Big Brothers Brain

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The man who was to become the greatest LSD producer of his time had unpromising beginnings for a super-criminal. Ron Stark's interest in bio-chemistry may have dated from his juvenile delinquent days in the 1950s, when he was introduced to psycho-active drugs by a New York psychiatrist. FBI file number 812020, opened in 1962, records that Ronald Hadley Stark, alias Clark, born “Ronald Shitsky' in September 1938, who gave his occupation as 'research laboratory', was convicted of making a false job application for Government service. After violating parole, Stark then served a short stretch in Lewisburg federal prison.
In 1967, Stark's wealth was recorded as $3,000 but by the following year he had somehow become a millionaire and was living in a flashy apartment in Greenwich Village, decorated with Picasso and De Kooning originals. Some people knew Stark as a scion of the Austrian branch of the super-rich Whitney family; to others he was the son of a rich biochemist who had fled from Germany to Switzerland in the 1930s to escape anti-Jewish persecution.
Stark claimed to have studied biochemistry at Harvard and Rockefeller Universities and at the Bellevue Mental Hospital; and to have held a post as a biochemist at Cornell University. He undoubtedly had considerable knowledge and ability in this field, even if his claims about training, qualifications and university affiliations would prove to be bogus.
Stark also claimed to have served in the Kennedy administration at John Mc
Namara's Department of Defense, working on top secret projects. He said these 'disgusted him' so much that he resigned his post. Almost certainly he was referring to a secret CIA project called MK-Ultra in which experiments with LSD were conducted for possible use in psychological warfare.

Anti-Vietnam War Movement

There has been much conspiratorial theorizing about MK-Ultra. Some have even argued it was actually responsible for the LSD explosion of the 1960s and '70s, as part of a plot by some all-powerful secret society. Not surprisingly considering the part that LSD played in the world of Ron Stark – and vice versa – he has figured in some of the more paranoid projections and 'alternative histories'.
In Jonathan Vankin's bestseller, 'Conspiracies, Cover-Ups and Crimes', for example, we are told that MK-ULTRA altered a generation through intervention in 'the clandestine and counter-cultural side of the LSD revolution, and that the tale of Ron Stark may provide the connection between the radical-Left, spawned by the Anti-Vietnam War movement, and the CIA.
Vankin is content to refer his readers to other books on the CIA/LSD connection and which mention Stark, such as 'Acid Dreams' by Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain. Vankin also throws in the statement that: “around the time Manson was prowling the West Coast, Stark was pre-eminent in the acid trade there.” In itself this has some basis in fact. Manson himself has been accused by conspiracy theorists of being manipulated by the CIA through his alleged association with a sinister cult called the Process Church, spawned by the Scientologists.
Fans of the 'X-Files' and such classic paranoia movies as 'The Manchurian Candidate' and 'The Parallax View' will recognise the factual basis of some of their plot-lines in the following examination of covert experimentation.
To those who knew Stark in the 1960s and '70s, talk of a CIA 'mind control' program utilising hallucinogens and other techniques was based largely on rumour and imagination. The actual existence of the CIA MK-Ultra project which was launched in 1953, was not made known to the American public until 1975, when it was revealed by the Rockefeller Report to the President. Admiral Stansfield Turner, presenting the findings, said: “The drug program was part of a much larger CIA program to study possible means for controlling human behavior, Other studies explored the effects of radiation, electric shock, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and harassment principles.”
Turner revealed that unfortunately all operational records on MK-Ultra projects were destroyed in 1973 by order of the outgoing CIA Director Richard Helms. Back in the 1960s, Helms, as a senior officer in Clandestine Services, had been reprimanded by the CIA Inspector General for concealing the existence of the MK-Ultra project from the incoming CIA Director and Kennedy appointee, John McCone.
Despite the loss of the operational archives, John Marks, a former State Department official, was able to access the financial records of MK-Ultra some of which yielded important information on its sub-projects. In addition, Marks tracked down documentation from non-CIA sources and interviewed CIA insiders who had been involved.
MK-Ultra, John Marks discovered, evolved out of earlier projects launched at the end of the Second World War which were run by the US military and Office of Strategic Research (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. The ethically questionable tone of the research was set just after the War when the US military hired 600 Nazi scientists, including many suspected war criminals, to work behind the scenes in top secret American projects.

Father of Space Medicine

One of these 'rehabilitated' Nazis, Dr. Hubertus Strughold, had been overseer of a 'medical research team' at Dachau concentration camp. In the name of what was termed aviation medicine, horrific experiments were conducted. Prisoners were frozen alive and crushed in high-pressure chambers to test the effects of abnormal atmospheric conditions; others were shot with firearms to test blood coagulants.
Strughold's data from these murderous projects was incorporated into the US military's own research programme. As early as 1947, US Navy scientists re-ran tests carried out at Dachau on the capacity of prisoners to resist interrogation when dosed with mescaline. For his work at NASA, Strughold was dubbed the 'father of space medicine'.
US experiments in the MK-Ultra programme tested materials and techniques for, “controlling an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature as self preservation.”
In April 1953, all research in this area was taken over by the CIA's Techinical Services Staff and given the top secret MK-Ultra code-name. This new phase of experimentation also had an operational 'policy and procedure' wing called MK-Ultra. MK-Ultra's overseers were going beyond the remit of the earlier experiments into interrogation techniques. In 1953, the Technical Services Section reported; “there is no question that drugs are already on hand (and new ones are being produced) that can destroy integrity and make indiscreet the most dependable individual”.

