They came by the thousands to the mountain fortress Alamut, or "Eagle's Nest," in northern Persia. There dwelled a religious sect called "Nizarus," which split from the Ismailis (who branched off from Islam) in 1078. The main attraction of this religion was its master, the mystic Hassan-I Sabbah, who claimed to be the supreme being in the universe, the incarnation of God on Earth. The flock desired to learn the secret wisdom and knowledge from "God," and were therefore willing to do his bidding. As part of the religion's ceremonies each recruit was required to smoke the drug hashish. The recruit would promptly fall asleep, to awaken later in what seemed like a dream.
Unparalleled beauty would strike the follower's eyes. Here, in the dream, he was surrounded by streams that flowed with milk and honey; handsome women danced before him, and servants waited for his command. The warm sun shone brightly upon the garden of trees waving slightly in the breeze, and the soft grass stretched toward the blue sky.
The recruit's body would tremble when he recognized where he was: Paradise the garden of Heaven as described in the holy book, the Koran. The recruit knew that this was only a dream, and he wondered how he might find and stay in real paradise forever.
The answer would come from an unexpected guest. Sabbah soothingly told the follower to obey his every command, even to kill or be killed if Sabbah so spoke, and the carpet to paradise would be laid out for the recruit to travel.
Later, quietly sitting in his room at the Alamut, Sabbah must have grinned to himself. For only he knew the true nature of his religion. The Nizarus was actually the Order of Assassins, which through drugs and mind control techniques tricked followers into believing they had glimpsed paradise in a dream. But it was not a dream, it was real -- a charade set up by Sabbah to fool people into following him. These people became Fidai -- assassins who could start or end wars and change the entire political shape of a country. The Fidai would do anything for Sabbah, even kill or be killed.M
"The Nation must ... take it on faith that we who lead the CIA are honorable men, devoted to the Nation's service." -- Former CIA Director Richard Helms
In the 1950s the U.S. Government became worried about mind control techniques being used by foreign countries. To counter this, the CIA launched several projects. Though they began defensively, these projects soon turned offensive with sinister results. The CIA hoped to create a "Manchurian Candidate," a controlled assassin much like the Fidai.
CIA mind control experiments were brought to light in a book on Senate Hearings in the 1970s, Project MKULTRA, the CIA's Program of Research in Behavioral Modification, U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence, and Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, August 3, 1977. An individual using the Freedom of Information Act did what two Senate Committees could not: locate surviving MKULTRA documents after CIA director Richard Helms had ordered their destruction in January 1973. Eleven boxes of documents that escaped destruction were found.
Project MKULTRA began in 1953 and ended in 1964. It involved thousands of unwitting citizens in the U.S. and abroad in an astonishing array of experiments including hypnosis, drugs, sensory deprivation, chemicals, "blood grouping" to control the activity of animals, assassination delivery systems, and sound weapons. Hypnosis, deprivation, and the reality-altering drug LSD-25 produced the best results.
Several suicides resulted from the surreptitious administration of drugs to people in safe houses by undercover officers of the Bureau of Narcotics acting for the CIA. The death of Dr. Frank Olsen in 1953 was the result of one CIA experiment. Olsen, a civilian employee of the Army at Fort Detrick, leaped to his death from a hotel room in New York City about a week after unknowingly consuming LSD, administered to him as an experiment at a meeting of LSD researchers called by the CIA. Eventually the CIA was forced to pay millions of dollars to incapacitated victims and the families of those who committed suicide.
What MKULTRA discovered was best described by John Gittinger, a former CIA employee, at the Senate hearings:
"By 1962 and 1963, the general idea that we were able to come up with is that brainwashing was ... a process of isolating a human being, keeping him out of contact, putting him under long stress in relationships to interviewing and interrogation, and that they (the CIA) could produce any change that way without having to resort to any kind of esoteric means."
Mr. BLUEBIRD on My Shoulder
The best example of human deprivation experiments is found in the CIA mind control project BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE. Involving the use of chemical and biological agents, Project BLUEBIRD was approved by the Director of Central Intelligence in 1950. One of its objectives was to evaluate offensive uses of unconventional drugs for interrogation purposes. In August 1951 the project was renamed ARTICHOKE. Objectives included both offensive and defensive purposes of special interrogation -- primarily hypnosis and truth serums. The CIA maintains that the project ended in 1956. But evidence suggests that the CIA's Office of Security and Office of Medical Services used special interrogation techniques for several years after that. These techniques later evolved into behavioral modification and mind control studies.
CIA BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE documents obtained through FOIA list almost every conceivable experiment for mind control, special interrogation, and behavioral modification, including the use of chemicals and drugs, gases, aerosols, high and low atmospheric pressures, sound, bacteria, plant cultures, fungi, poisons of various types, dietary deficiencies, electroshock, electronarcosis, electrosleep, lobotomy, brain surgery, light, color, amnesia, hypnosis, ESP, and carotid sinus pressure. Even the hypnotic effects of spiritual mediums were studied.
Project BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE determined that effective brainwashing involves isolation applied over an extended period of time. The long-term objective of brainwashing is weakening or eradicating a subject's philosophy of life and his or her drive to pursue it.
BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE prescribed three steps in effective brainwashing: Deprivation: The subject is deprived of necessities in order to induce a pliable state of mental awareness. The subject may be deprived of sleep, warmth, food and vitamins, dignity, and oxygen.
Drugs: After the subject has been sufficiently deprived and his or her mind is weak, drugs are administered to further weaken the mind, alter reality, and leave the subject receptive to powerful suggestions. Drugs like LSD-25, barbiturates (truth serums), ethyl alcohol, scopolamine, morphine, marijuana, and mescaline are used with a high degree of success. Conditioning and Reconditioning: The subject's mind is now ready to accept suggestions. To increase his or her acceptance of the suggestions hypnosis is used, along with fear and flickering lights and colors. The testee is conditioned to respond to a specific signal or symbol. For instance, the subject might hear a bell, read a particular word, or see a special symbol that will prompt him or her into performing the task he or she was programmed to do. If it is desireable that the testee not remember the task, drugs, hypnosis, and violent physical shocks are used to decondition the subject and to cause amnesia.
MKULTRA and BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE demonstrated that anyone can be brainwashed and have their mind controlled under the proper conditions.