Dick Cheney, VP of War and Torture

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Dick Cheney, VP of War and Torture

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IT DIDN’T START WITH ABU GHRAIB DickCheney: VicePresidentfor TortureandWar
Inararedisplayofeditorialcandor,TheWashingtonPostdevoteditsleadeditorial ofOct.26,2005toVicePresidentDickCheney.Underthebannerheadline“Vice President for Torture,” the Post editors wrote: “Vice President Cheney is aggres- sively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of theexecutivebranch:HeisproposingthatCongresslegallyauthorizehumanrights abuses by Americans. ‘Cruel, inhuman and degrading’ treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratifiedbytheUnitedStates.TheStateDepartmentannuallyissuesareportcriticiz- ing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreignprisonersitisholdingabroad.Inotherwords,thevicepresidenthasbecome anopenadvocateoftorture.” AfterreviewingtheevidenceofongoingCIAandmilitarytortureofprisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, resulting in four known deaths, the editorial turned back tothesubjectofVicePresidentCheney:“It’snotsurprisingthatMr.Cheneywould be at the forefront of an attempt to ratify and legalize this shameful record. The vice president has been a prime mover behind the Bush administration’s decision to violate the Geneva conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and to break with decades of past practice by the U.S. military. These decisions at the top have led to hundreds of documented cases of abuse, torture and homicide in IraqandAfghanistan. Mr.Cheney’scounsel,DavidS. Addington,wasreportedly oneoftheprincipalauthorsofalegalmemojustifyingthetortureofsuspects.” The editorial reported on Cheney’s threats to have President Bush veto the defensespendingbill ifCongressincludedlanguagebanningtorture. ButtheU.S. Senate, by a bipartisan, veto-proof vote of 90-9, passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), containing precisely such a ban. “So now,” the editorialconcluded,“Mr.CheneyistryingtopersuademembersofaHouse-Senate conference committee to adopt language that would not just nullify the McCain
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The torture and cover-up team in the Oval Office in April 1975, when Dick Cheney (left) was deputy chief of staff and Donald Rumsfeld (right) was chief of staff for President Gerald Ford (back to camera).
amendment but would formally adopt cruel, inhuman and ButamorecarefulreviewofCheney’spastsuggeststhat degradingtreatmentasalegalinstrumentofU.S.policy.The he went through no such radical personality change. In fact, Senate’s earlier vote suggests that it will not allow such a theveryfirsttimehefoundhimselfinatopWhiteHousepost, betrayal of American values. As for Mr. Cheney: He will be he moved heaven and earth to cover up a long-standing CIA remembered as the vice president who campaigned for program of torture: crimes against humanity, as spelled out atNuremberg;andwhatonecloseobservercalled“ torture.anational ” AndhowdidVicePresidentCheneyrespond?Following securityassassination.” BasedonEIR’ theFederalindictmentandresignationofCheneysinvestigation,DickCheneycomesacross ’s chief of staff and top national security aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, asamanobsessedwithtortureandwarformorethan30years, who has carefully used the power of his offi on Oct.28, forhis rolein thePlamegate leak,Cheney turned ce to trample on aroundandnamedtheverysameDavidAddingtonoftorture- the U.S. Constitution, international law, and the most basic memoinfamyashisnewchiefofstaff.Themessagefromconceptsofhumanity. Cheney could not have been any more blunt. He is the Vice President for war and torture—and he flaunts it. Cheney’s AWhiteHouseCoverup behavior,nowmorethanever,makeshisimmediateremoval On July 11, 1975, then-Deputy White House Chief of from office a precondition for the United States to shed its Staff Dick Cheney penned a memorandum for his boss and sponsor,DonaldRumsfeld,PresidentGeraldFord’ current,unfortunatelywellearned,imageastheworldsChiefof ’slead- ingroguestate. Staff.Thememodealtwith“TheOlsonMatter/CIASuicide,” andwaswritteninresponsetoapressconferencetheprevious day by the wife and three children of a deceased U.S. ArmyItDidn’tStartWith9/11 Some people who have known Dick Cheney for a long chemist,Dr.FrankOlson. timesaytheyareperplexedbyhisopenembraceofperpetual Dr. Olson had died under mysterious circumstances in warandtorture,sincehetookchargeoftheBushAdministra- November 1953. He had plunged from a 13th-floor window tionfromhisVicePresidentialperchinJanuary2001.SomeoftheStatlerHotelinNewYorkCity,at2:30inthemorning say that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 traumatized the man, ofNov.28,whileinthecompanyofaCIAofficer,Dr.Robert and that Cheney went through a marked personality change V. Lashbrook. At the time, his death was ruled a suicide, afterthat.OtherCheneyapologistsdescribehimaslivingon and no thorough autopsy was conducted. The Olson family remainedcluelessaboutthetruecircumstancesofDr.Olson’ borrowedtime,alwaysfacingsuddendeathfromhisseriouss degenerative heart disease, and therefore, a man in a hurry death until June 10, 1975, when the “Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States,” to complete his life chaired by Vice Presi- ’s mission, with no patience for anyone standinginhisway. dentNelsonA.Rockefeller,publiclyreleaseditsreport.
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Thenextday,June11,1975,theWash- ingtonPostpublishedafront-pagestoryby ThomasO’Toole,detailingtheRockefeller Commission findings, and, for the first time,theOlsonfamilygotsomeindication of the actual circumstances of the death of Dr.FrankOlson.Ordidthey? The Rockefeller Commission revela- tions would trigger a 30-year odyssey for then31-year-oldEricOlson,theoldestson of Dr. Olson, a Harvard-trained psycholo- gist,whohassincedevotedmuchofhislife to getting to the bottom of the circum- stancessurroundingthedeathofhisfather. Gradually, over the course of three de- cades, Eric Olson has peeled away more and more of the layers of the cover-story, and now, for the first time, has something approximating a true picture of the events surrounding hisfather’s death morethan a half-centuryago.
