Supernatural with Ashley Flowers

CONSPIRACY: MK-Ultra

In 1953, Army scientist Frank Olson jumped out of a hotel window in New York City. His death was ruled a suicide, but two decades later, word of a top-secret CIA program cast new light on the case. The program’s purpose? Assess the use of LSD… for mind control.  To view this episode’s full list of sources, please visit parcast.com/supernatural

00:00:06
We all know that secrets have a tendency to fester. They get bigger, heavier. The longer we have them, they wake us up in the middle of the night and haunt us during the day. Most of us can't keep them very long. For the CIA, long running secrets are their specialty. But one secret was too much for them to hide. I'm referring to one of the most disturbing projects the CIA has ever admitted to doing, M.K. Ultra.
00:00:37
This was a mind control program that drew thousands of unsuspecting people into its web. And some believe it's still happening today.
00:01:05
This is supernatural apar cast original, and I'm your host, Ashley Flowers, every Wednesday, I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained mystery to try and figure out the truth. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other Paşa cast originals for free on Spotify. And if you like what you're hearing, reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Park ASTE and Twitter at Podcast Network. This week's episode is about M.K. Ultra, a CIA mind control program that conducted drug tests on unwitting subjects.
00:01:38
Some were damaged for life. Some were killed. A CIA scientist fell to his death just as this program was getting off the ground. But who or what caused him to fall has always been a mystery. We'll have that and more coming up. Stay with us. At two thirty in the morning on November 28, 1953, a man jumped out of a window at the Hotel Statler in New York City. The night manager runs outside. He sees the man on the ground still alive and trying to talk.
00:02:16
He looks up to see which floor he'd fallen from. And realizes there's a broken window on the 10th floor. It looked as if the man had crashed right through it. The manager leans in close to make out what the man is saying, but it's too late. The man takes one last breath and dies. By the time the police come, the manager knows which room he's fallen from. Room 10 18. The two men who were staying as guests in that room were Frank Olsen and Robert Lasch broke.
00:02:47
When they get upstairs, Lasch book is in the bathroom. He verifies the name of the man who jumped Frank Olsen. He didn't see anything because he said he was sleeping a few hours later. Frank's boss and friend, Vincent Ruut arrives at the Olsen home to deliver the terrible news. He and Frank work as scientists at Fort Detrick, where the U.S. military's biological weapons program is based. Vincent tells the family that Frank fell or jumped from the hotel window.
00:03:16
Now Frank's wife is immediately skeptical. Yes, Frank had seemed a bit down, even a little depressed. But she'd spoken to her husband just a few hours before he died, and he sounded okay then for him to have deliberately jumped. A short time later seems unlikely. The family moves on. But something about this story just never feels right to Frank's oldest son, Eric. It especially doesn't make sense. Fallen or jumped? I mean, those are two pretty different things.
00:03:47
How did no one have a better answer than that? As the years pass, Erik brings it up to his mom every once in a while, but she doesn't want to talk about it. Sometimes she'll even say to him, you are never going to know what happened in that room. So the Olsen's live with the uncertainty. The 50s turn into the 60s turn into the 70s. Watergate happens. Nixon resigns. It's now 1974. The American public is fed up with government deceit.
00:04:17
So when Esposa comes out in The New York Times about the CIA spying on American anti-war activists, people are outraged. To calm everyone down, President Ford puts together a commission headed by the vice president, Nelson Rockefeller. The idea is to look into the CIA's activities, but not to actually delve too deep. Ford even lets the CIA know that no matter what the commission finds out about what they'd been up to, Hill basically give them the benefit of the doubt, which may be why the head of the CIA is so honest with the commission.
00:04:55
The director, William Colby, comes right out and tells them something shocking. The CIA tested LSD on unsuspecting Americans. The commission's report says that for a period of time in the 50s and 60s, the CIA did these LSD tests as a part of a larger project to study possible means of controlling human behavior. And the study wasn't just limited to drugs. All other kinds of methods were looked at like radiation, electroshock and something called harassment substances. But drugs seemed to make up the bulk of these tests.
