1977 Senate Hearing on MKULTRA





Project MKULTRA, The CIA’s Program Of Research In Behavioral Modification
AUGUST 3, 1977
At least one death, that of Dr. Olson, resulted from these activities. The
Agency itself acknowledged that these tests made little scientific sense.
The agents doing the monitoring were not qualified scientific observers.
The tests subjects were seldom accessible beyond the first hours of the
test. In a number of instances, the test subject became ill for hours or days,
and effective followup was impossible.
Other experiments were equally offensive. For example, heroin addicts
were enticed into participating in LSD experiments in order to get a
reward — heroin.
Perhaps most disturbing of all was the fact that the extent of
experimentation on human subjects was unknown. The records of all these
activities were destroyed in January 1973, at the instruction of then CIA
Director Richard Helms. In spite of persistent inquiries by both the Health
Subcommittee and the Intelligence Committee, no additional records or
information were forthcoming. And no one — no single individual — could
be found who remembered the details, not the Director of the CIA, who
ordered the documents destroyed, not the official responsible for the
program, nor any of his associates
We believed that the record, incomplete as it was, was as complete as it
was going to be. Then one individual, through a Freedom of Information
request, accomplished what two U.S. Senate committees could not. He
spurred the agency into finding additional records pertaining to the CIA’s
program of experimentation with human subjects. These new records were
discovered by the agency in March. Their existence was not made known
to the Congress until July.
The records reveal a far more extensive series of experiments than had
previously been thought. Eighty-six universities or institutions were
involved. New instances of unethical behavior were revealed.
The intelligence community of this Nation, which requires a shroud of
secrecy in order to operate, has a very sacred trust from the American
people. The CIA’s program of human experimentation of the fifties and
sixties violated that trust. It was violated again on the day the bulk of the
agency’s records were destroyed in 1973. It is violated each time a
responsible official refuses to recollect the details of the program. The best
safeguard against abuses in the future is a complete public accounting of
the abuses of the past.
I think this is illustrated, as Chairman Inouye pointed out. These are
issues, are questions that happened in the fifties and sixties, and go back
some 15, 20 years ago, but they are front page news today, as we see in
the major newspapers and on the television and in the media of this
country; and the reason they are, I think, is because it just continuously
begins to trickle out, sort of, month after month, and the best way to put
this period behind us, obviously, is to have the full information, and I
think that is the desire of Admiral Turner and of the members of this
The Central Intelligence Agency drugged American citizens without their
knowledge or consent. It used university facilities and personnel without
their knowledge. It funded leading researchers, often without their
These institutes, these individuals, have a right to know who they are and
how and when they were used. As of today, the Agency itself refuses to
declassify the names of those institutions and individuals, quite
appropriately, I might say, with regard to the individuals under the Privacy
Act. It seems to me to be a fundamental responsibility to notify those
individuals or institutions, rather. I think many of them were caught up in
an unwitting manner to do research for the Agency. Many researchers,
distinguished researchers, some of our most outstanding members of our
scientific community, involved in this network, now really do not know whether they were involved or not,and it seems to me that the whole health and climate in terms of our
university and our scientific and health facilities are entitled to that
So, I intend to do all I can to persuade the Agency to, at the very least,
officially inform those institutions and individuals involved.
Two years ago, when these abuses were first revealed, I introduced
legislation, with Senator Schweiker and Senator Javits, designed to
minimize the potential for any similar abuses in the future. That legislation
expanded the jurisdiction of the National Commission on Human Subjects
of Biomedical and Behavioral Research to cover all federally funded
research involving human subjects. The research initially was just directed
toward HEW activities, but this legislation covered DOD as well as the
This Nation has a biomedical and behavioral research capability second to
none. It has had for subjects of HEW funded research for the past 3 years a
system for the protection of human subjects of biomedical research second
to none, and the Human Experimentation Commission has proven its
value. Today’s hearings and the record already established underscore the
need to expand its jurisdiction.
The CIA supported that legislation in 1975, and it passed the Senate
unanimously last year. I believe it is needed in order to assure all our
people that they will have the degree of protection in human
experimentation that they deserve and have every right to expect.
Senator INOUYE. Thank you very much. Now we will proceed with the
hearings. Admiral Turner?
[The prepared statement of Admiral Turner follows.]
Project MKULTRA, The CIA’s Program
Of Research In Behavioral Modification
Prepared Statement of Admiral Stansfield Turner,
Director of Central Intelligence
Mr. Chairman: In my letter to you of July 15, 1977, I reported our recent
discovery of seven boxes of documents related to Project MKULTRA, a
closely held CIA project conducted from 1953-1964. As you may recall,
MKULTRA was an “umbrella project” under which certain sensitive
subprojects were funded, involving among other things research on drugs
and behavioral modification. During the Rockefeller Commission and
Church Committee investigations in 1975, the cryptonym became publicly
known when details of the drug-related death of Dr. Frank Olsen were
publicized. In 1953 Dr. Olsen, a civilian employee of the Army at Fort
Detrick, leaped to his death from a hotel room window in New York City
about a week after having unwittingly consumed LSD administered to him
as an experiment at a meeting of LSD researchers called by CIA.
