Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mr. Mitchell & Mr. Jessen Have Lost Their Doctorates

Now check to see if they had any academic credentials at all.

December 16, 2014, New York Times, CIA, on Path to Torture, Chose Haste Over Analysis, by James Risen and Matt Apuzzo,

WASHINGTON — Almost immediately after transferring the first important prisoner they had captured since the 9/11 attacks to a secret prison in Thailand, officials of the Central Intelligence Agency met at the agency's headquarters to debate two questions they had been discussing for months. Who would interrogate Abu Zubaydah, and how?

A C.I.A. lawyer at the April 1, 2002, meeting suggested the name of a psychologist, James Mitchell, who had been on contract for several months, analyzing Al Qaeda for the agency's Office of Technical Service, the arm of the C.I.A. that creates disguises and builds James Bond-like spy gadgets.

The lawyer, Jonathan Fredman, had heard the name from someone in the office, and within hours of floating it, counterterrorism officials were on the phone with Mr. Mitchell. By that evening, according to the report released last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the agency had incorporated Mr. Mitchell's views into a classified cable ordering preparations for the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, a Qaeda operative.

The cable called for constant lighting, loud music and an all-white room to keep Abu Zubaydah awake. The setup would cause "psychological disorientation, and reduced psychological wherewithal," the cable read.

With little debate or vetting of Mr. Mitchell and his approach, the C.I.A. that day in 2002 started down a road to interrogation practices that Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, last week called "a stain on our values and our history."

In the months that followed, Mr. Mitchell, a former Air Force explosives expert and trainer, and later his partner, Bruce Jessen, another psychologist and former Air Force officer, designed, led and directed the interrogations and became the prime advocates for what is now widely considered to have been torture. In the process, they made tens of millions of dollars under contracts that their critics within the C.I.A. warned at the time gave them financial incentives to repeatedly use the most brutal techniques.

The C.I.A. has said it hired Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen because their experience with "nonstandard" interrogation was "unparalleled." But the government's own experts favored the traditional approach to questioning prisoners. And the Senate report makes clear that the speed with which Mr. Mitchell was brought into the program — less than 24 hours elapsed between the time his name was floated and that first cable — meant there was no time to analyze whether his approach was best.

Former officials involved in the program attribute the speed to one thing: desperation. With the C.I.A. under pressure to obtain information from its prisoners, Mr. Mitchell seemed to have the answer to how to do it.

That eagerness for a new, aggressive approach is reflected elsewhere in the Senate report. One C.I.A. officer said the agency's best intelligence justifying harsh interrogations came from a "walk-in" source — someone who appeared one day and told the C.I.A. that Allah permitted jihadists to cooperate only if they were threatened. There is no evidence in the report that the C.I.A. ever corroborated those assertions.

In a lengthy interview last week after the C.I.A. released him from an order forbidding his talking about his role in its program, Mr. Mitchell said the speed of his hiring was a surprise even to him. "I never knew how that happened," he said. "I just got a phone call."

But, he said, it was not something he sought. "I didn't knock on the gate and say, 'Let me torture people,"" he said.

Mr. Mitchell added that he disagreed with the conclusions of the Senate report and believes he has been unfairly demonized. His role, he said, was more complicated than has been presented.

Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen had worked as trainers at the Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program, which subjected American airmen to the kind of interrogation they might face if captured so they could learn to resist it. Building on that experience, Mr. Mitchell proposed to the C.I.A. a list of so-called enhanced interrogation tactics, including locking people in cramped boxes, shackling them in painful positions, keeping them awake for a week at a time, covering them with insects, and waterboarding, which simulates drowning and which the United States had considered torture.

Though the earliest mention of these tactics in the Senate report is July 2002, Justice Department documents released years ago show that C.I.A. officials began discussing them within days of the April 1 meeting when Mr. Mitchell was brought aboard. John Rizzo, the agency's top lawyer at the time, also placed those discussions in April in his memoir "Company Man." He described some of the tactics as "sadistic and terrifying" but left it to Justice Department lawyers to decide whether they were legal. They ultimately decided they were.

Shortly after the April 1 meeting, the C.I.A. dispatched Mr. Mitchell to Thailand, where he was to consult on the "psychological aspects" of the interrogation, according to a C.I.A. cable cited in the report. Mr. Mitchell's original contract with the agency had been to study Al Qaeda's strategies for resisting interrogation. Later, Mr. Mitchell personally waterboarded Abu Zubaydah in Thailand. But Mr. Mitchell said that at first, his job was to observe Abu Zubaydah's interrogation and assess whether he was using the Qaeda techniques.

"I was making recommendations to a team who were doing the interrogation," he said. "But there was intense pressure for results. There was a tremendous amount of pressure not to let other Americans die."

That summer, as Justice Department lawyers and the White House finalized the legal memos justifying the interrogations, Mr. Mitchell said he gave a presentation outlining an aggressive approach. He disputes the notion that he pushed the agency down a road it did not want to go. "It was clear to me from walking the halls that they were going to use coercive interrogations," he said. "It was clear that was the direction they were going."

The SERE techniques, he said, were an attempt to standardize the interrogation process and bolster it with research. "I said, if you are going to use coercive techniques, then don't let people just freelance," Mr. Mitchell recalled. "Use something that people have a track record with."

The Central Intelligence Agency used waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other techniques on dozens of the men it detained in secret prisons between 2002 and 2008.

There was broad consensus among behavioral scientists, however, that torture did not work — subjects became so eager to stop the pain that they did not provide accurate information. And Mr. Mitchell was proposing to take techniques employed in simulations and use them for actual interrogations.

The Senate report indicates that at least some information suggesting that SERE methods were ineffective as interrogation tactics was never shared with the Justice Department. Nevertheless, the department authorized the techniques, and the C.I.A. asked Mr. Mitchell to use them.

"After a lot of soul searching, I agreed to do it," Mr. Mitchell said. "But I knew that at that moment, my life as I knew it was over. I went through my ethical obligations, and decided for me, the least worst choice was to help save American lives. It felt like something was going to happen at any minute. I felt like you had to do something."

Mr. Mitchell suggested that the C.I.A. also hire Mr. Jessen, a friend and former colleague. In the Air Force, Mr. Jessen had helped screen the instructors who posed as interrogators. Occasionally, he played the interrogator himself, and was once called out by colleagues for being too aggressive. Mr. Jessen did not respond to repeated interview requests.

In Thailand, only Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen were allowed to use the new tactics. For nearly a month, they interrogated Abu Zubaydah, at one point waterboarding him until he lost consciousness. Some C.I.A. officials said they were repulsed by the brutal methods, according to the Senate report, and cables showed that some wanted out of the program. Some officials, in fact, grew to resent the contractors, complaining that they refused to listen to alternatives, the report says. "I would sometimes feel it," Mr. Mitchell said. "It was nothing ever said to me, but I could feel it sometimes."

Yet the Senate report shows that Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen prevailed, backed by allies at C.I.A. headquarters, including on the agency's Bin Laden team and at the Counterterrorism Center, who believed that Abu Zubaydah — and later others — were holding back information. It eventually became difficult to distinguish between the C.I.A. and Mitchell and Jessen Associates, the Spokane, Wash.-based company they formed, according to the Senate report.

In 2005, the C.I.A. awarded the company a contract to provide interrogation services. Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen hired psychologists, interrogators and security personnel as the program spread to secret prisons in Afghanistan, Romania, Poland and Lithuania.

By 2006, contractors made up 73 percent of the people at the C.I.A.'s Renditions and Detention Group, the office in charge of interrogations. The majority were from Mitchell and Jessen Associates, according to the report. Mr. Mitchell said the C.I.A. made it clear that they wanted him to form the company as a way to combat the high turnover. "They wanted to have people who had retired who knew the skills," he said. In one example, the chief of the C.I.A. division that supervised the interrogation program became the firm's chief operating officer when he retired.

Mitchell and Jessen Associates had one central purpose, and when President Obama shut down the interrogation program in 2009, it was over. "The company didn't last after they shut down the program," Mr. Mitchell said.

The C.I.A. terminated the contract after paying the company $81 million of a contract that could have been worth twice that much. That does not include the money Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen made before 2005, when the C.I.A. paid them a daily rate.

Both men are now retired — Mr. Mitchell to Florida and Mr. Jessen to Spokane, Wash. But both have faced continuing problems from their role in the torture program, and the C.I.A. is obligated to keep paying the legal expenses of Mitchell and Jessen Associates through 2021.

