Sunday, December 10, 2017



Doses of LSD given through an IV; drug-induced comas lasting two months; amnesia brought on by drugs psychological torture. None of these actions seem possible in an accepting, liberal city like Montreal. But there's a dark part of Montreal's history everyone seems to forget, or simply not talk about, and all of these atrocities (and more) occurred in the heart of the city.
During the late 1950s, Dr. Ewan Cameron was the director of the renowned Allen Memorial Institute, the Psychiatry Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital, part of the McGill University Health Centre.
On the surface, Cameron was conducting esteemed academic research on the human mind for the benefit of his psychologically afflicted patients.
Those unlucky enough to be admitted to the Allen, within the Ravenscrag mansion, experienced something far more horrific.
Commissioned by the CIA to create an effective brainwashing technique, with partial funding from the Canadian government, Dr. Ewan Cameron subjected his patients to a new form of psychological torture, which went on to serve as the basis for the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation Handbook, essentially the CIA's textbook on torture.
And he did it right under the noses of Montrealers.
While older citizens may remember the media frenzy that occurred once the story of Dr. Ewan Cameron's work broke, exactly what happened has largely remained a mystery, and many modern Montrealers have next to no idea what occurred at the Allen all those years ago.
Using a variety of sources, including declassified CIA files, we've pieced together the narrative of what is arguably the darkest moment of Montreal's long history.
The Motive: Creating A Super Soldier 
Cold War paranoia pervaded the mindset of CIA officials in the late 1950s, fears that were only bolstered when American prisoners of war returned from captivity praising Communism and admonishing the United States. These soldiers had been reprogrammed, or brainwashed, and the CIA feared the consequences of an enemy with such mind-altering techniques.
Certain brainwashing practices were long-since rumored to be practiced by China and Russia, and the aforementioned cases prompted the CIA to devise their own brand of mental warfare. Knowing that no enemy of the United States had devised a scientific or technological method to brainwash prisoners/soldiers, the CIA didn't discount the possibility, and so took on the task of creating one first.
The CIA's aspirations weren't focused on prisoners; rather, they believed the mind could be militarized to create the perfect soldier. Through brainwashing and conditioning, the CIA envisioned an agent that could be "activated" with certain stimuli, carry out a specific task, then regress into amnesia.
In simpler terms, the CIA wanted double agents, or super soldiers, who had been psychologically altered to fulfill a function, then forget it ever happened, thus making interrogation impossible.
The program would become known as Project MKUltra.

