“There is nothing mysterious about interrogation. It consists of no more than obtaining needed information through responses to questions... But sound interrogation nevertheless rests upon a knowledge of the subject matter and on certain broad principles, chiefly psychological, which are not hard to understand.” (P. 1)
“This study is by no means confined to a resume and interpretation of psychological findings. The approach of psychologists is customarily manipulative; that is, they suggest methods of imposing controls or alterations upon the interrogatee from the outside. Except within the Communist frame of reference, they have paid less attention to the creation of internal controls – i.e., conversion of the source, so that voluntary cooperation results. Moral considerations aside, the imposition of external techniques of manipulating people carries with it the grave risk of later lawsuits, adverse publicity, or other attempts to strike back.”* (P. 2)
“The legislation which founded KUBARK specifically denied it any law-enforcement or police powers. Yet detention in a controlled environment and perhaps for a lengthy period is frequently essential to a successful counterintelligence interrogation of a recalcitrant source... [Section Deleted/Redacted.] This necessity, obviously, should be determined as early as possible. [Section Deleted/Redacted.] This legality of detaining and questioning a person, and of the methods employed, … [Section Deleted/Redacted] Detention poses the most common of the legal problems. KUBARK has no independent legal authority to detain anyone against his will.”* (P. 6)
“Interrogations conducted under compulsion or duress are especially likely to involve illegality and to entail damaging consequences for KUBARK. Therefore prior Headquarters approval at the KUDOVE level must be obtained for the interrogation of any source against his will and under any of the following circumstances:
1. If bodily harm is inflicted.
2. If medical, chemical, or electrical methods or materials are to be used to induce acquiescence.
3. [Information Deleted/Redacted.]” (P. 8)
- CIA and Army KUBARK Interrogation Manual. (Created around 1962, according to Prof. McCoy in A Question of Torture. Declassified in 1996 by the DOD.)
|Via Harold. An Actress from the 'Bluebird' play by Maeterlinck.|
I've decided to hold off on jumping ahead in time to the rise of the Dirty War in Argentina, and the civil unrest in Central and South America that was fueled by the School of the Americas. Rather it seems to me that Dr. D.E. Cameron should be joined by some of his peers, who deserve was much “thanks” for the present situation as the aforementioned character. As such, this second entry in the “Dirty Wars” series will continue to discuss the psychological experiments and individuals who performed them that were codified in the KUBARK interrogation manuals – or as the press began referring to them in the 1990s, “the torture manuals.” Without the Psychologists and Psychiatrists (along with a chemist or two) that follow, these manuals might not have been written. As such, each of them deserves both our attention and our ire.
Unfortunately, I can't find my copy of Prof. McCoy's book, and so the information sampled is from a paper of his linked in the last entry.
|Dr. Donald O. Hebb.|
The Red Right Hand: Dr. Donald O. Hebb.
In his excellent paper entitled Science In Dachau's Shadow: Hebb, Beecher, and the Development of CIA Psychological Torture and Modern Medical Ethics, Prof. Alfred McCoy writes that:
In his excellent paper entitled Science In Dachau's Shadow: Hebb, Beecher, and the Development of CIA Psychological Torture and Modern Medical Ethics, Prof. Alfred McCoy writes that:
“In March 1951, the CIA initiated a “top secret” research program into “all aspects of special interrogation” through “exchange of information and coordination of related programs” (CIA, 19 March 1951). Consequently, in the words of a later Canadian inquiry by George Cooper, QC, “a high-level meeting took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal on June 1, 1951.” Attending were Sir Henry T. Tizard, the venerable senior scientist from the U.K. Ministry of Defense; Dr. Omond Solandt, head of Canada’s Defense Research Board (DRB); Dr. Donald O. Hebb, head of the Board’s Behavioral Research and chair of Psychology at McGill; and two Americans, Dr. Caryl Haskins and Commander R.J. Williams. These latter two were identified, in a “handwritten note” found in Board files, as “CIA” (Cooper, 1986, pp. 32–33, Appendix 21).
As noted in the Board’s minutes of the Montreal meeting, “Dr. Hebb suggested that an approach based upon the situation of sensory isolation might lead to some clues” to answering “the central problem” that interested this covert research coalition: that is, “ ‘confession,’ ‘menticide,’ ‘intervention in the individual mind,’—together with methods concerned in psychological coercion.” Speaking at length, Hebb suggested that by “cutting off all sensory stimulation . . . , the individual could be led into a situation whereby ideas, etc. might be implanted.” In response, Sir Henry concurred, stating that these issues “had become a matter of concern in the U.K.,” and adding that “the methods of psychological coercion . . . had been well developed by the [Medieval] inquisition” (Cooper, 1986, Appendix 21).
