Last Sunday this newspaper carried a story that illustrated, in personal and human terms, a court case we have written about in this space. A Stanford University psychiatrist, Dr. Harvey Weinstein, described to Post reporter David Remnick the condition of his father, Louis, who was treated at a Montreal hospital in the late '50s for respiratory and digestive difficulties caused by anxiety. He is now, says his son, "a lost soul . . . a human guinea pig, a poor, pathetic man with no memory, no life. . . . It's a nightmare that never ends." Louis Weinstein had been, without his knowledge or consent, the subject of horrible psychiatric experiments involving LSD, sleep deprivation, massive shock therapy and attempted brain- washing. The CIA financed those experiments in an attempt to learn more about mind-control techniques, and Mr. Weinstein and eight other Canadians who were similarly treated are now suing the U.S. government for redress.

It is possible to believe that the intelligence agency did not intend to harm innocent civilians in these experiments and simply put its faith in the psychiatrist who carried out the work. He was, after all, a former president of both the American and Canadian psychiatric associations and had a fine reputation. It is also possible to believe that the doctor, D. Ewen Cameron, did not foresee the terrible results of his experiments. Some psychiatrists have said, in his defense, that his work "must be placed in its historical context," since it was conducted at a time when informed consent was not generally required and when the long-term effects of powerful new drugs were unclear.

But it is not possible to consider it acceptable that such experiments be carried out on people without their knowledge or consent. And it is not possible to refute facts: the Canadian plaintiffs were the involuntary subjects of Dr. Cameron's experiments. They have been grievously and permanently injured. And American taxpayers' money financed that research. The damages they seek -- $175,000 each -- are hardly more than symbolic and can in no way compensate for ruined lives and decades of suffering. Yet their case has dragged on in the U.S. District Court here for almost five years because the CIA refuses to settle or even to cooperate. There is no overriding security interest at stake here, only a few individuals and this nation's honor. It is shameful not to apologize and settle.