From the Back of the Class | Issue 10

From the Back of the Class | Issue 10

Project MKUltra

I’m not usually much of a believer in conspiracy theories. I do not necessarily consider the phrase a dirty term as some do, conjuring up images of tinfoil-wearing loonies, but I do subscribe more to the “cock up, not cover up” theory of government than to the secret scheming cabal. I mean, the US government couldn’t even cover up something as innocuous as a Bill Clinton blowjob, and when you compare one Monica Lewinsky to the hundreds of people who would have to be involved for one of the 9/11 conspiracies to be true, then the whole thing looks much more like massive government incompetence than a diabolical “false flag” operation.

However, every now and then something happens to remind us that our governments are perfectly capable of conspiring and do in fact do so. Most recently, for example, we’ve discovered that not only have our governments been conducting covert mass surveillance on their enemies but also on us. While they’re welcome to try to plumb the depraved depths of my internet history, the fact remains that the governments of the Five Eyes literally conspired in order to do this and did so without the knowledge or consent of the people.

Project MKUltra reads like something out of a movie. It can loosely be described as the CIA’s mind-control programme, and it ran from the 1950s until 1973. The CIA poured millions of dollars into studying and examining methods of influencing and controlling the mind. Fuelled by Cold War paranoia, they sought to enhance their ability to extract information through interrogation — psychological torture essentially — as well as looking at literal mind control of their communist enemies like something out of The Manchurian Candidate. They experimented on unsuspecting human subjects using various drugs such as barbiturates, amphetamines and, most famously, LSD.

In some experiments people were given LSD without their knowledge and then interrogated under bright lights with doctors looming behind them taking notes. The subjects were told that if they did not confess their secrets, their “trip” would be extended indefinitely. If you’ve ever had a bad trip, you’ll know the sense of time being elongated — you fear that it might never end, that you’ll be stuck in this hell-scape forever. To be told that it’ll be continued into eternity by some wanker with a spotlight and a white coat — one can only imagine the terror.

Naturally, adverse reactions occurred like when one operative’s coffee was secretly dosed and he became psychotic, fleeing across town seeing a monster in every passing car, but, hey, we’ve all been there. Regardless, I’m pretty sure John Key isn’t a lizard person...

This article first appeared in Issue 11, 2015.
Posted 2:48pm Sunday 10th May 2015 by Finbarr Noble.