As consensus formed about “research methods and design,” the group adopted Hebb’s suggestion that “experimental isolation in various forms for the production of sensory isolation” might place subjects “in such a position psychologically that they would be susceptible to implantation of new or different ideas.” Despite the Board’s later claims to the contrary, its minutes indicate clearly that their priority in backing Hebb’s brainwashing work was not defensive but offensive operations against communist enemies. “With respect to . . . useful results,” the Montreal principals agreed, “present methods of offence had moved over into the psychological field and that the whole area of change in public opinion and individual attitude was assuming rapidly increasing importance” (Cooper, 1986, Appendix 21).”All of these items appear in the KUBARK 'torture manuals,' and thus deserve a good deal of attention. Hebb's research seems to have triggered the Anglo-American wave of experimental procedures and investigations that would culminate in the KUBARK manuals, and thus are of enormous interest. McCoy goes on to say that:
“Three months after the Montreal meeting, in one of the most significant steps for gestation of the CIA’s psychological paradigm, Ottawa’s Defense Research Board (DRB) awarded Dr. Hebb a “secret” grant, under Contract DRB-X38 from 1951 to 1955, for experiments that discovered the devastating psychological impact of sensory isolation. As Hebb explained in his classified 1952 report, this experiment was measuring “whether slight changes of attitude might be effected” by shorter periods of isolation intensified by “wearing (a) light-diffusing goggles, (b) earphones through which white noise may be constantly delivered . . . , and (c) cardboard tubes over his [the subject’s] forearms so that his hands . . . cannot be used for tactual perception of the environment.” In contrast to the modest impact anticipated, Hebb reported that “motivational disturbance appears great,” and among twenty-two subjects “four remarked spontaneously that being in the apparatus was a form of torture.” Evidently encouraged, Hebb concluded, “the contract is opening up a field of study that is of both theoretical and practical significance” (Hebb, Heron, & Bexton, 1952, Appendix 22).”These techniques are discussed somewhat obliquely in the KUBARK manual that is available for view on the 'net. (It looks like more information was distributed, via the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], to news outlets in the mid-1990s; but I'm sticking to what I have on hand.) When discussing “The Non-Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation,” the manual says:
“The term non-coercive is used above to denote methods of interrogation that are not based upon the coercion of an unwilling subject through the employment of superior force originating outside himself. However, the non-coercive interrogation is not conducted without pressure...” (P. 52)Though this sounds quaint enough, it is coercive in terms of psychological force. However, the CIA (and our present Administration) have justified these proceedings by pretending that they are not torture. Two paragraphs later, for example, for the manual explains:
“If the interrogatee is under detention, the interrogator can also manipulate his environment. Merely by cutting off all other human contacts, “the interrogator monopolizes the social environment of the source.” He exorcises the powers of an all-powerful parent, determining when the source will be sent to bed, when and what he will eat, whether he will be rewarded for good behavior or punished for being bad. The interrogator can and does make the subject's world not only unlike the world to which he has been accustomed but also strange in itself – a world in which familiar patterns of time, space, and sensory perception are overthrown.” (P. 52 – 53.)These techniques seize on the principles discovered in Hebb's work, which showed that by disorienting the subject they could come to have less resistance to the interrogator and hence might more readily supply useful details**. In many respects, this also parallels John C. Lilly's Sensory Deprivation experiments that were documented in his Programming and Meta-Programming in the Human Biocomputer. But while Lilly had refused to aid the spooks with his research, Hebb was a major mover and shaker in the “dark science” (Prof. McCoy's term) of torture. Hebb discovered that the 'motivational disturbances' he addresses in McCoy's paper were only part of the process. McCoy further explains that:
“Two years later, the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Dr. Robert H. Felix, demolished the project’s careful cover when he told the U.S. Congress about a study by “Dr. Donald Hebb” using sixty students “who stayed as long as they could on a bed in an air conditioned box.” Asked if “this is a form of brainwashing,” Dr. Felix replied: “You can break down anyone with this, I don’t care what their background.” After coverage in the New York Times of 15 April 1956 prompted “Brainwashing” headlines in the Montreal Gazette, Dr. Hebb insisted, inaccurately, on the “defensive” nature of his research: “We were not trying to find bigger and better ways of torturing others, but to find out how to protect our own men” (“Tank test,” 1956, p. 18; Cahill, 17 April 1956; “Brainwashing,” 26 April 1956, p. 1).”
