Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ultra Head Games, Pt. XI

Jessica Wilcox (left) competed in a number of beauty pageants during the late-1930s and early 1940s. As a Miss America runner-up, she did a number of promotional tours under the stage name Candy Jones. During World War II she toured with the USO, where she met an army doctor named Gilbert Jensen (or Carson-- nobody knows for certain his real name, and both of these were pseudonyms). After the war, the six-foot four-inch blonde became a highly paid fashion model, and eventually established her own agency in Manhattan.

Allen Funt, the creator of Candid Camera, maintained an office in the same building as Candy's agency, and he occasionally kept one of his microphones in her office. One day, two FBI men came to Candy, and asked for her permission to use the microphone so that they monitor a suspect. She happily complied.

When word of her patriotism and cooperation reached the CIA, the Company recruited her as a secret agent. Her job consisted of receiving specially coded mail, then resending it to a post office box using her own stationary. She advanced from that to becoming a type of spy known as a ‘dead letter drop’. Some of the coded mail would indicate that she had to take it to a hiding place–e.g., a hollow tree–for another spy to retrieve later and take to its final destination. They then asked her to become a courier, a mission that sent her across the country under the cover of her modelling agency.

On one such mission, she happened to bump into her old USO pal, Dr. Jensen. Shortly afterward, the modelling agency went bankrupt, and she embarked upon a new career as a television reporter for the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). During this media stint, she met and fell in love with radio personality “Long” John Nebel. They married in 1972.

Nebel thought Jones had acted strange on their wedding day, and her erratic behavior continued. She also suffered from terrible bouts of insomnia. John, who had dabbled in hypnosis, offered to put her into a sleep trance. He happy discovered that he could easily hypnotize his wife. He was shocked, however, to find out that he had become, in a way, a bigamist.

Nebel informed Jones of what had transpired the morning after their first session, and she could scarcely believe him. In order to prove that he had in fact hypnotized her, and that she related something incredibly bizarre, he taped a number of subsequent sessions, about two hundred hours in all. Nebel eventually found that his amateur probe threatened not only Candy but himself as well. He then sought help from a prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Herbert Spiegel. Donald Bain, who had written a bio of Nebel the previous year, chronicled her story in a 1976 book titled The Control of Candy Jones. (In 2002, Bain released a second edition titled The CIA's Control of Candy Jones.)

From the Nebel tapes and Spiegel’s tests they were able to piece together what had happened to Jones after her “chance” encounter with Dr. Jensen in San Francisco. Jensen took Jones back to his office in order to give her a “vitamin shot.” She then spent the weekend there, in bed, with an IV in her arm. Jensen ultimately took her down twelve levels of trance states, and then sent her back. To do this, he used a number of stimuli analogous to the solitaire game and red queen in The Manchurian Candidate. Nebel suspected that this might have explained her erratic behavior. A New Yorker usually finds himself/herself awash in stimuli. No doubt, she would come across a trigger accidentally, then slip into a trance.

Jones demonstrated unusual ability to slip into a trance easily, repeatedly, and deeply. Dr. Spiegel’s Hypnosis Induction Profile, a psychological test still in use, rates susceptibility to trance states, from lowest to highest, as 0-5. The vast majority of people fall somewhere in the middle. Candy, however, was a five. .

Jones related how, on a series of visits to Hong Kong, she endured torture that no one should have been able to survive. She went on the trips believing they were typical courier assignments. Instead of providing her hospitality, her hosts stripped her naked, wired electrodes all over her body, and gave her a number of shocks. Most people would lose consciousness after a prolonged jolt of sixty volts. A large man should be thoroughly cooked at 120. Jones, however, could face 380 volts and not even break a sweat under a narcohypnotic trance.

The key to “programming” Jones rested in the creation of a second personality that was completely opposite of the dominant one. Jones had confided to Jensen, in their USO days that she fantasized about imaginary friends as a little girl growing up in Virginia. One of them, a strong-willed little tomboy, she called Arlene (in their subsequent sessions in California, she gave her the last name Grant, after her grandmother). Arlene was smarter than everybody else. She was also stronger, faster and braver than Candy imagined herself to be. Candy, interestingly enough, won a number of sporting events as a teenager. Under hypnosis Jones admitted that she won them while pretending to be Arlene.

Grant represented the opposite of Jones in many ways. Arlene was promiscuous, but not Candy. Grant was usually filled with rage, a knee-jerk ultra-conservative, and a rabid racist. Jones, on the other hand, was rather happy-go-lucky, liberal, and tolerant of diversity. Any psychiatrist worth his/her salt would point out that both identities represented different factions of Jones’ actual psyche. Spiegel’s most formidable task was to integrate these two sides into one whole person.

In the middle of his amateur hypnosis sessions, Nebel found a number of official documents – driver’s license, passport, etc. – issued to Arlene Grant. It didn’t take but a glance to realize, from the photographs, that Grant was Jones wearing a brunette wig, which he found as well. He also received a telephone call from a travel agent, confirming flight reservations for Grant. The contrast between the two women was so striking that he could tell the difference between Candy, and Arlene trying to impersonate Candy. (A casual listener can tell just as easily.)

Arlene then began to threaten Candy. She would surface at unpredictable times, like at their wedding, or in the rstudio. In one of their sessions, Arlene told Nebel that she still worked for the CIA and that she had just received orders to kill both him and herself. It was then when Nebel sought Dr. Spiegel’s help.

Jones’ programming came to light before the CIA officially mentioned such a program. Furthermore, the protocol she outlined was consistent with narcohypnosis, which wouldn’t be known until many years later. It is, quite simply, the most credible case to date. The fact that both Nebel and Jones were highly esteemed public figures makes it somewhat less likely that they were either cranks or hoaxers, at least to the degree to which it could ruin their reputations. Candy could also provide classified telephone numbers of her contacts and handlers that checked out when Bain investigated them. She could identify narohypnotic methods and materials long before they became part of the public record.

Jim Keith, in his book Mind Control, World Control doubted the story, largely because of John’s reputation as a prankster. In a 2003 e-mail exchange, I asked Bain about this, and he explained, “While John did enjoy an occasional put-on, they were always harmless, tongue-in-cheek pranks. The Candy Jones story was no prank. I lived it with John and Candy. It was an [excruciatingly] painful episode for both, particularly John.”

Moreover, many, including former FBI Special Agent William Turner, regarded Dr. Spiegel as the foremost authority on clinical hypnosis. I doubt that she could have fooled him.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Ultra Head Games, Pt. X


By now, you’re probably wondering whether all of this research into behavioral psychology led to any practical ends. According to many, it did. CIA researchers had known for some time that the Nazis had attempted to combine drugs with hypnosis, but had never obtained any useful results. Gottlieb found Dr. William J. Bryan, a brilliant psychiatrist who would eventually turn this combination into an effective technique for both mind control and selective amnesia.

Bryan isn’t a household name, obviously. Nevertheless, you’re probably aware of his work. In many respects, he’s kind of a Hollywood-type spy. By that I don’t mean to compare him with, say, James Bond. Rather, he had a lot of clout in the movie-making capitol. As a technical advisor, he had been consulted on the making of a number of movies and television shows – even silly ones like Gilligan’s Island. His notoriety, however, came from one particular movie starring Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, and Laurence Harvey.

Marks’ book took its name from a feature length film based on a Richard Condon novel titled The Manchurian Candidate. Bryan severed as technical advisor, even though his name appears nowhere in the credits. We do know that he served in that capacity, however, because a number of stills show Bryan on the set.

The movie and book read like a textbook on a mind-control technique called “narcohypnosis.” The basic point is to hypnotize the subject again and again, each time taking them down layer by layer into a loss of identity. Even the most hypnotizable patient can only descend so far, usually the fifth level. At that point, the psychiatrist administers a drug -- sodium pentithol, so-called ‘truth serum’, for example. They also used thorazine, sodium amytol, amazinin (the Soviets came up with that one), and, of course, LSD.

The plot of the movie neglects this detail. Instead, it shows what narcohypnosis accomplished. Here the target (Harvey) goes into a trance when somebody utters the phrase “Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?” The Queen of Diamonds serves as the second stimulus. Although the movie takes the Harvey character down only two levels, there could be many, many more. Then again, two levels get the point across, and it’s not so tedious for the viewer to watch, as this occurs over and over in the film.

In the movie, communist mind-control agents wanted to turn the subject into an assassin. Having no recollection of any murder he committed, he would never get caught.

But that’s fiction. Could something like that have occurred in real life?

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ultra Head Games, Pt. IX

As I was saying. . .

Believe it or not, Ewen Cameron wasn’t the maddest scientist to stick his nose into mind control. A neurologist, Dr. Jose Delgado, would have to rank at least within the top five of dangerous people with MD’s. In 1968, one year after Cameron’s death, Delgado published a paper that took mind control to a new frontier. “Intracerebral Radio Stimulation and Recording in Completely Free Patients” summarized his experimentation with brain implants at the USAF’s 6571st Aeromedical Research Laboratory.

