|An Aging Barbie.|
“Spook: as spectre, ghost, revenant, remnant of death, the madness lingering after the corpse is sloughed off. Slang for intelligence agent; agent of uncertainty, agent of fear, agent of fright.”- Via Jack Warmack, as quoted on William Gibson's Blog.
This entry continues a story I want to relay to you, regarding the strange alliance of intelligence services, Nazi war criminals, and American University professors that had long-term consequences for the Americas. As I have explored in previous entries: following the conclusion of the second World War and the emergence of the Cold War, an Anglo-American coalition of the technocratic elite – ranging from Psychologists and Psychiatrists to chemists and spies – emerged in America and helped the CIA wage covert psychological operations. These operations were based in part on the work of emerging drug markets, and psychological tests which had sought to expose and understand the blueprints of consciousness itself, and the effects of external stimuli (or lack thereof) on individuals.
These programs created the “torture programs” that are being performed today at CIA “black sites” under the auspices of conducting the War on Terror. Their findings were reported and codified in the KUBARK interrogation manuals (circa 1962 onwards) that were given, for example, to students at the School for the Americas. Included in them were the use of “stress postures,” “psychological coercion in interrogation,” and using “mind-altering drugs” for truth serums.
This entry continues with one more of such experiments, this time with a direct influence on American history, and then dovetails into the story of Klaus Barbie – which will lead us rather directly into Operation: Condor, to be finally covered in the next entry.
Under The Eye of the Tyrant-King: Henry A. Murray & the Harvard Stress Tests.
Henry Murray was once a giant in the psychological community. He became the assistant director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic in 1927. He helped develop the theory of “psychogenic needs,” was big on Carl Jung (who converted him to the newly Apostolic continuity of the Psych. community), and even served in the second World War as an officer in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the intelligence and counterintelligence community of today).
Sometime in the 1950s, Murray began conducting an experiment that was considered part of the CIA's MK-ULTRA project. Between 1959 and 1962, Murray's stress tests sought to help and understand the effects of stress on captured spies.
But it wasn't spies that Murray ran his experimental tests on. As it turns out, it was American university students.
“During the war (WWII) Murray served in the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, helping to develop psychological screening tests for applicants and (according to Timothy Leary) monitoring military experiments on brainwashing.” (Chase, 2000)“Murray and his colleagues 'put together an assessment system ... [that] tested a recruit's ability to stand up under pressure, to be a leader, to hold liquor, to lie skillfully, and to read a person's character by the nature of his clothing...' Murray's system became a fixture in the OSS.”
The above link even provides an interesting, if completely demoralizing, account of one of the Stress Tests:
“The candidate immediately went downstairs to the basement room. A voice from within commanded him to enter, and on complying he found himself facing a spotlight strong enough to blind him for a moment. The room was otherwise dark. Behind the spotlight sat a scarcely discernible board of inquisitors... The interrogator gruffly ordered the candidate to sit down. When he did so, he discovered that the chair in which he sat was so arranged that the full strength of the beam was focused directly on his face...At first the questions were asked in a quiet, sympathetic, conciliatory manner, to invite confidence...After a few minutes, however, the examiner worked up to a crescendo in a dramatic fashion... When an inconsistency appeared, he raised his voice and lashed out at the candidate, often with sharp sarcasm. He might even roar, “You're a liar.”...”-Henry Murray, Selection of Personnel for Clandestine Operations – Assessment of Men. (1948).
