Meet Sidney Gottlieb, CIA dirty trickster
He's the target of more than one lawsuit
By Sarah Foster
From a lecture by Noam Chomsky, on the Power Elite's
"The bewildered herd are a problem. We've got to prevent their rage and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the Super bowl or sitcoms or violent movies or something. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like 'Support Our Troops', and you've got to keep them pretty scared because unless they're scared properly and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous because they're not competent to think, and therefore it's important to distract and to marginalize them."
conception of democracy in America
It seemed Stanley Glickman had everything going for him. An American, Glickman was young, living in Paris, and busy carving out a successful career for himself as an artist.
Then one evening in late October 1952, his world crashed to an end. He accepted an invitation from an acquaintance to join him and some fellow Americans at the Cafe Select, a popular spot among writers and artists. There, the conversation turned into a heated political debate lasting several hours. When Glickman decided it was time to leave, one of the men offered to buy him a drink to soothe any hard feelings.
Rather than ask the waiter, the man himself went to the bar and brought drinks back to the table. Glickman noticed he had a club foot.
Thirty years later he learned this was a physical characteristic of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, who headed the chemical division of the technical services staff with the Central Intelligence Agency.
In an affidavit filed in court, Glickman recalled that halfway through his drink he "began to experience a lengthening of distance and a distortion of perception" and saw that "the faces of the gentlemen flushed with excitement as they watched the execution of the drink."
One of the men told him he'd be capable of "working miracles." No miracles occurred, but as Glickman left the cafe he "experienced distortions of color and other hallucinations." He believed he had been poisoned. Next morning, he was "hallucinating intensely." For the next two weeks he "wandered in the pain of madness, delusion and terror."
On Nov. 11, he returned to the Cafe Select, where he sat and simply waited -- with his eyes closed -- until someone noticed him, and he was driven by car to the American Hospital of Paris. He was there over a week, during which time he was given electroshock and, he believed, additional hallucinatory drugs. Finally a friend came, helped him sign out, and took him to his studio where he remained, a virtual recluse, for the next 10 months -- living in a psychedelic nightmare of terror and hallucinations.
When friends of his brother-in-law's family saw him on the street and realized the condition he was in, they contacted his family, who made arrangements for him to be brought back to the United States in July 1953.
Glickman never painted again.
He held odd jobs and regained his physical strength, but his mental powers were never the same; his artistic talents were destroyed. Nor was he able to lead a normal social life.
If Glickman's story is true, he would have been one of the earliest victims of the MK-ULTRA project, one program of which involved slipping d-lysergic acid diethylamide -- better known as LSD -- to persons without their knowledge or consent, then watching their reactions. The CIA's secret project was not formally initiated until April 1953, but there are accounts of earlier experimentation.
When the public learned of these experiments over 20 years later, Glickman realized he had been one of the victims.
In 1977, Glickman's sister, Gloria Kronisch, sent her brother an article she had read about how the CIA had experimented with LSD on unsuspecting people in foreign countries during the 1950s. At this time, the Senate Committee on Human Resources, chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-MA, began holding hearings on CIA experimentations on humans, and the CIA was asked to identify its victims.
The CIA identified 16 unwitting subjects of LSD tests in the United States, but denied conducting such experiments overseas.
Watching the hearings, Glickman knew that's what happened to him, no matter what the CIA claimed. A friend traveled to Washington to gather information about the agency's drug experiments. Most of the records had been destroyed, at Gottlieb's orders, in 1973.
Glickman sued the CIA in 1981, charging not only the agency itself with invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, but Gottlieb, who directed the MK-ULTRA projects and who, Glickman claimed, had personally slipped him the drug, and Richard Helms, then the CIA's assistant deputy director for plans, who allegedly initiated and authorized the program.
The case languished in the courts for more than 17 years, being denied status on various technical grounds, but on July 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, ruled that the suit against Gottlieb could proceed to a jury. The claim against Helms was denied on grounds that he was not actually the person alleged to have drugged Glickman and the statute of limitations for his less-direct involvement had expired.
Unfortunately Glickman will never know the outcome. He died in 1992. His sister Gloria Kronisch is continuing with the suit as executor of his estate.
Attorney Sidney Bender, who is handling the suit for Kronisch, told WorldNetDaily he is optimistic about the outcome.
