IN AN ALEXANDRIA OFFICE, miles from the Mall and the familiar Castle, is a side to the Smithsonian Institution few know exists. Behind a door marked "Manpower Research and Advisory Services Smithsonian Institution" works Dr. H. Wallace Sinaiko. He is a Smithsonian researcher working under a $190,000 a year contract with the Office of Naval Research. His subject: psychological studies on how to enhance recruitment, re-enlistment and quality of life in the volunteer Navy.
Sinaiko is one of several Smithsonian researchers working with the Department of Defense; over the past decade Defense Department contracts with the Smithsonian have totaled $10 million. The Smithsonian has had contracts with many government agencies. With the exception of the Pacific project, says the Smithsonian's assistant secretary of science, none of the cotracts were classified.
Among the dozens of contracts with the military, the Smithsonian has conducted a study of dolphins with a Navy grant, an Air Force study of the Demilitarized Zone in Korea focusing on "diseases of man transmitted by animal vectors," and a 1966-1968 Army study on mosquitoes as vectors of disease in Southeast Asia.
Throughout the early 1960s, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), a network of observatories funded in part by NASA, did work for the U.S. Air Force as part of the observatory's routine Satellite Tracking Program. A memo in the Smithsonian archives reads: " .. At NORAD's request, several Soviet satellites have been tracked and on occasion, reduced films have been sent to USAF. . . . Several SAO personel travelled to NORAD (Colorado Springs) to consult on operational and communication techniques. . . . "
A december 1972 report notes: "Cosmos 520 (1972 72-A) was tracked for four days by special request of the U.S. Air Force."
In one instance the SAO request was declined by a foreign researcher. On Nov. 11, 1964, an Indian scientist wrote from an observatory in that country: "While we shall be too happy to track such NORAD satellites in which SAO or other agencies, including NORAD, may have a scientific interest, it would put us in a rather embarrassing situation if we were asked to track NORAD or any other satellites on behalf of military agencies . . . You will appreciate that as a young scientific institution in a non-aligned country it would be best for us to keep away from such controversies."
Much Defense-related work was initiated in the days when Leonard Carmichael was the Smithsonian's secretary -- 1953 to 1964. Carmichael felt deeply about issues of national interest. Smithsonian archives contain an inventory list of Carmichael's locked file cabinets. The list refers to several secret reports, including one of April 6, 1953, the "Final report of the Advisory Group on Psychological and Unconventional Warfare to the Research and Development Board." The reports were destroyed by the Defense Department in 1960.
Between 1959 and 1963, Carmichael served as a director of the Human Ecology Fund (HEF), a research board funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, and a conduit for a variety of CIA projects -- part of the MKULTRA program. According to two former CIA employes who worked for the fund, Carmichael signed a secrecy agreement not to disclose its CIA funding.
A former executive director of the HEF said Carmichael "was brought on because he had a fantastic image. Anybody of that caliber would not be involved in any hanky panky. That was exactly the image we wanted to project." A former CIA employe said Carmichael evaluated HEF research proposals but did not participate in any CIA research.
Carmichael's activity on the HEF was in a personal capacity, and not as a Smithsonian official. However, one letter evaluating a CIA project for HEF was written on Smithsonian stationary, and Carmichael's appointment book cites numerous meetings with HEF personnel at his Smithsonian office.
The CIA under Project MKULTRA was working on its own bird study related to biological weapons. In 1977 the Smithsonian was asked by a reporter about possible links between the CIA's project and the Smithsonian's. On Aug. 23, 1977, Smithsonian officials met with a CIA attorney to inquire about the Smithsonian's possible role in CIA-sponsored work, according to an internal memo. They were told that "there was no official Smithsonian role" although "someone associated with the Institution served as a consultant to the CIA-front organization which passed as a research funding agency."
That information was released in a 1977 Smithsonian statement, but the unnamed "someone" associated with the Smithsonian was Leonard Carmichael, it's former Secretary.
Then the CIA gave the Smithsonian more information. On Nov. 7, 1977, CIA General Counsel Anthony A. Lapham wrote Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley that "newly-discovered documents evidenced some type of involvement, direct or indirect, between your institution and Agency- sponsored research in the 1950s and 1960s into various aspects of human behavioral control." Lapham wrote the Smithsonian asking "whether you believe the identity of the Smithsonian should continue to be protected against disclosure by this Agency."
The Smithsonian chose not to release the new information. In a Nov. 18, 1977 letter to the CIA, Ripley wrote: "Because the Smithsonian in no way participated in this program, I believe it would be unfair and improper to disclose the institution's name in connection with it . . . It would, I believe, be a tragic disservice to the people of the United States and the world should the Smithsonian's ability to carry out its congressional mandate of 'increase and diffusion of knowledge among men' be impaired. Therefore I request that the Central Intelligence Agency not disclose the Smithsonian's name in any context as being involved in Agency-sponsored research into human behavioral control."
Nothing has been released under a Freedom of Information Act request to the CIA filed by The Washington Post in 1982 asking about links between the agency and the Smithsonian. The request is still being processed, says the CIA.