Memo to Robert M. Morgenthau, Esq.,
New York District Attorney
(Via Mary Nichols)
POWELL, GOLDSTEIN, FRAZER & MURPHY
ATTORNEYS AT LAW
191 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303Sixth Floor
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
M E M O R A N D U M
PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL
ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT
TO: Mary Nichols, Esq.
FROM: Harry Huge, Esq.
Eric Olson, Ph.D.
Theodore H. Huge, Esq
May 12, 1995
RE: Memorandum in Support of a Criminal Investigation into the Death of Dr. Frank Olson
This Memorandum concerns the death of Dr. Frank Olson and the need for an investigation into the circumstances of Dr. Olson’s death. This Memorandum provides background information about Dr. Olson, as well as information only recently uncovered as to the events surrounding Dr. Olson’s death.
SUMMARY OF MEMORANDUM
Based upon the factual information as now known, the need for a criminal investigation into Dr. Olson’s death is necessary to ascertain the truth of what happened to Dr. Olson and who should be held personally responsible for his death. In addition, there is an overriding public interest reason for this criminal investigation.
First, the witnesses: The witnesses who know the facts are elderly, and it is uncertain how long any of them will live. For example, in the past month one of the participants, Lyman Kirkpatrick died (see New York article attached hereto as Exhibit 1). These witnesses need to be interviewed, and their testimony under oath preserved, in order to have any chance of learning the truth.
These witnesses include, but are not limited to, the following:
• William Colby
• Sidney Gottlieb
• Robert Lashbrook
• Vincent Ruwet
• Ike Feldman
• Armand Pastore
An initial list of prospective witnesses is attached hereto as Exhibit 2.
Second, the need for subpoena power:Only a criminal investigation with subpoena power will be able to force these witnesses to testify and to obtain all documents which are still in existence. Many documents are unavailable through any other means, such as the original investigation files from the New York City Police Department. Attached as Exhibit 3 is the response from the NYPD regarding its not turning over, even at this late date, these investigative files in their possession.
Sidney Gottlieb, who directed the MK-Ultra program within which the LSD-testing on Dr. Olson was conducted, retired from the CIA in 1973. Before leaving the Agency, however, Gottlieb shredded all or most (reports vary) of the NM-Ultra documents, allegedly with the blessing of then CIA director Richard Helms. The resulting sparsity of relevant documents reinforces the need for subpoena power to call witnesses to testify. At the same time, the broad scope of the document shredding makes the survival of a CIA file on Dr. Olson somewhat surprising, and raises doubts about the validity and completeness of that file.
Third, no civil action is available: The humanitarian relief bill for the Olson family passed by the United States Congress in 1975 was conditioned on broad general releases from future civil action. To try and overcome these general releases now would take years of litigation, even if successful. By then, the witnesses will likely be gone or their memory severely impaired. Also, the Olson brothers do not have the funds for lengthy protracted litigation of this type.
Fourth, there is reasonable cause for a criminal investigation: In the summer of 1994 Dr. Olson’s body was exhumed by James Starrs, Professor of Law and Forensic Science at the National Law Center at George Washington University, and a diverse team of scientists assembled by Professor Starrs. No cuts or abrasions were found on Dr. Olson’s face and neck, or the front of his legs, by Professor Starrs’ investigative team. Medical experts expect such injuries as a result of plunging through a closed glass window, and, in fact, the medical examiner’s report done in New York immediately after the death specifically mentions having found such injuries on the body.
On the basis of the combined results of his team’s scientific and non-scientific investigations, Professor Starrs concluded that the facts in this case are “rankly and starkly suggestive of homicide” and recommended that the case be re-opened.
Professor Starrs suspects homicide as the cause from another angle. The cumulative effect of the following makes suicide highly improbable: (i) the small dimensions of the room may prove it impossible for an individual to gain enough speed for a vault to clear the radiator, smash through a pulled shade and a closed window and still have enough momentum to exit from the window; (ii) the darkness when the alleged vault occurred; and (iii) Lashbrook’s not being awakened by the effort required to gain enough speed to vault through the window. In fact, the forensics investigator plans to conduct research on this theory by testing the glass and conducting experiments to see if such a vault is even possible.
