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Cries From the Past: Torture's Ugly Echoes

Contemporary torture's earliest, deepest and most influential roots are found in the CIA's Artichoke Project. Indeed, it is Project Artichoke that encapsulates the CIA's real traveling road show of horrors and atrocities, not MK/ULTRA which, although responsible for its own acts of mindless cruelty, pales in comparison.

That MK/ULTRA received, and continues to receive, the lion's share of the media's attention and public outrage over CIA mind control programs was a deliberately planned outcome on the part of the Agency. This outcome was the central objective of a never before revealed covert operation launched in 1975 and informally code-named Dormouse.

Dormouse, operated out of the CIA's Security Research branch, had its genesis in the 1975 Rockefeller Commission report and in the subsequent Congressional hearings into CIA illegal activities chaired by Senators Frank Church and Teddy Kennedy. Following the initial revelation of Frank Olson's alleged "suicide" by the Rockefeller Commission, a number of high-level meetings occurred between President Gerald Ford's White House and CIA General Counsel Lawrence Houston.

Houston, who had served the Agency as its doyen general counsel for over 25 years, secretly huddled on at least two occasions in June 1975 with Ford's chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, and his chief assistant, Richard (Dick) Cheney. Houston impressed upon both men that any prolonged and intense media scrutiny of Project Artichoke would lead to opening a Pandora's box of legal, institutional, international and public relations problems that could destroy the CIA:

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