MKULTRA Subprojects Involving Children

These are some excerpts dealing with MKULTRA experiments on children, and the surviving MKULTRA files in general. They are from the book Bluebird: Deliberate Creation of Multiple Personality by Psychiatrists, by Colin Ross, MD, 2000. Ross definitely pulls his punches with regard to the CIA: He does not focus the blame on the Agency for its torture of domestic "free" citizens. Nonetheless, he does hold medical professionals and especially psychiatrists and psychologists accountable for their violations of their Hippocratic Oaths. For this reason, and because of his impeccable research, I still highly recommend the book despite a few apologist-sounding passages with regard to the CIA's culpability for such crimes. Thanks Colin, for doing this thankless research. The book is available at among other places.

For further excerpts from the book concerning the possible use of children in "Manchurian Candidate" experiments, see MKULTRA Hypnosis and Manchurian Candidate Projects.


The medical profession and the leading academic institutions where mind control research was done have not yet provided a meaningful public accounting, financial or ethical, of this experimentation. This is one of the reasons that the entire medical profession and academic community is implicated in the story.

Like the Tuskeegee Syphilis Study and the radiation research, MKULTRA involved direct experimentation on children without informed consent being given by their parents or guardians. In the case of the Tuskeegee Study, children were harmed by preventable congenital syphilis. In the radiation experiments they were harmed through direct exposure after birth or in utero exposure during experiments on their mothers.

Four of the MKULTRA Subprojects involved research on children; 102, 103, 112, and 117. Only one of these, Subproject 117, involved an investigator with TOP SECRET clearance. The fact that the CIA funded research on children has not been documented previously. Given that the mind control research declassified to date is certainly an incomplete account of everything done, it is unknown whether other mind control experimentation was unethical or harmful. An unanswered question is whether children were ever subjects in Manchurian Candidate experiments.

The four MKULTRA Subprojects on children were benign and did not involve unethical experiments. Subproject 102 was conducted by Muzafer Sherif of the University of Oklahoma. It involved studies of social processes in teenage gangs in two cities. Subjects were 14 to 17 years of age and were studied by having social science students "hang out" with them. One student showed up at a basketball court with a new basketball and explained that he wanted to exercise to lose some weight. Observations were made about how group cohesiveness was maintained, how members were selected, status ranking of members, behavioral sanctions within the group, and similar matters. The CIA's interest in this Subproject is not stated in the documents, but one can assume it was relevant to understanding and manipulating social groups during psychological warfare and propaganda operations.

Subproject 103 was conducted by Robert Cormack and A.B. Kristofferson at the Children's International Summer Villages, Inc. in Maine. The subjects were 16 to 21 years of age and were there for a reunion; all had attended the camp in previous years as 11-year olds. The academic purpose of the project was to study how children communicate when they do not share a common language. The CIA was interested in the project as a cover for establishing relationships with children from a variety of countries. Obviously, the intent was to recruit them as agents or assets. A MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD from the Subproject 103 documents dated 10 December 1959 states that:

It is felt that this project will support the [whited out] need for cover. In addition it will assist in the identification of promising young foreign nationals and U.S. nationals (many of whom are now in their late teens) who may at any time be of direct interest to the Agency.... No cleared or witting persons are concerned with the conduct of this project.

The principal investigator for MKULTRA Subproject 112 was Melvin DeFleur of the the University of Indiana. He studied perceptions of occupational roles in children from first to eighth grades. According to a MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD dated 24 march 1960, the CIA's "interest is connected with the current problems of vocational guidance with possible applications to the selection of technical and scientific careers."

The materials for Subproject 117 have gone through many generations of photocopying and are very hard to read. The aim of the research was to study patterns of child discipline in families from a different culture. The CIA's interest in this Subproject is not clear but a MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD dated 10 May 1960 states that, "This Subproject was initiated at our request after consultation with chief, [whited out]."


[p. 48-50]

Another hurdle in completing Appendices C and D was explained by Dr. Robert Lashbrook, a CIA doctor involved in the death of Frank Olson. Olson was a Fort Detrick biological warfare expert who committed suicide after being given LSD hidden in Cointreau liqueur by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, Director of MKULTRA. Olson's family determined that he had committed suicide subsequent to a bad LSD trip only after reading Nelson Rockefeller's 1975 Report on the CIA, published 22 years after Olson's death. They were given $750,000 in compensation by Congress. Dr. Lashbrook explained the CIA's filing system in Senate testimony transcribed in Human Drug Testing by the CIA, 1977 (page 111):

Dr. LASHBROOK: All right As I think I was intimating a little bit before, I cannot make much sense out of what you have read. It was intimated before, I think, a large part of the documents you have of this nature, are what we called boilerplate -

Senator KENNEDY: Excuse me?

Dr. LASHBROOK: Boilerplate. What was actually signed off on was not the same as the actual proposal, or actual project.

Senator KENNEDY: How frequently do you use boilerplate? Do you sign off on things that are not relevant to what is happening?

Dr. LASHBROOK: You have both. You have what you sign on, and the actual project, side by side.

Senator KENNEDY: Who had got the real file?

Dr. LASHBROOK: TSS. [Technical Services Staff of the CIA].

Senator KENNEDY: You mean this is not the real file. It is stamped top secret.

Dr. LASHBROOK: It is a real file. It is the one which goes through, receives the signatures, and is then filed.

Senator KENNEDY: It is what?

Dr. LASHBROOK: It is then filed?

Senator KENNEDY: It is a real file, but it does not mean anything, is that about what you are saying.

Dr. LASHBROOK: It has administrative value.

Senator KENNEDY: It is not telling what the story is?

Dr. LASHBROOK: That is right. Not necessarily.

Senator KENNEDY: Not necessarily?

Senator SCHWEIKER: What is this, a cover file? Do we have cover files? Is this what we are dealing with?

Dr. LASHBROOK: In a sense, and in a sense it was done for security. In other words, the files that went through the system and ended up in the financial Section - obviously TSS lost control of those files.

Senator SCHWEIKER: So the FBI had a "do not file" procedure designed to handle this sort of thing and the CIA has a cover file system to handle it. In this case, though, some of the cover files contain pretty damaging information that doesn't seem to reflect well on the Agency's use of human subjects - I wonder what the real files contain.