Pubdate: 10 March 1999
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company
Section: Metro Chicago
Author: New York Times News Service


WASHINGTON -- Sidney Gottlieb, who presided over the CIA's Cold War
efforts to control the human mind and provided the agency with poisons
to kill Fidel Castro, has died at age 80.

Mr. Gottlieb died Sunday in the Blue Ridge foothills village of
Washington, Va., where he had spent his later years caring for dying
patients, trying to run a commune, folk-dancing, consciousness-raising
and fighting lawsuits from survivors of his secret tests.

Friends and enemies alike said he was a kind of genius, striving to
explore the frontiers of the human mind for his country while
searching for religious and spiritual meaning in his life.

But he always will be remembered as the government chemist who dosed
Americans with psychedelics in the name of national security.

In the 1950s and early '60s, the agency gave mind-altering drugs to
hundreds of unsuspecting Americans in an effort to explore the
possibilities of controlling human consciousness. Many of the human
guinea pigs were mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts and
prostitutes--"people who could not fight back," as one agency officer
put it.

Other experiments involved agency employees, military officers and
college students, who had varying degrees of knowledge about the
tests. In all, the agency conducted 149 mind-control experiments; as
many as 25 involved unwitting subjects.

First-hand testimony, fragmentary government documents and court
records show that at least one participant died, others went mad, and
still others suffered psychological damage after participating in the
project, known as MKUltra. The experiments were useless, Mr. Gottlieb
concluded in 1972, shortly before he retired.

Nevertheless, the CIA awarded him its Distinguished Intelligence
Medal. It destroyed most of the MKUltra records in 1973.

Mr. Gottlieb, the son of Hungarian immigrants, studied at City College
of New York, then left for the Arkansas Polytechnic Institute, and
later for the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated, magna cum
laude, with a chemistry degree in 1940.

He earned a doctorate in biochemistry from California Institute of
Technology, where, in 1942, he married Margaret Moore, the daughter of
Presbyterian missionaries who served in India.

He joined the CIA in 1951. Two years later, the agency established
MKUltra and Mr. Gottlieb was running it. As chief of the agency's
technical services division, he served two decades as the senior
scientist presiding over some of the CIA's darkest secrets.

He also was involved in CIA assassination plots. In the Eisenhower and
Kennedy administrations, Mr. Gottlieb developed a poison handkerchief
to kill an Iraqi colonel, an array of toxic gifts to be delivered to
Castro and a poison dart to kill a leftist leader in the Congo. None
of the plans succeeded.

After he left the CIA, Mr. Gottlieb and his wife went to India, where
he ran a leper hospital for 18 months.
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