I have a friend in Maryland. Over the phone recently he told me a story about a man his grandfather was once close to. The man’s name was Frank Olson. Ever heard of him? Up until yesterday I hadn’t, but after a little online sleuthing, Frank’s tragic story is stuck in my head like dirty bubblegum on the bottom of a brand new pair of Jimmy Choo sandals. Put another way, I’m deeply disgusted, disillusioned with our government, and just plain outraged. How many other stories like Frank’s are untold? Unknown, even?
Frank was a scientist. Interestingly, he was part of the small group that designed the protective clothing for the invasion of Normandy during World War II. He was a family man with a loving wife and children. And he was hairline-deep in the darkest of state secrets.
On November 28, 1953, Frank Olson’s family was told by the United States government that he had died in an accident. Up until 1973 the family believed that Frank had fallen – or jumped – out of a New York hotel room window. For the Olsons, the years that followed were overshadowed with fear, shame, uncertainty, and insecurity. Then, on June 11, 1975, a story ran on the front page of the Washington Post. Titled “Suicide Revealed,” the story led the Olsons deeper down a rabbit hole.
Quotes from the story:
A civilian employee of the Department of the Army unwittingly took LSD as part of the Central Intelligence Agency test, then jumped 10 floors to his death less than a week later, according to the Rockefeller commission report released yesterday,” the article read.
The man was given the drug while attending a meeting with CIA personnel working on a test project that involved the administration of the mind-bending drugs to unsuspecting Americans and the testing of new listening devices by eavesdropping on citizens who were unaware they were being overheard.
This individual was not made aware he had been given LSD until about 20 minutes after it had been administered,” the commission said. “He developed serious side effects and was sent to New York with a CIA escort for psychiatric treatment. Several days later, he jumped from a tenth-floor window of his room and died as a result.
According to a statement made by his family in 2002 on their website, www.frankolsonproject.org, no one bothered to notify them that the story was going to break. Not the Rockefeller Commission, not the CIA, and not the White House.
Frank wasn’t named in the article, but it wasn’t hard to figure out who the story was about. A month later Frank’s family held a press conference.
Less than two days after that they were sitting in the Oval Office receiving an apology from President Ford. Five days later they found themselves having lunch with CIA Director William Colby at his office at Langley. Along with another apology, the Olsons were handed the “complete file” on Frank’s death.
Frank’s sons, one being Eric Olson, believed something was grossly amiss. Things just didn’t add up.
The Olsons weren’t sure exactly what the President and the CIA were apologizing for. Was it that Frank had been recklessly and covertly drugged by them? Was it for the nonchalant medical treatment by a non-psychiatrist? Was it for keeping the allegedly psychotic Frank in a hotel room rather than in a hospital? Was it because Frank’s CIA escort (Dr. Robert Lashbrook) was “asleep” in the next bed when Frank “fell or jumped?” Was it for not telling the truth to Frank’s family in 1953? Or, was it for not coming clean to the Olson family before the story broke 22-years later?
The “fell or jumped out the window” scenario didn’t sit with the Olsons. They say he was pushed. An insider later revealed to them that he was “dropped.”
Over an agonizing decade the horrific truth slowly came to light. The real story began well before Frank was fatally “dropped” from a window. It began with ethical reservations the scientist expressed that led to government speculation as to how committed Frank was to top secret activities he was involved with. The LSD drugging of Frank and his death were but the tip of a very large, very corrupt iceberg.
Eric Olson learned that his father was not simply an “army scientist” but a CIA officer connected with projects so heavily guarded that the term “top secret” gives only scant indication of their sensitivity. At the time of Frank’s death he was the Special Operations Division at Detrick’s director of planning and evaluations. The division was the government’s most secret biological weapons laboratory, responsible for doing work on bacteriological agents for use in covert operations.
Let me be clear. We’re talking about – among other things – assassinations materials research, biological warfare materials for use in covert operations, biological warfare experiments in populated areas, terminal interrogations, collaboration with former Nazi scientists, LSD mind-control research, and U.S. employment of biological weapons in the Korean War.
As Eric and his family doggedly pursued the truth, they turned to the New York District attorney (where the accident/suicide/murder took place). Surprisingly, the case was reopened. The D.A. would go on to learn that the murder of Frank Olson was taught as a case of “perfect murder” at the assassination training unit of the Israeli Mossad outside Tel Aviv. Frank’s death was included in the assassination curriculum because of the success with which the murder had been disguised as a suicide.
A completely new story of Frank Olson’s death and what really happened all of those years ago has been unearthed. Rather than continue my narrative, I direct you to the family’s very thorough, substantiated website: www.frankolsonproject.org.