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French bread spiked with LSD in CIA experiment
Posted: 12 March 2010 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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A 50-year mystery over the ‘cursed bread’ of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment.

In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.

For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.

The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France.

On August 16, 1951, the inhabitants were suddenly racked with frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.

One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: “I am a plane”, before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.

Time magazine wrote at the time: “Among the stricken, delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that their heads had turned to molten lead.”

Eventually, it was determined that the best-known local baker had unwittingly contaminated his flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mould that infects rye grain. Another theory was the bread had been poisoned with organic mercury.

However, H P Albarelli Jr., an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the US Army’s top-secret Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The scientists who produced both alternative explanations, he writes, worked for the Swiss-based Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the Army and CIA with LSD.

Mr Albarelli came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of Frank Olson, a biochemist working for the SOD who fell from a 13th floor window two years after the Cursed Bread incident. One note transcribes a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the “secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit” and explains that it was not “at all” caused by mould but by diethylamide, the D in LSD.

While compiling his book, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, Mr Albarelli spoke to former colleagues of Mr Olson, two of whom told him that the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident was part of a mind control experiment run by the CIA and US army.

After the Korean War the Americans launched a vast research programme into the mental manipulation of prisoners and enemy troops.

Scientists at Fort Detrick told him that agents had sprayed LSD into the air and also contaminated “local foot products”.

Mr Albarelli said the real “smoking gun” was a White House document sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses. It contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the “Pont St. Esprit incident.” In its quest to research LSD as an offensive weapon, Mr Albarelli claims, the US army also drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen between 1953 and 1965.

None of his sources would indicate whether the French secret services were aware of the alleged operation. According to US news reports, French intelligence chiefs have demanded the CIA explain itself following the book’s revelations. French intelligence officially denies this.

Locals in Pont-Saint-Esprit still want to know why they were hit by such apocalyptic scenes. “At the time people brought up the theory of an experiment aimed at controlling a popular revolt,” said Charles Granjoh, 71.

“I almost kicked the bucket,” he told the weekly French magazine Les Inrockuptibles. “I’d like to know why.”

Source (with photo of bread eating Frenchmen) GRAPHIC.

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Posted: 12 March 2010 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Another reason why bread is bad for you, it can get you stoned when you don’t want to be, if there is such a time.

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Posted: 12 March 2010 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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And I had to pay for the stuff when I was young.  Go figure.

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Posted: 12 March 2010 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I will never pay for it!  Oh wait, a different topic.

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Posted: 12 March 2010 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Unfairly Balanced - 12 March 2010 05:28 PM

Source (with photo of bread eating Frenchmen.

I’m offended you should link to a photo of bread eating Frenchmen. Photos of carnivorous bread hunting people down and eating them could be upsetting to some readers.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 01:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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First off: That’s terrible, Peter! LOL

Secondly:  This crap isn’t AT ALL funny. mad  The thought that the gov’t of MY country killed a half dozen and effectively tortured and poisoned dozens of others is completely unforgiveable. Not only should this country have to pay reparations to all those affected, anyone still living that had ANYTHING at all to do with the acts should be tried and, if convicted, imprisoned FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!  Unreal.  The gov’t should also have to issue a VERY public apology and enact laws forbidding any future acts of that sort. Period.  Anything else is merely a whitewash.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! angry

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Posted: 13 March 2010 04:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I don’t know but I suspect this is a job for Alex. I mean it’s possible it really did happen given all the hideous experiments that happened during the Cold War. But would the US Government really experiment on citizens of a friendly foreign nation like that?

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a hoax so I’d be interested in what Alex would think of it. Then again I could be wrong as truth is often stranger than fiction as they say.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Peter - 13 March 2010 04:44 AM
Unfairly Balanced - 12 March 2010 05:28 PM

Source (with photo of bread eating Frenchmen.

I’m offended you should link to a photo of bread eating Frenchmen. Photos of carnivorous bread hunting people down and eating them could be upsetting to some readers.

warning added

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Posted: 13 March 2010 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Peter - 13 March 2010 09:29 AM

I don’t know but I suspect this is a job for Alex. I mean it’s possible it really did happen given all the hideous experiments that happened during the Cold War. But would the US Government really experiment on citizens of a friendly foreign nation like that?

Yes, they would. They also experimented on the US population. There was a CIA-run brothel in San Francisco and New York where customers were unwitting guinea-pigs for drug trials as well. The operation was called Operation Midnight Climax and was part of project MKULTRA.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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LaMa - 13 March 2010 11:49 AM
Peter - 13 March 2010 09:29 AM

I don’t know but I suspect this is a job for Alex. I mean it’s possible it really did happen given all the hideous experiments that happened during the Cold War. But would the US Government really experiment on citizens of a friendly foreign nation like that?

Yes, they would. They also experimented on the US population. There was a CIA-run brothel in San Francisco and New York where customers were unwitting guinea-pigs for drug trials as well. The operation was called Operation Midnight Climax and was part of project MKULTRA.

I already knew about them experimenting on US soldiers and civilians. I just didn’t think they did that sort of thing with citizens in another country.

Then again I really shouldn’t be surprised. It just seems like such a bizarre thing to do though.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I notice, though, that the article doesn’t actually mention any documents saying that the CIA did it.  There’s a vaguely-mentioned transcript where some unknown person makes a vague statement about diethylamide, there’s a document showing that an investigation was ordered by the White House involving the incident (and yet he doesn’t seem to provide any documents saying that the investigation found the CIA responsible, oddly enough), and then some more vague hearsay.  So basically, it looks as though his whole case is based on the testimony of two guys.

And if you look up the British Medical Journal’s Sept. 15, 1951 edition, there is an article by Dr. Gabbai of Pont-Saint-Esprit and Drs. Lisbonne and Pourquier of Montpellier Hospitals (I could find it in PDF format, but can’t link to it) titled “Ergot Poisoning at Pont St. Espirit”.  The first symptoms appeared in 6 hours to two days, and consisted of various physical discomforts and pains.  Then there were several days of insomnia, and then mental impairment and delirium didn’t show up for ten to twelve days.  That doesn’t seem right for LSD, as it seems very slow.  On the other hand, that does sound right for ergotism.  LSD is derived from ergot, so the two have a lot in common as far as what symptoms occur.

Besides, what would be the point of such an exercise?

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Posted: 13 March 2010 05:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I think what makes it “smell fishy” to me is the legal and security implications.

I know the CIA has done some bizarre things in the past but I would’ve thought doing such things to citizens in another country would bring on more risk in terms of legality and diplomatic relations if somebody caught them doing it. Is that a risk they would’ve been prepared to take?

Plus think of the extra effort needed for security. I mean this is a whole town we are talking about and in a foreign country. Surely somebody could’ve been suspicious of what the contamination was.

Plus France is a friendly nation and at the time of the Cold War I would’ve thought the US Government would be keen not to take any unnecessary risks that might offend friendly countries. So if the CIA really was interested in conducting such experiments I would’ve thought they wouldn’t involve citizens of other countries, much less in the foreign countries themselves.

Having said that I’m still open to any evidence if it can be found. But I admit I’m feeling sceptical about it.

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