I suppose it was a coincidence that both the National Geographic and Discovery Channels broadcast back to back documentaries about the CIA's experiments in mind control on successive nights. There was nothing new that had not been previously revealed during the Church Committee Congressional hearings of 1975, where the entire ghoulish laundry list of CIA abuses was unfurled before the public, but one inadvertent piece of evidence made my jaw drop. Both shows focused on the CIA's MK ULTRA program, begun in the fifties, which examined the effects of LSD on subjects both witting and unwitting, in an attempt to create new ways to brainwash potential adversaries. Among the early volunteers for the program was Stanford University student Ken Kesey. The whole sordid story is easily researched online or in library, but here's the short version.
In 1953, the CIA killed one of their own and covered it up. An agency biochemist named Frank Olson, who was critical of the program, was surreptitiously given a large dose of Lysergic Acid in his coffee by fellow agents and observed through a two-way mirror. Soon, Olson was debating the weather on Mount Olympus with Zeus and had a severe psychotic break which required sedation and observation by CIA doctors. Claiming Olson was suicidal, he was secretly checked into a tenth floor New York hotel room to be supervised by an agent entrusted with his care, but before morning, the chemist allegedly leaped from a window to his death while his trustee slept. The CIA declared it a suicide. After Senator Frank Church's committee determined that Olson was a forced participant in the CIA's LSD experiments, his family filed a civil suit against the U.S. Government for wrongful death. President Gerald Ford invited the Olson family to the White House and convinced them, for reasons of national security, not to pursue the case. This is where my eyes widened, since this was not a new film, nor one with a political purpose. The official, contractual papers were shown where the family agreed to settle with the government for $7000 (Seven Thousand Dollars). The author of the deal and the signatory for the United States was the president's Chief of Staff, Richard Cheney.
When someone says "Cheney knows where all the bodies are buried," they are not speaking figuratively. Dirty Dick has been covering up for the CIA's illegal nastiness since the seventies. No wonder he was able to go to Langley as Vice President and rifle through the files with impunity to cook the intelligence for the Iraq War buildup. They owe him, and his access goes back to the Nixon years when he coat-tailed his pal Donald Rumsfeld into the White House. Under Gerald Ford, Cheney and Rumsfeld staged what became known as the "Halloween Massacre," usurping the powers of Nixon holdovers Henry Kissinger and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to become Ford's Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense, respectively. From his new position of power, Cheney urged Ford not to cooperate with the Church Committee, arguing that airing the CIA atrocities could only damage the intelligence community. And when the terrible truths became public testimony, Cheney and Rumsfeld engineered the ouster of acting CIA Director William Colby, and had him replaced with George H.W. "Poppy" Bush. The Secret Service's codename for Cheney was "Backseat."
And what a putrid list of illegal activities it was that Cheney wished to protect. From the assassination attempts; Lumumba in the Congo, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers in Vietnam, and the Mafia sub-contract to kill Castro; to the domestic spying and infiltration of the peace movement; to attempts to discredit Dr. Martin Luther King and destroy the Black Panther movement, the CIA was so blatantly beyond the law that congress passed legislation to reign them in. The FISA laws (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) came from the Church Committee recommendations, a law that Cheney obviously disdained then as now. When Ford lost the presidency, with Cheney as his campaign manager, to Jimmy Carter in 1976, the Wyoming native ran for Congress in 1978, serving as the Republican leader on the House Intelligence Committee before "Poppy" Bush tapped him as his Secretary of Defense for payback.
In exile at Halliburton during the Clinton years, Dick Cheney enriched himself as Chairman and CEO of the international conglomerate until the uncanny opportunity presented itself for him to screen the Vice Presidential prospects for "Poppy's" clueless boy Georgie's new administration. We know how Cheney spent the next eight years, trying to revive the Nixon presidency and attempting to concentrate power in the Executive Branch. CIA director George Tenant genuflected before him and Cheney became the de-facto head of government and chief protector of manipulated intelligence. He invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, Halliburton and KBR became bloated with war profits, and the CIA was marginalized by the mercenaries from Blackwater. His understudy, Scooter Libby, pleaded guilty to outing a covert agent, and George Tenant was given the Medal of Honor. Everything he warned of or predicted, from the spectre of mushroom clouds to the effectiveness of state sanctioned torture, has been proven dead wrong; yet he still has the temerity to stick around the Capitol like the ghost of Strom Thurmond, and criticize the military strategy of Secretary Gates and the President.
I believe Cheney is hanging around just to scream "National Security!" if any legal entity should dig too deeply into his resume. Anyone who places a value on the life of an intelligence agent who died in service to his country at $7000, has no qualms about exposing the identity of an undercover CIA analyst who crossed him over the veracity of reports that advanced his imperialist agenda. In 1994, the family of Frank Olson requested an exhumation of the body for further examination. A new autopsy showed that Olson suffered "severe cranial injuries delivered by a blunt object," and was most likely "knocked out" before being tossed from the window. Since Dick Cheney was intimately familiar with the case and prepared the original settlement, and considering his influence with the CIA was sufficient to put his man "Poppy" in the directorship, why do I get the nagging suspicion that he knew about Olson all along and bought his family off with pennies and patriotism? Now that his multi-year, century spanning, executive office-holding marathon is over, there is only one additional governmental agency that Dick Cheney truly deserves to be a part of; the Federal prison system.