"I think we will prevail," he said. "It is a circumstantial case, but it is a very strong one, and the Appeals Court unanimously ruled that it has merit and should go to a jury. The fact that the Appeals Court unanimously reversed a lower court denial is significant."
If Gottlieb is found guilty, it would be a real first. The agency has protected its own very well -- not only Gottlieb but the others who were part of MK-ULTRA.
The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 3.
Glickman's case isn't the only one where the CIA and Gottlieb will be called to account. A grand jury in New York is looking into the strange death of Dr. Frank Olson, a top-level army biochemist from Fort Detrick.
About a week before Thanksgiving 1953, Olson left his home in Frederick, Maryland, for a three-day retreat with colleagues in a remote part of the state. Olson, 43, was a specialist in biological warfare, specifically the delivery of airborne diseases; he had a Q clearance -- the highest security level. Twice a year, CIA scientists from the chemical division of the technical services staff and their Army counterparts from the Army Chemical Corps' Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick met at these top-secret retreats for seminars and to swap information in an informal setting.
Olson never came back from the retreat. Not really. Not the man his family had known. That Frank Olson had been gregarious, fun-loving and devoted to his wife and their three children. "Remarkably stable," is how his wife, Alice, described him. The man who returned seemed disturbed and withdrawn.
"He was uncharacteristically moody and depressed. He was in great distress and in obvious need of help," recalled Alice Olson, describing her husband's changed behavior. Her remarks are in an affidavit filed years later on behalf of plaintiffs who were suing Gottlieb and his colleagues in a separate case.
Olson reportedly told his wife he had made "a terrible mistake" and wanted to quit his work in germ-warfare. He said his colleagues had laughed at him and tried to "humiliate" him.
Mrs. Olson tried to assure him that he was mistaken, that everyone liked him, but it was no use. He was convinced people -- in particular those in the CIA -- were out to get him.
Nine days later, he was dead -- having plunged to his death from a window of a room on the 13th floor of the Statler Hotel in Manhattan where he had been taken by Vincent Ruwet, his boss in Army Special Operations, and Robert Lashbrook, Gottlieb's deputy.
Though suicide has always been the official explanation for Olson's death, his sons -- Eric, 54, and Nils, 49 -- never believed it; and as the story unfolded in segments over the years, they have become increasingly convinced their father was murdered and that his death is at the center of a massive cover-up in which Dr. Sidney Gottlieb plays a major role.
Evidence uncovered in the last few years suggests they are right. Moreover, it may well be that the generally accepted account of CIA skullduggery -- bad as it is -- may itself be a screen shielding acts that are even more unspeakable.
Alice Olson was never given the full story of her husband's death. An inquest determined the death to be a suicide, with no explanation of why.
The official account put out over two decades later is that Gottlieb had decided to use the army scientists from Fort Detrick as unwitting guinea pigs in an LSD experiment -- an extension of an on-going experiment at technical services, where it had become routine for the spooks to slip each other LSD.
According to his testimony presented in 1973, after dinner on Nov. 19, the second day of the retreat, Gottlieb directed Robert Lashbrook to spike the after-dinner Cointreau with a "very small dose" of LSD -- then 20 minutes after everyone had finished their drink, told them what he had done. Olson was not amused. He became "agitated" and couldn't sleep. Next day, although he seemed fatigued, Gottlieb said he "observed nothing unusual in (Olson's) actions, conversation, or general behavior." Still, no one wanted to work; the retreat ended early.
The next few days Olson remained despondent. On Tuesday he talked at length with his supervisor Vincent Ruwet, who had been at the retreat. Olson agreed to seek medical help. But rather than admit him to a sanitarium or the base hospital, Gottlieb persuaded Ruwet to pack him off to New York for an examination and treatment by Dr. Harold Abramson, an allergist with no formal training in psychiatry, but who did have a top-secret clearance from the CIA and worked with the agency on its LSD experiments.
Apparently he had one session with Abramson, but on Thursday, which was Thanksgiving, the three men returned to Bethesda. Olson didn't go to Frederick for Thanksgiving dinner with his family as planned -- allegedly he told Ruwet he'd harm his children -- but returned to New York with Lashbrook for another session with Abramson. Ruwet went on to Frederick to explain things to Mrs. Olson.
