Ransom paper, part 1

Ransom paper, part 2

Ransom paper, part 3

Ransom paper, part 4

Ransom paper, part 5

Ransom paper, part 6

Ransom paper, part 7

Ransom paper, part 8

Ransom paper, part 9

Ransom paper, bibliography

  The Frank Olson Legacy Project

Corey Ransom paper, part 3

It would take the media coverage following the breaking of the Watergate scandal, to bring a revelation about cause of Frank Olson’s mysterious illness. In the early/middle 1970’s, temporary CIA chief and newcomer to the intelligence community, James Schlesinger, had begun an internal investigation which resulted in the creation of the infamous "family jewels" list of agency misdeeds. New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh intercepted leaks concerning this list and published a series of articles on domestic spying, focusing negative attention on a government agency already in the public’s doghouse. President Ford, reacting to public outrage, commissioned an investigation lead by Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller to delineate the truth about the alleged CIA activities from information that was either “journalistic and therefore impressionistic, or official and therefore suspect.” The commission was also designed to pave the way for additional, deeper probing congressional hearings if Rockefeller’s findings so warranted.

On June 11, 1975, the Washington Post ran a full spread on the numerous, declassified findings of Rockefeller’s Report to the President by the Commission on CIA Activities within the United States. Included in the Post’s coverage of the Rockefeller Report were two articles headlined “CIA Infiltrated 17 Area Groups, Gave Out LSD, Suicide Revealed.” One article reported the commission’s discovery of a civilian employee of the Department of the Army, who in the early fifties, "…had unwittingly taken LSD as part of a Central Intelligence Agency test then jumped 10 floors to his death less than a week later." The article stated that the subject had been "…sent to New York with a CIA escort for psychiatric treatment" and several days later the suicide occurred.

The article revealed that the CIA’s general counsel had determined the man’s death to be directly related to a behavioral control experiment, and that two CIA employee’s had been reprimanded as a result. It was reported that the test was part of a larger program designed to study means of controlling human behavior, and although many of the records had been destroyed in 1973, the remaining evidence had been turned over to the White House.

Mrs. Olson was reading the paper that morning when she instantly realized the man described in the Rockefeller report was her husband. She immediately contacted her son Eric and her daughter Lisa who also agreed that their father was probably the test victim reported in the Post. Lisa and her husband immediately visited the now retired Vincent Ruwet seeking answers. He confirmed that Frank had indeed been the subject of the reported test, but due to the top-secret status of the program, Ruwet had been unable to divulge any details.

The family immediately hired Philadelphia attorney David Rudovsky to represent the family in a lawsuit against the United States Government. Eric Olson, now 30 and eldest of the Olson children, would spearhead the campaign to hold the CIA "publicly accountable," since Mrs. Olson had just recently begun treatment for cancer. In a statement written mostly by Eric and read in turns by each family member at a press conference held on July 11, 1975, the Olsons expressed their outrage and anguish.

"We feel our family has been violated by the CIA in two ways; first, Frank Olson was experimented upon illegally and negligently. Second, the true nature of his death was concealed for twenty-two years."

The statement continued, "We are one family whose history has been fundamentally altered by illegal CIA activity. In this we have something in common with those families in Chile whose hopes for a better life were destroyed by CIA intervention…We have something in common with those families in Cuba whose struggles for a better life…have been made so much more difficult by CIA plots and schemes. And we have something in common with those families whose heroic efforts to be free of foreign interference have had to cope with CIA subversion. We think it is crucial to point out the connections between American treachery and immorality abroad and those same tendencies evident at home…The CIA that participates in the assassination of foreign leaders is the same CIA that infringes the rights of American citizens."

The response to the Olsons’ press conference was immediate. The media attended in force with major television and newspaper representation. The next day in New York City, the medical examiner, Dominick J. Di Maio, announced that he was reopening the Olson case in light of the "published reports of the circumstances surrounding the plunge of Frank R Olson from the tenth floor." Di Maio also cited conflicting accounts given by the man staying with Olson that night, Robert Lashbrook, as contributing to renewed suspicion.

Meanwhile, a free-lance investigative reporter named John Marks, intrigued by the reporting of Seymour Hersh, the Rockefeller Commission and the developments surrounding the Olson family, issued a Freedom of Information request. Marks was particularly interested in several "even more revealing sentences buried in the Rockefeller text; ‘The drug program was part of a much larger CIA program to study possible means for controlling human behavior. Other studies explored the effects of radiation, electro-shock, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and harassment substances.’" His FOIA request covered all documents which had been provided by the CIA to the Rockefeller Commission concerning behavioral control programs. Marks was no stranger to the CIA. He had previously co-authored a book, The CIA and The Cult of Intelligence with Victor Marchetti. Marks’s 1974/75 FOIA inquires into the CIA’s mind control affairs would later bring him to the forefront of the Frank Olson story.

Since the Olsons had connected Frank to the Rockefeller suicide leak, a muddled picture of what occurred in 1953 slowly developed. It was known that the CIA had been secretly running a program to develop behavioral control drugs and techniques at Fort Detrick. Frank Olson unwillingly became involved in the project as a subject when he attended the SOD working retreat at Deep Creek Lodge. During a round of after-dinner cocktails, two CIA men secretly slipped LSD in the drinks of the SOD men. Twenty minutes later the CIA men told the subjects that they had been administered LSD. Following the secret administration of LSD, Frank Olson began exhibiting abnormal behavior, which continued after Olson left Deep Creek and returned home. In the following week after the working retreat, Olson had continued displaying abnormal behavior. It had been decided by SOD and CIA men to take Olson to see a secure psychiatrist, Dr Harold A. Abramson, in New York City. Several nights after arriving in New York, Olson’s CIA escort apparently awoke just in time to witness Olson plunge through the closed shade and window “in a dead run.”

It appeared the LSD administered by the CIA scientists, had influenced Frank Olson’s abnormal behavior. The question became was why had the CIA been experimenting with LSD and why would they choose to test it on unwitting Army scientists?

Go to next page