E M O R A N D U M
PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL
ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT
TO: Mary Nichols,
Eric Olson, Ph.D.
Theodore H. Huge, Esq
May 12, 1995
in Support of a Criminal Investigation
into the Death of Dr. Frank Olson
concerns the death of Dr. Frank Olson and the need for an investigation
into the circumstances of Dr. Olsons death. This Memorandum provides
background information about Dr. Olson, as well as information only recently
uncovered as to the events surrounding Dr. Olsons death.
SUMMARY OF MEMORANDUM
Based upon the factual information as now known, the need for a criminal
investigation into Dr. Olsons death is necessary to ascertain the
truth of what happened to Dr. Olson and who should be held personally
responsible for his death. In addition, there is an overriding public
interest reason for this criminal investigation.
First, the witnesses: The witnesses who know the facts are elderly,
and it is uncertain how long any of them will live. For example, in the
past month one of the participants, Lyman Kirkpatrick died (see New York
article attached hereto as Exhibit 1). These witnesses need to be interviewed,
and their testimony under oath preserved, in order to have any chance
of learning the truth.
These witnesses include, but are not limited to, the following:
An initial list of prospective witnesses is attached hereto as Exhibit
Second, the need
for subpoena power: Only a criminal investigation with subpoena power
will be able to force these witnesses to testify and to obtain all documents
which are still in existence. Many documents are unavailable through any
other means, such as the original investigation files from the New York
City Police Department. Attached as Exhibit 3 is the response from the
NYPD regarding its not turning over, even at this late date, these investigative
files in their possession.
Sidney Gottlieb, who directed the MK-Ultra program within which the LSD-testing
on Dr. Olson was conducted, retired from the CIA in 1973. Before leaving
the Agency, however, Gottlieb shredded all or most (reports vary) of the
NM-Ultra documents, allegedly with the blessing of then CIA director Richard
Helms. The resulting sparsity of relevant documents reinforces the need
for subpoena power to call witnesses to testify. At the same time, the
broad scope of the document shredding makes the survival of a CIA file
on Dr. Olson somewhat surprising, and raises doubts about the validity
and completeness of that file.
Third, no civil action is available: The humanitarian relief bill
for the Olson family passed by the United States Congress in 1975 was
conditioned on broad general releases from future civil action. To try
and overcome these general releases now would take years of litigation,
even if successful. By then, the witnesses will likely be gone or their
memory severely impaired. Also, the Olson brothers do not have the funds
for lengthy protracted litigation of this type.
Fourth, there is reasonable cause for a criminal investigation:
In the summer of 1994 Dr. Olsons body was exhumed by James Starrs,
Professor of Law and Forensic Science at the National Law Center at George
Washington University, and a diverse team of scientists assembled by Professor
Starrs. No cuts or abrasions were found on Dr. Olsons face and neck,
or the front of his legs, by Professor Starrs investigative team.
Medical experts expect such injuries as a result of plunging through a
closed glass window, and, in fact, the medical examiners report
done in New York immediately after the death specifically mentions having
found such injuries on the body.
On the basis of the combined results of his teams scientific and
non-scientific investigations, Professor Starrs concluded that the facts
in this case are rankly and starkly suggestive of homicide
and recommended that the case be re-opened.
Professor Starrs suspects homicide as the cause from another angle. The
cumulative effect of the following makes suicide highly improbable: (i)
the small dimensions of the room may prove it impossible for an individual
to gain enough speed for a vault to clear the radiator, smash through
a pulled shade and a closed window and still have enough momentum to exit
from the window; (ii) the darkness when the alleged vault occurred; and
(iii) Lashbrooks not being awakened by the effort required to gain
enough speed to vault through the window. In fact, the forensics investigator
plans to conduct research on this theory by testing the glass and conducting
experiments to see if such a vault is even possible.
There is, as this Memorandum and supporting documents make clear, reasonable
cause to begin a criminal investigation into a possible murder. The fact
that this (possible or alleged) murder was most likely committed by government
agents who believed they were authorized to do so does not make it any
less a crime. In fact, it makes it even more necessary to seek the truth
and, if necessary, indictments.
