Bloomberg News

CIA Cover-Up Suit Over Scientist’s Fatal LSD Fall Dismissed (1)

July 17, 2013

A lawsuit accusing Central Intelligence Agency employees of murdering military scientist Frank Olson in 1953 after he raised concerns about testing chemical and biological weapons on people without their consent was dismissed.

The suit, brought by Olson’s family in federal court in Washington, was filed too late and is barred under an earlier settlement, a judge ruled today. Eric and Nils Olson alleged their father, who the CIA admitted was given LSD a few days before his death, didn’t jump from a 13th floor window of the Statler Hotel in New York, but rather was pushed.

“While the court must limit its analysis to the four corners of the complaint, the skeptical reader may wish to know that the public record supports many of the allegations that follow, farfetched as they may sound,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said in the ruling.

Olson’s family has tried to piece together the circumstances surrounding Frank Olson’s death ever since a 1975 government report on CIA activities in the U.S. said he committed suicide after being given LSD without his knowledge. They claim the agency has covered up the cause of their father’s death for almost six decades.

In 1976, the Olsons threatened to sue the government unless they received answers and a financial settlement, according to the complaint.

Negligent Supervision

Their lawsuit, filed Nov. 28, included one claim of negligent supervision by the agency. Each member of Olson’s family was paid $187,500 as part of a settlement, according the complaint.

Scott Gilbert, a lawyer for the Olson family at Gilbert LLP in Washington, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail message seeking comment on the decision.

The case is Olson v. U.S., 12-cv-01924, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net


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