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The Strange Story of Sally Hartman

On 26 October

On 26 October, [redacted], an employee of the [redacted], contacted the Office of the Inspector General here at the Agency and related the following information. His wife, whose maiden name is [redacted], was previously married from 1955 until 1960 to [redacted], who was employed by CIA at that time. In the summer of 1956, according to [redacted], she accompanied her husband to the farm of her husband’s supervisor for dinner, drinks and wine. She believes her husband worked for Dr. Gottlieb, who was chief of the Technical Services Staff Chemical Division and heavily involved in MKULTRA activities. Her next recollection is receiving electric shock treatment at George Washington University Hospital for some time …

– Letter from CIA assistant general counsel to John Gavin Esq., Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice, November 2, 1977.

Mind-Control Victims

Over the past 15 years, while working on “A TERRIBLE MISTAKE,” and after, about two-dozen people separately contacted me wanting to share their experiences as victims of CIA mind-control projects. Without exception, all of these people seemed quite sincere in their approach and claims. Some had written passionate letters, accounts, or articles about their experiences, a few had even written books about what had happened to them. Several of these books had been published and their authors were happy to send me copies, hoping that I would read them and perhaps write a review. Almost every person seemed more than convinced that they had fallen under the control of the CIA after being targeted at an early age. A surprising number claimed the CIA selected them through their fathers, who were somehow connected to the agency or with officials who worked for the agency. Nearly all of these people had also suffered physical and sexual abuse committed against them by their fathers and their memories of being controlled by the CIA were brought to the surface as a result of their working with psychotherapists or psychologists.

One woman told me a cadre of CIA men, including her father and Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, who routinely paraded about dressed in a Nazi SS uniform and jackboots, had mercilessly beaten and raped her so as to condition her to be “a programmed assassin.” Another victim, who has written a slew of articles about various government activities, told me he had been selected years ago as part of a deep-black project that involved his mind being constantly bombarded with electro-waves of some sort. When I attempted to ask him specific questions about why he and others had been targeted by the CIA, he grew angry and said, “The technology I’m being subjected to is much farther advanced than you know. The experiences I mentioned were pretty elementary. If you don’t get that, how can you understand what a target of the technology is going through?” I wanted to reply that his answer had little to do with my question, but I also realized that arguing with self-proclaimed mind-control victims was tantamount to arguing religion with a zealot.

Another woman told me the CIA had targeted her for mind control when she worked for the State Department. She claimed she had been transformed into an unwitting, programmed assassin and that she was convinced she had actually murdered several foreign diplomats overseas. I asked her for the names of some of these diplomats and she told me that they had been erased from her memory. Could you tell me what countries you worked in? I asked her. “No,” she said. “That is a matter of national security.” Well then how can I verify your claims? I asked. Can you at least show me proof you work for the government? “No,” she said, “you have to trust me. Why would I lie about such a thing?”

The human mind is a complex and intriguing organ. I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I don’t know what provokes some people to invent situations that they claim to be true, situations and stories that I am convinced they actually came to believe themselves over time. About the time that most of these claims came before me, I read “Remembering Satan” by Lawrence Wright. The book is a fascinating examination of a case that involves recovered memories. It explained a lot to me, clearing up much of my confusion about “recovered memories” and “false memory syndrome.”

I suppose I’m not as curious as I should be when it comes to some of these accounts, but I had little inclination to pursue most of the stories people came to me with. There were several reasons for this. The principle reason was that I simply did not believe these people. Their stories were riddled with clear-cut factual inaccuracies, ridiculous instances, erroneous statements and claims I knew would be impossible to prove. I am an investigative journalist and I am most concerned with objective evidence and facts. I can’t settle for the explanation or argument, “Trust me, I’m telling the God’s honest truth.”

However, let me be clear here: I am not calling these people liars. I believe that many of them honestly believe their own stories. And, with some objective, hard evidence I think I, too, might believe their accounts; so, with some of these stories, I maintain a skeptical, but open mind.