The public interest reasons why the New York district attorney should
open an investigation of the case of Dr. Olson are as follows:
Unethical research on unwitting human subjects is a matter of continuing
public concern. If Dr. Olsons case proves to be murder, then it
will suggest not only that unethical testing risks the lives of experimental
subjects, but even more important, it may demonstrate that the CIA believed
that a guinea pig/subject should be killed to protect the
secrecy of an experiment gone awry.
The CIA has constantly insisted, as recently as the case of the
deaths of DeVine and Bamaca in Guatemala, that murder is not among the
methods its employs.
As the U.S. begins a debate on the role of the CIA in the post-cold war
era it is important to know exactly what sorts of methods have in fact
been employed in the historical period just now concluding. The case of
Dr. Olson may shed some important light on that record, thereby helping
to focus the debate on what the status of secret research should be in
Once you have reviewed this Memorandum, and its supporting documents (which
are more complete and lengthy than we discussed), we are ready to meet
with you and clarify and/or enlarge upon the events discussed.
As you are aware, this Memorandum has been prepared by counsel for Eric
and Nils Olson, the sons of Dr. Olson. It contains privileged and confidential
information gathered in the course of a legal investigation, and as such,
may not be disclosed to anyone without the express written permission
of the Olson brothers or their counsel.
I. THE FRANK OLSON STORY IN BRIEF
Dr. Frank Olson was a civilian scientist researched biochemical and bacteriological
warfare for the United States Army during and after the Second World War.
He worked at a research laboratory for the Special Operations Division
(SOD) at Camp Detrick in Frederick, Maryland (now Fort Detrick),
which was the American governments main center for biochemical and
bacteriological warfare. The SOD dealt with the most secret and sensitive
systems for delivery of highly lethal poisons.
In November of 1953 Dr. Olson went with four colleagues to a secret two-day
meeting at a cabin on Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. This meeting
was arranged by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb and Robert Lashbrook, both of whom
worked for the CIA. These men had an on-going liaison relationship with
Dr. Olsons research group, the purpose of which was (at least the
way Dr. Olsons group understood it) to enable the SOD to make available
some of its research findings to the CIA. No one in Dr. Olsons group
suspected that during that November 1953 meeting they would be used as
guinea pigs in an experiment on LSD which the two men from the CIA had
secretly planned to conduct on them. The CIA agents slipped LSD into the
after-dinner drinks, as they had been taught by a magician who was a consultant
for the CIA.
The meeting took place on Thursday and Friday. After the meeting, Dr.
Olson returned to his home. He was very silent over the weekend, and spoke
of having made a big mistake. When he went to work on Monday
morning, he told his boss he had decided to quit his job. But his boss,
Vincent Ruwet, who had been with Dr. Olson during the secret meeting (and
who, according to his own account, was also given LSD), told Dr. Olson
he should not quit. Ruwet said they would take him to New York, where
Ruwet said Dr. Olson could get help. That Monday morning,
Dr. Olson, Ruwet, and Robert Lashbrook all went to New York, where Dr.
Olson was to obtain treatment. Dr. Olson received treatment
from one Harold Abramson, introduced to Dr. Olson as a psychiatrist, but
in fact he was an allergist, as is discussed below.
Very little is known about what happened in New York, but what follows
is what we know from various accounts of the participants. According to
Ruwet and Lashbrook, after midnight on Wednesday night, Dr. Olson woke
up, got dressed, and left the room he shared with Ruwet (Ruwet continued
sleeping). Ruwet and Lashbrook found Dr. Olson the next morning sitting
in the hotel lobby with his coat on. Dr. Olson told them that he had walked
around the city most of the night, had torn up his money, and had thrown
his wallet, containing his personal identification, into a chute somewhere
in the city. His explanation was that he felt that he was under orders
from Ruwet to do this. Despite this bizarre and frightening occurrence
(if it really happened) Ruwet and Lashbrook reportedly continued with
their plan to take Dr. Olson home that day, Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
According to the CIA documents released in 1975 in connection with the
Congressional humanitarian bill for the Olson family (the CIA documents)
and Ruwets account of what happened, on Thursday all three men returned
to Washington so that Dr. Olson could go on to Frederick for the Thanksgiving
holiday that day. When Dr. Olson arrived in Washington he reportedly became
worried about returning home because, according to Ruwet, Dr. Olson was
concerned that he might become violent with his children. Dr. Olson then
turned around in Washington, and went back to New York with Lashbrook.
