Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part One: MKUltra: When The CIA Tried to Destroy Free Will

Part One: MKUltra: When The CIA Tried to Destroy Free Will

Tue, 11 Oct 2022 10:00

Robert is joined by Jason Pargin to discuss the CIA's secret illegal mind control experiment, Project MKUltra.

(Four Parts)



Join Robert Evans, Christopher Wong, Shereen Lani Younes, Garrison Davis, James Stout and Sophie Lichterman for a live episode of It Could Happen Here and Q&A. Upon purchasing your ticket, you’ll be redirected to the show screen where there will be a prompt for you to submit a question to the hosts. Questions are picked at random, but be sure to get yours in as it may be featured in the live episode!

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In the next 30 seconds, one sweltering beach bomb will decide, It's just too hot. And want to move somewhere milder. And Essie's dreaming of a brisk outdoor jog, cracking up in a window, and the comfort of throwing on a light layer. He'll realize, I've got to sell the house and fix it and stage it and show it. Or skip the hassles, sell directly to Open Door, and move on to the things that matter, like that cool breeze. Get your free offer at slash new move. Eligibility and offer price may vary. Open Door is represented by Open Door Procreation license 02061130 in California, and Open Door Procreation LLC in its other markets. ELECTRONICAL Let me guess. Unknown caller. You could reduce the number of unwanted calls and emails with online privacy protection. The latest innovation from Discover will help regularly remove your personal info, like your name and address, from 10 popular people search websites that could sell your data. And we'll do it for free. Activate in the Discover app. See terms and learn more at slash online privacy protection. Sick of settling for subpar plus size looks. It's time to celebrate you with the latest curve confident styles at Ashley Stewart. Designed with curves in mind, Ashley Stewart has been perfecting plus size style since 1991. From new denim, dresses, modern workwear, and more, they're amazing fits and must-have trends have been serving curves since... Always, it's about time you stop settling and start celebrating. Shop the latest trends in sizes 10 through 36 now, in stores and at I'm Robert Evans. I've introduced the podcast yet again. Not one of my best introductions. Not one of my worst. Two weeks ago, we had another just shouting Hitler. So, you know, if you're a regular listener, this is about as good as it gets. This is, of course, behind the bastards. A podcast about the very worst people in all of history. And to help me out this week and next week, we have a four-parter for you folks. First off, I want to welcome Jason Pargin to the show Jason. How's it going? Now that you are far, far more famous than you were in your crack days, I honestly don't have a sense of how many people in your audience know who I am. And they're like, oh my gosh, that's the correct guy who used to write as David Wong, who writes the John Dez Thea novels versus how many people just have no idea, just no idea, just could not possibly care any less. Yeah, it's hard for me to say. I mean, whenever we do live events and we've done like 9 or 10 this year between like book events and stuff, I would say like my back, my like very rough estimate would be like a third of the crowd has been following my stuff since cracked days. So I would guess like somewhere in the 30 to 40% range, which is considering the size of the audience, pretty good. Jason, you are the author of a whole bunch of books. We were just talking about this before the show, but I'm startled as I try to work on my second novel. I'm startled at the number of novels that you've written while doing all of the other stuff that you do. Yeah, the one that is coming out, the one that I am here promoting is the sixth called If This Book Exists, You're in the Wrong Universe. It is part of the John Dyes at the End franchise. They are now four books in that series. For those of you who have read some of them or have just seen the movie that's out there on streaming, came out a decade ago. Yeah, but you can just start with this one if you want. It's not a game of throne situation where you have to have read all of the books there, they're episodic. You can just, now why you would want to start with the new and most expensive one? I don't know considering all the other ones are you can probably get any used bookstore for like 50 cents. But for my point of view, yes, it's the freshest one and therefore the best. I read it earlier this year and it's wonderful. I've been reading the John Dyes at the End books for like at this point, roughly two-thirds of my life. I started reading. I mean, obviously, Jason, you were my boss back at Cracked for years and years and years and years. I think I worked there for close to a decade and you worked there for longer. But you started publishing what became the first book in that series. It was like an every Halloween on your old website. This is in the pre-cracked days when you had your own website. You would publish, I don't know, what was it, probably 15, 20,000 words, something like that every year around Halloween. Yeah, it was just part of my blog. It was like my annual Halloween update was just continuing story. I was writing it started in 2001, I think. Yeah, yeah, which I would have been like 12 or 13, I think, when I started reading that series. And I loved it then. I found it like very engaging and kind of stayed obsessed with it ever since. One of the things that's always been interesting to me about it, that series in particular, I think one of the things you could call it is like psychedelic horror because it's not just like a horror series, but kind of one of the inciting incidents is the characters take a supernatural hallucinogen essentially that is kind of the inciting incident of the series. And it's one of the only, one of the things that I've always found interesting about your books is that I started reading them before I ever started messing around with psychedelics and I've continued to enjoy them since. Which is pretty rare in terms of like encountering people writing about that stuff before you know about it personally and then after you know about it. And I've always been interested in that in part because you don't do psychedelics. You haven't like actually like taken acid or anything like that. No, in fact, I've never drank alcohol. I have a very addictive personality. I get addicted to things very easily and I've been afraid of any kind of drugs or cigarettes, anything for ever since I was a youth. But no, yeah, but it's, it is very much like I've done a lot of research into them, but it's not to be clear. It's not scary, mongering about. It's not people. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, foul themselves turning into monsters because there was a lot of fiction written like that. Yeah. The people, they took LSD and then they became possessed by a devil or whatever. It is more of a metaphorical thing, but they take a, yeah, a, some kind of a mysterious substance that lets them kind of see beyond reality and the way that if you were playing a video game and you suddenly glitched through the world, it's kind of like that only with through time and space. For those of you who don't read, the film is because there's kind of an interesting story. I won't let drag on, but they, I sold the film rights to it back when it was nothing. It was, I wrote it on the internet and then had like a print on demand publisher selling physical copies of it. We sold just a couple thousand of them when Don Cuscarelli called horror writer director laser a legendary director. Yeah, I made the Phantasm series. Mabahotap. Yeah. Got hold of the rights and not only bought the rights, but made the movie, which is the rare part. Lots of people sell film rights to actually have it get made to, and then debuted at Sundance in 2012 and you know, I flew out there and got to be part of a Q&A with the cast and all that. So it's, it's kind of a crazy success story because at the time this happened in the early 2000s, there were, there were not a lot of people writing stuff on the internet and then selling it as books or selling it. It still hasn't happened terribly often. No. But you people hear famous examples of like, oh, this guy's Twitter account got turned into a TV series or whatever. Like you do. I mean, I often describe you to people as the first 50 shades of gray. But I bring up the fact that the so much of like the inciting incidents of your series is kind of like based around hallucinogens and like shadow people and all this kind of sort of dark occult stuff because that ties in directly to what we're talking about today. The subject of our episodes for the next two weeks is the MK Ultra program that the CIA carried out through most of the 50s in early 1960s. Now, most people I think are probably like Jason actually, what, what, how would you based on kind of your level of knowledge, casual knowledge? How would you describe what the MK Ultra program was? Here's the thing. It is impossible for me to separate what I actually know as fact and what I've merely heard in conspiracy theory circles. Yeah. Well, because the one conspiracy theory that I do believe in is that government agencies and the true bad actors in society love conspiracy theories. Absolutely. Absolutely. Love that this stuff gets picked up by cranks and the same people who talk about big foot will talk about MK Ultra and the same breath. And it's like, well, you know, big foot was actually an MK Ultra program and turned a man into a giant monkey. They love that. They love that. It smears all of these things as the stuff of cranks and crack pots when the reality needs no embellishment. No, it does because what the reality of the MK Ultra program is that the federal government devoted countless resources and essentially like a license to kill to a bunch of scientists so that they could attempt to eradicate the concept of human free will using LSD. That's what they tried to do. And it included an outrageous number of crimes. And it is, it is a conspiracy. It's just not a conspiracy theory because it's pretty well documented. A lot of the guys who were involved with this have talked at this point. So we know what's happened. So we're going to be talking about that for quite a while here. I do want to start by talking a little bit about kind of the human history of use of psychedelics and even kind of the history of the use of psychedelics in a military context by states because all of this stuff actually goes back further than you'd guess. When we're talking about like actual hallucinogenic drugs, the oldest, like the first thing human beings were taking to consciously make themselves hallucinate was probably, we're never going to get an exact answer on this, but probably either Piodi and the active ingredient in Piodi is a psychedelic proto-alphaloid called mescalin, which has been in use at least like 5,700 years. And then we have around the same amount of time people have been using hallucinogenic mushrooms, psilocybin, right? That also goes back by some accounts maybe older, something like 7,000 years. Obviously, this is based on people who draw cave paintings of like mushrooms and stuff that they took and you can find bits of it and like honey and whatnot, things that people buried with their loved ones. It's possible people were taking, it's possible that like before we were human beings, our homated predecessors were taking Piodi and psilocybin, right? Because