Even before the Senate report, both had been publicly linked to the C.I.A.'s interrogation program, and as a result their role has been a source of controversy.

In 2010, the Texas State Board of Psychologists considered a complaint filed against Mr. Mitchell by critics who wanted his license to practice psychology revoked. The complaint was unsuccessful.

In 2012, Mr. Jessen was selected to be a bishop in the Mormon Church in Spokane, but he was forced to step down "due to concerns expressed about his past work related to interrogation techniques," a spokesman for the Mormon Church said.

Mr. Mitchell said he disagreed with the Senate committee's conclusions, although he said he was "fascinated" by the report because it has revealed things to him that he did not know. "I was just a cog in the machine," he said.

Above all, he disputes that he was in control of the interrogation program. "The idea that I was managing things and running things is not true," he said.

But, he added, "it would be a lie to say I didn't have influence."

Marilyn Garateix contributed reporting from Land O' Lakes, Fla., and Bill Loftus from Spokane, Wash.

A version of this article appears in print on December 16, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: C.I.A., on Path to Torture, Chose Haste Over Analysis.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bimbo Theory Confirmed

December 10, 2014, Wall Street Journal, The Psychologists Behind the CIA's Harsh Interrogations,

Key to the Senate's report on the CIA's interrogation program are details about the men who devised the harsh tactics used – two psychologists with no experience as interrogators. Photo: Getty

Key details of the Senate report on the CIA's interrogation program for suspected terrorists, explained that many of the harsh techniques used were devised by two psychologists--independent contractors with no experience as interrogators, no specialized knowledge about al Qaeda, or quote, "any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise."

In the report the men are referred to by pseudonyms, Dr. Grayson Swigart and Dr. Hammond Dunbar. The expertise they did bring was from a U.S. military program called S.E.R.E. short for survival evasion resistance and escape.

S.E.R.E was designed after the Korean War to train American soldiers to withstand torture if captured by enemy forces, and its lessons informed the psychologists' development of enhanced interrogation techniques.

 At the outset of the investigation into the program was started into 2009 and resulted in the Senate report, the men were identified in various media outlets as James Elmer Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen. According to the Senate report they collected over eighty million dollars from the CIA before the program was scrapped by the Obama administration.

The psychologists suggested a range of techniques including cramped confinement, face slapping, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding. The idea behind the interrogation techniques was to induce "learned helplessness," a state in which the detainees would become passive and depressed, which in theory would encourage the detainee to "cooperate and provide information."

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D) California: At no time did this CIA coercive interrogation techniques lead to the collection of intelligence on an imminent threat. The Center report states that the interrogation techniques weren't effective, a conclusion disputed by CIA director John Brennan.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

August 2001, Harper's Magazine, The American Rome: On the Theory of Virtuous Empire, by Lewis Lapham,

The American Rome: On the Theory of Virtuous Empire, by Lewis Lapham, Editor of Harper's Magazine, A chapter from Theater of War: In Which the Republic Becomes an Empire, [The New Press 2002] Archived,

(Originally published August 2001, Harper's Magazine)

Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm. -GRAHAM GREENE

When the United States in early May lost its seat on the United Nations' Human Rights Commission in Geneva, the immediate response in New York and Washington was one of genuine astonishment. Important people looked questioningly at their cell phones and didn't know whether they'd heard a false rumor or a foolish joke. How could such things be, and where had reason fled? Surely it was well known that America had invented human rights, forever coming to the rescue of lost children and failed democracies. Never before in the fifty four years of the commission's existence had the United States been excluded from the committee rooms of conscience; never in living memory had the "world's only superpower" suffered so undeserved a mockery at the hands of its ungrateful dependents.

The offending gesture, an organizational vote within the U.N. Economic and Social Council, took place on a Thursday in Switzerland, and by nightfall on the nearer shore of the Atlantic a hastily assembled quorum of gold-plated American opinion (prominent journalists, responsible politicians, dependable historians) was hurrying into print or a television studio with the offers of an explanation. For the most part they resembled late-Victorian British admirals on loan from an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan. Thirty seconds into the broadcast or two paragraphs down the page the initial expressions of disbelief swelled into an uproar of heavy sarcasms, dark frowns, indignant manifestations of injured vanity, wounded virtue, baffled omnipotence. Was there no limit to the world's effrontery and gall? Were these people imbeciles or merely impertinent? Had they forgotten that they owed their freedom to sit around talking nonsense in overpriced restaurants to America's benevolence, America's money, America's air force?

The admirals were accustomed to insults from the Algerians and Fidel Castro, but what they found incomprehensible was the treachery of the European plenipotentiaries who were supposed to be our friends. The commission every year realigns its membership in such a way that the bloc of Western democracies receives three of the open seats, one of them customarily reserved to the United States if the United States comes up for reelection. But this year something went wrong with the divine right of kings, and when the secret ballot was counted the United States had received only twenty-nine of fifty-three possible votes, as opposed to fifty-two for France, forty-one for Austria, thirty-two for Sweden. Prior to the voting no fewer than forty-three countries had provided Secretary of State Colin Powell with written assurances of their support. The result reduced fourteen of the letters to worthless scraps of paper, which was preposterous, unspeakable, not to be borne. I didn't watch all the Washington talk shows or read all the newspaper commentaries, but those that I did see didn't offer much variation in tone and theme:

"TYRANTS TAKE OVER" -- Headline in the Wall Street journal over an editorial making the point that the United States had been expelled from a commission that welcomed among its members representatives from Libya, Sudan, and Syria -- i.e., countries not known to cherish a concern for human rights.

"Thugs' club ... a sewer of brutality and repression" -- Characterization of the Human Rights Commission in a New York Post editorial suggesting that the U.N. be voted off the island of Manhattan.

"Sneak diplomatic attack" -- William Safire in the New York Times explaining the U.N. vote as a plot "led by Communist China and Communist Cuba, and with the connivance of French diplomats currying favor with African and Arab dictators"; the purpose of the plot revealed as an attempt by a backstabbing "pack of hypocrites" to punish the United States for taking the side of Israel in "the war started by order of Yasir Arafat."

"New period of official anti-Americanism" -- Michael Kelly in the Washington Post attributing America's loss of its seat on the commission to the envy and resentment of the European members, "because Europe's ruling classes will never forgive us for constructing a world in which they no longer rule over anything except artisan cheeses."

Amidst the hectic waving of flags a few bystanders (some journalists, not many politicians) observed that the rebuff in Geneva wasn't entirely unwarranted. The United States over the last several years has been slow to pay its U.N. dues (the account currently $1.3 billion in arrears), and it stands opposed to a long list of policy initiatives put forward in the name of human rights, among them the Kyoto Protocol limiting emissions of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere and the treaty establishing an international criminal court. Nor has the newly enskyed Republican oligarchy in Washington shown much respect for what its drum majors in Congress and the Pentagon disparage as "weak-kneed multilateralism." President Bush prefers the more manly acts of "unabashed unilateralism," and during his first few months in office the American government bombed Baghdad, bullied the Russians, announced its intention to nullify the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, guaranteed the prospect of war in Asia if China fools around with the sovereignty of Taiwan. Yes, it was possible that some countries (the poorer countries certainly, even some European countries clinging to the memories of their former grandeur) might have their reasons for objecting to the shows of American resolve, and one could almost see (if one looked very closely and imagined oneself as feckless as Italy or as obstinate as Germany) how it might be possible to misperceive America's fundamental goodness of heart.

As cautious as they were faint, the voices not raised in righteous anger didn't rate much space in the papers, and they were easily shouted down by the operatic chorus deploring the affront in early May in a tone consistent with Charles Krauthammer's trumpet solo in Time magazine in early March:

"America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to re-shape norms, alter expectations and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will."

Although heartily endorsed by the Republican members of Congress, also by the kind of people who think the phrase "world's only superpower" is a Homeric epithet like "rosyfingered dawn" or "wine-dark sea," the Time Inc. theory of the American Rome doesn't travel well. The topic was often in the conversation during a week in April when 1 was in Paris to talk to a French publisher, but the feeling of resentment was less apparent than a sense of disappointment. An author of enigmatic novels cited a recent poll of French public opinion that asked for "Images that come to mind when you think of America Presented with a short list of words applicable to the United States, a majority of the respondents chose synonyms for barbarism: "violence" (67 percent), "power" (66 percent), "inequality" (49 percent), and "racism" (42 percent); only 20 percent mentioned "freedom," and 4 percent "generosity."

