The Journal of History     Fall 2007    TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Frank Olson Murder

Frank Olson was an American citizen, born in 1910 and murdered in New York City in 1953 by the CIA. Here's an outline of the case:

Fort Detrick is the U.S. Army's biowarfare facility, founded in 1943. Frank Olson was one of the first scientists to work there. From the final years of World War II through the Korean War and up to the present time scientists at Fort Detrick developed biological weapons including anthrax.

Following the end of World War II the U.S. conducted "Operation Paperclip", which scoured Germany for Nazi scientists who could be useful. It found some who had conducted experiments on prisoners in Dachau and other Nazi concentration camps, including one Kurt Blome. He was among the defendants in the Nuremberg War Trials, and would have been convicted and hanged but for American intervention. In return for agreeing to provide information to the Americans about his experiments in Dachau, and advice in the development of their own germ warfare program, an acquittal was arranged, and he escaped the gallows.

Frank Olson and Kurt Blome (who had become a protegé of the Americans) later met at Camp King in Germany in the early 1950s when Olson made several visits there to participate in "Operation Artichoke", in which the U.S. Army and the CIA experimented with the use of drugs (including LSD) in interrogation. Olson was present during brutal interrogations by the Americans of Soviet prisoners and suspected double agents, some of whom died under torture. Olson was deeply disturbed by what he had seen.

In the summer of 1953 Olson travelled again to Europe. In Berlin in August he witnessed several brutal interrogations involving torture and the use of drugs. On his return to the U.S. he confided to a friend and colleague at Fort Detrick, Norman Cournoyer, that he was disgusted with what the CIA was doing and was determined to leave.

In November 1953 Olson attended a meeting of a group of CIA agents at a country retreat where they discussed their work. Olson was suspected by the CIA of being a security risk. He was given a drink laced with LSD and when well under the influence of the drug he was subjected to interrogation using Artichoke techniques, probably a very unpleasant experience.

A week later Olson was staying in Room 1018A at the Hotel Statler in New York City under the supervision of a CIA doctor, Richard Lashbrook. The manager of the hotel, Armond Pastore, heard a thump outside and went out to find Olson dying on the pavement, having fallen from the 13th floor. The manager later found that a phone call had been made from Room 1018A to a number in Long Island and the caller had said only, "Olson's gone."

The CIA maintained that Olson had leapt through the closed window to his death. However, an autopsy conducted forty years later on the exhumed corpse revealed an injury to the skull most likely caused by a blow to the head and no evidence of any cuts to the body from broken glass. It seems that Olson, exactly as recommended in a CIA assassination manual, was struck on the head (possibly while drugged) and thrown from the window to his death thirteen floors below.

Olson was working at Fort Detrick during the Korean War and some have speculated that the U.S. developed germ weapons which it used against Korean and Chinese soldiers and civilians. If so then Olson would probably have known about this. The CIA believed that there was the risk that Olson would reveal what he knew about the activities of the CIA during the Korean war and about its brutal experiments in interrogation techniques, so he was murdered.

The fact that Frank Olson had died shortly after being given LSD in a CIA experiment came out in 1975 as a consequence of President Ford's Rockefeller Commission investigation into the CIA's domestic activities. Further investigation was called for, but in a White House memo advisers to President Ford stated that this would risk revealing state secrets (probably meaning, in part, the use by the U.S. of germ warfare in Korea); further investigation was suppressed and the whole matter covered up. The names of those White House advisers were Dick Cheney, current U.S. Vice-President, and Donald Rumsfeld, current Secretary of Defense. They have never been questioned as to what they knew about Olson's death.

A California history professor, Kathryn Olmstead, has discovered documents at the Gerald Ford library which were written by Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Olson's son Eric says his father's conscience was troubled by awareness of Nazi-style CIA experiments on human subjects.**

They show how far the White House went to conceal information about Olson’s death — and his role in preparing anthrax and other biological weapons.  ...

Cheney and Rumsfeld were given the task of covering up the details of Frank Olson’s death. At the time, Rumsfeld was White House Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford. Dick Cheney was a senior White House assistant.

The documents uncovered by Professor Olmstead include one that states "Dr Olson’s job was so sensitive that it is highly unlikely that we would submit relevant evidence".

In another memo, Cheney acknowledges that "the Olson lawyers will seek to explore all the circumstances of Dr Olson’s employment, as well as those concerning his death. In any trial, it may become apparent that we are concealing evidence for national security reasons and any settlement or judgement reached thereafter could be perceived as money paid to cover up the activities of the CIA".

Frank Olson’s family received US$750,000 to settle their claims against the US government.
— US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld Linked to "Murder of CIA Scientist"

[Dr. Sidney] Gottleib was in imported German scientist who had very strong US intelligence ties, one of which was Richard Helms, who became the CIA's deputy director of covert ops.  After being recruited to the United States [in Operation Paperclip] at the end of WWII, Gotleib  headed MK Ultra's Chemical Division.

Gottleib was for a while the Superior of Joseph Mengele at Auscwhitz. After being recruited to the United States, Gottleib replaced Willis Gibbins to oversee MKUltra.

**Frank Olson was not, after all a civilian employee of the Army.  He was a CIA employee working at Fort Detrick on precursor programs to MK-ULTRA, specializing in anthrax aerosols, possibly for for use in covert assassination.

Olson's passport, indicates that in the summer of 1953 – only months before his death– he had visited secret joint American-British testing and research installations near Frankfurt, Germany where he had likely witnessed terminal experiments on expendable prisoners. His misgivings were such that a British intelligence agent who became aware of them recommended that Olson be denied further access to Porton Down, the British chemical-weapons research establishment.

A few days before his death Olson told his superior Lt. Col. Vincent Ruwet that he wanted to resign. Ruwet demurred. The following morning, he returned to insist that his resignation be accepted. Ruwet took Olson to New York where he saw a doctor who was experimenting with LSD for the CIA. Olson was also taken to see a New York hypnotherapist on the CIA payroll. He was pleading to be allowed resign, asking those around him to "just let me disappear."
For their part in that affair, Rumsfeld and Cheney have much to answer for.  The cover-up was totally lacking in the nobility of purpose often portrayed in the White House TV series "The West Wing."  Rather, it reeks of the sordid business of covering up murder by the State to safeguard programs aiming at more, bigger and even worse murders.


The Journal of History - Fall 2007 Copyright © 2007 by News Source, Inc.