A #CIA operation involving #LSD and a mysterious death prompted family members to sue the Agency, but on Wednesday a federal judge dismissed the claim.
In a 16-page decision that makes for gripping reading, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg dismissed the lawsuit filed by Eric and Nils Olson. Boasberg agreed with the Justice Department that the suit was barred both by the statute of limitations and by a waiver signed by the Olson brothers when they received a past government settlement.
The decision starts with a bang:
"In 1953, CIA employees slipped LSD into a scientist’s drink. The acid trip turned fatal when the scientist, while under the CIA’s care, fell thirteen stories from a hotel window. Or so the CIA would have us believe. According to his children, the scientist’s 'accidental death' was in fact a secret assassination,suppressed by the CIA to this day. In this suit, the scientist’s sons sue the United States for negligently supervising the CIA employees who carried out the murder and subsequent cover-up."
The basic story has previously come to light, but it remains remarkable.
Dr. Frank Olson was a bioweapons expert, who according to Boasberg's summary and the original complaint had started to have second-thoughts about CIA interrogation techniques. Dr. Robert Lashbrook from the Chemical Division of the CIA’s Technical Support Staff secretly put LSD in a bottle of
Cointreau. Several people – including Olson – drank from the bottle, unknowingly taking the drug.
Shortly thereafter, while Olson and Lashbrook were sharing a hotel room, Olson mysteriously fell to his death from a hotel window.
Olson's sons claimed, in their lawsuit, that their father's death in a fall "bears a striking resemblance to a 'secret assassination' technique described in a CIA manual from that era.
Boasberg goes on to describe, in compelling detail, what happened next. The Olson brothers initially argued, among other things, that the settlement they previously reached was marred by the government's own deceit; they charged Agency officials with inadequate supervision. Nonetheless, Boasberg concluded the suit came both too late and out of his court's reach.