Website, DuPlessis Orphans Canada
CIA Psychiatrist, Canada
Abuse of Trust by Christopher Hyde
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B. Additional Facts from Discovery and Trial Preparation Underscore CIA Negligence
Despite the unique problems in conducting discovery against the CIA, we were able to obtain important new evidence of the Agency’s negligence in each of the three facets of the case. The story of the Olson death, and the CIA’s eventual acceptance of responsibility in 1975 was even more compelling when recounted by his widow, who we eventually hoped to use as our first witness at trial. The CIA’s negligence in funding Cameron, a reckless loose cannon, was confirmed by his contemporaries in Montreal. The CIA’s negligence in failing to ensure the safety and consent of Cameron’s patients was admitted in deposition testimony by CIA officers. A group of psychiatrists who evaluated our clients’ experiences under Cameron’s care confirmed the bizarre and injuriousnature of the CIA-funded brainwashing experiments. Finally, during discovery we had obtained important admissions of culpability on the part of the CIA and the U.S. Government.
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Mrs. Olson’s personal recollections of the tragedy would not only underscore the magnitude of the negligence and incompetence of CIA officers Gottlieb and Lashbrook, but would also show the Court that the government had already accepted responsibility for their misdeeds. There were even public admissions of responsibility from the highest levels of our government that Mrs. Olson could describe in Court.
When the Olson story finally became known despite the CIA’s efforts at concealment, then President Gerald Ford met with Mrs. Olson and her children on July 21, 1975 and, according to a White House Press Release, “expressed the sympathy of the American people and apologized on behalf of the U.S. Government for the circumstances of Dr. Frank Olson’s death in November 1953.” And in a July 24, 1975 letter to Mrs. Olson, then CIA Director William E. Colby apologized for the CIA:
I wish to join with President Ford in expressing my deepest personal sympathy and hope that you and your family will also accept my sincere apologies on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency for the suffering you and your family have endured as a result of the untimely loss of your husband in 1953. The uniform reaction of the employees of the Agency to this disclosure has been dismay and regret that this could have occurred. I can find no explanation for why you were not fully informed of the circumstances at the time and apologize equally for that omission…
On October 12, 1976 President Ford signed legislation providing $750,000 recompense to the survivors of Dr. Olson and, after stating that the LSD “would appear to have been the proximate cause of his death,” went on:
The approval of this bill underscores the basic principle that an individual citizen of this Nation should be protected from unreasonable transgressions into his personal activities. There should be no doubt that my administration is opposed to the use of drugs, chemicals, or other substances without the prior knowledge and consent of the individual affected. At the request of the family of Dr. Olson, I take this opportunity to highlight this continuing policy.
These contrite apologies from the highest level of our government made it clear that there had once been a decision that those injured in MKULTRA should be compensated.
In addition, we now had obtained additional CIA documents demonstrating that in the wake of the Olson death, CIA Director Dulles ordered that a Review Board be created to oversee and control TSS research and experiments. But the Dulles order was not carried out and no other steps were taken to ensure that there would be no repetition of the reckless and negligent conduct in the Olson death. Despite the Dulles order, Gottlieb and Lashbrook were left in charge of MKULTRA without even a reprimand.31 In that capacity they approved the funds for brainwashing experiments performed by Dr. Cameron without the review and oversight of the special Review Board ordered by Director Dulles and with the same recklessness they had exhibited in the Olson death.
2. New Evidence of CIA Negligence in its Relation to Cameron
One of Gottlieb and Lashbrook’s assistants was John Gittinger, who learned of the work of Dr. Cameron in the brainwashing field by reading an article appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry in January of 1956. In preparing our case we consulted Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, an internationally recognized expert on brainwashing who had conducted one of the seminal studies of Chinese Communist practices during the Korean War. Dr. Lifton agreed to review that 1956 Cameron article and to testify in Court concerning the similarities between Cameron’s techniques and the brainwashing procedures of the Communist Chinese.
