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MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 81
V E R I C O M M sm "Quid veritas est?"
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UNITED STATES, CANADA, BRITAIN: PARTNERS IN MIND CONTROL
By Armen Victorian
DEDICATION: I dedicate this writing to those innocent victims who
have suffered from physical, mental abuse and torture inflicted
upon their mind and bodies by the state -- irrespective of the
colour of the flag. To the courageous individuals for telling the
world about their torment. And the institutions that stood by
their side and fought for their human rights. Rights, which are
still violated by states under the disguise of their national
security acts. No amount of compensation would be sufficient for
raping or killing the mind.
The notorious Moscow trials of 1937 during Stalin's regime and
the speed with which the defendants confessed to crimes
against the state in the People's Court, and in particular
Cardinal Mindszently of Hungary, surprised the governments of
the western world. "Characteristics and manner of the
defendants, and formulation and delivery of the confessions,
have been so similar in large number of cases as to suggest
factitious origin." The evident incongruities prompted the
CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) in 1949 to
undertake an "analysis of foreign work in certain
unconventional warfare techniques, including behavioral
drugs, with an initial objective of developing a capability to
resist or offset the effects of behavioral drugs. Preliminary
phases included to review drug-related work at institutions
such as Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Illinois,
University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Valley Forge
General Hospital, Detroit Psychopathic Clinic, Mayo Clinic and
National Institute of Health (NIH). There was also extensive
review of foreign literature, particularly work in the Soviet
Bloc. This program shortly became Project BLUEBIRD, with the
objectives of (a) discovering means of conditioning
personnel to prevent unauthorized extraction of information
from them by known means, (b) investigating the possibility of
obtaining control of an individual by application of special
interrogation techniques, (c) memory enhancement, and (d)
establishing defensive means for preventing hostile control of
This was evolved to become the blueprint and bible of mind
control programmes and psychological operations adopted by
the west for decades afterwards. The result of the Korean War
which started in June 1950, almost a year after the beginning
of Project BLUEBIRD, and the return of POWs encouraged
western intelligence to delve even further into their mind
On June 1st, 1951, in the course of a top secret meeting
held in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal, Canada, Britain
and Canada joined forces with the Central Intelligence Agency
to "Research into the general phenomena indicated by such
terms as -- "confessions," "menticide," "intervention in the
individual mind," together with methods concerned in
psychological coercion, change of opinions and attitudes,
The participants that represented senior and renown ranks from
the military, intelligence and scientific communities were:
Dr. Haskins, Dr. Donald Hebb (a Defence Research Board
University Advisor - Canada), Dr. Ormond Solandt (Chairman,
Defence Research Board - Canada), Dancy (MI6), Dr. N.W. Morton
(A staff member of Defence Research Board - Canada), Tyhurst,
Commander Williams, and Sir Henry Tizard (Chairman, Advisory
Council on Scientific Policy and Defence Research Policy
Committee, Ministry of Defence, Britain).
This was the beginning of a close cooperation which lasted
throughout the BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE and the MKULTRA projects.
Whilst accidental survival of some of the records on these
programmes and in particular MKULTRA establishes the
documentary evidence about Canadian government's involvement
in MKULTRA programmes, the information on Britain's
participation or cooperation due to continuous British
Government's policy of secrecy remains sketchy.[5, and 6]
"At the opening of the discussion, there was an attempt to lay
out some of the particular interests with which this group
might concern itself in reference to the general problem
described above [confessions, menticide, intervention in the
individual mind - sic]. In this regard, the following points
"(i) That the concern with change of opinion was with reference
to individuals primarily, and to groups only insofar as the
change of public opinion as a whole or propaganda might
involve concepts and particular facts that led to increased
phenomena of conversion of attitude.
"(ii) The question of permanence of change of attitude induced.
"(iii) The means of methods; physical, neurophysiological,
psychological or other -- that might be used to induce change
of opinion or conversion of attitude in the individual."
Within the space of three months after this top secret meeting
"in August 1951 Project BLUEBIRD was renamed Project
ARTICHOKE, [and] in 1952 was transferred from OSI to the
predecessor organization of the Office of Security. OSI did
retain a responsibility for evaluation of foreign
intelligence aspects of the matter and in 1953 made a proposal
that experiments be made in testing LSD with Agency
volunteers." "Meanwhile, the emphasis given ARTICHOKE in the
predecessor organization to the Office of Security became that
of use of material such as sodium pentothel in connection with
interrogation techniques and with polygraph."
In an attempt to conduct "Experimental Studies of Attitude
Changes in Individuals," Sir Henry Tizard, Dr. Ormond Solandt
and the CIA granted contract X-38 to Dr. Donald O. Hebb from
the McGill University in September 1951.
The project focused on the use of Sensory Deprivation (SD) and
isolation for eliciting information in the course of deep
interrogation. Hebb believed that sensory deprivation would
induce dramatic changes in the behaviour and attitude. The
first "subjects used were student group and each was paid $20
per day (24 hours) for as long as he could continue with the
experiment." The experimental conditions and environment
for the volunteer students in comparison to the real victims
of SD were markedly different. Volunteers were provided with
an air conditioned room, comfortable bed and good food
during the period of the experiments, as well as a panic
button to use whenever they decided to terminate the
experiment. They wore translucent goggles, forcing them see
blurred light. "The subject was not to talk except when asking
to hear the recorded propaganda or when doing minor tests
given to him by the experimenter. In other words the subject
was in perpetual isolation." The volunteers were not
subjected to any propaganda material which would have had
adverse effects on their political or religious beliefs, "it
was thought unwise, and for the protection of the individual
only propaganda material used concerning such relatively
innocuous topics as ghosts, poltergeist, extrasensory
perception and the Lamarckian theory of evolution."
Despite the concessionary factors several of the volunteers
began to have experiences of unusual visual and auditory
hallucinations. Many found themselves unable to distinguish
between the waking and sleep stage. Another person whose work
result was taken into consideration was Dr. Mackworth of the
Applied Psychology Unit of the Medical Research Council at
Cambridge, England. He had produced work on the effect of
monotony and boredom during isolation period on individual.
The fact of existence of similar programmes on the sensory
deprivation and isolation, and the cooperation between the
three countries is further confirmed by Dr. Solandt's comments
that the fact that Canadians were making such contribution in
this field may be of some advantage in obtaining information
in the same field from the US and the UK.
"Hebb's research to date has given some indication that
significant changes in attitude can be brought about by use
of propaganda under condition of isolation. In addition,
[Hebb] has shown that there is a significant decrease in
intellectual efficiency under such conditions, and a marked
increase in susceptibility to hallucination."
When the information concerning the SD tests were leaked
out and published in the Montreal Star, the Gazette and
Toronto Star, in 1954. Dr. Solandt tried his best to conceal
the facts; "When earlier this month it became evident that
some information on this project was in the hands of the
Press, it was decided that while it would be injudicious to
reveal the original purpose of the project, it would be
equally unwise to refuse to give any information at all. A
compromise was therefore arranged whereby the project was
described, but entirely from the point of view of possible
implications for civilian or military operational situations
in which a display had to be watched, a moving vehicle
Due to Donald Hebb's contribution to mind control programmes,
the CIA afterward funded Ewen Cameron's Psychic Drive Project
through MKULTRA Subproject 68. At the time Hebb was the head
of McGill's Psychology Department, and a close friend and
colleague of Cameron. Cameron's work in the "Psychic Drive"
programme left behind a legacy of despair and numerous
victims which sued both the Canadian Government and the CIA
Dr. John C. Lilly, another psychologist, studied sensory
deprivation in 1956 by immersing volunteers in a tank of
lukewarm water. The subjects had to wear particular type of
face mask enabling them to see only blurred light. Under total
silence and lack of any stimulation the subjects were unable
to concentrate, and in some cases developed mental
disturbances. The maximum time a volunteer could tolerate
these conditions was only three hours. The volunteers reported
feelings of unreality and tremendous loss of identification.
