TOP INTEL TODAY 2018 STORIES — #2 : “WORMWOOD — Seymour Hersh : Frank Olson was a man profoundly distressed about what he was learning… And he was dangerous.”

“Morris makes a persuasive case that there’s sinister stuff to be unraveled here, and that the CIA is the only organization that can shed light on its former actions. As Harry Huge, one of the Olson family lawyers, notes in a blithely shocking observation, one of the biggest injustices in the U.S. is that you can only sue the government for negligent death, not murder. Frank Olson’s death is clearly just one piece of a puzzle that stretches much, much further into the murkiness of history.”

Wormwood: Obsession, Lies, and a CIA Coverup — The Atlantic

“But don’t you know how wonderful it is to not have an ending? I think you’re really wrong to want this pretty little thing bowed up and tied. It’s wonderful to not have an ending, it is. (…) It is a terrible story.”

American Journalist Seymour Hersh

“Hersh is right about one thing: The [Frank] Olson case is a ‘win’ for the CIA, because they didn’t want to tell anyone what happened, and now they won’t have to. But they can’t stop Eric [Olson] from spiraling ever downward in his quest. After a certain point, obsession becomes the drug.”

Wormwood Finale Recap: Remember Me — Andrew Lapin

January 10 2019 —  We continue our review of the top 10 stories that the readers of INTEL TODAY have consulted the most in 2018. These stories have attracted more than hundred thousand visitors and reached almost every single country on earth! Most of our visitors come from the Five Eyes countries — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States — Hong Kong (China), as well as Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands France, and … Belgium; surely a reminder that Brussels in now regarded as a city of spies due to its alleged highest density of spooks anywhere in the world. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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RELATED POST: One Year Ago — CIA Asset Dr Richard Fuisz : TEREX & Lockerbie

RELATED POST: Wormwood — The mysterious death of Cold War-era military scientist Frank Olson [UPDATE]

RELATED POST: One Year Ago — MK-ULTRA in Popular Culture

RELATED POST: DARPA to Resurrect Top-Secret “PANDORA Project”

RELATED POST: The “STARGATE Project”: The CIA Psychic Spies

In a fascinating interview of  Seymour Hersh by Errol Morris for the WORMWOOD series, the legendary American journalist suggests that the US Army bio-weapons expert was almost certainly executed by the CIA with the US government approval because he was about to reveal a very damaging state secret.

But Hersh refuses to go any further in his explanations because — he claims — it would put his source in jeopardy.

Still, if you read carefully his answers and comments, you should be able to make a pretty good “guesstimate” about what happened and why.

The assassination of Frank Olson is probably not an isolated case. Sy Hersh even suggests that there may have been a “mechanism” to eliminate dissidents such Dr Frank Olson.

And the great journalist may very well be right about this.

Frank Rudolph Olson (July 17, 1910 – November 28, 1953)

Frank Olson was an American bacteriologist, biological warfare scientist, and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who worked at Camp Detrick (now Fort Detrick) in Maryland.

On November 28 1953, Dr Olson plunged to his death from the window of a New York City hotel room. Some — including the U.S. government — termed his death a suicide, while others allege murder.

I agree with Eric Olson and Hersh Seymour. The death of Frank Olson was neither an accident — induced or not by LSD — nor a suicide. But Frank Olson was not merely murdered. I suggest that Olson was executed to prevent him from revealing an ugly truth.

I believe that Frank Olson knew that the US Military had used biological weapons in the Korean war. Moreover, I suspect that Frank Olson could prove it and he was about to reveal the truth. Therefore, the US government had “no choice” but to silence him in order to avoid a major international crisis.

Published in Japan in 2001, the book Rikugun Noborito Kenkyujo no shinjitsu — The Truth About the Army Noborito Institute — revealed that members of a covert section of the Imperial Japanese Army that took part in biological warfare during World War II also worked for the “chemical section” of a U.S. clandestine unit hidden within Yokosuka Naval Base during the Korean War as well as on projects inside the United States from 1955 to 1959.

“The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets of the Early Cold War and Korea” — written by Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman — provides an in-depth analysis of the U.S. military use — and coverup — of  biological weapons against the Korean and Chinese people during the Korean War of 1950-53.

Endicott and Hagerman conducted extensive archival research and interviews with Chinese, U.S., Canadian, Japanese, and British officials and civilians. They were the firsts to gain access to declassified U.S. records regarding the Korean War.

Endicott and Hagerman concluded that the U.S. Military had employed biological weapons whose use was banned by the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

Prof Masataka Mori — a professor of history at Shizuoka University in Japan, who has studied the activities for Unit 731 for many years — believes that a new investigation should be carried out and that it is time the US, China and both North and South Korea open up their archives and provide unfettered access to their documents.

