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
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."