Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eric Olson on CIA's "Disposal" Problem: "Casualties Arising from Experiments"

Some words worth considering, coming off news that the U.S. rendition program included extrajudicial killings, and that the U.S. was also involved in illegal experiments on human beings as an integral part of the torture program. In this quote, the son of U.S. government researcher Frank Olson, describes why his father was murdered, and links that death to crimes conducted by the government itself. The death of Olson, as Eric alludes at the very beginning, was the source of two government fables, each calculated to cover-up the truth. (For more on Frank Olson, skip to the end of this post -- bold emphases below are added.)
“Neither version of the story of my father's ‘suicide’— neither the one from 1953 in which he ‘fell or jumped’ out a hotel room window for no reason, nor the 1975 version in which he dives through a closed window in a nine-day delayed LSD flashback while his hapless CIA escort either looks on in dismay or is suddenly awakened by the sound of crashing glass (both versions were peddled) — made any sense. On the other hand both versions deflected attention from the most troubling issue inherent in the conduct of the kind of BW [biological weapons] and mind-control research in which my father and his colleagues were engaged.

“The moral of my father's murder is that a post-Nuremberg world places the experimenters as well as the research subjects (my father was both simultaneously) at risk in a new way, particularly in countries that claim the moral high ground. Maintenance of absolute secrecy in the new ethical context implies that potential whistle blowers can neither be automatically discredited nor brought to trial for treason. Nor can casualties arising from experiments with unacknowledged weapons be publicly displayed. The only remaining option is some form of ‘disposal.’ This places the architects of such experiments in a position more like that of Mafia dons than traditional administrators of military research. The only organizational exit is a horizontal one. In the face of this implication the CIA enforcers of the early 1950's did not flinch, though historians along with the general public have continued to see the state in all its finery.”
This quote is taken from the closing pages of Jonathan Moreno's book Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans, as reproduced at the website for The Olson Project.

The issue of extrajudicial killings of "ghost prisoners" in the U.S. (perhaps we should say, U.S./UK) rendition secret prisons is treated in a fictional, but serious, fashion in the recently released thriller, Inside Out, by novelist Barry Eisler.

For more on the Frank Olson scandal, and on the history of the U.S. and illegal human experiments on interrogation and mind control, see H.P. Albarelli's recent book, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments. Readers may also be interested in an exchange between Albarelli and readers at a Firedoglake Book Salon earlier this year. The author has also written recently on Army testing on biological weapons. See Did the U.S. Army help spread Morgellons and other diseases?

1 comment:

Barry said...

Jeff, thanks for the shout-out. Sad but not surprised to say, I agree with Eric.

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