we know that there are certain hallucinogens that non-human animals and that other apes take. So this is probably something we've been doing like longer than we've been human beings. And also, this is one of those things where when you look at the entire culture and our mythology and our religion, whenever you have writings of someone who sat down in a field and then had a vision of the heavens opening up. Yeah. How many of those were actually influenced by hallucinogens or whatever we won't know, but there's almost no question that they regarded these substances as like a sacred means of opening up reality to get a direct line to the gods or whatever. It's just that in the writings they left behind, they may not mention the part where they chewed on a certain mushroom to get that effect. Yeah, and it's, I mean, there's other stuff too like air got that people we know the ancient Greeks were very likely mixing in a couple of different ways, which is kind of one of the precursors to LSD. There are theories that the human capacity for religious belief came because our, and this is, you know, would be 20, 30,000 years ago, ancestors took a shitload of psilocybin. There have been studies like the good Friday study that at least provide pretty good evidence that the kind of religious experiences people have on these drugs aren't any different from other kinds of religious experiences, right? Like they're not, they're not any less real because they're induced by a chemical. They continue to influence people, you know, in, for decades. So yeah, there's a lot of interesting history there. The first documented military use of what you call an entheogen. And when we're talking about psilocybin, we're talking about all of these chemicals. They're all what you'd call entheogens, right? That's kind of the name of the type of thing that we call hallucinogens. The first documented military use of one of these substances was by Hannibal Barker, you know, the guy, the elephant guy, right, with the Alps. In around 184 BC, there are some possibly apocryphal reports that he had his men drug enemy stores with Beledana before a battle so that his enemies would basically be hallucinating when he went into fight them, which would provide a benefit, right? It's not hard to see how that could potentially work out for you. And this is probably copied by the Bishop of Munster in 1672, who actually filled grenades with Beledana in order to attempt to disperse its poison on the battlefield, which is a pretty modern for 1672, a pretty modern way of like using a chemical weapon. Yeah, that's, I had never heard that before. Yeah, that's a fantastic image. Yeah, the Bishop of Munster filling grenades with, because the active chemical in Beledana is Scopolamine, which is what US police tried to use for decades as a truth serum. But it just kind of is a moderately powerful hallucinogen that he was trying to disperse via grenade. Now, I don't actually know how well that worked out. It doesn't seem like there's good documentation on whether or not it, it actually had much of a military effect. But the dream that the Bishop of Munster had and that Hannibal Barker had has lingered on in the hearts of military planners for a long time, right? Because obviously, fighting people is hard. And if you can make them, chemically, if you can disperse some sort of substance on the battlefield that makes them not want to or not able to fight, that would be pretty cool. So World War One is obviously when chemical weapons get used for the first time on a mass scale. And we all are aware of more or less what happens here. Adolf Hitler, himself a victim of mustard gas, refused in World War Two to give approval to the German military to use chemical weapons again as an offensive military tool. Right? Obviously, Hitler loves using poison gas, but they're not, they're not shooting it off at the battlefield because he knows that it's going to lead to reprisals and he's seen chemical weapons, you know? He doesn't have a moral principle, obviously. And he's in, you know, he's not entirely against the idea, though, of researching more weapons like this. And so during World War Two, while the Germans don't use their mustard gas stockpiles, they do invent a new poison, something called seren nerve gas. And right around the same time the Nazis are inventing seren, the Empire of Japan is weaponizing anthrax during the war. Now, they actually did use anthrax on China during World War Two. They killed thousands of civilians by like dropping anthrax bombs, they would infect water supplies with cholera. And their top scientists working at Unit 731, which we'll be talking about at some point in the future, were in direct contact with the Nazi chemical weapons head, a guy named Kurt Blum, who himself tested anthrax on thousands of death camp inmates, mainly to see what would happen, right? This is kind of when we're trying to figure out how to actually weaponize anthrax. A lot of the early studies there come from different concentration camps. Blum had also experimented with the use of mescaline on concentration camp inmates as a truth drug. He'd forcibly dozed inmates, a lot of them in huge enough quantities that some of them died, which is not easy to do. Mescaline's not a super toxic substance. So if you're killing people on it, you're effectively giving them sometimes thousands of doses. Because the Nazis don't really care what happens to these people. They're able to kind of do that. So the Allies are not super aware that most of this is going on at the time. There's a pretty big fog of war. These are very top secret. Obviously, they know that Japan is using chemical weapons against China, but they're not super aware of like what the Germans are researching at this point. But what was known was enough that it's scared Winston Churchill. And he made a public announcement of his fears that the Nazis were planning a biological weapon attack on the United Kingdom. So he asks the United States for help in building up a defensive stockpile of weaponized viruses and toxins, right? Churchill doesn't want to use all these either because he's thinking the same thing Hitler is. If we use these on the Nazis, then they'll start using stuff on our soldiers. But he wants to have a bunch of scary shit that he can unleash on the continent of Europe if the Nazis start dropping stuff on the UK. You can see like the logic that's going to be a big part of the the nuclear arms race already kind of at play here. In general, all of history is a series of people saying, well, we need to pursue this truly grotesque mission because if we don't the enemy will or we suspect they already are. But the only reason the enemy is doing it is because they think you're doing it. And I'm sure there's a name for that paradox. But for example, in the last time I was on this show, we briefly talked about World War One, which is a war based almost entirely around this series of nations saying, look, we better go ahead and just arm up because we know France is doing it. It's like if we rise, we'll go ahead and go to war now because it's going to happen. Like in every country thought this about everyone else. So here it's you can see this weird game theory thing where unchecked paranoia about your enemy is a blank check to your people to just pursue madness because after all what what thing could be too horrifying to use against insert enemy here. Nazis, the communists, the terrorists, the the Muslim terrorists. It's like, well, of course, we need these advanced, you know, interrogation techniques. Otherwise, you know, how are we going to stop Al Qaeda? And 50 years from now, you can insert whatever enemy. But that's always been the logic probably going back thousands of years. It's like, hey, normally we wouldn't do this. But. And what's one of the things that's most kind of morally complex about this is that it doesn't always go badly, right? World War One, a horrible nightmare because that logic leads to tens of millions of deaths. It also doesn't lead to tens of millions of deaths in the nuclear arms race. Like because everybody's got all these weapons and has the ability to end all life, we don't have this big war between the Soviet Union and the United. We have a bunch of little horrible wars. But we don't have this big war. And you kind of it's the same thing with biological weapons on the battlefield in World War Two because they don't get used in Europe. The Nazis invent sarin and they weaponize anthraxans. We're about to talk about the US develops them. It's a horrible shit. But none of it gets used because everybody's like just kind of too scared to start that. So I don't know. I know what the moral is here. Well, no, very, very quick note. We do record these in advance. If there has been a nuclear war between now and when this goes up, understand that that's what he just said was based. This was pre the bombs being launched. We were not aware of it when we recorded this. So if you're saying, well, how, how, how stupid are these guys? They don't know that the situation Ukraine resulted in a nuclear apocalypse. It's because we, it wasn't, it hadn't happened when we recorded it. Yeah. If you're listening to this huddled around the ruins of the Chrysler building, defending off wolves with like crudely made spears that you, you, you, you created out of like scrap metal from light poles. There was a time when the world wasn't like that. Then please, just give us what we're doing our best here. Yeah. If you, if you, if you live in a society that has lost all aspects of modernity, except for the ability to like yell at podcast hosts, please, please hold up for a second. Sophie deals with enough acidits. So yeah, you've got these, you've got these, you know, this kind of biological arms race that's sort of in the background of World War II. Obviously, it doesn't get a whole lot of attention because most of this stuff doesn't wind up getting used. And it's, it's like fucked up when you're talking about seren nerve gas and like the cholera and trying to weaponize viruses. That's like horrifying for some reason, but it's actually not, when you think about what's going on, it's not to be different from any other kind of arms race, right? You can say that the weaponry is a little more dangerous, maybe, but like it's, it's, it's stockpiling killing agents, right? There's not a massive difference fundamentally in like stockpiling a bomb or stockpiling a bomb that is kills by way of viruses, you know? People are more disgusted by this stuff, but it is kind of the same basic concept. But on February 3rd, 1949 and kind of the early stages of the Cold War, something that was completely new, entered the minds of the men plotting their way through this like opening stages of the Cold War, right? This is kind of the first new development, totally new development and like, conceptions of warfare and quite a long while. And it starts because a guy named Cardinal Joseph Minzintz, ah, geez, I'm, he's, he's, he's Hungarian. Cardinal Joseph Minzintz was the leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary, starting in 1945. And in World War II, he'd been imprisoned by the fascist Aero Cross Party for his opposition to fascism, but he was also really opposed to communism, right? So when the Nazis lose and the Iron Curtain goes down or whatever you want to say, when the USSR winds up kind of influence in Hungary, Minzintz is not happy with that either. He's actually a monarchist. He never really got over the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So when the Communists come to power, he resists