PROJECT ARTICHOKE ‘Special Research” Areas – April 24, 1952


<—Back to Index listing of Declassified CIA documents


This CIA declassified document was found in documents obtained by The Black Vault.

If you’d like to see it where it was in the mix originally, in the below zip file look for the folder labeled DOC_0000184365/ 

For those to prefer to look at it online, you can go to this Black Vault page CD-ROM #2 and again – look for the folder labeled DOC_0000184365/ 

This documents details a discussion with a high TSS staff member (Technical Services Staff – Sidney Gottlieb’s division of the CIA). It details what areas (in addition to whatever else they were doing) that they wanted to do “special research” on as part of PROJECT ARTICHOKE.

In 1948, the CIA hired Willard Frank Machle to be the Assistant Director to  CIA head Roscoe Hillenkoetter. Machle is described by an official history as having a “distinct flair for intrigue and behind-the-scenes activity,”.

Willard Machle

Willard Machle NIMH image.

Roscoe Hillenkoetter



In January 1949, the CIA created the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) to coordinate scientific research projects led in this field. Dr. Willard Machle, its first Director (4,5), coordinated a special interrogation program for alleged Soviet spies in Germany in the summer 1949. Machle also researched the creation of a “Manchurian candidate” through behavioral modification. The first CIA project for the application of the methods of drastic interrogation techniques was project BLUEBIRD (1949/1950-1951).

Machle was impatient with finding himself limited to analysis of information collected by others, so he wanted to take control of the undercover agents who actually gathered the ‘scientific secrets’. He went on extensive trips to Europe, the details of which have been deleted from the declassified CIA histories. Apparently though, congressional hearings revealed that he had organized sub rosa attempts to uncover secrets that the agency’s spies were unwilling to tell the analysts. These maneuvers were soon detected and, accused of spying on another part of his own organization, Machle was fired in February 1950.

When Machle died in 1976, his obituary portrayed him as a man devoted to the cultivation of orchids—and not one word about the CIA.

Sounds like character McCready in V for Vendetta.

mccready and his orchids - v for vendetta

After Machle was fired in the spring of 1950, Sheffield Edwards (Army Colonel) replaced him. Declassified intelligence files from the National Security Archive show that Edwards later personally handled joint CIA-Mafia operations in connection with assassination attempts of Fidel Castro.

In August 1960, Mr. Richard Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards to determine if the Office of Security had assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action. The mission target was Fidel Castro.

– MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence. SUBJECT: ROSELLI, Johnny. 19 Nov 1970, found at the National Security Archive

Edwards proposed to form interrogation teams under the command of the Office of Security. The teams were composed of a psychiatrist, a polygraph (lie detector), an expert hypnotist and a technician. Research into methods of extracting information or creating false memories was also engaged in, which L. Ron Hubbard engaged in at the Dianetics Research Institute in 1950.

Edwards named the project BLUEBIRD and it was classified TOP SECRET. It was treated with particularly conscientious secrecy, because it established a behavioral control program within the CIA in close collaboration with the Office of Scientific Intelligence.

On April 20, 1950, Roscoe Hillenkoetter, at the time Director of the CIA, officially approved BLUEBIRD. To protect its most secretive activities, unaccountable funds were authorized. 

The official objectives were:

(a) discovering means of conditioning personnel to prevent unauthorized extraction of information from them by known means,

(b) investigating the possibility of control of an individual by application of special interrogation techniques,

(c) memory enhancement, and

(d) establishing defensive means for preventing hostile control of Agency personnel.

Three months later, three interrogators traveled to Japan to test behavioral techniques. They arrived July 1950, which was just about a month after the Korean war started. They were ordered to hide their true mission from US military authorities by saying that they were doing “intensive polygraph” work. They tested a truth-telling cocktail of drugs consisting of sodium amytal and benzedrine on four prisoners. They also tried to induce amnesia on them. Three months later, they experimented on 25 North Korean prisoners using “advanced techniques”.

At Camp King in Oberursel, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the CIA began developing “extreme interrogation” techniques and “behavior modification programs”.

