They spent 98 cents to buy a toy dog; $13,850 to study the bedside manner of prioitive witch doctors; $8 for "knock-out drops," hundreds of thousands of dollars for experiments to manipulate men's minds.
And all of it, in the end, was useless, according to one assessment disclosed yesterday.
After investing 23 years and uncounted federal dollars on a broad range of behavior control experiments, the Central Intelligence Agency's top expert in the field concluded five years ago that "these materials and techniques are too unpredictable . . . to be operationally useful."
That conclusion was set forth in a 1972 memo to top CIA executives from Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, who directed most of the agency's mind-control experiments in the 1950s and '60s.
Gottlieb's memo 2:) was one of 2,400 documents made public yesterday as the CIA continued to release information on its mind-control work in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.
In the 1972 memo Gottlieb recommended the termination of the CIA project named "MK-SEARCH," which control experiments labeled "Operation Bluebird" and "MK-ULTRA."
Gottlieb's recommendation was accepted, according to the current CIA chief. Stansfield Turner, who has said the agency is no longer engaged in human experimentation.
Gottlieb's memo said the mind control experiments had "less and less relevance to current clandestine operations," not only because the techniques tested were unpredictable, but also because CIA agents found them inconvenient to use and morally objectionable.
Gottlieb's reference to moral considerations is the only suggestion in the voluminous materials made public yesterday that there might be ethical questions about the effort ot manipulate human behavior.
Most of the documents consist of vouchers and reports summarizing a broad range of experiments, almost always recommending that the studies continue to be funded.
The projects set forth include animal experiments (the toy dog was apparently a companion for one of the subjects), and human studies, including reactions to drugs, alcohol, extrasensory directives, "heteropsychic driving" (subjecting a person to repeated verbal signals), and other stimuli.
The papers show that the CIA also funded secret research into handwriting analysis, body language, "magic and sleight of hand," hypnosis, cocktail parties, primitive medical techniques, and aerosol sprays.