There is, as this Memorandum and supporting documents make clear, reasonable cause to begin a criminal investigation into a possible murder. The fact that this (possible or alleged) murder was most likely committed by government agents who believed they were authorized to do so does not make it any less a crime. In fact, it makes it even more necessary to seek the truth and, if necessary, indictments.
The public interest reasons why the New York district attorney should open an investigation of the case of Dr. Olson are as follows:
• Unethical research on unwitting human subjects is a matter of continuing public concern. If Dr. Olson’s case proves to be murder, then it will suggest not only that unethical testing risks the lives of experimental subjects, but even more important, it may demonstrate that the CIA believed that a ‘guinea pig/subject” should be killed to protect the secrecy of an experiment gone awry.
• The CIA has constantly insisted, as recently as the case of the deaths of DeVine and Bamaca in Guatemala, that murder is not among the methods its employs.
As the U.S. begins a debate on the role of the CIA in the post-cold war era it is important to know exactly what sorts of methods have in fact been employed in the historical period just now concluding. The case of Dr. Olson may shed some important light on that record, thereby helping to focus the debate on what the status of secret research should be in the future.
• • • • •
Once you have reviewed this Memorandum, and its supporting documents (which are more complete and lengthy than we discussed), we are ready to meet with you and clarify and/or enlarge upon the events discussed.
As you are aware, this Memorandum has been prepared by counsel for Eric and Nils Olson, the sons of Dr. Olson. It contains privileged and confidential information gathered in the course of a legal investigation, and as such, may not be disclosed to anyone without the express written permission of the Olson brothers or their counsel.
I. THE FRANK OLSON STORY IN BRIEF
Dr. Frank Olson was a civilian scientist researched biochemical and bacteriological warfare for the United States Army during and after the Second World War. He worked at a research laboratory for the Special Operations Division (“SOD”) at Camp Detrick in Frederick, Maryland (now Fort Detrick), which was the American government’s main center for biochemical and bacteriological warfare. The SOD dealt with the most secret and sensitive systems for delivery of highly lethal poisons.
In November of 1953 Dr. Olson went with four colleagues to a secret two-day meeting at a cabin on Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. This meeting was arranged by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb and Robert Lashbrook, both of whom worked for the CIA. These men had an on-going liaison relationship with Dr. Olson’s research group, the purpose of which was (at least the way Dr. Olson’s group understood it) to enable the SOD to make available some of its research findings to the CIA. No one in Dr. Olson’s group suspected that during that November 1953 meeting they would be used as guinea pigs in an experiment on LSD which the two men from the CIA had secretly planned to conduct on them. The CIA agents slipped LSD into the after-dinner drinks, as they had been taught by a magician who was a consultant for the CIA.
The meeting took place on Thursday and Friday. After the meeting, Dr. Olson returned to his home. He was very silent over the weekend, and spoke of having made a “big mistake.” When he went to work on Monday morning, he told his boss he had decided to quit his job. But his boss, Vincent Ruwet, who had been with Dr. Olson during the secret meeting (and who, according to his own account, was also given LSD), told Dr. Olson he should not quit. Ruwet said they would take him to New York, where Ruwet said Dr. Olson could get “help.” That Monday morning, Dr. Olson, Ruwet, and Robert Lashbrook all went to New York, where Dr. Olson was to obtain “treatment.” Dr. Olson received treatment from one Harold Abramson, introduced to Dr. Olson as a psychiatrist, but in fact he was an allergist, as is discussed below.