Not the same people who had come ashore on Omaha Beach in June of 1944, and even a columnist from Le Monde wanted to know what had become of the freedom-loving Americans of song and story-woefully uncultured, of course, also vulgar and naive, but generous to a fault and true to their faith in their fellow man? The wits at the dinner tables on both banks of the Seine didn't omit the customary hors d'oeuvres of scorn (President Bush described as "a ventriloquist's dummy," also as "the Forrest Gump of American politics"), but where was the once-upon-a-time democratic republic, and why were they inclined to think of the United States as a department store or a stomach, not as the embodiment of a courageous principle or an ennobling idea? Somewhere in the endgame of the Cold War the old citizen army apparently had gotten lost, replaced by a generation of would-be hegemons toying with the dream of empire. The rulers of artisan cheeses didn't question the American wish to strike handsome Roman poses in the togas of "the world's only superpower," but they perceived a problem in logic. How did the inheritors of a stupendous military and economic fortune mean to balance the harsh imperatives of power against the softer claims of conscience? Unlike the Americans, the ancient Romans didn't confuse the conquering of distant provinces with the distribution of global happiness, and where did the executives of Coca-Cola bottling companies propose to find the moral and intellectual sangfrold to manage civil unrest in Judaea, famine in Egypt, rebellion in Parthia and Leptis Minor?

The same questions were asked on four successive evenings, and gradually it occurred to me that the French didn't fully appreciate the doctrine of American innocence, what the first Puritans in the Massachusetts wilderness understood as their special appointment from Providence. Because God had chosen America as the construction site of the earthly Paradise, America's cause was always just and nothing was ever America's fault. Subsequent generations of American prophets and politicians have expressed the belief in different words-America, "The Last, Best Hope of Mankind"; America, "The Ark of Safety, The Anointed Civilizer" -- but none of the witnesses ever fails to understand that whereas corrupt foreigners commit crimes against humanity, Americans cleanse the world of its impurities. We do so because we have a natural aptitude for the work and because without our humanitarian interventions (over Dresden and Hiroshima as well as at ChateauThierry and Iwo Jima) the whole scheme of creation might come loose in the wind and vanish in the night.

If every now and then an American commits a monstrous crime Lee Harvey Oswald, Lt. William Calley, Timothy McVeigh-the action is declared un-American, senseless, unthinkable, so contrary to the laws of nature and the will of God that it can be intelligibly discussed only by senior churchmen and high-priced psychiatrists.[1]

Never intrinsic to the American landscape or the American character, evil is a deadly and unlicensed import, an outlandish disease smuggled through customs in a shipment of German philosophy or Asian rice. Innocent by definition, America invariably finds itself betrayed (at Pearl Harbor, the Little Big Horn, Havana Bay), and because we have been betrayed we always can justify the use of brutal or un-Christian means to defend the Ark of Safety against the world's treachery.

Which is why America never needs to appoint truth commissions similar to those established by South Africa, Chile, Burundi, and any other country seeking to come to terms with its inevitably tragic past. The American past isn't tragic. We are the children of revelation, not history, and together with the twice-born President Bush we can assume that because we possess a natural instinct for the good, we need not concern ourselves with law. Laws are for people unlucky enough to have been born without the DNA of virtue. Maybe Dick Cheney lacks the Emperor Nero's readiness to light a garden party with torches made from the still living remnants of 2,000 Christian slaves, but American B-52s can stack dead civilians like cordwood in the rubble of Hanoi, the pilots safe in the knowledge that they are doing what is right, their bombing runs bringing the good news that salvation is near at hand.

No matter how often I explained the American rule of engagement that allowed for its blameless passage through the labyrinth of twentieth-century atrocity, I failed to persuade the French of the necessary distinction between ethnic and moral cleansing. When the other people at the table didn't scoff at the weakness of the reasoning, they charged me with cynicism or suspected an elaborate absurdity in imitation of Beckett or CĂ©line.

A week later I returned to New York to find most of the eminent journalists in the city sprinkling incense on the news that Bob Kerrey -- former senator from Nebraska, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, voice of democratic conscience, president of The New School University in New York City conceivably deserved to be reconfigured as a war criminal. The allegation took the form of a report published in the New York Times Magazine during the same week that the United Nations expelled the United States from the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, and the two events coming so close together in time coordinated the media's efforts to illuminate the doctrine of American grace.

The charge against Kerrey was backdated to the war in Vietnam. As a twenty-five-year-old lieutenant commanding a six-man team of Navy SEALs, Kerrey, in the Mekong Delta in February 1969, had led a raid on the hamlet of Thanh Phong that resulted in the killing of thirteen unarmed women and children. The afteraction report didn't identify the dead as noncombatants, and Kerrey received a Bronze Star for an exploit deemed heroic. There the matter rested for nearly thirty years, until a Newsweek reporter, Gregory Vistica, came across some old military records, talked to the other members of the SEAL team, and approached Kerrey with the request for a clarification. When the story eventually appeared in print it was told in the voice of a consoling therapist rather than that of a reproving journalist. It wasn't that Vistica failed to state the facts-no enemy soldiers in the village, the peasants shot down like rabbits-but he weighted the sentiment in favor of Kerrey's torment, Kerrey's anguish, Kerrey tempted by the thought of suicide. Both in the magazine article and in the flurry of press inter-views subsequent to its publication, the interest centered on the quality of Kerrey's remorse, the dead Vietnamese reduced to stage props backing up the soliloquies on the theme of innocence regained:

"Now I can talk about it. It feels better already." "I have chosen to talk about it because it helps me to heal." "It's the shame. You can never ... get away from it. It darkens your day."

Kerrey's serial acts of contrition evoked nods of warm and welcoming bathos almost everywhere in the media. Except for a few churlish remarks in The Nation and The New Republic (remarks to the effect that a war crime by any other name was still a war crime), the preservers of a nation's conscience were quick to recognize Kerrey as a victim of circumstance. A clean-limbed American youth sent on a terrorist errand in the dead of night and the fog of war. What else was a fellow to do? His commanding officer insisted on body counts and the collection of yellow ears. Surely Kerrey had suffered enough. Three weeks after the incident at Thanh Phong he had lost part of his right leg in the action at Cam Ranh Bay for which he received the Medal of Honor. Because a war hero cannot become a war criminal, the moral authorities on both the old left and the new right voted for acquittal, and the court of public opinion needed no more than a few days to find that the fault was in the war, not the warrior.

"That he felt remorse, that he sacrificed even more for his country ... is enough for his salvation, and a harder task than most can imagine. That's a war hero, folks, a sinner redeemed by his sacrifice for a cause greater than his self-interest. That's Bob Kerrey, my friend and hero." -- The judgment of Senator John McCain, handed down in an editorial for the Arizona Republic.

"It was dark, very dark." -- Davld Halberstam, defending Kerrey's honor before an audience of New York intellectuals in Greenwich Village.

"It is hard for most of us to imagine the horrors of war. War is Hell. Traumatic events take place and their terrible effects may last a lifetime. We should all recognize the agony that Bob is going through and continues to deal with." -- Statement from the Trustees of The New School University.

"For our country to blame the warrior instead of the war is among the worst and, regrettably, most frequent mistakes we, as a country, can make." -- Joint press release issued by Senators Max Cleland (D., Ga.), Chuck Hagel (R., Nebr.), and John Kerry (D., Mass.), all of them veterans of the Vietnam War.

"To know or not to know? That is the political question." -- Jim Hoagland, columnist in the Washington Post.

Hoagland didn't volunteer an answer, probably because his question was also a moral one, and when engaged in the ritual purification of the American soul it is always better to know as little as possible. The soft focus of blurred emotion is preferable to the unflattering clarities of thought or a distracting clutter of facts. George Bush Sr. reduced the operative principle to its simplest formulation when he was campaigning for the presidency in the summer of 1988. The U.S.S. Vincennes, an Aegis missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf, shot down an Iranian airliner on July 3, under the mistaken impression that it was firing at a warplane. The error in judgment killed 290 civilian passengers en route to Dubai. Asked for a comment at a campaign stop in Washington, the candidate said, "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are. "[2]

Most of the exonerations of Kerrey also insisted on the point that he couldn't be fairly judged by anybody who hadn't done time in the free-fire zones of the Vietnamese hell. If you hadn't been there, you didn't know, and if you didn't know, you couldn't pass judgment. The syllogism offered the further advantage of reaffirming America's lack of responsibility for the whole of the Vietnam War. Some people had been there with Kerrey in the Mekong Delta; other people had been there with the generals in the Pentagon or with Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the White House; but nobody except God had been everywhere, and so, when you really got around to thinking about it, the war was God's fault. The bombing of Cambodia was a natural disaster, which was too bad for the Cambodians, but one of those things, like an African genocide or an earthquake in Honduras, that couldn't be helped.

