Cover Story

Liabilities
According to sources, Congressman Ryan routinely did things which to others were unthinkable, such as “dropping in” at CIA headquarters (above) to interrogate spymasters about what they hadn’t been telling Congress.

     By poking into intelligence agency-sponsored psychiatric experiments with DeFreeze and closely related subjects, Ryan stirred up a mixture that threatened to explode with major criminal and civil liability.

     On September 25, 1978, less than two months before the Jonestown tragedy, Ryan submitted a petition to then President Jimmy Carter, seeking to have Patricia Hearst’s seven-year prison term commuted to the 18 months she had already served.

     In October 1978, a month before Jonestown, investigative reporter Jack Anderson published a syndicated column entitled “CIA May Have Inspired Cinque,” based on information that most likely had been leaked by Ryan or someone in his committee. The column detailed statements from one Clifford Jefferson, who claimed to have known DeFreeze while they were incarcerated together and to have participated in psychiatric experiments with various drugs, including mescaline, Quaalude and Artane.

     According to Jefferson, “DeFreeze stated that he had gone through the same tests and also knew of stress tests that were given to prisoners in which they were kept in solitary, harassed and annoyed until they would do anything asked of them to get out; then they were given these drugs and would become like robots.

     “He [DeFreeze] said that when he got out, he would get a revolutionary group to kidnap some rich person. They would hold that person tied up in a dark place, keep him frightened and in fear of his life, then give him mescaline and other drugs, and the person would become a robot and do anything he was asked to do—including killing others.

     “He thought a good one to kidnap would be one of the Kennedys. Then the revolutionary group would get great publicity and could get the person to get them money.”

     Although DeFreeze died in a 1974 shootout with Los Angeles police, CIA documents have since confirmed the agency did perform drug tests on inmates at Vacaville under its MK-Ultra program. These tests aimed at studying what effects drugs and stress had on prisoners to determine at what point individuals would “break” and become willing to follow orders blindly.

     As described by Dr. Lawrence T. Clanon, Vacaville superintendent, the CIA appeared interested in “whether drugs could be used in questioning people or gaining their cooperation, or combating that effect.”

     Leo Ryan’s spotlight had been trained upon one of the darkest and ugliest corners of the American intelligence establishment, one for which the level of culpability could scarcely be measured—psychiatric “mind-control” experiments, possibly combined with an illegal domestic operation—and one which elevated his status from gadfly to mortal enemy.

     “I told him to leave them alone,” a former Ryan associate told Freedom. The congressman was accustomed to busting down doors, he said, a dangerous practice when dealing with an agency experienced in the art of assassination. Ryan, however, pressed ahead.

Continued...


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