Cold War CIA Experiments on Children Exposed

In a new two-part investigation for The Dissenter, I delve into the murky and disturbing world of CIA experiments conducted on children during the Cold War.

The first expands on an extraordinary Danish Radio report, published in December, which exposed how scores of children in Copenhagen – many of them orphans – were subject to mind control experiments for at least two decades.

Children underwent regular tests, including being forced to listen to recordings on headphones of loud noises, screams, and statements intended to scare them. Staff strapped them to a chair while electrodes were placed on their arms, legs, and chest, measuring their heart rate, temperature, and sweat levels.

It seems certain these tests, conducted without their purpose ever being disclosed to participants in a gross breach of medical ethics, related to the CIA’s notorious MKULTRA. The established narrative of the program is that it concerned mind control, and was ultimately an expensive failure. In reality, most confirmed MKULTRA efforts actually concerned physical and psychological torture, and techniques derived from this research continue to be employed today. Some were applied to Guantanamo Bay inmates, for example.

The Danish experiments were likely conducted for this purpose. The CIA’s torture manual discusses how, when its assorted techniques are applied, “the usual effect…is regression,” and a subject’s “mature defenses crumbles [sic] as he becomes more childlike [emphasis added].”

The second probes the disquieting question of whether state-sanctioned paedophile communes in West Germany may have been encouraged by the CIA. At precisely the same time the Agency was exacting psychological torment on defenceless orphans in Denmark, authorities in West Berlin were entertaining the ideas of psychologist Helmut Kentler, who argued that placing at-risk youths in the care of child sex predators would effectively integrate them into society.

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