TheCheneyMemo ThefirstobstaclethattheOlsonfamily ran up against, after the Rockefeller reve- lations, was Dick Cheney and Donald
The July 11, 1975 memo authored by Cheney to Rumsfeld on the Olson revelations, Rumsfeld. At the time, the Olsons had noshows Cheney ’s commitment to government cover-up 30 years ago (and barely a year ideaofthis.Infact,itwasnotuntilaquarterafter President Nixon ’s resignation for covering up the Watergate crimes). of a century later that the Olsons learned about the existence of a treasure-trove of White House documents on fi Buriedonpage227oftheRockefellerCommissionreport le at the Gerald Ford Presiden- were the following three paragraphs, inserted in a section tial Library, that shed light on what happened in July 1975. describingtheCIABythen,theaccesstothosedocumentshadbeenrestrictedby ’s secret experiments on mind control drugs, in which American citizens were used as guinea pigs, aGeorgeW.BushPresidentialorder,signedearlyinhisfirst sometimeswithouttheirconsent: term. An historian, Kathryn S. Olmsted, who had written “The Commission did learn, however, that on one occa- about the mid-1970s investigations into the CIA and FBI, sion during the early phases of this program (in 1953), LSD made the documents available to Eric Olson in late Spring was administered to an employee of the Department of the 2001. Armywithouthisknowledgewhilehewasattendingameet-OnJuly11,1975,CheneywroteamemotoRumsfeldon ingwithCIApersonnelworkingonthedrugproject. theOlsonrevelations.“Atthispoint,”Cheneywrote,“wedo nothaveenoughinformationtobecertainweknowallofthe“ Prior to receiving the LSD, the subject had participated indiscussionswherethetestingofsuchsubstancesonunsus- details of this incident. Furthermore, there are serious legal pectingsubjectswasagreedtoinprinciple.However,thisquestionsthatwillhavetoberesolvedconcerningtheGovern- individual was not made aware that he had been given LSD ment’sresponsibility,thepossibilityofadditionalcompensa- untilabout90minutesafterithadbeenadministered.Hetion,andthepossibilitythatitmightbenecessarytodisclose developedserioussideeffectsandwassenttoNewYorkwith highly classified national security information in connection a CIA escort for psychiatrictreatment. Several days later, he with any court suit, or legislative hearings on a private bill jumpedfromthethirteenthfloorwindowofhisroomanddied intendedtoprovideadditionalcompensationtothefamily.” asaresult. Attached to the Cheney-to-Rumsfeld memo was a four- “The General Counsel ruled that the death resulted from pageJusticeDepartmentchronologyofeventsleadingtoDr. Olson’s “suicide,” and a proposed one-paragraph statement‘ circumstancesarisingoutofanexperimentundertakeninthe courseofhisofficialdutiesfortheUnitedStatesgovernment,’ for President Ford to deliver at a scheduled press conference thusensuringhissurvivorsofreceivingcertaindeathbene later that day, including an invitation to the Olson family to fits. Reprimands were issued by the Director of Central Intelli- visitthe WhiteHouse toreceivean officialapology fromthe President for Dr. Olson’ gencetotwoCIAemployeesresponsiblefortheincident. s death and the 20 years of govern- ”
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On June 11, 1975, the WashingtonPost was the first paper to cover the Frank Olson “suicide,” 22 years late. The headline “Suicide Revealed” is ironic, in that no name is provided.
mentsilenceonthecase. itishighlyunlikelythatwewouldsubmitrelevantevidenceto The four-page chronology would form the basis of the the court on the issue of his duties. The latter circumstance official coverup of the true circumstances of the death of Dr. may mean as a practical matter we would have no defense FrankOlsonfornearlytwodecades. against the Olson law suit. In this connection, you should Inaseriesoffollow-upWhiteHouseandJusticeDepart- know that the CIA and the Counsel’s of fice both strongly mentmemos,datedJuly16,1975,September1975,andSept.recommendthattheevidenceconcerninghisemploymentnot 30,1975,CheneyandothertopFordAdministrationofficials bereleasedinaciviltrial. “Inshort,” debatedhowtorespondtoOlsonfamilythreatstosuethetheHills-to-Cheney-to-Fordmemoconcluded, FederalGovernmentformillionsofdollars,andtheirdemand “thereis asignificantpossibility thatacourtwould either(a) grant full discovery to the Olsons’ forathoroughpublicairingofthecircumstancessurrounding attorneys to learn of Dr. FrankOlson’sdeath. Olson’s job responsibilities; or (b) rule that as a matter of IntheundatedSeptember1975memofromWhiteHousepublicpolicy,amanwhocommitssuicideasaresultofadrug counsel Roderick Hills through Dick Cheney to President criminallygivenhimcannotasamatteroflawbedetermined tohavedied‘inthecourseofhisofficialduties.’Ford, the author candidly admitted, “The bizarre circum- stances of his death could well cause a court of law to deter- “If there is a trial, it is apparent that the Olsons’ lawyer will seek to explore all of the circumstances of Dr. Olson’ mineasamatterofpublicpolicythathedidnotdieinthes courseofhisofficialduties.Dr.Olson’sjobissosensitivethat employment as well as those concerning his death. It is not
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Frank Olson, who in 1953 paid with his own CourtesyofEricOlsonlife for being a patriot who believed that the It took Eric Olson, Frank’s son, more than 30 years to push United States should through the U.S. government’s obstacles and lies, and learn the not sanction torture truth about his father’s death. and murder.
