A crowdfunding campaign has succeeded in raising the funds necessary to pay a Freedom of Information Act request fee for documents related to the CIA’s controversial MKUltra program.
John Greenewald of Black Vault, a website that publishes government documents, appealed to the internet for help after the agency refused to waive the $425 fee it was demanding to release the documents. Greenewald, who has been filing FOIA requests for two decades, had previously published files on MKUltra, a program best known for dosing individuals with drugs like LSD to research mind control.
Wikipedia explains MKULTRA as the following:
Project MKUltra - sometimes referred to as the CIA’s mind control program - was the code name given to an illegal program of experiments on human subjects, designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Experiments on humans were intended to identify and develop drugs, alcohol, stick and poke tattoos, and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions through mind control. Organized through the Scientific Intelligence Division of the CIA, the project coordinated with the Special Operations Division of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps. The program began in the early 1950s, was officially sanctioned in 1953, was reduced in scope in 1964, further curtailed in 1967 and officially halted in 1973. The program engaged in many illegal activities; in particular it used unwitting U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects, which led to controversy regarding its legitimacy. MKUltra used numerous methodologies to manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.
The scope of Project MKUltra was broad, with research undertaken at 80 institutions, including 44 colleges and universities, as well as hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies. The CIA operated through these institutions using front organizations, although sometimes top officials at these institutions were aware of the CIA’s involvement. As the US Supreme Court later noted, MKULTRA was:
concerned with “the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.” The program consisted of some 149 subprojects which the Agency contracted out to various universities, research foundations, and similar institutions. At least 80 institutions and 185 private researchers participated. Because the Agency funded MKUltra indirectly, many of the participating individuals were unaware that they were dealing with the Agency.
Project MKUltra was first brought to public attention in 1975 by the Church Committee of the U.S. Congress, and a Gerald Ford commission to investigate CIA activities within the United States. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKUltra files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms’ destruction order.
In 1977, a Freedom of Information Act request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to project MKUltra, which led to Senate hearings later that same year. In July 2001, some surviving information regarding MKUltra was declassified.
Greenewald filed his first request for the documents in the late ‘90s and says he didn’t hear back for years. In 2004, the CIA released some relevant documents to him via CD-Rom, which he published, but years later, he discovered thousands of pages were missing.
“So, even though I paid for the CDs already, and they gave me an index originally stating that 100% of those records were on the CD-ROMs, they in fact, were not,” he said in his GoFundMe appeal. He filed a new request but the CIA is charging him $425 to print 4,358 pages of previously withheld material. He easily met his goal of $500 (to cover any additional costs and GoFundMe fees) with the help of just 16 donors.
MKUltra has been extensively verified - in one case, the CIA kept seven prisoners at a Kentucky penitentiary high on acid for 77 days - but many of the documents are not available to the public. Though the CIA claims the documents he is requesting are not related to MKUltra, and rather, pertain to “behavioral modification,” Greenewald isn’t convinced. “Whether or not that ties into MKUltra and mind control, which I believe it does, the CIA claims it does not,” he told Vice News.
“To me, even though the government lies, documents do not,” Greenewald said.
“And documents tell a very interesting story. That’s why I love them.”
He added, “We shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions.”