The High and the Mighty:
JFK, MPM, LSD and the CIA
by G. J. Krupey
:: I Get High with a Little Help from My Friends ... ::
As recorded in a report prepared for a congressional committee investigating the CIA's mind control experiments (171), among the goals of the MK-ULTRA project were to develop:
- "substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public"
- "materials to render the induction of hypnosis easier" - "substances which will produce 'pure' euphoria with no subsequent let-down"
- "materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use"
- "substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced"
- "substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men"
As examined above, the CIA planned to use LSD as an aid in the interrogation of captured enemy agents, as well as a sort of prophylactic for training American agents in resisting interrogation in the event of capture. Another usage of the drug planned by the Agency was as a clandestine confusion agent, to be slipped into food, drink, or whatever to foreign leaders and politicians of a leftist slant in order to reduce them to quivering, hallucinating blobs of flesh, gibbering deranged nonsense in public speeches, embarrassing and disgracing themselves before the public and in the eyes of the world. (172)
Of course, the CIA claims that such a use of LSD was never contemplated against domestic targets. But the Agency, in violation of its own (pre-Reagan) charter, gathered domestic intelligence right from the start, and during the height of the anti-war movement, coordinated Operation CHAOS with the FBI, military intelligence, and various police departments, to infiltrate and disrupt those pesky peaceniks. (173) The CIA intercepted and opened mail, tapped phones, ran smear campaigns. (174) As we have already seen, during the heyday of MK-ULTRA, the Agency tested LSD on unwitting US citizens, in conditions that were far from clinical and in ways that were nowhere near being "scientific." They even used each other as guinea pigs. And there are still unanswered questions about what role, if any, the CIA might have played in inundating the 1960s counter-culture with LSD and other drugs during a crucial period, or even if they possibly created the counter-culture, through unforeseen circumstances, or even as the ultimate MK-ULTRA experiment in mass psychological control and manipulation through drugs.
Too absurd to even consider? Then stop reading now, you won't be able to take what's coming next...
There is something about the story of Mary Meyer-as-JFK's LSD- mistress that, if true, is naggingly bothersome. Like the assassination itself, it demands clarification, insists on being solved. Recall the plans of Al Hubbard and Humphrey Osmond to make the world a better, more peaceful place with the application of psychedelic chemical therapy to certain hand- picked politicians, and their claims of some success. All this quite a few years before Mary Meyer's similar campaign: was it a case of like thinking evolving from acid insight happening in two different places and times, or was Mary Meyer possibly acting as an agent for Hubbard and Osmond, or someone who was their direct agent?
Consider the Leary connection to Mary Meyer in light of his connections to Hubbard, Osmond, and Aldous Huxley. Consider Hubbard's career as an undercover agent for various government agencies and defense related industries, including his connection to the CIA. Consider his later career spent fighting against the youth counter-culture that one would otherwise think he would have been proud of as being the fruit of his labors. Then consider Mary Meyer herself, estranged wife of one of the CIA's seminal top operatives, and her affair with a president who developed a mutual distrust for the CIA, a president who swore he would shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter the remnants to the wind. A president believed by many to have been assassinated by that same CIA. Consider the CIA sex and drugs safehouse experiments conducted by George Hunter White. Consider the proposed use of LSD as a means of discrediting foreign leaders. Consider the list of substances developed by the CIA, or attempted to be developed by the CIA listed above.
Now consider this: was John F. Kennedy, president of the United States, the ultimate MK-ULTRA guinea pig? Was Mary Pinchot Meyer playing some sort of clandestine game, was she some sort of Mata Hari? Or was she perhaps unwittingly being used by someone in that capacity?
After all, if we can seriously consider a CIA ready, willing, and able to assassinate a president they came to see as a threat or a traitor, why not a CIA willing to dose a president with LSD and study him as a test subject? What other world leader could they try their theories out on while observing him in closely monitored, intimate situations?
Still too absurd to consider? Probably. I hesitate to even put it on paper myself. But that isn't even the most bizarre possible theory...
While LSD is not guaranteed to permanently alter the thought processes of those who experience it, despite the frequent claims to the contrary often made during the 1960s, it certainly will give those individuals possessed of some intelligence and discernment a lot to think about. During the time period when CIA agents were furthering the scientific testing of LSD by dosing each other without warning, most agents had their already well-entrenched paranoid worldviews reinforced: to them, LSD was a nightmare experience, one to be avoided at all costs. But to some it was truly a revelation. One agent, after coming down from the peak of a trip, broke down and wept in front of his fellow spooks.
"I didn't want to leave it. I felt I would be going back to a place where I wouldn't be able to hold onto this kind of beauty. I felt very unhappy. The people who wrote the report on me said I had experienced depression, but they didn't understand why I felt so bad. They thought I had had a bad trip." (173)
He was lucky they didn't slap a straight jacket on him and cart him away for good!
