There’s a new book everybody should read. It’s called Poisoner in Chief, written by Stephen Kinzer, a long-time reporter for the the New York Times, world affairs columnist for the Boston Globe, and a senior fellow for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
You may wonder why a blog dedicated to improving health is recommending a book about Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, head of the MK-Ultra program for the CIA, responsible for creating drugs and techniques to break prisoners, or turn them into untraceable assassins, like the fictional Jason Bourne.
As a science teacher I’m always telling my students to notice patterns in the data. Both the CIA and our current public health system thrive on secrecy. They tell us what to do, and when we question them, they tell us it’s beyond our understanding. We should simply OBEY!
I tell you to read Stephen Kinzer’s fine book, Poisoner in Chief, because it details the horrors human beings are capable of when there is no effective oversight of government programs.
This is the review I posted on Amazon:
Like many people I was vaguely aware of MK-Ultra, but not in any significant way.
That all changed when I read Stephen Kinzer’s magnificent new book. The amount of research Kinzer undertook is truly daunting, and yet he has written a fast-paced account of the founding in 1943 of the army’s Biological Warfare Facilities at Fort Detrick, Maryland and the man put in charge of the program, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb.
When World War II ended, the United States actively recruited former Nazi and Japanese scientists to help them develop biological and chemical weapons, to test on prisoners and unsuspecting members of the public. One of the prisoners given massive doses of the newly created drug, LSD, was Whitey Bulger, who would later go onto become one of the country’s most notorious criminals. The department even ran a brothel in San Francisco on Chestnut Street (not far from where I once lived), that fed its clients LSD, then sought to determine if this made them susceptible to spilling secrets. Big surprise! Men are more open to sharing after they’ve had sex! The drugs they were fed gave inconsistent results. Oh, and the CIA enlisted vice cops from San Francisco to help run the brothel. All in the name of national security.
It also seems clear that the department had little trouble killing its own in extra-judicial fashion if they turned out to be agents of a foreign power, or even in the case of one scientist who started to have moral qualms about their work, Frank Olson, throwing him out the window of a thirteenth floor hotel room in New York City.
All of this took place in an atmosphere of Cold War hysteria and those who took part in these activities seek to use this justification for their work. Yes, how easy it is to commit terrible crimes under the guise of an imminent threat.
And yet, even though Gottlieb presided over this carnival of horrors, and eagerly participated in using the services of his San Francisco bordello, and sleeping with the wives of his colleagues, Kinzer goes to great lengths to present a balanced portrait of the man. After leaving government service and realizing that no effective drug or technique could reliably break a person, or make them into a “Manchurian candidate,” an assassin, ready to kill at a moment’s notice, but who would have no memory of why he did it, Gottlieb truly devoted himself to charitable work.
However, in the 1970s the truth came calling and he was forced to give Congressional testimony as to at least some of what he had done. The wages of sin must have hung heavy on Gottlieb in the final years of his life. His wife fiercely defended him, but his children refused to speak to him. This story bears witness to what darkness lurks in the souls of men when they are given a pressing task at the very edges of science, and no oversight.
The greatest monsters we may face might well be those which hide in every human heart.
Regardless of our political persuasions, there is much to learn about what governments may do when they are allowed to operate in the shadows.
The book is co-authored with Judy Mikovits PhD. It is an indictment of the “Fake Science” we find so prevalent in the US.