Utilizing the relatively primitive technology of transistors, Delgado’s team fashioned “stimoceivers,” which they then surgically inserted into the brains of test subjects at two different intracerebral points, along with a third device used for telemetry. Later, Delgado would assign an unwitting shrink to interview the subject for about ninety minutes. At random intervals lasting between three to five minutes, team members would activate the stimoceivers by remote control.

The psychiatrist performing the interview had no clue about what would happen. Neither did the patient. Yet, the observing physician would note a change in behavior corresponding to the implant’s activation. Telemetry confirmed that definite changes in brain patterns and chemistry accompanied these behavioral shifts. A twenty-year-old woman referred to as J.P. simply got out of her chair and began walking “aimlessly” around the room every time they turned on one stimoceiver. Turning on the other made her erupt in explosive rage.

Operation Phoenix, a 1960s “pacification” program that tried to subdue both North and South Vietnamese through mind control, torture and murder, duplicated Delgado’s experiments and achieved the same results on anyone unfortunate enough to receive such a treatment. The handling of these test subjects is something beyond imagination. Unlike J.P., these patients received had to endure the entire interview with gaping holes in the backs of their heads, for the surgeons didn’t bother to stitch their skull fragments back on. The intracerebral placement of the stimoceiver also forced many subjects to experience pain, or psychological trauma. Once the Phoenix team concluded their experiment, they treated the victim to a helicopter ride, whereupon they would push the subject out in mid-flight.

Delgado testified before Congress in 1969 on the efficacy of the brain implants in an effort to convince legislators to set aside more money for future research. He posited that the freedom of the 1960s would ruin the nation, what with everybody clamoring for their rights and individuality. His vision: an entire populace fitted with stimoceivers. There would no longer exist any need for police and prisons, he reasoned. After all, you could stop anyone from holding up a bank simply by pushing the ‘Don’t Rob’ button. When asked if he’d considered the consequences of an entirely remote control society, Delgado insisted that his vision represented the only pragmatic means by which to ensure an orderly civilization.

To date, the government denies any further funding of neural/behavioral experimentation along the lines Delgado suggested. That doesn’t stop stories about such research from coming out of the baseboard. Claudia Mullen and Chris de Nicola Ebner are but two of a growing number of people who claim that the CIA planted stimoceivers between their cerebral cortices during childhood. By the late-1990s, a number of journalists tracking the rise of ‘non-lethal weaponry’ (misnomer of misnomers – these arms can be quite deadly) noticed that the electromagnetic (EM) microwave pulse technology that drove them could disrupt brain activity, and that led to the discovery of Project Montauk. Montauk allegedly endeavored to build a hidden microwave station on the eastern tip of Long Island, NY dedicated to emitting an EM pulse in order to effect public behavior.

Whether or not any of these things have come to pass is anybody’s guess. But I myself would have a hard time believing that the CIA, who’d spent billions of dollars on MK-ULTRA and its descendants, would halt the development of a promising technology that consistently yielded positive results. Most likely, the stimoceiver principle grew and became more sophisticated. After all, Delgado only had transistors to play with. We have isolinear chips in the twenty-first century.

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First and Last HNT Post


Last Saturday, I posted an entry on Half-Nekkid Thursday (HNT), a community of bloggers who, every Thursday, post a photograph of their bare flesh, or that of a loved one. I came across the phenomenon accidentally, a fortuitous accident that taught me much about the development of community online. Little did I know, at the time of the post, the HNTers had more lessons to teach me.

Obasso, a fellow musician who started HNT a little over a year ago, came across my post accidentally, and provided a link to it on his website. At that point, I realized how large this community actually was. My site meter registered over three hundred hits in the several days since Obasso linked to the X-Spot. I only average about twenty-seven per day.

Yet despite its size and diversity (geographical, political, philosophical, profesional, you name it) HNT is comprised of a very close-knit community, whose members are warmly supportive of each other. The beauty of their interaction often trumps the aesthetic beauty of the photography itself: no small feat, mind you, for many of these pictures are visually stunning in terms of their composition, content, and use of colors and tints.

Secondly, I read about the many lives of HNTer's. A couple are going through life's bad patches. Yet, the vast majority thrive, even in the face of adversity and persecution (a theme that came through in responses to the earlier post). As I responded to all who left comments here, I began to notice that I could relate to virtually everyone on some level or another, for I had something in common with almost everyone.

One responder, Boo, noted the facility of HNT in fostering cyberfriends, and quipped that it had already done so with me. She's right of course. I can't really participate in HNT, mostly because I own neither a digital camera nor scanner. I utilized the library's photocopier for the above pic, but there's only so much of your flesh that the librarian will let you photocopy. Besides, it's a graphically harsh and cold picture of my right hand, and I would hope for something warmer, something in color.

Nevertheless, I uploaded the above picture for two reasons: first of all, so that my regular readers can see an actual HNT without worrying about who might be at the terminal next to them; secondly, to show my solidarity to a wonderful group of people who interest me.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ultra Head Games, Pt. VIII

Dr. Ewen Cameron, originally from Edinburgh, came to Montreal to accept an appointment at the prestigious McGill University. He served as the ranking psychiatrist of the Nuremberg Tribunal, and as an officer of almost all professional societies that shrinks belong to (President of the American Psychiatric Association, President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, President of the World Psychiatric Association, President of—well, you get the picture). He received numerous honors for his pioneering work in treating psychosis. As one colleague put it, “We simply ran out of awards to give him.” Esteemed as he was among his peers, the Cameron initially received a $20,000 grant from the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, the main CIA front used for channelling money into mind control experimentation. The CIA eventually increased the amount of Cameron’s grant fivefold.

Cameron insisted that he could induce selective amnesia through processes he called ‘depatterning’ and ‘psychic driving.’ His renown led many wealthy neurotics to the Allen Clinic in Montreal where he practiced. The patients that he used for mind-control experiments, however, were mostly working-class women, typically admitted for such things as depression, postpartum depression, stress-related disorders and so forth. Due to their lack of social status, most of them felt very fortunate to be treated by this “great man.” They first underwent an interview about deeply personal secrets, and angst.

The victim (patient) would then receive shock therapy, a highly suspect technique these days. Still, those who believed in it strongly maintained that several shocks of thirty volts maximum, for a time not to exceed five seconds, was more than sufficient. Cameron disagreed. In his experiments, he’d turn up the juice, subjecting depatterning patients to repeated shocks of up to eighty volts for a maximum time of ninety seconds each.

(Perhaps the wealthier patients at the sanitarium/clinic thought they smelled barbeque.)

After the victim survived this torture (it’s amazing in and of itself that nobody died from this “cure”), she then stumbled to her private hospital room where nurses would force-feed her sleeping aids. While they slept, a tape-loop containing a personal message recorded by Cameron for each individual patient, played. Using the data from the admission interview, the loop consisted mostly of a harangue on the individual’s weaknesses, stupidity, their personal faults, and their worthlessness. Cameron would eventually replace those with tape loops of more positive messages, assuring the patient that she/he had all of the qualities that he felt they should have. The normal sequence would include three weeks of sleep; two accompanied by the negative message, one by the positive message.

Patients couldn’t get away from the tape loop. Many would later describe it as even worse than the shock therapy. The tape played over loudspeakers that were in each room. The pillows of their beds also contained speakers, thus forcing the victim to listen to B.S. like the following twenty-four/seven:

Madeleine, you let your mother and father treat you as a child all through your single life. You let your mother check you up sexually after every date you had with a boy. You hadn't enough determination to tell her to stop it. You never stood up for yourself against your mother or father but would run away from trouble.... They used to call you "crying Madeleine." Now that you have two children, you don't seem to be able to manage them and keep a good relationship with your husband. You are drifting apart. You don't go out together. You have not been able to keep him interested sexually.

Once that phase of the therapy ended, Cameron prescribed a ridiculous drug regimen averaging about sixty different medications per day. For a week or so the drugs would be administered in hospital. Patients would continue through outpatient therapy, and, presumably for the rest of the their life. If the treatment didn’t go according to plan, Cameron might call the patient back for new and improved techniques, such as sensory deprivation or a lobotomy.

How well did this meet the CIA’s needs? Kinda mixed. The treatment induced amnesia, all right. Problem was, it induced a general amnesia. Patients remembered absolutely nothing about what had happened to them at the hospital or at any time before. They would have to be re-introduced to their children. Strangers (rightly) claiming to be their spouses would drive them home. It produced a degree of confusion that manifest itself in a completely dependent personality. In all, memory loss was total and permanent for 50% of depatterning patients. Forty percent forgot everything, then regained partial memory. A lucky 10% regained total memory after years of real therapy.

