Monday, November 29th, 2010 — 12:02 pm
A group of military veterans are suing to get the CIA to come clean about
allegedly implanting remote control devices in their brains.
It’s well known
that the CIA began testing substances like LSD on soldiers beginning in
the 1950s but less is known about allegations that the agency implanted
electrodes in subjects.
A 2009 lawsuit (.pdf)
claimed that the CIA intended to design and test septal electrodes that
would enable them to control human behavior. The lawsuit said that
because the government never disclosed the risks, the subjects were not
able to give informed consent.
Bruce Price, one plaintiff in the lawsuit, believes that MRI scans confirm that the CIA placed a device in his brain in 1966.
At one point, Bruce was ordered to visit a building with a
chain link fence that housed test animals, including dogs, cats, guinea
pigs and monkeys. After reporting, Bruce was strapped across his chest,
his wrists, and his ankles to a gurney. Bruce occasionally would regain
consciousness for brief moments. On one such instance, he remembers
being covered with a great deal of blood, and assumed it was his own,
but did not really know the source. Also portions of his arms and the
backs of his hand were blue. His wrist and ankles were bruised and sore
at the points where he had been strapped to the gurney. Bruce believes
that this is the time period during which a septal implant was placed in
DEFENDANTS placed some sort of an implant in Bruce’s right ethmoid
sinus near the frontal lobe of his brain. The implant appears on CT
scans as a “foreign body” of undetermined composition (perhaps plastic
or some composite material) in Bruce’s right ethmoid, as confirmed in a
radiology report dated June 30, 2004.
According to a 1979 book by former State Department intelligence officer John Marks, The CIA and the Search for the Manchurian Candidate,
an internal 1961 memo by a top agency scientist reported that "the
feasibility of remote control of activities in several species of
animals has been demonstrated… Special investigations and evaluations
will be conducted toward the application of selected elements of these
techniques to man."
"The CIA pursued such experiments because it was convinced the Soviets were doing the same," The Washington Post‘s Jeff Stein noted.
In mid-November, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Larson
ruled that the CIA must produce records and testimony regarding the
experiments conducted on thousands of soldiers from 1950 through 1975.
"The CIA has already claimed that some documents are protected under
the state-secrets privilege, but Larson said the agency needs to be more
specific," Courthouse News Service reported.
The CIA insisted discovery was unwarranted in its case,
because it never funded or conducted drug research on military
Larson wasn’t convinced.
"[T]his court rejects the conclusion that the CIA necessarily lacks a
nexus to Plaintiffs’ claims, and orders the CIA to respond in earnest"
to the veterans’ requests, "particularly because defendants have
presented evidence that would appear to cast doubt on that conclusion,"
But Larson ruled that the CIA did not have to produce records about devices implanted in some of the subjects.
Gordon P. Erspamer, lead attorney for the veterans, told The Washington Post that he is still pursuing the CIA for implanting devices in his clients’ brains.
"There is no question that these experiments were done but defendants
say that they used private researchers and test subjects drawn from
prisons, hospitals and nursing homes as subjects, not active duty
military [personnel]," Erspamer said. "CIA said it had no one
knowledgeable on this topic."
Erspamer noted that papers filed in the case describe "electrical
devices implanted in brain tissue with electrodes in various regions,
including the hippocampus, the hypothalamus, the frontal lobe (via the
septum), the cortex and various other places."
"A lot of this work
was done out of Tulane University using a local state hospital and
funding from a cut-out (front) organization called the Commonwealth
Fund," he said.
"We tried to get docs from Tulane, but they told us that they were destroyed in the hurricane flooding."