They did not know where they were, or who they were, or what
was happening to them. Due to this enormous mental pressure
most of them abandoned the experiment.
The concept of experiments in SD soon proliferated. Donald Hebb
was granted further contracts by the US Air Force for further
research and experiments into SD. Biderman and Zimmer
(1961) also conducted extensive research on interrogation
techniques using SD, funded by the US Air Force. Vernon,
another researcher in this subject admitted in the
"Acknowledgement" of his book "Inside the Black Room," "The
entire project was made possible by a generous grant-in-aid of
research given by the Office of Surgeon General of the US
Army, and by the National Science Foundation." Unashamedly, he
went on to add in his book "While our goal is pure knowledge
for its own sake, we have no objection to someone's use of
There are three aspects in the development and the use of the
Sensory Depravation. First; the requirement for more
experimental studies, researching the basic effects of the SD
and sleep deprivation. Second; the use of these techniques in
interrogation. Third; their utilization in special warfare
techniques by specialized troops. It was the accumulation of
that knowledge which gave birth to the modern Psychological
Operations, and subsequently enabled the British Government,
on August 9, 1971, to unleash one of its biggest deep
interrogation experiments, using torture and sensory
deprivation, plausibly denied by the Government at the time
as a political exercise against terrorism, on Irish
internees. Lord Parker admitted that the SD methods used on
the Irish internees were "techniques developed since war to
deal with a number of situations involving internal security.
Some or all have played an important part in counter
insurgency operations in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya and Cyprus
and more recently in the British Cameroon (1960-61), Bruni
(1963), British Guyana (1964), Aden (1965-66), and the Persian
Gulf (1970-71)." Indeed, the first NATO symposium on
defence psychology was held in Paris in 1960, a couple of
years after F.H. Lakin, from the Army Operation Research
Establishment in Britain, travelled to Fort Bragg addressing a
conference on human factors in military affairs on British
Psychological Warfare Techniques in Malaya. In 1963 the
US Department of Defense held its first Worldwide Psyops
Conference, outlining twenty-eight specific areas, Britain as
on of its main participants.
The Northern Ireland's unprecedented operations, due to the
nature of their severity and repeated breaches of various
Articles of Human Rights Convention, forced Amnesty
International, Association of Legal Justice, Committee on
the Administration of Justice (Northern Ireland), as well as
the European Court of Human Rights to intervene, adding their
voice and concern to the plight of the victims. A great
number of internees after undergoing horrendous experiments
were subsequently released without any charges.
Many of the original fourteen victims of the first phase of these
gruesome experiments "were made to sign a paper that they had
no complaints about the treatment during interrogation. Those
who signed the paper implied that they did so because they
were frightened, or because they did not understand the
contents." Several of them suffered from deep psychological
scars for years afterwards, and some continue their suffering.
Some died shortly after this experiments. A few attempted
suicide during their captivity and interrogation.
Amnesty International report stated; "As a result of its
investigation, the Commission concludes that the
ill-treatment used in these cases clearly amounted to
brutality, and disagree with the Compton Committee when they
state: "Where we have concluded that physical ill-treatment
took place, we are not making a finding of brutality on the
part of those who handled these complaints (paragraph 105)."
"The officials who gave evidence to the Compton Committee also
said that one of the purposes of the hooding and continuous
noise [white noise - author] was to increase the sense of
isolation, so it is obvious that the methods used during
interrogation in depth were therefore intended to affect
the recipients psychologically."
"In the opinion of the Commission, the interrogation in depth
especially, but also the "special exercises", constitute
violation of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and Article 3 of the European Convention for the
protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms."
In their memorandum submitted by Amnesty International to the
Parker Committee on Interrogation Procedures, they stated; "It
is because we regard the deliberate destruction of a man's
ability to control his own mind with revulsion that we reserve
a special place in our catalogue of moral crimes for
techniques of thought control and brainwashing. Any
interrogation procedure which has the purpose or effect of
causing a malfunction or breakdown of a man's mental processes
constitutes as grave as assault on the inherent dignity of
the human person as more traditional techniques of physical
In 1970, the World Conference on Religion and Peace, held in
Kyoto, Japan, where the representatives of all the world's
religions were present, the conference made the following
declaration on torture and ill-treatment of prisoners; "The
torture and ill-treatment of prisoners which is carried out
with the authority of some governments constitute not only a
crime against humanity, but also a crime against the moral
Britain is regarded as an expert in psychological operations,
and has regularly been invited to give demonstrations and hold
seminars, notably at Fort Bragg, Carolina; Fort Huachuca,
Arizona; Bad Tolz, Germany. For a time they were also
instructing the P.I.D.E. Portuguese secret police until to
their embarrassment, they discovered that since the Army coup
they had for sometime been giving lectures in
counter-insurgency and torture to Latin American guerrillas,
whom Communist members of the Portuguese Army had infiltrated.
Britain holds its main psychological operation courses at Ashford
in Kent, Caterrick in Yorkshire, Bradbury Lines (The SAS camp
in Hereford) and Old Sarum in Wiltshire, where psyops courses
for RAF officers are held. On average 16 men, consisting of
Green Jackets, SAS, Royal Marines and Royal Artillery,
together with members from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), take part.
The existence of psyop courses which includes the demonstration
and the use of sensory deprivation was kept secret until
Robert Brown, the UK Army Minister was forced to admit in
1976. Approximately 250 take these courses every year. Frank
Kitson, one of the organizers of psyop courses, had
complained about the small number of 18 taking part in Old
Sarum. According to British Government figures up to 1976,
262 civilians and 1858 Army officers had taken these courses.
The SAS training courses in the Bracon Beacons, also includes
sensory deprivation as part of its toughening up policy.
As further experiments Sensory deprivation was applied through
the Control Units in British prisons. The very nature and
existence of these units were kept secret by the British
Home Office. The Control Unit at the Wakefield Prison was one
of the first to receive its first share of inmates in August
1974, to be subjected to SD. The concept was to break down
the troublesome prisoners using modified version of SD. Sunday
Times Insight Team uncovered the existence of these units and
the purpose of their creation, in October 1974. As result of
publicity and sever criticism UK Government was forced to
disband its Control Units in Wakefield and Wormwood Scrubs
prisons. The "Treatment" designed for a period of six months
was divided into two parts. Sensory deprivation was the main
focal point. In the first 90 days, a strict solitary
confinement, with almost no communication was applied to the
inmate. If result proved successful, the victim was allowed
to have a limited amount of communication in the next three
months phase. Otherwise, the entire phase one would have been
repeated -- more solitary confinement. No conversation between
the prisoner and the guards were allowed, only gestures were
John Masterson was the first inmate subjected to this "Treatment"
in 1974. With no positive results, and more psychological
scars left on the victims, eventually on May 20, 1976, Dr.
Pickering, ex-Director of Prison Medical Service admitted in
BBC's "Man Alive" programme, that "control units were a
mistake." It is ironic, since he was in charge when John
Masterson was subjected to this mental torture.
Roy Jenkins, the Home Secretary at the time expressed his
satisfaction about these units and their operations. "I am
satisfied that the safeguard and procedures are such that the
trained staff of Wakefield are able to maintain a careful and
caring watch on the progress and condition of prisoners in the
A year after he was still adamant that; "I am satisfied that
allegations, which have received considerable publicity, of
sensory deprivation, cruelty and brutality in the unit, are
completely unfounded and that the Governor and staff have
conducted themselves in a commendably professional
manner." Yes, but what about the fate of the victims?