Very little is known about what happened in New York, but what follows is what we know from various accounts of the participants. According to Ruwet and Lashbrook, after midnight on Wednesday night, Dr. Olson woke up, got dressed, and left the room he shared with Ruwet (Ruwet continued sleeping). Ruwet and Lashbrook found Dr. Olson the next morning sitting in the hotel lobby with his coat on. Dr. Olson told them that he had walked around the city most of the night, had torn up his money, and had thrown his wallet, containing his personal identification, into a chute somewhere in the city. His explanation was that he felt that he was under orders from Ruwet to do this. Despite this bizarre and frightening occurrence (if it really happened) Ruwet and Lashbrook reportedly continued with their plan to take Dr. Olson home that day, Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
According to the CIA documents released in 1975 in connection with the Congressional humanitarian bill for the Olson family (the “CIA documents”) and Ruwet’s account of what happened, on Thursday all three men returned to Washington so that Dr. Olson could go on to Frederick for the Thanksgiving holiday that day. When Dr. Olson arrived in Washington he reportedly became worried about returning home because, according to Ruwet, Dr. Olson was concerned that he might become violent with his children. Dr. Olson then turned around in Washington, and went back to New York with Lashbrook. Meanwhile Ruwet returned to Frederick to give Mrs. Olson the message that Dr. Olson had decided to return to New York.
When he got back to New York, Dr. Olson continued his visits with Dr. Abramson. In 1975, the family discovered that Dr. Abramson was not a psychiatrist, as they had earlier been led to believe by Ruwet, but an allergist serving as the CIA’s consultant on the LSD project. We do not know what happened in any of the sessions with Abramson. According to the CIA documents, Abramson decided on Friday that Dr. Olson required hospitalization at Chestnut Lodge Psychiatric Hospital in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Olson was to return to Frederick for the weekend and then enter the hospital the following week. Dr. Olson and Lashbrook planned to spend Friday night in their room on the thirteenth floor of the Statler Hotel. (the room was labeled room ‘1018,” suggesting that it was on the tenth floor, but the first three floors of the hotel were not counted).
On Friday night Dr. Olson telephoned his wife for the first time since Monday, said he was in good spirits, and told her he would be home the next day (Saturday). Both men then went to bed.
Lashbrook says that shortly after midnight he was awakened by the sound of crashing glass and the sound of the blind spinning around its rod at the top of the window frame. He says that he got up from his bed, walked over to the window, and saw that Olson had gone through it.
Early Saturday morning, November 28, 1953, Mrs. Olson (then thirty-eight years old), her two sons (aged five and nine) and her daughter, (aged seven) were awakened to be told that Dr. Olson had died as the result of a fall from the window of a New York hotel.
That was all the Olsons knew for the next 22 years.
In the decades after Dr. Olson died Mrs. Olson began to drink a great deal and eventually became an alcoholic. She had to be hospitalized repeatedly before recovering sobriety in the early ~1970’s. One source of her alcoholism was the habit she developed of having a drink in the afternoon with Ruwet, who would stop by as a “good friend” to give Mrs. Olson support after Dr. Olson died. However, the CIA documents revealed that the Director of the CIA had assigned Ruwet to “keep track of the wife.”
On June 11, 1975 a headline on the first page of The Washington Post stated that an on-going investigation of the CIA had uncovered the fact that in 1953 a government scientist had died after the CIA administered him a dose of LSD without his knowledge or consent. The story did not report the name of this scientist who was later confirmed to be Dr. Olson.
In July 1975, the Olson family held a press conference demanding full disclosure of the facts surrounding this incident and financial compensation. Later that summer, President Gerald Ford invited the Olson family to the White House, and apologized on behalf of the government. In fact, President Ford said that the CIA’s drug experiments were “the proximate cause of his death.’ CIA Director William Colby invited the Olsons to lunch at the CIA building, where he presented all (allegedly) the relevant documents concerning Dr. Olson’s death.
In 1984 the Olsons made a number of trips to meet people involved with Dr. Olson’s death. These included Robert Lashbrook, Sidney Gottlieb, and Armand Pastore, the night-manager of the Statler Hotel when Dr. Olson died. Pastore claimed that Dr. Olson could not have jumped out of the hotel window, with or without the influence of LSD, because, as the forensic investigator (Starrs) suspects, it was highly unlikely that Olson could have gained enough momentum in such a small room to vault over the radiator, crash through a closed window and shade, and still have enough speed to exit the window frame. Pastore also said that (according to the switchboard operator on duty at the time) immediately after Dr. Olson went out the window, and before going down to the street, Lashbrook made a call to Long Island (where Abramson lived). The call consisted only of the words “Well, he’s gone,” and the other party’s response, “That’s too bad.”