them too. In 1948, religious orders get banned by the government of Hungary. The Catholic Church is called a reactionary force, which it had often been, a lot of Catholics had supported the fascist dictatorship that had existed in World War II. But Minzintz hadn't, but since he was such a prominent opponent of the Communist regime, he gets arrested by the Communists. And they do the thing that, like you do, when you capture a political enemy, they like beat him with truncheons until he agrees to go on camera and confess to a bunch of crimes. And this is not weird, right? Like having government thugs beat a man until he confesses to like trying to overthrow the government in Rienzudu-Mannarchy, pretty normal stuff for like a totalitarian regime can do to do. It shouldn't have been that weird to anybody. But the CIA like kind of freaks out over this. So this is a new organization at the time. They've just been formed from the OSS about a year before this. And they panic when they hear Minzintz come on and be like, I was trying to overthrow the government in Yadayada Yadayada. And in his excellent book, Poisoner and Chief Stephen Kinzer writes, quote, they focused on the way Minzintz had behaved during his trial. He appeared disoriented, spoken of flat monotone, and confessed to crimes that he had evidently not committed. Clearly, he had been coerced, but how? At the CIA, the answer seemed terrifyingly obvious. The Soviets had developed drugs or mind control techniques that could make people say things they did not believe. No evidence of this ever emerged. Minzintz was coerced with traditional techniques like ill treatment, extended isolation, beatings, and repetitive interrogation. The fear that communists had discovered some potent new psychoactive tool, however, sent a shockwave through the CIA. This is what I love about conspiracies, about mind control. Yeah. Because the reality is there are so many ways to manipulate the behavior of a person who is weaker than you. Through pain, through threats to their family, through financials, with bribes. Yeah. And there's some of the most successful interrogators who are not violent. They just offered people the cookies or a car or something. Yeah. That to say, well, my gosh, they developed a magical chemical that you inject in a person that they'll just do whatever you want. They were so enamored with this idea. When that's like the oldest means of humans interacting with one another, like that community, humans making other humans do what they want. It says something about these guys that like, instead of being like, oh, yeah, they probably just hid him until he did what they wanted him to. Like the thing we do when we want someone to do something, they're like, they must have invented some new drug that's taken over his mind and changed his personality. It is really like this is the fact that this is the inciting incident of the CIA's mind control program is in a way very funny. And it's also just like, this is the whole Cold War in a nutshell, right? This is what gets us into so many different conflicts and gets like a few million people killed is all of those these things that start with like some guys in a room in DC like misinterpreting something and then freaking each other out, right? Doing that very human thing where everybody's just kind of like yes, ending each other into the apocalypse. Especially when you have funding that will come to your budget if you can make the case up the ladder. Yep. That the enemy has blank that there's a there's a motivation beyond just simple misunderstanding. Like, right. A lot of money was spent here. A lot of jobs were created. Like, you don't think in terms of somebody trying to create a bureaucrat trying to create work for themselves, but they this was motivated reasoning. If the Russians have this and we now have a blank check to try to pursue this and some of it was just people career climbing. Yes, indeed. And you know who else is climbing the ranks of the corporate hierarchy? The people who sponsor our podcasts. Jason, how do you how do you how do you how do you feel about buying gold online from shady websites that advertise through random podcast ads? Is that how you invest your your money? Well, you know, once society collapses, gold will be the only valuable currency. It just makes it not cans of beans and toilet paper. That's not what people will be trading. They'll be trading gold. Yeah, no, not freeze dried food or ammunition or or water purification tablets. Gold, the thing that's useful when you're starving. Perfect store of value. Anyway, here's probably ads for buying gold off the internet. And now a word from our sponsor better help. Mental health problems are obviously really tough and it can get easy to just sort of set yourself in the mindset that if things are bad, they're going to stay that way. But that's not the way it has to be. A therapist can help you become a better problem solver, which can make it easier to accomplish your mental health goals, no matter how big or small. If you're looking at getting into therapy, better help is a great option. They offer online counseling that's efficient and affordable and is available to people kind of no matter what you want to do. If you want to be on the phone. If you want to do it through a video chat, better help has options. It's convenient, accessible, affordable and entirely online. You get matched with a therapist after filling out a brief survey and you can switch therapists at any time. So when you want to be a better problem solver therapy can get you there. Visit slash behind today to get 10% off your first month. That's better slash behind. Again, slash behind for 10% off your first month. In the next 30 seconds, 20 parents will send their children off to college and decide it's time to downsize and finally get that RV. And as they're thinking of open roads, diners, and how they're going to fit a king-size mattress, they'll realize we've got to sell the house and fix it and stage it and show it or skip the house. Sell directly to open door and move on to the things that matter like that mattress. Get your free offer at slash sold. Alligibility and offer price may vary. Open doors represented by Open Door Brokridge Inc. license 0206-113-0 in California and Open Door Brokridge LLC in its other markets. Let me guess. Unknown caller. You could reduce the number of unwanted calls and emails with online privacy protection. The latest innovation from Discover will help regularly remove your personal info like your name and address from 10 popular people search websites that could sell your data. And we'll do it for free. Activate in the Discover app. See terms and learn more at slash online privacy protection. We're back and we're talking about what a good store of value gold is. And Jason, if you're looking to diversify your cash stockpile for the apocalypse, I happen to have a lot of Iraqi dinars and from what I hear, they're about to blow up. They're going to get revalued by by President Trump and a lot of a lot of money in the dinar these days. Yeah, one society clamps is basically you're going to want gold and you're going to want Bitcoin. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I agree with you, Jason. If people really want to survive the end of days, throw out your water, light your dried food on fire, stockpile dinars and gold. That's that's going to keep you alive when the flood waters wipe out two thirds of Florida. That's what you'll want to be carrying with you away as the coastline disappears. Is as much gold as you can fit in your pockets. Speaking of things that you can fit in your pockets, let's talk about knowledge. I don't know. I did my best there. So this moment, this cardinal getting, like just beaten up until he lies about having tried to overthrow the government, brings absolute certainty to the CIA top brass that the Russians have developed a mind control drug. Now, we're going to get into a lot of gnarly shit here, but it's important that the people who are like freaking out over this and the people who are the people who's freak out, lead to everything that follows are a bunch of Yale and Harvard kids, right? Most of them grew up extremely rich. The Dolas brothers who are going to be big parts of this, like are literally hanging out with heads of state when when their kids and that's like most of the early OSS CIA guys. Now, some of these dudes had done real gnarly shit in World War II had been like like international man of mystery bad ass stuff. You know, you do have some of those like cowboys here, but that's not who's actually calling the shots for the most part. Most of the people calling the shots had been like sitting in Switzerland and kind of like making the decisions that determined whether or not spies on the ground lived and died. Now they're sitting in DC and they're convinced themselves that an old priest confessing to crimes he didn't convince under torture meant that the Soviets had developed some sort of mind control drug. And there's this all of this discourse around the CIA, a lot of which is formed by the things they're doing in this period of time portrays them as I think these guys probably would have wanted to be portrayed as these insidious, dangerous, competent manipulators of public opinion and orchestrators of conspiracies. Now these are all things that the agency and individuals within it have been over the years, but a life in the shadows plotting crimes against your fellow man doesn't mean that you're like healthy or rational and it doesn't mean that like the things that you're kind of conniving your way into doing make a whole lot of sense. And that's kind of important to keep in mind as this story builds. Now there's another inciting incident for what we're going to be talking about this week. This one's a little bit happier. It starts in 1936 when chemists from Sandaws laboratory synthesize LeSurgic Acid Dietholemide for the very first time. And one of the guys who's on this project is a dude named Albert Hoffman. He's a research scientist for Sandaws, which is by the way the company who gave us like Satcharin or Sackarin like that's that's Sandaws. They're a very, very large chemical company. And Hoffman had been tasked with finding substances in medicinal plants that could be purified into different pharmaceutical drugs. They didn't care what the pharmaceutical drugs did. They were just saying like find us new chemicals, see what stuff does what and then we'll try to find a way to sell it. So in the late 1930s Hoffman is studying air gott, which is this rye fungus that had been associated with hallucinatory spells. Sometimes people would make like bread that had this fungus in it and then like towns would wind up hallucinating for days. There's a lot of fun stuff that happens in the middle ages probably because of air gott. There's a lot of theories that like the a lot of witch hunts and stuff. Yeah, then it trace back to it. It's it's it's hard to tell what's true and what's just yeah, theorizing. But it's the kind of thing that makes sense because you could have it. People get it in there, whatever, and their food supply and not know that they were under the influence of something. So again, reporting that they had seen supernatural things happening from there. That's enough of a witness for them to set a witch on fire because it did not take much back then. Yeah, it does not and one of the things the kind of I haven't taken air got fungus but I have taken LSD somewhere around a hundred times and different doses do different things. And one thing that can happen if you