What started in Ritz Carlton Hotel in 1951, came to full
fruition in 1971, throughout the ordeal of Ulster guinea pigs.
As Professor Robert Daly stressed; "The whole SD process
in Northern Ireland was a package deal. Being awaken in
the middle of the night, being beaten, confused as to your
whereabouts, lied to and insulted, was all part of the
'unfreezing process' through which your psychological
defences were broken down, and terror and humiliation were
induced. Hence, the photographing in the nude, being forced
to urinate while running, refusal to allow toilet visits, the
sadism and abuse. Meanwhile the psychological functions of
the body were being disturbed by the very low or non-existent
intake of calories, high temperature caused by sweating which
could lead to dehydration, coupled with the cold at night,
sleep deprivation and loss of sense of touch. The whole
experience was a package. Whether you want to call it
interrogation in depth or brain washing is academic. The aim
of the treatment was to cause temporary psychosis, temporary
insanity, which was a severe psychological injury liable to
having lasting consequences."
Like the CIA, Britain too, as part of its mind control operation
applied hallucinogenic drugs -- LSD, on unwitting subjects,
including the Irish internees;
"Mr. Murphy alleges; He was given tea and says that after
drinking he saw images on the wall."
"Mr. Bradley alleges; He suffered from hallucination after
drinking a cup of tea."
Despite Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
which guarantees "the free development of ...personality," and
"in spite of the various United Nations provisions concerning
the personal integrity of individuals, no state is expressly
precluded from altering the mental processes of its
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance," said Albert Camus.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the protection of freedom
of the mind, our most precious human right.
1. CIA memorandum "An Analysis of Confession in Russian Trials,"
1950. Also see "Are the Cominform Countries Using Hypnotic
Techniques to Elicit Confession in Public Trials?" By;
Irving L. Janis; US Air Force Project Rand Memorandum, April
2. "Behavior Drugs, and Testing," Feb. 5, 1975. CIA document.
3. Documents from the collection of the Manuscript Division,
Library of Congress.
4. Tizard, Sir Henry Thomas, born 23 August 1885, GCB, AFC, FRS,
LLD, DSc, ScD, and holder of other titles (see Who is Who
1951, and Who is Who 1951-1960).
5. op. cit. 3.
6. In 1973 several key documents on the CIA's mind control
programmes were destroyed on the order of Richard Helms, the
7. op. cit. 3.
8. op. cit. 2.
9. "Confidential" letter, Dr. Solandt, August 3, 1954.
13. ibid., and Dr. Solandt's conversation
with author 1989.
14. Letter to "The Minister", Ormond Solandt, Jan. 25, 1954.
16. John C. Lilly, "Mental Effects of Reduction of Ordinary
Levels of Physical Stimuli on Intact Healthy Persons,"
Psychological Research Report 5, 1966, pp. 1-9. Also see
Bexton et al., "The Effects of Decreased Variation in the
Sensory Environment," Canadian Journal of Psychology, vol. 8,
1954, pp. 70-76.
17. National Defence Headquarters [Canada] letter to author,
dated April 18, 1994. Also see D.O. Hebb et al., "The Effects
of Isolation Upon Attitudes, Motivation and Thought," 4th
Symposium, Military Medicine I, Defence Research Board,
Canada, Dec. 1952 (Secret), and; D.O. Hebb and W. Heron,
"Effects of Radical Isolation Upon Intellectual Functions
and The Manipulation of Attitudes," 4th Symposium, Military
Medicine I, Defence Research Board, Canada, Dec. 1952
18. Biderman, Zimmer, "The Manipulation of Human Behaviour,"
Wiley, New York, 1961.
19. J. Vernon, "Inside the Black Room: Studies of Sensory
Deprivation," Penguin 1966.