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We also asked Doctors Lifton and Salzman to study the Cameron application and to be prepared to testify about their opinions of it. They were in complete agreement that the Cameron application showed on its face that CIA funds would be used to conduct extremely dangerous brainwashing experiments. As Dr. Lifton concluded in his affidavit to the Court, “it is clear from the Cameron application, itself, that these procedures were experimental and deviated from standard and customary psychiatric therapies in use during the 1950s”; the procedures in the Cameron application “closely parallel the techniques of ‘thought reform’ or ‘brainwashing’ used in Chinese prisons and elsewhere, and represent a mechanized extension of those ‘brainwashing’ methods.” In short, “the Cameron application was a transparent proposal to conduct experiments with ‘thought reform’ or ‘brainwashing’ procedures extrapolated from methods documented in the academic literature, and would have been seen as such by anyone reviewing it during the 1950s.”
Dr. Salzman likewise concluded in his affidavit:
The Cameron application proposed a mind control research project with no safeguards, no discussion of risks, dangers and potential destructiveness … This is clearly outrageous; callous insensitive, inhuman pursuit of an idea with no concern for possible destructive effects. It would be beyond any reasonable doubt that a foundation which supported such a project could not have had therapeutic expectations from the grant application.
These conclusions were important parts of our case because the dangerous brainwashing experimentation described in Cameron’s application clearly required some investigation of Cameron’s competence and some provision for safeguards to protect the experimental subjects. As subsequent discovery confirmed, the CIA made no investigation of Cameron or his experimental procedures before making the grant, despite the obvious dangers to the human beings who were to be experimented upon with CIA funds. This is a prime example of the negligent failures to exercise reasonable care in the MKULTRA program that formed the basis for our second cause of action.
We had found, moreover, dramatic evidence of the ease with which such an investigation could have been made. From 1947 through 1956, the CIA was in close touch with Dr. Omond M. Solandt, Chairman of the Canadian Defence Research Board during that time period. We contacted Dr. Solandt who provided us with an affidavit confirming that CIA had never bothered to contact him for his opinion “about Cameron’s competence, the depatterning and other experimental procedures used by Cameron, or whether it was appropriate to fund the experimental procedures used by Cameron.”
Dr. Solandt agreed to appear and to testify concerning the fact that he had disapproved of Cameron’s destructive experiments and made his views known. Again, his affidavit summarized these views:
I knew of the experimental depatterning procedures used by D. Ewen Cameron. In the early 1950s, the wife of one of my associates sought medical treatment from Cameron at the Allan Memorial Institute. She was depatterned and after seeing her I knew that this kind of work was something the Defence Research Board would have no part in. It was my view at the time and continues to be that Cameron was not possessed of the necessary sense of humanity to be regarded as a good doctor. My views of Cameron and the depatterning procedures were known to him, and I let it be known through Dr. Morton that I would not look favorably upon any application by Cameron to the Defence Research Board for psychiatric research. Cameron never applied for Defence Research Board grants to fund psychiatric research and would never have received such support had he applied.
In addition, Dr. Solandt was prepared to testify that there was a close relationship between himself and the CIA:
During the 1950s, the United States Central Intelligence Agency had a resident representative at the United States Embassy in Ottawa who was publicly introduced as such. The CIA representative was liaison with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and was free to attend Defence Research Board staff and committee meetings where defence research programs were discussed. Formal information exchanges with the CIA were made by the RCMP, and the CIA and Canada exchanged all research information of mutual interest during this time. The security clearances issued by the Canadian Defence Department during the 1950s were accepted by any United States agency working in Canada, including the Central Intelligence Agency.
Dr. Solandt also noted in his affidavit to the Court that there was another knowledgeable expert, Dr. Donald O. Hebb, who had been readily available to the CIA in 1956 and early 1957 when Cameron’s application was being solicited and approved. Dr. Hebb, the highly respected Chairman of the Psychology Department of McGill University during the 1950s, had worked closely with Canadian and U.S. intelligence,33 and had an equally discrediting opinion of Cameron’s brainwashing experiments.
Unfortunately Hebb had died before we could take his deposition. Because Dr. Hebb’s testimony bore on Cameron’s reputation, however, we were able to offer sworn statements of others about what Hebb had said without violating the hearsay rule. These statements relating to Hebb’s opinions would not be offered as evidence of the truth of what Hebb had said, but as evidence that he had said it and would have warned the CIA to stay away from Cameron or at least make a full investigation of him and his work. In this way we could avoid the potential bar of the hearsay rule to introduce the following sworn statement by Solandt concerning Hebb’s “very low opinion” of Cameron and his “prudence” in dealing with subjects:
I know by my discussions both directly with Dr. Hebb and indirectly through Dr. Morton that during the 1950s, Dr. Hebb had a very low opinion of the depatterning and other experimental procedures used by Cameron and of Cameron’s prudence in dealing with research subjects.