just take a little bit, it's not even that you like hear voices but it's it's that like you your impulses feel as if maybe they're coming from somewhere else and you can kind of convince yourself that someone is talking to you, right? And some people, especially if you're like a medieval peasant, maybe you get convinced it's God, right? And maybe you don't like this lady in town and you've never trusted her and you convince yourself in the state that God is telling you that she's a witch or something like that. There's all sorts of shit that could potentially have been happening here. Yeah, and the one thing you're not going to get on the show is a lot of scaremongering about who's indigenous because you're going to get a lot of terrifying experiments as we get into this. But you have to understand it is very, very different one if you're not paying attention to the dose but two, dosing people who don't know they've been those. So when things like set and setting matter so much and how you experience these things, if you're already paranoid or you're already in a place where you're feeling under siege or you think you've got enemies around every corner and you've been dozed with this in your food or whatever and you don't know what's happening to you. And then so you rewind to another era when people didn't know who's indigenous were even a thing. Yeah, what would you assume? You would, of course, assume you were possessed or that you had been assaulted by the devil or whatever. And so the same thing here, like there's a big difference between what these people are doing and the people who use this recreationally, we're not trying to scare you off of it. It's just that you're going to see the worst possible. There's actually, there's a degree, we'll talk about this more. There's a degree to which this also kind of makes the case of how safe these are because a lot of the worst reactions to this are they're giving people the equivalent of thousands of doses at a time. Like an amount no one would choose to take. And like, yeah, people die when you give them 7,000 times like a normal dose of a drug, almost any drug will work that way, right? Like if you give someone 7,000 times as much aspirin as they should take, they probably will not make it, right? That will kill them. Or if you give them 5,000 servings of mashed potatoes all at once. Now, that also that depends on the mashed potatoes. I put about a stick of butter per potato. So it will take much less of my potatoes to kill you. Really just a bowl can do it in some cases. So he's trying to, Hoffman is trying to synthesize a compound out of rye fungus that's going to work as a speaking of heart disease, a circulatory and respiratory stimulant, right? Because this drug, one of the things it can do is it has an impact on your heart rate and your respirations and he thinks that maybe this will, maybe he can get something out of Irgot that will do that. And the LSD that we have today is his 25th attempt at like pulling a chemical out of Irgot that has a medicinal use, which is why we call it LSD 25. Now initially, this substance that Hoffman has found seems to be a very little value. Research on it gets cancelled and Hoffman moves on for five years. But there's something about the drug that kind of calls out to him. He just can't kind of get it out of his head even though he has not taken it for himself at this point. And so on April 19th, 1943, he decides to try some and he takes 250 micrograms of acid. And this is like probably a moderate dose. Like, you know, if you actually have ever taken acid, you buy like a hit or something. And what a hit is is not like standardized. Like you probably have no idea how much LSD you've taken if you've taken LSD because you bought like a drop of liquid that was put on a piece of paper by a dude who like gave it to you at a club, right? You have no idea what you're getting. But this is probably something like four to five hits of acid in like modern terms. So this is like a substantial dose, right? This is not like a light hit of the drug. So he doses himself at 420 PM. And at 5 PM, he writes, quote, beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortion, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh. And that's the last thing he writes in his journal because at that point, he is tripping too hard to write anything. Did you say he dose himself at 420? Yeah, he sure did. That is kind of interesting, isn't it Jason? Sometimes, sometimes we get these little beautiful synchronicities. So Hoffman has a pretty good trip, it has to be said. It's 1943. So like you can't take your car on the road because there's these wartime restrictions. So he's bicycling home. And he has an assistant who kind of like Escortzim, who's his sober sitter. And yeah, he recants later in great detail in his book, quote, kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in me, alternating, very negated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux. It was particularly remarkable, however, acoustic perceptions such as the sound of a door handle or a passing automobile, became transformed into optical perceptions. Every sound generated a vivid, changing image with a zone-consistent form and color. So he's tripping balls here. This is a pretty like this. This is a pretty substantial dose of the drug. And it has to be said, he has a great time. Like Hoffman will spend the rest of his life as an advocate for this stuff because he finds it like a wonderfully pleasant and powerful experience. And he becomes convinced that LSD has an incredible potential as a therapeutic drug. And he's absolutely correct in this. Acid has been shown to have fantastic potential in a number of clinical trials for treating alcoholism. It can be extreme. And again, when we say it can treat alcoholism, it can be an anti-depressant, it can treat post-traumatic stress disorder. We're not saying you can just take some and it makes it better, although some people have had that experience in the past. These are all when we're talking about the clinical trials. These are all giving someone LSD a long side therapy for like alcoholism or therapy for depression or therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. And in terms of why it's useful for this, I'm going to quote from a researcher talking to the Guardian. In depression, people get locked into a way of thinking that is repetitive and ruminative. It's like tram line thinking. Psychedelics disrupt those kind of processes so people can escape from it. And that's why this stuff is useful. And there are now studies that show similar promise with substances like MDMA, which seems to be particularly effective at treating PTSD, or psilocybin. And to get back to the subject, like mushrooms and religion, one of the things that psilocybin has been shown clinically to be most effective at is in hospice patients and people who are like dying of terminal diseases, helping people deal with their fear of death. It's very effective when used properly for that. And so it is fair to say that Hoffman was right. This kind of immediate thing he thinks when he takes acid like, oh my god, this stuff could be really useful for people. He's absolutely correct. But in the 1940s, there's a lot less known about this. And so the kind of initial group of people who start taking acid, like Hoffman is always going to be an advocate for this stuff. And gradually he's going to get other people interested in it. But the first group of people who really gets hard into acid are not scientists and they're not hippies. They're CIA agents and scientists affiliated with the CIA. And yeah, that's what's going to happen. In late 1949, an officer of the Army chemical core reported to L. Wilson Green, a director at the Edgewood Arsenal, which is where the US keeps all of it's like horrible chemical weapons that had been building up during World War II. He reports to Green that Sandhaw's chemists had created a new hallucinogen. Next, Kinzer writes, Green was riveted. He collected all the information he could find on the subject, then produced a long report entitled Psychochemical Warfare, a new concept of war. It concluded with a strong recommendation that the government begins systematically testing LSD, Mescolon, and 60 other mind-altering compounds that might be weaponized for use against enemy populations. Their will to resist would be weakened greatly if not entirely destroyed by the mass hysteria and panic, which would ensue Green wrote. The symptoms which are considered to be a value in strategic and tactical operations include the following. Fits or seizures, dizziness, fear, panic, hysteria, hallucinations, migraine, delirium, extreme depression, notions of hopelessness, lack of initiative to do even simple things, suicidal mania. And one of the things, yeah, just why I want to jump in a few minutes ago and that we're not scared of worrying about these substances is because to be clear, when they saw the results, they did not come out and say, hey, if you introduce this to the enemy army, they may put down their weapons because they have seen that war is wrong and that life has value because they've had a pleasant trip. No, they were thinking purely in terms, oh, this will drive them insane. They'll tear each other to pieces and then run off into the wilderness screaming before they fold that of heart attacks and seizures. Like they were imagining something they would just savage the enemy worst than bullets. Yeah. Hey, we can actually prevent conflict by dosing the enemy and having them just be too chilled to want to fight a war. And a lot of this is a reaction to there had been this assumption prior to World War II that when cities started getting saturation bombed by planes, which are pretty new at the time, the entire population of the city is going to lose their mind and right, like they'll be murdering each other in the streets and just like people's brains will shatter if they're forced to endure bombing. And none of that happens. In fact, it turns out that like when you bomb cities, people get really tough and they get angry at you and they don't collapse morally. It doesn't happen. The British don't collapse under bombing. The Germans don't collapse under bombing. For the Japanese to collapse under bombing, it takes the detonation of two atomic bombs. So this is kind of part of what they're looking at is like, well strategic bombing actually doesn't work for shit. What if we did it with acid? Like maybe that'll work better. Yeah, but it is about trying to make their society break down. Yeah, yeah, that is exactly the goal. And again, you could also, I mean, you could argue that like this is more humane than carpet bombing people. It's not going to last forever, right? Like it is, you can see how people can make the case that actually this wouldn't be as bad as what we just did to the Germans. This is a kinder way to wage war without killing. The argument is made well enough that President Truman agrees like, yeah, this is a pretty good idea. And over the following month, he allows a joint program between the CIA and the US military to get developed. And it's called MK Naomi. Now, the reason why it's named this is, and the reason why MK Ultras named MK Ultras, this is the way the CIA does their cryptonyms, right? A cryptonym is like a name for a project or a department or an organization that's supposed to be impossible for you to like tell what the organization does based on the name, right? So MK identifies a project as being run by the technical services staff. These are the guys who develop the CIA's like wacky James