A civilian employee of the Department of the Army unwittingly took LSD
as part of a Central Intelligence Agency test, then jumped 10 floors to
his death less than a week later, according to the Rockefeller commission
report released yesterday.
The man was given the drug while attending a meeting with CIA personnel
working on a test project that involved the administration of mind-bending
drugs to unsuspecting Americans and the testing of new listening devices
by eavesdropping on citizens who were unaware they were being overheard.
"This individual was not made aware he had been given LSD until about
20 minutes after it had been administered," the commission said.
"He developed serious side effects and was sent to New York with
a CIA escort for psychiatric treatment. Several days later, he jumped
from a tenth-floor window of his room and died as a result."
The CIA's general counsel ruled that the death resulted from "circumstances
arising out of an experiment undertaken in the course of his official
duties for the United States government." His family, thus, was eligible
for death benefits. And two CIA employees were "reprimanded"
by the director.
The Rockefeller commission report on domestic CIA activities said it did
not know how many Americans were given "behavior influencing"
drugs by the CIA, declaring that "all persons directly involved in
the early phases of the program were either out of the country and not
available for interview or were deceased."
The practice of giving drugs to unsuspecting people lasted from 1953 to
1963, when it was discovered by the CIA's inspector general and stopped,
the commission said.
Drugs also were tested on volunteers and were part of a "much larger"
program to study ways of controlling human behavior. Other studies "explored
the effects of radiation, electric shock, psychology, psychiatry, sociology,
and harassment substances.
The commission report said that all the drug program "records were
ordered destroyed in 1973, including a total of 152 separate files."
The commission did not say who ordered the files destroyed or why such
an order was given. A commission spokesman said that all documented evidence
for the drug tests was turned over to the White House, where it will remain
How widespread the practice was of testing new listening devices on unsuspecting
people also will remain a mystery. The commission said only that "in
the process of this testing, private communications, presumably between
United States citizens, have sometimes been overheard."
The commission said that some conversations were recorded, then destroyed
when the listening devices were fully tested. It said there was never
any evidence that the tests or recordings were used against the people
whose conversations were listened to or recorded.
Also mentioned by the commission was the CIA practice of forging documents,
such as Social Security cards, bank cards, library cards and club cards.
Only the Social Security Administration was told of this practice, which
was recently scaled down to almost eliminate the manufacture of false
credit cards, drivers licenses and birth certificates.
The commission found all three practices unsavory, but reserved its harshest
language for the drug tests.
"It was clearly illegal to test potentially dangerous drugs on unsuspecting
United States citizens."
The only drug mentioned is LSD, which the CIA began to use on test subjects
as long as 25 years ago. The commission said the CIA began its drug tests
because of reports that the Soviet Union was using drugs to elicit confessions
by political criminals, and expanded them when North Korea began brainwashing
Four tests were begun on unsuspecting persons in 1953, then expanded two
years later under what the commission called "an unfortunate arrangement"
with the federal Bureau of Dug Abuse Control. Presumably, the commission
means the Treasury Department's Bureau of Narcotics since the Bureau of
Drug Abuse Control was not established until 1965.
image of front page of Washington Post, June 11, 1975.