00:05:35
They ran from the late 40s to 1963 when the CIA decided that testing unknowing people with LSD was unethical. But they didn't stop testing voluntary subjects, particularly those that were in prisons that continued until around 1967 when it was finally disbanded. It's a strange admission, to say the least, and leads to a lot more questions than answers. But everyone has to just take their word for it because nearly all of the files on this project have been destroyed. Yeah, you heard me fully destroyed.
00:06:12
That's all the report says. With one last key detail at the end, apparently, no one ever got hurt except for one unfortunate death that happened in 1950. Three, an Army employee was given LSD without his knowledge, and a few days later, he wound up jumping out a window. Eric Olson, who is now 31, reads this and realizes that it is his father they're talking about. He confirms it with one of Frank's former coworkers who tells him, yes, this story is about your dad.
00:06:51
Eric is incensed. So he calls up Seymour Hersh, the reporter who broke the story in The New York Times. He tells him that there's more to this story than anyone is even talking about. The CIA also lied to the Olson's about their father's death for 22 years. Hersh's story comes out the next day and the family holds a press conference. They say they're going to sue the CIA for wrongful death and they ask the Manhattan district attorney to open a new investigation.
00:07:19
The Olson's believe that the CIA is directly responsible for Frinks suicide. Well, the White House hears this and they start to get really nervous. A lawsuit means sensitive documents could be released and they do not want that to happen. So in July of 1975, the Olson's meet with President Ford for a face to face apology and then to Olson's meet with the director of the CIA, William Colby. Colby apologizes, too, and then hands them a bunch of documents.
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He says, here's everything we have on your dad and his death. Please don't show this to the press because it's super secret. So the Wilsons go home excited to finally know all of the facts. But when they read through these documents, they realized that they tell a very disjointed story. Now, bear with me here, because the chain of events leading up to Frank's death involve a lot of names and dates. The best they can make out.
00:08:23
Their father was given LSD on November 19th of 1953. This is about nine days before he died. It was at a retreat with other scientists from Fort Detrick and a few people from the CIA's technical division. The host of the retreat was a man named Sid Gottlieb. Sid was the head chemist for the CIA. A brilliant scientist with the dark instincts of a natural spy. It was his job to develop and test all the chemical tools used in covert operations and interrogations.
00:08:55
Now, Sid was ambitious, but he'd always been a bit of an outsider at the CIA. Most of the men at the agency were Ivy League types who came from elite backgrounds. But Sid was different. He was from a working class family in the Bronx. And he'd been born with a club foot, which caused him to limp. And he had a stutter. This outsider status could have sidelined him, but instead he used this to his advantage.
00:09:22
He worked closely with the army scientists at Dietrich who shared a common goal with the CIA. Learning how to use chemical weapons to bring down the enemy. Frank Olson was one of the first hires at Dietrich back in 1943. The weapon he worked with most was anthrax. But he also made other kinds of weapons, too, like we're talking James Bond type gadgets, like a lipstick that would deliver a lethal poison. As soon as it was used and an asthma inhaler that would cause pneumonia.
00:09:53
Frank was good. So good. In fact, that at the time of this retreat, he'd actually been recruited by the CIA and was working for them instead of the army. But his family didn't know that. So Gottlieb gets all of these scientists together at a place called Deep Creek Lodge on November 18th, 1953. The following night after dinner, he has glasses of Quantrell passed around. Each one has been laced with LSD without their knowledge. It isn't until after the men finished their drinks that Gottlieb tells them what's in them.
00:10:28
He says it's going to be an experiment. It's not totally clear what happens after that. But Frank leaves the retreat early and comes home the next day. He's moody and quiet, and he tells his wife, Alice, that he made a terrible mistake. But he doesn't explain what that means to her. It seems like he's wrestling with something, but she doesn't know what. The next day, Frank goes to see his friend and supervisor, Vincent Ruut.
00:10:56
He's clearly agitated. He keeps saying he messed up the experiment and he's getting paranoid. Vincent brushes him off and tells him it's just the LSD. He was dosed with it, too. So he knows what it's like. But Frank comes back the next day. Now he's saying he wants to quit his job. This isn't like Frank at all. So Sid Gottlieb sits down with him and tries to get a handle on what's happening. But whatever happened in that conversation?