Committee, under the chairmanship of Rep. Bella Abzug at all clear that we can keep such evidence from becoming (D-N.Y.), held several days of hearings, beginning July 22, relevant even if the government waives the defense of the 1975,atwhichCIAGeneralCounselLawrenceHoustonwas FederalEmployeesCompensationAct.Thus,inthetrialitgrilledaboutaMemorandumofUnderstanding,datedMarch may become apparent that we are concealing evidence for 1, 1954, between the Justice Department and the CIA, ex- national security reasons and any settlement or judgment emptingall CIApersonnel fromcriminal prosecutionfor ac- reachedthereaftercouldbeperceivedasmoneypaidtocover tions they undertook in the national security interest of the uptheactivitiesoftheCIA.UnitedStates. ” JustalittlemorethanayearaftertheresignationofPresi- At one point, Houston was explicitly asked, by Abzug, dentRichardNixonforcoveringupthecrimesofWatergate, if the exemption included the murder of Dr. Frank Olson. topWhiteHouseofficials,includingDickCheney,werecan- Decades later, it would be made clear that Abzug was much didlydiscussingacoverupoftheFrankOlsoncase,closertothetruththansheprobablysuspectedatthetime. “for na- tionalsecurity.” FromtheofficialHousetranscript: Even as memos were flying back and forth between the White House, the CIA, and the Justice Department, shaping Ms.Abzug: Would you please tell me what the decision a damage control and pay-off strategy, President Ford did was which was made with respect to the 1953 LSD-induced hold his Oval Office apology session with the Olson family, suicideofMr.FrankOlsoninNewYork?Wasthereaninter- onJuly21,1975.Twodayslater,theOlsonshadlunchwithnalinvestigationconductedbytheCIA? then-CIA Director William Colby. At the lunch, Colby per- Mr. Houston: There was an internal investigation con- sonally handed over approximately 150 pages of redacted ducted by the CIA at the direction of the then-Director, Mr. CIAdocuments,allpertainingtothedeathofDr.FrankOlson. Dulles. Ms.Abzug: At that time, the Olson family had no idea that Frank Olson Was this matter ever referred to the Depart- had worked for the CIA. They thought he was employed by mentofJustice? Mr. Houston: theU.S.Army,asacivilianchemistatFortDetrick,thehome I do not recall that it was referred to the of the military’s biological and chemical weapons labora- Department of Justice. My only dealings with the case was tories.withtheBureauofEmployeeCompensation. In fact, Olson had worked for the CIA, and was brought Ms.Abzug:ItmayverywellhavebeenaStateoffenseif in on some of the Agency there was foul play. Was it ever referred to the New York ’s most secret efforts to develop “truthdrugs”andbrainwashingtechniquesforinterrogations. PoliceDepartmentorStateauthoritiesforconsideration? Mr.Houston: Thosetopsecretassignmentssetintomotion,stepbystep,NotthatIrecall. the events that led to the Statler Hotel, and Dr. Frank Ms.Abzug: Inotherwords, thismemorandum ofunder- Olsonstanding,inyourjudgment,gaveauthoritytotheCIAtomake ’smurder. decisions, to give immunity to individuals who happened to work for the CIA, for all kinds of crimes, including possibleRobbedandCheated Unbeknownst to theOlson family at the timeof the Ford murder? Mr. Houston: and Colby meetings, the House Government Operations It was not designed to give immunity to
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individuals. It was designed to protect op- erations or information of the Agency, whichwas[sic]highlysensitive. Ms. Abzug: Was that not the effect of the actual interpretation made by the CIA andtheiradvisors? Mr. Houston: It could have that ef- fect,yes. Ms.Abzug:Diditnothavethateffect? Mr.Houston:Incertaincasesitdid.
Dick Cheney continued to be a central player in the White House efforts to bury the Frank Olson story. On Aug. 4, 1975, Roderick Hills wrote another memo to Cheney, warning, “The attorneys for the Olson familyare pushingvery hardfor in- formationandareclaimingalackofcoop- erationwiththeCIAandDOD.Icannotbe certain,ofcourse,butitappearstomethat they have been increasingly belligerent. . . . Accordingly, I believe that sometime in thenext weekor two weshould attempt President Gerald Ford (center) meets with Mrs. Alice Olson and her four children into contact the attorneys with the help of the Oval Office, July 21, 1975, to make a personal apology—in accordance with thethe Attorney General or perhaps through Administration’s cover-up and damage-control strategy. an intermediary (Mitch Rogovin, Special CounseltotheCIA,hasapartneratArnold and Porter who is quite close to the Olson children)toseeifasettlementmightnotbearranged.” ProjectMKULTRA,oneoftheCIA’spsychologicalwarfare research and development projects, to develop “ Threedayslater,onAug.7,1975,MitchellRogovin,Spe-techniques cial Counsel to the Director of the CIA, wrote to Director that wouldcrush the human psycheto the point thatit would admit anything.” Colby, reporting on his attempts to negotiate a settlement Dr. Gottlieb was the person who covertly withOlsonfamilyattorneyDavidKairys.“DavidKairys,the administeredtheLSDtoOlsonatDeepCreekLake. attorneyfortheOlsonfamily,calledthisafternoonsomewhatOnOct.29,1975,CIADirectorColbywrotetoPresident distressed,” Rogovin wrote. “The family has reviewed the Ford,complainingthattheJusticeDepartmentwasbalkingat materials we had made available and appears to believe that a private settlement with the Olson family, on the grounds FrankOlsonwaskilledbytheCIA.Theirtheoryisbottomed that attorneys there believed the government would win a lawsuit.“Underthecircumstances,”Colbywrote,“ ontheassumptionthatFrankOlsonwasasecurityrisk.Kairysthiswould says that the file seems to be more concerned about security notappeartobeinthebestinterestsofthenationortheOlson thanhowOlsonactuallydied.family.Ibelieveingoodconsciencethatthecircumstancesof ” The memo itemized all of the questions raised by the family, after reviewing the CIA thiscaserequireanequitableresponsefromthegovernment.” documents, and noted, ominously: Colby recommended that the family be paid $1,250,000 “Kairys insists that the family wants to know what happened to Frank Olson. To throughaprivatebillintheCongress. facilitatethislackofinformationfromthe Two days after writing the letter to President Ford, Bill files,Kairyswants totakesworndepositionsofCIApeopleaswellasLashbrook, Colby was fired as CIA Director in what came to be known asthe“HalloweenMassacre.” Abramson,andGottlieb.ColbywasreplacedbyGeorge ” “Abramson” referred to Dr. Harold Abramson, an aller- H.W. Bush as CIA Director. As for Dick Cheney, when his gist,whowassecretlyemployedbytheCIAinitsexperiments mentor and boss, Don Rumsfeld, was named as Secretary of on LSD and other mind-altering drugs. Following Frank Defense, he was promoted to White House Chief of Staff, Olson where he would continue to preside over the coverup of the ’s drugging on LSD at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland on Nov. 19, 1953, he was brought by CIA official deathofFrankOlson. LashbrooktoNewYork,forItwouldtaketwomoreyearsforthegovernmenttoreach “psychiatric” treatment by Dr. Abramson—whohadnopsychiatrictrainingordegree. a settlement with the Olson family. When a private bill was finally introduced into the Congress, Rep. John T. Rousselot“ Gottlieb”referredtoDr.SidneyGottlieb,thechiefchem- ist of the CIA’s Technical Services Staff, and the head of (R-Calif.)objected,andinsistedthatthedealberenegotiated.