The Cameron-CIA connection was exposed on two fronts, almost simultaneously during the 1970s, years after Cameron’s death in 1967. One victim happened to be a young, female medical student assigned to assist Cameron in his depatterning work. Cameron, a black belt sexist, wouldn’t have any “lassies” (as he addressed all women) working for him except as nurses, however. She was persistent, though. Cameron rewarded her tenacity by inducting her into the program and subjecting her to the usual torture

Val Orlikow, victimized by Cameron in 1956, happened to be the wife of Parliament member David Orlikow. She publicized the plight of MK-ULTRA victims in Canada, and mounted a campaign to make the national government sue the CIA for damages. But Canadian authorities balked at putting any pressure on their American allies. This forced the victims to sue the Agency directly in a Virginia court in 1999. The Company eventually wound up settling a class-action suit, each victim receiving about $100,000 US.

(Figure 1. David and Val Orlikow, c. 1999)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ultra Head Games, Part VII


"It was fun, fun, fun, where else could a red-blooded American lie, kill, cheat, and rape with the sanction of the all-highest?”
-- George Hunter White (left), US narcotics official who tested LSD on unwitting American citizens at the behest of the CIA.

Dr. Frank Olson’s death only temporarily halted the CIA’s experimentation with LSD, as the Company grew eager to push on into the second phase of testing. Major George H. White, a former OSS officer with a long history of substance abuse, eagerly volunteered. Following his discharge at the end of WWII, White served as a federal narcotics agent.

The CIA not only subjected White to LSD, but to a number of other drugs, including marijuana, which proved most promising. Testing the drug on White, and some of their unsuspecting Mafia cohorts, the Company manufactured special cigarettes. On the outside, they’d have brand names and look perfectly normal. On the inside, however, they would consist of a mixture of tobacco and weed. This blend couldn’t get a gnat high, but it was enough to make people loosen their tongues. White succumbed, despite his tolerance for drugs and his famed toughness (one colleague described the short, shaven-headed, overweight spy as “a menacing bowling ball”).

After using White as a guinea pig, his friends at the Agency tried to put him on the payroll officially as a secret agent so that he could test LSD and other controlled substances in the field. The Agency deliberated a year and a half before accepting him, for they regarded White as a loose canon, whose wild behavior drew attention to itself. They cited, as an example, an incident where, as an OSS officer on a domestic intelligence mission, White defaced a posh hotel room by carving his initials into the ceiling. He didn’t use a knife for this act of vandalism. Instead, he used an automatic pistol and several clips.

Major White’s contacts within the criminal community were necessary for the second testing phase. After all, they couldn’t very well drive up to suburbia and force John Q Bourgeoisie to take a trip. The outrage would draw a lot of media attention. Instead, to maintain the secrecy of the project, the Agency confined itself to people who weren’t likely to complain. If somebody ingested acid at a seedy bar in a bad part of town, then it wouldn’t be all that suspect, since anyone could blame the resultant behavior on the liquor. Furthermore, if the dosing occurred in a place that respectable people tended to avoid--e.g., a red-light district--then the victim most likely wouldn’t make any noise.

The point would be to test LSD in an underground environment. White’s lowlife existence perfectly fit the mission. The CIA hired him, and then set him up both in San Francisco, and in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, where they rented apartments in his name. Posing as a sea captain/painter White had the Agency wire the flats with recording and monitoring devices, while he rounded up local and specially trained CIA prostitutes to lure unsuspecting clients into what’s known in spy parlance as a ‘honey trap’.

(Figure 2. The San Francisco Honey Trap: 225 Chestnut St.; San Francisco, CA)





After setting everything up, White began the mission, officially dubbed Operation Midnight Climax. He arranged for a parade of johns to come up, have sex, and take a trip. During most of these missions, he sat, drink in hand, on his toilet, and filmed the action through a two-way mirror. After the men started hallucinating, the prostitutes then tried to extract personal information from them to see if LSD could be used to force captured enemy agents to confess.

The joint participation between the Directorate of Operations and the Directorate of Science and Technology allowed the Agency to use Midnight Climax for research purposes. The United States technically doesn’t have sex spies, a point the CIA time and again tells us in order to distance itself from KGB methods. However, Climax wasn’t the first US operation to utilize them. The technicality comes from the fact that the CIA and the OSS never hired sex workers permanently, but rather, on a temporary basis. Soviet sex spies were KGB officers. Still, as early as the 1930s a select cadre of debutantes and society ladies were asked by US intelligence to “get friendly” with high-ranking foreign diplomats or other officials.

The swallows (female sex spies) taught their handlers many things they didn’t know about psychology and the underworld. The CIA learned about the relationship between a prostitute and her pimp, for example. They also learned that sexual espionage is extremely effective, once the swallows explained to them that the time to collect information wasn’t at the point of orgasm, but afterwards. The women knew that these men more than anything else, wanted someone to listen to them. Without much prompting at all, the cagey sex spy could easily extract a wealth of sensitive info during the afterglow.

Some higher-ups in the Agency didn’t like Midnight Climax at all. They considered it a dubious, pseudo-scientific waste of funds. That became another problem. An expensive operation, it included bizarre overhead costs. Worst yet, White’s spending habits constantly ran over budget. Once, he had a fender bender around the corner from the New York honey trap. On the spot, he authorized $3000 of CIA money for repairs, even though the other motorist could have easily bought a brand new car for that kind of money in the early-1960s.

Operation Midnight Climax lasted so long (eight years) because CIA operations executives (most notably future Director of Central Intelligene Richard Helms) insisted on carrying out drug research. The Agency finally killed it in 1963, but they kept up with the experimentation, now escalating to higher levels.

In 1967, during the Summer of Love, White returned to San Francisco to dole out drugs to young people. No longer content with the underground, the Company wanted to understand the effects of drug usage on mass populations. A far cry from the original purpose of MK-ULTRA, this had nothing to do with controlling individual spies. The CIA looked as though they wanted to control everybody.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ultra Head Games, Pt. VI

This is a continuation of an earlier series, which began last month. Click on the links for Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V.

In this installment, the Criminally Insane Agency began to research methods to exert total control over their contract agents.

The CIA faced the problem of controlling its agents. The Company had absolute faith in their officers; but those officers relied upon the honesty of the spies in their network. Double agents can wreak havoc on a spy organization. Spies could also be subject to torture and/or expert interrogation that would lead to the revelation of secrets. Intel therefore tried to figure out how to induce selective amnesia. If your agent performed an operation, then couldn’t remember it, then he/she could not give away any information about it. Better still, since your spy doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on, he/she would be less likely to get caught, since neither fear nor guilt could give them away.

Under the aegis of the Manhattan Project, the mission to create the first atomic bomb, the OSS began experimentation in behaviorist psychology in order to find a way to have total control over field personnel. During the war years, and shortly thereafter, these experiments continued under such codenames as Project Chatter, Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke. When Congress and Truman created the CIA several years later, the task of researching mind/behavior control fell to Dr. Sidney Gottlieb as research project MK-ULTRA.

When Gottlieb got news of LSD, he thought the he had solved all his problems. The disorientation caused by an acid trip might just be enough to wrest away the will of the victim (oops, I mean subject), thus making him/her very easy to manipulate. Eager to see what it could do, the CIA made its first tests. No, they didn’t test them out on animals. That would be cruel. They decided to test it out on themselves, and their loved ones.

The CIA’s in-house experimentation with LSD yielded some utterly devastating results. Gottlieb personally administered a surreptitious dose to one of their research chemists, Dr. Frank Olson. While dining with three of his colleagues, Olsen and everyone else at the table started feeling strange. The other three had a lot of fun engaging in intense philosophical debate. Olson, however, went into an intense depression--what hippies would call ten years later ‘a bad trip’ or a ‘bummer.’ Over the next two weeks, Olson’s condition worsened to the point where psychological intervention became necessary. Unfortunately, spies aren’t allowed to walk into a doctor’s office all on their own. They must instead go to a doctor approved by command. In many cases, including this one, qualified medical personnel are unavailable due to demand.

The Agency sent Olson to New York escorted by CIA case officer Robert Lashbrook, his closest friend. He was evaluated by Dr. Harold Abramson, an allergist who had little experience in psychiatry, and then billited at the Midtown Hilton where he presumably jumped out of the window in a successful suicide attempt. NYPD officers, however, immediately thought of his death as a homicide, for the window glass from his room surrounded the body (suicides usually open the window first).

Lashbrook waved the detectives away, despite the officers’ misgivings, and the matter remained quiet until the Washington Post disclosed the whole story as cited by the Rockefeller Commission, President Ford's main investigation of intelligence malfeasane. The CIA settled a wrongful death suit issued by the Olson’s for $750,000 in 1977.

Frank’s son, Dr. Eric Olson, later discovered that the Mossad included his father’s death in a textbook on assassination methods. In 1999, however, the family exhumed the body, and a second autopsy found a large hole in Frank’s skull that could not have possibly come from the fall.

Acting on this information, Manhattan District Attorney James Morgenthau re-opened the Olson case in 2000. The Olsons have since gone back to court to sue the CIA not for wrongful death, but for murder.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Half Nekkid Like Everybody Else

Being new to blogging, I venture out to a few new sites every now and then, and read and respond to all the ones I like (those listed in the sidebar and several others). As blogging becomes more familiar, I begin to notice certain patterns and themes about its culture.

Sometimes, while on your pages, I’ll see an interesting comment made by one of your blog friends--people unfamiliar to me--and visit them. I came across one such blog earlier this week. Later, when checking the blog to see if there were any further comments, I found a photo of both the blogger and his wife in bed together, not a stitch of clothing between them.

A married couple, in their conjugal bed? Are there any spaces more private or intimate?

Okay. Maybe there are. But not that many.

As it turns out, they were celebrating the first anniversary of something I’d never heard of called Half Nekkid Thursday (HNT). The point is to post a picture of the flesh of either yourself or a loved one on your blog once a week. The vast majority of these photos are actually work-safe, although the rules permit total nudity. And hundreds of bloggers participate regularly.

The people partaking in this ritual aren’t necessarily exhibitionists (although it’s rather obvious that some of them are). Nor are they running porn sites for kicks, or perhaps a few extra dollars at the end of the week. They are fellow bloggers, just like the rest of us. They make their posts on a number of interesting topics, and their blogs look very similar to ours. It’s just that every Thursday they show skin.

HNT struck me as odd, almost frightening, upon first encountering it, for I fear sometimes that we put too much of ourselves on the web. But after thinking about it, HNT makes perfect sense.

Mankind has kinda been blogging since the dawn of its existence. In days of yore, our ancestors developed a sense of community with those in geographic proximity. They entertained visitors at home, or held conversations in the town square, the speaker’s corner, the town square, the barbershop/beauty salon; or they chatted across the fence with the neighbors.

In today’s world, where the nuclear family has replaced the extended family, where neighbors often do not speak, or perhaps do not even trust each other, the Internet has become the latest means of choice for carrying on the tradition of community.

At the same time, however, the Internet has added a new feature to community: relative anonymity. We all have friends, neighbors, and colleagues with whom we interact in meatspace. But because we know them, because they see us, because they know our true identities, and because we have a need for them to see us in a certain way, we maintain some secrecy about ourselves. But cyberspace affords us the opportunity to share a side of ourselves that we couldn’t really share with the people next door for fear of disapproval.

So therein lies a measure of intimacy that appears in blogging. Here we write about ourselves. Some of us maintain intensely introspective blogs. Many of us share very difficult moments of our lives, and the disappointment in friends and relatives for not offering the support we need. Some of us deal in erotica, and write stories about sexual fantasies and encounters. Some of us chronicle their struggles to overcome dark aspects of themselves. The fact that I choose to write about certain topics tells you something about me.

In a true sense, we’re all really half naked here. Some bare their bodies. Some bare their most secret thoughts. Some bare their emotions. We all bare our souls, at least a little.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mary Alice Doesn't Lay Here, Anymore

In order to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the tragic (yet darkly comic) deaths of Symbionese Liberation Army members Patricia Soltysik, Camilla Hall, Angela Atwood, Nancy Ling Perry, William Wolf, and (possibily) Donald DeFreeze, who died on May 17, 1974 in a internationally televised shootout with the Los Angeles Police Department, I submit the last story on the SLA to appear on this blog. . . . at least, for awhile.

After her 1975 arrest, Patricia Hearst had several sessions with Dr. Jolyon West, a key figure involved with MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s mind control program. Later, Dr. West testified openly in her defense. But these initial meetings were secret. What could they have been up to? Was he trying to undo the Symbionese Liberation Army’s brainwashing? Was he brainwashing her into being a good girl for the first time in her life? Or, was he coaching her on how to mimic someone who had just been brainwashed?

In preparation for her trial, the prosecution assigned Dr. Harry Kozol to examine Hearst in order to evaluate her brainwashing claim. But she stormed out of his office just minutes into the session, yelling that he accused her of dirty things. He only asked about her feelings concerning SLA member Willie Wolf. At that point, according to Dr. Kozol, she went ballistic, vehemently denying that she had anything to do with her own kidnapping, and that she was a victim, and how she never wanted to be involved with this in the first place.

Hearst’s best friend, Patricia Tobin, playfully mentioned to Patty the rumors that she helped in the planning of her own abduction, because she thought that her sister would be the intended victim--a teasing that prompted the same severe overreaction that Dr. Kozol witnessed. According to her fiancé, Stephen Weed, when the SLA entered their apartment, she screeched, “It’s not supposed to be me,” or words to that effect.

Why would Hearst plan her sister’s kidnapping? Better yet, why would the Hearst family offer their daughters to be used in such a manner?

First question first. If Hearst planned her sister’s kidnapping, with the full knowledge that she would be subject to rape, it might have been because Patty had already made her own sacrifice to the cause.

“Where?” you ask.

Most likely in a California prison cell.

When Willie Wolf’s father heard that his son had gotten mixed up in a band of paramilitary left-wing yahoos, he couldn’t believe it. So he hired Lake Headley, a top-notch private investigator, to find out what the hell Willie was doing. On May 4, 1974, thirteen days before the younger Wolf’s death at the hands of the LAPD, Headley concluded his investigation, and filed a sworn affidavit of his findings. In the quaint language of legal mumbo jumbo, he found (more like came to the opinion, but that’s legal mumbo jumbo for you) that the SLA was, in fact, an ongoing domestic operation of the CIA. He further found:

"That Patricia Campbell Hearst and her parents disagreed bitterly over Patricia's political and personal relations. That a love affair between a black man and Patricia Hearst did take place prior to her relationship with her fiancé Steven Weed. That Mrs. Randolph A. Hearst subjected her daughter to extreme pressure to change her personal and political relationships."

Patty was eighteen years old when Mary Alice Siem made her trips to Vacaville. Like every other guest, she needed a photo ID to get in and out. So, if you’re wondering what Siem looked like in that photo, imagine Hearst at eighteen and you’ll have an exact match.

(Figure 1. Mary Alice Siem and Thero Wheeler, Prison IDs)



(Figure 2. Patricia Hearst, c. 1973)



(Figure 3. Patricia Hearst, 1974 SLA Publicity Photo)



Hearst has three rather distinct facial features. The first are her eyes. They’re very intense. The most distinctive feature, however, is the nose. If you look at Hearst’s face straight on--doesn’t matter how old she was at the time--you will see that her nose angles noticeably to her right, and has sort of a button tip, almost as if there’s a tiny bump on it. You will also note that her chin points in the opposite direction at about the same angle. These three elements also appear (reversed) in Siem’s photograph. Moreover, the woman looks considerably younger than twenty-three.

Paul Krassner, a freelance reporter who often wrote for The Berkeley Barb discovered that the real Mary Alice Siem dropped out of UC Berkeley during the middle of her sophomore year, and left the bay area in 1972. Hearst, he speculated, “borrowed” Siem’s identity in her absence.

Several years ago, Siem’s prison ID photo was pretty easy to find on the Internet. But as I wrote in a previous post, a lot of information about the SLA has sunk into the memory hole. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to find the above photo anywhere else (I’ll jump up and down with joy if you can). I am saying, however, that I can no longer find it, whereas three years ago it was just a mouse click away.

As to the second question, it’s helpful to remember how things were during the first half of the 1970s. Protests spurred a paranoid President Nixon to order illegal surveillance on political opponents in a series of actions that culminated in the Watergate scandal, and his own disgraceful resignation. Police departments began hiring public relations firms in order to repair their reputations, damaged from years of aggressive action against peaceful protestors. The CIA had gotten caught red-handed illegally tapping the phones of dissident American citizens, and would be called before the Senate, House and the Oval Office in three official investigations. The company was also implicated in Watergate, and former CIA officers Victor Marchetti and Philip Agee had begun to chronicle the Agency’s criminal activities. The death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972 had allowed a number of Special Agents (most notably William Turner and W.C. Sullivan) to spill the beans on his nearly fifty-year reign of terror.

Simply put, the period between 1972-1974 was a desperate time for many of the elite in government and the private sector. Desperate times entice desperate measures. Perhaps it’s beyond the pale, but for all I know maybe a bunch of mucky-mucks formed a plan to discredit the progressive movement, and drew straws to see who would be the pointman for the attack. Maybe the Hearst family drew the short straw. Although that’s purely speculative, obviously, conservative columnist William F. Buckley cryptically wrote during the middle of the SLA debacle that Patty should be sacrificed “in the name of Christ.”

Enemy of the Republic has pointed out that there is a western cultural mythology of the sacrificed princess that extends back to antiquity--an idea that makes perfect sense were some kind of occult organization a participant in the plan.