00:11:23
Gottlieb is so alarmed that he orders Frank to be taken to New York to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Harold Abramson. No, Dr. Abramson isn't just any doctor. He's on the CIA's payroll. So at least that's a conflict of interest. When the patient is a disgruntled CIA employee. But Frank does what he's taught. He goes up to New York with Vincent and another colleague, Robert Lash Brooke. Frank talks to Dr. Abramson. And then after that, they bring him to see a magician to hit Moatize him, which sounds a little bit weird, but hypnosis is one of the CIA's favorite interrogation tactics.
00:12:04
Clearly, they were trying to get some kind of information out of him, but it's hard to say exactly what. All the while, Frank is only getting more and more paranoid. He keeps asking his colleagues to let him go so he can just disappear. He spends the whole night wandering around Manhattan and throws away his wallet and I.D.. So the next day, they bring Frank back to Maryland. Before they take him home, though, they stopped by Robert Lasch Brooks apartment.
00:12:33
Gotlieb comes over and talks to Frank again. And whatever happened, he decides that Frank needs to be sent back to New York to see Dr. Abramson again. So Frank goes back to New York and this time Robert Lasch. Brooke is the only one who goes with him. Dr. Abramson is able to convince Frank that he should spend some time in a mental hospital to get some proper help. And after this, Frank seems to calm down. By almost any account, he's fine.
00:13:05
That night, he goes to bed. He's quieted down. He's even almost resigned. Then in the middle of the night, Robert wakes up to the sound of breaking glass. The implication is that Frank had taken a running jump at the closed window and crashed right through it. Now, this story on its face doesn't make a lot of sense. We have a lot of people and places and movements, but we're pretty much on our own to make sense of the motivations.
00:13:35
It's obvious that the CIA saw Frank as a security risk. And it seems like like they were trying to make him talk.
00:13:42
But about what? For the Olson's there, there's still a lot of questions, but this seems like the closest thing to an answer that they're going to get. So in 1976, they agreed to a settlement with the government for 750 thousand dollars. In exchange, they have to agree to drop their litigation for ever. So it looks like this is going to be where it ends for the OLSSON'S until a year later when a researcher files a Freedom of Information Act request for the CIA's files on.
00:14:15
Melasti program, which was codenamed M.K. Ultra. Now the researcher doesn't assume that there are many because they told Congress that most of the files had been destroyed. But to everyone's shock, the CIA turned over sixteen thousand pages. These are all financial records, but they reveal a lot. And what's in these pages is so disturbing and so frightening that the Senate immediately calls a hearing because M.K. Ultra wasn't just unethical. It was horrific. We'll hear more about M.K. Ultra when we come back.
00:14:59
Hi, supernatural listeners like you. I'm a big fan of podcasts. But sometimes the hardest thing is finding new shows to dive into.
00:15:07
Which is why I'm here to help. Did you know that the same team that made Supernatural is behind a whole collection of other shows? Here is a host from one that I think you're really going to like.
00:15:20
Hi, everyone. I'm Aleena, co-host of the new Paşa Cast original series Crime Countdown.
00:15:26
Ever wonder who the worst serial killer was? How about the creepiest cult or which is the coldest of all cold cases? Well, my sister Ashton. I certainly have. We sure have. Hi there. I'm Ash.
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For those of you who don't know, we co-host the podcast Morbid Aleena. And I recently teamed up with parkas to get to the bottom of these questions.
00:15:45
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Every Monday on Crime Countdown with the help of the PA research gods. We'll discuss ten unsettling true crime stories centered around a common theme.
00:15:57
We'll try to shock, surprise and one off each other, debating each case and its ranking with just a hint of humor. We can't help it.
00:16:05
Episode topics range from the Off-putting to the offbeat and include the top 10 haunted murder sites. The top 10 fatal romances.
00:16:13
And even the top 10 stolen body parts. We may not always agree, and we may not be experts, but that's what the research gods are for. Follow our new series, Crime Countdown. Free on Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.
00:16:30
Now back to the story. The financial records released about M.K. Ultra. Turn out to be loaded with sordid details. For one, the sheer size of this program is staggering. The CIA had over 80 institutions working for them. I mean, we're talking hospitals, prisons, research centers, and more than half of them were at colleges or universities and prestigious ones like Georgetown and Stanford. M.K. Ultra. Turns out to be a code name for about one hundred and forty nine different studies on the human mind.
