The Frank Olson Murder
Frank Olson was an American citizen, born in 1910 and murdered in New York City in 1953 by the CIA. Here's an outline of the case:
Fort Detrick is the U.S. Army's biowarfare facility, founded in 1943. Frank Olson was one of the first scientists to work there. From the final years of World War II through the Korean War and up to the present time scientists at Fort Detrick developed biological weapons including anthrax.
Following the end of World War II the U.S. conducted "Operation Paperclip", which scoured Germany for Nazi scientists who could be useful. It found some who had conducted experiments on prisoners in Dachau and other Nazi concentration camps, including one Kurt Blome. He was among the defendants in the Nuremberg War Trials, and would have been convicted and hanged but for American intervention. In return for agreeing to provide information to the Americans about his experiments in Dachau, and advice in the development of their own germ warfare program, an acquittal was arranged, and he escaped the gallows.
Frank Olson and Kurt Blome (who had become a protegé of the Americans) later met at Camp King in Germany in the early 1950s when Olson made several visits there to participate in "Operation Artichoke", in which the U.S. Army and the CIA experimented with the use of drugs (including LSD) in interrogation. Olson was present during brutal interrogations by the Americans of Soviet prisoners and suspected double agents, some of whom died under torture. Olson was deeply disturbed by what he had seen.
In the summer of 1953 Olson travelled again to Europe. In Berlin in August he witnessed several brutal interrogations involving torture and the use of drugs. On his return to the U.S. he confided to a friend and colleague at Fort Detrick, Norman Cournoyer, that he was disgusted with what the CIA was doing and was determined to leave.
In November 1953 Olson attended a meeting of a group of CIA agents at a country retreat where they discussed their work. Olson was suspected by the CIA of being a security risk. He was given a drink laced with LSD and when well under the influence of the drug he was subjected to interrogation using Artichoke techniques, probably a very unpleasant experience.
A week later Olson was staying in Room 1018A at the Hotel Statler in New York City under the supervision of a CIA chemist, Richard Lashbrook. The manager of the hotel, Armond Pastore, heard a thump outside and went out to find Olson dying on the pavement, having fallen from the 13th floor. The manager later found that a phone call had been made from Room 1018A to a number in Long Island and the caller had said only, "Olson's gone." [Or according to an anonymous source in December 2010: Call from Lashbrook to Abramson — "Well, he's gone." Reply — "That's too bad." Then simultaneous hang ups.]
The CIA maintained that Olson had leapt through the closed window to his death. However, an autopsy conducted forty years later on the exhumed corpse revealed an injury to the skull most likely caused by a blow to the head and no evidence of any cuts to the body from broken glass. It seems that Olson, exactly as recommended in a 1953 CIA assassination manual, was struck on the head and thrown from the window to his death thirteen floors below.
Olson was working at Fort Detrick during the Korean War and some have speculated that the U.S. developed germ weapons which it used against Korean and Chinese soldiers and civilians. If so then Olson would probably have known about this. The CIA believed that there was the risk that Olson would reveal what he knew about the activities of the CIA during the Korean war and about its brutal experiments in interrogation techniques, so he was murdered.
The fact that Frank Olson had died shortly after being given LSD in a CIA experiment came out in 1975 as a consequence of President Ford's Rockefeller Commission investigation into the CIA's domestic activities. Further investigation was called for, but in a White House memo advisers to President Ford stated that this would risk revealing state secrets (probably meaning, in part, the use by the U.S. of germ warfare in Korea); further investigation was suppressed and the whole matter covered up. The names of those White House advisers were Dick Cheney, U.S. Vice-President under G.W.Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense under G.W.Bush. They have never been questioned as to what they knew about Olson's death.
A California history professor, Kathryn Olmstead, has discovered documents at the Gerald Ford library which were written by Cheney and Rumsfeld.
They show how far the White House went to conceal information about Olson's death — and his role in preparing anthrax and other biological weapons. ...
Cheney and Rumsfeld were given the task of covering up the details of Frank Olson's death. At the time, Rumsfeld was White House Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford. Dick Cheney was a senior White House assistant.
The documents uncovered by Professor Olmstead include one that states "Dr Olson's job was so sensitive that it is highly unlikely that we would submit relevant evidence".
In another memo, Cheney acknowledges that "the Olson lawyers will seek to explore all the circumstances of Dr Olson's employment, as well as those concerning his death. In any trial, it may become apparent that we are concealing evidence for national security reasons and any settlement or judgement reached thereafter could be perceived as money paid to cover up the activities of the CIA".
Frank Olson's family received US$750,000 to settle their claims against the US government.
— US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld Linked to "Murder of CIA Scientist"
For further information about the Frank Olson case see:
- THE OLSON FILE: A secret that could destroy the CIA
- The Frank Olson Legacy Project, which includes
- Rumsfeld & Cheney's Dirty Little Spy Secret
- Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the Manchurian Candidate
- John Marks: Concerning the Case of Dr. Frank Olsen
- H. P. Albarelli Jr.: The Mysterious Death of CIA Scientist Frank Olson, Part I and Part II
- Chris Floyd: The CIA, the Bush Gang and the Killing of Frank Olson
- Alci Rengifo: Darkest Chambers: Wormwood And The Underground Of American History
U.S. testing and apparent deployment in Korea of biological weapons:
- German documentary charges US used biological weapons in Korean War (also here)
- Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman: The United States and Biological Warfare — Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea
- ABC News: U.S. Conducted Open-Air Biological, Chemical Weapons Tests in 1960s, Pentagon Records Show
Washington, Oct. 9  — The United States secretly tested chemical and biological weapons on American soil during the 1960s, newly declassified Pentagon reports show. ... The tests included releasing deadly nerve agents in Alaska and spraying bacteria over Hawaii, according to the documents obtained Tuesday. ... The United States also tested nerve agents in Canada and Britain in conjunction with those two countries. ... The summaries of more than two dozen tests show that biological and chemical tests were much more widespread than the military has acknowledged previously.
For more on the connections between the CIA and the Nazis (including mention of Kurt Blome) see:
A copy of the entire Serendipity website is available on CD-ROM and flash drive. Details here.
The CIA Serendipity Home Page