II. ISSUES ARISING FROM THE CIA DOCUMENTS TURNED OVER TO THE OLSON FAMILY IN 1975
Attached hereto as Exhibit 4 is a copy of a chapter from the book by John Marks entitled The Search for the Manchurian Candidate (published in 1979). The chapter on Dr. Olson (“Concerning the Case of Frank Olson”) is based entirely upon the documents received from the CIA in 1975. These documents total in excess of 100 pages and will be made available to you for your inspection and review. Attached as Exhibit 5 is a law review article by Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. and James C. Turner which contains additional background information on the CIA’s NM-Ultra program during the time of Dr. Olson’s death, as well as sections on Dr. Olson’s death.
A scenario compatible with MK-Ultra’s own research agenda:
According to the CIA documents, Dr. Olson left the hotel late Wednesday night while his CIA escort was asleep. He then spent the entire night walking the streets of New York alone, during which time he threw away his wallet and his identification. Dr. Olson was found by his escorts the next morning sitting in the hotel lobby in his overcoat, whereupon he reported that he had heard the voice of his boss instructing him to do what he had done. Despite this disturbing behavior and despite Dr. Olson’s agitation and his concern that he might become violent with his children. During his trip home to Frederick Thanksgiving Day, the CIA continued to keep Dr. Olson on the tenth floor of the Statler Hotel. The same CIA group which conducted the LSD experiments on Olson also maintained a CIA safe house under Gottlieb’s control where Dr. Olson more logically should have been kept, given his disturbing behavior.
The neglect of Dr. Olson’s alleged suicidal behavior in New York is impossible to reconcile both with the idea that he was in New York for treatment and with the unsubstantiated claim that he had pre-existing psychiatric problems. If the purpose of the trip to New York was to obtain treatment for Dr. Olson, then his being kept on the thirteenth floor of a hotel becomes completely inexplicable, particularly after the alleged occurrences of bizarre behavior which are reported in the documents. If, in addition, Dr. Olson had a pre-existing psychiatric condition, this history would have provided obvious grounds for excluding him from a mind-control experiment.1/
There is, however, another way of viewing the bizarre behavior in New York and the fabrication of a history of pre-existing psychological illness. The MK-Ultra program run by Sidney Gottlieb had as one of its specific research aims the capacity to produce what that group called “discrediting behavior,” i.e., behavior that would create the impression of mental illness. The behavior reported in the documents suggests that after being drugged during the previous week Dr. Olson then became the victim of a further experiment in discrediting behavior, the purpose of which was to make credible the representation of his death as suicide.
Reference is made in the documents to layers of agents listening in to conversations in New York. This activity belies the nonchalance with respect to security issues mentioned above. This level of security is not explained, nor is the testimony from these agents available in the documents.
Falsification of testimony:
In connection with the CIA’s own internal investigation, the documents refer to the preparation of Dr. Abramson (the CIA’s drug consultant) by Robert Lashbrook. It appears Lashbrook attempted to insure that Abramson would tell the right story to the CIA’s own internal investigators who were preparing a report on Dr. Olson’s death. The fact that the “truth” was manipulated even within the CIA’s own internal investigation of the case in 1953 implies that the CIA documents are highly suspect.
There are many instances in the CIA documents where one feels that one has been given a real piece of the puzzle, but then one realizes that piece cannot possibly fit where the cryptic narrative directs one to place it. Perhaps the most notable example of this is the alleged visit of Robert Lashbrook, together with Dr. Olson, to the home of John Mulholland. Mulholland was the magician who taught the CIA how to slip drugs into drinks surreptitiously. The documents state that the purpose of the visit to Mulholland during the brief stay in New York was to pay him for his services. The account of this visit states that Dr. Olson became quite agitated during this visit, making it necessary to depart quickly.