Meanwhile Ruwet returned to Frederick to give Mrs. Olson the message that
Dr. Olson had decided to return to New York.
When he got back to New York, Dr. Olson continued his visits with Dr.
Abramson. In 1975, the family discovered that Dr. Abramson was not a psychiatrist,
as they had earlier been led to believe by Ruwet, but an allergist serving
as the CIAs consultant on the LSD project. We do not know what happened
in any of the sessions with Abramson. According to the CIA documents,
Abramson decided on Friday that Dr. Olson required hospitalization at
Chestnut Lodge Psychiatric Hospital in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Olson
was to return to Frederick for the weekend and then enter the hospital
the following week. Dr. Olson and Lashbrook planned to spend Friday night
in their room on the thirteenth floor of the Statler Hotel. (the room
was labeled room 1018, suggesting that it was on the tenth
floor, but the first three floors of the hotel were not counted).
On Friday night Dr. Olson telephoned his wife for the first time since
Monday, said he was in good spirits, and told her he would be home the
next day (Saturday). Both men then went to bed.
Lashbrook says that shortly after midnight he was awakened by the sound
of crashing glass and the sound of the blind spinning around its rod at
the top of the window frame. He says that he got up from his bed, walked
over to the window, and saw that Olson had gone through it.
Early Saturday morning, November 28, 1953, Mrs. Olson (then thirty-eight
years old), her two sons (aged five and nine) and her daughter, (aged
seven) were awakened to be told that Dr. Olson had died as the result
of a fall from the window of a New York hotel.
That was all the Olsons knew for the next 22 years.
In the decades after Dr. Olson died Mrs. Olson began to drink a great
deal and eventually became an alcoholic. She had to be hospitalized repeatedly
before recovering sobriety in the early ~1970s. One source of her
alcoholism was the habit she developed of having a drink in the afternoon
with Ruwet, who would stop by as a good friend to give Mrs.
Olson support after Dr. Olson died. However, the CIA documents revealed
that the Director of the CIA had assigned Ruwet to keep track of
On June 11, 1975 a headline on the first page of The Washington Post
stated that an on-going investigation of the CIA had uncovered the
fact that in 1953 a government scientist had died after the CIA administered
him a dose of LSD without his knowledge or consent. The story did not
report the name of this scientist who was later confirmed to be Dr. Olson.
In July 1975, the Olson family held a press conference demanding full
disclosure of the facts surrounding this incident and financial compensation.
Later that summer, President Gerald Ford invited the Olson family to the
White House, and apologized on behalf of the government. In fact, President
Ford said that the CIAs drug experiments were the proximate
cause of his death. CIA Director William Colby invited the Olsons
to lunch at the CIA building, where he presented all (allegedly) the relevant
documents concerning Dr. Olsons death.
In 1984 the Olsons made a number of trips to meet people involved with
Dr. Olsons death. These included Robert Lashbrook, Sidney Gottlieb,
and Armand Pastore, the night-manager of the Statler Hotel when Dr. Olson
died. Pastore claimed that Dr. Olson could not have jumped out of the
hotel window, with or without the influence of LSD, because, as the forensic
investigator (Starrs) suspects, it was highly unlikely that Olson could
have gained enough momentum in such a small room to vault over the radiator,
crash through a closed window and shade, and still have enough speed to
exit the window frame. Pastore also said that (according to the switchboard
operator on duty at the time) immediately after Dr. Olson went out the
window, and before going down to the street, Lashbrook made a call to
Long Island (where Abramson lived). The call consisted only of the words
Well, hes gone, and the other partys response,
Thats too bad.