The Stress Tests progressively targeted psychological insecurities suspected or found during the tests by the “interrogators.” Alston Chase, who has written on this topic at considerable length, writes:
“In fact it would never be clear what the “certain psychological problems” were. And the test that served as the centrepiece for this undertaking appears remarkably similar to the old OSS stress test. Students would be given the third degree. But whereas the OSS applicants must have known that enduring unpleasant interrogations could be part of their job, these students did not. The intent was to catch them by surprise, to deceive them, and to brutalise them. The students were led to believe that they would debate their philosophy of life with another student like themselves. In fact they were confronted by a well-prepared “stooge” – a lawyer.When the subject arrived, he was escorted to a "brilliantly lighted room" and seated in front of a one-way mirror. A motion-picture camera recorded his every move and facial expression through a hole in the wall. Electrodes leading to machines that recorded his heart and respiratory rates were attached to his body.Forrest Robinson, the author of a biography of Murray, has described what happened next.“As instructed, the unwitting subject attempted to represent and to defend his personal philosophy of life. Invariably, however, he was frustrated, and finally brought to expressions of real anger, by the withering assault of his older, more sophisticated opponent ... while fluctuations in the subject's pulse and respiration were measured.”Not surprisingly, most participants found this highly unpleasant, even traumatic. “We were led into the room with bright lights, very bright,” one of them, code-named Cringle, recalled afterward. “[I] had a sensation somewhat akin to someone being strapped on the electric chair with these electrodes ... I really started getting hit real hard ... Wham, wham, wham! And me get ting hotter and more irritated and my heartbeat going up ... and sweating terribly ...”“Right away,” said another, code-named Trump, describing his experience afterward, “I didn't like [the interrogator]...“[Dr G] ... came waltzing over and he put on those electrodes but in that process, while he was doing that, kind of whistling ... And then [Mr R] . . . who was bubbling over, dancing around, started to talk to me about he liked my suit ... the buzzer would ring or something like that, we were supposed to begin ... he was being sarcastic or pretty much of a wise guy ... And the first thing that entered my mind was to get up and ask him outside immediately ... but that was out of the question, because the electrodes and the movie and all that ... I kind of sat there and began to fume and then he went on and he got my goat and I couldn't think of what to say ... And then they came along and they took my electrodes off.”- Alston Chase, A Lesson in Hate.
In the event that those reading along consider this tactic either ethically sound, or without consequences, I should state at this point that there were in fact long-term consequences that arose in part due to the devastating effects the experiments had on those involved. In fact, one person involved in this project – codenamed “Lawful” – was none other than Theodore Kaczynski: The Unabomber.
Based on the attacks on cherished ideals and the “ego constructs” waged by Murray and his stooges during the course in the three-year test, it is very hard to suggest that his later career was not predicated on some of these experiences. After the tests, Kaczynski began showing signs of instability that were (much like the experiments conducted by Hebb and Cameron) quite obvious. But, just like with earlier tests, he did not receive any form of treatment.
There was a recent episode on Dark Matters: Twisted but True regarding the strange relationship between Murray's experiment and the student once dubbed “Lawful”:
It is, like many of the re-enactments on the show, somewhat humorous to watch. But what is far less humorous is that the end result of the stress tests was the career of a man who truly inspires horror. Much like with Cameron's “Sleep Room” research, I do not believe that the Unabomber was a “Manchurian Candidate.”* Rather, I believe that the Stress Tests actually “cracked” the shell of ideals and beliefs that individuals – including myself – use to shield themselves from some of the monstrous aspects of the world we live in. With nothing to believe in, and very little hope, Kaczynski went from being a young genius and began his transformation into one of the modern faces of evil: the “terrorist.”
In the KUBARK manuals, one finds that “psychological coercion” is preferred above “physical” methods. This is a trend that continues to this day. Prof. McCoy, whose work was referenced in the last article, says in an interview on Democracy Now:
“ALFRED McCOY: … And in 1963, the C.I.A. codified these results in the so-called KUBARK Counterintelligence Manual. If you just type the word "KUBARK" into Google, you will get the manual, an actual copy of it, on your computer screen, and you can read the techniques [ Read the report. But if you do, read the footnotes, because that’s where the behavioral research is. Now, this produced a distinctively American form of torture, the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in centuries, psychological torture, and it’s the one that’s with us today, and it’s proved to be a very resilient, quite adaptable, and an enormously destructive paradigm.
Let’s make one thing clear. Americans refer to this often times in common parlance as “torture light.” Psychological to torture, people who are involved in treatment tell us it’s far more destructive, does far more lasting damage to the human psyche than does physical torture. As Senator McCain said, himself, last year when he was debating his torture prohibition, faced with a choice between being beaten and psychologically tortured, I’d rather be beaten. Okay? It does far more lasting damage. It is far crueler than physical torture. This is something that we don’t realize in this country.