Is one actually to believe that a disturbed person, having first been the unwitting subject of a drug experiment in a research program on mind control, having then been taken to New York for emergency psychiatric care after having become disoriented, was brought along as a traveling companion when the bill for services rendered was presented to the Svengali who acted as tutor for the experiment?
At such points in the CIA documents one suspects that something true is being told, but that its significance cannot possibly be that which is stated. Other more plausible hypotheses come to mind. For example, in this vignette, one wonders whether the real purpose of the visit to Mulholland was to hypnotize Dr. Olson.
In the chapter “Concerning the Case of Frank Olson” from his book, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate (1979) John Marks says this about Dr. Abramson’s approach to Olson’s treatment:
In one memo on the incident, Abramson wrote that Olson’s psychotic state . . . seemed to have been ‘crystallized by the experiment’. In a subsequent report, Abramson called the LSD dose “therapeutic” and said he believed “this dosage could hardly have had any significant role in the course of the events that followed”. (Non-psychiatrist Abramson who allows chemist Lashbrook to tell him about his patient’s complexes clearly had a strange idea of what was therapeutic — or psychotherapeutic, for that matter. In Abrasion’s 1953 proposal to the CIA, for $85,000 to study LSD, he wrote that over the next year he “hoped” to give hospital patients “who are essentially normal from a psychiatric point of view unwitting doses of the drug for psychotherapeutic purposes.” This treatment brings to mind a William Burroughs character in “Naked Lunch” who states, “Now, boys, you won’t see this operation performed very often, and there’s a reason for that . . . you see, it has absolutely no medical value”.)
III. THE FACTS WHICH POINT TO FOUL PLAY AND POSSIBLE MURDER
Points related to Professor James Starrs’ 1994-95 forensic investigation:
1953 medical report wrong:
In the summer of 1994 Dr. Olson’s body was exhumed by James Starrs, Professor of Law and Forensic Science at the National Law Center at George Washington University, and a diverse team of scientists assembled by Professor Starrs. Professor Starrs’ investigative team found no cuts or abrasions on Dr. Olson’s face and neck or the front of his legs. Medical experts expect such injuries on a victim clad only in his underwear crashing through a closed glass window, and, in fact, the medical examiner’s report done in New York immediately after the death specifically mentions having found such injuries on the body.
Starrs’ team found on the left side of Dr. Olson’s head a hematoma which the team concluded could not have occurred from a fall. Professor Starrs, in his report attached hereto as Exhibit 4, opines that this injury is most likely to have occurred from a hit on the head, in the room, prior to going out the window.
There are no known cases of LSD-suicides occurring during a flashback which occurs more than a week after the ingestion of the drug. This improbability is combined with another: namely, the improbability that such a suicide would have occurred as the result of a vault over a radiator, through a closed glass window, through a blind drawn, in a small room, in the dark, while a CIA escort sleeps in the next bed, seeing nothing and hearing nothing until it is too late. Given the smallness of the room, such a vault would have been nearly impossible, as it would have required a greater distance to acquire the necessary speed to clear the sill, the radiator in front of it, and then to penetrate the glass. These combined improbabilities make the overall account contained in the documents completely unbelievable.
Sidney Gottlieb an “unreliable witness” on many counts:
In connection with his investigation, Professor Starrs interviewed Sidney Gottlieb, the senior CIA official in charge of the LSD experiments. This interview convinced Starrs that Gottlieb was an “unreliable witness” and was still concealing information on many crucial points. The interview also enlightened Starrs as to the value attached by Gottlieb to the ends being sought in the MK—Ultra program in relation to the means that were considered acceptable in attaining or protecting these ends. In this regard, the final comment recorded by Professor Starrs from his meeting with Sidney Gottlieb is worth repeating here: “Professor,’ Gottlieb said, “the national security of this country was on the line. ~’
Professor Starrs’ impressions of Sidney Gottlieb based on his interview must be seen in the light of Gottlieb’s shredding of documents when he left the CIA in 1973 which suggests his awareness of wrong-doing and underscores his unreliability.