Another operative who came away from his trip without the usual paranoid residue common to spooks on dope had found himself with "A more global view of things. I found it awfully hard when stoned to maintain the notion: I am a US citizen -- my country right or wrong ... You tend to have these good higher feelings. You are more open to the brotherhood-of-man idea and more susceptible to the seamy sides of your own society ... I think this is exactly what happened during the 1960s, but it didn't make people more communist. It just made them less inclined to identify with the US. They took a plague on both your houses position." (174)
Certainly, this is a self-defeating philosophy for a spy to adopt. Did such experiences tempt any CIA agents to chuck it all, or to stay only to subvert from within? It's a farfetched speculation, with little evidence to support it. While there were several notable CIA renegades who would come to public knowledge with horrible tales to relate of their activities as covert operators, such men as Phillip Agee, John Stockwell, Ralph McGeehee, George O'Toole, and David MacMichael seem to have been impelled more by the resolution of their own troubled moral dilemmas than by psychedelic insight.
However, one obscure theory, most likely, implausible yet fascinating, comes from Lawrence Livermore, North California punk rock luminary best known for his column in punkzine Maximum Rock 'n Roll. Livermore claims to have once met a fellow who claimed to be the son of "a high level CIA operative who had inside knowledge of the Kennedy assassination" which he described as "a power struggle between the liberal and reactionary wings of the CIA." This fellow ran away from home, went to the Haight-Ashbury and blew his mind on ... well, you know what by now (as well as the irony of the situation ... ), but by the time Livermore met him, he was "in the process of drinking himself to death." The gist of this wretched fellow's tale was that:
"Within the CIA there were good and evil factions, and when the bad group ('the dark ones' ...) threatened to gain complete power via the Kennedy assassination and the escalation of the Vietnam war and its related heroin trade, the CIA's white knights struck back with LSD." (175)
It should be noted that Livermore's informant wove a tale that "tied together Tibetan monks, Hitlerian mystics, secret brotherhoods dating back to the days of Atlantis, and the manipulation of white and black magic in the name of saving or enslaving the human race, and would hiss at the televised image of Henry Kissinger and say, "He's one of them ... look at his eyes." (176)
It's hard enough to believe merely when it's a tale of black and white "knights" of the CIA jousting over control of the nation and the minds of the human race, when the other elements are added to it, it sounds more like an episode of the continuing saga of Indiana Jones, or maybe one of Trevor Ravenscroft's satanic fantasies.
Livermore himself gives the impression that he finds the story "far-fetched-sounding, yes, but minus the quasimystical elements, by no means preposterous." (177) Could it have been possible that some faction of CIA agents, their typical cold war super-patriot minds blown by acid, indeed flooded the country with LSD, not as part of some plot to forestall change or stifle rebellion, but to encourage it, especially in the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination by their dark counterparts within the agency? It would not be entirely improbable, if we remember Captain Al Hubbard and his plans to foster world peace by turning on world leaders even before Mary Meyer.
And if Kennedy and Mary Meyer were pursuing an acid dalliance, with crucial repercussions for foreign policy, would it be too hard to believe that possibly it was due to the influence of somebody or something else, some self-appointed clique of mystic manipulators, perhaps, denizens of the clandestine world and adepts of its covert activities yet ultimately rejecting the goals of that world, running their own program and agenda beneath the cover of something much more banally insidious, like the CIA's MK-ULTRA program?
Well, it would make a good novel anyway...
(171) Project MK-ULTRA -- The CIA's Program of Research in Behavioral Modification, Washington, DC, Government Printing Office, August 31, 1977, pp. 123-25, as cited in Ranelagh, pp. 777-78, n27
(172) Lee & Shlain. p. 35; Lee, Ranftel, & Cohen. p. 20
(173) Marks, p. 75
(175) Livermore, Lawrence (pseudonym of Larry Hayes), "Whatever Happened to the Psychedelic Revolution? LSD in the Eighties", Burning Toddlers #2, January 1988, pp. 15-18, Frank Publications, PO Box 56942, Phoenix, AZ 85079
Excerpted from Part Four of the series:
"The High and the Mighty: JFK, MPM, LSD and the CIA"
copyright 1995 by G. J. Krupey
Which appeared in:
Steamshovel Press #12
POB 23715, St. Louis, MO 63121
Research on Mary Pinchot Meyer, her alleged acid circle, her murder and any subsequent cover-up continues at Steamshovel Press, which is currently following several interesting leads in this regard. Contact editor Kenn Thomas or author G. J. Krupey at Steamshovel's address if you have any information or additional leads on the topic. Confidentiality assured to those who request it.
This document was uploaded to the newsgroup alt.drugs.culture on 1995-05-29.
It was found at the Hyperreal web site [now long gone]
and converted to HTML on 1997-05-23 by Peter Meyer.
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