A federal judge ruled last week that it’s too late for the family of deceased CIA bioweapons expert Dr. Frank Olson to sue the CIA for his death.
Olson died in 1953. At the time, the CIA said Olson jumped from the thirteenth story of a hotel after CIA agents slipped LSD into his drink. The CIA admitted to spiking his drink as part of the controversial MK-ULTRA program, a behavioral control experiment that ran into the 1970’s. In 1975, Olson’s sons, Eric and Nils, were given $187,500 each from the government for their father’s death.
But recently, Eric and Nils claimed that the 1975 settlement is no longer valid. Their father’s official cause of death was changed from “suicide” to “unknown”. And the family, along with their attorney, disputes the CIA’s narrative entirely.
According to the family attorney, Olson did not jump off of a hotel balcony while tripping on LSD. Instead, he was angry that the CIA had drugged him against his will. Several days after being drugged, an angry Olson told a CIA colleague that he wanted to leave the agency. The colleague told Dr. Robert Lashbrook about Olson’s desire to leave. Lashbrook then sent Olson around the east coast for various psychiatric treatments.
Then, according the lawyer, Lashbrook and Olson checked into the 13th story of a Manhattan high-rise hotel. The two men shared a drink together, and soon after, at 2:30 am, Olson fell out the window to his death.
The family claims that Olson, who had been exposed to lots of sensitive CIA information from his work with the agency, was killed by Lashbrook that night due to his desire to leave the CIA. The lawsuit even cited a CIA handbook from the 1950’s on how to carry out a “secret assassination” with minimal suspicion. Here’s a section from the lawsuit on the handbooks assassination instructions:
“Specifically, the manual counseled that ‘the most efficient accident . . . is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface . . . [such as one from] unscreened windows.’ The manual also recommended that assassins use a blunt object to inflict ‘blows . . . directed to the temple,’ but noted that ‘care is required to insure that no wound or condition not attributable to the fall is discernible after death.’ Finally, the manual suggested that ‘if the subject’s personal habits make it feasible, alcohol may be used… to prepare him for a contrived accident of any kind.’”
Sure enough, an exhumation of Olson’s body revealed blows to his temple similar to the ones described by the CIA manual.
But despite all the evidence, and Judge James Boasberg conceded that there is a lot of it, Boasberg ultimately ruled that Olson’s sons waited far too long to bring their case up again. Combined with the 1975 financial award given to each son, Judge Boasberg granted the government’s plea to have the case dismissed.
Here is an excerpt from his statement on the case:
“The public record supports many of the allegations that follow, farfetched as they may sound...Concluding that most of the allegations are both untimely and waived by a prior settlement agreement, and that any timely or preserved claims fall outside of the United States’ waiver of sovereign immunity, the Court will grant the Government’s Motion [to dismiss].”