US VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY AND SECRETARY OF DEFENCE DONALD RUMSFELD LINKED TO
"MURDER OF CIA SCIENTIST"
by Gordon Thomas*
Secret documents have revealed US Vice President Dick Cheney and
Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld are "linked to the murder" of a
senior CIA scientist. Frank Olson, who was a key member of the CIA's
programme MK-ULTRA, was sent plunging from a New York hotel window
after he had threatened to reveal the CIA involvement in "terminal
experiments" in post-war Germany.
The importance of the documents are not only their historic
significance. They could play an important role in the race for the
White House this November. Ironically it falls due on the 51st
anniversary of Olson's murder.
Frank Olson's son, Eric, a psychologist, believes that fact will not
be overlooked by President Bush's opponents as they search for further
evidence that Rumsfeld and Cheney have a long history of news
management and hiding the truth that could be highly embarrassing to
the White House.
The documents reinforce how Rumsfeld and Cheney have honed their
skills over the past thirty years to ensure that today they have so far
managed to keep the current scandal of US torture in Iraq - and
elsewhere - from ensnaring themselves and President Bush.
For almost half a century Eric Olson has insisted his father was murdered "on orders from the highest level".
Frank Olson's work for the CIA had included making biological weapons.
He had devised an aerosol disguised as insect spray that contained the
lethal pathogen, botulism. It was successfully used to kill a Russian
GRU military intelligence officer on a visit to Gdansk, Poland, in
Another creation had been toothpaste containing salmonella, an
incapacitating bacterium. The CIA arranged for it to be distributed in
1952 to Bulgarian troops in Sofia.
Yet another weapon was inserted into Polish produced jam, the shigella
bacterium, which produced incapacitating diarrhoea. For a time it
produced a major outbreak among Polish and other Warsaw Pact frontline
troops in 1952.
All these, and more, Frank Olson had produced in his laboratory at
Fort Detrick, near Washington DC. It was America's chemical-biological
warfare complex. Since 1943, Olson had worked there.
To ensure his weapons worked, they were tried out on what the CIA
classified as "expendables": suspected double agents, captured spies
and others held in detention camps in the American Zone in southern
This was the 1950s when the Cold War was at its height. But Olson had
never witnessed the result of his work. Then in the summer of 1953, he
visited a CIA "safe house" near Stuttgart. He saw men dying, often in
agony, from the weapons he had made. He was shocked, and protested. By
the time he had returned to Fort Detrick in November of that year, his
fate had been sealed. CIA director Allan Welsh Dulles decided that
Olson was a dangerous whistleblower.
Eric Olson had always maintained "my father was murdered on the
highest authority". He has fought a long battle to prove his point. But
at every step he was blocked by two of the most powerful men in
Washington - Cheney and Rumsfeld.
But the documents which have surfaced in Washington all too clearly
pinpoint the role the two men played in covering-up the murder of Frank
In a "Flash Secret" memo from Cheney to Rumsfeld, the future Vice
President warns if the truth emerged "it might be necessary to disclose
highly classified national security information".
Another memorandum to the President (Gerald Ford) reveals that Eric
Olson and his family "have indicated their shock and outrage at the
circumstances surrounding Dr Olson's death". The memo suggests "the
President expresses his own outrage" over the death.
Cheney warns in a further memo that Olson's job "is so sensitive that
it is highly unlikely we would submit relevant evidence on the issue of
The 23 pages of documents paint a clear picture of the determination
of Cheney and Rumsfeld to keep secret Olson's work and to ensure, as a
matter of public policy, it must remain secret that "a drug criminally
given him (Olson) cannot as a matter of law be determined he died in
the course of his official duties".
"The documents remind us why blind trust in any government official or
agency is a bad idea. The cover-up of torture in Iraq today has its
roots in a different time - but it's the same culture of cover-up. That
cover-up ultimately led to the murder of my father", said Eric Olson.
"After witnessing experiments on prisoners held in secret CIA "safe
houses" in Germany, my father was so shocked he was seen as a
whistleblower by his superiors. They arranged for him to receive a
mind-blowing cocktail of LSD and other drugs. Then a CIA field
operative pushed my father out of a hotel window in New York. The CIA
said my father had committed suicide due to 'personal reasons'. Both
Cheney and Rumsfeld continued to conceal the truth - even after 2003,
when President Bush renounced the use of torture and abuse by the CIA",
A California history professor, Kathryn Olmstead discovered the documents in the Gerald Ford library.
Cheney and Rumsfeld were given the task of covering up the details of
Frank Olson's death. At the time, Rumsfeld was White House Chief of
Staff to President Gerald Ford. Dick Cheney was a senior White House
assistant to the President.
Olson's family received US $750,000 to settle their claims against the
US government in 1976. But the cover-up continued.
Both the offices of Rumsfeld and Cheney have declined comment on their role in covering-up the murder of Frank Olson.
But from his home outside Washington, Eric Olson said the documents
involving Rumsfeld and Cheney show they "have questions to answer".
* Gordon Thomas is a senior
Irish journalist well-known for his long connections to intelligence
source and information. Among his many books are:
* Gideon's Spies_The Secret History of Mossad
* Robert Maxwell - Israel's Superspy
* Seeds of Fire - China and the Story Behind the Attack on America