The same cloud of incense and unknowing that descended on Kerrey's Bronze Star blots out the hope of public debate about what kind of country we think we have become. The media don't grant much of a hearing to bystanders who question the triumph of the Pax Americana, and on most days of any week it's hard to open a newspaper or read a policy journal without submitting to a siege of imperial rhetoric. Thus, in the summer issue of The National Interest, none other than Henry Kissinger, filling in the basso continuo to Krauthammer's trumpet tune: "So long as the post-Cold War generation of national leaders is embarrassed to elaborate an unapologetic concept of enlightened national interest, it will achieve progressive paralysis, not moral elevation." Or again, in the same issue of The National Interest, Francis Fukuyama, former State Department official and author of The End of History: "A country that makes human rights a significant element of its foreign policy tends toward ineffectual moralizing at best, and unconstrained violence in pursuit of moral aims at worst."[3]

Transposed into the exchange of snappy sound bites on the Washington talk-show circuit, the theory of American empire becomes a complacent certainty. The pundits in residence compare notes with the visiting experts and find themselves in fond agreement on the great fact of America's colossal preeminence in the world-the size of its economy and the richness of its markets, the speed of its computers, the wonder of its weapons, the strength of its armies. Add to the sum of the superlatives the vast reach and sway of America's "soft power" (the T-shirts and the action movies, the cheeseburgers and the popular songs) and what we are talking about-as George just said, and as even Sam and Cokie will admit-is an empire on which-we might as well be blunt about it-the sun never sets. All present nod and chuckle, and the conversation proceeds to the good news about the blessings that America bestows on the less fortunate nations of the earth. We guarantee the freedom of the seas, send poll-watchers to apprentice democracies arranging their first elections, provide the cornucopia of goods (public and private) that sets the global standard for the label "decent standard of living." Why shouldn't we do as we please? Yes, we consume 26 percent of the world's energy supply and contribute 25 percent of the poisons to the world's atmosphere. So what? We're doing the world a favor, for crying out loud; don't make us sorry.

On mornings when news Is scarce Caesar's heirs take up the old Roman questions about administering provinces and dispensing justice-how ought we to employ our ascendancy ("unrivaled by even the greatest empires of the past") to quiet the crowd noise in the world's dingier and more dangerous streets? The program always ends before anybody comes up with a coherent idea, and as the credits roll across the pictures of the guests congratulating one another on the subtlety of their analysis, I sometimes wonder about their grasp of history and their knowledge of geography. In what time and place do they imagine themselves temporarily on leave from Virgil's Rome? How and where do they intend to recruit the troops, and what do they think would become of America's peace and prosperity if we were to replace the story of our God-given innocence with the cynical apologetics of forthright empire?

Unlike their overlords in Washington, the American people never have been infected with the virus of imperial ambition; nor have we acquired an exalted theory of the state that might allow us to govern subject peoples with a firm hand and an easy conscience. The military academy at West Point was established in 1802 as an engineering school because the army was expected to build roads and bridges rather than to fight foreign wars. The conquest of the trans-Mississippi West was accomplished not by the march of legions but by nomadic bands crossing a succession of frontiers in the loose formation of civilian settlement. The pioneers killed anything and everything that stood in the path of progress-bears and passenger pigeons as well as Indians and buffaloes -- but they seldom did so as a matter of public policy.

The imperial pretensions briefly attendant upon the Spanish American War consisted mostly of loud speeches. At the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Woodrow Wilson gave nobody the impression that the United States wished to rule the world. The Allied victories in the Second World War presented the United States with the semblance of an empire in a world largely reduced to ruins. If in 1941 the American presence outside the Western Hemisphere consisted of only a few islands in the Pacific, by 1945 it circled the earth, and a hastily mustered regiment of American proconsuls inherited the British oil concessions in Persia and found themselves supplying arms to Greece and grain to India, posting garrisons on the Danube and the Rhine.

But even during the years of supreme triumph the nearest that most Americans could come to an imperial habit of mind was the tone of voice in which they asked the question-of French waiters and German whores -- "How much does that cost in real money?" An authentically civilian nation had acceded reluctantly to military power, and, as early as 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower, a general familiar with the stupidity and waste of war, was saying that the detonation of a single artillery shell took a year's bread out of the mouth of a starving child. The statement was both admirable and accurate but not one that would have occurred to Napoleon. The imperial adventure in Vietnam was conceived and directed by Washington bureaucrats as ignorant of war as Charles Krauthammer and Condoleezza Rice, readers of Rudyard Kipling and fans of Teddy Roosevelt who thought that an empire was as easily constructed as a movie set. The appalling failure of the production put an end to the chance of drumming up popular support for American reruns of the Pax Romana.

The absence of a citizen army prepared to fight for what it believes to be the glory of both its public and its private self obliges the Unites States to rely on increasingly expensive mercenaries. We prefer, in the old Roman phrase, "the shadow to the sun" -- i.e., the luxury of sitting under silk canopies on the shaded side of the Colosseum to applaud the entertainment on the bright and sometimes painted sand. We sponsor poorer but more ferocious allies to fight proxy wars in Africa and the Middle East as well as in Asia and the Balkans, and the champions of democracy, we buy at the depressed prices paid for child labor in Chinese textile mills and Mexican strawberry fields.

America hasn't fought a war in nearly thirty years, not Since our chastened helicopters lifted off the roof of the embassy in Saigon in April 1975, and I don't know why anybody would think we possess either a liking or a talent for the enterprise.[4]

It's true that we maintain an army of our own-none better dressed or more expensively equipped-but it is an army made for show, a Potemkin village of an army meant to astonish Belgian bankers and frighten Arab terrorists. Our military forces are in the communications business; they send messages, they don't wage wars. The staff officers at the Pentagon know how to stage fireworks displays over Belgrade and Baghdad, how to simulate combat (aerial, naval, and ground) on state-of-the-art computer screens, where to parade the tanks on national holidays, how to deploy aircraft carriers as visual aids in the sales promotions for "the world's only superpower." All essential projects, of course, and undoubtedly worth the expenditure of $310 billion a year, but not to be confused with the Normandy landings or any other expression of overt hostility in which American soldiers run the risk of being killed. The government is very clear on the point. We don't send our own troops into what the Pentagon judges to be "non-permissive environments." No Sir, not in this man's army, not when a worried mother in Ohio might complain to her congressman, or when a wounded sergeant might tell a scary story to Dan Rather or Diane Sawyer.

It is the wish to remain blameless that forces up the price of the equipment. The heirs to a great military estate can afford to hire servants (some of them human, most of them electronic) to do the killing. Money in sufficient quantity washes out the stains of cruelty and greed, transports its proprietors to always higher altitudes of snow-white innocence. If the Air Force can drop bombs from 30,000 feet, preferably through a veil of fluffy white clouds, we can imagine ourselves making a war movie or playing a harmless video game. As previously noted, the work of ritual purification is best done when one knows as little as possible about who is doing what to whom. The procedure is better suited to the selling of Internet stocks and soft pornography than to the governing of empires.


[1] Students of America's special arrangement with Providence might find it useful to compare the punishment of Calley with that of McVeigh. Two terrorists, American born and trained, encouraged to regard the murder of civilians as a proper military objective. But Calley killed foreigners (102 Vietnamese peasants at My Lai in March 1968); he served three years of confinement to barracks at Fort Benning, Georgia. McVeigh, a veteran of the Gulf War, killed Americans (168 citizens in Oklahoma City in April 1995); he was portrayed by the news media as an incarnation of the devil, and the production costs of his trial and execution (i.e., the exorcism) amounted to $50 million.

[2] Strong-minded hegemons think it demeaning to make apologies. When an American submarine rammed and sank a Japanese fishing trawler near Honolulu last February, drowning nine of the passengers onboard, Richard Cohen, a columnist for the Washington Post, complained about the excessive shows of sympathy on the part of the United States Navy. Reminding his readers that the accident occurred within sight of Pearl Harbor, he said, "This was Hawaii, for crying out loud.... So, one more time: we're sorry ... of course we apologize for the loss of the Ehime Maru and the apparent deaths of nine persons aboard. But we are the same guys who have provided Japan with a security shield ever since World War II, helped rebuild a country and have been its steadfast ally and best friend. Don't make us sorry."

