CIA Sued for One Very Bad Trip

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Nov. 29 2012 5:00 PM

CIA Sued for One Very Bad Trip

It’s no secret the CIA experimented with LSD as a form of behavioral engineering and mind control in the early 1950s. Now, a new lawsuit alleges the agency might have drugged one of its own scientists with the psychedelic agent before assassinating him and engaging in a decades-long cover-up.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by the sons of Frank Olson, a biological warfare expert who worked developing bioweapons for the agency in its early years. According to the suit, Olson became disturbed with CIA practices after he witnessed “extreme interrogations” in which he saw his own chemical agents used for murder. Shortly afterward, the suit alleges he was given a bottle of LSD-laced Cointreau by agency colleagues and suffered a nervous breakdown.

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The CIA claimed that after being sent for psychiatric evaluation in Manhattan, Olson committed suicide by leaping from his hotel window. But after a 1993 forensic examinations revealed signs of foul play, his family now believes he was murdered. Though the CIA has revealed thousands of pages of documents detailing their LSD experiments, and even admitted to drugging Olson, the agency continues to deny any involvement in his death or cover-up afterward.

Chris Wade is a video and podcast producer for Slate and occasional contributor to Brow Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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