By RYAN ABBOTT
WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge dismissed claims that the CIA dosed a bioweapons scientist with LSD in 1953, killed him and made it look like a suicide.
Eric and Nils Olson say their father, Frank Olson, died shortly after expressing his disillusionment with his work as a CIA bioweapons expert during the early years of the Cold War. Olson had allegedly been involved in the highly classified MKUltra program, which sought to develop chemical and biological materials for clandestine operations. The program included testing LSD as a truth serum and a mind-control agent on human subjects.
Numerous works of investigative journalism and requests under the Freedom of Information Act ultimately brought the MKUltra project to light, and U.S. District Judge James Boasberg acknowledged that “the public record supports many of the allegations that follow, farfetched as they may sound.”
“Although mention of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) conjures in the popular imagination the 1960s escapades of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters … government study of its effects predates this by a decade,” Boasberg wrote.
The Olsons said their father “witnessed extreme interrogations in which the CIA committed murder using biological agents that Dr. Olson had developed.”
CIA officials allegedly believed that any misgivings Dr. Olson had about the work might drive him to commit security violations.
The Olsons said the CIA then spiked a bottle of Cointreau with LSD at an agency meeting, dosing their father without his knowledge and making him a “guinea pig for this ‘experiment’ into the effects of LSD on humans.”
The agency then shipped Olson to New York City, telling his family that he required psychiatric treatment and could be dangerous, his sons claimed.
A doctor allegedly met Olson at the New York hotel room he shared with another CIA colleague, Robert Lashbrook, and gave him bourbon and several sedatives.
“The men had two martinis each before bed that evening,” the sons said. “At approximately 2:30 in the morning on Saturday, November 28, Dr. Olson fell thirteen stories to his death from the window of room 1018A – the hotel room he was sharing with Dr. Lashbrook.”
They added: “The circumstances surrounding Dr. Olson’s wrongful death are substantially similar to a ‘secret assassination’ technique described in a manual that, upon information and belief, the CIA published the year of Dr. Olson’s death. The manual suggested ‘[f]or secret assassination … the contrived accident is the most effective technique’ because ‘[w]hen successfully executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually investigated.”
Judge Boasberg again refused to cast doubt on the allegation.
“Indeed, this would be the precise modus operandi the CIA is alleged to have employed here,” he wrote.
Though the Olsons settled with the government in 1976, accepting $187,500 each for waiving their claims, CIA Director William Colby piqued their interest 18 years later, shortly before his own death under suspicious circumstances.
Colby apparently sent Eric Olson a message in 1993 that indicated there was more to tell about his father’s death.
The family exhumed Olson’s body and discovered a bruise on his skull that a forensic scientist attributed to a blow to the head prior to the fall.
After prosecutors reclassified Olson’s cause of death from suicide to “unknown,” the family has pressured the CIA to reveal more and ultimately filed suit in November 2012.
Boasberg concluded Wednesday, however, that the 1976 settlement wipes out the negligent supervision claim against the agency. The rest of the claims then fail under the statute of limitation.
The sons say the CIA cover-up of their father’s death also caused their mother’s descent into alcoholism, and that their “replacement father figure” sexually molested them for years.
“Concluding that most of the allegations are both untimely and waived by a prior settlement agreement, and that any timely or preserved claims fall outside of the United States’ waiver of sovereign immunity, the court will grant the Government’s motion,” Boasberg ruled.
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