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Journalist and author Stephen Kinzer exposes the dark era of the CIA’s Project MK-Ultra, which conducted human experiments with LSD and other drugs.Kinzer is a NY Times veteran and now a columnist at The Boston Globe. He tells us that his research for his tenth book scared him: Poisoner in Chief–Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control.
Kinzer opens by noting that Gottlieb was the CIA’s top chemist, who created poisons intended to kill Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, and captured pilots of U-2 spy planes. Gottlieb had great autonomy and a license to kill, and was put in charge of the agency’s research into drugs and biological weapons, including MK-Ultra. Under President Eisenhower and CIA Director Allen Dulles, the agency staged coups in Iran and Guatemala and routinely broke US law in its secret research, which was aided by top Nazi scientists who were protected from justice in Nuremberg.
Kinzer’s book adds new details and a larger context to the 1953 death of CIA scientist Frank Olson, whose 1953 death “by suicide” is now widely believed to be a CIA hit after Olson questioned his role in torture experiments and other black ops–and after Gottlieb secretly dosed him with LSD. Kinzer reveals that Boston mobster White Bulger was a subject in prison experiments with LSD, and was fed constant doses for 15 months. We also talk about the safe houses in the San Francisco area, and how Ken Kesey got his acid at the Veterans hospital in Menlo Park.
It’s a fascinating look at the covert operations of the Cold War, and Kinzer connects Gottlieb’s Kubark manual on torture to the Bush-era torture practices.
Near the end of the interview, Kinzer comments on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s weak foreign policy credentials, media malpractice in the presidential debates, and Trump’s latest effort to pull US troops out of Syria.