Hearing “Voices”: The Hidden History of the CIA’s Electromagnetic Mind Control Experiments
By Alex Constantine
Hustler, January 1995
Controlling human behavior by remote radio transmission isn’t science fiction—it’s a fact. After years of secret experiments, the U.S. government has achieved its goal: Breaking and entering American minds at will.
“Man Hallucinates, Says Microwaves Are Murdering Him,” reported the March 21, 1979 edition of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. The subject of the article, electronics engineer Leonard Kille, claimed his brain had been destroyed in mind-control experiments by CIA-sponsored psychiatrists Vernon Mark of Boston City Hospital and UCLA’s Frank Ervin.
Kille was a co-inventor of the Land camera, named for Edwin Land of the Polaroid Corporation. A veteran researcher in government-sponsored mind control programs, Land had founded the Scientific Engineering Institute (SEI) on behalf of the CIA. In July 1968 at South Vietnam’s Bien Hoa Hospital, SEI teams had implanted electrodes in the skulls of Vietcong prisoners of war in experimental attempts to direct the behavior of brain-wired subjects by remote control. Upon completion of the experiments, the POWs were shot and cremated by a company of Green Berets.
In 1966 Kille suspected that his wife was having an affair. She denied it; he flew into rages. A psychiatrist interpreted Kille’s anger as a “personality pattern disturbance” and referred him to Mark and Ervin for neurological tests. Although Mark and Ervin described Kille’s behavior as “dangerous,” Kille’s most violent outburst consisted of throwing tin cans at his wife (he missed). Hospitalized by order of the psychiatrists, Kille was involuntarily subjected to experimental brain surgery.
During the touch-and-go operation, electrical strands were implanted in Kille’s brain. Each strand was studded with approximately 20 electrodes. Only after installation of the apparatus was Kille enlisted to sign his official consent to the procedure; the electrodes were already in place, zapping his brain.
Following the nightmarish operation, Dr. Peter Breggin of the Center to Study Psychiatry, an ombudsman of psychiatric abuses, investigated Kille’s case and found—despite Mark’s and Ervin’s reports of therapeutic success—that the post-op patient was “totally disabled and subject to nightmarish terrors that he will be caught and operated on again at the Massachusetts General Hospital.”
In 1971, a hospital attendant discovered Kille holding a metal wastebasket over his head to “stop the microwaves.” A sympathetic doctor at Boston’s VA hospital, where Kille was transferred, ordered for him “a large sheet of aluminum foil so he may fashion a protective helmet for himself.” Uninformed that Kille had been fitted with electrodes, the VA doctors diagnosed him as a delusional paranoiac.
According to Kille, Mark and Ervin controlled his moods by remote electronic stimulation. “They turn me up or turn me down,” Kille insisted.
In the 1920s, the development of the electroencephalograph (EEG)—an apparatus for detecting and recording brain waves—offered brain physiologists the key to unlock the mysteries of the body’s pivotal organ of thought, intellect and personality. While giving hope for a specific means of mapping mental-health ailments, the newfound electrical pattern to brain function also opened a monstrous Pandora’s box: possible radio control of the mind. In 1934 Doctors E. L. Chaffee and R. U. Light published “A Method for Remote Control of Electrical Stimulation of the Nervous System,” an introductory monograph on electromagnetic mind-control methodology. In 1964, electromagnetic-response (EMR) researcher Dr. José Delgado of Cordoba, Spain, climbed into a bullring and, with the push of a button, triggered an electrode implanted in the brain tissue of a charging bull, halting the beast in its tracks.
Also in 1934, Russian physiologist L. L. Vasiliev published “Critical Evaluation of the Hypnogenic Method,” an article detailing the experiments of Dr. I. F. Tomashevsky in remote-radio control of the human brain “at a distance of one or more rooms and under conditions where the participant would not know or suspect that she would be experimented upon.” Reported Vasiliev, “One such experiment was carried out in a park with the subject at a distance. A post-hypnotic mental suggestion to go to sleep was complied with within a minute.”
The CIA created an EMR laboratory at Allan Memorial, a Montreal, Canada, research facility created in 1943. The heart of Allan Memorial’s Radio Telemetry Laboratory (a telemeter is an electrical apparatus for measuring a quantity, transmitting the result by radio to a distant station, and there indicating or recording it) was called the Grid Room. In the Grid Room, an involuntary subject would be strapped into a chair, by force if necessary. Violent resistance was quelled with curare, the powerful plant extract used in arrow poisons by South American Indians and in medicine to produce muscular paralysis. From a head bristling with electrodes and transducers, the subdued subject’s brain waves would be beamed to a nearby reception room crammed with voice analyzers and radio receivers cobbled together by laboratory assistant Leonard Rubenstein. Rubenstein, a man who lacked professional medical credentials, believed passionately in the political uses of mind control. Experiments at Allan Memorial’s telemetry lab, he declared, would one day help governments “keep tabs on people without their knowing.”