All of this is interesting, when taken together with Jane Mayer's interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now with regard to her book, The Dark Side. With regards to the experiences of Abu Zubaydah during his interrogations, and the Black Sites (or secret intelligence prisons), Mayers says:
“AMY GOODMAN: Where?JANE MAYER: In — well, it’s in an undisclosed location, where Abu Zubaydah was being held by the CIA. Suddenly, a psychologist showed up. And the FBI’s reaction was, “Who is this person?” His name is James Mitchell. He is a contractor to the CIA, a contract interrogator or adviser to the interrogation program. And he started talking about how there were these psychological theories that would help break down the detainees.And the theories he talked about were experiments with dogs, in which dogs were put in cages and electrocuted and in a random way that completely broke their will to resist. It’s a theory called “learned helplessness,” and it springs from experiments done in the 1970s by a very famous psychologist in America named Martin Seligman, who actually went to lecture at the — a bunch of SERE — people who were involved with the CIA’s program, including this psychologist, James Mitchell. So, James Mitchell and a partner, Bruce Jessen, became advisers to the CIA’s interrogation program.”
Mayer has written quite a bit about how James Mitchell, and other psychologists, appear to have reverse engineered the secret SERE program for use in the current American torture program. However, she seems to be off – and I'd need to read her book to be sure – with regards to CIA experience with these ideas. Shortly after the above, she goes on to say:
“I think, to step back, what you need to know is that the CIA had no experience really in interrogating prisoners. They had never really held prisoners before. And so, they really had no idea how to go about getting information out of people. So they turned to an incredibly strange place, which is a secret program inside the military that had studied torture, and it had studied torture in order to teach our own soldiers how to survive it if they were ever taken captive by some kind of completely immoral regime.”This is contradicted by both the KUBARK manuals and the dating of Hebb's experiments to the early 1950s. In fact, many of the techniques she discusses being used on Abu Zubaydah appear to originate rather directly from Hebb's research. Hebb further discovered that when sensory deprivation and “control of the environment” was used successfully, high levels of anxiety were induced to the recipient (“interrogatee” in the KUBARK manuals), and that they even could experience vivid hallucinations akin to being given a drug. McCoy writes:
“An experiment that discovered the driver in CIA psychological torture may well have subjected students to this same torture—a complaint, in fact, made by four of Hebb’s original volunteers. So extreme was this sensory deprivation that Hebb’s subjects had unanticipated hallucinations akin to mescaline. In his 1992 epic poem, “Listening to the Candle,” one of these student subjects, Professor Peter Dale Scott, described how he, not Hebb, first noticed the vivid hallucinations and, in a follow-up interview, recalled the researchers’ initial incredulity at his report (Scott, 1992, pp. 6–7; Scott 2006).
yet the very aimlessnesspreconditioning my mind . . .for blank lucrative hoursof sensory deprivationas a paid volunteerin the McGill experiment . . .my ears sore from their earphones’amniotic hum my eyesunder two bulging halves of pingpong ballsarms covered to the tips with cardboard tubesthose familiar hallucinationsI was the first to reportas for example the stringof cut-out paper menemerging from a manholein the side of a snow-white hill
distinctly two-dimensional...”The short 'poem-like' structure of Prof. Scott's hallucinatory experiences is hardly surprising. While Hebb's research, unlike that of Lilly's, didn't appear to make use of hallucinogens... It really didn't matter in the end.
Finally, McCoy notes:
“By contrast, Hebb himself admitted that he did not screen his subjects for instability and was not prepared for the extreme hallucinations. “For subjects,” he recalled in a memoir written before his death in 1985, “we simply called the employment office at McGill and hired the student they sent us. Presently we found that . . . the subjects, some of them, were seeing things in the experimental conditions, and feeling things. One felt his head was disconnected from his body, another had two bodies.” Hebb was also shocked at the devastating impact of his experiments: “It scared the hell out of us to see how completely dependent the mind is on a close connection with the ordinary sensory environment, and how disorganizing to be cut off from that support” (Hebb, ca. 1980).