But developing such a method would require unorthodox experimentation, and the CIA feared the backlash they may receive for funding the use of experimental drugs and dangerous forms of therapy on citizens.
So, after some preliminary experimentation, the CIA decided to take the project of brainwashing and reconditioning the human mind beyond the borders of the United States.
And in Montreal the CIA found the the perfect place, and person, for the project.
Montreal's entanglement in Project MKUltra is rooted in the work and story of Dr. Ewan Cameron. Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University, president of the American Psychiatric Association, and director of the then-new Allen Memorial Institute, which houses the Psychiatry Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Cameron's accolades were many, painting a rather positive portrait of the doctor.
A Scottish-born Psychiatrist, McGill University's archives describe Cameron as a figure of psychiatric proficiency, noting his role in advancing "psychiatric training through undergraduate curricula and teaching hospital programmes." Many of his contemporaries would have said the same, as Cameron was quite famous, renowned, and revered in academic circles.
Ann Collins, author of "In The Sleep Room," notes that Cameron stood as a pillar of psychiatry in North America. Once made the director of the Allen, Cameron had achieved a "god like status" in the psychiatric community, able to make or break a person's career, while having the autonomy to perform research unsupervised and without needing approval.
Institutional review boards did not exist at the time, and Cameron's work played a role in their creation. You'll soon see why.
It was Cameron's already ongoing research at the Allen that drew the CIA's interest. Inherently impatient, Cameron sought to find a cure for schizophrenia, one that would be speedy and effective. To do so, Cameron developed the theory of "differential amnesia," a practice of erasing a person's memories in hopes that, when their memories returned, their schizophrenic behavior wouldn't resurface.
Cameron had almost no evidence to support his theory, but it interested the CIA nonetheless. The agency wanted to see where Cameron's work could go, speculating that if the doctor could effectively erase a person's mind and instill new patterns of behavior (a process called "psychic driving"), as he claimed to be able to, they could apply the method to create sleeper agents.
So, in Cameron, the CIA had found the perfect leader for their project. Equipped with his own research institute and already conducting rather extreme and unusual experiments on his current patients, one could argue that the CIA's prompt to further Cameron's research wouldn't even have been needed.
Nevertheless, the CIA did commission Cameron to advance his methods and so MKUltra Subproject 68 was born.
The Method: MKUltra Subproject 68
Officially sanctioned on March 18th, 1957, MKUltra Subproject 68 lasted for two full years, with Dr. Cameron receiving annual funding of $20, 000.
Declassified CIA documents reveal the purpose of and mechanics of the program, a far cry from how the experiments were actually carried out in many cases.
MKUltra Subproject 68's main objective, and Dr. Cameron's, was to find a chemical agent that would break down patterns of behavior, or a person's personality/memory, while also inserting new behaviors and mindsets. Five drugs were listed to be used, either alone or in combination, including potent hallucinogenic LSD.
"After considerable experimentation" Dr. Cameron managed to create an official procedure to create "lasting changes in a patient's behaviour," that, in what was deemed "successful" cases, caused a patient to act differently for up to two months. Broken into four parts, Cameron's procedure was as follows:
Use of intensive electroshocks to break down a patient's behavior ("depatterning")
Forced listening of a repetitive "verbal signal" for 16 hours a day, over 6-7 days ("intensive repetition")

Covering of the eyes and ears in order to deprive the senses during the intensive repetition ("sensory isolation")

Putting the patient into a drug-induced coma, with sleep periods lasting 7-10 days ("repression of the driving period")