But one story that came my way was clearly different from all the others. This story involved a woman who, in the mid-1950s, had been married to a CIA employee. In fact, the man had worked in the agency’s Technical Services Section, Chemical Branch and had answered directly to Gottlieb and Robert Lashbrook. I was able to verify his employment with the CIA. The woman had also worked for the federal government, holding a classified position with another intelligence organization. There were no doubts about any of this. Numerous sources, including former CIA, Justice Department and White House officials and others, verified these facts. I don’t use this woman’s real name here, or that of her husband, for reason’s concerning her privacy and protection.

Sally’s Story

One sunny Sunday afternoon in summer 1956, Sally Hartman and her husband Jim, traveled from their apartment just outside of Washington, DC, to the home of Jim’s boss in rural Vienna, Virginia, 40 miles away. Sally and Jim had been married about a year before and their marriage had not been easy thus far.

A month earlier, Sally had suffered a miscarriage. It had been her longtime dream to have children, but Jim, despite earlier agreement, now had doubts about wanting a family. Their arguments about her pregnancy were greatly upsetting for Sally. Jim had insisted that, if she wanted a baby, she would have to stay at home and not work at all. Sally disagreed, telling her husband that she had not gone to college for four years to only be a housewife. “Times are changing, Jim” Sally said she argued. “I told him women could have careers and also be good mothers.” Jim said, “Not my wife.” Sally asked Jim to please consider her needs. Jim argued back that Sally should try harder to be “a good Christian” before attempting to become “a good Christian mother.” Sally countered that she was a good Christian and that a woman who maintained a professional career could also be a good Christian. “You’re wrong,” Jim said. “Read your Bible more often.” When Sally lost the baby, after weeks of arguing, she silently and partially blamed Jim for putting so much strain on the both of them. He was sullen for days after their last argument and said very little to her. Sally recalled that, after this, Jim would often “lecture me on morality, like I was stupid.” She said, “He would quote from the Bible to back his lectures and tell me about the forces of evil in the world guised as Communism.”

Jim had been a graduate student at MIT in 1953 when Sally and he had decided to marry. Nearing completion of his studies, the CIA recruited Jim. The agency offered him a good starting salary and the opportunity to travel. His recruiter told him the agency would help with what remained of his schooling and hold his position until he received his master’s degree in chemistry and completed a six-month obligation for active duty with the Army Reserve. About a week before he was to start work, he was called in to meet his superiors, Gottlieb and Lashbrook. He had come home that evening excited and anxious to begin his CIA training.

“Sid and Bob are the nicest guys you can imagine,” he told Sally. “And the job sounds really great.” Sally asked what he would be working on, but Jim said he couldn’t tell her anything about it other than that it was in his field, chemistry and that he’d have to travel on a fairly regular basis. Travel where? she asked. Jim said he couldn’t tell her that either. Sally said that it would be difficult to raise children if he were to travel a lot and she was working, and Jim said maybe she should listen more to him about when they would start a family.

Sally knew that Jim was happy about his agency job and didn’t argue, but Jim could tell she was not happy. A few days after Jim started work for the agency, he was required to attend an intensive secret training school that spanned three months.

Sally was working at the National Security agency (NSA) at Fort Mead, a job she had taken a few months before she married. In charge of a classified, computer data-storage project, she threw herself into her work as a way of not dwelling on her miscarriage. Like Jim’s job, Sally’s required complete secrecy. She could not speak to anyone, including Jim, about what she was doing. When friends asked what she did for work Sally said she would reply that she “was an just an administrative assistant to a mid-level government bureaucrat.” Usually, at that, she said, “People asking wouldn’t have any more interest in the subject.”

One Saturday in mid-August, Jim had come home from a weeklong trip and told Sally that they had been invited to go to Gottlieb’s house for dinner the next day. “We don’t have to dress up or anything,” Jim told her. “Sid lives on a small working farm.”

The next afternoon, Jim drove Sally to Gottlieb’s family farm in Vienna. It was a warm, gloriously sunny day and Sally recalled that the ride out of town almost immediately worked wonders at relaxing the two of them.

“It was like we were dating again and we didn’t have a care in the world,” Sally recalled. “Jim was unusually talkative, smiling, laughing … he even pulled me over close to him in the front seat like we were a couple of school kids. It was great.”