00:17:07
Some of them involved LSD, some of them involved hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, electroshock therapy and induced sleep. The people being tested were clearly chosen with one thing in mind, their vulnerability. These were people who wouldn't complain prisoners, psychiatric patients, inmates at mental hospitals and in some cases, people with terminal cancer. And the subjects weren't the only ones who were unwitting. The doctors and psychiatrist running these tests also didn't know who they were working for because the CIA use shell companies as fronts.
00:17:46
But all of these studies had the same purpose to find a way to control the human mind. But why? Like so many things that happened during the Cold War. The answer is because the Soviets were doing it, or at least that's what everyone thought. After the Korean War ended in 1953, some of the American soldiers who'd been captured as prisoners of war by North Korea didn't want to come home. Some of them said they'd switched sides and embraced communism.
00:18:16
The only way the U.S. was able to make sense of this was that the communist had obviously brainwashed them because that's clearly such an easy thing to do right now. American forces had captured a lot of prisoners since World War Two ex Nazis, refugees, Russian agents. They were all being held in safe houses overseas and interrogated. Since these safe houses were in places like Germany and South Korea, the CIA could operate there outside of U.S. law. There was no oversight.
00:18:46
And if these prisoners die during interrogations, well, who was going to say anything? So the CIA decided to use these safe houses as a testing ground for a bunch of drug experiments. They assumed the Soviets have already developed some sort of drug that makes brainwashing easier and they want to find the same thing. Something that will make minds more pliable, more open to programming. They test every drug they can think of cocaine, mescaline, marijuana, stimulants, downers.
00:19:18
And then finally, the CIA finds its wonder drug LSD. LSD was created in a Swiss lab back in 1938. By 1943, scientists had discovered that it could produce hallucinations. The CIA started using it in their interrogations in the safe houses, but also in experiments involving regular people, some of whom are aware of the test and some who aren't. What they find is that LSD is really unpredictable. For some people, it makes them more inhibited. With others, it actually can make them incredibly competent and others almost end up having breakdowns.
00:19:59
So they decide early on that it's not going to be that useful as a way to make people talk. But Sid Gottlieb thinks LSD is the key to controlling the mind. He thinks it may be strong enough and powerful enough to dissolve the mind completely. This way, the person will be more susceptible to other ideas or brainwashing. So Gottlieb proposes a top secret program devoted to studying the effects of LSD. And they call it M.K. Ultra. And it's approved in April 1953.
00:20:31
Sid Gottlieb will be entirely in charge. All he needs are doctors and test subjects, preferably people who won't complain if they find out.
00:20:43
One of the first doctors they recruit is Harris Isabelle, who works at the Addiction Research Center in Kentucky. It's a prison slash rehab center for drug offenders. Dr. Isabel gives these men massive amounts of LSD so much that at least one of them says that he might go permanently insane if he has to have it again. But Dr. Isabel knows how to get these men to do anything. He just bribes them with heroin, which he's supposed to be helping them kick.
00:21:12
At one point, he puts seven men in isolation and gives them LSD every single day for seventy seven days. And some of them, he's giving four times the regular dose. The same thing is going on at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. A doctor named Carl Phifer is doing experiments on inmates to see how much LSD it takes to make someone psychotic. But he tells the inmates that the tests are for a new drug to cure schizophrenia. The Atlanta inmates were also given enormous amounts of LSD every day, but they were given it for 15 months.
00:21:50
One of the men who lived through this was the gangster Whitey Bulger, who wrote about the experience in his journals. The visions he had every day were violent and terrifying. He'd seen things change shape before his very eyes. He'd become paranoid and unable to sleep. In the end, he barely escaped with his sanity. Two of the inmates actually did become psychotic, possibly even worse than this. Were experiments done at a hospital in Montreal, Canada, under a doctor named Ewen Cameron?