In 1974, many speculated that Hearst's conversion to the SLA came about through some kind of sexual seduction, either by Willie Wolf, or the group's leader Donald "Cinque" DeFreeze, especially after Headley's investigation found that Patty had been having some kind of affair with a black man. As Mary Alice Siem, Patty might have visited Cinque's conjugal trailer. Noting the end of Black Abductor, in which the kidnapped victim saves her beloved kidnapper from annihilation, one must also remember that Dr. Gerald Vale refused to identify the black male corpse as DeFreeze. Speculating that Hearst was heartbroken over Cinque's death, Krassner penned a number of joke headlines that he didn't have the heart (or guts) to put into print (my favorite: "Patty Frigid after DeFreeze").

Of course, another scenario seems possible. Maybe the black man Hearst visited as Siem was not DeFreeze, but Thero Wheeler, the special forces veteran. Wheeler was romantically linked to Mary Alice Siem, even in prison--the reason many websites used to pair their pictures together. After his escape, many sources, including Marilyn Baker, linked Siem with Wheeler. However, if Hearst actually posed as Siem, then it would appear that her allegience was to him and whatever his assignment might have been. The fact that she completely wrote him out of her 1982 autobiography, despite the numerous eyewitness accounts and the police sketch that finger him as her second kidnapper, certainly raises my eyebrow.

The teenyboppers of the 1960s had already grown up, and the powers that be probably gave up on them, at least temporarily. The purpose of the fiery destruction of the SLA, the Helter Skelter murders, along with the slaughter of Kent State and Jackson State students in broad daylight was to keep the children of the 1970s from developing the same revolutionary fervor adopted by their elder siblings, encouraging them instead to indulge in some of the hedonistic tangents associated with it, namely sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

As Krassner put it, the movers and shakers wanted to send parents a message: “Destroy the seeds of rebellion in your children, or we will have it done for you.”

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Wheeler the Dealer

In his novel 1984, George Orwell wrote, “Those who control the past, control the future.” If you think about that for a second, the meaning becomes clear. If you can describe the past in such a way that necessitates certain actions in the present, you can get public support for whatever you do, even if your actions are illegal, immoral, fattening or just plain useless.

We don’t have to examine fiction to find examples of rewritten history, however. Sometimes it exists right under our noses. There seems to have been a long-term effort to replace knowledge of the Symbionese Liberation Army with facts that support a more suitable official version. But in the process, the new party line left behind a paper trail that we can trace. For now, let’s stick to one example of how someone changed this history. In a subsequent post, I’ll offer a possible explanation for why they changed it.

The Patty Hearst kidnapping occurred in front of a number of witnesses, among them Hearst’s fiancé, Stephen Weed, neighbors, and an unfortunate Volkswagon owner whose car was commandeered for the mission. The police got excellent eyewitness descriptions of two of the kidnappers, and were able to craft composite sketches of them. Several weeks later, the police were able to attach names to these sketches, both of which so strongly resembled the men involved that Marilyn Baker, a journalist who covered the story for the local PBS station, quipped that they almost looked as though they posed for them.

The first was of a light-skinned African American, and it looked precisely like Donald DeFreeze, the SLA’s titular leader. The guy in the second sketch was identified as Thero Wheeler, a pitch-black man with a rather distinctive appearance made all the more singular by his plastic-rimmed Coke-bottle glasses. With one exception, everybody stipulated in 1974 that Wheeler, a convict who, like DeFreeze, escaped from California’s Soledad prison after given a low-security work detail, was the second kidnapper.

The only person who didn’t identify Wheeler as the second kidnapper was the victim herself, Patty Hearst. In Every Secret Thing, her 1982 autobiography, Hearst claimed that the second kidnapper was a white man, who stood a couple of inches shorter than DeFreeze. The only SLA member who fit that description was William Harris. But Harris was in the Volkswagon when the kidnapping occurred, so he escaped the notice of witnesses, who only saw DeFreeze and Wheeler clearly, and could only get a blurry glimpse of SLA member Nancy Ling Perry, the sole woman to take an active role in the kidnapping. Yet Hearst did not mention Wheeler’s once in her autobiography.

Several years ago, Internet sites devoted to the SLA began to disappear. One, which claimed to be Hearst’s official website (www.pattyhearst.com), now says that it was never connected in any way to Patricia Hearst, and it’s content has been taken down. Furthermore, the site’s administrator has deployed text robots that prevent archive retrieval of that and mirror sites. The site, like Hearst, never mentioned Wheeler at all, despite his numerous ties to other SLA members, and his constant presence at the skuzzy little edifice known as the Peking House, one of the group’s major hideouts. Other sites have also taken down references to Wheeler’s connection with the SLA as well. A 2004 documentary film on the Hearst kidnapping titled Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army makes no mention of Wheeler in its trailer, and the credits do not list him.

In short, Wheeler’s connections to the SLA have nearly vanished from the Internet.

One might assume that because he was escaped convict connected to the Symbionese Liberation Army, Wheeler simply stayed underground. Yet, he surfaced again in 2005, in a San Francisco Sentinel story about Project Connect, a charity that supplied men living in homeless shelters with prescription eyewear. Wheeler was featured quite prominently as one of the indigent recipients, and the article included a photograph of him. The reporter casually mentioned that he served in Special Forces during the Vietnam War.

(Figure 1. Thero Wheeler 2005, Project connect (left); Thero Wheeler c. 1973, Prison ID Photo (right))


I don’t know how long the statute of limitations is for prison escape in California. Yet the FBI hunted down James Kilgour, fugitive soccer mom Kathleen Soliah and others connected with the SLA for over two-and-a-half decades.

And think of this: if you needed to kidnap someone, would you entrust that task to amateurs like DeFreeze, Perry or Harris? Do you cross your fingers and pray that they’ll be able to maintain their cool, and not simply gun down everyone they saw in panic? Wouldn’t a special forces vet--one who’s been in combat situations, one whose training included prisoner acquisition and the use of firearms—have more of the requisite skills for the job?

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Friday, May 12, 2006

The Lurking Porno Boogeyman


Black Abductor, a pornographic novel published in 1972, so precisely described the 1974 Patricia Hearst kidnapping that Special Agent Charles Bates, who conducted the FBI’s investigation into the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), deemed it necessary to buy a copy.

In this novel, two men and a woman snatch the daughter of a wealthy senator at the apartment she shared with her fiancé, a teaching assistant at the local university. The assailants savagely beat the fiancé, whom police initially view as the prime suspect in victim’s murder and disappearance. Her captors, a paramilitary left-wing group led by an embittered black man, take her to this rattrap of a house, and announce that they have her in a communiqué. Everyone there winds up having sex with her, but she becomes particularly close to the leader, who unsuccessfully tries to make the encounters as emotionless as possible. She then decides to join the group, even though they give her the option of going free.

The physical descriptions of some characters fit SLA members Donald DeFreeze, Nancy Ling Perry, Willie Wolfe and Hearst to a tee. In some cases, the author didn’t even bother to change the names. The kidnapped victim was named Patricia. The female kidnapper, who actually seems to function as more of a conflation of the SLA women, was named Angela. During the course of the novel, the author reveals that Patricia had an ongoing incestuous relationship with her brother, Will, both of whom lived in a mansion that bore strong resemblance to San Simeon where Hearst actually grew up. Here, the story deviates from real life a bit. Hearst has no brothers. She does, however, have a “favorite” cousin named William Randolph Hearst III, whom everybody called ‘Will’. He must have been of some importance to her, since he was the only family member she would speak to after her arrest.

Some passages that deviate from the official version of the SLA still rang true. In the story, a number of the revolutionaries have secret ties to the police, and nebulous government agencies. The same agencies wind up murdering them in a climactic shootout at the house. Yet, Patricia finds a way to rescue the leader from annihilation, in the process replacing his body with that of another person so police will presume that the skipper went down with his ship.

According to its title page, Black Abductor was written by a man named Harrison James, and published by a company calling itself Regency Press. There actually was a pornographic writer using the pen name Harrison James. Yet, he categorically denied that he wrote the book. If he did, he would have made a small fortune two years later, since the Hearst kidnapping was the hot topic of the day. You would have also thought that he would have objected to an unauthorized 1974 edition put out by Al Ellenberg for Dell Publishing.

Think about this. You’ve written a book. News events make the book extremely marketable. Do you call your publisher and kick him or her in the ass to print more copies? I certainly would, if the publisher hadn’t beaten me to it. But Regency seemed to have had no interest in either exploiting or protecting its own valuable commodity. Dell tried to get the publisher’s permission to print the Ellenberg edition, but they couldn’t find the company. The only contact person was a woman named Rita Loob, a rather unimaginative pseudonym for a pornography house. No one could find her either. Dell’s detectives couldn’t ascertain whether or not she even existed. They discovered, however that payment for distribution fees came from Nova Publishing, a subsidiary of Hearst Press.