At Gottlieb’s house, Gottlieb and his wife, Margaret, warmly greeted the couple. “Margaret introduced me to her three or four children. I got the impression that Jim had already met the children. They were really nice kids and the family seemed very happy. I remember wondering why, if Jim’s boss could have such a large family, we couldn’t have a small one. I don’t recall now if Margaret had a job outside the home, but she surely had her hands full with the farm. “

Sally recalled the Gottlieb’s raised goats. Sid told her that he tested and drank the milk the animals produced. “I learned right away that he was a chemist, like Jim, because he said he tested the milk himself, because, as he said, ‘I’m a chemist and enjoy doing things like that.'” Sally recalled that Sid also said he had worked at the Department of Agriculture before joining the agency.

“I asked him if he had worked with animals at the department and he said, “Oh goodness, no. I never had the opportunity to leave Washington while there.'”

After taking a tour of the Gottlieb’s farm, Sally said everyone, including the children, sat down to dinner. “We had a wonderful home cooked meal and some wine. After I had a glass full, I don’t remember anything else about being there,” Sally recounted. “I drank socially. I never drank a lot, but on weekends two or three drinks wasn’t out of the question. But something happened that night, something really strange.”

Sally has no recollection of going home other than a vague image of asking Jim to stop the car once because, “I felt like I was going to be very sick.” She recalled, “I also remember having to urinate badly and thinking, My God, did one glass of wine make me feel like this?” At home, she recalls sitting up all night and “reading the Bible’s Book of Apocalypse [also called the Book of Revelations]. I don’t remember what Jim was doing or saying.”

Sally recalls dark visions of ancient, crumbling cities and death and mayhem. She becomes visibly shaken when she tries to recount what she saw. “I was like in a dream state,” she said. “Or perhaps more like a nightmare state. I was frightened, but at what I can’t remember. I think I remember Jim laughing at something or maybe smiling or … I’m really not sure what it was. I was scared, really scared, but I don’t know why.”

Even today, over 35 years after the incident, Sally inexplicably becomes very upset and nervous when she tries to recall that night. Her hands tremble and she looks about, as if expecting some dark shape to form before her.

The next morning, following the visit to the Gottlieb’s, Sally went into work exhausted. From that day forward, Sally found it near impossible to concentrate on anything and she began to experience episodes of lost time, periods where she would function normally but not be aware of where she was or what she was doing. At times, she could not recall how she had traveled to or from work. Once, in a grocery store, she forgot how she had come to be there.

About six weeks passed and the episodes became more frequent. At home one evening, she told Jim that she was concerned that she didn’t always feel she was in control of her actions or thoughts. Jim said he thought she was overworked and needed a break. He tried to cheer her up, once playfully suggesting that he hypnotize her as a way of relieving her stress. Sally said he had never been interested in matters esoteric and when she asked him what provoked his interest in mesmerism, he just shrugged and said, “Sometimes it’s wise to keep an open mind about certain things.”

A few days after this, Sally said she remembers receiving electric-shock treatment. “I know it sounds crazy,” she said. “I have no idea where I was or how it happened, but I know that it did.”

One day not long after, Sally went to work and became confused and then hysterical, for reasons unknown to her. She ran from her office, out of the building, crossed an expansive grassy field and tried to climb the eight-foot security fence surrounding the area. NSA guards struggled to pull her from the fence. On the ground she fought to get away, screaming at the guards, “You don’t understand, let me go, let me go.”

Sally was hospitalized at George Washington Hospital in Washington, DC. She was there for a little over a month at Jim’s insistence. Besides being assigned a psychiatrist, she received 14 electric-shock sessions as part of treatment for diagnosed schizophrenia. As her treatment continued, Jim visited one day and told her that his boss, whom he sometimes calls “Uncle Sid,” was very good friends with the superintendent of a well respected, Boston-based, mental health hospital. Since her family still lived in the Boston area and he was frequently required to travel for the CIA, Jim suggested that Sally transfer to the Massachusetts facility. Sally agreed and she and Jim traveled to Boston, where her father greeted the couple and the three went to the admission’s desk of the hospital. Sally recalled that at about this time she had begun to experience “laughing jags, followed by periods of rapidly evolving thoughts and deep depression.”

