that were expended in these areas that it was considerable, but that is a judgmental factor on it, but I think it is important to try and find out what the Agency is attempting to do to get to the bottom of it.

Now, the principal agent that was involved as I understand it is deceased and has been deceased for 2 years. The overall agent, Mr. Gottlieb, has indicated a fuzzy memory about this whole area. He has testified before the Intelligence Committee. Yet he was responsible for the whole program. Then, the Director had indicated the destruction of the various materials and unfamiliarity with the project.

Now, you have indicated in your testimony today that there are two additional agents on page 9 of your testimony, you indicated there were two additional agents which you have uncovered at the bottom of it, and you say the names of CIA officials who approved or monitored the various projects. You talk about the two additional agents in your testimony.

Now, I am just wondering if you intend to interview those agents to find out exactly what is being done. I suppose, first of all, shouldn't the project manager know what was being done?

Admiral TURNER. Our first problem, Senator, is that we have been unable to associate an individual with those names at this point. We are still burrowing to find out who these people are. We haven't identified them as having been CIA employees, and we don't know whether these were false names.

Senator KENNEDY. You are tracking that down, as I understand it?

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir.

Senator KENNEDY. You are tracking that. down, and you have every intention of interviewing those people to find out whatever you can about the program and project?

Admiral TURNER. My only hesitation here is whether I will do this or the Justice Department.

Senator KENNEDY. It will be pursued, though, I understand?

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir.

Senator KENNEDY. Either through the Agency or through the Justice Department?

Admiral TURNER. [Nods in the affirmative.]

Senator KENNEDY. Is it plausible that the director of the program would not understand or know about the details of the program? Is it plausible that Dr. Gottlieb would not understand the full range of activities in those particular safe houses?

Admiral TURNER. Let me say it is unlikely. I don't know Mr. Gottlieb.

Senator KENNEDY. Has anybody in the Agency talked with Mr. Gottlieb to find out about this?

Admiral TURNER. Not since this revelation has come out.

Senator KENNEDY. Not since this revelation? Well, why not?

Admiral TURNER. He has left our employ, Senator.

Senator KENNEDY. Does that mean that anybody who leaves is, you know, covered for lifetime?

Admiral TURNER. No, sir.

Senator KENNEDY. Why wouldn't you talk with him and find out? You have new information about this program. It has been a matter of considerable interest both to our committee and to the Intelligence Committee. Why wouldn't you talk to Mr. Gottlieb?

Admiral TURNER. Well, again, I think the issue is whether this should be done by the Justice Department or ourselves.

Senator KENNEDY. Well, are we wrestling around because you and Attorney General Bell can't agree--

Admiral TURNER. No, sir.

Senator KENNEDY [continuing]. On who ought to do it?

Admiral TURNER. We are proceeding together in complete agreement as to how to go. I have, in connection with trying to find all of these Americans or others who were unwittingly tested, I have some considerable concern about the CIA running around this country interviewing and interrogating people, because I don't want to give any impression that we are doing domestic intelligence.

Senator KENNEDY. I am just talking about one, in this case. That was the man who was responsible for the whole program, and to find out whether anyone within the Agency since you have had this new material has talked to Gottlieb since 1975, and if the answer is no, I want to know why not.

Admiral TURNER. The reason he was not interviewed in connection with the 1975 hearings was that he had left the employ of the CIA and there was a concern on the part of the Agency that it would appear to the investigators that the CIA was in some way trying to influence him and influence his testimony before the committee. If these committees have, no objection, we would be happy to contact Dr. Gottlieb and see if he can augment anything here in this new information, though I don't think there is much in this new information that be can add to as opposed to what was available in 1975.

Senator KENNEDY. Well, you see, Admiral Turner, you come to the two committees this morning and indicate that now at last we have the information. We don't have to be concerned about anything in the future on it. Now, I don't know how you can give those assurances to the members of these committees as well as to the American people when you haven't since 1975 even talked to the principal person that was in charge of the program, and the records were destroyed. He is the fellow that was running the program, and the Agency has not talked to him since the development of this new material.

