New evidence has surfaced to add to the catalog of nefarious methods tested by the CIA during the Cold War. Many of such experiments were exposed in Martin Lee’s 1986 book Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD and the Sixties Rebellion. In an article published in the U.K. Telegraph, H P Albarelli Jr., an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the US Army’s top-secret Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted. … The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France. The inhabitants were suddenly racked with frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.
An American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.
One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes… Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets. Time magazine wrote at the time: “Among the stricken, delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that their heads had turned to molten lead.”
Eventually, it was determined that the best-known local baker had unwittingly contaminated his flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mould that infects rye grain. Note: LSD is a semi-synthetic derivative of ergot; ergotamine, also derived from ergot, is used in obstetrics) Both were produced by the Swiss-based Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the Army and CIA with LSD for their chemical warfare experiments.
The Telegraph story continues..
Mr Albarelli came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of Frank Olson, a biochemist working for the SOD who fell from a 13th floor window two years after the Cursed Bread incident. One note transcribes a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the “secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit” and explains that it was not “at all” caused by mould but by diethylamide, the D in LSD.
While compiling his book, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, Mr Albarelli spoke to former colleagues of Mr Olson, two of whom told him that the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident was part of a mind control experiment run by the CIA and US army. …
Mr Albarelli said the real “smoking gun” was a White House document sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses. It contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the “Pont St. Esprit incident.”
In its quest to research LSD as an offensive weapon, Mr Albarelli claims, the US army also drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen between 1953 and 1965.
None of his sources would indicate whether the French secret services were aware of the alleged operation. According to US news reports, French intelligence chiefs have demanded the CIA explain itself following the book’s revelations. French intelligence officially denies this.
Locals in Pont-Saint-Esprit still want to know why they were hit by such apocalyptic scenes.
Filed under: Current Events, Modern History, Politics, Psychedelics, Science | Tagged: Acid Dreams, CIA, cold war, ergot poisoning, Frank Olson, H P Albarelli, LSD, Martin Lee, mind control experiments, Sandoz Pharmaceutical, Special Operations Division, The Telegraph, UK |