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One year later, in Autumn 1977, the Olson family agreed to thefirstpersononthescenetotrytosaveFrankOlsonafterhis plunge from room 1018A. Armand Pastore confi accept half the amount rmed what —$750,000—to close this sad and frustratingchapterintheirlives. Olsonalreadysuspected:TheaccountprovidedbyDr.Lash- brookwas“impossible.”Apart from his role in cutting back the Olson family ’s compensationpayment,Rousselotearnedanotherfootnotein PastoretoldOlsonthathisfatherhadstillbeenalivewhen theOlsonsaga.Inacontentiousmeetingwithmembersofthe he rushed out to the front of the Statler Hotel after hearing a Olson family, the Congressman blurted out that the family crash on the sidewalk. He also told Olson something that deepenedEricOlson’ shouldnotexpectanyspecialpaymentsfromthegovernment,ssuspicionthathisfatherhadbeenmur- because “when someone works for the CIA, they know they dered.WithinmomentsofFrankOlson’splungeoutthewin- are taking risks. dow, Dr. Lashbrook had placed a phone call to a number on ” Up until that point, no government official hadbotheredtotelltheOlsonsthatFrankOlsonhad,indeed, LongIsland.ItwasthehomeofDr.Abramson.Aswitchboard beenaCIAagent. operator at the Statler listened in on the brief conversation. Lashbrook said, “He’s gone.” Abramson replied, “That’s toobad.”EricOlson ’sQuestfortheTruth In a Nov. 2, 2005 interview with this author, Eric Olson Pastore added that when he ushered police up to room recalled that he was so frustrated by the events of 1975-77, 1018A, they found Lashbrook seated on the toilet. He had that he spent the better part of the next 14 years living in made no effort to call the police, and had not even rushed Sweden.However,thedistancefromhishometownofFred-downtothesidewalktoseeifOlsonwasdeadoralive. erick, Md., also enabled him to put the pieces in place, and chart out a course of action that would lead him closer and TheNewAutopsy closer to the truth about his father In 1993, Alice Olson died. Eric Olson returned to ’s life and death. In 1984, he returned briefly to Washington and convinced his mother America, at this point resolved that he would devote almost everywakingmomenttogettingtothebottomofhisfather’ andbrother(hissisterhaddiedinatragicplanecrash,alongs with her husband and child, in 1978) to launch their own death.One ofthefirst thingsEricdid, withthesupport ofhis investigationintowhathadreallyhappenedtoFrankOlson.youngerbrother,Nils,wastocontactDr.JamesStarrs,anoted Eric and his mother contacted Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, now re- forensic pathologist at the George Washington University tired from the CIA, and living in Culpeper, Va., and Col. Medical Center. The Olson brothers asked Dr. Starrs, who Vincent Ruwet, Frank Olson’s immediate boss at the U.S. was a friend of the family, to assemble a team to conduct an exhumation and new, thorough autopsy on Frank Olson—Army ’s Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick. They demandedtomeetinpersonwiththetwomen,andwithothers nearly 41 years after his burial. The Olsons hoped that new whohadknowledgeofthedeathofFrankOlson. breakthroughs in forensic pathology might shed light on the Gottlieb agreedto meetwith theOlsons. Ericrecalls that circumstances surrounding their father’sdeath. They proved asheandhismother,Alice,arrivedatthefrontporchofDr.toberight. Gottlieb’shome,theex-CIAscientistgreetedthem:“Iamso Dr. Starrs agreed to assemble a team of experts, to carry relievedyoudidnouttheexhumationandautopsy.OnJune2,1994,thebodyof ’thaveagunandshootmeontheporch.”It wasanunnervingstarttoafrustratingdiscussion. FrankOlsonwasexhumedandbroughttoanearbyuniversity laboratory.Dr.Starr’ TheconversationwithColonelRuwetwasevenmores15-personteamspentmonths,conduct- frustrating, because the retired Army chemist had been one ing laboratory tests and field investigations. They sent out ofFrankOlsoninvestigatorstointerviewDr.Gottlieb,Dr.Lashbrook,Colo- ’s closest and most trusted friends. Ruwet re- fusedtogivethefamilyanyinformation,eventhoughtheCIA nelRuwet,ArmandPastore,andotherswithinformationrele- documentsprovidedtothefamilybackin1975hadclearlyvanttothereopenedforensicprobe.In2005,Dr.Starrswrote identified him as being on the scene for all but the final 72 abook,AVoicefortheDead,recountingtheOlsoninvestiga- hoursofFrankOlsontionandanumberofotherdramaticcasesinwhichhepartici- ’slife. InavisitafewweekslatertoCalifornia,tomeetwiththe pated. Fromtheveryoutset,itwascleartoDr.Starrs’ manwhohadsupposedlybeenasleepinthesameroomwhensteamthat FrankOlsontookhisplungefromthe13thflooroftheStatler there had been a coverup of the circumstances surrounding FrankOlson’ Hotel,acriticalpieceofinformationslippedout.Dr.Robertsdeath.First,backin1953,thefamilyhadbeen Lashbrook nervously admitted that Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, the urged by Olson’s colleagues to bury him in a sealed coffin, because the body was “too gruesome” headofMKULTRA,hadbeeninNewYorkduringtheentire to look at, because of time that Lashbrook and Olson were there, presumably get- injuriesfromtheten-storyfall.Thatwasaflat-outlie.Second, ting psychiatric help from the allergist and CIA LSD experi- it turned out that the New York City Coroner had been, in menter,Dr.Abramson. his own words, “taken in” by Dr. Lashbrook, and had not Before returning to Europe, Eric Olson made one performed a serious autopsy at the time, assuming that there final trip with his mother and brother. They went to Delaware to was no dispute about what had happened. It was, according interviewthenightmanageroftheStatlerHotelwhohadbeen to Lashbrook, an open and shut case of suicide. Dr. Olson
