Modern governments are shady, if you have ever read George Orwell’s “1984” you know that Big Brother is no longer a thing of Orwell’s imagination, it is a reality. Governments all across the world spend billions of dollars annually keeping tabs on their citizens and by spying on other countries around the globe. While this isn’t a new phenomenon, the activity has exploded since the end of World War II, and it has led to dangerous worldwide government organizations like the United Nations and other World governments such as the European Union. Governments want to control their populations, its quite simple, the more control they have over the lives of their subjects, the more powerful they are.

At the end of World War II, the world was on the brink of destruction; the United States showed what man was now capable of with the advent of the atomic bomb, and the other powers followed suit. The Soviet Union, a temporary ally of the United States, now began its drive to spread communism throughout Asia and Eastern Europe. The Soviets and the Americans faced off starting in the late 1940s in what has since been dubbed the “Cold War,” a war of conquest, a war of ideology and a war of technological advancement. In this all-out race for supremacy in all facets of the game, both sides were desperate for any edge they could gain over their adversary. The super-charged competitive environment led to the creation of many mind-boggling ideas, but none more mind-bending and crazy than the American program known as Project MKULTRA.

While you will read many conspiracy theories linked to Project ULTRA this isn’t a conspiracy piece; I deal strictly with the facts of the program because the effects are odd enough as they are. First off, understand Project MKULTRA is proven to have existed, the Federal government admitted to the project in later decades, and many survivors of the program faced debilitating injuries because of it. Project MKULTRA began in the 1950s near the dawn of the Cold War, just as the fighting in Korea was truly ramping up. The idea was to test psychedelic drugs on humans to study the effects. The United States government, specifically the CIA, wanted to see if substances such as acid and LSD could break down a person’s will and cause them to confess or tell what they know. If acid could be slipped to a Russian spy and they immediately spit out everything they know, the drug could win the war for the Americans.

During the first few years of the program, scientists from the CIA targeted Hookers and their Johns as lab-rats. The idea was that hookers and their clientele would be unwilling to report the strange occurrences so they wouldn’t expose themselves. CIA scientists would drug these people with LSD and study the effects on the people. Slowly though, the program moved from testing it on streetwalkers to testing it on themselves. In a strange twist of the story, the CIA scientists began drugging CIA agents and workers in the office. It became a running joke that one of the dangers of employment at the Central Intelligence Agency was the fact that at any time your coffee could have a drop of acid. Scientists would drug these employees and follow them around for hours to study the effects. The practice of drugging their employees eventually led to one of the real tragedies of Project MKULTRA, the story of Frank Olson.

Frank Olson worked for the CIA in the 1950s; he was an average guy just doing his job when one day he tripped the hell out. It became evident that Olson had ingested a laced beverage at CIA HQ, but he wasn’t having a “normal” reaction. Usually, the subjects would hallucinate and eventually come down from their high, but Olson freaked out. He left the CIA offices and began running through the streets of Washington D.C., yelling frantically and tearing at himself. Olson never came down from this. Eventually, he killed himself by throwing himself out of the 13th floor of his apartment building. Covered up at the time, the story of Olson wasn’t leaked until the investigations into the project in the later decades. Indeed an odd and twisted tale from the American past, Project MKULTRA has many people linking significant events to the project. Conspiracy theories abound, but one thing is beyond doubt, the government isn’t your friend and protector.

Published by TheOddPast by Matthew A. Perry

Writer, teacher, broadcaster, and podcaster from West Virginia. I write about and discuss the wacky and weird side of history on my website and my podcast "The Odd Past Podcast" available everywhere

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