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Analysis of MKULTRA, 1977 Joint Hearing (Part 10)

by Dr. Jeffrey Russell, PhD

[First Round of Questions of Admiral Turner by Senator Chafee and Senator Inouye—some paraphrasing
and redactions by author]

Chafee: Admiral Turner, I appreciate that these tawdry activities were taking place long before your watch.
Not only were they abhorrent, they were rather bungled, amateurish experiments handled in a non-scientific
manner. It seems there were very few reports and the Agency didn’t have the ability to shut it down. This
went on for about 12 years. What I want to know is if the legitimate subprograms of MKULTRA such as the
polygraph experiments were conducted in a scientific manner and if you did get the best information from
those experiments.
Turner: Yes, we did. We have also limited our scope to our particular areas of interest and leaving other
areas to different agencies to cover.
Chafee: I also want to determine if the Agency is doing all it can in tracking down the identity of people that
were adversely affected during the Project.
Turner: Yes, sir. We will.
Chafee: Thank you.
Senator Inouye: Admiral Turner, MKULTRA subproject 3 involved the surreptitious administration of LSD
on unwitting persons, was it not?
Turner: Yes, sir.
Inouye: In February 1954, the Director of the CIA wrote to the technical services staff officials criticizing
their judgment because they were involved with the administration of LSD on an unwitting basis to Dr.
Frank Olsen, who later committed suicide. These individuals were the same ones responsible for the
Subproject 3. Even though they were acutely aware of the dangers of administering this drug and had
been criticized by the Director, Subproject 3 was not terminated immediately as it should have been. In
fact, it continued for a number of years. Can you provide an explanation of how such a project could have
continued under these circumstances?
Turner: No, sir. I really can’t.
Inouye: Are these individuals still on the CIA payroll?
Turner: Are you asking, are they today?
Inouye: Yes.
Turner: No, sir.
Inouye: What would you do personally if this type of thing happened on your watch?
Turner: I would do 2 things, sir. One is, I would be explicit that I did not want that continued anywhere
else, and two, if I found it being continued, I would roll some heads.
Inouye: Could you provide this committee with information as to whether the individuals involved had their
heads rolled?
Turner: I don’t believe there is any evidence they did, but I will double check that.
[Admiral Turner submitted a letter to the Committee dated 23 December 1977 stating that no actions were
taken against the individuals running Subproject 3]
Inouye: As you know, we are deeply involved in drafting charters and guidelines for the intelligence
community. We will be meeting with the President tomorrow. We are concerned whether anything like this
can happen again.
Turner: I think it would be very, very unlikely. First, we are all much more conscious of these issues and
second, we have very thorough oversight procedures now. The fact is that we must keep you and your
committee and the new committee in the House informed of our sensitive activities. This all adds up to a
high level of scrutiny to prevent such projects from proceeding unrestricted.
Inouye: A sad aspect of the MKULTRA project was that it involved American citizens who wittingly or
unwittingly got involved in the experimentation. Please report back to this committee in 3 months time on
what the Agency is doing to notify and assist the individuals and institutions involved, monetarily or
Turner: All right, sir. I will be happy to.
[End of Senators Chafee and Inouye questioning]