Now, another thing we see is those photographs is the psychological techniques, but the initial research basically developed techniques for attacking universal human sensory receptors: sight, sound, heat, cold, sense of time. That’s why all of the detainees describe being put in dark rooms, being subjected to strobe lights, loud music, okay? That’s sensory deprivation or sensory assault. Okay, that was sort of the phase one of the C.I.A. research. But the paradigm has proved to be quite adaptable.”
This “lasting damage” mentioned by McCoy is particularly troubling, and taken with the strange interaction of Murray's fucked up research and Kaczynski's responses, should raise our alarm. The fact of the matter is that our “national security” projects today may very well create the “terrorists” of tomorrow.
In more than one way.
“In Nuremberg at that time something was taking place that I personally considered a disgrace and an unfortunate lesson for the future of humanity. I became certain that the Argentine people also considered the Nuremberg process a disgrace, unworthy of the victors, who behaved as if they hadn't been victorious. Now we realize that they [the Allies] deserved to lose the war.”
In 1971 the Klarsfelds – who were Nazi Hunters secretly employed the Soviet Stasi – discovered that Nikolaus Barbie (“the Butcher of Lyon”) was alive and well in Bolivia. This raised a great many questions. The major one was: “how the hell did an upper-ranking SS member, especially a known War Criminal, get all the way to Bolivia?”
Following the end of the second World War, Barbie turned himself in to the CIC (the Army Counterintelligence Corps). Due to the emerging problem of the Soviet Union and the hatred that certain SS members held towards the Russians, he was amongst those chosen for service. In Hotel Terminus, a documentary by Marcel Ophüls, the details are explored. It is a very, very long documentary. However, most of it is online and can be watched on Youtube:
The relevant details emerged around “part 7” of the uploaded segments of the documentary and continue from there:
The CIC recruited Barbie following his having turned himself in; he helped organize, according to those interviewed members of the CIC that were involved in his case, cells of Soviet resistance and monitoring across Europe and the Americas. This made Barbie a very worthwhile ally to the CIC.
However, rumors arose that the CIC had Barbie in their custody and the French – who had very good reasons to want to put the torturer on trial – began to demand that Barbie be handed over to them... Though, from the sound of those interviewed on numerous occasions in the massive documentary, not very forcefully.
Incidentally, it became obvious that Barbie could not be kept in Europe... And so he was sent to South America. This happened due to the Ratlines: secret transportation networks that funneled War Criminals out of Europe with the help of Vatican priests – and later American counterintelligence services.
Barbie was not the only person aided by the Ratlines. Other Nazis funneled out of Europe included:
Adolf Eichmann, Josef Rudolf Mengele, and around approximately 30,000 others. Given that not all of the criminals were discovered, it is hard to be sure of the exact number of those who made their way to South America during this time. Incidentally, as the quote from Juan Peron indicates at the beginning of this section, many South American countries welcomed these individuals into their ranks.
After Barbie arrived in Bolivia, it was believed that he worked as a CIA operative. But he was also up to a bit more: he was involved with “Right Wing” militias (as Hotel Terminus discusses), a power-player in both Bolivia and Peru, and is very likely to have also been involved in gun smuggling operations. The 2007 documentary, My Enemy's Enemy suggests that Barbie was rather directly involved with the capture and murder of Che Geuvara. Given that Barbie worked for the Bolivian army, as discussed in the Guardian article linked in this paragraph, this is entirely possible.
And after the influx of murderers, torturers, and Right Wing nutjobs to South America, the stage was set – along with the School of the Americas – for some of the worst atrocities our country has ever helped inspire.
Be seeing you,
PS. Though I haven't said it yet, Gordon and I are pretty much in agreement.
* During his trial, plenty of psychologists and psychiatrists went out of their way to describe the man as “paranoid.” This is certainly, to a certain extent, true. But it is more true that his work, the effects of the Stress Test, and some of his comments show far more consistent signs of someone suffering from PTSD.