Operation Derby Hat

Publication Year: 
1998

Image retrieved from cultdeadcow.com on November 3rd, 2013.

On April 10, 1963 an LSD field test by the US Army's Pacific wing in Hawaii, code-named Operation Derby Hat, was scheduled, using seven foreign nationals from 'friendly' country's as guinea pigs. Shortly before it was due to take place, the exercise was aborted because of 'political problems' but it is evident that by this period steps were being taken to move the testing programme further from home. The use of LSD was becoming a controversial issue; there was growing publicity over Timothy Leary's LSD project at Harvard and, behind the scenes, the Kennedy administration was concerned about the newly discovered attempts by senior CIA officers to hide the existence of MK-Ultra.

Never the less the mind control work was continuing shortly before the cancellation of Derby Hat, an American LSD testing programme named Operation Third Chance moved to Europe with British participation. The British Ministry of Defence's chemical warfare establishment at Porton Down began testing LSD on animals in 1960. Then, between 1962 and 72', in collaboration with its American allies, it tried it on on troops/ According to official documents which have come to light, only soldiers who had undergone personality tests were used in the experiments,"to eliminate, if possible, any who may have inherent psychotic tendencies".

According to an official Whitehall statement, the experimenters reached the conclusion, "that LSD would not present a significant battle hazard." As the Americans had already decided that after the tests at Edgewood, one wonders about the precise extent of this project and whether other drugs apart from LSD were tested. Researcher, Dr.Armen Victorian has merely obtained an acknowledgement from the British Government admitting: "Work and studies on LSD took place between 1961 and 1972 and included 72 service volunteers who were involved in laboratory and field trials.

The use of the words 'included' and 'volunteers' may indicate there were others who took part compulsorily, either civilians or foreign service personnel. In my own research, I have come across one case from the early 1970's in which a senior civil servant working in a defence department was invited for a chat with 'security' over a drink. The drink was spiked with something that completely intoxicated him; he was dumped onto his doorstep some hours later, with no memory of what had transpired after he had the drink.

In 1968 the CIA's Office of Research and Development initiated a project at Edgewood Arsenal code-named OFTEN/CHICKWIT: to create new compounds 'that could be used offensively' as incapacitants. Many of these drugs were tested on inmates at Holmesburg prison. By 1971 the CIA had a backlog of more than 20,000 different drugs acquired 'for future screening'. Information collected was stored on a computer that monitored pharmacological developments throughout the world. At least seven hallucinogens similar in strength to BS as well as LSD were tested and there is mention in CIA documents of "several accidents" which caused 'prolonged psychotic effects on volunteers.'

To the military, the rationale for developing mind control techniques was much the same as for weapons research and development: if the Russians might do it, the West had better do it first. In 19+53 when, following the Korean war, brainwashing scares were at their height, the US Army set up a Special Intelligence Project to study how the enemy had managed to persuade large numbers of American prisoners - some 70 per cent - to make statements against american war policy and, in some cases, even falsely confess to war crimes. This indoctrination was so successful that many ex-POW's stuck to statements for some time after they had been repatriated.

It was discovered that in the POW camps, Americans were organised by their captors into small groups in which each man was encouraged to speak freely about 'problems'. During these sessions, Chinese army supervisors would gently urge prisoners to 'get things off their chest' by confessing to selfish behavior, such as stealing cigarettes or food from comrades. An American army report noted: "once you begin to talk, you become vulnerable and exposed, and you back off from other people. You see this in group psychotherapy, unless it is skilfully controlled." In order to come to terms with their actions, the prisoners would, "collect an equivalent amount of intelligence about their listeners... They all came back with a fabulous amount of information, but they wouldn't talk to them. Because you could not be sure of these people."

As David Lamb of Manchester University observes in his analysis of the project: "once trust in the group was his analysis of the project: "once trust in the group was established... it was not difficult to isolate members from their source of emotional support...soon they turned to their Chinese advisers. The US Army report emphasized that "not one American prisoner ever escaped from an organised prison camp in Korea."

The initial reaction of the US military was to reassert 'traditional American values' in the ideological training of recruits. However, some experts realised that the Chinese model provided a useful insight. As Lamb puts it, a similar use of 'psychic support systems' could, "produce fanatics for any value system." CIA Director Allen Dulles commissioned one of America's leading neurologists, Dr.Harold Wolff, to persuade Cornell University to front a study of 'brainwashing techniques.'

This began with intensive interviews with political refugees from China and the Soviet bloc, including former prisoners and communist interrogators who had defected. But the CIA soon decided that the study needed to be extended to take in psychology, medicine, sociology and anthropology. As a result, most of the MK-Ultra research in the civilian field from the mid-fifties to early-sixties was funded and coordinated through arms-length institutions, notably the 'Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology' also known as, the 'Human Ecology Fund'.

Excerpt from pages 32-35 from Acid the Secret History of LSD by David Black.

acid, CIA, testing, mind control, brainwashing, secret history
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