CIA neurosurgeons sought to implant electrodes into the brain of an assassin created for the purpose of killing Fidel Castro.
In the last days of Nazi resistance in World War II, many Nazi psychologists were smuggled out of Germany by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In 1945 Hitler’s chief of intelligence against the Russians, General Reinhard Gehlen, worked in Washington with William “Wild Bill” Donovan, director of the OSS, and Allen Dulles to restructure the American intelligence program into the Central Intelligence Agency under Dulles’s leadership. Dr. Josef Mengele, who had conducted medical and brainwashing experiments at Auschwitz, worked in early CIA programs under the assumed named of “Dr. Green.” In 1953 the MK-ULTRA program in mind control was ordered by Dulles, who appointed Dr. Sidney Gottlieb its leader. Extensive experiments with such drugs as LSD were conducted, some with volunteers, most with unsuspecting subjects.
In 1964 a subproject, MKSEARCH, began a refined search for the perfect truth serum. Based on some of the initial research of Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron, who had begun his career with the OSS in World War II studying the experiments of Nazi psychiatrists with concentration camp prisoners, and Gottlieb, the project required “expendables,” subjects that might die during the course of the experiments but whose disappearance was unlikely to arouse suspicion.
The experiments were carried out at CIA safe houses in such cities as Washington, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The experiments focused on the exploitation of human weaknesses and the destabilization of the human personality. The subjects of the experiments would be exposed to tests designed to create disturbances of behavior, alterations of sex patterns, and stimulation of other aberrations, which could all be used in the process of interrogations and the obtaining of information.
When Richard Helms became the director of the CIA on June 30, 1966, he began to push hard for more effective results in the mind-control projects. The few cautions regarding working with “expendables” were discarded. The researchers were informed that they would be receiving a steady arrival of Viet Cong captives on whom to experiment. The prisoners of war were to be considered expendable, already listed as missing in action or killed in Vietnam.
The special mission of Project Spellbinder was to create an effective sleeper killer, a “Manchurian Candidate,” who would be assigned to assassinate Fidel Castro. The programmed assassin would be hypnotized, drugged, or conditioned through a combination of mind-control techniques to kill without being aware of his or her lethal programming. The assassin with be “triggered” into entering a trance state and committing the murder by a key word, phrase, or symbol. Once the target victim (in this case, Castro) had been assassinated, the programmed subject would have no memory of his or her role in the murder—and quite likely would be killed by Castro’s bodyguards or arrested, convicted, and sentenced, unaware that he or she was programmed to kill by the mind manipulators of Spellbinder.
A hypnotist was selected from among candidates from the American Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, an individual who expressed no qualms about being involved in experiments with subjects who might die during the series of drug, hypnosis, and behavior-modification techniques.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts to program potential assassins—and no records of how many “expendables” were lost—Spellbinder was halted and declared a complete failure. Or at least that is what they would like us to believe. In 1972 Richard Helms ordered records of all 150 individual projects of MK-ULTRA destroyed, including those of Project Spellbinder.