00:22:22
Cameron was doing cutting edge work on schizophrenia, but his methods were pretty extreme. First, he'd cut off his patients senses, such as sight and hearing and touch. Then he'd feed them enough drugs that they'd almost be in a coma after they'd been in this state for days or even months. He'd give them electroshock treatments that were 30 to 40 times the average voltage. He followed this by putting them in solitary and feeding them hardly anything but LSD. Finally, he'd attach helmets with earphones to their heads and play taped phrases and noises on a loop.
00:23:03
Things like my mother hates just over and over and over. The idea was to remove negative thoughts from the mind. But by the end of these treatments, people were completely broken down. I mean, they couldn't feed themselves. They couldn't use the toilet. They were cared for in sleep rooms like babies, except this was a state that they'd never grow out of. Well, apparently, Sid Gottlieb at the CIA really liked the sound of all of this.
00:23:34
It was the closest thing to brainwashing that he'd come across. In 1957, they started paying Kameron to do the same experiment for them, and they funded him through a shell company called the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology. At least one hundred Patia. Were put through this torture in the name of the CIA, and most of them were women who were seeking treatment for mild problems like anxiety and postpartum depression. The whole point was to see if after people's minds were wiped clean, they would be able to implant a new personality inside of them.
00:24:11
But this doesn't seem to have ever been successful. Years later, an ethics committee would say that these treatments were on the same scale as Nazi medical atrocities. In some Follow-Up studies on Cameron's patients, it was found that they'd literally lost months and sometimes years of their memory. And yet Cameron was a lauded doctor when he started working with the CIA. He was quite literally the president of the American Psychiatric Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Apparently, the fact that his research was a complete failure didn't seem to have blemished his record.
00:24:51
But Gottlieb wasn't just interested in testing. Prisoners are those seeking mental help. He wanted to see the effects of LSD on ordinary people in normal social situations.
00:25:04
So he hit on the idea of safe houses here in America. But these weren't like the torture chambers in Germany. These were like groovy apartments in New York and San Francisco starting in the summer of 1953. CIA agents would actually lure people off the streets of Greenwich Village and into an apartment on Bedford Street, where they'd be given LSD without their knowledge. Then another agent would film them behind a two way mirror. They used a narcotics detective to run these houses, and most of the people they brought in were connected in some way to the underworld of drugs and vice.
00:25:43
If they realized that they'd been drugged, they weren't likely to go to the police. In San Francisco, the CIA added an extra element sex workers. These women would target men thought to have classified information and then try to get them to reveal it during sex. The agency was interested in exactly when a man would talk during sex. Needless to say, this was all filmed behind a two way mirror as well. Then there were the research institutes on college campuses which didn't quite go the way the CIA expected.
00:26:18
Students were recruited for experiments involving LSD. Eventually, they began talking about this drug. And word spread. The researchers even began using it themselves. By the early 60s, LSD had reached nearly every college campus in the country. Ken Kesey, an author who was one of the biggest proponents of LSD, had been an early test subject for M.K. Ultra. At Stanford, another Stanford test subject, Robert Hunter, wound up writing songs about LSD for the Grateful Dead.
00:26:50
Maybe the most famous LSD enthusiast of all time, Timothy Leary, gave the CIA full credit for bringing the drug to young people and starting the counterculture movement of the 60s.
00:27:03
Throughout all of this, there seemed to be one problem.
00:27:07
Mind control wasn't working. Destroying a mind was easy. Controlling it was something else entirely. But Sid Gottlieb didn't give up. M.K. Ultra was his baby. But in 1972, the Watergate scandal forced the CIA to rethink this secret program. What if they couldn't keep the files on ultra hidden? People would be incensed. So the director of the CIA at the time, Richard Helms, ordered all the files on M.K. Ultra. Destroyed. Sid Gottlieb carried out that order.
00:27:41
Then he decided to take an early retirement. Gottlieb had always lived two lives at work. He came up with ways to torture and kill. But at home, he cared for goats and chickens, eat yogurt and raised his children to be spiritually inclined. It's hard to know exactly what motivated him, but when he retired, it seems he wanted to leave his life in Washington behind. In 1973, he and his wife sold all of their possessions and set sail for India, where they worked at a leper hospital.
