MK-Ultra, LSD and the CIA War on Musicians and Activists

Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA War on Musicians and Activists

https://www.drugsasweaponsmovie.com/

Film Review

On January 29, John Potash will release his film Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA War on Musicians and Activists – based on his 2015 book Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA’s Murderous Targeting of SDS, Panthers, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain, Tupac and Other Activists. A virtual encyclopedia of illegal government drug trafficking, the film begins with the involvement of the JP Morgan, Russell and other first families with the British East India Company and the opium wars that forced China to allow their opium trade.

Potash crams a massive amount of detail in his two-hour film, tracing how these and other powerful Wall Street families were instrumental in launching he CIA to protect their financial and political interests and how illegal drug trafficking (initially heroin trafficking from Southeast Asia) was essential to the CIA’s MO from its very inception in 1947.

He goes on to explore how the CIA/FBI assisted 9,000 Nazi war criminals to secretly settle in South America after World War II – where they helped establish paramilitary death squads to assassinate labor and human rights leaders who threatened US-installed dictators. Under the leadership of Klaus Barbie, they would also link up with local cocaine barons in establishing CIA-supported networks to smuggle the to the US.

Potash next details the probable role of the CIA/FBI in a host of suspicious OD’s, suicides and “lone nut” assassinations of activist rock stars and political figures who posed a threat to Wall Street interests. The list (as the book’s title suggests) includes John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Janis Joplin, Jim Hendrix, Tupac Shakur and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, among others.

For me the most fascinating part of the 2015 book concerns the extensive distribution of the hallucinogen LSD via the CIA’s MK-Ultra program in the sixties and seventies. Potash documents how CIA drug agents deliberately sought out targeted civil rights and anti-war activists and activist rock stars (eg John Lennon, George Harrison and Mick Jagger) in the hope of “neutralizing” any threat they might pose to corporate interests.

Although a two-hour film can’t possibly offer the same level of documentation as a 440-page book, the evidence this documentary presents paints a cogent and credible picture of the CIA as an immoral criminal enterprise dedicated to serving the interests of a tiny US financial elite.

About the Filmmaker

John Potash first came across evidence of the CIA role in disseminating LSD to activists and rock musicians in FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in the Media) co-founder Martin Lee’s book Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD and the Sixties Rebellion (Grove Press 1985). The book details a high level Italian investigation of US intelligence officer Ronald Stark, who oversaw the trafficking of tens-to-hundreds of million of acid hits world wide. This led Potash to Operation Julie (W.H. Allen 1978), a book by high level British detective Dick Lee. Lee also investigated Stark’s operation and its network of intelligence links. Later Potash, a drug and alcohol counselor, would deal with clients who obtained LSD from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a Stark-linked operation in the US.

Potash is also the author of the FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders (Progressive Left Press 2008) and has made a prior documentary (by the same title) based on the book.

Full interview with John Potash at Drugs as Weapons Against Us – Interview with John Potash

 

How the CIA Used LSD to Destroy the New Left

drugs-as-weapons

Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA’s Murderous Targeting of SDS, Panthers, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain, Tupac and Other Activists

by John L Potash

Trine Day LLC (2015)

Book Review

Drugs as Weapons Against Us is a virtual encyclopedia of the global drug trade. Author John L Potash devotes special attention to the long involvement of the British and US government in illegal trafficking – for the political and financial benefit of the elite families who control these governments. Most of the book focuses on MKUltra, the top secret CIA program devoted to developing and experimenting with mind altering drugs such as LSD, MDA (an ecstasy precursor), STP, PCP and scopolamine.

Although CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MK-Ultra records destroyed in the mid-seventies, 30,000 pages of documents were preserved in the CIA Finance Department. Meticulously researched and footnoted, Drugs as Weapons relies on an extensive variety of sources, including the 30,000 pages, FOIA releases, police files, whistleblower statements, media and alternative media investigations and other prominent researchers such as Peter Dale Scott, Alfred, McCoy, Alex Constantine, Catherine Austin Fitts, and the late Gary Webb and Michael Rupert.

Using MKUltra to Target Leftists and Radical Pop Stars

As the title suggests, Potash is mainly interested in the CIA’s use of LSD (with the help of British intelligence, which ran a parallel MKUltra program at the Tavistock Clinic) to “neutralize” leftists and activist pop stars, such as Paul Robeson, Mick Jagger, Abbie Hoffman, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.*

Like many activists, I am well aware of the CIA’s historic role in heroin trafficking in Southeast Asia and in cocaine trafficking in Latin America. However prior to reading Drugs as Weapons, I was totally unaware they were also responsible for most of the LSD produced between 1955 and 1973 – for the specific purpose of “neutralizing” the New Left in Berkeley, at Columbia University and elsewhere. This particular MKUltra project was conceived in response to a 1962 Rand Corporation study recommending that getting left wing leaders hooked on LSD could “cause them to resign or become inactive.”

