Donald Ewen Cameron

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Donald Ewen Cameron (1901-1967) was a Scottish-American psychiatrist. Born in Bridge of Allan, he graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1924. Cameron lived and worked in Albany, New York, and was involved in experiments in Canada for Project MKULTRA, a United States based CIA-directed mind control/interrogation program which eventually led to the publication of the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation manual.

According to journalist Kevin Dowling:

Those scientists in the Western intelligence community who supported the idea of developing brainwashing programmes had two gurus - Dr Douglas Ewen Cameron, a Glasgow-born psychiatrist, and Dr Sidney 'The Gimp' Gottlieb, the CIA's expert on brainwashing. Cameron received his post-graduate diploma in psychiatric medicine at the University of London before joining Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, in 1926. He became convinced that the mentally ill posed a grave threat to Anglo-American civilisation and should be forcibly sterilised.
During the Second World War, he was on the Military Mobilization Committee of the American Psychiatric Association and was appalled to learn that of the 15 million men inducted into the US armed forces, two million had to be rejected on neuropsychiatric grounds, a proportion far higher than in any other nation. He set about finding remedies including electro-shock (60,000 electroconvulsive therapies in a single year), lobotomies and other forms of psycho-surgery, sensory deprivation and mind-altering drugs - all used on patients who had little or no say in their treatment. Conscientious objectors, many of them Quakers, were defined by Cameron as mentally ill and sometimes forced to accept 'treatment'.
When the end of the war revealed that the Nazis had been carrying out similar experiments - 23 German doctors were convicted at Nuremberg - the Western intelligence community became very interested in Cameron's work.
This interest grew to an obsession after the Stalin show trials, in which the accused made robotic confessions which had apparently been artificially induced. Subsequent denunciations of the American way of life by American POWs held in Chinese camps during the Korean War further convinced the CIA that the communists were already well advanced in mind control techniques. In intelligence circles there were rumours of a Soviet plot to place brainwashed zombies in the White House and other citadels of Western power.
The American response was a secret CIA project called MK-ULTRA. Its director, Dr Gottlieb, sought help from his Scottish hero, Cameron, and set him up with cover organisations to distance the CIA from some of the more abhorrent aspects of MK-ULTRA's work. So Cameron founded the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, ran a proprietary company called Psychological Assessment Associates, and contributed papers to learned journals on 'Psychic Driving', 'The Restructuring of the Personality' and 'Suggestion and Extra-Sensory Perception'.
The short-term goals of MK-ULTRA were to counter any communist plot to insert brainwashed assassins into the West. However, according to authors Gerald Colby and Charlotte Dennett, biographers of Nelson Rockefeller - one-time chairman of a committee overseeing the MK-ULTRA operation - the scientists also wanted to find drugs or techniques by which 'a man could be surreptitiously drugged through the medium of an alcoholic cocktail at a social party and the subject induced to perform the act of attempted assassination of an official in a government in which he was well-established socially and politically'.
A far-fetched idea, perhaps; but interestingly, not one whose currency was limited to the CIA. A few years later, the surreptitious administration of a mind-altering drug in a drink at a party was suggested as a possible solution to a strange double death in Sydney, Australia. On the morning of January 1, 1963, Dr Gilbert Bogle, and his lover, Mrs Margaret Chandler, were found dead on a river bank after a riotous party given by staff of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Bogle, a brilliant scientist, had told friends that he was about to go to the US to work on scientific research of great military importance. The deaths were never solved, but Sydney detectives became convinced that Bogle and his colleagues had been experimenting with LSD and the effect it produced on their thought processes - the invitation to the New Year's Eve party required each guest to bring a painting done under the influence of the drug - and that either by accident or by design someone had slipped the couple what turned out to be an overdose.
Repeated requests to the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act asking for details of the work that Bogle would have been doing in the US have met with refusal on the grounds of national security. But the speculation is irresistible that it might have involved experiments in mind control similar to those that Olson had worked on.
The long-term aim of these experiments with mind-altering drugs is thought by those who have studied the MK-ULTRA programme to have been to ensure the dominance of Anglo-American civilisation in what eugenicists call the 'war of all against all - the key to evolutionary success'. Brainwashing would be used not only to defeat the enemy but to ensure the compliance and loyalty of one's own population.[1]

Britain, the US and Canada had begun talking about psychological warfare together at least as early as June 1951, when Sir Henry Tizard, the Ministry of Defence's senior scientist, met Canadian scientists and Cyril Haskins, the senior CIA researcher, in Montreal. Among the Canadians was Donald Hebb of McGill University, who was looking for funds to research "sensory deprivation" - blocking out sight, sound and touch to affect people's personality and sense of identity. Early photographs show volunteers, goggled and muffled, looking eerily similar to prisoners arriving at Guantánamo.
Panicked by the ability of communists in Korea, China and the Soviet Union to "turn" captured westerners, the CIA took over the funding of the sensory deprivation programme and gave it to one of Hebb's colleagues, Ewen Cameron. After six years of damaging experiments with drugs, electricity, taped messages and isolation on often unwitting subjects, Cameron simplified his techniques and, according to McCoy, "laid the scientific foundation for the CIA's two-stage psychological torture method".[2]

See Also


  1. Kevin Dowling 'THE OLSON FILE; A SECRET THAT COULD DESTROY THE CIA', MAIL ON SUNDAY August 23, 1998 SECTION: Pg. 10;11;12;13
  2. 'Nobody is talking' The evidence of two new books demonstrates that 9/11 created the will for new, harsher interrogation techniques of foreign suspects by the US and led to the abuses in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. In a special report, James Meek reveals that it is the British who refined these methods, and who have provided the precedent for legalised torture The Guardian, Friday February 18 2005

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