II. ISSUES ARISING FROM THE CIA DOCUMENTS TURNED OVER TO THE OLSON FAMILY
Attached hereto as Exhibit 4 is a copy of a chapter from the book by John
Marks entitled The Search for the Manchurian Candidate (published in 1979).
The chapter on Dr. Olson (Concerning the Case of Frank Olson)
is based entirely upon the documents received from the CIA in 1975. These
documents total in excess of 100 pages and will be made available to you
for your inspection and review. Attached as Exhibit 5 is a law review
article by Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. and James C. Turner which contains additional
background information on the CIAs NM-Ultra program during the time
of Dr. Olsons death, as well as sections on Dr. Olsons death.
A scenario compatible with MK-Ultras own research agenda:
According to the CIA documents, Dr. Olson left the hotel late Wednesday
night while his CIA escort was asleep. He then spent the entire night
walking the streets of New York alone, during which time he threw away
his wallet and his identification. Dr. Olson was found by his escorts
the next morning sitting in the hotel lobby in his overcoat, whereupon
he reported that he had heard the voice of his boss instructing him to
do what he had done. Despite this disturbing behavior and despite Dr.
Olsons agitation and his concern that he might become violent with
his children. During his trip home to Frederick Thanksgiving Day, the
CIA continued to keep Dr. Olson on the tenth floor of the Statler Hotel.
The same CIA group which conducted the LSD experiments on Olson also maintained
a CIA safe house under Gottliebs control where Dr. Olson more logically
should have been kept, given his disturbing behavior.
The neglect of Dr. Olsons alleged suicidal behavior in New York
is impossible to reconcile both with the idea that he was in New York
for treatment and with the unsubstantiated claim that he had pre-existing
psychiatric problems. If the purpose of the trip to New York was to obtain
treatment for Dr. Olson, then his being kept on the thirteenth floor of
a hotel becomes completely inexplicable, particularly after the alleged
occurrences of bizarre behavior which are reported in the documents. If,
in addition, Dr. Olson had a pre-existing psychiatric condition, this
history would have provided obvious grounds for excluding him from a mind-control
There is, however, another way of viewing the bizarre behavior in New
York and the fabrication of a history of pre-existing psychological illness.
The MK-Ultra program run by Sidney Gottlieb had as one of its specific
research aims the capacity to produce what that group called discrediting
behavior, i.e., behavior that would create the impression of mental
illness. The behavior reported in the documents suggests that after being
drugged during the previous week Dr. Olson then became the victim of a
further experiment in discrediting behavior, the purpose of which was
to make credible the representation of his death as suicide.
Reference is made in the documents to layers of agents listening in to
conversations in New York. This activity belies the nonchalance with respect
to security issues mentioned above. This level of security is not explained,
nor is the testimony from these agents available in the documents.
Falsification of testimony:
In connection with the CIAs own internal investigation, the documents
refer to the preparation of Dr. Abramson (the CIAs drug consultant)
by Robert Lashbrook. It appears Lashbrook attempted to insure that Abramson
would tell the right story to the CIAs own internal investigators
who were preparing a report on Dr. Olsons death. The fact that the
truth was manipulated even within the CIAs own internal
investigation of the case in 1953 implies that the CIA documents are highly
There are many instances in the CIA documents where one feels that one
has been given a real piece of the puzzle, but then one realizes that
piece cannot possibly fit where the cryptic narrative directs one to place
it. Perhaps the most notable example of this is the alleged visit of Robert
Lashbrook, together with Dr. Olson, to the home of John Mulholland. Mulholland
was the magician who taught the CIA how to slip drugs into drinks surreptitiously.
The documents state that the purpose of the visit to Mulholland during
the brief stay in New York was to pay him for his services. The account
of this visit states that Dr. Olson became quite agitated during this
visit, making it necessary to depart quickly.