Sally remained in the Boston facility for weeks and, in addition to her family, was visited a few times by Jim’s boss, Gottlieb, because Jim was away on travel assignments. She remembers very little about Gottlieb’s visits other than one or two times Gottlieb suggested they go outside for a walk. Sally recounts on one such occasion it was “very cold with lots of snow on the ground.” Sally remembers nothing more about the visit, other than that she had hospital slippers and a bathrobe on, yet, “I was not cold.” On another occasion when Gottlieb visited, they again went outside; Gottlieb “mentioned something about Jim not being able to come,” Sally recalled, but she remembers nothing more.

Sally also recalled being visited by a physician whose last name she thinks was Goodnow. This was most likely Dr. Robert E. Goodnow, a contractor with the CIA’s TSS and with the CIA-funded Human Ecology Fund, a front organization for some MK/ULTRA and other projects. Goodnow was associated with the anesthesiology department at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Sally said, “I can’t remember anything about Goodnow except that he was there in my room sometimes. Maybe once with Gottlieb or someone.” Sally also seemed to recall being with either Goodnow or another physician on an occasion where she thinks she was in “another city somewhere.” Sally said, “I don’t recall why we were there or even where there was. We were in a high office building looking down on a large number of people; something was happening on the street below, but I don’t recall what.”

In February 1957, Sally was still in Boston when she was informed she would be released soon, but first needed to “undergo one more test.” She was taken from her room to another room where she was shown what she recalls “as cards similar to Rorschach cards.” The technician showing her the cards had “very intense eyes” Sally recalls and she has never seen him before at the hospital. After being shown a few cards, Sally thinks she blacked out, remembering nothing more until “waking up about two days later back in her room” with “an intravenous line and needle in her arm.” A nurse came into the room and told her she hadn’t eaten for two days. Sally’s mother also recalled this incident, because it occurred the same week her daughter was to be discharged. She said Sally was discharged, walked through the main doors outside and, after standing there for a few moments, turned around and went back inside and was readmitted at her own request.

A month later Sally was discharged again and she went to her parent’s house. Jim came by a few days before her release date and told her that the CIA had agreed to pay for his return to study at MIT for his Ph.D. in chemistry. Sally wanted to return to work at NSA, but discovered she has forgotten nearly everything she learned while working there for nearly two years. She retrained herself as a computer programmer while staying with her parents.

Jim soon returned to Boston to resume his studies and the couple rented a “very nice apartment near the MIT campus.” Over several months, Sally began to feel quite happy. She also felt her relationship with Jim was becoming better and closer, but, within about a year things, became tense again after she told Jim she wanted to try to become pregnant again and to have a family.

Jim did not share her feelings, and, by summer of 1960, Sally decided to leave Jim. During this entire time, Sally was still experiencing episodes of lost time and depression. Sally wanted to reconcile with Jim, but he seemed pleased with their living apart. They saw each other a few times, but Sally can’t remember anything about these dates. They decided to divorce within a few more months. Sally was distressed that her marriage was ending this way. She met another man, who seemed to share her desire to have a family. They married, but things went bad within a few months. At the same time, Sally had resumed her work in the computer field, this time again in a position that required a top secret government clearance. Sally was concerned that “my mental breakdown and hospitalization will hinder a clearance,” but she encountered no problems at all. She had no remembrance of how her employment with NSA officially ended or how her high-level NSA security clearance was handled.

Despite her second divorce, Sally was extremely happy with her work and excelled in her field, making several significant professional advancements. In 1966, she decided to start her own company and, within months of doing so, she developed an international reputation for her highly creative approaches to the computer industry. She had lost all contact with Jim and no longer knew if he was still employed by the CIA. Occasionally, her old symptoms returned, but she was able to put them off through medication she was taking.

On one or two occasions, she felt that she had fallen into a “strange state, like sleepwalking while awake,” and once, while on the West Coast for work, she woke up in a hotel room “unsure of where I’d been for the last twenty-four hours.” She said, “I recalled getting unto a hotel elevator and there was a group of people already in it and someone nodded and said something and that was it. Later, I thought I remembered waking up in my room and finding someone standing there looking at me, telling me everything was just fine, not to worry about a thing…. I think it was a man who looked Asian … I don’t remember any more than that.”