The Haight Ashbury was a CIA Invention

I was particularly horrified to learn about the LSD distribution network MKUltra agents set up in the Haight Ashbury to lure Berkeley students away from the nationally influential Free Speech movement. The latter, originally formed in 1957 to protest the anti-democratic activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House on Un-American Activities Committee, went on to inspire the national anti-Vietnam War Movement.

In addition to various MKUltra scientists and agents, the CIA also relied on a number of high profile personalities – LSD guru Timothy Leary (an admitted CIA asset), author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and Grateful Dead band members – to promote and distribute LSD as an alternative to organizing against the Vietnam War.

How the Opium Trade Created America’s First Millionaires

Potash begins his book with important historical background on the origins of the global drug trade, which he traces back to 1500 and which European elites relied on heavily to finance imperial expansion and colonization. He also recounts the history of important Wall Street families – the Cabots, Cushings, Bushes, Astors, Russells, Pierponts (JP Morgan’s family) – who all owe their immense wealth to the opium trade the British involuntarily forced on China via the Opium Wars. The investment of these families in illegal drug trafficking continues to the present day, as evidenced by the involvement of all major US banks in multibillion dollar drug money laundering.

The Russell family, who would go on to found Yale and the Skull and Bones Society, openly used a skull and bones pirate flag on their opium trading ships.

The Vietnam War: Protecting Wall Street Drug Interests

Potash also carefully details the special relationship between these Wall Street families and the intelligence agency they founded during World War II (the OSS, which became the CIA in 1947) to protect their special interests. This comes out really clearly in the chapter in which Potash traces the origins of the Vietnam War. He makes a really strong case that this war (which began in the late fifties as a CIA intervention) stemmed directly from CIA determination to protect Golden Triangle opium production from efforts by nationalist leaders in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to eradicate it.

One of Mao’s first acts after winning control of China was to destroy the country’s vast opium network. With the support of the CIA, the nationalist Chinese generals who had controlled it moved their networks into Burma, Laos and Thailand.

The Link Between CIA-backed Nazi War Criminals and Colombian Cocaine

In a similar vein, the CIA assisted Klaus Barbie and other Nazi war criminals it smuggled out of Germany in setting up a cocaine production and distribution network in Colombia and later the Afghan Mujaheddin in turning their country into the world’s largest producer of heroin.

Potash makes a compelling case that the proximate cause for the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in October 2001 was the Taliban’s successful eradication of opium production earlier that year.


*The cases of radical pop stars and activists targeted with LSD and other drugs (in many cases along with witnesses and key investigators) Potash examines include

  • Paul Robeson – African American singer whose career was destroyed when he was involuntarily dosed with LSD and committed for two years to a psychiatric hospital, where he received 54 electroconvulsive treatments,
  • Richard Wright – African American writer involuntarily dosed with LSD who later died under extremely suspicious circumstances.
  • Elvis Presley – became addicted to amphetamines and narcotics after covert intelligence officer became his manager.
  • Mama Cass Elliott – died under mysterious circumstances at age 32 after starting to date an international drug smuggler with suspected intelligence links.
  • Abbie Hoffman –introduced to LSD by roommate who worked for Army Intelligence research LSD effects on unconsenting GIs.
  • Mick Jagger – involuntarily dosed with LSD and subject to numerous drug frame-ups and two unsuccessful Hell’s Angels (working closely with US intelligence) assassination attempts.
  • Brian Jones – subject to numerous drug frame-ups and intense phone harassment and stalking prior to 1969 murder (which police covered up as “accidental” drowning).
  • Jimi Hendrix – intelligence-linked manager strongly implicated in death related to involuntary drugging.
  • Janis Joplin – introduced to amphetamines and heroine via intelligence-linked boyfriend, died after “friend” slipped her a bolus of pure CIA heroin.
  • John Lennon – involuntarily dosed with LSD and framed on bogus cannabis charge. Lennon’s alleged assassin Mark Chapman had strong intelligence links and appeared to be under influence of scopolamine.
  • Bob Marley – involuntarily injected with the cancer-causing chemical methlychoanthine (via a copper wire hidden in boots gifted to him by CIA asset Carl Colby) and subsequently died of fibrosarcoma.
  • Kurt Cobain – involved in heavy drug use by his wife Courtney Love, who had shadowy underworld and intelligence connections. Cobain allegedly shot himself in the head with a shotgun after consuming so much heroin he would have lost consciousness before he could pull the trigger.
  • Huey Newton – initiated into heavy cocaine use by girlfriend/undercover agent. Witnesses maintain he was shot after a failed attempt to kidnap him, discrediting police disinformation about “a drug deal gone bad.”
  • Tupac Shakur – multiple assassination attempts and police frame ups. Coerced, as part of a bail agreement, into signing with Death Row records (see The FBI War on Rap). The latter was run by Los Angeles police intelligence unit and heavily involved in drug and gun trafficking. Killed in drive-by shooting instigated by US intelligence.
  • Eminem – initiated into heavy drug use via undercover intelligence “friends” after helping Afeni Shakur (following Tupac’s assassination) to record many of Tupac’s songs.

Originally published in Dissident Voice