New Book Alleges CIA Used Nazis to Conduct LSD Experiments

By Paul Gaita 02/17/14

Los Angeles Times writer Annie Jacobson details how American spooks spearheaded a clandestine program that used former Nazis to drug Soviet spies with acid.

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The Central Intelligence Agency’s use of psychotropic drugs in clandestine experiments has been a matter of record for years, but a new book now alleges that the agency employed former Nazi scientists to use LSD as a form of interrogation on suspected Soviet spies during the height of the Cold War.

In the recently published Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America, Los Angeles Times writer Annie Jacobsen says that the CIA, in collaboration with the Army, Air Force, and Naval Intelligence, conducted Operation Artichoke, a series of clandestine experiments on Soviet prisoners suspected of being spies.

A 1952 report issued by CIA operative Dr. Frank Olson details a scenario in which two individuals were given light dosages of LSD to induce a “complete hypnotic trance,” after which they were subjected to an hour and forty minutes of interrogation before their memories were wiped clean by “total amnesia.” The experiments took place at Camp King, a notorious Cold War “black site” located outside of Frankfurt, Germany, which housed numerous Soviets accused of espionage. Jacobsen states in her book that the facility’s medical directors were Dr. Walter Schreiber and Dr. Kurt Blome, the former Surgeon General and Deputy Surgeon General of the Third Reich, respectively – both of whom had been employed by Operation Paperclip, a top secret program launched in 1945 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff which rounded up and then hired Nazi scientists to aid their Cold War efforts.

More than 1,500 former Nazis were granted citizenship by the United States between 1945 and 1955, and worked for various military and government agencies, including rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, a key figure in America’s space program. The CIA’s use of LSD continued in the wake of the Operation Artichoke experiments as part of MK-ULTRA, a wide-ranging covert program that conducted tests on American citizens without their knowledge. The results of the tests were later dismissed by its head scientist, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, which he described as “useless.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.