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Sidney Gottlieb
CIA's Sidney Gottlieb: Pusher, Assassin & Pimp

US Official Poisoner Dies

Sidney Gottlieb, who for more than two decades managed the CIA's Technical Services Division, died on March 10. His obituaries in the New York Times and the Washington Post tended to focus own Gottlieb's testing of LSD on himself and other CIA officers, portraying him as a kind of Merry Prankster, the CIA's very own Ken Kesey.
In fact, with Gottlieb's death, America has lost its prime poisoner. For many years, most notably in the 1950s and 1960s, Gottlieb presided over the CIA's technical services division and supervised preparation of lethal poisons, experiments in mind control and administration of LSD and other psycho-active drugs to unwitting subjects. Gottlieb's passing came at a convenient time for the CIA, just as several new trials involving victims of its experiments were being brought. Those who had talked to Gottlieb in the past few years say that the chemist believed that the Agency was trying to make him the fall guy for the entire program. Some speculate that Gottlieb may have been ready to spill the goods on a wide range of CIA programs.
Incredibly, neither the Times nor the Post obituaries mention Gottlieb's crucial role in the death of Dr. Frank Olson, who worked for the US Army's biological weapons center at Fort Detrick. At a CIA sponsored retreat in rural Maryland on November 18, 1953, Gottlieb gave the unwitting Olson a glass of Cointreau liberally spiked with LSD. Olson developed psychotic symptoms soon thereafter and within a few days had plunged to his death from an upper floor room at the New York Statler-Hilton. Olson was sharing the room with Gottlieb's number two, a CIA man called Robert Lashbrook, who had taken the deranged man to see a CIA-sponsored medic called Harold Abramson who ran an allergy clinic at Mount Sinai, funded by Gottlieb to research LSD.
The night Olson made his terminally abrupt descent from the hotel window the New York police asked Lashbrook to turn out his pockets. On a piece of paper were initials GW and MH, identified later as George White and Morgan Hall, White's alias. White was retained by Gottlieb to run a CIA safehouse at 81 Bedford St in Greenwich Village, in cooperation with Harry Anslinger's Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, for which White had previously worked. Gottlieb's men fixed up the house with one-way mirrors listening devices and secret cameras. From the fall of 1953 to the spring of the following year White threw parties on Bedford St, dosing his guests with sodium pentothal, Nembutal and of course LSD. Later White moved the CIA operation to San Francisco, with the same sort of set-up. He hired prostitutes to dose the guests, in an exercise known as Operation Midnight Climax. The encounter were filmed, on the walls White, put photos of women being tortured and whipped. Gottlieb flew out to visit the safe house at 225 Chestnut Street several times a year. Another senior CIA man, John Gittinger would interview the hookers about their drugs and sex habits.
Gottlieb was a man of darkness. He sponsored research by the infamous Dr Ewen Cameron, a world famous shrink who had clinic in Montreal at McGill where he dosed unwitting subjects (who had entered voluntarily for psychiatric treatment) with huge jolts of electricity through their brains, plus drugs plus lobotomies. Many people had their lives thus destroyed in Cameron's research, financed by Gottlieb and also by the Rockefeller Foundation. Cameron invented a particularly ghastly process called "psychic driving" whereby drugged and shocked patients, whom Cameron believed he had wiped clean of their previous personalities, would have tapes played sixteen hours a day, dictating their new personalities.
From time to time the patients, given Thorazine, Nebutal and Seconal, would be hauled off, administered amphetamines as a wake-up call, then get ECT at voltages forty times greater than was considered safe at the time. Cameron died of a heart attack while mountain climbing in 1967. Gottlieb had finessed Cameron $60,000 in the late Fifties for his experiments. Eventually the CIA settled with some of Cameron's victims.
Gottlieb also funded the experiments of Dr. Harris Isbell. Isbell ran the Center for Addiction Research in Lexington, Kentucky. Passing through Isbell's center was a captive group of human guinea pigs in the form of a steady stream of black heroin addicts. More than 800 different chemical compounds were shipped from Gottlieb to Lexington for testing on Isbell's patients.
Perhaps the most infamous experiment came when Isbell gave LSD to seven black men for seventy-seven straight days. Isbell's research notes indicates that he gave the men "quadruple" the "normal" dosages. The doctor marveled at the men's apparent tolerance to these remarkable amounts of LSD. Isbell wrote in his notes that "this type of behavior is to be expected in patients of this type."
In other Gottlieb-funded experiment at the Center, Isbell had nine black males strapped to tables, injected them with psylocybin, inserted rectal thermometers, had lights shown in their eyes to measure pupil dilation and had their joints whacked to test neural reactions.
Gottlieb's research was never a case of pure science. He was a practical man. From the beginning, Gottlieb saw himself as part of the operational wing of the CIA. Even the forays into LSD research, Gottlieb saw a testing for a potential chemical warfare weapon. He arranged a contract with Eli Lily to produce synthetic LSD "in tonnage quantities." The aim was to have enough acid to incapacitate large populations and armies.
By the early 1960s Gottlieb's techniques and potions were being fully deployed in the field. Well-known is Gottlieb's journey to the Congo, where his little black bag held an Agency-developed biotoxin scheduled for Patrice Lumumba's toothbrush. He also tried to manage Iraq's general Kassim with a handkerchief doctored with botulinum and there were the endless poisons directed at Fidel Castro, from the LSD the Agency wanted to spray in his radio booth to the poisonous fountain pen intended for Castro that was handed by a CIA man to Rolando Cubela on November 22, 1963.
Even less well remembered is one mission in the CIA's Phoenix Program in Vietnam in July of 1968. A team of CIA psychologists set up shop at Bien Hoa Prison outside Saigon, where NLF suspects were being held after Phoenix Program round-ups. The psychologists performed a variety of experiments on the prisoners. In one, three prisoners were anaesthetized; their skulls were opened and electrodes implanted by CIA doctors into different parts of their brains. The prisoners were revived, placed in a room with knives and the electrodes in the brains activated by the psychiatrists, who were covertly observing them. The hope was that they could be prompted in this manner to attack each other. The experiments failed. The electrodes were removed, the patients were shot and their bodies burned. CP
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
"The director would be ill advised to say he is acquainted with this programme".

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"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Where was Sidney on November 18th 1978?

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