There was a convincing rationale for secrecy during the Cold War. It was a vital part of covert action and psychological operations, and even if the rights of a few individuals were occasionally violated, such strategies seemed to offer less brutal options than conventional war. However Adolf Berle’s arguments about “necessary solutions for which the public may be unprepared” neglected a price to be paid for clandestinity. The information revolution at the end of this century has proven that an open exchange of ideas enhances creativity and viability in organizations. Secrecy has the opposite effect, severely limiting the number of minds which might test, contribute to or qualify any idea or project.(126) The CIA’s grand objective for drug projects and other mind control research was to develop technical precision in prediction and total control of individual human beings. After a decade of intense and expensive work the benefits of that research were put to a critical test and found to have little or no basis in reality.
When Yuri Nosenko, a high-level Soviet KGB officer, defected to the United States in 1964, every plausible device in the MKULTRA arsenal was employed over five years to prove or disprove his legitimacy. Richard Helms alternately awarded one intelligence medal to a CIA man who “unmasked Nosenko as a Soviet plant,” and the identical honor to someone else who “rehabilitated” him. To this day the divisive issue remains undecided within CIA. Nosenko was released from his long solitary confinement and put on the payroll in 1969, but as late as 1981 a lengthy new report was sent to the Director of Central Intelligence about “Why Nosenko is a plant and why it matters.”(127) The bottom line proved that the practitioners of mind control who brought LSD to the world as their own breakthrough couldn’t even decide whether to trust one man, faced with the highest possible necessity and provided with every resource.
Such abysmal failures raise the question of how people can separate themselves from reality far enough for expectations and results to be so different. Secrecy, which is the hiding of reality, creates exactly that opportunity. When Oscar Janiger incorporated the Albert Hofmann Foundation, he expected great things to occur, but the project never got off the ground. It turned out there were no wealthy patrons of sixties psychedelic culture waiting to pay the rent for an LSD museum, and the public never demanded new LSD research. Perhaps the secrets Janiger accumulated in the sixties had something to do with his mis-estimation of reality. Not surprisingly, he was not quoted anywhere in the press about the new foundation as saying he might need to put together another private network for obtaining child research subjects.
Exploring Inner Space by Adelle Davis and Myself and I by her friend Thelma Moss were similar books about the same thing: LSD, the wonderful simultaneous breakthrough in the fields of science, religion and human consciousness that would surely transform the world. The two authors, like all the characters in this story, knew they were onto something big, something that brought them one step beyond the edge of Western Civilization’s charted moral territory and something that somehow needed to be a secret. Robert Davidson, echoing the earlier conspiracies of Captain Al Hubbard, Humphrey Osmond and Aldous Huxley, revealed that:
There are those of us who would like to see the opportunity to experience a series of LSD sessions given to most of the people in positions of influence and leadership, such as doctors, lawyers, ministers and politicians.(128)
That was the real secret: the new possibility of self overcoming on a grand scale; the chance that a tiny amount of mind drug, delivered in just the right way or to just the right people, might create just the right explosion in men’s minds to shortcut politics, evolution or death. It was the secret hope of people like Thelma Moss and Adelle Davis in the late fifties. It was a secret shredded by Helms and Gottlieb with the CIA’s MKULTRA files. Even today, it may remain a secret dream for Oscar Janiger and the Albert Hofmann Foundation’s “John,” or even for George Leisey. And it may still offer alternative Psychological Warfare tactics for unknown and desperate bureaucrats, somewhere in the secret bowels of some invisible government agency that has the job of saving the innocent, unprepared public from nuclear terrorists or extremists now that the threat of Soviet communism is gone.
126. See Bruce D. Berkowitrz and Allan E. Goodman, “The Logic of Covert Action,” in The National Interest, Number 51, Spring 1998, page 38; Washington, DC: National Affairs, Inc.
127. See Richard J. Hebert, Jr., “Nosenko: Five Paths To Judgment,” in Studies in Intelligence, vol. 31, no. 3, Fall 1987, pages 71-101; Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency. Also David Wise, Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors that Shattered the CIA; New York: Random House, 1992. The Nosenko saga was a catastrophe in slow motion for the CIA that ultimately motivated Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton’s destruction of the Directorate of Operations’ Soviet Division, and indirectly set up the career of super-mole Aldrich Ames.
128. Dunlap, page 9.