US Vice President Dick Cheney & 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 secret brainwashing 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 1951.
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 Germany.
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 Olson.
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 his duties".
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", continued Eric.
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.
Frank 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".