When Dell approached James to get his permission, he denied authorship, despite the fact that he could have made some real good money just by saying yes. In fact, nobody ever claimed to be the author of this book. Once the investigation exhausted all possible procedures for obtaining permission, Dell discovered that Regency didn’t even properly copyright Black Abductor. That left Dell free and clear to republish it and keep all the money.

By now, you’re probably wondering why somebody would publish a novel about a crime that they intended to commit at some future time. Wouldn’t it make more sense that somebody in the SLA read it, and patterned their actions after its plot line? Then again, it could have been coincidence, couldn’t it?

Yes, and yes. But I would then have to wonder why somebody would pattern themselves after doomed characters. As for coincidence, that might be the case, but what a hell of a coincidence!

I have in my possession an unpublished manual of an elite secret society. You might find what the manual says about magic kinda interesting. Esoteric magic sounds metaphysical, but in actuality it describes any action designed to enact the will of the adept. If you were in a hot room, for example, the proper magic, in their view, would consist of turning on an air conditioner or fan -- nothing really all that spooky.

Magic requiring the joint participation of many different individuals, however, requires a Statement of Intent. A Statement of Intent is a proposal put forth into public discourse, so that operators can act independently. In days of yore, you could find them in art, dramatic, or literary works. Commentary on the play or the painting could express approval, rejection, or suggested modifications.

One could speculate that the Hearst family might have had connections to this elite secret society, especially since its headquarters were close to their home. Then again, I wouldn’t really know if other elitist esoteric groups use Statements of Intent, since I only have the one manual. Nevertheless, you could read Black Abductor as history, and pass a true-or-false test on the subject of the Hearst kidnapping.

After reading Black Abductor myself, I got the impression that it was professionally written. It’s only errors in syntax and grammar occur when a character speaks. The formulaic structure is quite similar to such contemporary sex novels as Naked Came the Stranger. Since the only legitimate (so to speak) publisher associated at all with it is Hearst Press, the possibility remains that the Hearst family might have had some hand in planning in Patty’s abduction.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Advise Me

As you can tell by the archives (or lack thereof), I’m kinda new to blogging, so I haven’t worked out a lot of the kinks. I envisioned a blog that would allow me to relate a number of arcane subjects that I have an intense personal interest, and which I have researched greatly over the years.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll write what I feel compelled to write. But I would prefer to do that in a format that doesn’t tax you, the reader. Sometimes, I wonder if you’re all being nice and declining to tell me if the format of this blog either bores you or requires too much of your time on a daily basis.

Some of you have either directly, or indirectly given me some (ahem!) hints about blogging. Fatty has mentioned that she never wants to read a blog that’s longer than her arm. Assuming she’s about 5’5”, that would be about twenty inches of text, which would be a really long entry—and I can easily write an entry longer than her arm. Reflextion (and I thank you for this, by the way) has expressed some frustration with the serial format, breaking down more complex stories into parts, which some of you still find to be “lengthy.”

Schaumi, SJ, Doc, Betty, Enemy, Libby, Rinda, Minnesota, Rayke, Lux, those mentioned above, and everybody who traipses through every once and a while, I greatly appreciate your time here, and your comments. I’m really close to this material, and it’s been with me for awhile, so it’s important for someone to look at this with fresh eyes. And you guys are all pretty sharp. That helps me tremendously.

So now I’ll ask you for more help: suggestions to improve this blog. For example, Should I change the look and layout? Should I just post longer entries? Should I break serial entries down even further? Should I post all the parts of a serial entry together? Should I start a separate blog for serial entries?

Any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile, I have three more Symbionese Liberation Army items to post. Two of them (“The Lurking Porno Boogeyman,” and “Wheeler the Dealer”) are currently up at the 23rd Mandalation. Then I’ll go back to other topics. I promise.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

The Gang Who Couldn't Terrorize Straight, Act III

Act III of the SLA saga began in Los Angeles. On the morning of May 17, 1974, the SLA hid out in a condemned building while DeFreeze allegedly planned for the gang to hideout into the mountains. For this, they needed camping gear. According to Patricia Hearst, DeFreeze ordered her to accompany the Harrises while they shopped for tents and sleeping bags. Meanwhile, the other members would look for new digs. If the rest of the gang had to split up, or abandon the condemned building, they would meet up at a local drive-in.

The Harrises entered Mel’s Sporting Goods while Hearst, armed with a machine gun, sat alone for a good thirty minutes in the van, which she had parked across the street. Even though they had money to buy their gear, William decided to shoplift a pair of forty-nine cent socks. The manager followed him out of the store, and slapped a handcuff around one of his wrists before the stunned William had a chance to collect his thoughts and take out his gun—which he promptly dropped. Hearst swung around in the van, and sprayed a volley of bullets into the store. She didn’t injure anyone, but scared manager and the startled store clerk hit the deck, thus giving the Harrises a chance to escape.

Meanwhile, Watts resident Christine Johnson accepted a large wad of cash in exchange for letting the SLA stay at her cousin’s house. Soon, however, police were tipped off, and they began to surround the place.

Patty and the Harrises carjacked another vehicle from a guy who happened to be an SLA fan. They drove to the ersatz hideout, and then to the drive-in, but did not see their colleagues. They checked into a motel instead, where they watched as LAPD officers shot it out with their comrades on live television. They witnessed, along with the rest of the country, the house erupting into flames.

L.A. County Chief Medical Examiner Dr Thomas Noguchi and his team had to wait for some time just to retrieve the bodies, for the smouldering fire kept setting off the loads of ammo the SLA brought with them. Except for Perry, who died outside of the house, the corpses were burned beyond recognition. The fire also burned off their fingerprints, so their identification chiefly rested in the hands of forensic dentist Dr. Gerald Vale. Among other things, Dr. Vale found that the teeth belonging to the black male corpse did not match DeFreeze’s. They weren’t even close. The FBI, however, sent in its own pathology team. Using a fingerprinting method that Noguchi had never heard of, they positively ID’d the corpse as belonging to DeFreeze.

Noguchi was--and arguably still is--the greatest coroner of his time. Yet, the FBI shows him a technique that he’s never seen before? The only person on Noguchi’s staff that worked with that body was Dr. Vale, and he said that it wasn’t DeFreeze. Not one to ruffle feathers deliberately (although quite good at doing it unintentionally), Noguchi decided to declare the prison dental X-rays invalid, and defer to the FBI’s opinion. Yet, I have never heard of using this method--identifying microscopic portions of the fingers--in subsequent cases where the victim is burned beyond belief.

One has to have some serious doubts as to the identity of this body. I’m only a layperson, but I can’t understand how dental records could be that far off. Moreover, the body shipped back to DeFreeze’s family arrived without fingers, and without a head. The corpse certainly had these things attached when it entered the morgue. Did somebody intend to keep the family in the dark vis-à-vis identity?

Interestingly enough, the night of the bonfire, Hearst and two men described as black and young, attempted to rent a night’s stay at a boarding house room for $500 cash. The landlady, suspecting that something was very, very, wrong, refused. Hearst then pointed a machine gun to her head, while one of her compatriots ripped a six-inch gash in her dress with a large knife. They then headed out into the night.

Why would they do such a silly thing?

Because, it’s in the script. The landlady appeared on TV and newspapers holding up the ripped dress the next day as proof positive that these were some dangerous folks. But what’s more important to note is that she described the men as both black and young.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Gang Who Couldn't Terrorize Straight, Act II

Act II of the SLA saga began in the Bay Area of California. Donald DeFreeze worked as Patricia Soltysik's valet and cook. Willie Wolfe, meanwhile, attended school board meetings in the Bay Area. They, along with the William and Emily Harris approached a number of leftist organizations, urging them to unite behind their new group, the Symbionese Liberation Army (prompting the obvious question, “Where the hell is Symbia?”).

The Atwoods bickered constantly, so Gary moved back to Indiana, while erudite Angela landed a job as a waitress. Nancy Ling Perry, meanwhile, operated a bagel and juice stand where she had daily contact with Patricia Hearst, a regular customer. Thero Wheeler alternately vanished into thin air, supposedly to be with Siem, his twenty-three-year-old mystery sweetheart, who looked very young for her age.

The rest of the players in place, Jean Chan drove Russell Little and Joseph Remiro to the site where they shot and killed Oakland Schools Superintendent Marcus Foster on November 6, 1973. They also shot his assistant, moderately conservative Robert Blackburn, who, fortunately, survived. The assassins used cyanide-laced bullets on Foster. They shot Blackburn, however, with ordinary ammo.

What made Foster so dangerous to the SLA? Well, if they were the leftists that they claimed, the answer would be “nothing.” He had already received kudos for reforming the Philadelphia school system, and had made substantial progress in Oakland.