Is one actually to believe that a disturbed person, having first been
the unwitting subject of a drug experiment in a research program on mind
control, having then been taken to New York for emergency psychiatric
care after having become disoriented, was brought along as a traveling
companion when the bill for services rendered was presented to the Svengali
who acted as tutor for the experiment?
At such points in the CIA documents one suspects that something true is
being told, but that its significance cannot possibly be that which is
stated. Other more plausible hypotheses come to mind. For example, in
this vignette, one wonders whether the real purpose of the visit to Mulholland
was to hypnotize Dr. Olson.
In the chapter Concerning the Case of Frank Olson from his
book, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate (1979) John Marks
says this about Dr. Abramsons approach to Olsons treatment:
In one memo on the incident, Abramson wrote that Olsons psychotic
state . . . seemed to have been crystallized by the experiment.
In a subsequent report, Abramson called the LSD dose therapeutic
and said he believed this dosage could hardly have had any significant
role in the course of the events that followed. (Non-psychiatrist
Abramson who allows chemist Lashbrook to tell him about his patients
complexes clearly had a strange idea of what was therapeutic
or psychotherapeutic, for that matter. In Abrasions 1953 proposal
to the CIA, for $85,000 to study LSD, he wrote that over the next year
he hoped to give hospital patients who are essentially
normal from a psychiatric point of view unwitting doses of the drug
for psychotherapeutic purposes. This treatment brings to mind
a William Burroughs character in Naked Lunch who states,
Now, boys, you wont see this operation performed very often,
and theres a reason for that . . . you see, it has absolutely
no medical value.)
III. THE FACTS WHICH POINT TO FOUL PLAY AND POSSIBLE MURDER
Points related to Professor James Starrs 1994-95 forensic investigation:
1953 medical report wrong:
In the summer of 1994 Dr. Olsons body was exhumed by James Starrs,
Professor of Law and Forensic Science at the National Law Center at George
Washington University, and a diverse team of scientists assembled by Professor
Starrs. Professor Starrs investigative team found no cuts or abrasions
on Dr. Olsons face and neck or the front of his legs. Medical experts
expect such injuries on a victim clad only in his underwear crashing through
a closed glass window, and, in fact, the medical examiners report
done in New York immediately after the death specifically mentions having
found such injuries on the body.
Starrs team found on the left side of Dr. Olsons head a hematoma
which the team concluded could not have occurred from a fall. Professor
Starrs, in his report attached hereto as Exhibit 4, opines that this injury
is most likely to have occurred from a hit on the head, in the room, prior
to going out the window.
There are no known cases of LSD-suicides occurring during a flashback
which occurs more than a week after the ingestion of the drug. This improbability
is combined with another: namely, the improbability that such a suicide
would have occurred as the result of a vault over a radiator, through
a closed glass window, through a blind drawn, in a small room, in the
dark, while a CIA escort sleeps in the next bed, seeing nothing and hearing
nothing until it is too late. Given the smallness of the room, such a
vault would have been nearly impossible, as it would have required a greater
distance to acquire the necessary speed to clear the sill, the radiator
in front of it, and then to penetrate the glass. These combined improbabilities
make the overall account contained in the documents completely unbelievable.
Sidney Gottlieb an unreliable witness on many counts:
In connection with his investigation, Professor Starrs interviewed Sidney
Gottlieb, the senior CIA official in charge of the LSD experiments. This
interview convinced Starrs that Gottlieb was an unreliable witness
and was still concealing information on many crucial points. The interview
also enlightened Starrs as to the value attached by Gottlieb to the ends
being sought in the MKUltra program in relation to the means that
were considered acceptable in attaining or protecting these ends. In this
regard, the final comment recorded by Professor Starrs from his meeting
with Sidney Gottlieb is worth repeating here: Professor, Gottlieb
said, the national security of this country was on the line. ~
Professor Starrs impressions of Sidney Gottlieb based on his interview
must be seen in the light of Gottliebs shredding of documents when
he left the CIA in 1973 which suggests his awareness of wrong-doing and
underscores his unreliability.
Inconsistencies in Lashbrooks account:
There are inconsistencies in Lashbrooks account, particularly concerning
what awakened him, and whether the window was open or closed.
