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On the surface, it doesn't seem like a spiritual issue. Maybe it isn't.

But when one visits the spot where John Kennedy was assassinated (as we did a while back, this time in more depth than previously), there is a palpable uneasiness and oppression -- perhaps psychological, knowing how awful this impact was; perhaps because it has never seemed resolved. And perhaps it never was resolved.

We don't know.

But it remains a huge mystery in our time -- how the first and only Catholic president of the United States States was gunned down in Dallas.

We are not speaking here of conspiracy theories that involve the grassy knoll, though for all we know that figures in. We are concerned with the simple, documented, and credible fact that a department in our government was involved with experiments that sought to take mental and psychological control of human subjects for the express purpose of assassination.

That agency was the Central Intelligence Agency, and the program was known as "MK-ULTRA" (MK, meaning that the project was sponsored by the agency's Technical Services Division, Ultra which had previously been used to designate the most secret classification of World War II intelligence).

There is no denying this program -- although many of its files were destroyed in 1973. It was thoroughly documented long ago by John Marks -- who won the "best book of the year for investigative reporters" and whose book, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, an oldie but goodie, was described by New York Magazine as "the CIA expose to end all CIA exposes."

It seems, now that we revisit it -- now that we try to shake the uneasiness, now that we realize that many remain enthralled by this mystery -- an expose indeed.

Marks offered no direct, incontrovertible evidence that the CIA, or a renegade faction, assassinated John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In fact, discretely, the author had barely mentioned that event.

What Marks documented, however, was that starting in the 1950s, the CIA began intensive research into the use of hypnosis, electroshock, and drugs, especially LSD, on human subjects in an effort to "brainwash" them and in some cases create alternate personalities that could be triggered by certain cues to commit deeds the person would otherwise not attempt.

A famous model and broadcaster named Candy Jones in New York was later the subject of an entire book detailing her alleged "control" by CIA agents who used her as a courier between the U.S. and Europe ("flipping" her into an alternate personality by showing her a candle in a mirror).

Later, she would be missing days in her memory and would find mysterious travel receipts in her purse.

"Early in 1954 [a Security operator named Morse Allen] almost got his chance to try the crucial test," wrote Marks. "According to a CIA document, the subject was to be a 35-year-old, well-educated foreigner who had once worked for a friendly, secret service, probably the CIA itself. He had now shifted his loyalty to another government, and the CIA was quite upset with him. The agency plan was to hypnotize him and program him into making as assassination attempt. He would then be arrested at the least for attempted murder and thereby 'disposed of.'"

That operation never took place.

But the question is what may or may not have followed in the nine years between 1954 and the year of Kennedy's death: 1963.

Allen, says the book, "had directly pursued the goal of creating a 'Manchurian Candidate,' which he clearly believed was possible."

The term "Manchurian Candidate" comes from a novel written at the end of the Fifties that had to do with the son of a prominent American political family being brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for the Communists.

Did the writer of that movie know something -- at least about current attempts to do that in the world's intelligence communities?

A few salient facts: there was definitely a CIA team in place to hypnotize and program assassins. Second point: CIA officers would pick a subject and then train him or her "to pose as a leftist and report on the local Communist party" (think: Lee Harvey Oswald's visits to Russia, New Orleans, and Cuba).

"During the training," said Marks, "a skilled hypnotist would hypnotize [a subject] under the guise of giving him medical treatment. The hypnotist would then provide the agent with information and tell him to forget it all when he snapped out of the trance."

Did Oswald not seem like a very confused person who could be easily manipulated?

As for the ties to organized crime: the Mafia chief of New Orleans, where Oswald was famously photographed, had been Carlos Marcello -- who also had links to Jack Ruby. Meanwhile, we learn from Marks' old book that when the CIA tried to assassinate Fidel Castro, it wanted to do so by hypnotizing a Mafia hit man who would then forget the details. "By going to the Mafia for hit men, CIA officials in any case found killers who had a built-in amnesia mechanism that had nothing to do with hypnosis," wrote Marks back in 1979.

Finally, the pieces seem to coalesce. Ruby. Organized crime. Communism.


We'll probably never know, at least not for a while (complete Kennedy records -- boxes and boxes -- will be released in 2029). In the meantime, a few more of those salient facts: Oswald was a bizarre personality who traveled a lot. He claimed to be a patsy. During the assassination, a strange man seemed to signal with a black umbrella just before the first shots rang out. (Was this like the candle in the mirror?)

Whatever the case, there is then the case of a second Kennedy, Bobby.

His equally intriguing and confused assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, is still alive and claims he had no idea what he was doing but had been programmed to shoot at shooting-range-like targets flashed in his mind every time he saw a woman dressed in a polka dot dress (which he claims he did in that hotel in Los Angeles).

Strange stuff. Yet, we must also consider that, following the Bay of Pig fiasco, John Kennedy had vowed, as Marks reports, to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces."

"Milton Kline, a New York psychologist who says he also did not want to cross the ethical line but is sure the intelligence agencies have [in committing murder], served as an unpaid consultant to [an official named Sears] and others in CIA hypnosis research. Nothing Sears or others found disabused him of the idea that the Manchurian Candidate is possible. 'It cannot be done by everyone,' he said. 'It cannot be done consistently, but it can be done.'"

Conclusive proof? Hardly.

But something to discern, to ponder.

A spiritual aspect?

In the Bible it says that the truth sets us free.

[see also: Bobby Kennedy assassin claims he was hypnotized by 'girl in polka-dot dress']

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[Further note: That the CIA was involved in bizarre research was also exhibited with its interest in the occult, which we have known about since the late 1970s, when we filed a Freedom of Information request regarding this research. Marks found the same. "Just as the MKULTRA program had been years ahead of the scientific community, Office of Research and Development (ORD) activities were similarly advanced. 'We looked at the manipulation of genes,' states one of the researchers. 'We were interested in gene-splintering. The rest of the world didn't ask until 1976 the type of questions we were facing in 1965... Everybody was afraid of building the supersoldier who would take orders without questioning, like the kamikaze pilot. Creating a subservient society was not out of sight.' Another Institute man describes the work of a colleague who bombarded bacteria with ultraviolet radiation in order to create deviant strains. ORD also sponsored work in parapsychology. Along with the military services, agency officials wanted to know whether psychics could read minds or control them from afar (telepathy), if they could gain information about distant places or people (clairvoyance or remote viewing), if they could predict the future (precognition), or influence the movement of physical objects or even the human mind (psychokinesis). The last could have incredibly destructive applications, if it worked. For instance, switches setting off nuclear bombs would have to be moved only a few inches to launch a holocaust. Any or all of these techniques have numerous applications to the spy trade."]

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