CIA, MKULTRA and the Cover-up of U.S. Germ Warfare in the Korean War

Screenshot from CIA pamphlet, “Baptism by Fire”

In this article, CIA mind-control programs are linked to experiments on returning Korean War POWs. Also revealed is the extent to which CIA officials from Projects Bluebird, Artichoke and MKULTRA collaborated with U.S. biological warfare efforts, including the top secret “processing” of high-ranking POWs who confessed to U.S. use of biological weapons. This is a long involved story, and the full history has never been told before.


It was the propaganda version of an incendiary bomb. In 1952 U.S. Air Force and Marine flyers, shot down during the Korean War, testified publicly that they had been ordered to drop biological weapons (BW) on China and North Korea. This was followed by written depositions that detailed each flyer’s knowledge about the germ war: who ordered it, where the weapons came from, the training involved, and the secrecy that surrounded the entire operation.

The confessions of the U.S. flyers (video 10:00-12:30 min), along with an arguably unprecedented degree of compliance and collaboration among U.S. prisoners of war in general, was cause for alarm among Pentagon brass and CIA officials. It would lead to a number of court-martials over the years following the Korean War, though — with the equivocal exception of Colonel Frank Schwable, who though ultimately cleared, was subjected to a Marine Corps Court of Inquiry — none of the BW POW confessors were court-martialed.

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Jeffrey Kaye is a psychologist (retired) and author of “Cover-up at Guantanamo“.

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