20. Parker Report, Cmnd. 4901 (HMSO), para 10.
21. F.H. Lakin from Army Operational Research Establishment
(AORE), Britain, described the British Psychological Warfare
research in Malaya between 1952-55. He was in charge of a nine
man research team responsible to AORE, and the Research
Division of the Director General of the Information Services
[then the Federation of Malaya]. For six months two men from
the Operational Research Office of John Hopkins University,
Maryland, worked closely with his team, plus an Australian
22. Also see; 1. "Repression Trade - (UK) Limited," How the UK
Makes Torture and Death its Business. By Amnesty
International, British Section 1992. 2. "Submission to the
United Nations Committee Against Torture," for consideration
during the Committee's scrutiny of UK Government's Report.
Committee on the Administration of Justice (Affiliated of the
International Federation of Human Rights), Nov. 13, 1993. 3.
"A Submission to; the United Nation's Human Rights Committee,"
Containing Comments on the Forth Periodic Report by the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Human
Rights Committee under Article 40 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. By; Committee on the
Administration of Justice, June 1995.
23. "Report Of An Enquiry Into Allegation of Ill-Treatment in
Northern Ireland," Amnesty International, p.26.
24. For a more detailed account of the fate of the internees see
"The Guineapigs," John McGuffin.
25. op. cit. 23, p.36.
27. op. cit. 23, p.38.
28. Findings of The World Conference on Religion and Peace,
29. In answer to a Parliamentary Question, Archie Hamilton, the
British Minister of State for Defence listed 100 countries to
which UK provides military training of various nature
including Portugal, and other countries with notorious track
records in violation of Human Rights, e.g. China, Chile, Iraq,
Uganda, South Korea, Egypt, Turkey. He fails to add Cambodia
to the list -- See John Pilger's "Cambodia: Year Ten."
30. "Precis 6: Psyop unit - General," Training Report, Senior
Officers' Psyop Course, Royal Air Force, Old Sarum, Salisbury,
Wiltshire, UK February 14/18, 1972. A British document devoted
to the organization and equipment of psyops unit, both at
headquarters, and broken down into subsections; Consolidation
Psyops; Counter-Insurgency uses and their use in peacetime, as
well as details of deployment of psyop units in UK. Also,
"Technical Report of the Senior Officers' Psyop Course Held at
RAF Old Sarum, 14-18, Feb. 1972." This course clarifies the
parallel nature of the British psyops with that of US Army's.
Amongst people that have addressed these courses are; Keith
Belbin, of Coleman, Prentice and Valery [Advertising Agency]
on recruitment. Peter Bartlett on target analysis with
reference to the Chinese use in Hong Kong. R.M. Farr [a
psychologist from British Psychological Society] on attitude
change, and B.R. Johnston on information policy in low
intensity operations, mainly in Northern Ireland.
31. Now Sir Frank Kitson, Commander of the 39th Infantry Brigade
Northern Ireland between 1970-72. Author of "Low Intensity
Operation: Subversion," London, Faber and Faber; and
"Insurgency Peace-Keeping," London, Faber and Faber 1971.
Also, see "The Technology of Political Control," by; Ackroyd,
Margolis, Rosenhead and Shalice. Pluto Press 1980, and "The
Silent Conspiracy," Stephen Dorril (William Heineman Ltd.),
32. House of Commons, [British Parliament] November 14, 1974.
33. House of Commons, October 24, 1975.
34. Professor Robert Daly, expert in Sensory deprivation. A
graduate from Dublin University. Instructor in psychiatry at
the University of North Carolina. Later a lecturer at
Edinburgh University before taking post at the University
35. Robert Daly; "Psychiatric After-effects of Irish Prisoners
Subjected to Ill-Treatment and Torture," New Scientist, August
36. op. cit. 23, p. 14.
37. op. cit. 23, p. 23.
38. Garland E. Burrell, Jr., "Mental Privacy: An International
Safeguard to Governmental Intrusion into the Mental
Processes," 6 California Western International Law Journal.
39. Alan Scheflin, "Freedom of The Mind As An International Human
Rights Issue," Human Rights Law Journal, Vol. 3, 1982.
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