Organized through the Scientific Intelligence Division of the CIA, the project coordinated with the Special Operations Division of the U. At least 80 institutions and 185 private researchers participated.Because the Agency funded MKUltra indirectly, many of the participating individuals were unaware that they were dealing with the Agency.They had given up on the notion that LSD was "the secret that was going to unlock the universe," but it still had a place in the cloak-and-dagger arsenal.
Once Project MKUltra officially got underway in April 1953, experiments included administering LSD to mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts and prostitutes—"people who could not fight back," as one agency officer put it.
LSD was also administered to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions. The aim of this was to find drugs which would irresistibly bring out deep confessions or wipe a subject's mind clean and program him or her as "a robot agent." In Operation Midnight Climax, the CIA set up several brothels in San Francisco, California to obtain a selection of men who would be too embarrassed to talk about the events.
Alfred Mc Coy has claimed that the CIA attempted to focus media attention on these sorts of "ridiculous" programs, so that the public would not look at the primary goal of the research, which was developing effective methods of torture and interrogation.
Such authors cite as one example that the CIA's KUBARK interrogation manual refers to "studies at Mc Gill University", and that most of the techniques recommended in KUBARK are exactly those that researcher Donald Ewen Cameron used on his test subjects (sensory deprivation, drugs, isolation, etc.).
Project MKUltra was first brought to public attention in 1975 by the Church Committee of the U. Congress, and a Gerald Ford commission to investigate CIA activities within the United States.