President Clinton relies so much on private investigators to dig up dirt on political enemies, it's said he has his own private CIA. But an offhand remark by Terry Lenzner -- the super-sleuth most often hired by Clinton's attorneys to do the dirt-digging -- reveals there's more than a little truth to that quip.
In a sworn deposition, the former Senate Watergate Committee attorney turned gumshoe admitted at least one significant connection to the Central Intelligence Agency. Lenzner is apparently so well-connected to the CIA that, in an hour of need, the agency turned to him for help in shielding one of its most notorious employees from public scrutiny.
On March 13, Lenzner was deposed by Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch in connection with Filegate: the White House confiscation of over 900 FBI files on Bush and Reagan administration employees.
Lenzner is the founder and president of Investigative Group International, a blue-chip detective firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. He's reputed to have done so much work for the White House he's been dubbed the "president's private eye," a sobriquet he disavows.
Through most of the deposition Lenzner dodged questions that might come back to haunt him later in court if he answered yes or no. On his attorney's advice he neither admitted nor denied if his firm carried out the highly intrusive investigations of Judge Robert Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas after they had been nominated to a place on the Supreme Court. Lenzner also refused to say whether or not he had ordered his gang of snoops to dig up dirt on Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, Pat Robertson, Kenneth Starr and members of his independent counsel team. Nor would he admit to having investigated reporters at Newsweek, the American Spectator and other publications.
But when asked if he were currently doing any work for the CIA, he volunteered information beyond the question.
"No," said Lenzner. "I think the only work I've ever done with the CIA was, I represented two or three former CIA employees during the Church Senate hearings (in 1975), including the former head of the Technical Services Division, Sidney Gottlieb. And, indeed, I sued the Senate committee to keep his name out of the assassination report on the grounds that it might endanger his life and his family's life." Sidney Gottlieb. There's a name from the past. The fact that Terry Lenzner represented him and actually sued a Senate committee on his behalf speaks volumes.
Gottlieb was the CIA's real-life Dr. Strangelove -- a brilliant chemist who headed MK-ULTRA, the agency's most far-reaching drug and mind-control program at the height of the Cold War.
MK-ULTRA was the brainchild of Richard Helms, then assistant deputy director for plans within the CIA's Clandestine Services ("dirty tricks") section. Helms later became CIA director.
In April 1953, Helms proposed a "program for the covert use of biological and chemical materials" for the control of human behavior. CIA Director Allen Dulles quickly gave his approval, and the program was set up in the chemical division of the technical services staff. Gottlieb -- who was 33 when he joined the agency in 1951 -- was put in charge of coordinating the projects. Several already existing, smaller mind-control programs, like Operation Artichoke and Bluebird, were brought under the MK-ULTRA umbrella, which grew exponentially into a mammoth enterprise.
The CIA, a relatively new agency (it was established in 1947), asked a lot of questions, and the supersecret MK-ULTRA program, with Gottlieb at the controls, was designed to provide answers and develop ways to make them happen. Some examples:
Could a person be turned into a "Manchurian Candidate" -- someone programmed to kill a "target" on a subliminal command? Is there a substance -- a truth drug -- or a technique (hypnosis perhaps?) that would enable CIA operatives to wrest information from someone against his will? Is there a sure and certain way to render a crowd of people -- or an entire society -- totally helpless so it can be controlled? Or, conversely, easily provoked to riot and lawlessness? Could germs be engineered that would affect only members of a targeted group? How about a poison or toxin that could kill a person but not be detected in an autopsy?
To find the answers, millions of dollars were funneled through MK-ULTRA to universities and other institutions in this country and abroad for research in bacteriology, chemistry, drugs, hypnosis, radiation, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, psychosurgery and electro-shock -- anything and everything that could conceivably be of use in the shadow world of espionage.
Eventually there were 149 MK-ULTRA projects and 33 additional projects funded through MK-ULTRA, but these had nothing to do with behavioral modification, toxins or drugs.
There was no congressional oversight -- and often no formal contract. Qualified individuals, said Helms, "are most reluctant to enter into signed agreements of any sort which connect them with this activity since such a connection would jeopardize their professional reputations."
For experimental subjects, researchers often used mental patients, ethnic minorities, drug addicts, prisoners and those who were in a weak position when it came to defending their rights.
