The CIA Mission for Mind Control
It all started with a theory and a desire for control… and with access to illegal mind altering drugs, so began project MK Ultra.
During the Cold War, the United States suspected enemy officers of using psychological torture on American prisoners of war. They believed that the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea had found a way to perform mind-control on the POWs. It was also thought that, during the Second World War, Japan and Nazi Germany had unethically experimented on human subjects for the purpose of mind-control.
It was an up-and-coming idea. The United States had not previously conducted research in this way and saw the war around them evolving quickly. They knew they were falling behind.
During this time, Allen Dulles was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. After hearing about the techniques being used on prisoners overseas, he worked with the CIA to come up with a way to counteract enemy advances. With this in mind, a project was created. Dulles approved Project MK-Ultra on an early spring day in 1953, marking April 13th as the starting point of one of the most notoriously dangerous, and secretive, projects in the history of the United States.
For the next two decades, the CIA would search high and low for a method of mind control in the hopes that brainwashing could lead them to victory over the war. They would quietly conduct hundreds of human experiments that would bring about years of physical and psychological damage. Their findings would go on to become the foundation of modern-day torture techniques.
But, before all of this even began, they first needed a leader. Allen Dulles, the CIA director who approved the project, invited Sidney Gottlieb, an American chemist, to join the team. Gottlieb came from a modest background of a Jewish working-class family. He grew up in the Bronx and had been working at the CIA for about two years when Dulles recruited him through a personal invitation.