How the CIA made French people insane

[…] the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research has received a confidential inquiry from the office of Erard Corbin de Mangoux, head of the French intelligence agency, Directorate General for External Security (DGSE), concerning a recent account of American government complicity in a mysterious 1951 incident of mass insanity in France. The DGSE is the French counterpart of the CIA.

The incident took place in the village of Pont-Saint-Esprit in southern France, and is described in a recent book about the 1953 death of an American biochemist, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments. The book, by investigative journalist H.P. Albarelli Jr., was published in late November 2009 by TrineDay, which specializes in books about “suppressed information.”

The strange outbreak severely affected nearly five hundred people, causing the deaths of at least five. For nearly 60 years the Pont-St.-Esprit incident has been attributed either to ergot poisoning, meaning that villagers consumed bread infected with a psychedelic mold, or to organic mercury poisoning. But Albarelli reports that the outbreak resulted from a covert LSD aerosol experiment directed by the US Army’s top-secret Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, Maryland. He notes that the scientists who produced both alternative explanations worked for the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the Army and CIA with LSD. READ MORE

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