Most of what was known about the Agency’s involvement with behavioral
drugs during the investigations in 1975 was contained in a report on
Project MKULTRA prepared by the Inspector General’s office in 1963. As
a result of that report’s recommendations, unwitting testing of drugs on
U.S. citizens was subsequently discontinued. The MKULTRA-related
report was made available to the Church Committee investigators and to
the staff of Senator Kennedy’s Subcommittee on Health. Until the recent
discovery, it was believed that all of the MKULTRA files dealing with
behavioral modification had been destroyed in 1973 on the orders of the
then retiring Chief of the Office of Technical Service, with the
authorization of the DCI, as has been previously reported. Almost all of
the people who had had any connection with the aspects of the project
which interested Senate investigators in 1975 were no longer with the
Agency at that time. Thus, there was little detailed knowledge of the
MKULTRA subprojects available to CIA during the Church Committee
investigations. This lack of available details, moreover, was probably not
wholly attributable to the destruction of MKULTRA files in 1973; the 1963 report on MKULTRA
by the Inspector General notes on page 14: “Present practice is to maintain
no records of the planning and approval of test programs.”
When I reported to you last on this matter, my staff had not yet had an
opportunity to review the newly located material in depth. This has now
been accomplished, and I am in a position to give you a description of the
contents of the recovered material. I believe you will be most interested in
the following aspects of the recent discovery:
How the material was discovered and why it was not previously found;
The nature of this recently located material;
How much new information there is in the material which may not
have been previously known and reported to Senate investigators; and
What we believe the most significant aspects of this find to be.
To begin, as to how we discovered these materials. The material had been
sent to our Retired Records Center outside of Washington and was
discovered sent to our Retired Records Center outside of Washington and
was discovered there as a result of the extensive search efforts of an
employee charged with responsibility for maintaining our holdings on
behavioral drugs and for responding to Freedom of Information Act
requests on this subject. During the Church Committee investigation in
1975, searches for MKULTRA-related material were made by examining
both the active and retired records of all branches of CIA considered at all
likely to have had association with MKULTRA documents. The retired
records of the Budget and Fiscal Section of the Branch responsible for
such work were not searched, however. This was because financial papers
associated with sensitive projects such s MKULTRA were normally
maintained by the Branch itself under the project file, not by the Budget
and Fiscal Section. In the case at hand, however, the newly located
material was sent to the Retired Records Center in 1970 by the Budget and
Fiscal Section as part of its own retired holdings. The reason for this
departure from normal procedure is not known. As a result of it, however,
the material escaped retrieval and destruction in 1973 by the then-retiring
Director of the Office as well as discovery in 1975 by CIA officials
responding to Senate investigators.
The employee who located this material did so by leaving no stone
unturned in his efforts to respond to FOIA requests. He reviewed all
listings of material of this Branch stored at the Retired Records Center,
including those of the Budget and Fiscal Section and, thus, discovered the
MKULTRA-related documents which had been missed in the previous
searches. In sum, the Agency failed to uncover these particular documents
in 1973 in the process of attempting to destroy them; it similarly failed to.
$11,000 was involved during this period 1953-1960: 3 subprojects.
Single subprojects in such areas as effects of electro-shock, harassment
techniques for offensive use, analysis of extrasensory perception, gas
propelled sprays and aerosols, and four subprojects involving crop and
material sabotage.
One or two subprojects on each of the following:
“Blood Grouping” research, controlling the activity of animals, energy
storage and transfer in organic systems; and
stimulus and response in biological systems.
Three subprojects canceled before any work was done on them having
to do with laboratory drug screening, research on brain concussion, and
research on biologically active materials to be tested through the skin on
human volunteers.
Now, as to how much new the recovered material adds to what has
previously been reported to the Church Committee and to Senator
Kennedy’s Subcommittee on Health on these topics, the answer is
additional detail, for the most part: e.g., the names of previously
unidentified researchers and institutions associated on either a witting or
unwitting basis with MKULTRA activities, and the names of CIA officials
who approved or monitored the various subprojects. Some new
substantive material is also present: e.g., details concerning proposals for
experimentation and clinical testing associated with various research
projects, and a possibly improper contribution by CIA to a private
institution. However, the principal types of activities included have, for
the most part, either been outlined to some extent or generally described in
what was previously available to CIA in the way of documentation and
was supplied by CIA to Senate investigators. For example:
Financial disbursement records for the period 1960-1964 for 76 of the 149
numbered MKULTRA subprojects had been recovered from the Office of
Finance by CIA and were made available to the Church Committee
investigators in August or September 1975.
