From LSD to hypnosis to self-deprivation tanks, the real events of Project MKUltra were wilder than any movie or TV show could ever depict.
The CIA maintains that they never set out to hurt anybody.
Their plan for Project MKUltra had been to research, observe, and ultimately find a way to gain a military advantage over the Soviet Union by creating something that no one else had.
But somewhere down the line, something was compromised. Mostly, moral integrity. The goal of research had turned dark, and the most horrendous experiments, meant to be hypothetical, started to become real. Human beings were dragged into the plan, most of the time without their consent.
No one was supposed to know. The project was treated with such secrecy that it was given multiple code names and all the records pertaining to it were destroyed by the director of the CIA himself.
In 1977, the documents were ordered to be released, though all that remained were 20,000 documents, recovered only because they had been incorrectly filed in a financial records building.
From the files, a very small percentage of the original records, researchers have been able to gain a small amount of insight into what is arguably one of the largest and most heinous government coverups of all time.
Started by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency in 1945, Operation Paperclip was a program designed to harness German intelligence to expand America’s weapons program, as well as gain an advantage in the Space Race. The program involved interrogating former Nazi sympathizers and prisoners of war and expunging their records to make them viable candidates.
President Truman, who sanctioned the operation, imposed strict regulations on the treatment of the prisoners. Originally, he ruled against the use of anyone with Nazi ties in the experiment.
He then realized that the scientists were simply whitewashing the participant’s backgrounds to allow them to participate, and removed that particular rule. Others, however, stayed in place. He felt that, should they treat the former Nazi’s too terribly, word would get back to foreign dignitaries, and they would face retaliation.
Members of Operation Paperclip were, for the most part, respected members of the scientific community. Some researchers even received awards for their work, from organizations like NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. Two of the members are even recognized by the International Space Hall of Fame.
However, because of the strict regulations imposed, some scientists and researchers behind Operation Paperclip pushed for experiments that let them test new limits, such as interrogation techniques and behavior modification of prisoners.
Allen Welsh Dulles, then-director of the CIA, agreed, and on April 13, 1953, he sanctioned a new highly controversial and highly secretive project.