Operation Midnight Climax
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Operation Midnight Climax
It wasn’t Candid Camera behind those two-way mirrors, but the CIA, filming unsuspecting, unwilling, LSD-drugged men having sex with prostitutes.
The CIA’s experiments with mind-control known as MK-ULTRA were begun on the orders of CIA director Allen Dulles in 1953 and headed by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Many of the early tests focused on drugs that might become “truth serums” for interrogations of prisoners, and were performed with volunteers, very often military personnel, government agents, and CIA employees. When experiments with LSD seemed productive, Dr. Gottlieb exercised the carte blanche authority given to him by Dulles and began to experiment with the powerful hallucinogen’s effects on unsuspecting individuals. Curiosity about the use of the drug as an aid in sexual entrapment in covert operations led to the development of Operation Midnight Climax, known officially as MK-ULTRA Subproject-3.
At first CIA agents would infiltrate large outdoor gatherings, such as ball games and concerts in the park, and clandestinely spray private citizens with LSD in containers labeled as insect repellent. Later, agents would infiltrate private cocktail parties and spray the unsuspecting guests with LSD in containers marked as deodorant or perfume.
With the expressed mission of learning more about sexual behavior under LSD, Operation Midnight Climax set up a number of apartments to be used for sexual encounters. Prostitutes in the employ of the agency would solicit unsuspecting men and slip LSD in their drinks before returning with them to the apartments and having sex. Two-way mirrors allowed the researchers to observe the responses and reactions of the men while under the influence of the drug. After a period of interpreting the one-on-one drug reactions of the prostitutes’ clients, Midnight Climax established several brothels in Greenwich Village and San Francisco in order to study the drug-induced sexual behavior of a larger cross section of men. Two-way mirrors once again permitted the CIA researchers to film the prostitutes and their LSD-dosed clients for later interpretation.
In 1972 Richard Helms, the CIA director at that time, ordered the records of MK-ULTRA and all its various subprojects destroyed. Nevertheless, in 1975, a Senate investigating committee found enough information about Operation Midnight Climax to observe not only that it was unconscionable to conduct drug experiments on subjects without their knowledge or consent, but that there had been no medical prescreening of any kind. The Senate committee was also shocked to discover that most of the investigators behind those two-way mirrors had no medical credentials nor were they qualified scientific observers. In fact, there were no medical personnel present to respond to any kind of negative reaction that a subject might have to the drug and no follow-up was conducted on the subjects to ascertain what continuing effects the LSD might have on their lives. The experiments had been conducted on unaware private citizens without any concern for any possible embarrassment that might arise from the manner in which they were “solicited” for the “experiment,” or for any possible aftereffects that might have resulted in possible hallucinations or in situations wherein the subject may have injured or endangered himself or others.