Admiral TURNER. Our only concern here is the proprieties involved, and we will dig into this and work with the Justice Department on who, if either of us, should get into discussions with Dr. Gottlieb so as not to prejudice any legal rights that may be involved here, or to appear in any way to be improper.

Senator KENNEDY. Well, do I understand you have not contacted the Justice Department about this particular case since the development of this new material about Gottlieb?

Admiral TURNER. Not about Gottlieb specifically. We have contacted him.

Senator KENNEDY. Well, it is amazing to me. I mean, can you understand the difficulty that any of us might have in terms of comprehending that when you develop a whole new series of materials that are on the front page of every newspaper in the country and are on every television, I mean, that means something, but it does not mean nearly as much as the interest that we have in the fact about the testing of unwitting Americans, and every single document that the staff reviews has Mr. Gottlieb's name on it and you come to tell us that we don't have to worry any more, we have these other final facts, and Mr. Gottlieb has not been talked to?

Admiral TURNER. Sir, I am not saying that these are in any way the final facts. I am saying these are all the facts we have available.

Senator KENNEDY. And you have not talked to the person who was in charge of the program, so what kind of value or what kind of weight can we give it?

Admiral TURNER. We are happy to talk to him. I think the issue here again is one of propriety and how to go about this. We have not, I believe, enough new information about Gottlieb's participation here to signal that his interview would be that much more revealing than what was revealed in 1975.

Senator KENNEDY. The importance of it, I think, from our point of view, is, he would know the drugs that were administered, the volume of drugs, how it was administered, and in terms of your ability to follow lip to protect these people and their health, to the extent that it can be done, that opportunity is being lost.

I want to get on to some others, but will you give us the assurance that you will get ahold of Gottlieb or that you will talk to Attorney General Bell and talk with Gottlieb?

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir.

Senator KENNEDY. And let us know as to the extent of it. I don't see how we can fulfill our responsibility in this area on the drug testing without our hearing from Gottlieb as well, but I think it is important that you do so, particularly since all of the materials have been destroyed.

These other two agents, have they talked to them?

Admiral TURNER. We don't, know who they are, sir. We are trying to track down and see whether these names can be related to anybody.

Senator KENNEDY. That is under active investigation by the Agency?

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir.

Senator KENNEDY. And you have the intention of talking to those people when you locate them. Is that correct?

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir, under the same circumstances as Gottlieb.

Senator KENNEDY. And you have people working on it? Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir.

Senator KENNEDY. With regards to the activities that took place in these safe houses, as I understand from the records, two-way mirrors were used. Is that your understanding?

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir. We have records that construction was done to put in two-way mirrors.

Senator KENNEDY. And they were placed in the bedroom, as I understand.


Senator KENNEDY. Well, we have documents--

Admiral TURNER. I believe that was in the Church record, but I don't have the details.

Senator KENNEDY. And rather elaborate decorations were added, as I understand, at, least, to the one in San Francisco, in the bedroom, which are French can-can dancers, floral pictures, drapery, including installation of bedroom mirrors, three framed Toulouse Lautrec posters with black silk mats, and a number of other -- red bedroom curtains and recording equipment, and then a series of documents which were provided to the committee which indicate a wide proliferation of different cash for 0, generally in the 0 range over any period of time on the particular checks. Even the names are blocked out, as to the person who is receiving it. Cash for undercover agents, operating expenses, drinks, entertainment while administering, and then it is dashed out, and then the other documents, that would suggest, at least with the signature of your principal agent out there, that "called to the operation, midnight, and climax."

What can you tell us that it might suggest to you about what techniques were being used by the Agency in terms of reaching that sort of broad-based group of Americans that were being evidently enticed for testing in terms of drugs and others? Do you draw ally kind of conclusion about what might have been going on out there, in these safe houses?

Admiral TURNER. No, sir.

[General laughter.]

Senator KENNEDY. There is a light side to it, but there is also an enormously serious side. And that is that, at least the techniques which are used or were used in terms of testing, and trying to find out exactly the range of drugs used and the numbers of people involved and exactly what that operation was about, as well as the constant reiteration of the, use of small sums of cash at irregular intervals. A variety of different techniques were employed but there is an awful lot of documentation putting these matters together.

