Ransom paper, part 1

Ransom paper, part 2

Ransom paper, part 3

Ransom paper, part 4

Ransom paper, part 5

Ransom paper, part 6

Ransom paper, part 7

Ransom paper, part 8

Ransom paper, part 9

Ransom paper, bibliography


  The Frank Olson Legacy Project

Paper on the Death of Frank Olson


By Corey Ransom

Graduate Student

Seminar on Ameican History Since 1865

University of Delaware

Fall Semester 1999

The Twentieth Century has been a truly remarkable and unusual time in the course of history. This period saw the occurrence of events which would shape the lives of every person, in every country around the world. The 1950’s was a decade particularly caught in the swirl of world events. Having emerged from a vast ideological struggle against fascism in the Second World War, human kind engaged in a global reconstruction. Nations rebuilt, soldiers returned to civility, the world became more intertwined through new mediums such as the United Nations. However, looming behind the global reconstruction was the formation of another ideological struggle that would envelop the world and all of its citizens.

The struggle between Western Capitalism and World Communism, although best represented by the conflict between superpowers, nonetheless affected every person, in every country. Perhaps the best, if not the most repulsive example of the influence of the global conflict was the development of weapons of mass destruction by both superpowers. For the first time in world history humans possessed the means of ending their own existence in the universe. A world divided almost completely on an ideological difference, each side with its finger on a cataclysmic trigger set the tone for the 1950’s. It was a decade affected in some part by mistrust, fear and paranoia, and it affected every person, in every nation.

This paper tells the story of a man who became caught up in the worst extremes of these Cold War influences. The policy makers of this country perceived a threat, and they created a means to contain and counter that threat. However, the CIA, an agency created to counter a foreign threat, was granted an unchecked freedom in its ability to deal with that threat. Some members of the agency abused that freedom, out of fear, mistrust and paranoia, and the results were the death of innocent people and the violation of others’ civil rights. Frank Olson died in a program created from the perception of a threat. This paper presents a chronological narrative of the events which occurred surrounding the death of Frank Olson and its effects on his family. It will also place his story into the larger context of that program created by the CIA.

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