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had jumped through the closed 13th-floor hotel window. Dr. Dominic DiMaio, who later became the Chief Coroner of Manhattan, told Dr. Starrs’s team that he had considered re- opening the Olson case himself after the Rockefeller Com- missionreport.Butheneverfollowedthrough. Throughcomputersimulationsandothernewtechniques, Dr. Starrs’s team recreated the fall, and concluded that Dr. Lashbrook’sclaimthatOlsonhadplungedthroughtheclosed windowcouldnothavebeentrue.Mostimportant,Dr.Starrs foundaseverehematomaaboveFrankOlson’slefteye,which mostlikelycamefromablowfromabluntinstrument.Itwas certainlynottheresultofthefall. OnNov.28,1994,41yearstothedayafterFrankOlson’s death, Dr. Starrs and his team held a press conference at the NationalPressClubinWashington,D.C.toreleasetheirfind- ings. Speaking for the majority of his team members and for himself, Dr. Starrs described the death of Frank Olson as Former CIA Director William Colby was found dead in April “homicidedeft,deliberate,anddiabolical.” 1996, just days after the Olson case was reopened by the Manhattan District Attorney. TheMysteriousDeathofWilliamColby On the strength of the new forensic evidence, the Olson brothers hired attorney Harry Huge to take the Frank Olson on. The vest was subsequently found 20 yards away from casetotheManhattanDistrictAttorney,RobertMorgenthau.wherethecanoewasdiscovered. Huge’s15-pagememo,datedMay12,1995,summarizedthe Medical examiners concluded, without a scintilla of Starrsproof,thatColbyhadsufferedaheartattackorastroke,while findings,anditemizedastringofanomaliesinthecase, which could only be solved through a criminal probe, which canoeing,andhaddrowned.AnintialAssociatedPressstory wouldallowforwitnessesanddocumentstobesubpoenaed.hadclaimedthatColbyhadcalledhiswife,whowastravelling Finally, on April 19, 1996, the District Attorney informed inTexas,andtoldherthathewasnotfeelingwell,“butthathe wasgoingcanoeinganyway.” HugethatagrandjurywouldbeempaneledtoprobeFrankAnangrySallySheltonColby Olson’s death. Two Assistant District Attorneys from the refuted the story in every detail. She had spoken to her hus- ManhattanDAbandshortlybeforeheleftthehouse,buthehadsaidnothing ’s“coldcase”squad,SteveSaraccoandDaniel Bibb, were assigned to reopen the case as a potential ho- about any nocturnal canoeing and had not said he was feel- micide.ingill. Severaldaysintothereopenedinvestigation,Saraccoand The actual circumstances surrounding the death of Wil- liam Colby may never be clarifi BibbsentalettertotheCentralIntelligenceAgency,request- ed. But there is no question ing all CIA documents pertaining to the Olson death, and that his untimely death came shortly after the letter arrived, indicatingthattheywishedtoarrangetointerviewanumberaskingforaninterviewonhisrecollectionsoftheFrankOlson of former Agency officials about the death of Frank Olson. case. A close friend and former Vietnam-era aide to Colby, JohnDeCamp,confi Amongtheex-CIApeoplelistedintherequestwere:Dr.rmedtothisauthorthatColbyhadspoken Sidney Gottlieb, Dr. Robert Lashbrook, and former Director tohimonnumerousoccasionsaboutthemindcontrolexperi- William Colby. The investigators also sought to interview ments of the U.S. government, and had encouraged him to Col.VincentRuwet. pursuehisowninvestigations,firstasaNebraskaStateSena- ThemeetingwithColbynevertookplace.Withinamattertor,andlaterasaprivateattorney. of days, William Colby was dead, the victim of a bizarre Ironically, in 1993, through a mutual friend, Eric Olson canoeing had received a cryptic message from Bill Colby. Colby said “accident” that has left many people, Colby’s wife SallySheltonColbyincluded,perplexed. simplythatifErichadanyquestionsaboutthecircumstances Accordingtonewsaccounts,ontheeveningofApril27,surroundingthedeathofhisfather,heshouldgivehimacall. 1996, William Colby was alone at his home in Rockpoint, Cynical that anyone from the CIA would ever tell him the Md.Heleftthehome,supposedlytotakeaneveningcanoeing truth, Eric Olson had passed up the opportunity, and Colby trip on the nearby Wiconico River. Uncharacteristically, he tookwhatheknewabouttheOlsoncasetohisuntimelygrave. left a partially eaten dinner and a glass of wine on the table, and left his computer running. When his body was found a 1997 week later on May 6, he was not wearing a life vest. Friends Two further dramatic breaks in the Olson saga came in and neighbors later told authoritiesthat Colby was a meticu- 1997. Eric Olson found out that an Irish author, Gordon lousboater,whonevertookouthiscanoewithouthislifevest Thomas, had written a book in 1989 that contained some
EIR November 11, 2005 Feature 11