Bond devices. Naomi is a nonsense word. And they're all supposed to be nonsense words, right? The second word MK Ultra MK whatever, the second word is just like a random word they pick so people can have some sort of name. So that's why the initial version of this program is called MK Naomi. So for the most part, MK Naomi focused on not just like LSD but making suicide drugs and assassination poisons, but they were also researching defensive bio weapons and trying to figure out like what it would look like if the Russians carried out a biological attack on the United States. In 1949, they carried out a fake biological weapons attack on the Pentagon using mock bacteria. They concluded as a result of the attack that half of the people in the building could have been infected if it had been a real attack. This is kind of seen as stirring enough that the the military brass are like, well, we need to see what would happen if the Soviets attack in American city. So the CIA and the US military decide to carry out an actual biological weapons attack on a US city. Now, they know that in order to like disperse biological weapons through an entire city's population, they're going to need like fog because there's kind of a color to this gas that they're going to be distributing throughout the city. So they decide San Francisco is the right place to carry out a biological weapons attack because they can use the fog to hide what they're actually doing. It's called Operation Sea Spray is they're shooting clouds of aerosolized bacteria. Now, the bacteria is supposed to be harmless. The idea is that you spray this harmless bacteria throughout the city and it's just enough, like it's just enough of a thing that you can test people randomly throughout the city and you can see how far it's penetrated, how many people have been exposed to it, but it's not something that's actually going to hurt them, right? That's the idea. And the bacteria performs extremely well. And in fact, the Pentagon concludes that all 800,000 people in San Francisco have been infected as well as a significant number of people in five surrounding cities. Basically, the entire Bay area gets infected with this. The problem is that bacteria is kind of like not a predictable thing to dose a roughly a million human beings with. You get some like unanticipated consequences when you do that. And it turns out several people in the Bay area were particularly vulnerable to whatever bacteria they used. Eleven of them catch urinary tract infections from the poison and one of these people dies. This would be the first time, but not the last time that the United States used biological weapons on its own people to see what would happen, which is pretty cool. Yeah, that frankly, an outcome no one could have foreseen. Yeah, it's just, we're going to give a million people a bacteria. It'll be fine. It'll be fine. Like the out of those million people that a certain number of them are medically fragile or, you know, compromised or whatever, and that it wouldn't be harmful to them. How could they have, how could they have known? I believe constantly have known. You can see that logic you were talking about earlier, though, like, well, we know the enemy is working on biological weapons and the enemy, the Soviets are these like godless monsters. They could do anything. It would be irresponsible of us not to try. Some people are going to get hurt, but we have to know how vulnerable our cities are to these weapons. It's the only responsible thing to do. That way we can figure out how to defend them, right? You can see how these guys make the argument to themselves. Yeah, that's not my argument. That is a rationalization that every bad person in the history of the species has made because every, every serial killer thought they were like cleaning up the streets of, because, you know, they target sex workers. And it's like, well, I'm cleaning up the streets of what these women are befowing our men or whatever. Like they've all got this rationalization. I guess not Jeffrey Dahmer. He was trying to create a sex zombie, but a lot of them in their minds, they have this thing. It's like, well, I'm just, I'm doing to them what they would do to me if they had the chance. Yeah, you do get with the CIA and with serial killers. Some of these guys are just at like monsters, right? You do get sometimes people who just like to cause harm or have this whatever going on in their head. But like most people and most of the people who are involved in horrible acts of evil, like infecting an entire city with bacteria to see what happens, in order to do that, have to convince themselves there's a good reason, right? Like nobody wants to feel like a monster. Yeah. There's a monster around the corner that's bigger than the monster behind being. So the only thing that can fight that monster is a monster. And again, the monster you're fighting, there's a real good chance that that monster acts like that because it is terrified of you, because the amount of paranoia in the Soviet Union about what the United States was doing was just just as well. We will be chatting about the Soviet Union in a little bit and what they are actually doing because that's a fun story too. But so operations, C spray, obviously you and I can say, oh, it's pretty fucked up that they did that. The CIA and the US Army consider this a massive win, right? This works out perfectly as far as they're concerned. They have determined how vulnerable cities are. They understand a lot more about how they could potentially defend against a biological attack. From their perspective, this works great. Now, the CIA is kind of doing a back seat role in C spray. They help with the implementation. But most of this is the US Army because the CIA is a clandestined agency, right? So it's interested in this stuff, but it's never going to be deploying full-scale military tax using chemical weapons. That's the kind of thing the Army will do. The CIA is much more interested and kind of more precise stuff than that. And in 1950, the director of the CIA, who at that point is a guy named Roscoe Hillenketter, decides that the agency needs its own dedicated team working on mind control technology. The agency launches Project Bluebird, which the intercept describes as a quote, mind control program that tested drugs on American citizens, most in federal penitentiaries or on military bases. And it is interesting that in the eyes of all of the people like doing all of this shit, US soldiers and convicted felons in federal prison are the same, right? You don't have to care about any of them. You can do whatever to those people. So that's cool. There's nothing deeper and dark there. Now, near the end of 1950, the CIA gets a new director, kind of right after this program starts, a guy named General Walter Smith. And Walter Smith is the guy who brings our old buddy, Alan Dolis, onto the team. Now, we've done a couple of episodes about Alan and his brother, John Foster. But in brief, Alan is a big fan of Carl Jung. And so he's a big fan of like this kind of esoteric psychology and psychiatry theory that sort of floating around at the time. And a lot of this is getting mixed in with early research in psychedelics because this is the period in which scientists are first kind of starting to study psychedelics. And Alan kind of becomes convinced that there are untapped scientific potential for manipulating minds in different hallucinogenic drugs. In the early 1950s, the United States espionage effort in this USSR suffered a number of well-publicized setbacks. And the CIA, the reveal of several prominent double agents, revives these fears that had started when that cardinal kind of came out of Soviet mind control. Those fears turn into panic in 1952, in an incident described by the intercept. Quote, in Korea, captured American pilots admitted on national radio that they'd sprayed the Korean countryside with illegal biological weapons. It was a confession so beyond the pale that the CIA blamed communists. The POWs must have been brainwashed. The word, a literal translation of the Chinese Zinau, didn't appear in English before 1950. It articulated a set of fears that had coalesced in post-war America that a new class of chemicals could rewire and automate the human mind. So a couple of things here. Number one, we don't know if the US used chemical, or used biological weapons in the Korean War. The United States says that we did not. These guys, the specific confessions these pilots are making sound kind of silly. They're talking about like bombs that have like compartments with like snakes and stuff in them. That it just kind of sounds like the stuff that you might say if you've been tortured. But the United States uses a shitload of illegal chemical weapons in Vietnam. So it's not impossible that we were in fact using something. We'll never really know because it's, you know, war crimes and such. There's much a spectacular leap in logic that's being made here as the thing. Yeah, that whatever they're saying, they're saying because they've been brainwashed and not just hit a bunch. Yeah, and brainwashed in some way that is unheard of. Like it's new. Around the land, they were coerced or they were tricked or they thought they did drop. It's the same thing when recently. They were dropping. Last year, they came out, it's like, well, you know, they've got actual Air Force pilots, fighter pilots saying they saw UFOs. It's like, yeah, and they're also they're full of crap. They probably did think they saw that, but they were wrong. They're not experts at the highest levels. It's like, well, this thing moved in a way that no craft can move. It's like, well, I know you have some expertise as a pilot, but you're also just a guy. So these guys may have thought they were dropping chemicals or they may have been dropping some sort of defoliant or something that they thought was, I don't know, or could they could have been a rumor that they heard somebody else was dropping it. It's always this stuff about like people's minds just aren't, this is the thing nobody actually likes to think about. Like our brains aren't very good at knowing what's happening in the world. Like it is very easy to trick us. It is very easy for people to like convince themselves of things. It's very easy. All sorts of things. Like, if you're a fucking pilot, right, you're taking in more oxygen than normal because of like the way in which you have to like have a O2 flooded into you so that you can survive at that kind of altitude. All sorts of stuff about flying is mind altering, including G forces. Like, yeah, who knows what's going on in their fucking heads. And soldiers. You know what these guys are. Yeah, soldiers also full of shit. Embellish their war stories. This is like I would probably do it too. It's a thing that's a part of the culture. Yeah. Yeah. So much of this mania is stoked by an American journalist named Edward Hunter. And Hunter is not just a guy writing, he's the guy who like he writes an article for the Miami news that is the first time the word brainwashing is used in English. Like Edward Hunter brings that term when he's talking about these pilots to the United States. So he's like a working journalist. He's also a contractor for the CIA Office of Policy Coordination and a rabid anti communist. So when he introduces this stuff to the United States, he's not doing it just because he believes it to be true. He is a guy working for the CIA who sees this in like the best interest of the agency. And Kinzer writes like a longer article for a newspaper called The New Leader, which is also funded