Continuing the long tradition of deference to the national-security state by the U.S. federal judiciary, a federal judge recently dismissed a lawsuit by the sons of a man named Frank Olson seeking damages for the CIA’s murder of their father. The excuses that the judge used to dismiss the case were the statute of limitations and a previous settlement that had been entered into regarding the case.
The sordid details of the Olson case have been set forth in a book entitled A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Cold War Experiments by H.P. Albarelli. A good review of the book, written by a filmmaker named Melissa Roddy, is posted on the website of the Huffington Post. For another discussion of Albarelli’s book, see my article “The Evil of the National Security State, Part 5.”
Olson was a scientist working for the national-security state during the Cold War. He participated in the infamous and top-secret MKULTRA drug experiments, by which the CIA was subjecting untold numbers of people to LSD as a Cold War experiment.
In 1953 Olson plunged to his death from a high-rise New York City hotel room. The CIA claimed that he had experienced, for some unknown reason, a sudden bout of deep depression, which caused him to commit suicide.
It was a lie — a knowing, deliberate, intentional lie, a lie that the Olson family discovered many years later, when evidence of the infamous top-secret MKULTRA drug experiments came to light. At that point, the CIA confessed that it had lied.
What actually happened, the CIA claimed, was that the CIA had decided to subject Olson to an LSD experiment without his foreknowledge or consent. The experiment went awry and caused Olson severe psychological damage, resulting in his suicide several days later, or so the CIA story went.
The CIA, amidst expressions of profuse apology and regret, entered into a settlement with the Olson family in which each member of the family was paid $187,500.
There was one big problem, however, as Albarelli documented in his gripping book: When the CIA confessed to its LSD experiment on Olson, that too was a lie. The confession, along with all the remorse and regret, were nothing more than a highly sophisticated way to cover up the fact that the CIA had actually murdered Olson by pushing him out of that high-rise New York City hotel room.
What motivated the CIA to murder Olson? In a sense, Olson was a whistleblower, much like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are today. The difference, however, was that Olson revealed top-secret information regarding government wrongdoing to a friend while Manning and Snowden have released their information about government wrongdoing to the world.
Olson had suffered a crisis of conscience over an LSD experiment that the CIA had conducted in a small village in France, where some people died and others suffered severe psychological damage. Experiencing personal anguish over the experiment, Olson talked to a friend about it. That was his “terrible mistake.” He had revealed top-secret information in violation of his oath and commitment to the national security state. Under the secrecy rules of the national-security state he had threatened “national security” by his action. Even worse because Olson was suffering a crisis of conscience, he was considered an ongoing threat to “national security.” So, the CIA simply eliminated this threat to “national security” by murdering him.
The Olson sons recently sued to recover damages for murder, as compared to the settlement they had reached, which had been based on negligence.
However, a federal district has dismissed the case, citing the statute of limitations and the previously reached settlement.
Never mind that the settlement was reached based on the CIA’s false and fraudulent representations. Apparently that just doesn’t matter.
But it should matter. Why should the government be entitled to intentionally lie about a matter and then, many years later when the fraud is discovered, benefit from a statute of limitations defense and a defense based on a previously entered settlement? A showing of fraud should be enough to vitiate the settlement agreement and nullify the statute of limitations.
But it’s part of the deferential treatment that the federal courts have shown the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA for decades. After all, let’s not forget that this isn’t the first time that the federal courts have declined to interfere with the national-security state’s murder of an American citizen. There was the murder of the young American journalist Charles Horman during the military coup in Chile in 1973, a coup that the U.S. national security state supported and participated in. Like the Olson case, the CIA and the Pentagon denied any role in Horman’s murder. It was a lie. Many years later, a State Department memo established that the CIA had, in fact, played some undefined role in Horman’s murder.
When Horman’s widow filed suit, a federal district court, deferring to the national-security state, dismissed the suit for lack of evidence. Never mind that the court refused to permit Horman’s widow from seeking discovery, including depositions of the CIA. Apparently, that would threaten “national security.” So, they got away with murder there too.
Recently, the father of Anwar al-Awlaki filed suit for the wrongful deaths of his American son and teenage grandson, both of whom were assassinated by the national-security state. Time will tell whether he gets very far with the suit. My hunch: When the Justice Department comes in with a motion to dismiss and a claim that the suit is a threat to “national security,” the presiding federal judge will immediately dismiss it.
Lies, fraud, murder, immunity, and judicial deference to the national-security state. It’s all just a way of life under this Cold War-era monstrosity.