On the same trip to the West Coast, Sally met a middle-aged woman in a restaurant who told her that she had had an encounter with a UFO the previous month while hiking near Sausalito. The woman remarked that, after this encounter, she had experienced strange blackouts and incidents of missing time. Sally recounted that she thought she met with this woman again at a private home in San Francisco, but she can’t recall for sure. “I remember sitting in an expansive living room overlooking the bay with her and she was telling me more about her experience, but it seems very dreamlike now. She was very nice, but there was something sinister about her that made me uncomfortable.”

Sally’s business continued to be very successful and demanding of her time. She fell in love with one of her closest associates, a former investigative reporter. They were married in 1969. Two years later, Sally and her new husband, Fred, sold her company for a lot of money. All of Sally’s hard work had paid off and the couple was happy with their life together. They started a small consulting firm that also became quite successful. Months later, one of their accounts resulted in Sally being hired to oversee a large data system for the US Congress. The work was stressful, and some of Sally’s old symptoms began to reappear. She had trouble sleeping and had strange dreams. At times, she found herself wondering what she had done or where she had been for the past few hours. Her doctor prescribed tranquilizers and she began to feel better. Fred had also taken a demanding job with Congress and the two remained happy together.

In early 1977, Sally went to work for the Carter White House on a special project. In August 1977, one day while working in the White House, Sally picked up a copy of The Washington Post and read an article about a CIA project called MKULTRA. The story mentions that the Massachusetts hospital she was in was part of the MKULTRA project. She went home that night and told Fred about the article and also told him Jim had an interest in hypnotism and once tried to hypnotize her. She recounted that this was the first time that she told Fred about her seven-month hospitalization in Massachusetts and of her “inexplicable recollections about her visits to the Gottlieb’s farm.” The next month, Fred read the full transcripts of Project MKULTRA Congressional hearings. He made detailed notes and discovered that Gottlieb and Lashbrook were directors of the project. He told Sally about what he has read, and she told him that Jim called Lashbrook Bob or “Lash” and that sometimes she heard Jim on the phone refer to Gottlieb as “Uncle Sid.” Fred asked Sally how her Massachusetts hospital bills were paid. She told him that she had no recollection of ever paying any bill. She recalled seeing one bill, but had no idea what became of it. Fred asked if her parents might have paid the bills. She called them and they said they haven’t seen any bills or paid anything related to her illness. Fred asked Sally if she was in the hospital for the entire seven months or if she was released and readmitted at any time. Sally seemed to recall being released at times and going somewhere, but she couldn’t recall when or where. Did you travel anywhere? Fred asked. Sally seems to remember going somewhere on an airplane once, but the more she struggled to recall, the more distant the memory became. She tried to think harder and she became overwhelmed with inexplicable sensations of swirling colors and flashes of light. Sometimes she imagined she heard a voice in her head telling her, “Relax, just relax. Everything is fine. Now relax.”

Fred talked to several physicians and was told by one, “Perhaps Sally is an unwitting victim of some sort of mind control effort.” The physician told Fred that, given the dimensions of the MKULTRA project as reported in the newspapers, anything could be possible if Sally had somehow become a test subject. Fred began to develop a theory about what had happened to his wife. Based on public revelations about Frank Olson, Fred thought Sally had been given LSD by Jim or Gottlieb. Once she was placed in a secure hospital, he speculated, Sally became an ideal, unwitting, test subject. Fred thought, What better cover can there be, or greater achievement, than to control the mind of a person who is a patient in a mental hospital without detection? Sally’s sudden “breakdown” and electric-shock treatments seem to be connected to her having been given some sort of drug that triggered her radical change in behavior. Fred called the Massachusetts hospital and requested his wife’s medical records. After a few days, he received a return call from the hospital, telling him there was no record of Sally having been a patient. He told the caller there had to be some sort of mistake. Please recheck your records, Fred asked. The hospital told Fred someone would call him back within a day or two.