Regarding the overseas experiments, it’s interesting to note that John Marks, in his book Manchurian Candidate, detailed that the CIA refused to provide him (at that time) with documents concerning the above overseas type experiments.

Under my Freedom of Information suit, the CIA specifically denied access to the documents concerning the testing of hypnosis and psychedelic drugs in cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies. The justification given was that releasing such documents would reveal intelligence sources and methods, which are exempted by law. The hypnosis experiment was never carried out, according to the generic description of the document which the Agency had to provide in explaining why it had to be withheld.


Morse Allen became the head of BLUEBIRD at the end of 1950. He was a former OSI officer. During WWII Allen worked for the ONI tracking down ‘leftists’ in New York.

On August 20, 1951, BLUEBIRD was renamed ARTICHOKE.

In January 1952, ARTICHOKE was transferred from being under the OSI to the Inspection and Security Office (ISO). This was the predecessor to the Office of Security. This reflected a change from being purely an intelligence unit to being an “operating unit.” The CIA’s Technical Services and Medical Staffs were to be called upon as needed. OSI would retain liaison function with other government agencies.

Memorandum for the record. Subject: Project ARTICHOKE. 31 Jan 1975 National Security Archive.

The memo stated: “Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self-preservation?”

The ARTICHOKE project went under MKULTRA on April 13, 1953, where work on all the same basic areas of interest continued.


4. The Office of Scientific Intelligence, 1949-68. The Directorate of Science and Technology Historical Series. Volume One. 1972. Approved for release September 2008. p.9.

5. Declassified CIA document showing a log of sorts that mentions Machle as OSI, September 1949.


Document details

DATE: 24 April 1952

CIA #not quite readable

NAMES mentioned:

  • none – all blacked out.


Text excerpts from Document


1. On Wednesday, 23 April 1952, the writer had an extended conversation with [redacted] a consultant to this Agency and a ranking officer of the TSS organization. [redacted] expressed great interest in the Artichoke problem and closely related matters and stated to the writer that he personally would offer assistance both in research and in money to any projects along these lines that the writer might suggest. [redacted] stated that he did not wish official communications in these matters since he stated they were too slow, but suggested, with the approval of [redacted] that he be given a brief, informal memorandum covering projects which we felt were of material interest to the Artichoke project and which could be done by research within TSS or by contract or “farming out” to capable researchers or institutions. [redacted] stated that he felt the Artichoke work was of extreme importance and no time should be lost in getting Artichoke research under way. He stated he would do everything in his power to expedite and carry out necessary research.

2. In view of [redacted] statements, on Thursday, 24 April 1952, the writer discussed the situation with [redacted] and [redacted] suggested that the writer draw up a list of suggestions related to Artichoke and that in the near future he ([redacted]), [redacted], [redacted]. and [redacted] and the writer could study these suggestions and determine which of them were suitable for research or for development otherwise.

3. Set forth on the following pages are a series of suggestions which are related to the Artichoke program and which the writer feels are worthy of exploration. Some of the suggestions are controversial and, in the opinion of the writer, they could be presented to outstanding authorities in the fields to be considered and it could be asertained from these authorities whether or not full-scale research would be warranted.

4. For matter of record and to explain such subjects as electro-shock and lobotomy appearing in the attached list, these subjects were introduced into the conversation by [redacted]


I. CHEMICALS (Including Drugs)

It is believed that specific research should be undertaken to develop new chemicals or drugs or to improve known elements for use in the Artichoke work. A study should be made to determine what drugs are best suited for direct use on subjects along the lines of amytal and pentothal and which drugs are best for indirect or long-range approach to subjects. This second type of drug should be one that could be administered over a considerable period of time, possibly being placed in food or water and would either have an agitating effect (producing anxiety, nervousness, tension etc.) or a depressing effect (creating a feeling of despondency, hopelessness, lethargy, etc.) This study should include chemicals or drugs that can effectively be concealed in common items such as food, water, coca cola, beer, liquor, cigarettes, etc. This type of drug should also be capable of use in standard medical treatments such as vaccinations, shots, etc.