by the CIA. The CIA is funding a shitload of newspapers at this time, including a lot of left wing ones. And then he winds up writing a book because the panicky ignites this so such a big deal called brainwashing in red China. And in this book, he tells Americans they need to prepare for quote, psychological warfare on a scale in calculations more immense than any militarist of the past has ever imagined. He becomes like, because you know, once you, once you're the first guy to write about a thing that like freaks Americans out, then you get to be the expert on it and all of like the big time entertainment media people will start having you on their shows over and over again, which helps you sell your books and brings in more money. And that's what Hunter winds up being for brainwashing, right? And the thing you cannot do at this point is go back on it. Oh god, that is your brand, like the only thing you can do is double down forever. Yeah, that's your fucking meal ticket. So this works well enough that the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities brings him up. He tells them that the reds have specialists available on their brainwashing panels. He tells them they are preparing psychic attacks to subjugate quote the people and the soil and the resources of the United States. And we'll use this psychic power to quote turn Americans into subjects of a new world order for the benefit of a mad little knot of despots in the Kremlin. Now, pulled, pulled that all right. Yeah, completely. Well, most of that completely out of his ass as we're going to talk about the Soviets are trying some weird psychic shit. Obviously, it doesn't work, but yeah, we'll get to that in a little bit. So project Bluebird and Edwin Hunters or Mr. Hunters like Bolsheet leads to the creation. Basically, the kind of panic over this brings more money into the CIA and more money behind project Bluebird. And one of the major things that the CIA uses with this new funding is they start creating the very first of what are what come to be called black sites, right? These are secret illegal prisons where prisoners can be tortured. And these prisoners are generally people either spies, Russian spies who are arrested or just people the CIA says are probably Russian spies. There's no due process here, right? So a lot of times they're just like taking people. And they've got these people. They can't ever let them out. They're going to kill all of them. And so what they see is what we have X,000 number of people all around the world. We can do it if we want to them. You guys need to test drugs on people. Here's where you do it. Now, Jason, that's a pretty fucked up thing to do. And you're not going to find a whole lot of people who are capable of running a black site prison that tortures people to death with hallucinogens. But thankfully, the CIA had an old bench of guys who were ready to help them. And those guys were Nazis. So they hire General Walter Schreiber. And Schreiber is not a, again, he's a general. He had been the surgeon general of the third Reich, where he had masterminded experiments and multiple concentration in death camps, including one where death camp inmates were infected with gangrene and cut open so the progress of the disease on their bones could be watched. Now, Schreiber had been arrested by the Soviets for obvious reasons. And he had been briefly imprisoned, but they had eventually agreed probably in their own kind of project paper clip thing to let him become a professor in East Berlin. But he escapes. He gets away to the other, the American side of Berlin and winds up in the army's hands. And when the US Army confirms, oh, we've got the third Reich's former surgeon general, rather than be like, well, this guy should probably go to prison, right? You know, maybe we should, maybe we should deal with this man. They sent him to one of the CIA's project Bluebird black sites because they're like, well, this guy is great at the job that we're already starting to do. I think that's a great example of where the American said, look, the Soviets tried to cancel this guy because of his views. And we don't believe in that. It's like, it's like, you should have a chance to redeem yourself by doing the exact same thing for us. Yeah, it's like Louis CK getting to tour again, right? That's where Walter Schreiber is. He has his little, he gets canceled by the woke mob for running some death camps. But now he's back at Madison Square Garden, which is a CIA black site on the outskirts of West Berlin. So he helps them set up a bunch of secret black sites all across Western Europe where CIA agents can torture without being observed. And I'm going to quote from Poisoner and Chief here, this set of precedent that marked a breakthrough for the CIA by opening prisons, the agency established its right not only to detain and imprison people in other countries, but to interrogate them harshly while they were in custody without regard for US law. So successful was this network of prisons in West Germany that the CIA duplicated it in Japan. Their Bluebird interrogation teams injected captured North Korean soldiers with drugs, including sodium ameltal, a depressant that can have hypnotic effects, and with three potent stimulants, Bidsadrine, which affects the central nervous system, Coramine, which acts on the lungs, and Picrotoxin, a convulsant that can cause seizures and respiratory paralysis. While they were in the weakened state of transition between the effects of depressants and stimulants, CIA experimenters subjected them to hypnosis, electro shock, and debilitating heat. Their goal, according to one report, was to quote, induce violent cathartic reactions, alternatively putting subjects to sleep, then waking them up until they were sufficiently confused to be coerced into reliving an experience from their past. Now, I don't think that's very ethical behavior, but you know what is ethical, Jason? Is this a transition to an ad break? Yeah, this is a transition to an ad break, Jason, because the sponsors of this podcast, will they give you Bidsadrine? Yes, but you're going to know that you're getting pure speed if you buy Bidsadrine from them. You know, they're not going to dos you like you're some North Korean war captive. So enjoy Bidsadrine. And now a word from our sponsor, Better Help. Mental health problems are obviously really tough, and it can get easy to just sort of set yourself in the mindset that if things are bad, they're going to stay that way. But that's not the way it has to be. A therapist can help you become a better problem solver, which can make it easier to accomplish your mental health goals, no matter how big or small. If you're looking at getting into therapy, Better Help is a great option. They offer online counseling that's efficient and affordable and is available to people, kind of no matter what you want to do. 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Open Door is represented by Open Door Brookridge Inc. license 0206-113-0 in California, and Open Door Brookridge LLC in its other markets. Let me guess. Unknown caller. You could reduce the number of unwanted calls and emails with online privacy protection. The latest innovation from Discover will help regularly remove your personal info, like your name and address, from 10 popular people search websites that could sell your data. And we'll do it for free. Activate in the Discover app. See terms and learn more at slash online privacy protection. We're back. What a good time. We're talking about project Bluebird. Now, very briefly, let me interject. We both realized that rubber is skipping across incidents that each one could be its own book. Each one is like a story. The work right. A prison they ran for a long period of time in the things that went there. And he has to briefly summarize it because that's all just the part of it's just one block in the tower of the Mk Ultra. They're just getting started here. This was a lot. We are doing our best to do it justice. But this is a sprawling thing that went on for how long? This is like close to 20 years. We're talking about it. We're simultaneously going very long and also hopping from horror to horror almost too quickly to fully absorb it. Yeah, to really let this stuff hit. And it's like they don't find anything like project Bluebird. They don't find a truth serum. They have what they think are like intriguing results, but they don't find ways to actually force people to give up useful information. None of this works well, but they all remain convinced that it's building to something. And the project Bluebird experiments eventually split off into project artichoke, which is like an even more well-funded and elaborate program to attempt to find a perfect truth serum. One of the guys in charge of project artichoke is Morse Allen. He's a CIA agent who is obsessed with mind control and he's pretty good friends with Alan Dolos. In 1950, he had advocated for the creation of a quote, electro-sleep machine that could force people into a trance. It was basically like shocking people into like a half-sleep trance so that you could wipe out their memories. No one knew if this would be possible, but this was like the only thing Morse Allen wanted to see in the world. In 1952, he was part of a three-man team that traveled to Villa Schuster and West Germany to test quote, dangerous combinations of drugs such as benzidrine and penththal, natrium, on Russian captives, under a research protocol that specified disposal of the body is not a problem. Because again, we don't know how many people they're testing this on. We don't know how many people they're killing, but one thing the CIA, one of the things that they're saying about these black sites is, don't worry, all of these people we're testing on are going to die and it's not a problem. We'll figure out how to get rid of them for you. Now, incidentally, if you watch movies, thrillers, even cartoons from the 50, 60, 70s, a lot of this stuff like hypnosis machines, these are tropes in those movies from that era. I don't think people realized that was based on this. It was based on what came out in the government's actual attempts to make these things. Yeah. There was a, and these again, one of the things you have to keep in your head while you're reading about all this, there were a shitload of highly trained people with like doctorates and millions of dollars in funding behind them who truly believed mine control poisons were a real thing. That this was a thing that they were going to figure out how to do. They would not have put all of this work into it if they didn't think they could really do it. Now, obviously, all of the experiments they're doing, this is a direct violation of what's called the Nuremberg Code, which required that voluntary well-informed consent in a legal capacity is a necessary prerequisite for experimental patients, right? You cannot, as a result of how bad like all of the horrible experiments the Nazis do in concentration camps, we make, we like the international community writes out a thing being like, this is something you cannot do. And we, after we write the Nuremberg Code, we use it to convict and execute seven Nazi scientists, but we never incorporated into US law, right? It's never actually illegal for the United States to violate the Nuremberg Code. We prosecute and kill people under it. But we're also like, well, why would we, we're not going to handicap ourselves by signing on to that shit. That's not a good idea. Yeah, because the Russians are probably breaking it. Sure, of course. Yeah. So we've got it too. Which, yeah, anyway, it's