Tuesday, July 26, 2005

1. Drop Acid 2. Jump Out the Window

The title refers to a famous urban legend suggesting that many hippie kids took LSD and jumped out of windows, thinking they could fly. In fact, psychedelic historians are forever pointing out that there's only one documented case in which LSD and window-jumping are linked, that of U.S. Army/CIA germ warfare researcher Frank Olsen, who was famously dosed by the evil Sidney Gottlieb in 1953, went psychotic, and jumped out of a hotel window to his death a few weeks later.

Now it turns out even this story might have been a cover for a more ominous truth underneath. In his new book A Voice for the Dead: A Forensic Investigator's Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave, George Washington University Law and Forensic Science Professor James Starrs (who's best known for his new autopsy on Jesse James) devotes an eye-opening chapter to the Olsen case. Working with Olsen's son Eric, Starrs and a distinguished team of forensic specialists exhumed Olsen's body, conducted a fresh autopsy, and concluded that Olsen received a blow to the head before he "jumped" out the window. Based on this and other new research, Starrs suggests the CIA had Olsen murdered when they discovered he was about to resign (and possibly go public with his dirty knowledge) following a suddden flowering of conscience.

The full text of Starr's chapter on the Olsen investigation is available here, as part of the Olsen family's Frank Olsen Legacy Project, a website devoted to the circumstances and investigation surrounding Olsen's life and death. Starr's conclusion merits repeating:

From my view and that of the clear majority of my team members, with all the other investigative details, as well as what we found scientifically, Dr. Olson's death was not a suicide. The probabilities, taken together, strongly and relentlessly suggest that it was a homicide.


I'm sure it's a bit boring to read my constant hat-tipping to BoingBoing, but they keep delivering the goods. They first covered the venal Sidney Gottlieb here in an excerpt from editor Mark Frauenfelder's new book THE WORLD'S WORST: A Guide to the Most Disgusting, Hideous, Inept and Dangerous, People, Places and Things on Earth (Gottlieb took the "Maddest Mad Scientist" nod). After several reader comments (featuring more good links), Frauenfelder followed up with this story from another reader, plus comments with even more links.

An intriguing ancillary thread for magicians is the weaving in and out presence of John Mullholland, New York magi and eventual accumulator of the astoundingly large Mullholland Collection of magic books and memorabilia (formerly curated by Ricky Jay, now owned -- at a cost of $2.2 million -- by David Copperfield). Apparently, Mullholland worked for the CIA, training them in secret methods of delivering coded messages and surreptitious poisons, as well as other black arts. He was contracted by the CIA to write a book on the subject, though it's not clear whether he actually ever wrote the book. If he did, it remains classified to this day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

has anyone noticed the similarities between the Frank Olsen death and the James Forrestal death? They both allegedly "jumped" out of windows from a great distance. Forrestal was the last Secretary of the Navy.
Siucide on both counts? I don't think so.
And what about the Morris Jessup death? There was no window involved, but the circumstances are just as mysterious.