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Abstract

This paper examines the case of Dr. Frank Olson, a CIA biochemist who worked at the Ft. Detrick facility in Maryland where germ and chemical warfare capabilities were developed. In November 1953, Dr. Olson died after allegedly falling from a thirteenth floor window in New York’s Statler hotel. Initially, his death was ruled a suicide. In 1975, however, the CIA admitted that Olson had been unwittingly drugged with LSD which led to his death and paid the family a lofty financial settlement. However, in 1994, Frank’s son Eric ordered the exhumation of Frank’s body and hired a forensics experts who found that the cause of Frank’s death was a blow to the head. The New York District attorney subsequently changed the classification of his death from suicide to unknown. This paper examines the circumstances surrounding Olson’s killing, his son’s quest to undercover the truth, and speculates about the programs that Olson may have threatened to expose, which led to his death. The paper further addresses the social and political significance of the Olson case to modern American history and seeks to analyze why it remains resonant to Americans over sixty five years after Frank’s death.

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