00:28:13
Maybe he sends to what was coming because just a few years later, in 1977, the Senate convened a hearing about M.K. Ultra and the person that they wanted most to speak to was Sid Gottlieb. I mean, his name was all over these documents. Even though other names had been carefully crossed out and they also knew that he had been the one to actually destroy the files. After some back and forth, Gottlieb reluctantly came back to the States. He got a lawyer and arranged to have immunity.
00:28:46
He knew that Frank Olson's death was almost certainly going to come up and he wanted to be ready. During the hearings in September 1977, his talent for technical doublespeak served him well. When he spoke, nobody could really understand him. When questions got too pointed, he'd claimed that his memory was just fuzzy. And throughout the entire hearing, his lawyer would make sure to remind everyone that M.K. Ultra studies were too old to be prosecuted. The statute of limitations for federal crimes is just five years.
00:29:21
Most of what had taken place fell outside of that window. But when senators asked about Frank Olson, Gottlieb's facade almost, just almost cracked. He called it a great tragedy, but not enough to make them stop the drug testing, since they didn't think there was enough of a causal connection between his suicide and the LSD. In the end, Gottlieb walked away without even a slap on the wrist. President Ford signed an executive order making drug testing on unknowing people a crime.
00:29:53
But really, that was about it. Meanwhile, as the 70s became the 80s, Eric Olson can't stop thinking about his father's death. Now that all of this information is out in the public about M.K. Ultra, everything the CIA has said and done seems even more nefarious. Now, he knows that a settlement from the CIA was really just money to keep him quiet. It's time to investigate the case himself. In 1984, he decided to spend the night at the Hotel Statler.
00:30:27
He checks into the same exact room that his father stayed in. And right away he sees that the room is way too small for anyone to take a running jump with enough momentum to crash through a closed window. Plus, the window sash is too low for him to have jumped out. He must have died. And why would someone dive through a pane of glass? The only possibility that makes sense is that he was pushed. Which means this was no drug test gone wrong or even suicide.
00:31:00
This was murder.
00:31:05
When we come back, we'll learn more about Frank Olson's death. Now back to the story. When Eric Olson starts to reinvestigate his father's death in the early 80s, one of the things that he does is go through his dad's passport. He sees that his father went to Germany during the summer of 1953 when the CIA was doing some of their most intense experiments on foreign prisoners. Eric starts to believe that his father witnessed a terminal experiment done with drugs that he was developing and he started to have second thoughts.
00:31:40
Then Eric learns from an English journalist that his father complained about these experiments. He told a colleague in British intelligence that he thought the U.S. was going too far. So when Frank Olson was brought to that retreat and given an LSD laced drink, it wasn't just an experiment. It was a test, an opportunity for him to recant, to say that he was sorry and still on board with the mission. But it doesn't seem that he did this. This might be why he felt he'd made a terrible mistake as he told his wife he knew what they were trying to do when they gave him the drug to fill in some of the blanks.
00:32:19
Erik decides to go visit all the men who'd been with his father during those last days. He wants to see if any of them will break and admit to foul play. He goes to see Robert Lasch. Brooke, the man who escorted him to New York, took him to see the psychiatrist and shared a hotel room with Frank the last night that he was alive. Lasch, Brooke, repeats the same story, except this time he lets it slip that Gottlieb was in New York the entire time.
00:32:46
That doesn't make sense because Golby was supposed to have stayed in Washington. So Eric goes to see Gottlieb himself. At this point, the ex spy master has totally reinvented himself. He's become a busy volunteer, teaching children with learning disabilities and helping out at a local hospice. But he is still a master of manipulation. He answers the door with a little joke, saying how he had a dream that Eric had a gun and wanted to shoot him. Eric's taken aback.
00:33:17
He assures Gottlieb that he's there as a friend. They chit chat about his father and Gottlieb gets a little wistful. He says that he did things in his former life, that he's not proud up. But he doesn't cop to anything more. Eric's just about to leave with this sense that Sid Gottlieb really did care about Frank and that he feels badly about his death. But then Gottlieb does something strange. He takes Eric aside and asks him whether he'd ever considered joining a support group for children of suicide victims, since he seems very troubled.
