|The Frank Olson Legacy Project|
Corey Ransom paper part 7
1975 and early 1976 Sidney Gottlieb, the TSS and SOD were the subjects
of yet another congressional committee, that of Senator Frank Churchs
Select Committee to study Governmental Operations with respect to Intelligence
Activities. Gottlieb, had been called to testify about his role in CIA
assassination plots of foreign government leaders, most notably the attempted
assassination of The Congos Patrice Lumumba and the continuing program
designed to eliminate Cubas Fidel Castro. Gottliebs specific
testimony centered on the development and employment of chemical and biological
weapons in such plots, weapons designed and developed under project MKNAOMI
by the joint TSS/SOD team. These biological agents and delivery systems
were derived from the work carried out by Frank Olson and had been the
original topic of discussion at the Deep Creek Lake retreat. However,
during his testimony, Gottlieb successfully dodged the topic of Frank
Olson, his mysterious death, and Gottliebs pet project MKULTRA.
On May 19th 1976, the Senate approved a $1.25 million compensation bill proposed several months earlier by Maryland Senator Charles Mathias (who had been a member of the Kennedy and Church Committees) and urged the House of Representatives to pass a similar bill. Senator Mathias said of the bill,"[it] is an acknowledgement on the part of our government of the deception and evasiveness perpetuated upon the Olsons and the absolute necessity of ensuring that similarly inexcusable acts are never repeated." However in a cruel twist of fate, the House of Representatives struck down the Olsons bill. Several months later, much modified and reduced to $750,000, the compensation bill was passed by the House of Representatives.
Olsons reluctantly accepted the reduced payment. One condition of the
bill however, had been to drop the wrongful death lawsuit against the
government. The Olsons complied with this condition, in part to receive
compensation and bring quick closure. Their attorneys also felt that there
was not much of a case. Additionally, investigations reopened in New York
City by the medical examiner and district attorney were closed for lack
Meanwhile Eric Olson was becoming more consumed with the circumstances of his fathers death. Eric had received an interesting letter from Armand Pastore, the night manager who had been on duty at the Statler Hotel the night Frank Olson had fallen from his window. Pastore wrote that he had witnessed Olsons fall, and after seeing the recent coverage in the press was compelled to write.
was able to relate with great detail the events he witnessed that night.
He stated that Frank hit a construction wall almost headfirst and then
crashed to the sidewalk. He had rushed to Olsons side, finding him
still conscious for a few minutes before dying. Pastore, then glanced
up to determine which room Olson had fallen from. He could see the broken
window on the thirteenth floor, room 1018A, and the shade hanging out.
Pastore escorted the uniformed police up to the room where they unlocked
the door and entered. Thats where they found Robert Lashbrook on
the phone in the bathroom. Pastore stated that later that night he spoke
with the switchboard operator who said he overheard a phone conversation
between a man in 1018A to a man on a line to Long Island. One man had
said, "hes gone," the other responded "thats
Eric Olson would later go back to the Statler hotel to spend a night in room 1018A. That night, Eric had a realization that there could possibly be more to the case than what the released documents told. Standing in the room, Eric felt that it would be difficult for someone to throw themselves through the window. There was a radiator blocking the window and the room was so small, it would be difficult to get a running start, something that seemed necessary to crash through a plate glass window. In addition, it seemed to be an unnatural act to dive through a window with the shades drawn. That night would inspire Eric to continue to keep an open mind about his fathers death, to keep the case open (at least as far as Eric was concerned) and to not wholly accept the official story at face value.