The 1963 Inspector General report on MKULTRA made available to both
the Church Committee and Senator Kennedy’s Subcommittee mentions
electro-shock and harassment substances (pp. 4, 16); covert testing on unwitting U.S.
citizens (pp. 7, 10-12); the search for new materials through arrangements
with specialists in universities, pharmaceutical houses, hospitals, state and
federal institutions, and private research organizations (pp. 7, 9); and the
fact that the Technical Service Division of CIA had initiated 144
subprojects related to the control of human behavior between 1953-1963
(p. 21).
The relevant section of a 1957 Inspector General report on the Technical
Service Division was also made available to the Church Committee staff.
That report discusses techniques for human assessment and unorthodox
methods of communication (p. 201); discrediting and disabling materials
which can be covertly administered (pp. 201-202); studies on magicians’
arts as applied to covert operations (p. 202); specific funding mechanisms
for research performed outside of CIA (pp. 202-203, 205); research being
done on “K” (knockout) material, alcohol tolerance, and hypnotism (p.
203); research on LSD (p. 204); anti-personnel harassment and
assassination delivery systems including aerosol generators and other
spray devices (pp. 206-208); the role of Fort Detrick in support of CIA’s
Biological/Chemical Warfare capability (p. 208); and material sabotage
research (p. 209). Much of this material is reflected in the Church
Committee Report, Book I, pp. 385-422. (See Appendix A, pp. 65-102).
The most significant new data discovered are, first, the names of
researchers and institutions who participated in the MKULTRA project
and, secondly, a possibly improper contribution by CIA to a private
institution. We are now in possession of the names of 185 non-government
researchers and assistants who are identified in the recovered material
dealing with the 149 subprojects. The names of 80 institutions where work
was done or with which these people were affiliated are also mentioned.
The institutions include 44 colleges or universities, 15 research
foundations or chemical or pharmaceutical companies and the like, 12
hospitals or clinics (in addition to those associated with universities), and
3 penal institutions. While the identities of some of these people and
institutions were known previously, the discovery of the new identities
adds to our knowledge of MKULTRA.
The facts as they pertain to the possibly improper contribution are as
follows: One project involves a contribution of $375,000 to a building
fund of a private medical institution. The fact that a contribution was made
was previously known; indeed it was mentioned in a 1957 Inspector
General report on the Technical Service Division of CIA, pertinent
portions of which had been reviewed by the Church Committee staff.
newly discovered material, however, makes it clear that this contribution
was made through an intermediary, which made it appear to be a private
donation. As a private donation, the contribution was then matched by
federal funds. The institution was not made aware of the true source of the
gift. This project was approved by the then DCI, and concurred in by
CIA’s top management at the time, including the then General Counsel
who wrote an opinion supporting the legality of the contribution.
The recently discovered documents give a greater insight into the scope of
the unwitting drug testing but contribute little more than that. We now
have collaborating information that some of the unwitting drug testing was
carried on in safehouses in San Francisco and New York City, and we
have identified that three individuals were involved in this undertaking as
opposed to the previously reported one person. We also know now that
some unwitting testing took place on criminal sexual psychopaths
confined at a State hospital and that, additionally, research was done on
knock-out or “K” drug in parallel with research to develop pain killers for
cancer patients.
These, then are the principal findings identified to date in our review of
the recovered material. As noted earlier, we believe the detail on the
identities of researchers and institutions involved in CIA’s sponsorship of
drugs and behavioral modification is a new element and one which poses a
considerable problem. Most of the people and institutions involved are not
aware of Agency sponsorship. We should certainly assume that the
researchers and institutions which cooperate with CIA on a witting basis
acted in good faith and in the belief that they were aiding their government
in a legitimate and proper purpose. I believe we all have a moral
obligation to these researchers and institutions to protect them from any
unjustified embarrassment or damage to their reputations which revelation
of their identities might bring. In addition, I have a legal obligation under
the Privacy Act not to publicly disclose the names of the individual
researchers without their consent. This is especially true, of course, for
those researchers and institutions which were unwitting participants in
CIA-sponsored activities.
Nevertheless, recognizing the right and the need of both the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Subcommittee on Health to
investigate the circumstances of these activities in whatever detail they
consider necessary. I am providing your Committee with all of the names
on a classified basis. I hope that this will facilitate your investigation while
protecting the individuals and institutions involved. Let me emphasize that
the MKULTRA events are 12 to 25 years in the past. I assure you that the
CIA is in no way engaged in either witting or unwitting testing of drugs
Finally, I am working closely with the Attorney General and with the
Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare on this matter. We are making
available to the Attorney General whatever materials he may deem
necessary to any investigation he may elect to undertake. We are working
with both the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health, Education and
Welfare to determine whether it is practicable from this new evidence to
attempt to identify any of the persons to whom drugs may have been
administered unwittingly. No such names are part of these records, but we
are working to determine if there are adequate clues to lead to their
identification; and if so, how to go about fulfilling the Government’s
responsibilities in the matter




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