“De-patterning”—the systematic annihilation of a subject’s mind and memory—was accomplished at Allan Memorial with heavy doses of LSD, barbiturate-induced comas lasting up to 65 days and electroconvulsive therapy administered at 75 times the customary dose for psychiatric therapy. Following depatterning, “psychic driving”—the repetition of a recorded message for 16 hours a day—programmed the freshly emptied mind.
In 1965 the New York Times reported obscure EMR experiments secretly funded by the government under the front-page headline: “Mind Control Coming, Scientist Warns.” Quoted in the article, University of California psychology professor Dr. David Krech cautioned, “EMR research may carry with it even more serious implications than the achievements of the atomic physicists.”
Earlier, a 1963 CIA-issued manual prepared on the study of Radio-Hypnotic Intra-Cerebral Control (RHIC) explained:
“When a part of your brain receives a tiny electrical impulse from outside sources, such as vision, hearing, etc., an emotion is produced—anger at the sight of a gang of boys beating an old woman, for example. The same emotions of anger can be created by artificial radio signals sent to your brain by a controller. You could instantly feel the same white hot anger without any apparent reason.”
Richard Helms, Plans Director for the CIA, oversaw military-oriented EMR research pursuing the possible transmission of strategic subliminal messages into the aggregate minds of enemy populations. In a 1964 memo to the Warren Commission regarding the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald had been a mind-controlled assassin, Helms outlined the existence of “biological radio communication.”
“Cybernetics [the science of communication and control theory that is concerned with the study of automatic control systems, such as the brain and mechanical-electrical communications],” Helms admitted, “can be used in molding of a child’s character, the inculcation of knowledge and techniques, the amassing of experience, the establishment of social behavior patterns … all functions which can be summarized as control of the growth processes of the individual.”
A subsequent CIA directive, summarized in a brochure on “cybernetic technique” distributed by Mankind Research Unlimited, an EMR study facility in Washington, D.C., detailed the CIA’s development of a “means by which information of modest rate can be fed to humans utilizing other senses than sight or hearing.” According to the brochure, the CIA’s cybernetic technique, “based on Eastern European research,” involved beaming information via radio frequencies to individual human nerve cells. The purpose, the directive stated, was “the enhancement of a subject’s mental and physical performance.”
In 1965, the Department of Defense (DOD) discovered that the American embassy in Moscow was being purposely irradiated by the Russians with massive levels of microwaves. By that time, the DOD’s secretive Advance Research Projects Agency (ARPA) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the nation’s capital had itself developed a prodigious arsenal of electromagnetic weapons. Doctor José Delgado—whose current work with radio waves was underwritten by the CIA and Navy—believed scientists could transform, shape, direct and robotize humankind. “The great danger of the future,” Delgado warned, “is that we will have robotized human beings who are not aware that they have been robotized.”
Baffled by the cause and intent of the microwave saturation at the embassy in Moscow, officials of the American intelligence community consulted experts on the biological effects of the radiation. Recalls Dr. Milton Zaret, a leading microwave scientist later recruited by “Pandora,” a code-named CIA project for the study of radio-frequency-directed brain response, “The CIA inquired whether I thought electromagnetic radiation beamed at the brain from a distance could affect the way a person might act, and if microwaves could be used to facilitate brainwashing or to break down prisoners under investigation.”
The State Department elected to keep the so-called Moscow Signal a secret from American Embassy employees—and studied the side-effects of the radiation instead. Ambassador Walter J. Stoessel Jr., a long-time American diplomat in the Soviet Union, whose office was situated in the magnetic beam’s center, succumbed by stages to blood disease, bleeding eyes, nausea and lymphoma. State Department employees Charles Bohlen and Llewellyn Thompson fell prey to cancer.
The existence of the Soviet beam was finally acknowledged by the U.S. in 1976, in response to a report by syndicated columnist Jack Anderson. Officially, the State Department concluded that the microwave saturation of the embassy served not to brainwash, but to activate bugging devices in the walls. However, Dr. Zaret, after conducting his own tests, deduced that the Moscow Signal was psychoactive. “Whatever other reasons the Russians may have had [for irradiating the American embassy],” posits Zaret, “they believed the beam would modify the behavior of personnel.”
Back in 1956, geophysicists R. E. Holzer and O. E. Deal, detected naturally occurring electromagnetic signals in the auditory range that were produced by thunderstorms. With little variation, most of the electromagnetic bursts were metered at 25 to 130 cycles per second, with a very low attenuation rate. In other words, lightning discharges could be picked up anywhere in the world as “magnetic noise” on the extremely low frequency (ELF) radio dial.
RF-mind-control testing became a military priority—a simple, pulsed microwave beam outperformed drugs, ECT, torture and brain surgery as a means of behavior modification.
