Victim of CIA brainwashing experiments, Boy Scouts opposed background checks
- Victim of CIA brainwashing experiments, Boy Scouts opposed background checks
"Boy Scouts' opposition to background checks let pedophiles in
Boy Scouts of America fought the trend of adopting criminal background checks for volunteers and staff, unknowingly allowing convicted child sex offenders to join."
Richmond homemaker was innocent victim of CIA brainwashing experiments
By Kent Spencer, The Province December 2, 2012
Fifty years ago Richmond homemaker Gina Blasbalg was a victim of physical and psychological torture and unethical experiments. As a teen she was part of a CIA-sponsored program into mind control at the Allan Psychiatric Institute in Montreal. Today, times are happier, but Ralph and Gina Blasbalg still have a favourite bench to sit on at Garry Point Park in Richmond. Gina was an unsuspecting patient in the CIA-sponsored brainwashing program in Montreal, a young Ralph Blasbalg rescued Gina from daily rounds of pills she was being coerced to take. While she was withdrawing from the medication, they had a place they would walk to at night in Montreal. They called it their "crying bench."....
Gina Blasbalg was brainwashed by the CIA. The Richmond homemaker was a victim of physical and psychological torture and unethical experiments.
The “medical misadventure” took place in Canada more than 50 years ago at the Allan Institute in Montreal.
Although traumatized by the experience, her story is one of triumph, and today her life is about giving back to young people....
The Allan Psychiatric Institute has been called a “House of Horrors” for good reason.
The so-called treatment of the teenaged Gina consisted of ingesting twice daily doses of 16 pills, under a nurse’s strict supervision.
The drug types varied widely and often had opposing effects.
In no particular classification, they included uppers and downers, depressants and anti-depressants, tranquillizers, barbiturates and truth serum.
The capsules came in a rainbow of colours: blue and brown, turquoise, yellow and red, azure, salmon, pink and white.
“We had to take our medication. If I didn’t I was told I would be put in the insane asylum,” she says.
The effects left her very weak.
“I was a zombie. I wanted to sleep.”
In additon to the pills there was physical and psychological torture.
She says one the worst things done to her was drug-induced contortions which twisted her muscles into unnatural forms.
“It was extremely painful and traumatizing. They wanted to measure the effect of the contortions so they could add it to their research,” she says.
The nitrous oxide given to her, called laughing gas, was anything but funny.
“I felt like I was spinning forever. I didn’t know if I’d ever come out of it. I dreaded it. I remember thinking, is this what it’s like to die?”
She was also given mind-altering LSD.
“I had a dream that I was flying continuously into a massive sticky spider’s web. I was screaming and somebody held me down.”
After long periods of artificially-prolonged sleep, doctors posed questions while she was hypnotized under a truth serum.
“They were able to penetrate my thoughts.,” says Gina.
She was one of hundreds of unsuspecting patients who never gave their informed consent to be used as guinea pigs.
And there was no way to dispute medical orders. “Welfare patients could not sue doctors,” she says.
She feels fortunate not to have received massive doses of electric shocks to the brain which many received at the Allan.
The CIA and Dr. Strangelove
At the top of the Allan’s chain of command was an enigmatic man called Dr. Ewen Cameron.
He was an imposing, Scottish-born figure who was later dubbed “Dr. Strangelove.”
“The chief,” as he was known, had made his mark as a member of a select team which studied Nazi leader Rudolph Hess in Germany after the Second World War.
He was a giant of international medicine who was the first president of the World Psychiatric Association.
Cameron wanted to delve into the inner depths of the human psyche and receive international acclaim — perhaps a Nobel Prize — for his work.
He thought the mind could be deprogrammed through extra-large doses of electric shock, sensory deprivation, drug concoctions and long periods of induced sleep.
Once the mental slate was wiped clean, he believed that minds could be reprogrammed by playing reassuring taped comments through pillows as patients slept.
The messages — things such as ‘You are a good wife and people appreciate you’ — were played over and over each day for hours at a time, and repeated for weeks on end.
“He wasn’t liked by the patients,” says Gina. “They were terrified of him. They tried to run away. I heard people begging for no more treatments.”
During a climate of fear engendered by the Cold War, the CIA gave him money to find out how to control the human mind.
It took two decades for it to be made public that the CIA and the Canadian government secretly contributed more than $500,000 to the now discredited program.
Cameron’s actions have been widely criticized since news of his work surfaced during the 1980s.
A 1986 Department of Justice report concluded that his therapeutic techniques were a “medical misadventure.”
The report’s author said it was an unjustifiable form of assault on the human brain.
He recommended the government award victims $100,000; 77 people have collected.
Montreal lawyer Alan Stein, who has successfully sued on victims’ behalf, says many patients didn’t qualify for the compensation, Gina among them.
Their records were lost (Gina was told her records couldn’t be found) or they didn’t meet the standard of mistreatment that was set.
Victims had to prove that they had been “put in a childlike state.”
Boy Scouts' opposition to background checks let pedophiles in
Boy Scouts of America fought the trend of adopting criminal background checks for volunteers and staff, unknowingly allowing convicted child sex offenders to join.
By Jason Felch and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2012
Amid reports of widespread sexual abuse of children in the late 1980s, several leading youth organizations began conducting criminal background checks of volunteers and staff members.
Big Brothers Big Sisters ordered the checks for all volunteers starting in 1986. Boys and Girls Clubs of America recommended their use the same year.
One of the nation's oldest and largest youth groups, however, was opposed — the Boy Scouts of America....
Scouting officials argued that background checks would cost too much, scare away volunteers and provide a false sense of security. They successfully lobbied to kill state legislation that would have mandated FBI fingerprint screening.
While touting their efforts to protect children, the Scouts for years resisted one of the most basic tools for preventing abuse. The result: The organization let in hundreds of men with criminal histories of child molestation, many of whom went on to abuse more children, according to a Times analysis of the Scouts' confidential abuse files.
Scouting did not require criminal background checks for all volunteers until 2008 — despite calls from parents and staff who said its vetting system didn't work.
In 1989, a Scout committee chairman in St. Paul, Minn., decried the organization's "half-hearted" screening in a letter to headquarters.
"BSA is only creating an illusion of performing what they claim," K. Russell Sias wrote to Scout Chief Executive Ben Love. "It becomes quite clear that BSA is more concerned in 'passing the buck' than in accepting responsibility for those who are its adult leaders."
That same year, a Las Vegas scoutmaster with a criminal history of exposing himself to boys was arrested for sexually abusing a 12-year-old Scout. One parent said casinos did a better job of screening workers.
"The black eye which scouting has suffered in this … could easily have been avoided if the council had taken the simple expedient of doing a background investigation," the parent wrote to Scouting officials.
From the time national background checks became widely available in 1985 until 1991 — when the detailed files obtained by The Times end — the Boy Scouts admitted more than 230 men with previous arrests or convictions for sex crimes against children, the analysis found.
The men were accused of molesting nearly 400 boys while in Scouting. They accounted for one in six of those expelled for alleged abuse during those years.
Scouting officials declined to be interviewed but said in a prepared statement that they have enhanced their policies over the years and tried "to ensure we are in line with and, where possible, ahead of society's knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention."