On this day:
1953 – CIA director Allen Dulles launches the mind-control program Project MKUltra.
Project MKUltra – sometimes referred to as the CIA’s mind control program – is the code name given to a program of experiments on human subjects, at times illegal, designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Experiments on humans were intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions through mind control. Organized through the Scientific Intelligence Division of the CIA, the project coordinated with the Special Operations Division of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps.
The operation began in the early 1950s, was officially sanctioned in 1953, was reduced in scope in 1964, further curtailed in 1967, and officially halted in 1973. The program engaged in many illegal activities, including the use of unwitting U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects, which led to controversy regarding its legitimacy.(p74) MKUltra used numerous methodologies to manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as other forms of psychological torture.
The scope of Project MKUltra was broad, with research undertaken at 80 institutions, including 44 colleges and universities, as well as hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies. The CIA operated through these institutions using front organizations, although sometimes top officials at these institutions were aware of the CIA’s involvement. As the US Supreme Court later noted in CIA v. Sims 471 U.S. 159 (1985)  MKULTRA was:
concerned with “the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.” The program consisted of some 149 subprojects which the Agency contracted out to various universities, research foundations, and similar institutions. At least 80 institutions and 185 private researchers participated. Because the Agency funded MKUltra indirectly, many of the participating individuals were unaware that they were dealing with the Agency.
Although the Supreme Court sided with the CIA that sources’ names could be redacted for their protection, it nonetheless validated the existence of MKULTRA to be used in future court cases and confirmed that the CIA for 14 years performed clandestine experiments on human behavior.
Between 1953 and 1966, the Central Intelligence Agency financed a wide-ranging project, code-named MKULTRA, concerned with the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.
Project MKUltra was first brought to public attention in 1975 by the Church Committee of the U.S. Congress, and a Gerald Ford commission to investigate CIA activities within the United States. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKUltra files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms’ destruction order.
In 1977, a Freedom of Information Act request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to project MKUltra, which led to Senate hearings later that same year. In July 2001, some surviving information regarding MKUltra was declassified.
Born on this day:
1780 – Alexander Mitchell, Irish engineer, invented the Screw-pile lighthouse (d. 1868)
Alexander Mitchell, (13 April 1780 – 25 June 1868) was an Irish engineer who from 1802 was blind. He is known as the inventor of the screw-pile lighthouse.
Born in Dublin, his family moved to Belfast while he was a child, and he received his formal education at Belfast Academy – where he excelled in mathematics.
Originally working in brickmaking in Belfast, he invented machines used in that trade, before patenting the screw-pile in 1833, for which he would later gain some fame. The screw-pile was used for the erection of lighthouses and other structures on mudbanks and shifting sands, including bridges and piers. Mitchell’s designs and methods were employed all over the world from Portland breakwater to Bombay bridges. Initially it was used for the construction of lighthouses on Maplin Sands in the Thames Estuary (the first light application, in 1838), at Fleetwood Lancashire (UK) Morecambe Bay (the first Ever Beacon Lit ) completed, in 1839), and at Belfast Lough where his lighthouse was finished in July 1844.
Illustration of Mitchell’s screwpile method
In 1848 he was elected member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and received the Telford Medal the following year for a paper on his invention.
In May 1851 he moved to Cobh to lay the foundation for a lighthouse on the Spit Bank; the success of these undertakings led to the use of his invention on the breakwater at Portland, the viaduct and bridges on the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway and a broad system of Indian telegraphs.
He became friendly with astronomer John Thomas Romney Robinson, and mathematician George Boole.
He died at Glen Devis near Belfast on 25 June 1868. His wife and daughter had predeceased him.