(RightWing.org) – Before World War II, the intelligence collection agencies of the United States government were a hodgepodge of units spread around the various military branches as well as the State Department. Just months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tapped General William “Wild Bill” Donovan to organize and streamline the country’s efforts, which were formally established as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on June 13, 1942.
Some of the plots and gadgets the OSS and its successor, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), tried to put into play might sound like something from a James Bond movie, but that sort of makes sense. Before taking the reins of the American operation, Donovan frequently met with men from the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/today’s MI6), including Ian Fleming, who wrote the novels on which the movies were based.
Get ‘er Done
There have been many exposés about the covert and sometimes flatly illegal schemes cooked up by the people near the top of the two agencies. The New York Post recently published an article quoting excerpts from a new book authored by John Lisle. In it, a retired CIA officer is quoted about the mentality of the agencies at the time, summing it up by saying, “we’re at war, so anything is justified.”
Another name closely associated with the innovations of the OSS was a chemist by the name of Dr. Stanley Lovell, whose sometimes off-the-wall inventions were developed by a group called Division 19, which was extremely secretive and little-known. Among the weapons/concepts developed that might be used by spies in the field were single-shot pistols made to look like ordinary pens, tear gas pencils, and chairs that could be rigged to explode when the target sat on them. It seems like something similar could have been done for a toilet seat, but maybe that was considered hitting below the belt, even in the Cold War era.
Another device — the umbrella gun — presumably had a dual purpose, the first being to keep the rain off one’s head and the second being the ability to put a small bullet into the kidney of your nearby adversary. Then there was the Beano grenade, which was designed to be the same weight and size as a baseball and to explode on impact rather than by timed fuse. Unfortunately, one of the men testing it did what many do with something that size and heft, he threw it into the air, and when he caught it, he blew himself up.
One of the darker programs run by the CIA was known as operation MK-ULTRA (sometimes written MKULTRA), which experimented with different drugs with the intent of being able to control a person’s mind, frequently without the consent of the test subject. It was headed up by Sidney Gottlieb, and the theory was a two-part process where first, a person’s mind needed to be effectively wiped clean so that it could be reprogrammed.
Gottlieb’s program reportedly had some success on the first step using techniques ranging from strong electroshocks to the brain to extremely high doses and/or long-term application of LSD as well as experiments using heroin, morphine, and psilocybin (the chemical in “magic mushrooms”). It has been reported that thousands of veterans were unwittingly used in these experiments, as were an unknown number of American prisoners. When they could not reliably apply step two, the program was eventually disbanded.
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