When you look at the fact that, it is a broad range population that has been tested, tested in these two areas, with the kind of cash slips that were used in this payment mechanisms and decorations and all of the rest, we are not able to put a bottom line on it but one thing is for sure, and that is, Gottlieb knows. That is one thing for sure, because his name appears on just about every one of these documents, and it is, I think, very important to find out what his understanding is of the nature of that. So, we will hear more about that.

Admiral TURNER. I believe Gottlieb has been interviewed by the Congress.

Senator KENNEDY. That's right, he has, and in reviewing the record, it is not very satisfactory, and it just seems with the new information and the new documentation and the new memoranda -- and he did not have the checks at that time -- and with the wide variety of different memoranda with his name on it, his memory could be stimulated on that.

Thank you.

Senator INOUYE. I would like to thank the admiral and his staff for participating in this hearing. I believe the record should show that this hearing was held at the request of the Agency and the admiral. It was not held because we insisted upon it. It was a volunteer effort on the part of the Agency. I think the record should also indicate that Admiral Turner has forwarded to this committee a classified file, including all of the names of the institutions and the persons involved as the experimentors.

I should also indicate that this hearing is just one step involved in the committee's investigation of drug abuse. Just as you have had much work in going over the 8,000 pages, the staff of this committee has had equal problems, but I would like the record to show that you have made these papers and documents available to the committee. I thank you for that.

As part of the ongoing investigation, we had intended to call upon many dozens of others, experimentors, or those officials in charge, and one of those will be Dr. Gottlieb.

In thanking you, I would like to say this to the American people, that what we have experienced this morning in this committee room is not being duplicated in any other committee room in any other part of the world. I doubt that very much. Our Agency and our intelligence community has been under much criticism and has been subjected to much abuse, in many cases justified, but this is the most open society that I can think of. For example, in Great Britain there are about six people who are aware of the identity of the man in charge of intelligence. In other countries, similar conditions exist. Here in the United States we not only know Admiral Turner, we have had open hearings with him, such as this. The confirmation hearings were all open.

In a few weeks, the Senate of the United States will debate a resolution to decide upon whether we should disclose the amounts and funds being used for counterintelligence and national intelligence. I would hope that, in presenting this issue to the public, the media will take note that the Agency has cooperated and will continue to. The abuse that we have learned about this morning is one I hope will never happen again, but without constant oversight on the part of the Executive Office, on the part of the Congress, it could happen again. It is important, therefore that we continue in this oversight activity.

So, once, again, Admiral, I thank yon very much for helping us. We will continue to call upon you for your assistance. We would like to submit to you several questions that the members and staff have prepared. I hope you will look them over carefully and prepare responses for the record, sir.

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman?

Senator INOUYE. Yes, sir?

Senator KENNEDY. I, too, want to thank Admiral Turner for his responsiveness. I have had meetings with him in the committees and also conversations, telephone conversations, and private meetings, and

I have found him personally to be extremely responsive, and it is a very difficult challenge which lie has accepted in heading this Agency. I want you to know, personally, I, too, would like to see this put behind us. I don't think we are quite there yet in terms of this particular area that we are interested in. I think the Intelligence Committee has special responsibilities in this area of the testing, so we look forward to working with you in expediting the time that we can put it behind, but it does seem to me that we have to dig in and finish the chapter. So, I want to personally express my appreciation to you, Admiral Turner, and thank you for your cooperation and your help, and I look forward to working with you.

Admiral TURNER. Thank you.

Senator HUDDLESTON. Mr. Chairman, I am not sure you emphasized this enough, but I think the record ought to show that Admiral Turner informed the Select Committee on his own initiative when the new documentation was found. The documentation has been made available to us voluntarily, in a spirit of cooperation.

I think this shows a vast difference from the mode of operation that existed prior to the formation at least of the Church committee, and a difference that is very helpful.

Senator INOUYE. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Admiral.

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