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Editor’s note: In 1998, WorldNetDaily first reported on the CIA’s secret behavior-modification program MK-ULTRA, which included experimentation with LSD on unsuspecting subjects. Authors H.P. Albarelli Jr. and John Kelly’s new book deals with the mysterious death of one alleged subject, Dr. Frank Olson. In their previous report, Albarelli and Kelly disclose new evidence they have uncovered in this 48-year-old case. In today’s installment, they highlight a secret agreement between the CIA and Department of Justice that was finalized just after Olson’s death.
In the aftermath of the mysterious death of Army scientist Dr. Frank Olson in 1953, an agreement was struck between the CIA and U.S. Department of Justice that allows the spy agency to decide whether or not to report criminal violations relating to its activities to the Justice Department.
In January 1954, only four weeks after Olson fell to his death from the 10th floor of a Manhattan hotel, the CIA’s general counsel, Lawrence Houston, held the first of several secret meetings with the U.S. Department of Justice. The CIA’s internal investigation into Olson’s strange death was coming to a conclusion, and Houston wanted to discuss with Deputy Attorney General William P. Rogers the subject of “criminal violations and activities” arising from covert CIA operations. Houston’s ultimate objective with Rogers was to reach an agreement whereby the CIA had broad discretion to report or not report violations of federal criminal laws that occur in relation to the actions of its officials or contract agents. Within a few weeks of this initial meeting, the CIA’s general counsel had the agreement he sought.
According to informed sources, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has received information that the 1954 secret agreement between the CIA and Department of Justice was spurred into creation by the circumstances surrounding the death of Frank Olson and possibly those of other persons who met untimely ends in New York and Washington, D.C.
Prosecutors in the D.A.’s office are said to be closely examining a 1954 memorandum from Houston to then-CIA director Allen Dulles that reveals that Houston held the last of several meetings with Rogers on Feb. 18, 1954. According to that memorandum, kept secret for over 20 years, Houston and Rogers agreed that the CIA would be responsible for determining whether a potential or actual violation of federal criminal statutes committed by any persons associated with the CIA would be referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.
The memorandum, in part, reads: “From time to time, information is developed within the Agency indicating the actual or probable violation of criminal statutes. Normally, all such information would be turned over to the Department of Justice for investigation and decision as to prosecution. Occasionally, however, the apparent criminal activities are involved in highly classified and complex covert operations. Under these circumstances, investigation by an outside agency would not hope for success without revealing to that agency the full scope of the covert operations involved, as well as this Agency’s authorities and manner of handling the operations. Even then, the investigation would not succeed without the full assistance of all interested branches of this Agency. In addition, if investigation developed a prima-facie case of a criminal violation, in many cases it would be readily apparent that prosecution would be impossible without revealing highly classified matters to public scrutiny.”
Evidence received by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office also includes information that in summer 1975, less than two weeks after the nation was shocked with newspaper accounts about Olson’s death, a congressional subcommittee chaired by the late Rep. Bella S. Abzug, D-N.Y., learned of the secret CIA-Department of Justice agreement. Angered by its existence, the House Subcommittee on Government Operations Investigating Criminal Cases Involving CIA Personnel concluded, “It is apparent on its face that such an arrangement was improperly made at the time and is in apparent conflict with legislation passed immediately after.”
Abzug, in July 1975, held a largely overlooked hearing to take testimony from Houston “to determine why the Department of Justice was willing to acquiesce for a period of 20 years in an arrangement which on its face was improper, probably illegal, and certainly a neglect of duty by the agency whose principle function is to enforce the law.”
During the course of that hearing, Abzug questioned Houston extensively and, as the record makes clear, was quite concerned about the implications of the secret agreement and Olson’s death. Olson allegedly “fell or jumped” to his death from a hotel window on Nov. 28, 1953, after he took part in an undefined CIA “experiment” 10 days prior.
At one point in her questioning of Houston, Abzug asked, “Was [the Frank Olson matter] ever referred to the Department of Justice?”
Houston answered, “I do not recall that it was referred to the Department of Justice.”
Houston then oddly added, “My only dealings with the case was with the Bureau of Employees’ Compensation.”
Abzug responded, “It may well have been a State offense if there was foul play. Was it ever referred to the New York Police Department or State authorities for consideration?”
“Not that I recall,” Houston answered.
According to the official government account of the hearing, the following remarkable exchange then occurred.
ABZUG: In other words, this [1954 agreement] in your judgment gave authority to the CIA to make decisions, to give immunity to individuals who happened to work for the CIA for all kinds of crimes, including possible murder.
HOUSTON: It was not designed to give immunity to individuals. It was designed to protect operation of information of the Agency which was highly sensitive.
ABZUG: Was that not the effect of the actual interpretation made by CIA and their advisers?
HOUSTON: It could have that effect, yes.
ABZUG: Did it not have that effect?
HOUSTON: In certain cases it did.
Houston’s remarks about his “only dealings” on the Olson case being with the Bureau of Employees’ Compensation fly in the face of the official CIA record of Olson’s death. That record includes several CIA documents that detail Houston’s other dealings in the case including his authorship of a Jan. 4, 1954, memorandum that states the CIA has “taken the position officially that the experiment [Olson was subjected to] at least ‘triggered’ suicide, and, as all the facts tend to support this conclusion, we should accept it as final.” The same memorandum goes on to explain the CIA’s rationale for its official position, which was never revealed or stated to anyone outside of the CIA until 1975.
Oddly, Houston’s testimony before Abzug’s subcommittee seems to indicate that he did not recall authoring the January 1954 document, nor did he recall making any recommendations concerning the case. Indeed, in support of this conclusion are more of Houston’s remarks.
Deeper into her July 1975 questioning of Houston, Abzug once again returns to the subject of Olson and asked, “What happened to the files and the CIA search of the Olson case?”
HOUSTON: I don’t know. I don’t know what search has been made or what has been found.
ABZUG: There has been testimony that the files in that case have been destroyed.
HOUSTON: If so, I am not aware of it. … I am told they [CIA] have located a memorandum of mine in which I was seriously perturbed about the case, but I do not know what specific recommendation, if any, I made at the time.
Cold case investigators in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office have long been intrigued by several cryptic sections of the CIA documents released to Olson’s survivors in 1975. One particular document, written the day after Olson’s death, is especially provocative because it details a conversation between a CIA official and an agency consultant within which the consultant wonders aloud if Olson’s death would have the effect of jeopardizing “the deal” that was in process. The CIA documents do not explain what that “deal” might have been.
Read Part 1, “New evidence in Army scientist’s death.”
Portions of this article were taken from the forthcoming book, “A TERRIBLE MISTAKE: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Cold War Experiments” by H.P. Albarelli Jr. and John F. Kelly.