By April 23rd, 1959, over 100 individuals were subjected to the Subproject 68 procedure, already seems quite extreme.
In practice, the experiments enacted by Cameron onto his unwitting patients, who had no idea they were guinea pigs in a CIA-funded experiment, were far more horrific.
The Treatment: LSD, Comas, & Electroshock Therapy
Back in the late 50s, electroshock therapy was quite common. Generally, a doctor would administer a 110-volt shock for less than a second, around once a day.
Cameron, wanting to speed up the process of depatterning, increased the voltage to 150 volts, shocking patients two or three times a day for 30 days. When patients showed signs of confusion or a bad reaction, a sign you should stop electroshock therapy, Cameron was delighted, seeing the negative effects as a positive sign that the treatment was working.
Cameron's intensive repetition process was equally extreme. First, patients would have their senses dulled physically, through the covering of the eyes and attaching pillows around the ears, and physiologically, by injecting patients with drugs. Using curare, which causes the paralysis of bodily functions, Cameron ensured his patients were entirely subdued and helpless.
The "verbal signals" Cameron forced drugged patients to listen to for a majority of the day were uniquely sadistic. To get rid of unwanted behavior, Cameron subjected his helpless patients to recordings of negative statements. A recovered recording included statements like "you let your mother check you up sexually after every date you had with a boy" and "you don't seem to...keep a good relationship with your husband."
After prolonged exposure to the negative, a positive verbal signal would then follow, with similarly personal statements made. One case deemed a "failure" by Cameron had a woman placed in "prolonged sensory isolation" accompanied by "repeated depatterning" for 35 days, with the positive driving process lasting 101 days. Cameron stated no progress was made.
To ensure the reconditioning stuck, according to Cameron's reasoning, patients were placed into periods of forced sleep. Far longer than originally outlined, patients were forcibly kept in slumber for incredibly long periods of time.
In one case, a patient was forced into a state of sleep for 65 days.
A large majority of these experiments occurred in what was referred to as the "sleep room" by patients. Despite being kept in a childlike state due to the mass amount of drugs they received, patients still knew to fear the sleep room. Their collective terror was so intense, patients would walk with their back to the wall when passing the door to the sleep room, fearing their return.
LSD also played a role in Cameron's work, with shots of the hallucinogenic drug given to patients in isolation. One account tells of how Cameron would give a female patient, referred to as Mrs. Orlikow, a shot of LSD, paired with a stimulant or depressant, then leave her alone in her room with a recording of her past session with the doctor playing.
In total, Mrs. Orlikow received 14 shots of LSD. Terrified by the experience every time, Mrs. Orlikow asked Cameron if the treatment could be stopped. Cameron talked Mrs. Orlikow out of it, with the patient later commenting, "I thought he was God," and she would have done anything her esteemed psychiatrist recommended.
Val Orleco told a similar tale, recounting how she received LSD through an IV, and the intense fear she experienced from the hallucinations and sensations. No one had asked her if she was willing.
Commenting on the state of patients in general, Orleco described herself and her peers as crying, disoriented babies.
One documented "success" of this treatment, as noted by Cameron, describes a patient who had lost all of his schizophrenic behaviours. But, there was a price to pay, as the patient also experienced "complete amnesia for all events in his life."
Many of Cameron's other patients shared a similar fate.
The Victims: Forever Altered