Further evidence of Hebb’s low opinion of Cameron’s competence and prudence was provided to us by Ronald Blumer, a documentary film writer and producer who interviewed Hebb shortly before his death. In their interview, Dr. Hebb stressed to Blumer that Cameron was “irresponsible” and “criminally stupid”:
Cameron’s experiments were done without the patient’s consent. Cameron was irresponsible — criminally stupid, in that there was no reason to expect that he would get any results from the experiments. Anyone with any appreciation of the complexity of the human mind would not expect that you could erase an adult mind and then add things back with this stupid psychic driving. He wanted to make a name for himself – so he threw his cap over the windmill….
Cameron stuck to the conventional experiments and paper writing for most of his life but then he wanted that breakthrough. That was Cameron’s fatal flaw – he wasn’t so much driven with wanting to know – he was driven with wanting to be important – to make that breakthrough – it made him a bad scientist. He was criminally stupid.
Blumer summarized Hebb’s statements about Cameron as “completely scathing”, with Dr. Hebb referring to Cameron and his methods several times as “criminally stupid.”
Final corroboration of Hebb’s view of Cameron came came from Jay Peterzell, a research associate with the Center for National Security Studies, who had made an exhaustive review of the CIA’s MKULTRA program. Peterzell interviewed Hebb in the summer of 1978 and provided us with an affidavit based on his detailed notes of that interview:
Dr. Hebb: “Look, Cameron was no good as a researcher. He was terrible. He did not have the faintest notion of how to go about doing experiments or doing research. But he thought he did.”
Dr. Hebb: “He was eminent on the basis of politics, psychiatric politics and university politics. But not on the basis of research.”
Dr. Hebb: “Well, that was an awful set of ideas that Cameron was working with. It had no intellectual demand, it called for no intellectual respect. If you actually look at what he was doing, and what he wrote, his proposals, it would make you laugh, that is what I meant being awful, if I had a graduate student who talked like that I’d throw him out.”
If Hebb felt this strongly in talking to strangers, we argued, it is clear what he would have said to the CIA if they had not treated this matter too casually to warrant interviewing him or anyone else. Indeed the CIA formally admitted in court papers that, despite its close ties with Dr. Hebb, the Agency never bothered to ask him about Cameron. Moreover, since Solandt and Hebb were both working with the CIA in the 1950s, there can be no suggestion of secrecy reasons for not inquiring of them, only reckless and negligent indifference to the safety of the subjects of experimentation.
In addition we developed evidence that even casual inquiries of those in Montreal who knew of the controversial experiments being performed by Cameron would have revealed to the CIA the risks of injury and averted the tragic events subsidized by that agency. Dr. Paul E. Termansen, a Vancouver psychiatrist who was treating plaintiff Logie, had been at McGill in the early 1960s and provided us with a sworn statement that during his time at McGill there had been considerable controversy about Cameron’s experimental activities, which were promptly terminated by his successor Robert A. Cleghorn.
Dr. Solandt also confirmed that “[d]uring the 1950s, there was considerable controversy in the Montreal and Canadian psychiatric and academic communities about the depatterning and other experimental procedures used by Cameron at the Allan Memorial Institute.” As these affidavits made clear, there was tremendous controversy surrounding Cameron and the experiments he performed, which would have alerted the CIA to the dangers of funding human experimentation at Allan Memorial.
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The most significant admissions, however, were the apologies the CIA tendered to the Canadian Government. At the time of the initial public disclosure in August of 1977 that the CIA had financed Cameron’s experiments in Montreal, opposition Member of Parliament Andrew Brewin asked questions about this American interference in the internal affairs of Canada. 35 As a result of these inquiries, official protests by Canada were lodged with the United States Embassy in Ottawa and the CIA Chiefs of Station resident there. While we were working on the court fight in Washington, we asked David Orlikow, the M.P. husband of plaintiff Val Orlikow, to pursue these protests and the U.S. response in Ottawa. In reply to David’s inquiries, the Canadian Government stated that as a result of its protests, unnamed U.S. representatives had “expressed regret” for the CIA funding of Cameron and had offered assurances that such activities would not occur again.