[3] Fukuyama doesn't mince his words, but Kissinger's sentence presumably makes better sense in German. Read in the context of Kissinger's policies in Asia and Latin America, the phrase "embarrassed to elaborate an unapologetic concept" probably can be taken to mean "unwilling to bribe, bomb, assassinate, or betray." The phrase "moral elevation" is more difficult. It's conceivable that the author imagines himself standing on a pile of corpses in Kurdistan, but then again, maybe he's thinking of himself as an equestrian statue on the White House lawn. In any event, a Roman pose, something to bring to mind the memory of noble Cicero.

[4] I don't wish to belittle the Navy's successful sinking of a fishing boat and its quick-witted shooting down of an Iranian airliner, much less question the ability of a Marine Corps EA-6B to destroy 20 people on an Italian ski lift, but what was billed as the Persian Gulf War would have been more accurately described as a Pentagon trade show with live ammunition. Against a pitiably weak enemy---half-starved recruits, only too glad to give up their weapons for a cup of rainwater---victory was a foregone conclusion. The lack of opposition allowed us to slaughter an unknown number of Iraqis---maybe 30,000, maybe 100,000, who knows how many of them civilian---in return for 148 Americans dead in action, 35 of them killed by "friendly fire."


September 9, 2002, Publishers Weekly, Nonfiction Book Review: Theater of War, by Lewis Lapham,

September 24, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle, Magazine editor provokes ire of neoconservatives, Cached

October 2, 2002, Willamette Week, Q&A: Lewis Lapham, Cached

September 17, 2005, The Guardian - The Observer, Review: Theater of War by Lewis Lapham, Review by Peter Preston,

February 24, 2011, Digital Scholarship, The Future of American Liberalism, by Barbara Ehrenreich, Cached,

December 10, 2012, Mother Jones, Lewis Lapham's Drug Diary; Better living through chemistry, from LSD to alcohol to Viagra, by Lewis Lapham,

December 11, 2012, Guernica Magazine, Lewis Lapham: Raiding Consciousness, Cached,

March 12, 2013, Utne Reader, Lewis Lapham: Going the Way of the Great Auk, Cached,

June 2, 2013, The Huffington Post, The (Less Than) Eternal Sea | Lewis Lapham, Cached,

December 19, 2013, Unz Review, Lewis H. Lapham Archive, Cached,

December 19, 2013, Firedoglake, Lewis Lapham: Laughing into Darkness, Cached ,

March 16, 2014, The Huffington Post, Crowd Control | Lewis Lapham, Cached,

Lewis H. Lapham - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,

Lewis Lapham | Americans Who Tell The Truth, Cached,

PBS.org, Transcript . Bill Moyers Interviews Lewis Lapham, Cached,

Lewis H. Lapham: The Independent Institute, Cached,

On Power.org, The Independent Institute, U. S. History, Gulf Wars, Cached,

C.I.A. Set & Setting

In the October 13, 1993, New York Times, Supreme Court Roundup; Justices to Rule on Challenges by Career Criminals, by Linda Greenhouse, is this tidbit:

Gay Agent

Without comment, the Court refused to hear an appeal filed by a gay man who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for nine years before the agency learned of his homosexuality and dismissed him in 1982.

The man, identified in Court papers as John Doe because he served in an undercover position, argued that he had a constitutional right to continued employment as long as he complied with all security regulations. He said he had breached no regulations, had not compromised any classified information, and that as an openly gay man, was not liable to blackmail. He challenged a "blanket ban" by the C.I.A. on employing homosexuals.

The man had earlier lost his case before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which ruled earlier this year that the C.I.A. did not appear to have a general policy of that sort, but rather had dismissed him based on an "individualized determination that his own case represented a threat to the national security mission of the Agency."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not vote in the case, Doe v. Woolsey, No. 92-2025, presumably because she served on the appeals court when the case was there.

Apparently, John Doe was terminated by the CIA, even though as an out-gay man he posed no more of a security risk than any other sexually active, unmarried employee. The agency claimed it did not have a blanket policy of terminating homosexuals, but instead, on the director's discretion, Doe was fired because he hadn't disclosed for the previous years that he had been a sexual active gay (although he'd been chaste for his three-year probationary period) and if there's anything the agency doesn't like it's being caught up short by somebody else's "secret."

His narrative went like this:
Respondent John Doe was first employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA or Agency) in 1973 as a clerk-typist. He received periodic fitness reports that consistently rated him as an excellent or outstanding employee. By 1977, respondent had been promoted to a position as a covert electronics technician.

Not a bad start! Great pluck--very Rebekah Brooks of him.
In January 1982, respondent voluntarily informed a CIA security officer that he was a homosexual. Almost immediately, the Agency placed respondent on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of his sexual orientation and conduct. On February 12 and again on February 17, respondent was extensively questioned by a polygraph officer concerning his homosexuality and possible security violations. Respondent denied having sexual relations with any foreign nationals and maintained that he had not disclosed classified information to any of his sexual partners. After these interviews, the officer told respondent that the polygraph tests indicated that he had truthfully answered all questions. The polygraph officer then prepared a five-page summary of his interviews with respondent, to which respondent was allowed to attach a two-page addendum.
On April 14, 1982, a CIA security agent informed respondent that the Agency's Office of Security had determined that respondent's homosexuality posed a threat to security, but declined to explain the nature of the danger. Respondent was then asked to resign. When he refused to do so, the Office of Security recommended to the CIA Director (petitioner's predecessor) that respondent be dismissed. After reviewing respondent's records and the evaluations of his subordinates, the Director "deemed it necessary and advisable in the interests of the United States to terminate [respondent's] employment with this Agency pursuant to section 102(c) of the National Security Act . . . ."[1]Respondent was also advised that, while the CIA would give him a positive recommendation in any future job search, if he applied for a job requiring a security clearance the Agency would inform the prospective employer that it had concluded that respondent's homosexuality presented a security threat.

If Madeleine Albright could claim she didn't know until she was 59 years old and being vetted for a job in the Clinton White House that she was born to Jewish parents who'd converted to Catholicism---even though she came out of post-war central Europe, and had few surviving relatives--wasn't John Doe's similar late awakening on an even theoretical par?

As much as I'd like to view this anonymous federal employee sympathetically---as a clear victim of bigotry and intolerance, sandwiched as he was somewhere between Matlovich v. Secretary of the Air Force and Bowers v. Hardwick, a gay martyr within a supposedly sophisticated, international organization that only showed him its fundamentalist mean streak---I simply can't.

The fact is, for at least eleven years that he was in court fighting to be reinstated to his job (his court cases list three CIA directors--Casey, Webster and Gates--as appellants) he was paid his full salary by the United States government, and that's my definition of a dream income, if not a dream job. He should more properly be called John Dough.
The CIA hired John Doe in 1973 as a clerk-typist, and seven years later promoted him to an undercover position. In periodic fitness reports, the Agency consistently rated him as a strong or outstanding employee. Though Doe began engaging in homosexual activities in 1976, he did not inform the CIA of his sexual orientation until January 28, 1982. Shortly thereafter, he was placed on paid administrative leave, and has continued to collect his salary through the course of this litigation..

September 8, 1975,

It seems likely in that era that efforts were still being made to create a homosexual-free zone at the level of the intelligence operations hierarchy, similar to the mystique surrounding the armed forces, especially the air force, which is what drives evangelical Christians to forget their plowshares and flock to it as a Biblical safe harbor.

But the loss of diversity in a social system, is the loss of an equalizing, testing, and ultimately civilizing force, and the loss is all theirs. It was not formerly the tradition in the American military, when conscription was a rite of passage for most males. I have an elderly friend who had a successful career as am art director and set designer for television and the movies, who served in Korea for three years in the early 50's, where the army farmed him out to some UN task force, where he was utilized as the Korean president's palace decorator---Uncle Sam having always been the best sugar daddy in town.

