In late 1961, CIA promoter of MK-Ultra Richard Helms handed over to William Harvey the agency’s assassination programs, which operated under the title ZR-RIFLE. The Technical Services Staff (TSS) was involved in assassination and the recruitment of assassination squads. It also had interests involved in an expanded program of research into hypnosis and mind control.
Starting in the early 1970s, covert action programs involving assassination attempts on foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments were reported for the first time. The high profile domestic assassinations were glossed over, but nevertheless the Senate Church Committee was launched in 1975.
The Church Committee’s final report was published in April 1976 in six books. Also published were seven volumes of Church Committee hearings in the Senate. An interim report titled “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders” was also an eyeopener for the public. Additionally, the committee produced seven case studies on covert operations, but only one on Chile was released, titled “Covert Action in Chile: 1963-1973.” The other six were kept secret at the CIA’s request.
The committee revealed elements of the MK-Ultra program that engaged in numerous illegal activities, including the use of U.S. and Canadian citizens as its unwitting test subjects. MK-Ultra used extensive methods to manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain function. The scope of Project MK-Ultra was broad with research undertaken at 80 institutions, including colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons and pharmaceutical companies. The CIA operated through these institutions using front organizations.
In March 1953, Allen Dulles, the Director of Central Intelligence from 1953 to 1961, entrusted Dr. Stanley Gottlieb with MK-Ultra, considered one of America’s most secret and sensitive Cold War programs. Dulles authorized TSS and Dr. Gottlieb’s chemical staff to begin work on multiple projects for “research and development of chemical, biological and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.”
MK-Ultra eventually encompassed 149 subprojects.
Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that Helms, who served as the CIA’s director from 1973 to 1976, ordered all MK-Ultra files to be destroyed in 1973. The Church Committee’s investigations had to rely on sworn testimony of direct participants and on a relatively small number of documents that survived Helms’ destruction order.
Among the more shocking revelations was Subproject 54 and the Navy’s top secret “Perfect Concussion” program, which was supposed to use sub-aural frequency blasts to erase memory. The CIA claimed the program was never carried out, which was a common deflection.
Some historians assert that one goal of MK-Ultra and related CIA projects was to create a “Manchurian Candidate” subject through mind control techniques.
Reinforcement for the mind-control assassin aspect came by accident after the Church Committee was through. Lieutenant Commander Thomas Narut, a U.S. Navy psychologist stationed at the U.S. Regional Medical Center in Naples, Italy, in 1979, admitted to Navy programs that created mind-controlled assassins. Narut made this apparent gaffe at the NATO conference for psychologists on “Dimensions of Stress and Anxiety” in Oslo, Norway.
Narut said there was no shortage of enlisted men who could be studied and the psych profiles and background was available on all subjects. Afterward, in a small group that included Peter Watson of the London Sunday Times, Narut was even more candid.
He talked about his work with “combat readiness units” whose participants included commandos and undercover operatives at U.S. embassies worldwide, including “hit men and assassins.” He revealed that the subjects are desensitized while by being strapped into a chair with their heads immobilized and eyelids clamped open, while they were forced to view violent true-life splatter flicks until finally the men were totally callous toward scenes of horrible carnage. Narut stated that successful programming of assassins took only a few weeks.
Among the films shown were a brutal African circumcision, and a man having his fingers sawed off in a sawmill. Another technique of desensitization that was employed was propaganda aimed to make the customs and culture of another country appear as evil and less than human. Of course, in the modern version of this, such societal conditioning is pre-loaded and goes on around the clock via staged deceptions and Hollyweird demonization movies. One wonders if the method Narut was describing is really even necessary anymore.
Candidates for assassination training were taken from submarine crews and paratroops. Another source of mind-control fodder for the assassination programs was soldiers who had been awarded for bravery. Narut admitted that convicted murderers from military prisons were excellent candidates. It is not a stretch to conclude that criminals from the general prison population could be mind controlled and utilized.
Narut said that the men selected were programmed at the Navy neuropsychiatric lab in San Diego, California, and also at the Naples, Italy, medical installation. Although Narut admitted that he did not have a high enough clearance to know where all of the programmed assassins were sent, he did know that some had been stationed in the Naples embassy. This would have provided easy deployment throughout Europe during a period known as Gladio operations.
After Narut’s admissions were printed in the Sunday Times, the Pentagon issued an official denial that the Navy had ever conducted “psychological training” or the training of assassins.
Although admitting that Narut was on Naval staff in Naples, they reported that they had been unable to locate him in order to obtain a response to the allegations. A short time later, Narut gave a press conference in which he stated that the information he had offered “had only been theoretical” and said that these were the kind of programs that the Navy might do in the future.
Par for the course came the standard gaslighting, as the U.S. Naval headquarters in London reported that Narut’s rash statements had been made due to his “personal problems.”
However, Dr. Irwin Sarason, one of the organizers of the Oslo conference, admitted that a few years earlier he had been solicited by the Navy to participate in a project similar to the one Narut described.
Daniel Sheehan of the Christie Institute public advocacy group also verifies this kind of research:
“We have talked to half-a-dozen individuals who have told a startlingly similar story about how, at a very young age, usually between 20 and 25, they were contacted, usually within the context of military training, and told: ‘Look, we’ve got a special deal for you. You’re going to come into the service under the normal designation of being an infantryman, but you’re going to leave the service after a while and you’re going to have special training, and you’re going to be brought into a special program.’ They’re sent to special places where they are trained by mercenaries and then they’re told: ‘You’re going to be called upon from time to time to do some things for us.’”
This is precisely how Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh described his experience.
In recent years, the program appeared to snare more victims or targets from the general population. In 1996, there were more MK-Ultra hearings where a series of individuals gave testimony. In general, they described trauma and mind-bending or personality splitting.
Another man apparently programmed as a mind controlled assassin was Col. William Bishop (1923-1990), who made the following statement to researcher Gary Shaw. Bishop died of heart failure a few days after authorizing the release of a tape recording that included the above statement. So far as I can determine, this recording has been scrubbed from the internet. Bishop’s name comes up similar to E. Howard Hunt as a bench warmer in the JFK assassination. He is also linked to an intel assassination bureau called Operation 40.
“That was how, after the Korean War, I got involved with CIA. I have been subjected to every known type of drug. The medical doctors connected with the agency found that certain drugs work quite well in conjunction with hypnosis — hypnotic power of suggestion — with some subjects. It did with me. I speak with absolute certainty and knowledge and experience that this is not only possible, but did and is taking place today.
“I never understood why they selected me personally. There were any number of psychological or emotional factors involved in people’s selection. Antisocial behavior patterns, paranoid or the rudiments of paranoia, and so on. But when they are successful with this programming — or, for lack of a better term, indoctrination — they could take John Doe and get this man to kill George and Jane Smith. Then there is a mental block put on this mission in his mind. He remembers nothing about it.
“Perhaps a month or a year later — rarely over a year, at least back in those days — the phone rings. A code word will be read to him in a voice that John Doe recognizes. That will trigger the action. John Doe will commit the assassination, return home, and remember absolutely nothing of it. It is totally a blank space.”