New testimony from Dr. Robert W. Gibson:
Recent comments by Dr. Robert W. Gibson further undermine Lashbrooks
credibility. In 1953 Dr. Gibson was a psychiatrist at Chestnut Lodge Psychiatric
Hospital in Rockville, Maryland. Had Dr. Olson survived his stay in New
York, Dr. Gibson would have treated Dr. Olson at Chestnut Lodge. In the
early morning of November 28, 1953, just hours after Dr. Olson died, Dr.
Gibson received a telephone call from a man whom he believes was Lashbrook.
The caller informed Gibson that during the preceding night he had seen
Dr. Olson standing in the middle of the room, had tried to speak to Dr.
Olson, and then watched Dr. Olson run across the room and hurl himself
through the window.
This account is completely different from the one that appears in the
CIA documents. If the caller was Lashbrook then Lashbrook has told inconsistent
stories of what happened. If the caller was not Lashbrook then Lashbrook
has lied about being the only person in the room with Olson. Either way,
if Dr. Robert W. Gibson, a past president of the American Psychiatric
Association and President Emeritus of the Shepherd Pratt Psychiatric Hospital,
is telling the truth, then Lashbrook is lying. When he was contacted by
phone for a comment on Dr. Gibbons recollections, Lashbrooks
comment was that Dr. Gibson must be daydreaming.
Vincent Ruwet remains silent:
Vincent Ruwet, Dr. Olsons immediate superior and a companion with
Dr. Olson and Lashbrook for the first three days of the stay in New York,
has refused to comment on the case. The fact that Ruwet was with Dr. Olson
for the first part of his stay in New York but that Dr. Olson was left
alone with Lashbrook, who was not a friend, during the latter part of
the week is itself worthy of note, especially as Dr. Olsons condition
by that time, to the extent that one can determine from incidents reported
in the CIA documents, was worsening. Ruwet had been a family friend of
the Olsons prior to 1953, and he continued to represent himself as a friend
after Dr. Olsons death. Nevertheless, he kept the truth secret from
the family for 22 years. The CIA documents reveal that after Dr. Olsons
death Ruwet had actually been ordered by the director of the CIA to keep
track of the wife. One can only speculate as to why Ruwet refused
to make any comment at all to Professor Starrs in connection with the
current investigation, forty-two years after the event in question.
Unavailable evidence at the FBI:
The FBI admitted to Professor Starrs that a file on Dr. Olson exists in
the archives of the Bureau. A Freedom Of Information Act request to obtain
this file has so far not yielded the documents, with the consequence that,
just as in the case of the New York Police files, information known to
exist has not been made available.
Immediate cover-up and suppression of New York Police Investigation:
The investigation of the case by the New York City police, based on our
analysis of these events, was immediately suppressed by the CIA. Lashbrook
was taken to the precinct police station for questioning immediately after
Dr. Olsons death. However, Armand Pastore later remarked that Lashbrook
was back at the hotel sooner than it would take to book a hooker.
Evidence still being withheld:
NYC police records exist but have been withheld both from the family and
from CBS News, because, in the words of the NYPD denial of the document
request, disclosing them would reveal unconventional police procedures.
Contact with Armand Pastore (night manager of the Statler Hotel in 1953):
Pastore has described Lashbrooks bizarre behavior after Dr. Olsons
death. Lashbrook never called the police, or the front desk of the hotel,
and did not go down to check on the man who was in his charge. He merely
sat on the toilet in his underwear, with his head in his hands.
Pastore has described a phone call placed immediately after Dr. Olsons
death from the hotel room occupied by Lashbrook and Dr. Olson, a call
overheard by the hotel switchboard operator: the call consisted of two
First voice: Well, hes gone.
Second voice: Thats too bad.
Then they both hung up.
Pastore was never interviewed by the CIA or the police as part of any
investigation of Dr. Olsons death.
Interview in the summer of 1994 with Ike Feldman (the CIA agent for the
safehouse operation which was also a part of the CIAs drug- testing
program administered by Gottlieb)
Ike Feldman raised the question as to why the CIA would have kept Dr.