startlingnewinformationabouttheDeepCreekLakemeeting above-mentionedagencies,specificallytheMossad.Thecir- whereDr.Gottliebhadspikedhisfather cumstances surrounding the death are taught as a case study ’sglassofCointreau with LSD. According to Thomas’s Journey Into Madness— attheMossadTrainingSchooloutsideTelAviv.. . .” Note, parenthetically, that after the Manhattan DA’s of-The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse,thethirdCIAofficialinattendance,alongwithDoctors fice reopened its investigation, one of the Assistant DA’s Gottlieb and Lashbrook, was Richard Helms. At the time, assigned to the case, Steve Saracco, during the course of his Helms was chief of operations for the CIA’s Directorate of investigation,independentlycorroboratedthroughsourcesin Israel, that the Mossad did study Frank Olson’ Plans,thecovertactionsection.HewouldlaterbenamedCIA s death as a Director, and, in that capacity, he would order the shredding picture-perfect,deniableassassination. The Thomas memorandum continues: “ oftheentireCIA At the time we fileonthemindcontrolexperiments. AsThomasreportedonpage160,“Thefirstthreedaysof spokeofyourfather,Dr.SargantwasDirectorofPsychologi- cal Medicine at St. Thomas’ the [Deep Creek Lake] seminar passed uneventfully, with Hospital, London, England. He Dr.Olsonexplaininganddemonstrating,andRichardHelms, wasalsoaconsultanttotheBritishSecretIntelligenceService Dr.Gottliebandhisassistant,Dr.RichardLashbrook,(MI5/6),largelybecauseofhisworkintheelicitingofconfes- listening.... ” sions by the Soviets. . . . He told me he had visited Langley If,astheCIAclaimed,theDeepCreekLakesessionwasseveraltimesandhadmetwithDr.SydneyGottlieb,Richard a routine annual review session between CIA officials and Helms and other senior CIA officials. During those visits he their counterparts at the Special Operations Division of the had also met with Dr. Ewan Cameron and, on one occasion, U.S.ArmyChemicalCorpsatFortDetrick,whatwasHelms, hehadmetDr.Lashbrookandyourfather,FrankOlson. “ thebossofCIAcovertoperations,doingthere?SubsequentlyDr.GottliebandFrankOlsonvisitedLon- OnNov.30,1998,afterayearofcorrespondence,author don and, according to Dr. Sargant, he accompanied them to Porton Down, Britain’ GordonThomassentamemorandumtoEricOlson,explain- s main research centre for biological/ inghowhecametolearnthispreviouslyundisclosed,critical chemical research. Dr. Sargant’s interest in the work going detailabouttheDeepCreekLakegathering.Heidentiontherewastostudythepsychologicalimplicationsofmind- fiedtwo men,whomhehadcometoknowverywell,ashisconfidential blowing drugs such as LSD. He told me that he developed a sourcesonHelmsrapportwithFrankOlsonduringanumberofsubsequentvis- ’s presence at Deep Creek Lake: Dr. Wil- liamSargant,anotedBritishpsychiatristwhohadworkedon its Frank Olson made to Britain. Dr. Sargant remarked that ‘hewasjustlikeanyotherCIAspy,usingoursecretairfi secretMI5/MI6andCIAmindcontrolexperimentsfromtheelds 1940s through the 1970s; and William Buckley, the Beirut to come and go.’ Evidence in support of that can be found in FrankOlson’ CIA station chief, who had been kidnapped and tortured to spassport.. . . death by terrorists in the mid-1980s. Earlier, as Richard “Fromtimetotime,hereferredtothedeathofyourfather Helmsand,asIclearlyrecall,hesaidhispaperworkonthecasehad ’s deputy, Buckley had been directly involved in the mind control program, working closely with Dr. Gottlieb, been handed over to the competent authorities in the British etal.SecretIntelligenceService. The Gordon Thomas memo opened up far more than the “Time and again Dr. Sargant expressed the view that, addeddetailofRichardHelmsfromallhehadlearnedfromtheMI5andhisowncontactsin ’s presence at the Deep Creek Lake session. Thomas’s extensive discussions with Dr. Washington, there was a strong prima facie case that Frank Sargant,whose1957bookOlsonhadbeenmurdered.SargantbelievedthatFrankOlson BattlefortheMind—thePhysiol- ogy of Conversion and Brainwashing was a virtual how-to- could also have been given a cocktail of drugs that included do-it manual for mass social engineering and brainwashing, more than LSD. He said he knew that Dr. Gottlieb had been dramaticallybrokeopentheOlsoncase.Intellinghisstoryto researchingintoslow-actingdepressantswhich,whentaken, Thomas,Dr.Sargantalsoconfessedhisown,pivotalroleincoulddriveapersontosuicide. theOlsonmurder. “Healsobelievedthat,fromhisownmeetingswithFrank ItisthereforeworthquotingextensivelyfromtheThomasOlson,therewasaveryrealpossibilitythatyourfathercould memorandum, thefull textof which isposted onthe website becomeawhistle-blowerifhebelievedthatwhatwashappen- ingwaswrong.. . .”of the Frank Olson Legacy Project (www.frankolsonpro- ject.org). Then comes the clincher, which revealed Sargant’s own role in the events of the final months of Frank Olson’s life:“ In the 1950-60 period that is relevant to the events sur- rounding your father, I was a senior BBC writer/producer “Inthesummerof1953FrankOlsontravelledtoBritain,once employedbytheScienceDepartment.Dr.Sargantwasen-againtovisitPartonDown.Sargantmetwithhim.Olsonsaid gaged by me as a consultant for a number of programmes. he was going to Europe to meet with a CIA team led by Dr. A relationship developed between us that became close and Gottlieb. By then Sargant had learned that Frank Olson was remained so until his death in 1988. . . . I am assured that actingdeputyheadofSO(SpecialOperations).. . . “ becauseofthehighlyunusualcircumstancesofyourfather Sargant saw Frank Olson after his brief visit to Norway ’s death, the details have remained on file with several of the andWestGermany,includingBerlin,inthesummerof1953.