The loss of a queer eye seems quite apparent in the following story, 'Field Laboratories' in C.I.A. Tests Are Described, about a pair of C.I.A. "safehouses" that supposedly operated in San Francisco and New York City for nine years, between 1954 and 1963. They were the brainchild of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, head of the C.I.A.'s "behavior control project," as well as being the resident poison-dart guru. The article opens with this lede:
The apartments in New York and San Francisco had red drapes, dressing tables trimmed in black velveteen, paintings of cancan girls, two-way mirrors and elaborate, well-concealed recording equipment.
August 4, 1977, New York Times, page A16, 'Field Laboratories' in C.I.A. Tests Are Described, by Joseph B. Treaster,

August 4, 1977, New York Times, page A16, 'Field Laboratories' in C.I.A. Tests Are Described, by Joseph B. Treaster,

The apartments in New York and San Francisco had red drapes, dressing tables trimmed in black velveteen, paintings of cancan girls, two-way mirrors and elaborate, well-concealed recording equipment.

The apartments had been set up by the Central Intelligence Agency as "field laboratories" for trying out LSD and marijuana on unsuspecting men lured from local bars.

C.I.A. officials and former employees testifying before a joint Senate committee today on the agency's 25-year project on the manipulation of human behavior said they did not know who had administered the drugs.

But Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, quoted from C.I.A. documents indicating dozens of payments for $100 each "for undercover agents' operating expenses." And a former C.I.A. psychologist testified that he had interviewed prostitutes in the apartment maintained by the agency in San Francisco.

There was one apartment in each city. The one in New York was at 103 West 13th Street, a Federal investigator said, but the address of the San Francisco apartment was not immediately known. Both were studio apartments.

In New York the "safe house," as the agents referred to it, consisted of two adjoining studios with a connecting door, one in which the unsuspecting person was "entertained" and the other for observation through a two-way mirror. The layout was believed to be the same in San Francisco.

Admiral Turner Questioned

After running through a detailed description of the apartment in San Francisco and the payments, Senator Kennedy asked Adm. Stansfield Turner, the Director of Central Intelligence, whether he was able to "draw any conclusions" from these facts.

"No, sir," the admiral replied softly, reaching for a glass of water as the audience in the crowded hearing room burst into laughter.

"There may be a lighter side to this," Senator Kennedy said, "but there is an enormously serious side---the range of drugs, the number of people, exactly what that operation was all about."

According to C.I.A. documents, the nine-year operation, identified today by the code-name "Midnight Climax," started in 1954, after two men had died in unwitting drug tests, including one somewhat similar to the "experiments" in the apartments.

Admiral Turner said he had "no idea" how many people had been given drugs. But Senator Kennedy, citing his examination of "documents, flow charts, cash charts" and the amount of money involved, said the number of persons "was considerable."

According to C.I.A. documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with several current and former Government employees, the apartments were rented by agents of the Bureau of Narcotics, using fictitious names, and maintained by them.

The arrangement, several of those interviewed said, had been worked out by George White, a senior narcotics agent and former member of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the C.I.A., and Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, the head of the agency's behavior control project. Mr. White, who was also known as Morgan Hall, died two years ago. Admiral Turner said that Dr. Gottlieb, who destroyed most of the project's records when he retired in 1973, had not been questioned on the matter.

Under pressure from Senator Kennedy, Admiral Turner said he would see that Dr. Gottlieb was questioned in light of information disclosed about the project this week.

The C.I.A. documents indicated that the drug tests were carried out by narcotics agents. But Mr. Giordano said that "if that were the case, it was done without our knowledge, or mine."

How terrible that sounds, when they could have had a nice Bouguereau nude to place over the fireplace, which could have given the place an air of old Western Saloon. (And name me one straight men who can choose fabrics.)

With the benefit of 40 years of hindsight, we don't need to read between the lines of the Times' report of the congressional hearing looking into covert intelligence activities, where the room was convulsed with laughter by a dry unspoken implication and a reach for a sip of water.

The names Joseph Treaster puts in quotation marks for the two facilities, which had been closed for a decade in San Francisco, and two in New York City---calling them "field laboratories"---or the "safe house" in New York, which would have been better called the short house, since it lasted less than two years, shuttered, apparently, as a consequence of internal inquiries into Frank Olson's death, when the strict compartmentalization on MKULTRA matters necessarily broke down.The San Francisco 'pad" wasn't launched until over a year after the New York place closed down, but that fact didn't make it into the hearing record or the Times, because if it were known, a timeline of cause and effect might be inferred. Instead, we're told the project ran for nine years on both coasts.

These setups---"unsafe houses" would be more apt---might be rational if there were swarms of Russian agents or leftists, waiting to be enticed into some compromising illicit situation. Short of that, the logical explanation is the pads were set up as high-level inter-governmental brothels, where the booze and the broads were on the house, but a Sword of Damocles hung from the two-way mirror on the ceiling. (All the stress on LSD is a distraction, overfed to the media long past its stale date. And there are other, often superior, "truth serum" botanicals.) The records of the experiment were destroyed by Gottlieb when he retired in 1973, probably because there never were any records, as they were irreconcilable with the business at hand and the agency's charter. "Studying" LSD in this setting would be like studying the orgasmic potential of the adolescent male---a foregone conclusion, in other words.

George White, a.k.a. Morgan Hall, the senior Bureau of Narcotics agent who was Gottlieb's partner in the endeavor, outstripped the spy master in his louche hedonism. The San Francisco apartment, which White established and Gottlieb visited four times a year, was filled with sex toys and S & M paraphernalia.

More serious lies were told at the Congressional hearing by C.I.A. spokesmen than just changing the term of the enterprise. In what seems to be an unexpected coincidence, a month after the August 4th, New York Times article, on September 5th, the Washington Post published an article that covered the same ground, but the facts stemmed from an entirely different source---the private diaries of George White:

The diaries were kept by Col. George H. White, Alias Morgan Hall, a colorful federal narcotics agent and CIA "consultant" who died two years ago. They reveal new details, including names and dates, about the safe house project, dubbed "Operation Midnight Climax," which was part of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program in the 1950s and 1960s to manipulate human behavior. Curiously, White's widow donated his papers to the Electronics Museum at Foothill Junior College, a two-year school set amidst the rolling Los Altes hills 40 miles south of San Francisco. The papers are a rare find for anyone interested in the espionage business and show White dashing about the world, busting up narcotics rings in South America, Texas and San Francisco's Chinatown.

It would take an institution as obscure as Foothill Junior College to escape the reach of the military-industrial-intelligence-educational-media-foundations complex that rules reality, for White's diaries to have survived and reach the public's attention.

The diaries revealed the address of the San Francisco apartment, which the United States Congress, the C.I.A., and the New York Times could not "immediately" come up with, but it also disclosed a different address for the New York City "field laboratory" then the New York Times reported:

"a house at 81 Bedford St. in New York City's Greenwich Village [that White rented] under the name of Morgan Hall, the same one he used several years later to set up the Telegraph Hill apartment at 225 Chestnut St. in San Francisco."

In Treaster's Times' article, the only figure he names is C.I.A, Director Adm. Turner, who along with several "C.I.A. officials and former employees," as well as "a former C.I.A. psychologist," gave testimony to Congress. In the last sentence of the article, Treaster quotes a "Mr. Giordano," who had not been introduced before in the article, but given the context, he appears to be a senior officer of the Bureau of Narcotics:
The C.I.A. documents indicated that the drug tests were carried out by narcotics agents. But Mr. Giordano said that "if that were the case, it was done without our knowledge, or mine."
Treaster reports the address of the New York "safe house" as being a studio apartment at 103 West 13th Street, amending that on a second reference to "two adjoining studios with a connecting door," and outfitted with a two-way mirror so that observers could record the action of hired prostitutes and guests. Personally, I've never seen two studio apartments which had a door communicating between them like hotel rooms do, Be that as it may:
There was one apartment in each city. The one in New York was at 103 West 13th Street, a Federal investigator said, but the address of the San Francisco apartment was not immediately known. Both were studio apartments.

A flaw at the heart of this story is that it is very difficult for a hooker to work out of a doorman building in New York City, especially a building cramped with studios and small one-bedrooms like  the building pictured below, number 105 West 13th Street, at the corner of 6th Avenue. There could be a dozen neighbors circulating from the same hallway, any of whom would raise havoc at the sight of a stream of working girls and their bar pickups. The Cafe Loup pictured, if it has a separate address, would be 107, since the numbers grow as you move west. It's doubtful there ever was a number 103.

This non-descript red brick building could date from the 20's. The hideous make-over of the first-floor facade and lobby, in polished gray marble and aluminum, looks like it dates from the 60's. The brickwork is spalling, the air conditioners punched-through the walls look like leaking sieves.

