Buying a piece of anthropology
Part 1: Human Ecology and unwitting anthropological
research for the CIA
In the early 1970s former US State Department Foreign Service employee John Marks used the Freedom of Information Act to secure the release of thousands of
pages of government documents describing covert CIA programmes known as MK-Delta and MK-Ultra (Marks 1979, US Senate 1977). These programmes used unwitting scientists to study methodically whether effective forms of ‘mind control’, ‘brainwashing’, interrogation and torture could be achieved. Some studies investigated whether drugs, stress or specific environmental conditions could be used to ‘break’ prisoners or to induce confessions (Marks 1979, SIHE 1960).
While no effective means of mind control were identified, these programmes produced significant data on coercion and interrogation that formed the basic research for the CIA’s 1963 Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation manual.
This is the base document for the CIA interrogation and torture procedures
that emerged in the 1960s and continue in the present era (CIA 1963b, 1983; McCoy 2006).