Olson on the 13th floor of a hotel and register him in his own name ~(Lashbrook
did this as well), when neither of these things were standard operating
procedure for Gottliebs group. This anomaly becomes even more
suspicious in light of another one, noted by Feldman. Feldman pointed
out that Gottliebs group actually maintained its own secret facility
in New York, a safe house on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village
no more than 20 blocks away from the Statler Hotel, that would have been
the logical place to have kept Dr. Olson during an emergency. Feldman
said that it was the failure to use the safe house that initially made
him suspicious about what had really happened to Dr. Olson, and had led
him to press his superior, George White, for more information. (The safe
house was used by Gottliebs group for many purposes, including experiments
in which prostitutes seduced unwitting subjects in order to test the combined
influence of sex and drugs. (In hearings before the Church Committee of
the United States Senate in the mid-1970s Robert Lashbrook perjured
himself by saying he had no knowledge of the safe house operation, when
in fact he was the liaison person responsible for maintaining contact
between the safe house and the MK-Ultra project. After Dr. Olsons
death Lashbrook was found to have on his person the initials of the code-name
for George White, the man who administered the Bedford Street safe house
at the time Dr. Olson was in New York).
Ike Feldman, a former CIA operative who worked closely with the CIA in
New York during this period, reported that he had heard from George White
that Lashbrook and his associates had tried to persuade Dr. Olson to jump
out the window. Feldman said that under the influence of drugs and suggestion
Dr. Olson came near the window, but that he ultimately refused to jump.
At that point Lashbrook and at least one other agent pushed him out the
window. (The CIA documents indicate that on the night he died Dr. Abramson
himself had given Dr. Olson a combination of bourbon and Nembutal, two
interacting central nervous system depressants which had the real potential
of killing him.)
In the autumn of 1994 Feldman suddenly reversed himself in interviews
with the authors of this Memorandum and claimed to know nothin about
AP reporter Deb Reichman found a mysterious document in the Fort Detrick
files which indicated the CIA considered Dr. Olson a security risk early
in 1953 after trips in that year to Paris and Norway.
Turning a lemon into lemonade, or the Manchurian Candidate
The facts revealed in the documents are more consistent with an attempt
to create a programmed suicide (in which the individuals mental
health is being discredited while, at the same time, a sequence of programmed
actions escalating to the point of self-destructive behavior is being
installed) than with concern for the health and safety of a disturbed
individual. This was exactly the kind of research in which the MKUltra
program was interested. In Dr. Olsons case the experimenters may
have felt compelled to perform the kind of terminal experiment
(as such experiments were called in their own research proposals) which
was otherwise impossible.
If Dr. Olson blew the whistle on the top-secret mind-control research
much more than the MK-Ultra program was at risk. During the previous year
Dr. Olson had already talked with his wife about wanting to leave his
bacteriological research job at Camp Detrick. After he was unwittingly
drugged these feelings intensified. The CIA experimenters worried that,
had Dr. Olson left his job after they drugged him, and had he then divulged
bacteriological secrets, the responsibility would have been theirs. These
experimenters would certainly have realized how reckless their drug experiment
would appear if Dr. Olsons subsequent behavior became impossible
to predict or control. Hence, they could well have decided that not only
the future of their mind-control research, but the security of the countrys
chemical-bacteriological research program as well, depended on eliminating
Dr. Olson, and doing so quickly. The opportunity presented itself during
the period suddenly created when Ruwet left, and before Olson could rejoin
his family. In the aftermath of their reckless experiment, and in the
context of the bizarre comer into which they had painted themselves, it
is not hard to imagine how these CIA agents could have perceived that
they had no choice.
Mind control testing continued for decades. If Dr. Olson had blown the
lid on the experiments, a whole broad program of testing, which persisted
for many years both inside and outside the United States, might have been
derailed at the start.
For the reasons stated herein, a criminal investigation into Dr. Olsons
death is necessary and should be done as soon as possible.