cool how all of that works. It may have part of their willingness to break the Nuremberg law, it may have been all of the Nazis that they hired. You do have to keep that in mind too, which is also a thing that's being done on both sides. But yeah, internally, the need to replicate Nazi war crimes using Nazi scientists was always justified by the incredible danger of Russian mind control and brainwashing technology, which the CIA believed was advancing at a rapid rate. In a speech at Princeton University in early 1953, Alan Dolas warned that communist spies were everywhere and so well trained and equipped that they could turn an American mind into quote, a phonograph playing a disc put on its spindle by an outside genius. That's, that's, that's, that's Alan Dolas. There's a bit of projection there because they themselves would love of course they will or a chemical or a practice or a protocol that would allow them to do that with other human beings to just wind them up and make them say the words come out of this guy's mouth, this politician, this Central American politician, whatever. We dose him with this, this injection and he says whatever we tell him to say and we just control him like a puppet. So the fear of the bad guys having that technology is a little bit of them revealing their own wishes there. Yeah, and it's, it's, it's kind of an open question as to how much of Alan Dolas believes everything that he's saying that the Soviets are actually at advanced and how much of it is that well, this is just something I want and the way to get it is to claim that the Soviets are making it. And for those of you who are new to the show relatively new, I was on the episode on the Dolas brothers. We did two part two part two part three part I think it's a three part. There was quite a lot to say about those cool dudes, but there's two those two men the point of that episode and why I wanted to be on are two of the most influential people in the history of the modern world and most people don't if you know their names, you only know it in passing like you briefly heard it in history class or whatever. The Dolas brothers were a couple of the architects of the world as it exists today. Like this is just one piece of it. Yeah, and and everything Alan is doing here because Alan is not on on the ground guy for MK Ultra. He's not like signing off on specific programs. He's not really even signing off on specific torture prisons. He's just kind of generally saying keep working on this. I'll make sure you keep getting money. Keep working on this and then every now and then he'll read like a paper because again, he's like he's like the he's he's the he's not the he's not the execution man, right? He's the idea guy, you know, he's the he's the big picture sort of fellow. And so when we talk about the question of like does he believe the Soviets are on the verge of all this? I think one thing that's useful to ask is like what were the Soviets doing at the same time? Like what actual mind control research does the Soviet Union involve and is there any way in which it could justify all of the horror the CIA does? Now it's true that the Soviet Union had experimented with mind control. It's possible they put more than a billion dollars into the research, although that is hard to say accurately. But you know, the CIA as we've started talking about and we'll be talking about is obsessively focused on chemicals, right? The CIA believes there is a specific physical drug that if we figure out how to dose it right or we figure out how to administer it right, it will allow us to brainwash and reprogram human beings. The Soviets don't really spend much time on this kind of thing. Instead they focus on what we might be comparatively called cheerful nonsense. A common belief early in the Soviet Union is that and this is stuff that starts out in like 1919. Soviet scientists, a number of them think that there's there's this idea that thoughts are like a physical thing, right? Like thoughts are a kind of like there's like electrical waves and stuff and this is true in your brain. And so kind of from that there's this idea that since thoughts are something physical that can be detected and monitored, they can probably be altered too, right? And maybe you can change the way people think by changing the waves in their brain. And they kind of take from this that like well, there's probably like people who can tap into those waves and alter thoughts. And this kind of leads the Soviet Union to put a shitload of money into psychic research. Now the earliest like examples of this are animal research, which were can like so there's an animal research program conducted in the earliest years of the USSR by a guy named Vladimir Durov and Durov claims that he's figured out how to carry out, he's carry out successful tests of telepathy on animals, right? Durov claims I figured out how to manipulate the minds of animals. Now Jason, you want to guess what Durov's job prior to being a Soviet psychic scientist was? Work in a circus. Yeah, he's a circus clown. Yeah, so circus clown, Vladimir Durov becomes the kind of the center of the early Soviet mind control experiments. Wait, did he really work in a circus? No, he's a circus clown, Jason. Oh, I thought you actually knew were you just guessing? I was guessing because I was like a Soviet circus and a guy. No, I thought he's like an animal like an elephant trainer guy and he thought, hey, I've mastered, I'm the tiger whisperer. Look, he is a circuit. Now I think he's the kind of circus clown who is working with animals, right? Because like like rodeo clowns, a big part of their job is distracting animals. But he's a clown. Like that's his literal, his actual CV is circus clown. And the reason I came to mind is because like the Tiger King guy, like anybody who thinks they can talk to animals, if you people seem the Tiger King documentary, Tiger people are all nuts. Yeah, they're great. They're lunatics, dangerous people. There's a specific type of crazy that comes with working with big dangerous animals. And anybody who goes out and like they start to market themselves as I can control animals, like I can talk to them or that guy that got eaten by the bears because he thought he could communicate with the bears. Great. It's like a specific personality type that I don't fully understand it. But there's something that drives people a little bit nuts. And so I can just imagine this guy marching into an office and a whole new story. I've mastered the ability to with my mind, with the power of my mind to control the squirrels, all the manner of animals. And that is pretty much what happens. I'm going to quote from the LA Review of Books here. In 1919 during a conference hosted by the Institute on Brain Research of Brain Research on mental influence on the behavior of animals, the neurologist and psychiatrist Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekterev presented Durov's dubious research to his colleagues and subsequently conducted similar experiments on human beings. Their results, which were never replicated, led Bekterev to think that the mental effect of one individual on another is possible at a distance through some kind of living matter, most likely through herdswaves. Bekterev's wave theory was further corroborated by a third man of science, an electrical engineer named Bernard Kaczynski. Kaczynski claimed that the transmission of mental information at a distance is the same electromagnetic as an ordinary radio communication, just thus giving telepathy a supposedly dependable scientific foundation. And you can get why people could fall for elements of this. Radio is pretty new at the time. If you're able to send waves that include people's voices around the world, and that's a thing that when you were born, people couldn't do. Why, it's not that crazy to think like, well, there's probably some way to do that with thoughts, right? That's not an inherently unreasonable thing to try, you know? So it is important like as silly as this is, and as funny as it is, that the starts with the circus clown, it's not unreasonable that you would want to like see, do thoughts work like radio waves? Is there some way to like intercept and change thoughts as they fly through the air? Is that a thing that people can do? And of course, it's not. If you are interested in the history of Soviet pseudo-scientific mind control, I can recommend the book, Homosovieticus, by Vladimir Wilminsky. But the short of it is nothing they do works. Like it does not work at all. What we know though makes it all sound decidedly. It's not the same as what the CIA is doing, because as far as I can tell, for all of the different messed up things the Soviet unions do, does. They don't have a program where they are like injecting poison into random people in order to see if it will let them control their minds. And I think part of what makes this evident like the relative banality of their mind control research is the primary real world application of Soviet telepathy research. On October 8, 1989, after the Soviet pull out from Afghanistan and just a month before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Soviet Channel 1 played video of a licensed physician who had previously been a hypnotist for the Olympic weightlifting team. He led viewers of Soviet TV through what was effectively a series of meditations, telling them to drink water and trying to get them to feel better about the government. His stated goal was to quote, calm a land beset by turbulence and heal the body politic. You may recognize from your Soviet history that this does not work out. So however, and we don't, you know, we have less access on some of the details of this program than we do about the CIA's MK Ultra, although not a tremendous amount less. But it is probably worth saying that the C, that the KGB's mind control program is not as extensive or as nightmarish as the CIA's. And part because it's just kind of based on a fundamentally sillier thing, right? Like they're trying to do psychic stuff and that's just a little bit less scary than trying to drug people. But I think there's a thing where whatever the spies or who whatever they were bringing back to them, we have this thing in the USA and maybe just the way it has to be in like intelligent circles where you almost portray the enemy as like bond villains. Like you assume that they're so far ahead of the curve in terms of what they can do or what they're capable of, you know, or you'll get headlines about China's latest direct energy weapon or whatever. And the truth is none of these countries can spend even a fraction of what we can on stuff like this. And we saw so much of this during the war on terror, like the fear of a dirty bomb. Like that was all you heard about for a while. And until finally somebody came out and said, look, if they're a dirty bomb, the damage would be done by the initial explosion. And that's pretty much it. Like packing a bunch of low grade radioactive material into a box and putting some C-force. Like that's just not much of anything. But it doesn't matter because it's like we just assume that terrorists can easily get hold of nuclear material. We just assume they can easily get hold of nerve gas. It's like actually no. It's what we always attribute way more abilities to them than what they actually have. And during the Cold War and at the height of the Cold War, this was at truly crazy levels with the Soviet Union. Like the way we talked up the capability of everything from their tanks to whatever secret stuff they were working on, space-based