The easiest and most accessible way to learn about the effect Cameron's procedures and MKUltra Subproject 68 had on its many patients is to read this Reddit testimonial. Basically, the author tells the tale of a woman who was seeking other patients of Dr. Cameron, and her apparent paranoia, fear, and mildly delusional state, all evident from a phone call.
Verifying the account isn't really possible. But after comparing the woman's mental state nearly 40 years after her escape from Cameron's treatments with testimonials from other patients, the story rings true.
Of Cameron's many patients, 60% experienced amnesia for a full six months to ten years after leaving the Allen. Some patients never fully recovered, needing the aid of lists to remember to perform even the simplest tasks, like household chores.
Gail Kastner, who received $100,000 in reparations from a law suit against the CIA that was settled out of court, consistently had nightmares of a "tall man" giving her electroshocks. Originally inducted as a patient at the age of 19 for mild depression, Gail's life afterwards was riddled with drug addiction problems, hospital visits, and irreparable brain damage.
Esther Schrier, originally sent to the Allen to deal with the depression she faced after losing her baby, lost her ability to be a mother after leaving Cameron's care. Despite giving birth to a new baby, she was unable to care for the child, and only went on to lead a somewhat normal life thanks to the support of her husband and family.
Bevan Weldon's mother died in his arms, and the trauma effected him so deeply that he went to the Allen to seek psychiatric treatment. Weldon experienced an entire dissociation of his former self afterwards. Kept in a coma for 21 days, Weldon lost the memory of his mother's death, which never returned, even fifty years later.
Cameron essentially took that part of Weldon's life from him, because, as Weldon put it "life is memory."
It's important to note that, at some point, whether originally or after the project had started, the Canadian government became involved with, sanctioned, and funded Subproject 68. The exact level of involvement by the Canadian government is largely unknown, though it is believed they funded similar experimentation even after Subproject 68 "officially" ended.
The nation's government did feel guilty enough to offer $100, 000 in reparations to 77 former patients.
Nine victims of Cameron's work also received an out-of-court settlement of $750,000 from the CIA when they sued the government agency in the 1980s. Many believe the settlement was made to ensure no further details of Project MKUltra would be revealed in the courtroom.
As for Cameron himself, his story ends soon after Subproject 68. In February, 1963 at a meeting of the American Psychopathological Association, Cameron admitted to taking a wrong turn during his research. Abruptly, Cameron then abandoned his work, and soon after, in 1967, the doctor died at the age of 65 in Lake Placid, New York.
But despite the lasting impact Cameron and Subproject 68 had on many Canadians, few Montrealers today even know this CIA-funded brainwashing initiative occurred in the city. In fact, many believe Subproject 68 to be a myth.
Haunted Montreal's Mountain Tours reference Subproject 68, but only focus on a theory that the graves situated behind the wall between the Ravenscrag and the Royal Victoria property are unmarked because they contain the bodies of First Nations children experimented upon by Cameron.
While this theory is chilling, and comments on the continued abuse of First Nations peoples, it is only a theory, whereas the other horrors associated with Cameron's work are based in actual fact.
To borrow terminology, Montreal has seemingly depatterned its collective memory, choosing to not remember the events that took place at the Allen in the late 1950s and early 60s, under the leadership of Dr. Ewan Cameron. And it's not a surprise why.
Montreal, and Canada as a whole, would rather place Subproject 68 in the realm of conspiracies, a mere tale that sounds too horrific to be true. Not all history is happy, however, and it's time Montreal started recognizing what happened within the walls of the city all those years ago.





