CIA Dosed Whitey Bulger With LSD More Than 50 Times

One of his jurors says she now regrets convicting him for murder
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 18, 2020 4:00 PM CST
CIA Dosed Whitey Bulger With LSD More Than 50 Times
Janet Uhlar sits at her dining room table with letters and pictures she received through her correspondence with imprisoned organized-crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger in Eastham, Mass.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The notorious crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger terrorized Boston from the 1970s into the 1990s with a campaign of murder, extortion, and drug trafficking, then spent 16 years on the lam before being captured. In 2013, Janet Uhlar was one of 12 jurors who found Bulger guilty in a massive racketeering case, including involvement in 11 murders. But now Uhlar says she regrets voting to convict Bulger on any of the murder charges, writes Michael Rezendes for the AP. Her regret stems from a cache of more than 70 letters Bulger wrote to her from prison, some of which describe his unwitting participation in a secret CIA experiment with LSD. In a desperate search for a mind-control drug in the late 1950s, the agency dosed Bulger with the powerful hallucinogen more than 50 times when he was serving his first stretch in prison—something his lawyers never brought up at trial.

"Had I known, I would have absolutely held off on the murder charges," says Uhlar. "He didn't murder prior to the LSD. His brain may have been altered, so how could you say he was really guilty?" At the same time, Uhlar says she would have voted to convict Bulger on the long list of other criminal counts, meaning he still would likely have died in prison. (Bulger was killed in 2018.) Uhlar says her beliefs were reinforced after reading a book by Brown University's Stephen Kinzer: Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control. The book digs into the dark tale of the CIA's former chief chemist and his attempts to develop mind-control techniques via LSD. In Bulger's case, the mobster and fellow inmates were offered reduced time for their participation and told they would be taking part in medical research into a cure for schizophrenia. (Read the full story.)

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