Mind Control

A MEMO dated 1955 spoke of interest in material, “which renders the induction of hypnosis easier... material and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use... substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.” Over a twenty year period, MK-Ultra launched 149 top secret sub - projects in collaboration with various other agencies.
In MK-Naomi, Sidney Gottlieb, head of the Chemicals Division, had an arrangement with the US Army Special Operations division at Fort Detrick, Maryland, to procure biological weapons materials for testing as incapacitants and methods of assassination. Ray Treichler, a CIA contractor, was responsible for procuring samples for biochemical warfare research from American drug companies. Purchases from European companies were handled by Dr. Harris Isbell, a CIA consultant at Lexington Addiction Research Centre.
In his report, Stansfield Turner stated that the 'mind control' porgramme ended in 1972. However, his assurances only applied to MK-Ultra projects which were reorganised back in 1963 into an 'operational support program' named MK-Search. Other research functions of MK-Ultra were taken over by the CIA'S Office of Research and Development. No guarantee has been given that no new projects were developed after that time – and no files on that period were released.

Calming Effects

In 1947, Dr. Werner Stoll of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss company, published a paper on lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a new drug synthesised by his colleague Albert Hoffman in 1943. Stoll emphasised the drug’s hallucinogenic properties, its ability to speed up the thinking process, and its apparent calming effects on schizophrenics. Following the founding of the CIA in 1948, Stoll's paper was studied with interest by the new agency's Technical Services Staff.
The CIA cut a deal with Sandoz for a consignment of 100 grams of LSD per week plus tip-offs on any requests from communist regimes for LSD shipments. A source of LSD also became available in the United States when the Eli Lilly company produced its own synthesis in 1953.


One of the first experiments with the new drug took place in 1953 at fort Detrick on an unsuspecting gathering of Special Operations personnel from the Chemical Corps. CIA Chemicals Division chief, Sidney Gottlieb, spiked some drinks with acid and Dr. Frank Olson, a Special Operations officer and bio chemist, suffered a psychosis on leaving. Within days he committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window from the tenth floor of the Statler Hotel in New York in the presence of Gottlieb's deputy, Robert Lashbook.
In an ensuing cover-up of the incident, the truth was withheld from Olson's wife for twenty years, before she learned what had happened 'off the record', and went on to successfully sue the US Government for compensation, thus helping to trigger the revelations in the Rockefeller Report. But the death of Olson in 1953 did not stop the test which continued into the 1960s. In trials on soldiers at Edgewood Arsenal, interrogators tried to extract classified information from subjects after spiking their drinks with LSD during simulated cocktail parties. Soldiers were also given LSD in 'artificially created stress situations', and tested for their capacity to resist interrogation and for memory impairment and motor reaction.
Despite the dangerous nature of some of the MK-Ultra experiments, the Army Chemical Corps failed to tell volunteers which drugs would be administered. Of 7,000 soldiers who underwent experiments at Edgewood, 585 were given LSD and 2,490 were given 'BZ', a chemical called quinuclididinyl. With ten times the hallucinogenic strength of LSD, but none of its mind expanding attributes, BZ inhibits the bio-chemical process which transfers messages at nerve endings, thus causing complete dysfunction: headaches, giddiness, hallucinations and derangement. Those subjected to it have no memory of the experience but suffer traumatic after-effects lasting as long as six weeks.
Dr Solomon Snyder, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology claimed in 1975, that the Army's testing of LSD, “was just a side-show compared to its use of BZ.” It was developed into a battlefield weapon as low-floating aerosol mist which could be 'delivered' on the battlefield as a 750-pound cluster bomb. According to one report, BZ was stockpiled in large quantities and was used in Vietnam with deadly effect in at least one major engagement between US forces and the North Vietnamese Army.
Its potential operational value went beyond its use as a battlefield incapacitant in conventional war. For example, in guerilla war – such as Vietnam – not only would counter-insurgency forces intoxicate insurgent prisoners and civilians with BZ, thereby enabling them to extract information in interrogations; the victims would probably be unable to recall what information they had passed on.
In contrast LSD was found to be unusable as a battlefield weapon; the CIA tried out its 'delivery' potential as an aerosol spray but found it too heavy to stay in the air. Experiments with acid did however, continue with other uses in mind: especially for clandestine dirty tricks. In August 1960, the intelligence agencies of America's NATO allies were secretly briefed by the US military on its drug testing programme. The Office of the Assistant chief of Staff Intelligence stressed that, “if this project is going to be worth anything,” then the drugs “should be used on higher types of non-US subjects... staffers. This could be accomplished if the CIA was brought in... and maybe the FBI"

pp. 24-32, Acid the Secret History of LSD by David Black (1998)

ron stark, ronald shitzkey, acid, dealers, 60s, pranksters, LSD, MK-Ultra
Richard helms, mk-ultra, acid, lsd, counter culture, mind control
Hubertus Strughold, MK-Ultra, nazi, war crimes, CIA, OSS, Hallucinogens
Sidney Gottlieb, acid, MK-Ultra, CIA Chemical Division Chief, Dr. Frank Olson