Looking eastward along 13th Street from in front of number 113.

81 Bedford St.

The building at 81 Bedford St. in the West Village is a six-story apartment house that looks too small to ever have a full-time super, let alone a doorman.

NYSongLines, which maps out Manhattan architecture block by block even mentions Gottlieb's brief legacy at this address:
81 (block): An apartment in 81 Bedford was used as a safe house by the CIA for LSD experiments from 1952-54-- sometimes administered by prostitutes on unwitting non-volunteers.
NYSongLines takes its information from the Washington Post article of Sept. 5, which makes clear what the rest of the record obscures: that the CIA never ran both houses simultaneously:
In 1955, White moved the safe house to San Francisco, and he took over as regional head of the Bureau of Narcotics. Apparently, the Chestnut Street duplex also was used by the bureau to lure narcotics dealers and then arrest them. In 1956, White and narcotics agent Ira C. Feldman, who posed as an East Cost mobster, arrested seven San. Franciscans as part of a heroin ring.
For what's it's worth, Forgotten NY tells us that
Beat-era novelist William Burroughs lived at 69 Bedford, a few doors down, in the 1950s.
A 650 s.f. one-bedroom in 81 Bedford St. is currently on the market for $949,000.

Why the C.I.A. would misrepresent to Congress the location of its New York unsafe house is a mystery. But to other details that are wrong or false, like misrepresenting the project's starting date, we can infer a clear meaning.

Treaster in the Times again:
According to C.I.A. documents, the nine-year operation, identified today by the code-name "Midnight Climax," started in 1954, after two men had died in unwitting drug tests, including one somewhat similar to the "experiments" in the apartments.
While the Washington Post's writer, John Jacobs, quotes that the house was in use a year earlier:
His diaries show that Gottlieb and Lashbrook met him at the Bedford Street apartment. A June 8, 1953, entry said: "Gottlieb brings $4,123.27 for 'Hall' - Deposit $3,400." A Sept. 16 entry added: "Lashbrook at 81 Bedford - Owen Winkle and LSD surprise - can wash."
So the apartment was operational before November 28, 1953, the date of Frank Olson's death.

Before you can begin to hazard a probable truth, you first have to fully dismantle the structure of lies which the mostly self-serving C.I.A. has built around itself, whether the lies were really necessary or not. Fortunately, the endless-war foundation the C.I.A. citadel was built upon shifted remarkably with the fall of the Soviet Union, so the C.I.A. is the single organization with the greatest motive for replacing the Cold War by a new one---an 1,000-year-war with "extremists" and "terrorists."

Speaking of the outrage which greeted Gary Webb's August, 1996 expose in the San Jose Mercury News holding the CIA responsible for cocaine imports, there was an Op-Ed piece from the New York Times published over two years earlier---on December 3, 1993---titled, "The CIA Drug Connection Is as Old as the Agency," by Larry Collins. Note the Times' headline writer doesn't say "allegations," or "rumors," but states the fact plainly. Although the New York Times can, and often does speak the truth, it doesn't advocate for the truth. Instead, it will advocate against the truth, as it did when it led the crowd-shaming of Gary Webb. This led to the suspension of his expose series, his transfer to a distant office, his de-facto dismissal, and eventually, his suicide

The CIA installed a series of brutal outlaw regimes in country after country, as they moved their drug pipeline from Costa Rica to Panama to Nicaragua, then to Haiti, keeping a step in advance of the stymied counter-narcotics efforts of other federal agencies who tried to resist. Did the Contras, or the residents of South Central Los Angeles have an international network, their own fleet of  private jets, as well as a private bank in which to launder billions of dollars in profits? Not only does the CIA operate behind a cloak of invisibility called "national security," they have the power and authority to create cartels with other agencies and corporations and co-opt anyone who might countervail them, This is the lesson of the "field laboratory," or "safe house" operation, which partnered Dr. Sidney Gottlieb with George White, aka "Morgan Hill," who while he ran the San Francisco house was also the top Bureau of Narcotics agent on the West Coast. Add to this the C.I.A.'s domination of corporate media, as well as their ability to manipulate the political class by maintaining secret files and dossiers, which likely included activities compiled at these very same "pads."

A case in point is Ira "Ike" Feldman, who served as the pimp-procurer supplying prostitutes to the San Francisco pad. His "cover" was as a low-life gangster, which is how he was able to entrap selected narcotics traffickers for the Department of Justice. This mode wouldn't have worked once crack cocaine became a drug of choice. Smoking cocaine was so addictive dealers used a hit on the pipe as a test to weed out undercover policemen.

There was a strong emphasis on sexual licentiousness at both pads. Where in the experiment's protocols did a sexual overlay get established? Rather than "behavior modification," the LSD enterprise seems to have pandered to the oldest and basest aspects of human nature. Well-known figures like Timothy Leary and Stephen Gaskin, who were early experimenters with LSD in San Francisco, were as likely to trip in a meditation, concert, or lecture hall. Gaskin famously led a band of followers in a migration out of San Francisco to a farm commune in Tennessee after undercover operatives debased and ruined the possibility of any psychedelic cultural transformations for the good arising out of the use of LSD.

Feldman lived long enough to give an interview in 1994, which was published in Spin Magazine. The writer, Richard Stratton, first establishes in the article how he got the interview---through his "pen cred," as in "state pen," not pen-and-pencil, having served a decade in the penitentiary for selling marijuana. This apparently, was enough to impress Feldman that he wasn't dealing with a hippy LSD dilettante, but someone deep enough to appreciate his special, down-to-earth gruffness.

In the article, Altered States of America, Richard Stratton starts off by explaining that
Ira "Ike" Feldman is the only person still alive who worked directly under the legendary George Hunter White in MK-ULTRA. The program began in 1953 amid growing fear of the Soviet Union's potential for developing alternative weaponry.
As part of his mythic backstory, Stratton tells us about Feldman
A Brooklyn boy, he was drafted into the Army in 1941. Army tests showed he had an unusual facility for language, so he was enrolled in a special school in Germany where he learned fluent Russian, By the end of the war, Feldman was a lieutenant colonel with a background in Military Intelligence. The Army sent him to another language school, this time in Monterrey, California, where he added Mandarin Chinese:to his repertoire.
Learning to speak Russian and Mandarin as second and third languages would be an impressive accomplishment if Feldman had learned to speak English first in a minimally educated fashion. Don't they have English classes in Monterrey? Instead, Feldman delights in his street patois; and a profanity so colorful, and a world view so crude, that it would be remarkable if it weren't also so vapid and insecure.

Take away his gangster trappings, like the fifty and hundred dollar bills he threw around to gain the attention of a trapped audience of economically beholden sex workers, and you're left with the jaw-dropping inconsistency and irrationality of someone of his ilk working for the federal government. Here is a first-person description of his initiation into the C.I.A. ethos:
Posing as Joe Capone, junk dealer and pimp, Feldman infiltrated the seamy North Beach criminal demimonde. "I always wanted to be a gangster," Feldman told me. "So I was good at it. Before long, I had half a dozen girls working for me. One day, White calls me into his office. 'Ike,' he says, 'you've been doing one hell of a job as an undercover man. Now I'm gonna give you another assignment. We want you to test these mind-bending drugs.' I said, 'Why the hell do you want to test mind-bending drugs?' He said, 'Have you ever heard of The Manchurian Candidate?' I know about The Manchurian Candidate. In fact, I read the book. 'Well,' White said, 'that's why we have to test these drugs, to find out if they can be used to brainwash people.' He says, 'If we can find out just how good this stuff works, you'll be doing a great deal for your country.'"
These days, Feldman takes offense at how his work has been characterized by former cops who knew him. "I was no pimp," Feldman insisted. Yet he freely admitted that his role in Midnight Climax was to supply whores. "These cunts all thought I was a racketeer," Feldman explained. He paid girls $50 to $100 a night to lure johns to a safe house apartment that White had set up on Telegraph Hill with funds provided by the CIA. Unsuspecting clients were served cocktails laced with powerful doses of LSD and other concoctions the CIA sent out to be tested.
"As George White once told me, 'Ike, your best information outside comes from the whores and the junkies. If you treat a whore nice, she'll treat you nice. If you treat a junkie nice, he'll treat you nice.' But sometimes, when people had information, there was only one way you could get it, If it was a girl, you put her tits in a drawer and slammed the drawer. If it was a guy, you took his cock and you hit it with a hammer. And they would talk to you. Now, with these drugs, you could get information without having to abuse people."
If anything like this were true, why was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarded 183 times? Actually, shouldn't that be water-bored? Ticking time clock---how about a ticking calender---or better still---ticking cuneiform tablet?