Olson -- according to CIA accounts -- became more depressed and wandered the streets, and it was finally decided to admit him to a hospital in Maryland. He and Lashbrook were to leave New York on Nov. 28. But at 2:30 in the morning, Olson ran across the room he and Lashbrook were sharing, and hurled himself through the blind and the closed window.
At least, that's what Lashbrook reported. He told the police he hadn't any idea why his friend had committed suicide, but knew he "suffered from ulcers."
Olson's body was given a cursory autopsy with no X-rays taken or graphs made detailing injuries. The body was placed in a sealed casket, and Mrs. Olson was advised not to have it opened since it had been horrifically damaged by glass cuts and the effects of the fall.
Fast forward 22 years.
It is 1975, and the commission appointed by President Ford and chaired by then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller is investigating past CIA abuses. Included in the report is a section about an unnamed Army man who had jumped out a hotel window after being slipped LSD in a CIA experiment.
The story drew nationwide attention. And that was how his family learned Olson had been drugged without his knowledge or consent. It was accepted that this precipitated his suicide. As a settlement Congress awarded the family $750,000, and President Ford invited Eric -- who was now a man in his 30s and a practicing psychologist -- and Mrs. Olson to the White House where he personally apologized to them for the drugging.
CIA Director William Colby had lunch with Mrs. Olson and Eric, and gave them the CIA file on the case.
According to the file, Olson suffered a "chemically-induced psychotic flashback" a week after being given LSD. Robert Lashbrook, the CIA doctor and Gottlieb's assistant, had been assigned the task of looking after him until he was back to normal. Lashbrook reportedly was awakened when he heard the sound of breaking glass and saw Olson crashing out the window.
Eric didn't believe that version either, not even the part about the chemically induced flashback, but kept his views to himself to avoid distressing his mother.
Another fast forward to 1994.
Mrs. Olson died in 1993, and her sons, who live in Frederick, decided to rebury their father beside her in another cemetery. At the same time they wanted to settle the questions surrounding his death once and for all. They obtained a court order to have a second autopsy performed. When Olson's body was exhumed in June 1994, the truth began to dawn.
"When he was buried, the coffin had been sealed," Eric Olson told Kevin Dowling and Phillip Knightley of the London Daily Mail, for an article published August 28.
"They said he had been so badly mutilated in the fall that it wouldn't be right for the family to see him. But when we opened the casket a lifetime later, I knew Daddy at once. He had been embalmed, and his face was unmarked and untroubled. He hadn't been hurt the way they said he had."
The second autopsy was performed by a team led by James Starrs, professor of law and forensic science at the National Law Center, George Washington University. It could find no sign of the cuts and abrasions the first autopsy said were caused by the crash through the glass window.
"Besides that, there was the positive finding -- a haematoma above the left eye which the forensic team said in all probability was the result of a blow with a blunt instrument of some kind," Eric Olson explained to WorldNetDaily in a telephone interview.
The forensic report discounts the likelihood that the blow could have resulted from a fall, he said.
"There was no fracture, that's part of the reason why they think it was a blow to the head," said Olson. "A fractured skull would have probably happened in the fall, but it didn't go that deep. That means it looks very likely it occurred in the room."
Not one to mince words, Olson dismisses the official scenario as a "fairy tale."
First, he pointed out, "There was no place to get a run in the room. He (Frank Olson) is supposed to have run, vaulted over a radiator, gone through a closed window with a drawn blind, in a dark room, with a CIA guy asleep in the next bed whose whole job is to keep track of you."
Eric Olson persuaded New York public prosecutor Stephen Saracco to look into the matter. Saracco decided there was enough evidence to convene a grand jury for an investigation into the death.
On April 27, 1996, shortly after the grand jury was convened, former CIA Director Colby disappeared suddenly from his Maryland home 40 miles south of Washington. He left a glass of wine on the table, a computer running, the lights and radio turned on. His canoe was found next day, empty, swamped on a sand bar -- his body was found five days later.
His death by drowning was ruled a boating accident, but the Daily Mail raises the possibility that it is linked to the grand jury investigation -- he "realized that he would be forced to give evidence," the article states.
Asked if he thinks there's a connection, Olson told WorldNetDaily that he views the Colby incident as "extremely suspicious."