Two years later, Dr. Allan Frey, a bio-physics researcher conducting studies at General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University (and a contractor for the U.S. Office of Naval Research), published a “technical note” in Aerospace Medicine reporting that the human auditory system responds “to electromagnetic energy in at least a portion of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. Further, this response is instantaneous and occurs at low-power densities … well below that necessary for biological damage.” Frey’s subjects “heard” buzzes and knocks when exposed to low-frequency radio emissions. In one experiment, Frey swept a radio beam over a subject. With each sweep, the subject heard the radio frequency sound for a few seconds and reported it. When Frey modulated power densities, he discovered that even clinically deaf subjects perceived RF sounds. Experiments with transmitter settings proved that radio beams could induce the perception of severe buffeting of the head or prick the skin like needles.
Frey concluded that the brain is a powerful receiver of electromagnetic rays, and the “vocabulary” of RF noises could be expanded by modulating the pulse of the charge, which would be perceived by the subject as originating from within or slightly behind the head.
Among practical applications of auditory stimulation, Frey proposed “stimulating the nervous system without the damage caused by electrodes.” Attracting the attention of CIA and DOD officials, Frey’s work with microwaves had obvious uses in covert military operations. In one experiment, for instance, he synchronized pulsed microwaves with the myocardial rhythm of a frog, whereupon its heart stopped. Stimulating the hypothalamus of cats and dogs with microwaves powerfully effected emotions.
Frey was reluctant to experiment on humans for ethical reasons. But Pandora operatives did not balk at irradiating human subjects. Under CIA auspices, Dr. Dietrich Beischer exposed approximately 7,000 naval crewmen to dangerous levels of microwaves at the Naval Aerospace Research Laboratory in Pensacola, Florida. Data on exposure limits, Beischer justified, could be obtained in no other way, given the “exquisitely complex and dynamic nature of the human organism.”
An “official” halt to Pandora was called in 1970, but classified, RF-mind-control testing had become a military priority. A simple, pulsed microwave beam outperformed drugs, ECT, torture and brain surgery as a means of behavior modification. By the late 1960s, CIA scientists had achieved direct communication between brain and computer, and had demonstrated in the laboratory that computer-assisted automatic learning was possible by pinpointing neuron clusters in the brain with radio signals. Microwaves easily penetrated the brain’s protective shields of bone, ligament and membrane. Brain waves could be unscrambled and deciphered, recorded and beamed to another person—creating artificial two-way mental communication.
At Walter Reed Army Hospital of Research in 1973, Dr. Joseph Sharp, strapped inside an isolation chamber, heard “words” beamed at him in a pulsed-microwave audiogram. (An audiogram is a computerized analog of the spoken voice.) ARPA’s Robert O. Becker foresaw in the experiment “obvious applications in covert operations.” Becker imagined a barrage of “voices” driving an enemy insane, and post-hypnotic suggestion radioed to a programmed assassin, directing him to kill.
According to Naval Captain Paul Tyler in a 1976 essay, “The Electromagnetic Spectrum in Low-Intensity Conflict,” a “speed-of-light weapons effect” could be achieved with “the passage of approximately 100 milliamperes [of directed frequency] through the myocardium, [leading] to cardiac standstill and death.” In other words, electromagnetic devices with stun or kill settings could theoretically wipe out entire armies—and cities. The patent for just such a “death-ray” device, according to officials of the McFarlane Corporation, an independent research and development firm, was pirated from them in 1965 by NASA. The theft was reported in hearings before the House subcommittee on DOD appropriations, chaired by Representative George Mahon (D-Texas). According to McFarlane company literature, the invention—termed a Modulated Electron-Gun X-Ray Nuclear Booster—could be adapted to “communications, remote control and guidance systems, electromagnetic radiation telemetering and death-ray applications.”
Was the technology tested at home on private citizens? In March 1978, the city of Eugene, Oregon, found itself inundated with microwave radiation. The Oregon Journal reported: “Mysterious Radio Signals Causing Concern in Oregon.” Federal government specialists blamed the Soviets, but the Federal Communications Commission concluded that the signal—recorded throughout the state of Oregon—came from a Navy transmitter in California.
Oregonians statewide complained of headaches, fatigue, inability to sleep, reddening of the skin, anxiety, “clicks” in the head and a “buzz” harmonizing with a high-pitched wail. Canadian researcher Andrew Michrowski wrote to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on September 19, 1978, citing a Pacific Northwest Center for Non-Ionizing Radiation study that found the signals “psychoactive” and “very strongly suggestive of achieving the objective of brain control.”
Clearly, breaching the ultimate stronghold of privacy—the mind—has been accomplished. If the U.S. government plans to do the thinking for all Americans, the days of freedom, liberty and justice—and human identity itself—appear to be numbered.
“Hearing ‘Voices’,” Alex Constantine, Hustler, January 1995. For references see Psychic Dictatorship in the U.S.A., Alex Constantine, Portland, OR: Feral House, 1995.