12 Feature EIR November 11, 2005
“He decided that Frank Olson could poseasecurityriskifhecontinuedtospeak and behave as he did. He recommended to his own superiors at SIS that Frank Olson should no longer have access to Porton Down or to any ongoing British research at the various secret establishments Olson hadbeenallowedpriorfreeaccessto. “Sargant told me his recommendation was acted upon by his superiors. He was alsocertainthathissuperiors,bythenature of the close ties with the CIA, would have informed Richard Helms and Dr. Gottlieb of the circumstances why Frank Olson wouldnolongerbegivenaccesstoBritish research. Effectively a substantial part of Frank Olson’s importance to the CIA had beencutoff. “When Dr. Sargant learned of Frank Olson’s death—I recall him telling me it cameinaprioritymessagefromtheBritish Embassy in Washington, Sargant came to theimmediateconclusionthatOlsoncould onlyhavebeenmurdered.Irecallhimtell- ing methat inmany ways thestaged death wasalmostclassic.” Classic, indeed. In May 1997, around the same time that Eric Olson had begun his correspondence with Gordon Thomas, theNewYorkTimeshadpublishedafront- page story by Tim Weiner, reporting on An excerpt from a CIA memorandum on the use of LSD, obtained by Eric Olson. newly declassified CIA documents about the 1954 CIA-orchestrated coup d’e ´tat in Guatemala against the government of Hesaidhewasconcernedaboutthepsychologicalchangesin Jacobo Arbenz. FrankOlson.InSargant’sview,Olson,primarilyaresearch- Among the declassified documents obtained by the Na- based scientist, had witnessed in the tional Security Archive, a Washington, D.C. think tank, was field how his arsenal of drugs, etc. worked with lethal effect on human beings (the alate1953CIAassassinationmanual. Under a subhead “2. Accidents,” the manual read: “For‘ expendable’SSmen,etc.).Sargantbelievedthatforthefirst timeOlsonhadcomefacetofacewithhisownreality. secret assassination, either simple or chase, the contrived accident is the most effective technique. When successfully“ Sarganttold mehebelievedFrank Olsonhadwitnessed murder being committed with the various drugs he had pre- executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually pared.Theshockofwhathewitnessed,Sargantbelieved,wasinvestigated. all the harder to cope with given that Frank Olson was a “The most efficient accident,” the manual continued, “in patrioticmanwhobelievedthattheUnitedStateswouldnever simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard sanctionsuchacts.. . . surface.Elevatorshafts,stairwells,unscreenedwindowsand bridges will serve. . . . If the assassin immediately sets up an“ I remember Sargant telling me that he spoke several timesin1953withFrankOlsonatSargant’sconsultingrooms outcry, playing the ‘horrified witness,’ no alibi or surrepti- inHarleyStreet,London.Thesewerenotformalpatient/doc- tious withdrawal is necessary. . . . Care is required to insure tor consultations, but rather Sargant trying to establish what that no wound or condition not attributable to the fall is dis- FrankOlsonhadseenanddoneinEurope. cernibleafterdeath.. . . “Sargant’sownconclusionwasthatFrankOlsonhadun- “If thesubject’s personalhabits make itfeasible, alcohol dergoneamarkedpersonalitychange;manyofOlsonmaybeused[2wordsexcised]topreparehimforacontrived ’ssymp- toms—soulsearching,seekingreassurance,etc.,weretypical accidentofanykind.” Several paragraphs later, under subhead “3. Drugs,” ofthat,Sarganttoldme.the
EIR November 11, 2005 Feature 13
manualnoted,“Inalltypesofassassinationexceptterroristic, It is certainly conceivable and certainly cannot be excluded that Mr. Olson’ drugs can be very effective. If the assassin is trained as a s participation in an experiment in which a doctor or nurse and the subject is under medical care, this is drugwasadministeredcouldinjustthesamewayprecipitate aneasyandraremethod....Ifthesubjectdrinksheavily,acrisiswhichwouldupsetthementalprocessessothatdisori- morphine or a similar narcotic can be injected at the passing entationandthelackofmentalfunctioningmightbeproduced withtheresultsreadilyobserved.”out stage, and the cause of death will often be held to be acutealcoholism.” And finally, under subhead “5. Blunt weapons.”“Blows Closure should be directed to the temple, the area just below and In early May 2001, Eric Olson received an unexpected behindtheear,andthelower,rearportionoftheskull.” telephonecallfromoneofhisfather’soldestfriendsandclos- Among the approximately 150 pages of CIA documents est collaborators at Fort Detrick. Norman Cournoyer had that had been handed over to the Olson family by William servedwithFrankOlsonduring WorldWarII,whenthetwo men “ Colby in their July 1975 meeting, were two eyewitness ac- had designed the protective gear worn by U.S. troops counts of Frank Olson’s final days, which took on special intheNormandyinvasionincasetheyweremetbybiological weapons” (this quote is from Eric Olson’ meaningwhencross-griddedwiththeCIA s contemporaneous ’s1953assassina- tionmanual. memoonhisthree-daymeetingwithCournoyer). Cournoyer had recently seen an April 1, 2000 New YorkThe first document was by Colonel Ruwet. Ruwet had accompanied Frank Olson to New York, on Nov. 24, 1953, TimesMagazinestoryontheOlsoncasebyMichaelIgnatieff, forpsychiatricconsultationswithDr.HaroldAbramson.The and had decided, after much soul-searching, to provide Eric consultation was arranged by the CIA’s Dr. Lashbrook, who Olson with the missing pieces of the story behind the U.S. government’ alsotravelledtoNewYorkwiththetwoArmyChemicalsmurderofhisfather. Corps men. Ruwet wrote, “We arrived in New York without Olson travelled to Amherst, Mass. and met with incident,proceededfromLaGuardiaAirporttoDr.Abram-CournoyerfromMay16-19,2001. son’s office; arrived there approximately 5 p.m. We left Dr. Among the things that Cournoyer revealed to Eric: First, sometime in1946 or 1947,Frank Olson’ Olson with Dr. Abramson who requested us to come back in s careerturned onto about1hour.AfteranhourwecamebackandDr.Abramson a “new path.” He went to work for the CIA, and was drawn into a program euphemistically called “ suggestedthatwegotoahotelandwetoldhimwehadreser- information re- vations at the Statler Hotel. He stated that he would come trieval.” Under such exotic code-names as BLUEBIRD and up to our room about 10:30 with some sedatives and also ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA, Olson, an expert in chemi- suggestedthatwehavea‘high-ball.’