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Cryptonym: BLUEBIRD

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Dealing primarily with interrogation and control techniques. This project became ARTICHOKE, and later MKULTRA.

The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb - Jeffrey St. Clair & Alexander Cockburn, 11/17/17 -

The CIA had followed the trial of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Cardinal Josef Mindszenty in Budapest in 1949 and concluded that the Cardinal’s ultimate confession had been manipulated through “some unknown force.” Initially the belief was that Mindszenty had been hypnotized, and intrigued CIA officers conjectured that they might use the same techniques on people they were interrogating. The CIA’s Office of Security, headed at the time by Sheffield Edwards, developed a hypnosis project called Bluebird, whose object was to get an individual “to do our bidding against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature as self-preservation.” The first Bluebird operations were conducted in Japan in October 1950 and were reportedly witnessed by Richard Helms. Twenty-five North Korean prisoners of war were given alternating doses of depressants and stimulants. The POWs were shot up with barbiturates, allowing them to go to sleep, then abruptly awoken with injections of amphetamines, hypnotized, then questioned. This operation was in total contravention of international protocols on the treatment of POWs. These Bluebird interrogations continued throughout the Korean War. Simultaneously, US POWs held in North Korea were being paraded by their captors, alleging that the US was using chemical and biological agents against the Koreans and the Chinese. An international commission in 1952 concluded that the charges had merit. But the CIA’s response was to leak to favored reporters at Time, the Chicago Tribune, and the Miami Herald stories to the effect that the American POWs had been brainwashed by their Communist captors.

The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb - Jeffrey St. Clair & Alexander Cockburn, 11/17/17 - (continued)

This had the double utility of squelching the charges of germ warfare and also of justifying the Bluebird program. (George) Estabrooks related in matter-of-fact detail his role in hypnotizing intelligence officers for dangerous missions inside occupied Japan, describing how through hypnosis he had “locked” information inside the mind of unwitting soldiers, information that could only be retrieved by Estabrooks and other designated military psychologists. Then Estabrooks described how he and other government doctors developed techniques to split personalities, using a combination of hypnosis and drugs. “The potential for military intelligence has been nightmarish,” Estabrooks wrote. In one case, he claimed that he had created a new personality in a “normal” Marine. The new personality “talked Communist doctrine and meant it.” Estabrooks and the army contrived to have the Marine given a dishonorable discharge and encouraged him to penetrate the Communist Party. All along, Estabrooks said, the “deeper personality” was that of the Marine, which had been programmed to operate as a kind of “subconscious spy.” “I had a pipeline straight into the Communist camp. It worked beautifully for months with this subject, but the technique backfired. While there was no way for an enemy to expose Jones’s dual personality, they suspected it, and played the same trick on us later.” The CIA’s Bluebird project, which investigated hypnosis and other techniques in the early 1950s, was headed by Morse Allen, a veteran of Naval Intelligence and a specialist in techniques of interrogation. Criminologists revere Allen as a pioneer in the use of the polygraph. Allen eventually became disappointed with the research into hypnosis, and developed a keen interest in the more robust fields of electro-shock therapy and psycho-surgery."


06/22/2017: Memo from Manuel E. Legaspi, Bob Skwirot to Jeremy Gunn: Subject: MKULTRA: Pages 2-3: "MKULTRA originated based on concepts based on the CIA's initial research program into chemical and biological methods, BLUEBIRD. Later renamed ARTICHOKE, this first program dealt primarily with improving of interrogation and control techniques...According to the Church Report, Project Bluebird was initially led by the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI). However, control was transferred in 1952 to the predecessor of the Office of Security, the Inspection and Security Office (I&SO). The move was based on the idea that it was ISO's job...to prevent enemy penetration of the Agency, and that methods developed under BLUEBIRD would benefit ISO missions. At the time, the CIA's director of security was Colonel Sheffield Edwards..."

Bill Simpich

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