Two days later, the hospital called and told Fred that Sally’s records had been located. Fred asked that they be copied and mailed to him. The same week, Fred consulted a noted psychologist about Sally. The psychologist told Fred the CIA had experimented extensively with “hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestion used in combination with certain drugs.” The psychologist also told Fred the agency experimented with using a variety of surreptitious delivery methods for drugs to unwitting subjects. These methods included “techniques for penetrating clothing with drugs” and “treating paper in books and magazine with certain drugs.”

Fred asked Sally if Jim ever sent her books or magazines while she was in the hospital. Sally said Jim didn’t, but she seemed to recall that someone brought her books while she was in the hospital, but she couldn’t recall who it was. Where are the books now? Fred asked. Sally couldn’t recall bringing any books home with her.

Meanwhile, additional articles appeared in newspapers in Boston about the Massachusetts hospital Sally was admitted to. Some articles revealed that doctors there conducted surreptitious testing with LSD, mescaline, and other powerful drugs. Many of these experiments took place during the same time that Sally was a patient in the same hospital. Fred’s concern mounted about what may have happened to Sally and significantly deepened after he read a July 1952 CIA document citing the “narco-hypnotic control” of subjects placed under what the agency dubbed “psychiatric-medical control” or hospitalization. “In each case,” the memo stated, “a psychiatric-medical cover was used to bring ARTICHOKE techniques into action.”

After thinking long and hard about it, Fred decided to pay a visit to Sally’s former husband, Jim. After about a week, Fred found Jim, running his own consulting firm outside of Washington, DC, Jim agreed to talk to Fred, if he came alone. Jim confirmed that he had been a CIA employee assigned to Gottlieb’s Chemical Division. He also confirmed that he and Sally went to the Gottlieb’s home for dinner in summer 1956. He described the visit much the same as Sally had recalled it, but denied that Sally was dosed with any drug while there. He told Fred that Sally’s mental problems were a result of other factors and of her having had a miscarriage. Jim said he obtained a “good Catholic” psychiatrist for Sally to help her while she was hospitalized. He also said he was unable to visit Sally as often as he would have liked because he was frequently traveling for TSS overseas, spending a fair amount of time in Greece, France and Germany. Fred asked what the psychiatrist’s name was. Jim answered that the man’s name was Dr. John Cavanaugh. Fred did not know it at the time, but Cavanaugh was a covert contractor for the agency. Very reliable sources, as well as several CIA documents, revealed that Cavanaugh made over 50 trips overseas related to CIA Project Artichoke. Cavanaugh also consulted closely with Drs. Harold Abramson, Harris Isbell and Robert Hyde. In Louisiana, Cavanaugh was especially interested in the CIA-funded work performed by Dr. Robert Heath with placing implants in the heads of a number of federal prison subjects.

Jim cut his visit short with Fred saying he had “a family affair to attend.” Before departing, Jim said to Fred, “Be careful where you tread with this thing, Fred.”

In 1977, after the initial revelations about Olson’s death and Project MKULTRA, the Department of Justice was notified by confidential sources about what had happened to Sally. The Justice Department contacted the CIA with its concerns. A November 2, 1977, letter from the agency’s assistant general counsel to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel read:

She [Sally] recalls being referred by her husband’s supervisor [Gottlieb] to a friend of the supervisor’s at the “Boston Psychiatric Hospital.” She and her husband, [redacted name and TSS title], went to Boston where she entered that Hospital. Both her husband and his supervisor visited her there and she recalls a strange walk out of doors with the latter. She also remembers taking various tests at the Hospital. [Sally] suffered a “relapse” and required psychiatric care two years ago, but apparently has since “come out of it.” The recent Senate hearings and attendant publicity concerning Project MKULTRA prompted [Sally’s husband] to review the Senate transcripts which he found contained information supportive of his wife’s recollections. [Sally’s husband] did not ask for any specific action or relief. He has been advised and voiced no objection regarding our opinion that this matter should not be investigated directly by CIA at this time but should be referred to Justice for consideration …. This matter obviously deserves further investigation to clarify, by confirming her suspicions or allaying her fears, the basis for whatever emotional distress [Sally] may continue to suffer. Of course, it may not be possible at this date to gather sufficient evidence to accomplish either result. In any event, however, it does not appear appropriate for CIA to conduct this investigation, even insofar as questioning [Sally’s husband] who has already contacted an agency official on 31 October to inform CIA of the fact that his wife had related these allegations to him. Since it might appear to some that CIA has an interest in not confirming that individuals were in fact “victimized” by MKULTRA-type activities, the agency could be accused at some point, in this or any other investigation of the same general nature, of having not conducted the investigation in a proper manner. Should these matters proceed to litigation, this perceived conflict of interest on the part of CIA or its employees could become particularly damaging. The agency continues to be anxious to do everything possible to assist those who may have been adversely affected by MKULTRA-type activities. However, the complications surrounding any action contemplated by CIA itself continue to plague us, as the above-described case again illustrates. We shall be happy to assist you further, in any way you may deem necessary, in achieving a satisfactory resolution to these difficult problems.