While there are literally hundreds of chemicals or drugs that effect the mental processes of an individual many of these chemicals or drugs could be eliminated by individuals having special knowledge in the chemical/drug field. It is known that the Army Chemical Warfare Service has made exhaustive studies along these lines and perhaps they could furnish us with many specific answers. Men like [redacted] could, undoubtedly, give pertinent information if they could be properly approached.


It is felt that a exhaustive study should be made of various gases and aerosols that woud be effective in Artichoke work. Also a study should be made of the effects of oxygen (or other similar type) deficiencies.

In this connection, gas guns, jets or sprays, both concealed or open, should be studied. In addition, the problem of permanent brain injury and amnesias following lack of oxygen or exposure to other gases should be examined. (See related problems below.)


The effects or high and low pressures on individuals should be examined as a possible basis for Artichoke work.


The writer has been unable to obtain any worthwhile information on studies in this field that would apply specitically to the Artichoke problem. However, it is felt that a considerable amount of research could profitably be expended in the field of sound. This research should include the effect on human beings of various type of vibrations, monotonous sounds, concussion, ultra-high frequency, ultra-sonics, the effect of constantly repeated words, sounds, continuous suggestion, non-rhythmic sounds, whispering, etc.


This field may conceivably be valuable in that these media are capable of producing illnesses which in turn would produce high fevers, delirium, etc. It is also well known that species of the mushroom produce a certain type of intoxication and mental derangement. While this group of subjects is closely related to I above (DRUGS), it is conceivable that they could be handled as a different type of research.


This important subject has not been properly explored from the point of view of the Artichoke work.

The removal of certain basic food elements such as sugar, starch, calcium, vitamins, proteins, etc. from the food of an individual over a certain period of time will produce psychological and physical reactions in an individual. A study should be made to determine whether or not the removal of certain food elements from the diet of prisoners over a given period of time will materially condition them for Artichoke work. Highly spiced food and extremely salty foods are constantly reported in intelligence reports in connection with interrogation. While it is probable that this is solely to produce thirst, research may show that it has other effects.

In this connection, it is conceivably possible that it certain dietary deficiencies produce advantageous results from an Artichoke point of view, specially canned foods having elements removed could be manufactured or prepared for individuals held in custody.


This subject has been discussed at considerable length and still is considered a controversial matter. Whether or not its use as a positive weapon for gaining information from or control of an individual or whether it is another third-degree method does not seem clearly established to the writer. The foreign intelligence reports seem to reflect that electroshock, when used by the Soviets or their satellites, is primarily a third-degree method. We have been unable to find any indication from or control of an individual directly.

The writer has been unable to find anywhere that the electroshock coma has been used as a means of obtaining hypnotic control of an individual.

Whether an individual will reveal information as a result of electroshock, or while in an electroshock coma has not as yet been demonstrated to the writer and the writer, to date, has found no literature in this connection.

The low-powered electroshock found on the common electroshock machine is a third-degree method apparently.

Whether electroshock can produce controlled amnesias does not appear to be established except in the time area immediately surrounding the electroshock treatment and, although it is possible that severe or sustained electroshock may produce a vegetable, it is doubted if the Agency will support this activity.

The writer can find no information of electroshock treatments being applied to normal individuals for purely experimental purposes.

This field should be examined by the Medical Staff.


This field should be thoroughly explored. The idea of obtaining a sleep or sleeplike coma or a narcosis by electronics would appear to have a great deal of merit from an Artichoke point of view. The writer has been told that there are electronic sleep-inducing machines that are of the non-shock, non-painful variety. One of these was reported to be in use at the University of Richmond Hospital, Richmond, Virginia. Details, however, are lacking. Whether or not the machine is dangerous is unknown, but if an electronically induced sleep could be obtained and that sleep used as a means for gaining hypnotic control of an individual, this apparatus might be of extreme value to the Artichoke work.


The writer is of the opinion that the Agency, under no circumstances, would consider this type of thing as an operative measure. However, it is felt that the subject could be examined by the Medical Staff to ascertain whatever value it may have and whether or not the Soviets could be using this technique as a weapon.