A lot's been said about Russia meddling in our 2016 presidential campaign. But the Russians are already buzzing about their presidential election next March. Because unexpectedly Vladimir Putin has a genuine challenger: a handsome, 41-year-old lawyer, Alexei Navalny, who has chosen one of the most dangerous occupations in the world: running against the man who controls the Kremlin.
"During my campaign, I spent every fifth day in the jail. So now I'm kind of, you know, used to it."

The election process in Russia is tightly managed by the government, but Navalny's been drawing big crowds to his protests and rallies all over the country - where he laces into Putin with no holds barred.   
Alexei Navalny at a rally (Translation):
Putin is a thief and the head of the entire corrupt system!
This is one brave man. Not only because he has taken on the all-powerful Vladimir Putin head on, but because he's been holding rallies -- many of them without official permits -- which has had its consequences: one arrest after another. 
Alexei Navalny: During my campaign, I spent every fifth day in the jail. So now I'm kind of, you know, used to it. It's become a routine of my life.
Lesley Stahl: You got out of prison just a couple of days ago.
Alexei Navalny: Right.
Lesley Stahl:  You held a rally right away. You're goading them. You're begging them to arrest you again.
Alexei Navalny: These are people who are trying to steal my country. And I strongly disagree with it. I'm not going to be, you know, a kind of speechless person right now. I'm not going to keep silent.
Correspondent Lesley Stahl walks with Alexei Navalny CBS NEWS
Lesley Stahl: You're not allowed to run.
Alexei Navalny: I'm not allowed to run. And they put enormous pressure on our headquarter and on our volunteers. My chief of campaign get out of jail just yesterday. So all these facts show us that he's really afraid. Not of me but this -- people who are standing behind me. We have now 170,000 volunteers.
Mr. Putin remains highly popular. It's all but a foregone conclusion that he'll be re-elected. And yet the Kremlin is doing everything it can to make it difficult for Navalny to gain traction. For instance, the government says he can't be on the ballot because he was found guilty of embezzlement, in what Navalny insists was a trumped-up charge. 
And he's barred from national television. But he's managed to get around that by reaching an ever-widening audience on social media channels and YouTube where he has millions of followers and says he's raised almost $4 million from ordinary Russians.  
Lesley Stahl: What do you think the biggest issue is for most people here in Russia?
Alexei Navalny: Poverty. And inequality, huge in Russia, even compared to the United States, the European country. No opportunities at all, no future for the people. Putin is stealing their future. And Mr. Putin [makes] his relatives, his closest friends, his colleagues from the KGB -- the chiefs of these companies. And that's why they're controlling the whole economy.
Navalny began his public life ten years ago in a shrewd way: he bought small shares of state-owned companies. As a shareholder, he was able to get his hands on internal financial documents, investigated evidence of misconduct and posted it all on a blog.
Lesley Stahl: Did these documents that you got prove corruption?
Alexei Navalny: Absolutely. I work as a whistleblower. And I'm not afraid to announce the names.
He says he found that the Kremlin's inner circle was accumulating vast amounts of wealth and published pictures of multiple homes and yachts. He moved on to airing documentaries on YouTube, with video of the officials' lavish lifestyle.
Lesley Stahl: How did you get the footage?
Alexei Navalny: We have our air force.  We're just using drones.
Lesley Stahl: You sent drones up?
Alexei Navalny: Yes. We do a lot of work with the drones because for us, it's best way to show this way of life. When you publish this footage of the yachts, of these palaces, of this real estate and you can show documents, look, this guy have a relatively modest salary but look at this house.
His most-watched documentary, with over 25 million views, focused on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his estates -- Navalny says all 5 of them.   
The video inflamed so much outrage that in March tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets.  When Navalny called for a second round of protests 3 months later, he was arrested before he even left his apartment building. 
But his supporters came out in droves all across the country and, like Navalny, close to 1700 were arrested. These were the first protests of this magnitude in Russia in 6 years. 
Back then, in 2011, roughly 60,000 went to the streets in a burst of anti-Putin dissent. That's when Navalny debuted in Moscow as an opposition leader.
Lesley Stahl: As we were watching in the United States I think there was the impression that public opinion was going to force change here. It looked that way on television. But that is not what happened.
Alexei Navalny:  Mr. Putin realized that he's-- it's not affordable for his system to give people more democracy. That's why in 2012 he completely change his strategy and start to arrest people, start to fabricate criminal cases. Look, at the start of the 2011 I was a respectful lawyer. At the end of 2012 I was several times convict.
But now he's seen as the last man standing since most of the other opposition leaders either fled the country or were found dead under mysterious circumstances.
Lesley Stahl: Why are you still alive?
Alexei Navalny: This is the favorite question of my wife... I don't know. Maybe they missed the good timing for it when I was less famous?
Lesley Stahl:  Do you feel that your visibility with so many people knowing who you are that that's protecting you?
Alexei Navalny: Actually, I'm trying not to thinking about it a lot. Because if you start to think what kind of risks I have, you cannot do anything.
"My biggest memory that I'm as a child standing in line, standing in line maybe sometimes for hours to just buy milk."
Navalny's platform includes: more spending on education and health, restoring a free press and taxing the oligarchs. In the west he's assumed to be a Russian liberal, but there was a time when he marched with nationalists, some of them fascists -- something he's tried to downplay lately.
Lesley Stahl: You have attended Nationalist, what we would call right-wing rallies, I believe in support of ethnic purity, Russian ethnic purity. Have you supported that?
Alexei Navalny: Of course not. I was part of these rallies because I support the freedom of rallies because I support freedom for meetings.
Lesley Stahl: They're supporters of yours. They're part of your following.
Alexei Navalny: A lot of them supports me. And they recognize me as a leader.
When he was growing up, he came from a committed communist family in a small town, south of Moscow.
Lesley Stahl: What was your childhood like?
Alexei Navalny: I'm 41 years old. It means that actually, I'm a guy from the Soviet Union. I was a young pioneer. I had my red tie. My father was military and I was very proud that my father is guarding Mother Russia from evil Americans with their bombs and missiles. Actually, my biggest memory that I'm as a child standing in line, standing in line maybe sometimes for hours to just buy milk.
He was close to his brother, Oleg, 7 years younger. So it was painful for him when 3 years ago the government, to get him to stop his activism he believes, convicted him and Oleg of embezzlement,
A ruling the European Court of Human Rights called "arbitrary and unfair." To make matters worse, he got a suspended sentence, but Oleg is still behind bars.

