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.