00:33:53
It's all just a little too much for Eric. Something about his demeanor makes Eric realize Gottlieb has something to hide. In 1994, 10 years after going to the Hotel Statler, Eric had his father's body exude. When Frank died, the family had been told that he was so wounded by the fall, the casket had to be closed. But when they dig up the body, they don't see evidence of lacerations or scratches. Nothing that would fit with a body diving through a sheet of glass.
00:34:25
A forensic pathologist does find one curious thing, though. A haematoma or a patch of blood under the skin on Frank's temple. It's like Frank was punched before he went out the window. This would have been suspicious on its own. But then in 1997, Eric comes across a CIA manual on assassination that had accidentally been declassified. It talks about the perfect, untraceable form of murder. A fall from a great height after the victim is stunned by a blow to the head.
00:35:02
Now, he knows this was definitely murder. And the CIA used a method so foolproof and so easily deniable that it was actually one of their favorite tactics.
00:35:16
And this actually sheds light on a few other mysterious deaths that happened during that time. Several influential men died in the late 40s and early 50s under unusual circumstances. In 1948, Larry Dugin, an economist who was suspected of being a Soviet spy, either fell or jumped from a 16th story window. James Forest, all the first secretary of defense, also fell out of a 16th floor window after he was forced to resign from office. A CIA agent named James Chronical apparently took his own life in 1953.
00:35:50
The same year as Frank Olson, he also turned out to be a Soviet spy. These deaths have never been classified as anything but suicides. But in retrospect, it's hard not to see a certain pattern. After this, Erik went back to the Manhattan district attorney and asked them to reinvestigate his father's death. In 1999, they were able to get the cause of death changed from suicide to something called Seiyu PBI cause unknown pending police investigation. But that's as far as it went.
00:36:25
The D.A. never had enough to bring a case in front of the grand jury. Still, Eric has never given up. A couple of years ago. Eric went back to see Seymour Hersh, the investigative reporter who first told the story of Franklin's death in the early 70s. Eric goes to see him and says basically, look, the CIA fed you a bunch of lies. In 1975, the LSD test was essentially a cover up and you fell for it.
00:36:52
So Hersh goes to his source inside the CIA. Whoever they are, and accuses them of lying to him. He asks point blank, was Olsen murdered? Apparently, this source located a document somewhere deep in the bowels of the CIA that says Frank Olsen was murdered. He calls Hersh and says, you know what? You're right.
00:37:21
But in a maddening twist, Hersh can't tell Eric or anyone else what the proof actually is. He says he'll expose his source if he does so. Eric Olson still doesn't have closure. His suspicion, his theory, it's all correct. He just doesn't have the proof. Even after 70 years, other victims of M.K. Ultra have faced similar problems getting justice. Years later, three of the inmates who were patients of Dr. Karl Fifers in Atlanta wound up suing the CIA and its director, William Casey.
00:37:59
They claim that the LSD tests had given them lifelong mental problems like paranoia, hallucinations and even flashbacks. But their suit ended up being dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out in 1980. Nine victims of U.N. Cameron and their families sued the U.S. The CIA wound up paying a total of seven hundred fifty thousand dollars to plaintiffs, but they never admitted that they did anything wrong.
00:38:25
Of course, there were a lot of people who believe that M.K. Ultra never really ended to them. Mind control programs are very much alive and well. It's the ultimate conspiracy theory. It's possible. Ever since Watergate, our government has actually become less transparent. Just look at the Snowden files. But a secret like M.K. Ultra. I'd like to believe that a program like that could never happen again. But we can just never be too sure. There is one strange detail that sort of makes me wonder.
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It's that Sid Gottlieb admitted when M.K. Ultra was over that it had all been just a waste of time.
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Thanks for listening. I'll be back next week with another episode. You can find all episodes of Supernatural in all of their part, cast originals for free on Spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts all in one place. So they're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear. For free on your phone, computer or smart speaker. And if you like the show, follow Apapa cast on Facebook and Instagram and at Park Network on Twitter.
00:39:51
Supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers and is a part cast studio's original. It's executive produced by Max Cutler Sound, designed by Carrie Murphy with production assistance by Ron Shapiro and Carly Madden. This episode of Supernatural was written by Joanna Philbin with writing assistants by Drew Cole. To hear more stories hosted by me, check out Crime Junkie and all audio check originals.