Alexei Navalny: He's still in prison. And he spent two years in the solitary confinement which actually in Russian condition is torturing.
Lesley Stahl: Do you think he's in jail to get you, to get you to stop?
Alexei Navalny: Yes, absolutely.
But he hasn't stopped, even though he's been physically attacked. While campaigning in Siberia, he was splashed in the face with green dye. 
Alexei Navalny: It was painful. But I could--
Lesley Stahl: It hurt?
Alexei Navalny: It hurt.
But -- he handled it with humor saying he was Shrek.  
His followers dyed their own faces green and posted photos to Instagram and Twitter in solidarity. 
Then he was splashed again.
Alexei Navalny: The second time it was much more painful.
Lesley Stahl: There was acid, as I understand it
Alexei Navalny: My doctor in the hospital said, "Well, Alexei, you should be prepared that you will be blind for one eye." And so I even start to think about kind of, you know, I will be such kind of pirate with.
Lesley Stahl: With a patch.
Alexei Navalny: With a patch.
The Kremlin did allow him to travel to Spain for specialized surgery. But immediately after the treatment, he returned to Moscow and went right out campaigning again. 
But lately, he's been concentrating on rural areas, holding rallies far from the big cities -- in places like Siberia and the Urals.
Alexei Navalny on platform: I'm travelling every weekend to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the regions to have these rallies.
On our last day there, we went with him to the mid-sized, industrial city of Ivanovo, four hours outside Moscow – starting with a train ride.
Lesley Stahl: Mr. Putin never ever mentions your name. May criticize you but never your name. What do you make of that?
Alexei Navalny: I have no idea why they don't. Maybe it's a kind of something superstitious for them. Like, you know, you cannot name the animal bear, because if you name it in the night, it will come and eat you or something like this. They have a lot of nicknames and euphemisms for me. Like "this gentleman" or "this guy," "this convict," and "this--"
Lesley Stahl: This convict?
Alexei Navalny: "This convict." but-- they are thinking about me. And believe me, they are afraid of me, afraid of us. So it's-- that is much more important for us than mentioning my name.
It was snowing and dark out when we got to a wooded lot on the edge of town where a big crowd of mostly young Russians was waiting. No one thinks he has much of a chance of beating Putin in the election, but still Putin fears him, Navalny says, because of his ability to draw crowds at rallies and into the streets.
He perseveres, knowing what he's doing is dangerous. His supporters have been roughed up by police and pro-Kremlin activists who Navalny calls thugs.
Lesley Stahl: Is it, in your mind, worth your life? Because there is a big target on you, no question.
Alexei Navalny: I'm tryin' to not think about it. Because look, I think I'm ready to sacrifice everything for my job, and for the people who surrounding me. I'm not let them down. And I'm trying to not to reflects about it all the time.
Produced by E. Alexandra Poolos. Associate Producer, Kate Morris.


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It's not that democracy is "fragile," exactly, but it is "reversible," according to former President Barack Obama.
During an interview earlier this week at the Economic Club of Chicago, Obama reminded his audience to remain vigilant in protecting the values and institutions that make up American democracy or risk following in the path of Nazi Germany.
"You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens," he told interviewer Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, after defending institutions such as freedom of religion and freedom of the press. (Obama admitted, however, that the latter sometimes drove him "nuts" during his time in the White House.)
"Now, presumably, there was a ballroom in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked and seemed as if it ― filled with the music and art and literature and the science that was emerging ― would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. And the entire world was plunged into chaos."
"So you've got to pay attention ― and vote," Obama said in video of the event.
The former president's comments, in which he did not directly name President Donald Trump, came after a mediation on the way technology has disrupted culture and politics around the world.
"Right now we're seeing a collision of cultures we're not accustomed to," he said. "It used to be that if you were very conservative, Muslim or Christian or Jew or Hindu, you could live in your community and people didn't question your assumptions."
Obama continued: "The combination of economic disruption, cultural disruption ― nothing feels solid to people ― that's a recipe for people wanting to find security somewhere. And sadly, there's something in all of us that looks for simple answers when we're agitated and insecure."
He ended with some "good news."
"The narrative that America at its best has stood for, the narrative of pluralism and tolerance and democracy and rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press and freedom of religion, that narrative, I think, is actually the more powerful narrative. The majority of people around the world aspire to that narrative, which is the reason people still want to come here," he said.
"But we have to fight for it. It doesn't happen automatically. So when people think about our own institutions and our own culture and our own politics, the one thing that I always want to emphasize for people is not to take for granted the institutions and norms and values that we know. It's not so much that they're fragile, but they are reversible."
December, 2017




Urban Dictionary: albatross
A metaphor for a dead weight or burden that one must carry, especially when the burden is not a literal one but a stigma of some kind that one cannot easily discard or throw off. The name comes from a story about a sailor who killed an albatross that was following his ship, an act thought to bring bad luck upon the ship.





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