The Frank Olson Legacy Project

The cold war’s darkest secret




For two decades—beginning that grim November morning in 1953 when those austere men brought the news that my father had “fallen or jumped” out the window—it was a story that my family did not know how to tell.



The Cold War’s Darkest Secret

The background

The “contrived accident"

The case

New developments

The purpose

The project


The book


Related activities

Possibilities & limits




The local newspaper in Frederick, Maryland from Nov 28, 1953 — decorated by my brother or sister or me—said that my father “fell or jumped” out the window of a New York hotel room.


For two more decades—following revelations in 1975 about the administration of LSD by the CIA to a group of scientists at Deep Creek Lake—it was a shock that would not subside. Then in 1994—after I had the body exhumed and the forensic report was delivered, and again in 1996 when the New York District Attorney opened a murder investigation of the by-then forty-three year old death—it b
ecame a case that was nearly impossible to believe. Now in May 2000—as the DA’s office nears completion of its four-year grand jury investigation—it has become an enterprise whose scale, complexity, and implications are as difficult to fathom as its weight is diffcult to bear.

I have been standing at the center of this dizzying enterprise, simultaneously prodding it into existence, keeping it moving, and blinking in disbelief as it grows beyond me. Writing in The London Mail on Sunday in August 1998 the highly esteemed espionage historian Phillip Knightley and journalist Kevin Dowling called my father’s death “the Cold War’s darkest secret.”

In order to bring that secret to light I have set myself up as a broker of fragments. By gathering, synthesizing, relaying, and leveraging bits of information within a constantly expanding network I have sought to advance the story on a variety of fronts, relying on a dispersed collection of allies.

© Eric Olson, 2000