What would be their real motive? Among other things, publicity. The killing attracted a lot of media attention, and the SLA quickly took advantage of it, announcing their existence in the first of what would be a series of communiqués.

Police picked up Remiro and Little after neighbors phoned in a suspicious van circling a suburban block near their latest hideout (they had gotten lost). The van contained the guns used in the Foster slaying, the cyanide bottle, and the blackface makeup they wore as a disguise.

Perry took it upon herself to torch the hideout the day after Little and Remiro’s arrest in order to hide evidence of their crimes, plans, and future whereabouts. Her results were kinda mixed. She did a good job on the house. But the evidence pretty much escaped damaged. Marilyn Baker, a reporter for KQED, the local PBS station, found a number of important clues that the police had somehow missed, among them a persons to be kidnapped or killed list (Hearst’s name appeared on it), a few half-drunk bottles of Gallo wine (an item real leftists were boycotting at the time due to Caesar Chavez’s organizing), and a how-to book on insurgency--sort of a Revolution for Dummies kind of thing.

The SLA then kidnapped Hearst on February 4, 1974. Police initially suspected Stephen Weed, her fiancé, of murdering her, and hiding the body. He only got off the hook after another SLA communiqué claimed to have her.

The Hearst family offered to pay any price for Patricia’s safe return, but the SLA didn’t ask for money. They instead ordered the Hearsts to give away $75 worth of free food to every needy family in California. That would have amounted to over $400 million. Unfortunately for her, Patty wasn’t worth quite that much to them. The Hearsts tried to mollify the SLA by doling out a million dollars worth of food instead.

Gov. Ronald Reagan assisted the effort, but at the same time ardently hoped that all those who took the food would come down with botulism. He pretty much got his wish. The “ransom” consisted of items that couldn’t be sold because they were unfit for human consumption, or contaminated. Those who managed to get the fifth-rate grub became very ill if they were desperate enough to eat it. Most of the recipients, however, weren’t even lucky enough to get poisoned. After waiting an ungodly amount of time, Reagan-picked volunteers began distributing the food. If you’re assuming that they handed it out to one person at a time, then shame on you for assuming something reasonable. Their idea of food distribution consisted of flinging it at the needy. Hungry indigents, hoping for nothing more than a square meal, found themselves getting knocked unconscious by flying, frozen turkeys. Incensed, many in the crowd returned fire. Wouldn’t you know, political commentators scolded the poor for their ungratefulness.

Hearst lambasted her parents for the giveaway debacle in a taped communiqué issued shortly thereafter, thus giving the first hint of the change to come. Now calling herself Tania, after Che Guevara’s girlfriend, she accompanied the SLA in their heist of Hibernia National Bank, the controlling stockholder of which was the father of her best friend, Patricia Tobin.

It never dawned on anyone to keep an eye out for the bank, but that would have almost seemed like a no-brainer. The FBI field office sat right across the street. And despite the fact that she had already been identified as a member of the SLA, Camilla Hall maintained a savings account there. She regularly withdrew money from it to help with SLA expenses. In fact, she withdrew close to $1,500 hours before an unidentified black male and black female, posing as a married couple, paid cash for the blue van that took the SLA to Los Angeles.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

The Gang Who Couldn't Terrorize Straight, Act I

Man, you don't bait niggers with communism. If you want to bait these brothers you've got to bring some pussy up here [Colston Westbrook, Chief Sponsor of The Black Cultural Association/Unisight.]
Act I of the SLA saga began at the Vacaville Medical Facility, a psychiatric prison hospital, but quickly moved on to Soledad State Prison. Colston Westbrook worked closely with DeFreeze between 1970-1972 under cover of the latter’s prison teaching program (Unisight), and the Black Cultural Association. Westbrook arranged for a number of volunteer teachers/aides, one of them his student, Willie Wolfe. Others travelled from as far away as Indiana. Jean Chan, Nancy Ling Perry, Russ Little, Angela Atwood, Bill Harris, Emily Harris, Mary Alice Siem, and Amanda De Normanville also gravitated to Vacaville because of some vague notion concerning prison reform.

At first glance, it would appear that they were staging a farce. After all, they’re teaching Black studies. None of these volunteers were African American.

Ironically, these incredibly bourgeois instructors enjoyed tremendous popularity in the prison hospital. According to Mae Brussel’s informants, that was because Unisight didn’t really exist so much as a cultural organization as much as it did a vehicle for free sex. For a bunch of horny guys locked up away from civilization, the prospect of a real woman (a pretty one at that) probably did a lot to boost attendance at the meetings. The prisoners might not have liked the BCA’s idea of foreplay, since it consisted of severe indoctrination. Then again, pseudo-Maoist teachings, coupled with incitement against Oakland Schools Superintendent Marcus Foster and others on their shitlist, might have made for better sex, since the men were in a political hysteria by the time the women got to them.

DeFreeze himself enjoyed a good deal of heterosexual relations while in prison. Despite divorcing his wife while in custody, he was the only single prisoner there assigned a trailer for conjugal visits.

While working at the laundry, a friendly lifer tried to give him some advice on getting a better job. DeFreeze thanked him for his concern, but explained that he would be getting a new detail shortly in an unsecured area. The veteran jailbird, sensing that the young man was either misinformed or the victim of false hope, told him that he had to work his way up the ladder for something that good. They only trusted prisoners that had less than a year on their sentence. That way, they wouldn’t be as inclined to escape.

DeFreeze then smiled and thanked him again. The old man puzzled over his reaction. But surprisingly, the young man with years to go on his sentence received the expected transfer to that very area. Obviously, DeFreeze must have known something that he and all the other prisoners didn’t. The lifer couldn’t understand why they would put him there, but he sure as hell knew why DeFreeze wanted to go. He could easily escape from there. Sure enough, that’s just what he did. Less than a week after his transfer, DeFreeze, now calling himself Cinque, after the legendary mutineer, simply walked out of the prison. Police and many others suspected that he left for De Normanville’s modest two story house (De Normanville recently denied this).

De Normanville’s place was within a thirty minute drive from the facility. You would think that the guards, upon discovery of a missing prisoner, would have questioned her, or combed the area looking for DeFreeze. After all, the cops caught him with enough arms to supply the Marines. Even before his CCS days, he held people up at gunpoint. For no other reason, you would have thought they would have done even this little bit to ensure the safety of the townspeople. If they thought he might have left the state, the FBI should have looked for him. As it turns out, nobody monitored his old stomping grounds in Cleveland, Buffalo or East Orange, New Jersey in case he came back looking for his family.

(Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, DeFreeze: why do these people always come from Ohio?)

I’ll say this for the Soledad staff: they were determined to stick to their strange and mysterious ways. After DeFreeze skipped, they confidently assigned another inmate with years to go on his sentence to the exact same area: SLA associate Thero Wheeler. Same result.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Motley Characters

Famed conspiracy theorist and philosopher Mae Brussel seemed fairly convinced that the CIA helped Charles Manson create his Family. She had a number of informants and the time to sift through voluminous quantities of written material in order to form that opinion. In other cases, especially Watergate, and Iran Contra, she was proven dead on the money long before official sources acknowledged guilt or complicity, so she’s hard to dismiss lightly. Still, that alone doesn’t prove that the CIA created Mansonism. Sure, it’s helpful to note the official complicity in many of the ancillary crimes, and the documented links that key members had to right-wing concerns. But that’s rather sketchy, giving us not so much iron-clad proof, but rather balsa-clad suspicion.

Brussel did note another conspiracy along the same lines that had a little more meat on its bones. The goal was the same: to discredit the Aquarian movement that formed during the 1960s, draw popular support to new legislation that would effectively prohibit political dissent, and encourage the public to overlook police excess and abuse directed at the left. If possible, authorities would foster widespread condemnation of the progressive movement. COINTELPRO, the CIA, DIA, and other intelligence agencies had planted agent provocateurs among progressive organizations of the counterculture hoping that the “groovy revolution” might shoot itself in the foot once too often.

But where could the powers that be find pseudo-leftists who were completely responsive to their needs?

Answer: their one-stop Manchurian Candidate factory outlet, aka Vacaville Medical Facility in California. But before I go on, let me introduce you to the personae dramatis.

Colston Westbrook, a US Army commando, PSYOPS warrior, special forces commander in Vietnam, and an important player in Operation Phoenix most likely produced, directed and choreographed this farce. Through him the Stanford Research Institute may have funnelled a lot of money (at least 200K) to sponsor the operation, at least at its inception. His backing from the Pentagon led Vacaville guards to look the other way when the prisoners organization he sponsored the Black Cultural Association (BCA) openly preached (not taught, preached) the teachings of Mao Tse Tung to prisoners, and whipped them into a violent frenzy over political targets. The fact that he was also African-American helped give credence to his cover as a black studies professor, despite the fact that he didn’t know anything about the subject academically or personally – except for his family and a few military cohorts, the Pennsylvania native otherwise all-white neighborhood.