"I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. ... Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the all-highest," George White wrote in a letter to Gottlieb.
White had come into the CIA from the Office of Strategic Services, America's wartime intelligence agency.
For years White was in charge of MK-ULTRA's Operation Midnight Climax, a project set up to study the effects of LSD on sex. CIA-run brothels were maintained in San Francisco, New York and Marin County; drug-addicted prostitutes were paid $100 a night to bring their johns to these "safehouses," where they spiked the drinks with LSD. CIA personnel watched the action from behind one-way mirrors. The johns were never told they had been unwitting subjects in drug studies.
MK-ULTRA was ended in 1964, but a streamlined version with fewer projects was continued until 1972 under the name MK-SEARCH. Gottlieb was in charge of both for the entire 20-year span. Agency officials later denied using unwitting or unwilling human subjects in their experiments.
However, Gottlieb ordered all MK-ULTRA and MK-SEARCH files destroyed in 1973. There was a "burgeoning paper problem," he said. Only a few boxes escaped the shredder.
As MK-SEARCH was being put to rest, the Watergate hearings in the Senate and the impeachment proceedings in the House were being geared up.
Terry Lenzner was hired in April 1973 as an assistant counsel by Sam Dash, chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee chaired by Sen. Sam Ervin, D-NC.
Lenzner had been a civil rights attorney for the Justice Department, then had a position as director of legal services with the Office of Economic Opportunity. He was fired by President Nixon in 1970 for, allegedly, funneling public monies to the Black Panthers and other militant groups.
That year he joined the defense team of Father Philip Berrigan who -- with a group of nuns and priests -- was charged with planning to kidnap Henry Kissinger, blow up heating tunnels and destroy draft records. Ramsey Clark, former attorney general was the lead counsel. Berrigan and his associates were acquitted.
The Watergate and impeachment hearings ended when Nixon resigned in August 1974.
That December, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh ignited public interest in intelligence agencies with a front-page article on how the CIA had illegally spied on domestic anti-war activists and other political dissidents during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.
In January, President Ford appointed a commission headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to investigate past CIA abuses.
The Senate followed suit and, that same month, a special committee chaired by the late Sen. Frank Church, D-ID, began investigations. Officially named the Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, it was known as the "Church Committee."
Among the first things the Church Committee looked at were allegations of attempted "executive actions" -- that is, assassinations -- against foreign leaders during the early 1960s. Gottlieb was called out of retirement to explain MK-ULTRA's role in assassination attempts against Patrice Lumumba, prime minister of Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo), and Cuba's Fidel Castro.
The former civil rights attorney Terry Lenzner -- now in private practice -- saw to it that a man who admitted heading projects to terminate two communist leaders could use an assumed name.
He testified as Joseph Scheider, but revealed his true name in later hearings on MK-ULTRA.
Gottlieb told the panel how, in 1960, he had developed a way of transporting bacteria, choosing "one that was supposed to be indigenous to that area (of Africa) and that could be fatal." He personally carried the bacteria and hypodermics to Leopoldville, the capital of Zaire, and handed the package along to operatives with instructions for injecting it into Lumumba's food or toothpaste.
The plot fell through, but Lumumba was killed in 1961. The CIA denies responsibility for the successful termination.
Also unsuccessful was Gottlieb's work against Castro. A box of Castro's favorite cigars was contaminated with botulinum toxin -- a deadly poison. That plot, too, collapsed when no one could figure a way to deliver them.
The Church Committee was unable to link the United States to any successful assassination. But Sen. Church made a disturbing observation:
"For years we tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Castro, Lumumba and Trujillo. These men were no menace to the United States. The only time Castro was a menace in any physical sense was when he let Russian missiles in. Ironically, that was the only time when clandestine operations against his life were halted."
Pending legal actions promise to bring Gottlieb's name back in the news in the near future. He's named as a defendant in a civil suit involving the drugging of a young artist with LSD in Paris in 1952. Also, a grand jury is re-examining circumstances surrounding the death of army biochemist Frank Olson, who allegedly jumped to his death from a hotel window some 45 years ago this month.
Contacted for comments and information, neither Lenzner nor a spokesperson responded to WorldNetDaily phone calls.