Significantly, several follow-up experiments inflicted similarly dangerous trauma on their human subjects. In 1955, one of Hebb’s former students now at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Maitland Baldwin, confined an Army volunteer inside a Hebbian sensory deprivation box. After forty hours, the subject began “an hour of crying loudly and sobbing in a most heartrending fashion” before kicking his way out. At the prompting of Morse Allen, chief of the CIA’s Artichoke Project, Dr. Baldwin agreed to push the experiment further into “terminal type” tests if the Agency would provide expendable human subjects—a proposal that a CIA medical officer rejected as “immoral and inhuman” (Marks, 1979, pp. 23–25, 32–33, 106, 137–138, 201–202; Brown, 2007, p. 209). Similarly, in 1957 a team of Harvard psychiatrists, funded by the ONR, confined seventeen paid volunteers “in a tank-type respirator” arranged “to inhibit movement and tactile contact.” After seventeen hours, one subject, a 25-year-old dental student, “began to punch and shake the respirator,” his “eyes full of tears, and his voice shaking.” Four volunteers terminated from “anxiety and panic,” and all suffered “degrees of anxiety” (Wexler et al., 1958, pp. 225–233). We have no way of knowing whether such trauma did lasting damage, for none of these researchers—Hebb, Baldwin, or the Harvard psychiatrists—reported any follow-up treatment.”All in all, Hebb's experiments were – just like Cameron's – wrong-headed to pursue in the first place, ethically unsound, and in violation of the Nuremberg Code.
|Dr. Henry K. Beecher|
There is perhaps no greater link between Operation: Paperclip and the CIA's psychological and psychiatric experiments than the story of Henry Beecher. According to McCoy:
“In September 1951, just three months after the CIA’s secret Montreal meeting, Dr. Henry K. Beecher, the Dorr Professor of Anesthesiology at Harvard University, crossed the Atlantic in a determined search for drugs that would prize open the human mind for interrogation. At home and abroad for over a decade, Beecher pursued this secret military research, testing powerful psychotropic drugs, mescaline and LSD, on unwitting human subjects, and thus drinking deep from Dachau’s poisoned well.
Our earliest indication of Beecher’s interest in interrogation is a letter, dated February 7, 1947, from Dr. Arthur R. Turner, chief of the U.S. Army’s Medical Intelligence Branch, reading: “Inclosed for your retention is a brochure, dealing with the Dachau Concentration Camp, which has just arrived. I . . . thought it might be of interest to you.” This brochure, by the German aviation medical research unit, detailed 30 mescaline experiments on Dachau inmates by SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Dr. Kurt Ploetner aimed “to eliminate the will of the person examined . . . by the Gestapo.” In words that promised to unlock the mind for interrogation, the report concluded: “If the Messkalin had an effect on the mental state of the P.E.’s, the examining person succeeded in every case in drawing even the most intimate secrets from the P.E. when the questions were cleverly put” (Harvard Medical, October 1945; Turner, 7 February 1947).”It is here that the story of the hunt for a Truth Serum, which would eventually gain the operational title MKSEARCH in 1964, begins. Experiments would be performed with Mescaline, LSD-25, and Sodium Thoipental (also known as Sodium Pentothal), and a number of other chemicals.
Beecher was, following his crossing the Atlantic, given information regarding reports on the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, and McCoy indicates, the LSD-25 research being done by the Sandoz Company. McCoy adds:
“Although we cannot be certain that SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Ploetner’s report inspired his quest, in September 1951 Dr. Beecher criss-crossed Europe for research “on the subject of the ‘ego-depressant’ drugs, usually called truth serum in the newspapers,” paying particular attention to the Gestapo’s drug of choice, mescaline (Beecher, 21 October 1951). Reflecting the Anglo-American cooperation forged at Montreal, at his first stop, England, Beecher had access to dozens of top scientists.”He further indicates that the deeper Beecher looked into the topic, the more he was led back to Nazi war criminals. He was gradually led to the Allied Headquarters (SHAPE) at Marley-le Roi, where he was told to begin discussing his hunt with the CIA. There is an interesting note here, which I also wish to quote:
“Indeed, at Heidelberg, Dr. Beecher was sharply reminded of the immorality of his research, from a medical perspective, when the Chief U.S. Surgeon for Europe, General Guy B. Denit, advised him “that as a physician under the Geneva Convention he [Denit] could have nothing officially to do with the use of drugs for the purposes in mind and turned me over to G-II.” Consequently, U.S. Army G-II, or Military Intelligence, transferred Dr. Beecher from the moral realm of military medicine to “Oberursel, to the European Command Interrogation Center,” the dark center of the Allied interrogation effort (Beecher, 21 October 1951).”So we know, for a fact, that Beecher was warned that the subject of his desires – the Truth Serum – was viewed as unethical at the time he was conducting his investigation. Once he made his way to the “dark center of the Allied interrogation effort” which had been renamed Camp King. At the time Camp King was staffed by ex-Gestapo and soldiers from the Reich, and were already performing experiments along the lines that Beecher was looking into.