Westbrook was not the only actor to have connections with US intelligence. Back in the 1940s, the nascent CIA relied heavily on a few key police intelligence units to assist in its initial sojourns into illegal domestic ops. Chief among them, was the LAPD, specifically, its Criminal Conspiracy Section (CCS). The second major player, a former CCS asset, worked for the Public Disorder Intelligence Unit under the command of Det. Ronald G. Farwell. .

Cleveland native Donald DeFreeze, unable to support his family, turned to a life of crime, committing burglaries, armed robberies, and forging a check now and then After getting busted for one offense too many, his only hope of getting out of jail rested on cooperation with authorities. CCS recruited him to perform what is known in spy lingo as a “fuck-fuck operation.” He and a partner were to infiltrate the Black Panthers and stir up enough suspicion in them to attack another militant group known as the US Organization, then under the direction of the man who invented Kwanza, Ron Karenga. In addition to supplying the SF Panthers with false intelligence, and steering them down a course of paranoia, DeFreeze also served as a conduit to channel weapons to both sides. The Agency hoped that the two groups would annihilate each other in public, and discourage any would-be patrons from supporting them.

Shuttling as many as two hundred machine guns at a time, along with bombs and other military hardware, DeFreeze’s conscience seemed finally to get the best of him. He quietly protested his role. His handlers, perhaps getting a little nervous, set him up for arrest in the middle of one of his runs. DeFreeze then tried to bring the activities of LAPD intel to the attention of Judge William Ritzi, promising “. . . to let you know what really happened and why. I am going to talk to you truthfully like I am talking to God. I will tell you things no one has ever known before.” Ritzi’s curt dismissal led Brussel to quip that the judge wasn’t all that interested in the truth, apparently. He found DeFreeze guilty, and then sentenced him to Vacaville.

Before introducing the third major character to this prime time miniseries, I’d like to mention that those in the supporting roles were unusually cast for this particular script. Many of them had links to either intelligence or the radical-right. The most prominent of this bunch were William Harris and his wife, Emily, both of whom had graduated from Indiana University’s College of Foreign Affairs, which the CIA had used as a think tank. For reasons nobody could really explain, they left the Midwest to move to San Francisco, accompanied by their friends and fellow College of Foreign Affairs alums, Gary and Angela Atwood. Gary and Bill served in the military and were not particularly known by their neighbors as leftists. One Vietnam vet, Joseph Remiro, served in an airborne division that daily pledged to “kill a commie for Christ.” Also lacking ties to the Aquarian movement was Amanda De Normanville, a British criminologist and Berkeley grad. Other strange bedfellows included William Wolfe, son of a prominent physician, and Nancy Ling Perry, a Goldwater campaigner and ultra right-wing Sunday School teacher hailing from a wealthy family. Patricia Soltysik and Camilla Hall, often characterized as two gentle and artistic souls with no previous interest in politics, were now supposedly bent on the mother of all revolutions with the help of two other non-ideologues, Jean Chan and her boyfriend David Gunnell. Thero Wheeler,* on the other hand, was political--he was almost as conservative as Perry.

Out of all of these ragtags, DeFreeze suspected only Westbrook and Russell Little of actually being CIA assets. Little had a pretty murky past. He’s a rather shadowy figure whose movements prior to his role here cannot be documented to any large extent. Yet, he is by no means the most intriguing member of this new and improved Manson family. That honor goes to the last of the major characters, a woman playing a dual role under two separate names. The second is well known. The first, however is rather obscure, with no apparent background for police to trace. Furthermore, she vanished into thin air, leaving behind the mysterious identity of Mary Alice Siem.

This group represented the core of a comically odd bunch of supposedly leftist revolutionaries calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. Their intent, stated in the form of several communiques, was to foster a revolution that would break the conservative, corporate stranglehold on the world. Their methods for doing this, however, were, at the least, confusing.

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*Sometimes referred to as Theo Wheeler.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Tagged

A while back someone who shall remain nameless (Doc-T) got me involved with this game of blog tag. The objective is to tell six strange things about yourself, and then tag six others in the comments section of their blogs.

I’ll participate to a degree. If the tagger wants me to list six unusual things about myself, then okay. I will not, however, inconvenience anyone else. The quasi chain letter ends here, so you’re all safe.

As for what to list: There’s not really all that much unusual about me that I would really care to share at the moment. I mean, there are strange tics about me, all right, but that’s what the rest of the blog is for. So, without further ado:


1. I studied Latin for six years (misere dictu). I hear the CIA is looking for translators. If the US is ever attacked by ancient Romans, or medieval clerics, I’ll be ready.

Just the other day, in fact, I was sitting at a sports bar, watching the game and minding my own business when an ancient Roman came up to me snorting, “Lex clavitoris designati rescind’est.”

Now what can you say to that?

I told him that I thought the DH was fine, as long as they kept it in the American League.

2. Over the years, I’ve been employed as: a short order cook, a landscaper, a maintenance man, a fast-food cashier, a switchboard operator, a musician, a newspaper deliveryman, a computer technician, an editor, a writer, an insurance clerk, an administrative assistance, a tutor, an adjunct assistant professor, a bureaucrat for the federal government (specifically the US Department of Commerce), an investigator, an organizational coordinator, a semi-driver, a limo driver, a taxi driver, a housepainter, an encyclopedia salesman (door-to-door), a researcher for a scholarly publication, a political canvasser, a farmhand, a gift wrapper, a factory worker, a copyist (an occupation that no longer exists, because of computer technology), and a proofreader.

In case you’re thinking that I can’t hold a job, I held many of these at the same time.

3. I’ve known a grand total of thirteen spies. Almost all of them worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). Many were trained at the ROTC program of my graduate school, which sent a lot of people into espionage (during the Vietnam War the school came under protest for that very fact). I lived with two of them, one for two-and-a-half years.

Note: I’m not talking about creepy people who act like spies, people who suffer from schizophrenia or schizo-effective disorder (SED) and simply believe that they’re spies, or people I’ve wondered about. I only count men and women who actually did intelligence work for Uncle Sam.

4. I once lived in a haunted house. At least it had the reputation of being a haunted house. When my roommates and I moved in, we noticed the neighbors staring at us, and none of them would come to visit. We also heard women’s voices late at night, but that wasn’t too unusual since one of my roommates was so good-looking (he made Brad Pitt look like Homer Simpson) he always had women with him in his room. Since his bed was next to a heating duct, we could hear every pant, moan and scream. Sometimes, when we had nothing better to do, we’d just listen to him and write down a blow-by-blow description (so to speak) of that night’s conquest.

This good-looking guy and another roommate eventually got to where they couldn’t get along. At that point, their stuff (stereo, a bowling ball etc.) went missing, and each blamed the other.

One night, we were watching Saturday Night Live when we heard women’s voices coming from the basement. We couldn’t make out any words, but we assumed our resident Casanova had notched a double conquest on his belt, and for some reason took them downstairs instead of to his room. But he surprised us all when he and his date walked into the house. They listened to the mysterious voices along with us.

We later did some spring-cleaning, and we eventually went to tackle the basement. We had pretty much finished everything except for a closet that was blocked by a heavy bureau. We had never gone in there, of course, but we figured it must be dusty. So three of us moved the bureau, opened the closet, and found the stereo, the bowling ball, and all the other missing items that were believed stolen.

That summer, we got a visit from a friend of ours who worked at the local historical society. As soon as she entered, she gasped, “You guys live in this house?”

“Yeah,” I said. “What’s wrong with this house?”

“It’s haunted.”

She then told us about the history of the house. Its first owner was a wealthy, adulterous doctor, who bought it sometime around 1890. One day, his mistress came over while he was away. The wife let her in. The mistress promptly took out a revolver gunned down the wife, and then called the doctor on the telephone to tell him what she had done. The doctor told her to wait there for him. When he arrived, he shot the mistress to death.

Because of its notoriety and the alleged haunting by the spirits of the slain women, the house had never been sold. In fact, our landlord was the doctor’s great-great nephew, who inherited it upon his father’s death in 1974.

5. Like a certain reader of this blog who shall also remain nameless (but his initials are S.J.), I too like corny jokes. Some of my favorites: Did you know that boomerangs are coming back? Did you hear about that new restaurant that just opened up on the moon? Great food, but no atmosphere. Two guys walk into a bar. Geez, you’d have thought one of them would have seen it

6. I’ve come to realize that people who like soggy Corn Flakes, Rice Chex, etc. are usually up to no good. I’ve had fleeting thoughts about doing away with such people, but I really don’t want to be known as a cereal killer.

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Ganesh Map
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  • Alien Abductions
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  • Cause-Stalking
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  • The Paul-Is-Dead Rumor
  • The Paul-Is-Dead Rumor, Revisited
  • Perverse Science: Biological Determinism
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