. . . calandbiologicalweaponry,wasdrawnintoworkoninterro- gation methods, designed to draw information from even“ At about 10:30 p.m. Dr. Abramson came and brought a bottleofbourbonandsome‘Nembutal’forDr.Olson.” the most tight-lipped targets. The drugs and other chemical Dr. Abramson techniques used in these programs were tied to the most ’s own account, written on Dec. 4, 1953, made no mention of his instructions to Dr. Olson to take extreme forms of interrogation techniques, often incorporat- bourbon and Nembutol, two powerfully interactive sub- ing torture. stances. But he did write the following: “Mr. Olson was in a For most of his time with the CIA programs, Olson re- psychotic state when hospitalization was decided upon with mained in the laboratory at Fort Detrick. But beginning in delusions of persecution. There are two aspects in regard to 1950,accordingtoCournoyer,Olsonbegantravellingabroad, taking part in live interrogations of “expendables,” therelationshiptotheworkinwhichhewasengaged.Itiswartime wellknownthatitisanoccupationalhazardtomentalstability Nazicriminals,suspectedSovietspies,anddouble-agents. tobedoingthetypeofworkconnectedwithhisduties.GuiltCournoyertoldEricOlsonthat,followingatriptoEurope feelings are well known to occur to a greater or less extent. inJuly andAugust of1953, FrankOlson hadcome tohim in confi Superimposedontheseguiltfeelingswhicharecertainlyandence.Cournoyerstillmaintainedhistopsecretsecurity occupational hazard is his participation in an experiment clearances, so Olson had no qualms about telling his friend whereinhefeltthatmanyofhisfeelingsbecameoverwhelm- that he had been eyewitness to more than one murder-by- ing.Itiswellknownthatmanydrugsproducethiseffect.For interrogation.CournoyerlatertoldtwoGermandocumentary filmmakers: “Frank told me, ‘ example,Ihavehadapatientofminerecentlyattemptsuicide Norm, they went to extremes. aftertakingonecapsuleofNembutal.AcapsuleofNembutal Did you ever see a man die? I did. People being interrogated died.’ contains one and one-half grains. This is a therapeutic dose He told me he was going to leave. He was getting out whichistakenbythousandsofpeopledailyyetthispatient’s oftheCIA.” personality structure was so oriented that one dose of this Cournoyer also told Eric Olson that his father had said materialtaken bythousandsof peopledailywas sufficientto that he suspected that the United States had used biological haveherreachfortheboxwhichshedid.FortunatelyherweaponsagainstNorthKorea,achargelaterexploredbytwo husbandwaspresentandcausedhertovomitupthecapsules. Canadianresearchersinabook-lengthexpose ´.
14 Feature EIR November 11, 2005
Prof. Kurt Blome, the Nazi Deputy Surgeon General who was in charge of the biological experiments conducted at concentration camps, was one of the advisors used by the CIA to teach Americans how Kurt Blome (left) during his trial at the Nuremberg Tribunal. Histo use torture in torture skills gave him the credentials to become a U.S. advisorinterrogations. after the war, under a secret program called “Operation Dust-Bin.”
On Aug. 12, 2002, the German television network ARD broadcast the documentary by Egmont Koch and Michael Norman Cournoyer agreed with Eric Olson. He told the Wech, titled ARD producers, on camera, with Olson seated in the room: “Code-Name ARTICHOKE.” The filmmakers addedanothercrucialpiecetotheFrankOlsonstory,corrobo- “Buttherewerepeoplewhohadbiologicalweaponswhoused ratingtheaccountsofNormanCournoyerandDr.Williamthem.WastherereasonforyourdadbeingkilledbytheCIA? Sargant about Frank Olson’s final trip to Europe in July and Ibelieveso.” August1953. KochandWechexposedsecretCIAColdWarinterroga- CheneyRevisited It took Eric Olson more than 30 years to fi tion centers in West Germany, including a facility in Ober- nd his way ursel,northofFrankfurt,dubbed“CampKing.”HeretheCIA throughthewildernessofmirrors,erectedbytheU.S.govern- menttohidethesecretsthatledtoFrankOlson’ conductedtorture/interrogationexperimentsonNaziconvictssdeath.Heis and Soviet spies. Among the “advisors” working at “Camp now certain that he knows what happened. Many of the files remainclassifi Kinged,manyhavebeenshredded,andmanyofthe ”wasProfessorKurtBlome.BlomehadbeentheDeputy SurgeonGeneraloftheThirdReich,responsibleforallofthe eyewitnesses to the key events of the Summer of 1953 have biologicalexperimentsconductedatconcentrationcampslikelong-sincedied,some,likeBillColby,underequallymysteri- Dachau. Blome had been arrested at the end of World War ouscircumstances. Whatisclear— IIandputontrialatNuremberg,butunderasecretU.S.andwhatwasalsocleartoFrankOlsonin government program, “Operation Dust-Bin,” had been re- the final weeks of his life—is that he became a target of the cruitedtoteachtheAmericanshowtoconductinnovativeverytorture/interrogationtechniquesthathehadwitnessedin interrogations. “CampKing,”inBerlin,andatotherlocations.Uponreturn- AccordingtoFrankOlson ing from the LSD interrogation at Deep Creek Lake, he told ’spassport(hehadbeenissued a diplomatic passport in 1950, another indication of his his wife, “I made a terrible mistake.” He did not elaborate. new CIA employment), he had made several trips to West What Frank Olson went through at Deep Creek Lake, and Germany—to Frankfurt, Heidelberg, and Berlin—between later, in New York, was clearly buried under a mountain of lies, many of them codifi 1950-53. A careful review by Eric Olson of his father ed in false accounts by the only ’s slides and home movies confirmed he had been at the CIA’s eyewitnesses, when the CIA Inspector General probed the clandestineheadquartersforWestGermany,attheoldI.G.affair. Farben headquarters in Frankfurt. In August 1953, he had Only Dick Cheney knows the extent to which he had the realstoryonwhatEricOlsonnowcalls“ beenattheU.S.Armythenationalsecurity ’s headquarters in Berlin, where sev- eral top Soviet spies were being interrogated by the murder”ofhisfather.WhatisclearisthatDickCheneyplayed apivotalroleinthecoverupofwhathasalltheearmarksofa“ rough boys.” Everybitofevidencecompiledoverthelast30yearsnow governmentexecution,aimedatprotectingsomeofthedark- convincesEricOlsonthathisfatherwasmurderedtoprevent est secrets of the Cold War. And if the past does illuminate himfromblowingthewhistleonthetorture,thedrugexperi- the future, then the Frank Olson case sheds some important lighton“theVicePresidentoftorture,” mentation,theemploymentofNaziwarcriminals,andthewhosecrimesdidnot possibleuseofbiologicalweaponsintheKoreanWar. beginwithAbuGhraiborevenonSept.11,2001.
EIR November 11, 2005 Feature 15
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