This may sound shocking, but it should not be. Peter Levenda notes in his Sinister Forces: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft (Book One: The Nine) that:
“It is important to realize that, at the end of the war, the new enemy was the Soviet Union, even though America and Russia had been allies during the war against Nazi Germany. It was, after all, General Patton himself who tried to convince Washington that we were pointing our weapons in the wrong direction and should make all haste to invade Russia and put an end to the Soviet state once and for all. (American schoolchildren never learn that, at the end of World War One,we had tried to do just that.)” (P. 136)In this case, the forces at Camp King were busying themselves with dealing with Russian captives. The picture that McCoy paints is fairly horrific, and involves Spooks, members of the army, and former Reich members all experimenting with various drugs which had their research begin in Dachau.
“In the interim, they recommended he work with a Dr. Schreiber, Camp King’s former staff doctor, whom Beecher described as “a physician and former German general who is now on his way to the States, will be at the School of Aviation Medicine . . . Schreiber is intelligent and helpful” (Beecher, 21 October 1951; Koch & Wech, 2003, pp. 102–103).
Who was Dr. Schreiber, this ideal partner for Professor Beecher’s secret drug research? He was, in fact, General Walter Schreiber, former medical chief for the Wehrmacht who had presided over “concentration camp . . . experiments on inmates that usually resulted in a slow and agonizing death.” After Camp King commended his “high efficiency,” the Pentagon sent him to Texas, where he joined other Nazi doctors at the School of Aviation Medicine, albeit only until May 1952 when complaints about war crimes forced his departure for Argentina (Bower, 1987, pp. 255–258; Koch and Wech, 2003, p. 94; “Nuremberg,” 28 August 1946; “German,” 27 October 1948; “Accused,” 13 February 1952).”This is a classic portrait of what I described in the last entry, with Operation: Paperclip white-washing the background of those brought into the United States to work in DOD or intelligence programs. By 1952, Beecher had dropped his preference for Mescaline in favor for LSD-25, the emerging Wonder Compound that the CIA hoped would change all the rules. And in a sense, it did. In another sense, nothing at all had changed.
“Consequently, Dr. Beecher returned from Europe warning about LSD’s effect of “severe imbalance, hysteria” on, say, “a battleship’s crew.” In a secret report to the U.S. Army’s surgeon general, he advised this drug should be studied “(1) as aids to obtain suppressed information . . . (2) as threats to security when used by an enemy agent . . . (3) as tools of biological warfare.” The latter was particularly important because “the water supply of a large city could probably be disastrously and undetectably (until too late) contaminated.” Determined that “the United States . . . not get behind in this field for want of an organized plan of attack,” he now planned to intensify dosage in his Boston LSD experiments, saying: “We need to know the effects of larger doses, of prolonged administration of small doses and so on.” Fortunately for Beecher’s plans, a professor he had met in Europe “has promised to send me for study the new L.A.E. (a mono ethyl amide of lysergic acid). This is said to be more excitant to normal individuals than is L.S.D. 25” (Beecher, 4 September 1952).”And thus began the tests conducted at the expense of the public, on unsuspecting victims, which would last in the MKULTRA project until it was finally discovered and Blowback ensured that the Church Committee would attempt to put an end to it.***
Ironically, McCoy states, when controversy errupted at Standford regarding the ethics of LSD-25 and its use, Beecher said:
“...“There is an abundance of evidence,” intoned Dr. Beecher, condemning such experiments, “that LSD can produce, has produced, lasting, serious damage to young people”...”This is rather fascinating since he helped pioneer using the drug on the unsuspecting public and set up some of the absurd uses of it later by the CIA within the United States. (Beecher would later write a “landmark” paper on medical ethics and informed consent... And to this day, there is an ethics award bearing his name. Because, why not forget all the toxic shit he pulled?) But use of the chemical did not stop there:
In 1951, in the French village of Pont-Saint-Esprit in South East France, LSD-25 was tested as a weaponized chemical. While I have no evidence that Beecher was involved, this event shows just how far our intelligence community and the attendant spooks were willing to go. It is this event that, some suspect, lead to the death of Frank Olson following his being dosed with LSD-25 when it “ended up”(i.e. Was intentionally spiked) in a drink he took while at Deep Creek Lake, at a CIA retreat.
As this follow-up entry to yesterday's has reached 8 pages of sampled and otherwise text, I will curtail it here and continue tomorrow before heading into Operation: Condor and the School of the Americas.
* Italix mine.
** Many doubt this actually happens, which I will get to in time.
*** I sometimes wish Frank Church was still around.