I submit these C.I.A. drug experiments weren't to get people to talk, but to get them to shut up. I'll let Ike continue:
The "pad," as White called the CIA safe house, resembled a playboy's lair, circa 1955. The walls were covered with Toulouse-Lautrec posters of French cancan dancers. In the cabinets were sex toys and photos of manacled women in black fishnet stockings and studded leather halters. White outfitted the place with elaborate bugging equipment, including four microphones disguised as electrical outlets that were connected to tape recorders hidden behind a false wall. While Feldman's hookers served mind-altering cocktails and frolicked with the johns, White sat on a portable toilet behind the two-way mirror, sipping martinis, watching the experiments, and scribbling notes for his reports to the CIA.

I understand that the supplier of the eavesdropping and recording equipment installed in the apartment also supplied the "portable toilet," since obviously the apartment's one john was so situated that White & Co. Voyeurs couldn't pass through the [studio] action. But is this really how spycraft wants to be visualized and remembered? If they could ask James Bond's Q for any exotic device, or advanced tool in the world, do you think they'd say, "what I really want is my own composting toilet with BioScentGuard? Couldn't this functional deficiency have been foreseen, like the "double studios" in NYC that had preceded the S.F. lair? Ira "Ike" Feldman boasts the setup was like the "Playboy Club, circa 1955," but having piss and shit in a chamber pot in the bedroom is distinctly 1755. Ira-Ike then delivers the money shot:
"We tested this stuff they call the Sextender," Feldman went on. "There was this Russian ship in the harbor. I had a couple of my girls pick up these Russian sailors and bring 'em back to the pad. White wanted to know all kinds of crap, but they weren't talking. So we had the girls slip 'em this sex drug. It gets your dick up like a rat. Stays up for two hours. These guys went crazy. They fucked these poor girls until they couldn't walk straight. The girls were complaining they couldn't take any more screwing. But White found out what he wanted to know. Now this drug, what they call the Sextender, I understand it's being sold to guys who can't get a hard-on."
But I don't understand how screwing until the skin is abraded off your penis somehow gets someone to talk? And about what exactly? What sort of "crap" did White task Ira to extract out of these Russian sailors with Sextender? Aren't merchant seaman pretty much the same around the globe, having been that way since time immemorial? Or were these men sex-starved survivors from a sunken nuclear submarine, who the Soviets deemed safer in San Francisco than the U.S. did a homosexual? (Making this riff even more ridiculous was the early scientific interest in LSD as an aphrodisiac.)

Why the powers-that-be would have green-lighted an interview like Feldman's in 1994 is beyond any psychotropic to explain. Ira-Ike could have safely gone to his maker and none of the rest of us would be the wiser. It's the complete gratuitousness of a thug on display that especially galls. Nothing with the C.I.A. is as advertised.

The earliest article on LSD I've located in the mainstream press is a notice in a science column from the New York Times in 1957. It's clearly a mistake to project backwards from the 60's or later an idealized Merry Prankster-Sargent Pepper conception of the first decade of LSD experimentation, when the purveyors of the powerful new drug in the United States and Canada were trying to either weaponize it, or demonize it--preferably both, as a quartet of scientists, led by the infamous Harold Abramson, does in 1957 when referring to LSD solely as "a drug that produces symptoms resembling schizophrenia"---or for short, as insanity chemical, which the Times' takes as its heading:
December 1, 1957, New York Times, The Week In Review, Science Notes - Insanity Chemical,

Science Notes- Insanity Chemical,

Experiments in which a tolerance was built up in normal persons against a drug that produces symptoms resembling schizophrenia are described in the technical journal Science by Drs. H. A. Abramson, B. Sklarofsky, M. O. Baron, and N. Fremont-Smith of the Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. Central Islip (N.Y.) State Hospital. They found that a tolerance can be developed against the insanity-producing drug, called LSD-25, by administration of a similar compound called MLD-41, which also produces schizophrenic effects but is only one-third as effective as the LSD-25 After administering the milder drug for five or six days in increasing doses, it was observed, the normal volunteers could tolerate fifty times the dose of LSD-25 that usually brings on the psychotic symptoms without any abnormal effects. The experiments lend hope to the possibility that schizophrenia, if found to be caused by some chemical in the body, might be treated in the same manner.
The Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., was an interesting venue in which to do LSD research:
From its founding in 1910 until it closed its doors in 1939, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York was the center of the American Eugenics Movement. Charles Davenport, a geneticist and biologist, founded the ERO, and served as its director until 1934. Under the direction of Davenport and his associate, superintendent Harry H. Laughlin, the influence of the ERO on science and public policy waxed during the early twentieth century until the beginning of World War II. The ERO is important to the history of embryology because it played a key role in the application of scientific theories about heredity to the formulation of social policies about human reproduction.

Davenport became the director of the Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor in 1898. In 1904 he convinced the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW) to fund the Station for Experimental Evolution, located on the same campus. Davenport was excited by the potential social benefit of studies in human heredity, as was his wife, Gertrude Crotty Davenport, also an embryologist and geneticist.

With a grant from Mary Harriman, the widow of railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman, Davenport founded the Eugenics Record Office in 1910. In 1917, the Carnegie Institution began funding the ERO, and continued to provide its primary funding source until the ERO closed in 1939. John D. Rockefeller, John H. Kellogg, and other private wealthy philanthropists also provided funding for the organization.
But the Central Islip State Hospital on Long Island, one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in the world at the time, which also had major units catering to alcoholics who couldn't afford private hospital care, was where the population of "normal volunteers" was secured, although both descriptions were used advisedly. In a typical perversity, Abramson and his colleagues were published with a finding on schizophrenia, when they were in fact, treating alcoholics. How different everything sounded by 1967, when LSD was seen as a tool of enlightenment, rather then mimicking insanity.

LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic, by P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly, [1967]
Chapter IV. Everyday Problems (part 1) Frigidity, Impotence, Homosexuality and Perversion.
Chapter IV. Everyday Problems (part 2) Alcoholism and Other Addictions:

The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy and Alcoholism, Edited by Harold A. Abramson, Hardcover [Bobbs Merrill Co, 1967] Description:
697pp., xxvpp. preliminaries.; contains 36 articles/papers by numerous contributors. most of the articles were presented at the Second International Conference on the Use of LSD in Psychotherapy and Alcoholism, 1965 in Amityville, NY., Stanislav Grof, Sidney Cohen, Walter Pahnke, Humphry Osmond and Sanford Unger were some of the participants., a great copy of a classic work in a fascinating field.

1967, Journal of Asthma Research, 5: 139-143, The Use of LSD-25 in the Therapy of Children, by Harold A. Abramson, M.D., Archived,

The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (1910-1939) by Cera R. Lawrence, Archived,

September 5, 1977, Washington Post, page A1, The Diaries Of a CIA Operative, by John Jacobs, Staff Writer,

October 13, 1993, New York Times, Supreme Court Roundup; Justices to Rule on Challenges by Career Criminals, by Linda Greenhouse, [Blog]

March 1994, Spin Magazine, Altered States of America, by Richard Stratton

November 5, 1996, Empty Buildings, Precious Space; Long Island Debates Future of Psychiatric Hospitals, by Bruce Lambert, Archived,

October 25, 1998, New York Times, Letter To the Editor; Drug Charges, by James Lafferty, Los Angeles, Archived,

December 23, 2008, New York Times, Editorial Observer; In a Reborn Corner of Long Island, Blight Comes Creeping Back, by Lawrence Downes, Archived,

981 F.2d 1316
60 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 41,949, 299 U.S.App.D.C. 114,
61 USLW 2446

John DOE
Robert M. GATES, Director of Central Intelligence, Appellant.

No. 91-5249.
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Oct. 26, 1992.
Decided Jan. 12, 1993.
Rehearing Denied March 23, 1993.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia No. 82-02016.

486 U.S. 592 (1988)


No. 86-1294.
Supreme Court of United States.
Argued January 12, 1988
Decided June 15, 1988

796 F.2d 1508
41 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 618,
40 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 36,296, 254 U.S.App.D.C. 282,
55 USLW 2093

John DOE
William J. CASEY, Director, C.I.A., Appellant.

No. 85-5291.
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued March 13, 1986.
Decided Aug. 1, 1986.