“The use of germ weapons in war is a breach of the Geneva Convention and I think that is why they are refusing to admit the allegations.

The criterion for my judgment is not whether North Korea’s claim is correct or the American claim is right; the criterion is whether the incidents actually happened or not.

I went to North Korea and met people who had suffered the effects of germ warfare. They told me their stories, shedding tears and grimacing with anger. They told me what actually happened and I cannot question that.”

Wormwood Finale Recap: “Remember Me”

In our final dramatic reenactments, we get two versions of that elusive truth of the hotel room: one where Frank, confronted by the CIA’s hired goons, smashes the window himself and jumps out of it; and another where he is attacked and then pushed out.

It seems pretty clear that if these are the two most likely versions of the truth, then the original distinction between murder and suicide no longer has much currency next to the likelihood that Frank died because he knew too much (about biological warfare, or anything else).

This is why Eric no longer seems to care about the specifics of those nine days between his father’s drugging and his death, because they pale in comparison to the years leading up to it.

Upon reflection, it’s remarkable Eric is still devoted to any of this, given that Hersh told him point-blank in 2014 that he wasn’t going to file a follow-up story on his father’s death.

(Of course, Hersh also mused to Morris that maybe he’d do so sometime in the future.)

Is Eric hoping for some last-ditch reprieve to be spurred on by the publicity of Wormwood? Some final moonshot bid for someone, anyone, to come forward with the truth?  [Andrew Lapin — Vulture]

INTERVIEW of Sy Hersh by Errol Morris

Interviewer: You first meeting with the Olson family.

Sy Hersh: Well you know the story they tell. This is how naive I was then. I’d been a reporter for 15 years that won all sorts of prizes, done My Lai all sorts of stuff from the CIA, Chile and Watergate and I still don’t know how it plays.

I accepted the story that he was given LSD because I was only 15 years into the business.

The CIA was using LSD on people, that would be bad but I think the real bad was something worse, that they killed him. But I don’t know that in a way that I can publish it. So what does it mean? With talking about journalism 101 here. If I publish what I knew,  I make I make somebody into a soldier, that’s one thing And secondly even if I publish what I knew I have to have somebody else saying something but do I believe something heinous happened to Olson, yes. Do I believe he was seen as someone as a malcontent, yes.

Do I believe that in that year 53, do I know that was incredible fear and paranoia about the Russians, and using drugs to create a monster that will kill without thinking? Etcetera…

What do you do with someone who’s inside who knows a lot? Why would you do something heinous but… I can’t say what I know without putting someone in jeopardy so I can’t do it.

Interviewer: These whole series of trades and agreements, you depend on a source to give you information but you can’t compromise that source by giving too much information

Sy Hersh: It’s not about information, it’s about what one had to do to find the Olson story from the inside. Suppose I asked somebody – What do you know about Olson? Somebody will maybe know something or somebody will say I’ll take a look but then what he learns and how he learns it is what I can’t talk about, people sign in for things.

I believe he was killed, I have reason to believe he was killed but I can’t prove it. There’s a crucial fact that would make the case but it would also finger people and I can’t do it. I tried very hard to get further information and I probably will eventually. I found out other instances of suspicious deaths.

The mechanism of this process, if I’m right that he was done in. There was a mechanism it wasn’t ad hoc.

Interviewer: What do you mean by a mechanism?

Sy Hersh: See I knew you would ask that question. What do you mean by what do you mean. A mechanism, there was a procedure.

Interviewer: A procedure to eliminate an undesirable….

Sy Hersh: Why not? If you have a dissident in the system maybe you have a procedure for dealing with it, and maybe some of the people who wrote some of the reports were involved in the procedure.

Maybe it was all some big frantic cover up.

Interviewer: What do you imagine Frank Olson did that make them want to kill him?

Sy Hersh: Guess what, I probably know but I can’t tell you. Now is that awful, is that what you want in an interview, somebody like that saying to you, I’m being coy like that.

Frank was viewed as a dissident. You understand that in 1953 if you thought somebody was detrimental to the war against the Russians, you have no problem dealing with them. It wouldn’t be a question of saying you just have to leave the agency (laughs…) tell me about that, think about that somebody who has secrets, I mean are you kidding me.  Frank was, was out there. He was letting them know that he was marching to a different drummer and you couldn’t do it back then. He was a man who was profoundly, profoundly distressed about what he was learning……..and he was dangerous, that I can tell you.

I can’t tell you more.

Interviewer: For me part of the story….is the fact that you can’t tell the story.

Sy Hersh: That’s not a new phenomenon, that’s a very serious issue. I do operate a different levels from other people because I can get information. People trust me they trust my judgement. I’m old, told ye I’m 79, I’ve been doing this goddamn thing for you know 350 years, something like that. I can’t blow it. Don’t make this a big deal about journalism and about amazing sensitive incredible thing.

