Brainwashed and ordered to assassinate
by Anthony Montgomery
In 13th century Persia, a secret society known as the Hashishim-Assassins used drugs and mind control to turn ordinary young men into cold-blooded killers.
Richard Condon's 1959 novel, The Manchurian Candidate, which later became a film, used this same theme. It was the story of an American soldier captured in Korea, who, through a joint Soviet-Chinese plot, was taken to a brainwashing center located in Manchuria, and was programmed to be a remote-controlled assassin to kill the president of the United States.
In 1953, then-CIA director Allen Dulles approved a program of experiments in search of a drug that could alter human behavior. This top-secret program, called MKULTRA, also involved the U.S. Army.
Many Communist countries had already developed brainwashing techniques. Their goal was to create the Manchurian candidate -- an agent who would take any order without question.
The United States, unlike Britain, France, Germany and Russia, had no tradition of using subversion and covert activity. But the words of President Herbert Hoover summed up their intentions for clandestine warfare: "It is now clear we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever loss. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable long-standing American concepts of `fair play' must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counter-espionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those used against us."
Using these "more effective methods," the CIA crossed many heretofore long-standing ethical barriers. They experimented with LSD using many people who were totally unaware of what was happening to them. Most of their subjects were from minority ethnic groups, mental patients, prostitutes, drug addicts and prisoners.
Some agents tried LSD on themselves, hoping to gain insight on their behavior. They even experimented without consent or knowledge on many of their own people.
Frank Olson was an agent who was slipped a dose of LSD without his consent. The bad trip drove him crazy, and he jumped out of a New York City hotel room window. For years, the CIA denied it had anything to do with his death.
In 1975, the Rockefeller Commission studying illegal CIA domestic operations implicated the agency, and President Gerald Ford personally apologized to the Olson family. Congress passed a bill to pay $750,000 in compensation to the Olson family.
Seven years after Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Robert Kennedy, a former intelligence officer gave him a psychological stress evaluation and concluded, "Everything in the PSE charts tells me that someone else was involved in the assassination, and that Sirhan was programmed through hypnosis to kill RFK."
One can only wonder if there have been other "Manchurian Candidates" with orders to kill.
Montgomery is a UH graduate and staff member.