Inconsistencies in Lashbrook’s account:
There are inconsistencies in Lashbrook’s account, particularly concerning what awakened him, and whether the window was open or closed.
New testimony from Dr. Robert W. Gibson:
Recent comments by Dr. Robert W. Gibson further undermine Lashbrook’s credibility. In 1953 Dr. Gibson was a psychiatrist at Chestnut Lodge Psychiatric Hospital in Rockville, Maryland. Had Dr. Olson survived his stay in New York, Dr. Gibson would have treated Dr. Olson at Chestnut Lodge. In the early morning of November 28, 1953, just hours after Dr. Olson died, Dr. Gibson received a telephone call from a man whom he believes was Lashbrook. The caller informed Gibson that during the preceding night he had seen Dr. Olson standing in the middle of the room, had tried to speak to Dr. Olson, and then watched Dr. Olson run across the room and hurl himself through the window.
This account is completely different from the one that appears in the CIA documents. If the caller was Lashbrook then Lashbrook has told inconsistent stories of what happened. If the caller was not Lashbrook then Lashbrook has lied about being the only person in the room with Olson. Either way, if Dr. Robert W. Gibson, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association and President Emeritus of the Shepherd Pratt Psychiatric Hospital, is telling the truth, then Lashbrook is lying. When he was contacted by phone for a comment on Dr. Gibbon’s recollections, Lashbrook’s comment was that “Dr. Gibson must be daydreaming.”
Vincent Ruwet remains silent:
Vincent Ruwet, Dr. Olson’s immediate superior and a companion with Dr. Olson and Lashbrook for the first three days of the stay in New York, has refused to comment on the case. The fact that Ruwet was with Dr. Olson for the first part of his stay in New York but that Dr. Olson was left alone with Lashbrook, who was not a friend, during the latter part of the week is itself worthy of note, especially as Dr. Olson’s condition by that time, to the extent that one can determine from incidents reported in the CIA documents, was worsening. Ruwet had been a family friend of the Olsons prior to 1953, and he continued to represent himself as a friend after Dr. Olson’s death. Nevertheless, he kept the truth secret from the family for 22 years. The CIA documents reveal that after Dr. Olson’s death Ruwet had actually been ordered by the director of the CIA to “keep track of the wife.” One can only speculate as to why Ruwet refused to make any comment at all to Professor Starrs in connection with the current investigation, forty-two years after the event in question.
Unavailable evidence at the FBI:
The FBI admitted to Professor Starrs that a file on Dr. Olson exists in the archives of the Bureau. A Freedom Of Information Act request to obtain this file has so far not yielded the documents, with the consequence that, just as in the case of the New York Police files, information known to exist has not been made available.
Immediate cover-up and suppression of New York Police Investigation:
The investigation of the case by the New York City police, based on our analysis of these events, was immediately suppressed by the CIA. Lashbrook was taken to the precinct police station for questioning immediately after Dr. Olson’s death. However, Armand Pastore later remarked that Lashbrook was back at the hotel “sooner than it would take to book a hooker.”
Evidence still being withheld:
NYC police records exist but have been withheld both from the family and from CBS News, because, in the words of the NYPD denial of the document request, disclosing them would reveal “unconventional police procedures.”
Contact with Armand Pastore (night manager of the Statler Hotel in 1953):
Pastore has described Lashbrook’s bizarre behavior after Dr. Olson’s death. Lashbrook never called the police, or the front desk of the hotel, and did not go down to check on the man who was in his charge. He merely sat on the toilet in his underwear, with his head in his hands.
Pastore has described a phone call placed immediately after Dr. Olson’s death from the hotel room occupied by Lashbrook and Dr. Olson, a call overheard by the hotel switchboard operator: the call consisted of two sentences:
First voice: “Well, he’s gone.”
Second voice: “That’s too bad.”
Then they both hung up.
Pastore was never interviewed by the CIA or the police as part of any investigation of Dr. Olson’s death.
