4 March 2022 — 12:00 noon — GAR 4.100

John Lisle (Louisiana Tech University)

“Human Experimentation and the Failures of Oversight in the CIA”

During the early Cold War, the CIA established the infamous MKULTRA mind control program. The purpose of MKULTRA was to determine whether it was possible to use drugs, hypnotism, and other techniques to manipulate human behavior in specific ways, such as to make a person divulge classified information. As part of MKULTRA, the CIA contracted independent researchers to perform controversial experiments on prisoners, psychiatric patients, and unwitting American citizens. This talk will explain the origins of MKULTRA, describe some of its experiments, and highlight the failures of CIA oversight that allowed its personnel to avoid accountability.


John Lisle is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Louisiana Tech University where he teaches courses on the history of information warfare. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas in 2019. His first book, The Dirty Tricks Department, covers the history of the OSS Research and Development Branch during World War II and will be published in early 2023.