[redacted – probably Max Fink] a medical consultant of the Agency in the field of psychiatry, might be valuable in this connection.[redacted] certainly would know [redacted- probably Walter Freeman] who is regarded as an authority in this field and who resides in Washington, D.C.) This field should be examined by the Medical Staff.


The effects of glaring lights upon an individual are well known and have been a standard police procedure for years. By the ame token, the use of white walls in connection with glaring lights appears to be another standard technique. While these and related techniques should be studied, the writer is of the opinion that special research should be conducted to determine the effect of long and continuous exposure of individuals to infra-red and ultra-violet light. Some work might possibly be done involving opaque walls or walls upon which shadow movies could be projected. Also the effect of colors upon individuals might be worthy of research as a conditioning mechanism.


There are a great many psychological techniques that could be used in connection with the Artichoke work. Many of these techniques are well known and have been used by clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and interrogators for a long time. It might be found that certain of these techniques, particularly if applied in reverse, would be highly advantageous to successful Artichoke operations. Among the psychological problems that might be considered for study would be:

A. Moving or vibrating rooms.
B. Distorted Rooms.
C. The deliberate creation of an anxiety condition.
D. The creation of panic, fear, or the exploitation of established phobias, etc.
E. The effect of heat and cold.
F. The effect of dampness, dryness or saturated or dry air.
G. The general problem of disorientation.
H. Completely soundproof areas.


There are many electronic devices of various types that may be important from an Artichoke point of view. For example — can the electro-encephalograph be used as a device for detecting certain types of treatment that individuals have been subjected to? Does an electro-encephalograph reflect electroshock treatments or head injury or drugging? Does an electro-encephalograph reflect whether or not an individual is under hypnosis? Can an electro-encephalograph be used to affirmatively establish whether an amnesia has been produced?


It would be a great advantage if a small, effective hypo-spray device could be designed along the lines of a fountain pen. This, of course, would necessarily have to include some effective chemical or drug that could be used in this connection with the hypo-spray. This would be a very valuable weapon.


Set out immediately below is an excerpt from the publication entitled “LUCIAN CARY ON GUNS”, (Fawcett Book 110), article entitled “Gadget Guns Mean Murder”, page 122:

“Guns shooting tear gas were made in this country between the two world wars and many police departments bought them. One type was hardly intended for police use since it was no bigger than a funtain pen and was made to look like one. During World War II the Germans made what they called “scheintot” pistols. The German word literally means “appearance of death”. The appearance-of-death pistols used a gas that renders a man unconscious as quickly as holding an ether cone over his nose.”

This device should be run down. The writer would like to know the effective range of this weapon, the type of gas used and how long the coma condition lasts.

The writer knows that Lucian Cary is a well-known authority on guns and has written extensively on such weapons.

….end text….

Additional items of interest related to the above text

Here’s a picture of the scheintot tear gas gun –

scheintot tear gas gun - german ww2.

The Electro-Sleep area of interest was actually taken up further, and continued on under Project MKUltra See the below zip file look for the folder labeled DOC_0000173883/ 

For those to prefer to look at it online, you can go to this Black Vault page CD-ROM #2 and again – look for the folder labeled DOC_0000173883/ 

Here’s the first couple pages, one of which is the beginning of a report on its use in Europe and Russia –

0000173883_0001 0000173883_0002


The “special research” areas of electro-shock, drugs (particularly LSD), the electro-encephelogram and the lobotomy research was carried out by several psychiatrists, one of which was Dr. Max Fink, all of which continued in the roll-over of Project Artichoke to Project MKUltra. See What Really Happened at the Missouri Institute of Psychiatry post.


Images and PDF files


PDF (OCR’d) – CIA Project Artichoke Areas of New Interests 1952 Doc 184365


Following are the individual images of the document, for those who prefer to look at them directly.

(click to enlarge)



0000184365_0002 0000184365_0003 0000184365_0004 0000184365_0005 0000184365_0006  0000184365_0007


<—Back to Index listing of Declassified CIA documents

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.