sidney-gottliebThe Central Intelligence Agency launched MK-Ultra, a covert investigation into the behavioral manipulation of human beings through drugs, hypnosis, abuse, sensory deprivation, and torture on this date in 1953. The program involved 80 institutions, including colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies, and was headed for more than two decades by Sidney Gottlieb (born Joseph Scheider), a chemist who specialized in poisons and became known for administering LSD in nearly 150 known experiments, sometimes on unwitting human beings. Gottlieb, who joined the CIA in 1951, also proposed several ideas for the assassination of Fidel Castro and aided in the CIA’s attempt to assassinate the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba. MK-Ultra, which was exposed by the 1975 Church Committee Senate investigation of CIA activities within the U.S., was one of several covert CIA programs that grew out of Operation Paperclip, a U.S. program that recruited and provided safe haven to former Nazi scientists, including war criminals. After his retirement from the CIA in 1972, Gottlieb spent more than a year running a leper hospital in India. He spent his final two decades before his death in 1999 caring for dying patients through hospice, running a commune, folk dancing (despite his having a club foot), and fighting lawsuits from survivors of his secret tests.

“Friends and enemies alike say Mr. Gottlieb was a kind of genius, striving to explore the frontiers of the human mind for his country, while searching for religious and spiritual meaning in his life. But he will always be remembered as the Government chemist who dosed Americans with psychedelics in the name of national security, the man who brought LSD to the C.I.A.” —Tim Weiner, New York Times

JEWDAYO ROCKS! Max Weinberg, longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, was born in Newark on this date in 1951. To see him with the Max Weinberg Big Band in 2010, look below.