Did The CIA Test LSD On An Entire French Town?

2a0db11b3b578f07b1b834ebba736cb1481636a0 For a short, nightmarish period in August 1951, dozens of residents of Pont-Saint-Espirit suffered from extreme hallucinations, leading to five deaths. A newly-unearthed memo hints that it was a CIA experiment, the BBC reports:

On August 26, 1951, postman Leon Armunier was doing his rounds in Pont-Saint-Esprit when he was suddenly overwhelmed by nausea and wild hallucinations.

“It was terrible. I had the sensation of shrinking and shrinking, and the fire and the serpents coiling around my arms,” he remembers.

Leon, now 87, fell off his bike and was taken to the hospital in Avignon. He was put in a straitjacket but he shared a room with three teenagers who had been chained to their beds to keep them under control.

Over the coming days, dozens of other people in the town fell prey to similar symptoms. Doctors at the time concluded that bread at one of the town’s bakeries had become contaminated by ergot, a poisonous fungus that occurs naturally on rye.

That view remained largely unchallenged until 2009, when an American investigative journalist, Hank Albarelli, revealed a CIA document labelled: “Re: Pont-Saint-Esprit and F.Olson Files. SO Span/France Operation file, inclusive Olson. Intel files. Hand carry to Belin – tell him to see to it that these are buried.”

F. Olson is Frank Olson, a CIA scientist who, at the time of the Pont St Esprit incident, led research for the agency into the drug LSD.

David Belin, meanwhile, was executive director of the Rockefeller Commission created by the White House in 1975 to investigate abuses carried out worldwide by the CIA.

Albarelli believes the Pont-Saint-Esprit and F. Olson Files, mentioned in the document, would show – if they had not been “buried” – that the CIA was experimenting on the townspeople, by dosing them with LSD.

The conclusion drawn at the time was that one of the town’s bakeries, the Roch Briand, was the source of the poisoning. It’s possible, Albarelli says, that LSD was put in the bread.

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  • Vox Penii

    When compared to the innumerable substantiated Nazi horrors in France, an (unsubstantiated) case of (suspected) CIA activity is a cakewalk. Moreoever, the article doesn’t make clear the “”Re: Pont-Saint-Esprit” document’s provenance, stating only that Albarelli “discovered it”. Additionally, a Professor Kaplan reports that the 1951 incident is inconsistent with LSD.

    Verdict? Interesting, but weak…

  • E.B. Wolf

    Who didn’t the CIA test LSD on? The 50′s must have been one hell of a time to be a spook.

  • Haystack

    If it was in the bread, it was more than likely ergot. As the article states, this naturally occurs on rye. While we all know that the CIA dosed people with LSD as part of various experiments they were doing, it seems weird to me that they would choose to do so by infiltrating a bakery in France. How would you even do that? Has anyone here ever heard of LSD in bread or pastry form? Since LSD is a liquid with dosages in the microgram, I’m not sure how easy it would be to infuse an entire loaf bread with it. It would make a lot more sense to just infiltrate a bar and spike the ice tray, wouldn’t it?

    • Brent

      It would be so easy to put it in the bread Plus they would already have a cover story if someone found out(ergot). Carefully planned but really anyone could do it

    • Anonymous

      You could probably mix a few micrograms of it in with the bread dough before baking. I’m assuming, of course, that the chemical doesn’t get denatured by the baking process. And I also assume you would also have to be extremely careful to not overdose whoever eats it.

    • Greeneguide

      Ive had dosed animal crackers. you dont need to dose an entire loaf to make people trip. just a drop or two here and there on this loaf and that loaf, in a popular bakery, would be enough to really cause some “trouble”. plus ergot poisoning doesnt just wear off, it leads to much worse symptoms than hallucinations.

    • Ruth Flowers

      “It would make a lot more sense to just infiltrate a bar and spike the ice tray, wouldn’t it?”

      Not really, as the post above implies, plausible deniability is the reason for putting it in the bread. Besides, LSD is VERY sensitive to heat and would easily break down during the baking process. As to whether the CIA is capable of infiltrating a bread shop in France, do you really think this is beyond the CIA’s abilities???

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well…putting it in the bread leaves plausible deniability intact…so its feasible…but they could have been just as interested in examining any information after a natural instance of ergot poisoning to study the feasibility of LSD as an urban weapon. Both scenarios are in line with the CIA’s study of LSD…so the jury remains out unless other documents pop up and make it clear that the area was artificially dosed.

    • Ruth Flowers

      Ya…..that’s why they wanted it buried…..because they were just looking into a simple case of ergot poisoning….right.

  • Andy_D

    You all know, I’m guessing, that the F Olson mentioned is the infamous Frank Olson who died after falling/jumping/being pushed from a hotel window….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Olson

    Interesting he’s involved in this….I wonder what other secrets he may have been privy to…

  • Greeneguide

    Ive had dosed animal crackers. you dont need to dose an entire loaf to make people trip. just a drop or two here and there on this loaf and that loaf, in a popular bakery, would be enough to really cause some “trouble”. plus ergot poisoning doesnt just wear off, it leads to much worse symptoms than hallucinations.

  • Ruth Flowers

    Ya…..that’s why they wanted it buried…..because they were just looking into a simple case of ergot poisoning….right.

  • Ruth Flowers

    “It would make a lot more sense to just infiltrate a bar and spike the ice tray, wouldn’t it?”

    Not really, as the post above implies, plausible deniability is the reason for putting it in the bread. Besides, LSD is VERY sensitive to heat and would easily break down during the baking process. As to whether the CIA is capable of infiltrating a bread shop in France, do you really think this is beyond the CIA’s abilities???

  • http://www.mobileappaddict.com/ John Defahl

    Umm, why are we even debating this.. I mean we already know they injected people with radio active material.. purposely infected African American’s with STDs.. Does them dosing a city.. and of course a French city… that is on an island (contained/isolated the test area for control purposes).. I mean seriously.. of course they dosed it, and I wouldn’t be too amazed if they came out and admitted they were testing shit on homeless and mentally ill homeless people in this day and age. 9/11, while it may not have been completely an “inside job” you can bet that our behavior was being monitored and watched during that catastrophe as well. If you aren’t running the experiment, then I think you are apart of it.. in this day and age of metrics gathering.

  • http://twitter.com/johnsin John Drefahl

    Umm, why are we even debating this.. I mean we already know they injected people with radio active material.. purposely infected African American’s with STDs.. Does them dosing a city.. and of course a French city… that is on an island (contained/isolated the test area for control purposes).. I mean seriously.. of course they dosed it, and I wouldn’t be too amazed if they came out and admitted they were testing shit on homeless and mentally ill homeless people in this day and age. 9/11, while it may not have been completely an “inside job” you can bet that our behavior was being monitored and watched during that catastrophe as well. If you aren’t running the experiment, then I think you are apart of it.. in this day and age of metrics gathering.

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