The source is more important to the story always, always. I don’t have it in a way that can protect somebody and he can’t understand that because he say I’ve been tortured about this for 40 odd years. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? Ruined my life.

Anything else you want to ask me?

Interviewer: Why do you think Eric hasn’t been able to go on with his life?

Sy Hersh: [long pause…..] I can’t answer that but I can’t tell you it’s a great loss because he’s very bright he’s very bright, and he had something to contribute. Even though he’s mad as hell at me and all that, He’s not being illogical about me, He’s right about me, I’m holding back something from him for a reason.

He doesn’t think is worthy. He knew it didn’t happen the way they said it happened. He knew that right away and they did the best they could to muffle it, they are very good at that. They invented a story. The fact that you can’t get closure on this thing will be of great satisfaction to the CIA, The old-timers, they’ll love it, they’ll love it. The tradecraft won. We got away with one.

Even though a few people may know what happened, so what. Nobody else does. It’s a victory for them you know marker up, marker for them, zero for us on this one.

But don’t you know how wonderful it is to not have an ending? I think you’re really wrong to want this pretty little thing bowed up and tied. It’s wonderful to not have an ending, it is.

It says a lot about the world of intelligence, the..sometimes isn’t an ending, you can’t wrap it up in like a bow. Eric knows the ending, he knows the ending. I think he’s right. I can’t help him. He’s totally convinced he knows the ending, am I right?

Is he ambivalent in any way?

Interviewer: No

Sy Hersh: It’s a terrible story.

About Hersh

Seymour Myron “Sy” Hersh is an American investigative journalist and political writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine on national security matters and has also written for the London Review of Books since 2013.

Hersh first gained recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. In 2004, he notably reported on the US military’s mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. He has also won two National Magazine Awards and five George Polk Awards. In 2004, he received the George Orwell Award.[Wikipedia]

Hersh was born on April 8, 1937 in Chicago to Yiddish-speaking Lithuanian Jewish parents who emigrated to the US from Lithuania and Poland and ran a dry-cleaning shop in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

After graduating from the University of Chicago with a history degree, Hersh found himself struggling to find a job. He began working at Walgreens before being accepted into University of Chicago Law School but was soon expelled for poor grades.

After returning for a short time to Walgreens, Hersh began his career in journalism as a police reporter for the City News Bureau in 1959. He later became a correspondent for United Press International in South Dakota. In 1963, he went on to become a Chicago and Washington correspondent for the Associated Press.

While working in Washington Hersh first met and befriended I. F. Stone, whose I. F. Stone’s Weekly would serve as an initial inspiration for Hersh’s later work. It was during this time that Hersh began to form his investigative style, often walking out of regimented press briefings at the Pentagon and seeking out one-on-one interviews with high-ranking officers.

After a falling out with the editors at the AP when they insisted on watering down a story about the US government’s work on biological and chemical weapons, Hersh left the AP and sold his story to The New Republic.

Quick Analysis  — [Vulture]

The engrossing, maddening finale of Wormwood transforms at the 11th hour, from a CIA investigation to a referendum on the journalistic ethics of Seymour Hersh.

Hersh is the veteran New York Times and New Yorker reporter who has haunted this story since its inception, the man who lit the original spark by pronouncing the Olsons, in 1975, “the most uncurious family in the United States.”

Now he sits down in front of the camera to tell Errol Morris a strange thing: He knows the truth, and it’s juicy, but he can’t share it. Stay uncurious, America.

This seems a deeply bizarre and disingenuous thing for a journalist of Hersh’s stature to say. We’re talking, after all, about a man who made a career out of poking official government accounts, whose biggest investigations — from the 1969 uncovering of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam that won him a Pulitzer Prize to his 10,000-word claim that the Obama administration’s version of Osama bin Laden’s death was a lie — also both relied on anonymous sources and made no apologies for revealing secrets that were potentially harmful to national security.

Now, all of a sudden, he gets cold feet about a 60-year-old story where all of the participants are dead?

Hersh claims he’s protecting his source, yet he’s still willing to all but confirm Eric’s account of events on camera. None of this makes sense.

Is he trying to play God so he can have the final word on the story, or just milling about for attention as he’s wont to do? Or does he think he’s actually doing Eric a favor after so many decades of them circling the same story together?

Wormwood | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

REFERENCES

Wormwood: Obsession, Lies, and a CIA Coverup — The Atlantic

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WORMWOOD — Seymour Hersh : “Frank Olson was a man profoundly distressed about what he was learning… And he was dangerous.”

OP INTEL TODAY 2018 STORIES — #2  : “WORMWOOD — Seymour Hersh : Frank Olson was a man profoundly distressed about what he was learning… And he was dangerous.”

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