After learning about Sally’s story and her real name, I was stunned to realize that I knew her from my own work with the Carter administration. I called her on June 1, 2000, and asked if she would tell me about her recollections of what had happened in 1956 during her visit to the Gottlieb’s farm. She agreed, but almost immediately became extremely upset and began to cry.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I can’t seem to talk about it without becoming upset.”

She told me that she found the Gottlieb’s to be “very nice.” She said, “We had a wonderful visit and dinner. Everything was fine and then I remember riding home with Jim feeling really strange and becoming very upset about something. I had to urinate and asked Jim to pull the car over on the side of the road. After that I can’t remember anything else until later, when I was put in the hospital.”

Did she recall the incident at NSA with climbing the fence? “Vaguely,” she said. “I have no idea what I was doing or where I was going.”

“How are you today?” I ask Sally.

“Not good,” she said. “I feel like my life has been taken away from me. I’m never sure of anything. Most of the time I feel like I’m only half here.”

“Half here?”

“Like part of me is always somewhere else. Somewhere where I’m not.”


Author’s note: This is but a brief account, an overview, if you will, of Sally’s experience. In 1999, I had a long conversation with a CIA official about Sally, during which the official asked me, “Are you familiar with the Bible’s Book of Genesis?” I answered that I had read it, but was not well versed in it. “Well,” he said, “you should read it again. Read it in light of what is occurring in today’s world.”

“Meaning what?” I asked.

“Read the Book of Genesis. Read it completely through. Focus on the serpent in the garden, on how that serpent came to the woman, made from the rib of a man fashioned in God’s image and likeness and convinced her to ignore the warning of God and eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The woman told the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden,’ but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, least you die.'” The serpent mocked God’s words to the woman, saying, ‘You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing of good and evil.’ So the woman ate from the tree and then had her husband eat from the tree and the rest is history.”

“I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying,” I said, amazed the official could quote so readily from the Book of Genesis.

“The point is that the serpent is still the representation of evil in the world today. The serpent is best exemplified by the forces of terrorism and God remains with us in order to guide us away from the evil that wants to dominate the world and destroy the representatives of God.”

As readers may note, this conversation took place prior to the horrors of the 9/11 attacks. I had made no mental note of his use of the term “forces of terrorism.” About three months after those attacks, I contacted the CIA official once again. He had moved his work office from Tyson Corners, Virginia, to a large complex located in Washington, DC, on K Street.

The official greeted me warmly when he answered and said, “I think I can guess why you’re calling.” I told him to go ahead and try. He said, “You’re curious about what I told you before. My guess is you’re thinking about what I said concerning the evil forces of terrorism. Lately, as we all are well aware, they’ve acted to try to dominate things; the serpent is loose and threatening everything that is good in the world. Some people think a miracle is required.”


Letter dated 2 November 1977, from CIA assistant general counsel to John Gavin Esq., Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Approved for release by the CIA in October 1991, author’s files.

Author’s interviews with “Sally Hartman,” June-July, September 2000, Florida.

The above article is extracted in part from the author’s book: “A TERRIBLE MISTAKE: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments.”

Several sections have been added to this article to make Sally’s experience fuller and more understandable to readers. These sections were drawn for an interview with Sally in September 2000.

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