While noting that many claims in a lawsuit filed by children of a former Fort Detrick scientist are supported by public records, a federal judge dismissed the case Wednesday.
Sixty years ago, Frank Olson fell to his death after a CIA drug experiment.
Nils and Eric Olson, who allege that the government killed their father and then embarked on a decadeslong cover-up that continues today, filed the suit too late and waived the allegations as part of a 1976 settlement with their family, the judge wrote.
However, “the public record supports many of the allegations that follow, far-fetched as they may sound,” U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg wrote.
Frank Olson died Nov. 28, 1953, after falling from the 13th floor of the Statler Hotel in Manhattan. The agency told Olson's family he was in New York to receive psychiatric treatment because he might pose a danger to them, according to the 22-page complaint filed by attorney Scott D. Gilbert.
Nine days before his death, Olson was given LSD without his knowledge while at a conference at Deep Creek Lake. The administration of the drug to Olson and others is believed to be part of a series of secret programs conducted in the 1950s and 1960s, according to the complaint.
Olson had a crisis of conscience about continuing his research and had told supervisors that he wanted to leave the job “perhaps in part because he had unwittingly been made a human guinea pig,” Boasberg wrote.
The proper CIA officials never approved the experiment at Deep Creek Lake, according to the opinion.
In the complaint, Olson's children said his death closely resembled techniques put forth in a CIA manual that same year for conducting secret assassinations. The manual suggests that a fall from at least 75 feet after a blow to the temple with a blunt object was “the most effective technique” for carrying out a secret assassination.
The lawsuit alleged that the federal government negligently supervised the CIA employees who carried out the murder and subsequent cover-up.
Many secret drug programs were exposed in 1975 and 1976 by a congressional committee delving into activities by the United States' intelligence services. Olson was part of a program called MK-ULTRA.
While the CIA concluded that Olson's death was directly related to the LSD experiment, the agency has long maintained that Olson jumped to his death.
The family received a $750,000 settlement from the government in 1976, as well as documents pertaining to Olson's death. But the family believes additional documents have remained hidden.
The government argued that the case should be dismissed for a number of reasons including jurisdiction, the 1976 settlement and because the statute of limitations had expired.
Gilbert, the family's attorney, did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
Eric and Nils Olson still live in Frederick. Frank Olson is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.