The following report may be more than a year old, and and refer to an event fifty years ago, but it throws interesting new light current affairs. Largely ignored by the mainstream media, what follows explores the murky past of two key members of the Bush administration, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Ed.
Secret documents have
revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld are "linked to the murder" of a former senior CIA scientist.
In 1953 Frank Olson, who was a key member of the CIAs secret brainwashing programme MK-ULTRA, was sent plunging from a New York hotel window.
He had threatened to reveal the CIA involvement in "terminal experiments" in post-war Germany and in Korea during the Korean War.
For almost half a century his son, Eric, a psychologist, has insisted his father was murdered "on orders from the highest level".
Now a California history professor, Kathryn Olmstead, revealed she had discovered at the Gerald Ford library documents written by Cheney and Rumsfeld at the time of Frank Olson's death.
They show how far the White House went to conceal information about Olson's death - and his role in preparing anthrax and other biological weapons. Part of his work had been at Britain's Porton Down Chemical-Bio Research Centre.
Cheney and Rumsfeld were given the task of covering up the details of Frank Olson's death. At the time, Rumsfeld was White House Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford. Dick Cheney was a senior White House assistant.
The documents uncovered by Professor Olmstead include one that states "Dr Olson's job was so sensitive that it is highly unlikely that we would submit relevant evidence".
In another memo, Cheney acknowledges that "the Olson lawyers will seek to explore all the circumstances of Dr Olson's employment, as well as those concerning his death. In any trial, it may become apparent that we are concealing evidence for national security reasons and any settlement or judgement reached thereafter could be perceived as money paid to cover up the activities of the CIA".
Frank Olson's family received US $750,000 to settle their claims against the US government.
But Professor Olmstead's revelations will almost certainly bring further embarrassment to Rumsfeld and Cheney as the persistent fallout from the FBIs investigation into the anthrax mailings last year, which lead to five deaths in America, continues to escalate.
Both the offices of Rumsfeld and Cheney have declined comment on their role in the murder of Frank Olson.
But from his home outside Washington, Eric Olson said that the documents involving Rumsfeld and Cheney show they "have questions to answer".
He added: "The documents show the lengths to which the government was trying to cover up the truth. For decades there was a cover up. And then, under the guise of revealing everything, there was a new cover up."
But a CIA spokesman, Paul Nowack, insisted that the CIA had "fully cooperated in allowing the full truth to surface. Tens of thousands of documents were released".
Eric Olson has contended that his father was murdered to cover up his ultra-secret research in Korea and later in Europe and Britain.
"My father was among scientists studying the use of LSD and other drugs to enhance interrogations, as Cold War tensions ran high, and Americans feared that captured soldiers had been brainwashed in Korea. My father had gone to Europe, where he observed the interrogation of former Nazis and Soviet citizens at a secret US base", said Eric Olson.
He contends that in the final days of his life, his father became "morally distraught" over his work and decided to quit. Records show that CIA officials were concerned that he was a security risk. Eric Olson believes that the thought of Frank Olson quitting was a motive for the government to want him dead.
"In 1993, Eric Olson arranged for his father's body to be unearthed and examined by a forensic scientist, James Starrs. Starrs concluded that Frank Olson had probably been struck on the head and then thrown out of the hotel window," writes Frederick Tulsky in the Mercury News.
Starrs' conclusion is one of the tantalizing pieces that Eric Olson has gathered to support his belief that his father was murdered.
In late November 1953, Frank Olson, then 43, joined a group of government officials at a conference at Deep Creek Lodge in western Maryland. For days afterward, Olson was withdrawn. His son, Eric, says his father told his wife that he intended to quit his job.
But Frank Olson did not quit. And on November 23 he went to New York with another government official, where he twice visited Harold A Abramson, a doctor who was one of the first researchers to study the effects of LSD.
Olson returned to Washington, then went back to New York on November 28 and checked into the Statler Hotel. He was scheduled to enter a sanitarium the next day.
But early in the morning of November 29, Frank Olson went through the window of the hotel room he was sharing with a colleague, Robert Lashbrook. Lashbrook told police that he was awakened by the sound of breaking glass.
"The Olson family knew little else. But in 1975, a commission headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller issued a report on CIA abuses, and an account in the Washington Post included a mention of an Army scientist who jumped from a New York hotel room days after being slipped LSD in 1953," writes Tulsky.
"We realized they were talking about my father,'' Eric Olson recalled. Family members talked to reporters about their outrage and said they would sue the government. Days later, the family was invited to the White House to meet President Ford. He assured them that they would be given all information about what happened to Frank Olson.
Soon after, family members were invited to lunch with CIA Director William Colby, who gave them a file of documents that amounted to the CIA investigation into Olson's death. But the documents left many questions unanswered about both his work and the circumstances of his death.
"The express understanding was that the government had promised to give us all information, which clearly meant information about his work relationship with the CIA,'' the Olsons' attorney, David Rudovsky of Philadelphia, said this week. "It now appears that was not the case.''
Over the years Eric Olson turned up many clues, real or coincidental. There was, for example, the assassination manual that the CIA declassified in connection with its Guatemala activities. The manual, created in the early 1950s, identified "the contrived accident'' as "the most effective technique'' of secret assassination.
"The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface,'' the manual stated. "It was exactly what happened to my father," said Eric Olson.
Courtesy Malcolm and Indy Media
Last updated 15/10/2003