weapons, whatever. It was always any rumor like, well, if it came from your own government, you would laugh it off. Like, well, we've got a team of psychics who can mind control you from the other side of the planet. We're like, okay, but no, when it's a Russian doing it, it's like, oh my gosh. And in our team of psychics, to come to the end of like how deeply some of that belief managed to last. In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security signs a contract and pays for Soviet psychoalcology research to create a psychic criminal detection system to fight terrorism. So we actually get tricked by this stuff like 30 years after or 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. It's pretty funny. And we've dismissed the idea of these energy weapons, but of course the weapon that caused to Vanna Syndrome. Very real. The absolutely real weapon. That's why the Russians are winning so easily in Ukraine because they have this mind beam that can debilitate you from with this invisible energy. Yes, that's that I mean, I think everyone listening is aware of sweeping Russian successes in Ukraine due to their their laser energy technology. But yeah, so you know, that's what the Soviet Union is actually working on. They do not have a mind control serum. They're not really working on a mind control serum. They are paying people to sit in rooms and like try to talk to dogs with their brains. Meanwhile, the CIA is being kind of steadily driven in Domania by a steady drip of disinformation about communist brainwashing. And they decide they've got to bring in a scientist to help really take like clean up some of these programs they're working on and allow them to actually close the mind control gap with the Soviet Union. And they settle on a young man named Sydney Gottlieb. You're going to hear this name a lot. He is all over this motherfucker. So Sydney was born on August 3rd, 1918 in New York, New York, to Hungarian Jewish immigrants. He came into the world with a club foot so severe that he couldn't walk for the first years of his life. His mom had to carry him everywhere for most of his childhood until he was able to finish a series of three brutal operations. Sydney took his first steps without leg braces at age 12. He would go on to be a gifted folk dancer and to live an extremely active life. And his story would be more satisfying if not for how his parents afforded the operation that gave him his legs. The Gottlieb family owned sweatshops in the garment industry, which are some of the worst of the sweatshop family. We don't have a lot of detail about his family sweatshop, but it is not a nice place. And as a young man, Gottlieb joins a campus chapter of the young people socialist league because he's so disgusted by his dad's sweatshop. So like this part's not really his fault, but that's always fun when sweatshop monies would pay for your child's surgery. Now for his own part, Gottlieb struggled with a stutter, which he only corrected later in life. He rose above these challenges though and he was a really good student. He graduates, he enrolls in New York City College. She does well there. But Sydney decides that he wants to pursue a career in agricultural biology, which eventually leads him out of the city for the first time at Arkansas Tech. Despite his strictly urban roots, he fits in well there and he's described by his classmates as quote, a Yankee who pleases the southerners. In general, across the decades of his life and career, basically everyone who meets this guy agrees that he's a very pleasant man. Sydney's kind of a hippie, right? He is a back to the land dude. He likes farming. He likes taking care of his goats. He likes folk dancing. Like he's a in everything but his job for the CIA, like a sweet kind of hippie dude. So he eventually gets his doctorate in biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology. He marries the daughter of a preacher named Margaret Moore. She'd been raised in India as a missionary but had discarded dogmatic faith in her religion for kind of a more agnostic pan spiritual sort of thing. And Sydney's in a similar position. He's proud of his Jewish heritage, but he's not really a practicing Jew. And both of them are seekers, right? Like they're kind of interested in Eastern religion. They're interested. They don't like give up entirely the religions they're raised with, but they're they have. And this is pretty common at the time. And now like they have this kind of syncretic attitude towards towards all of this stuff. And Sydney's going to always be a very curious, open-minded guy when it comes to this sort of thing. At first, Sydney's seeking leads him to work for the FDA where he tests drugs in a boring safe and legal way. Next, he does some plant research for the National Research Council. And along the way, he and Margaret like buy an unpowered cabin near Vienna, Virginia. And they start a goat farm, which is where they raise their children and are going to live most of their lives in this kind of like off-grid goat farming community. In addition to his interests in religion and dance, and Gottlieb starts to become fascinated with early reports of psychedelic research. In the summer of 1951, Alan Dolas makes the decision to hire Gottlieb to help with project artichoke. Now during World War II, Sydney had been unable to serve because his foots all hurt. And this, he kind of had this, at least his biographer makes the argument that like this is part of why he decides to join the CIA is that he had this desire to serve his country that he hadn't been able to actually do during the war. And Alan kind of, Alan is a pretty good at manipulating. Alan sees this in Sydney. And part of the pitch he makes to Gottlieb is like, hey, you know, you missed out on fighting for your country back during that war, but we're in another crisis point here, right? This secret war we're fighting with the Soviets is just as important as anything that happened in World War II. And now we do have a place for you. So this is your chance to serve your country. Dolas, in part of why he may have been so good at kind of manipulating Sydney is Dolas had been born with a club foot too. They both kind of had that thing in common, weirdly enough, which is not a super common thing. And maybe that's a little bit of how Dolas kind of is able to get inside Sydney's head. But he seems to be pretty good at understanding Gottlieb. It also may have helped the two men understand each other. Sydney is almost immediately made chief of the new CIA chemical division. And he's given a free hand in budget to explore the concept of a truth serum. One of the first tests conducted under Gottlieb's command is a series of chemical tortures at a black site in the Panama Canal Zone, on a Bulgarian politician named Demetri Demetrov. He'd given info to the CIA in the past, but then his handlers had become convinced that he was about to start working with the French. So they had kidnapped him, let the Greeks torture him for six months and then send him to his secret prison in Panama. So this was their guy. They don't even think that he's going over to the Soviets. They think he's working with their allies, but they still send him over to get tortured in Greece. And then he winds up in Panama where Sydney Gottlieb is asked like, hey, help us figure out how to like chemically torture this guy so he'll give up information on who had hired him. In early 1952, a CIA agent in Panama wrote that because of his confinement, Demetrov, quote, has become very hostile to the United States and our intelligence operations in particular. This was seen as a perfect chance to try the new artichoke techniques. The CIA under Gottlieb works on Kelly for three years. And whatever they did to him, we've destroyed the record. But this guy, Demetrov, Kelly is kind of the nickname they have for him in the in the files. He survives and he does try to go to the media and talk about the fact that he's been in a CIA secret prison being tortured. And so like the news media sees this Bulgarian politician saying that he's been in a CIA black site for years and they're like, they call the CIA and are like, is this guy legit? And the CIA says, oh no, of course not. And so nobody covers this guy's life story. And as evidence, all of the records are gone. We haven't we have records if we have done that. Instead, all we have is this barrel full of ashes. It's also worth noting that it is later proven. He had never been planning to go to the French. They were entirely, they just like, they just destroyed this man's life who had been working for them for absolutely no reason. And that's going to become a really common story for the CIA under Gottlieb. But Jason, that's all we got time for today. Yes, as we barely got started, we have arrived at the beginning of MK Ultra. Yeah, yeah, we are almost at the beginning of MK Ultra. And this and this could have been much, much more just getting to this point. There's yeah, it's a lot. It was a whole thing. Because it starts in the 1940s, but when everybody thinks of MK Ultra, they're not thinking of 1943. They're thinking of the stuff that happened going forward. We probably could have done a two-parter just on like the Army's chemical weapons experiments and so on. Biological weapons experiments in World War II and shit like it is, there's so much going on here. But I think this gives people good context as to what's happening. Jason, you want to give them context as to how they can buy your book anywhere anywhere. This sells books assigned from like grocery stores and stuff. Again, the title is, if this book exists, you're in the wrong universe. If you want to keep up with me, my name is Jason Pargin, P-A-R-G-I-N, type that into almost any social media platform. And you will find I'm on there, including TikTok. I have become TikTok famous in the last six weeks. I have been watching your TikToks. Very erotic, I have to say. So, yeah, by the way, as we sit here and talk about how foolish it is, so you can mind control someone. The fact that I set for four straight hours scrolling through TikToks, that's how I use my total freedom of mind. The idea that you could be brainwashed by some sort of advanced technology is ludicrous. It is funny that so much of what these CIA was trying to do, a number of people have figured out and states have figured out how to basically do by just like fucking with people on social media. That's good. That's a good side. Yeah, and I'll talk about the, well, someday they'll have advanced techniques to make deep fakes. And they can have like a fake Barack Obama confess to somebody. It's like, you realize just putting that on an extremely blurry JPEG with like comic sands like that will spread around Facebook in 20 minutes with no source or deep fakery or anything just. Yeah, I have long been of the opinion that like, nah, deep fakes aren't going to be what destroys us. Like we're already well past that being that I'm worried about. It's not required. It does not have to be that sophisticated. No, anyway. But your book is very sophisticated. People should check it out. And I have a book too. It's called After the Revolution. You can also find it wherever books are sold. This has been Behind the Bastards part one of the MK Ultra series. We got three more coming for you. So it's strapping and take a shitload acid. Take enough acid that you're just high for the next 14 days. That's probably a good idea. Behind the Bastards is a production of Cool Zone Media. For more from Cool Zone Media, visit our website or check us out on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.