Interview in the summer of 1994 with Ike Feldman (the CIA agent for the safehouse operation which was also a part of the CIA’s drug- testing program administered by Gottlieb)
Ike Feldman raised the question as to why the CIA would have kept Dr. Olson on the 13th floor of a hotel and register him in his own name ~(Lashbrook did this as well), when neither of these things were “standard operating procedure” for Gottlieb’s group. This anomaly becomes even more suspicious in light of another one, noted by Feldman. Feldman pointed out that Gottlieb’s group actually maintained its own secret facility in New York, a ‘safe house’ on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village no more than 20 blocks away from the Statler Hotel, that would have been the logical place to have kept Dr. Olson during an emergency. Feldman said that it was the failure to use the safe house that initially made him suspicious about what had really happened to Dr. Olson, and had led him to press his superior, George White, for more information. (The safe house was used by Gottlieb’s group for many purposes, including “experiments’ in which prostitutes seduced unwitting subjects in order to test the combined influence of sex and drugs. (In hearings before the Church Committee of the United States Senate in the mid-1970’s Robert Lashbrook perjured himself by saying he had no knowledge of the safe house operation, when in fact he was the liaison person responsible for maintaining contact between the safe house and the MK-Ultra project. After Dr. Olson’s death Lashbrook was found to have on his person the initials of the code-name for George White, the man who administered the Bedford Street safe house at the time Dr. Olson was in New York).
Ike Feldman, a former CIA operative who worked closely with the CIA in New York during this period, reported that he had heard from George White that Lashbrook and his associates had tried to persuade Dr. Olson to jump out the window. Feldman said that under the influence of drugs and suggestion Dr. Olson came near the window, but that he ultimately refused to jump. At that point Lashbrook and at least one other agent pushed him out the window. (The CIA documents indicate that on the night he died Dr. Abramson himself had given Dr. Olson a combination of bourbon and Nembutal, two interacting central nervous system depressants which had the real potential of killing him.)
In the autumn of 1994 Feldman suddenly reversed himself in interviews with the authors of this Memorandum and claimed to know “nothin about nothin.”
AP reporter Deb Reichman found a mysterious document in the Fort Detrick files which indicated the CIA considered Dr. Olson a security risk early in 1953 after trips in that year to Paris and Norway.
Turning a lemon into lemonade, or “the Manchurian Candidate” hypothesis:
The facts revealed in the documents are more consistent with an attempt to create a programmed suicide (in which the individual’s mental health is being discredited while, at the same time, a sequence of programmed actions escalating to the point of self-destructive behavior is being installed) than with concern for the health and safety of a disturbed individual. This was exactly the kind of research in which the MK—Ultra program was interested. In Dr. Olson’s case the experimenters may have felt compelled to perform the kind of “terminal experiment’ (as such experiments were called in their own research proposals) which was otherwise impossible.
If Dr. Olson blew the whistle on the top-secret mind-control research much more than the MK-Ultra program was at risk. During the previous year Dr. Olson had already talked with his wife about wanting to leave his bacteriological research job at Camp Detrick. After he was unwittingly drugged these feelings intensified. The CIA experimenters worried that, had Dr. Olson left his job after they drugged him, and had he then divulged bacteriological secrets, the responsibility would have been theirs. These experimenters would certainly have realized how reckless their drug experiment would appear if Dr. Olson’s subsequent behavior became impossible to predict or control. Hence, they could well have decided that not only the future of their mind-control research, but the security of the country’s chemical-bacteriological research program as well, depended on eliminating Dr. Olson, and doing so quickly. The opportunity presented itself during the period suddenly created when Ruwet left, and before Olson could rejoin his family. In the aftermath of their reckless experiment, and in the context of the bizarre comer into which they had painted themselves, it is not hard to imagine how these CIA agents could have perceived that they had no choice.
Mind control testing continued for decades. If Dr. Olson had blown the lid on the experiments, a whole broad program of testing, which persisted for many years both inside and outside the United States, might have been derailed at the start.
For the reasons stated herein, a criminal investigation into Dr. Olson’s death is necessary and should be done as soon as possible.