The Frank Olson Legacy Project




London Sunday Express

By Gordon Thomas

August 25, 2002


US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld have been sensationally accused of covering up the "murder" of a former army scientist.

In 1953, Frank Olson, a key member of the CIA's brainwashing programme MKULTRA, "plunged" from a New York hotel window.

He had allegedly threatened to reveal the CIA involvement in "terminal experiments" in post-war Germany and in Korea during the Korean War.

For almost half a century, his son Eric, a psychologist, has insisted his father as murdered on orders from the highest level. Now, California history professor Kathryn Olmstead says she has found documents written by Cheney and Rumsfeld which show how far the White House went to conceal information about Olson's death.

She says Olson made anthrax and other biological weapons and that part of his work had been at Britain's Porton Down Research Centre.

Eric Olson believes that Cheney and Rumsfeld were later given the task in the 1970s of covering up the details of his father's death.

At that time Rumsfeld was White House Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford. Dick Cheney was a White House assistant.

Among the papers found by Professor Olmstead is one that allegedly states: "Dr Olson's job was so sensitive that it is highly unlikely that we would submit relevant evidence."

In a memo, Cheney allegedly acknowledges that: "The Olson lawyers will seek to explore all the circumstances of Dr Olson's employment, as well as those concerning his death. In any trial, it may become apparent that we are concealing evidence for national security reasons and any settlement or judgement reached thereafter could be perceived as money paid to cover up the activities of the CIA."

Frank Olson's family received $ 750,000 (then about GBP 400,000) to settle their claims in 1976.

Both the offices of Rumsfeld and Cheney have declined to comment on their role concerning the alleged coverup but, from his home outside Washington, Eric Olson said that the documents involving Rumsfeld and Cheney show they "have questions to answer".

He added: "The documents show the lengths to which the government was trying to cover up the truth."

However, CIA spokesman Paul Nowack insisted: "The CIA fully cooperated in allowing the truth to surface. Tens of thousands of documents were released".

Eric Olson said his father was murdered to cover up his ultra-secret research in Korea and Europe.

He said: "My father was among scientists studying the use of LSD and other drugs to enhance interrogations as Cold War tensions ran high."

He contends that, in the final days of his life, his father became "morally distraught" over his work and decided to quit.

Mercury News reporter Frederick Tulksy said: "In 1993, Eric Olson arranged for his father's body to be unearthed and examined by James Starrs, a forensic scientist. Starrs concluded that Frank Olson had probably been struck on the head and then thrown out of the hotel window."

In late November 1953, Frank Olson, then 43, joined a group of government officials at a conference at Deep Creek Lodge in western Maryland. For days afterward, Olson was withdrawn. His son, Eric, says his father told his wife that he intended to quit his job.

Frank Olson did not quit. On November 23, he went to New York and visited LSD researcher Harold A Abramson.

Olson went back to New York on November 28 and checked into the Statler Hotel. He was scheduled to enter a sanitarium the next day.

Early in the morning of November 29, Frank Olson went through the window of the hotel room he was sharing with colleague Robert Lashbrook. Lashbrook told the police he was awakened by the sound of breaking glass.

In 1975, a commission headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller issued a report on CIA abuses, Days later, the family was invited to the White House to meet President Ford. He assured them they would be given all information about what happened to Frank Olson.

This week, the Olsons' attorney David Rudovsky, of Philadelphia, said: "It now appears that was not the case."