"I don't know if it's related to this (the grand jury investigation), but I do think it's related to something. It's really crazy," he said. "And the way the press moved away from it so quickly: It was reported initially as being very strange, then they said it wasn't strange -- and then there's been silence."
Colby isn't the only witness who won't be able to give testimony. Frank Olson's old boss Vincent Ruwet, who was with him at both the retreat and for part of the time in New York, died just days after the district attorney interviewed him in 1996.
"He died of a heart attack, but he was about 90 years old," said Olson. "He did a preliminary interview, but nothing was recorded. He was going to be called later."
Before her death in 1993, Ruwet frequently visited Mrs. Olson in her home. She accepted him as a friend, but recently discovered documents reveal that he had been assigned by the CIA to keep track of her.
The big question is, why? If Frank Olson was murdered, as his sons believe, could he have known something that would panic the agency to commit murder and then engage in a huge cover-up?
Eric Olson thinks he may have found a clue in his father's personnel file at Fort Detrick, which he obtained after the exhumation. This was a document that referred to "a possible breach of security after a trip to Paris and Norway" in the summer of 1953.
"I had asked his boss [Ruwet] and other people if there had ever been a security question about him before or after the drugging," says Olson. "They all said no. But then I find a document that says there was."
From various sources it's been learned that during the late 1940s and 1950s, the CIA used German SS prisoners and Norwegian collaborators taken from jails and detention centers to test various mind control drugs. These experiments were sometimes fatal.
Olson told the Daily Mail, "At the time we had no idea what that (document) might have referred to, but now, knowing my father's temperament better, I can imagine his reaction if he saw experiments being conducted on human beings."
Whatever the reason, Frank Olson was regarded as a security risk. And his son Eric, just as he dismisses the suicide scenario as a "fairy tale," discounts the now official story that Gottlieb and Lashbrook spiked the drinks at the retreat as a kind of ill-conceived experiment that got out of control.
As Olson sees it: "I think they (the Army and the CIA) were concerned about where my father stood on certain issues, particularly after that trip to Europe. We know they thought that one of the purposes LSD could be used for was as a truth serum. The European trip really seems a motivator here. The idea that they were slipping LSD to their colleagues and observing the reactions has always seemed to me to be vague and nonsensical.
"No. I think they drugged him to find out where he stood and what he knew, and maybe they found out he really was critical of what was going on. Perhaps he reacted badly. Next week he said, 'I want out; I want to leave.' He was planning to quit his job. So they said, 'Look, you're feeling bad, you had a bad reaction. We'll take you to New York to get some help.' And they did. We never saw him again."
Olson also discounts the account of his father becoming unstable from a chemically induced flashback to the point where he'd commit suicide. Frank Olson certainly didn't suffer the hallucinatory experiences that Glickman did.
"He was despondent that weekend," his son recalls, "But there were no indications of any psychotic tendencies -- no delusions or anything like that."
To Olson, the "incredible thing" is that though people deplore the covert drugging, they accept the CIA's explanation of his father's death and look for motives as to why he took his own life.
"But what were the motives for the CIA to commit murder?" he asks -- then answers his own question. "They not only had motives -- if he was a security risk -- they had ways to do it. His death didn't create a problem for them -- it solved one. They could manage a death. They could say, 'We didn't see it, we were asleep.' So we have this story about him wandering around the night before -- but if these actions point to suicidal tendencies and if they are true, why didn't they watch him?
"MK-ULTRA was a secret program. It was to the Cold War what the Manhattan (atom bomb) Project was to World War II. And the fact is that in this whole MK-ULTRA program, they (the CIA) never took care of anybody who was ever the subject of an experiment. My father would have been the only person who ever received medical attention for anything resulting from MK-ULTRA testing. And that's absurd. He'd have been the last one they would have wanted to take care of.
"They couldn't afford to take the risk of letting my father continue to be involved or, considering all he knew, allow him to quit. So he was terminated.
"My father's murder crossed a line in the sand which the U.S. government has always publicly respected," Olson says. "But the guilty ones aren't going to get away with it."
Copyright 1998 WorldNetDaily.com
NOVEMBER 19, 1998
© 1998 Western Journalism Center
page image by Ken Stein
editor's note: Sidney Gottlieb died March 5, 1999 after a month long bought with pneumonia.
Wisdom And Freedom produced by WORLD NEWSSTAND
Copyright © 1999. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.