Opinion: Conspiracy Theory – Frank Olson was murdered, not suicidal

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“MK ULTRA spill equipment” by reegmo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On Nov. 28, 1953, Dr. Frank Olson died on impact after falling 13 floors from his room in the Statler Hotel in New York City. After a police investigation, it was determined that Olson either jumped or fell to his death — a tragedy that was not entirely uncommon in New York City. When Olson’s family was informed of his unexpected death, they were discouraged from viewing the body as it had allegedly suffered significant facial disfiguration. The case was closed, then, until 22 years later in 1975 when a news story was published concerning further information related to Olson’s death. 

Olson was a U.S. Army scientist who specialized in work with biological toxins, germs and aerobiology, using his skills to work in biological warfare laboratories to produce technology that sprays chemicals onto enemy combatants. He began working in a special operations division during the Cold War, shortly promoted to the chief of the division, and was given the task of collecting any relevant information on microbiology that could be used in warfare and coordinating with the CIA to share the information. 

He continued to specialize in aerobiology, inventing and manufacturing weapons disguised as every-day items, such as lipsticks and shaving creams containing deadly chemicals that killed within instants. He later stepped down from his position as chief and began working directly in the CIA research facilities, where he met Sidney Gottlieb and Robert Lashbrook, two of the most prominent figures in the secret CIA project involving extreme interrogations and non-consensual LSD experiments. 

The nature of Olson’s death is complicated and foundationally involves a secret organization funded by the CIA that was initiated after the end of the Second World War. This organization, known as MKUltra, came about due to the CIA’s paranoia concerning the Soviet Union and their alleged “mind control” and “brainwashing” warfare. The rumors of such warfare began as American Prisoners of War returned from Europe having been allegedly converted to communism due to brainwashing techniques. 

Sidney Gottlieb, the CIA chemist at the head of MKUltra, was inspired by his fear of this new weapon and began tormenting and dehumanizing forms of experimentation on both consenting and non-consenting people with the goal of analyzing the effects of LSD on the human mind. Gottlieb was obsessed with discovering methods of destroying the existing mind of a person, then replacing it with a new mind and personality under his own control. These methods of behavior modification included sensory isolation, electroshock, a variety of drugs and chemicals and much more. Gottlieb performed these experiments on American soldiers, prisoners, European detainees and even the mentally-impaired youth.

Olson began working with Gottlieb after stepping down from his position as the chief of the special operations division in the U.S. Army. He worked at a CIA research station, where the top-secret organization of MKUltra would be run by him, Gottlieb and his deputy, Robert Lashbrook.  Olson witnessed extensive animal and human suffering during his time working in the CIA research station, something that apparently affected him to a greater degree than the MKUltra CIA agents had expected. Gottlieb performed brutal interrogations exercising methods of hypnosis, torture and mass-dosage of LSD and other toxins. 

On Nov. 18, 1953, 10 days before his death, Olson was invited to a retreat of CIA agents and scientists exclusive to the MKUltra project. Shortly into the trip, Gottlieb drugged each of their drinks with a dose of LSD. This experience reportedly altered Olson’s behavior since, afterward, he started showing signs of doubts concerning his line of work. Olson began expressing desire to quit the MKUltra project, undoubtedly as a reaction to the horrific scenes of torture and to the unexpected hallucinations and significant alteration to his mind. This reaction to his experience of LSD, if the conspiracy is true that he was secretly murdered by the CIA, was the turning point in Olson’s life, which lasted only another week. 

His expressions of concern alarmed Gottlieb and other MKUltra agents as the project was top-secret and destined to fail if any information were to be leaked from the few members that had any knowledge of the organization. Olson spent much time working around research centers and knew more about the inner workings of MKUltra than most others. His desire to leave the project, or expose the secrets of the organization, could only be devastating, and Gottlieb viewed the failure of his project as the inevitable downfall of the United States to communism. 

Over the course of the few days before Olson’s death, he was referred by Gottlieb to an MKUltra-affiliated physician, Harold Abramson. Abramson was a loyal agent that could be trusted by Gottlieb to delve into Olson’s mind and determine to what degree he was a threat to the project. Abramson, in his meeting with Olson, convinced him to voluntarily submit himself to a sanatorium until he was better oriented. Olson agreed, and later that day, he got a room in the Statler Hotel on the 13th floor with Lashbrook, where he would spend his final night. 

Olson’s death was temporarily covered up to prevent exposure of the MKUltra as a malicious, highly illegal project. However, Frank Olson’s story and suicide was published by the Washington Post nearly 22 years later. The article sparked controversy concerning the actions of the CIA and Gottlieb, who admitted to dosing Olson with LSD in the days before his death, which clearly caused his resulting disorientation and panicked state. 

However, it was noted that Olson was not feeling depressed or seemingly suicidal up until his death but rather frantic and doubtful of his line of work. It was clear that Olson was afraid, whether it was his unstable state of mind due to his drug experience, or from the very real potential actions of the CIA against him. Gottlieb and the CIA had great motive to remove Olson from the picture as someone who would likely destroy the past 10 years of research and experimentation toward the twisted end of succeeding the Soviet Union in “brain warfare.” 

Perhaps the best evidence of the conspiracy theory, however, is the re-examination of Olson’s body by his son, who suspected more than a drug-inspired tragic suicide. The body of Olson did not reveal severe facial disfigurement but rather showed a suspicious wound above his left eye, despite landing on his back from his fall, or push, from the window. It is more likely that Olson has been struck in the face by a person or object and then thrown to his death outside the window. The apparent suicide was the perfect cover-up, something that the CIA has mastered to protect its malicious inside-operations. 

Frank Olson’s death was not investigated further after his re-examination, however, as his family was paid off by the CIA with a fund of $750,000. They could not sue the CIA and force them to declassify the information on Olson, and the case was once again closed. However, the conspiracy theory remains strong, including murder concerning biological warfare and a man likely to reveal information that would interfere with the CIA’s private agenda.

Note: This article accounts for only one theory about the event discussed and should not be taken as fact. The Hilltop Monitor encourages our readers to undertake independent research into the event discussed in this article to come to their own conclusions.

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