- Category : Chemist
- Type : ME
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (21,37)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Four Ways 2
American chemist, a career member of the CIA who developed the Mind Control Program. Gottlieb oversaw a vast network of psychological and medical experiments conducted in hospitals, universities, research labs, prisons and safe houses. Many of the test cases were unsuspecting subjects such as mental patients, prostitutes and their clients, drug addicts and others who were under CIA observation. Some of the means used to alter behavior were electroshock treatment, prolonged sensory deprivation, drugs to induce sleep for prolonged periods and repetitive audio-loops. Assassination was part of his job description.
The son of Louis and Fanny Gottlieb, Hungarian immigrants and Orthodox Jews, Sid was born with two clubfeet. His handicap was so severe that his mom carried him everywhere during the years when he had three surgeries. He and his brother David both stuttered, as did their dad. Louis was a tailor in a sweatshop but stressed a good education for his sons. Though both boys earned their Ph.D., David went on to co-discover life-saving antibiotics, a professor at the University of Illinois. Sid was active in the Young People’s Socialist League and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in agriculture in 1940. Three years later he completed his doctorate in chemistry from California Institute of Technology.
While in school, he met his wife, Margaret Moore, the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary. The couple moved to Washington where Gottlieb went to work for the Dept of Agriculture. The first of their four kids was born in 1944. Indifferent to urbane convention, they bought 14 acres near Vienna, VA where they lived in a log cabin without plumbing, making do with an outdoor shower and outhouse. They sold Christmas trees and goat’s milk.
In 1951, Gottlieb joined the CIA. At the time of the Korean War he became involved in drugs and mind control. By 1953 he was exploring various techniques of behavior control. He himself took LSD over 200 times, carefully recording his reactions. It is not totally clear of where he drew the line between research and recreation.
On 11/19/1953, Frank Olson, a 43-year-old scientist attended a meeting, during which he imbibed a glass of Cointreau that contained 70 micrograms of LSD. Nine days later, his bloody and broken body was found on the streets of Manhattan. He was alleged to be a suicide, but 30 years later, the family was still seeking answers.
In September 1957, Gottlieb was moved to an undercover operation; he and his family moved to Munich, Germany where he trained foreign agents for two years. He was secretly dispatched to Leopoldville in the Congo in the fall of 1960 to arrange for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the leftist leader with a deadly toxin. The assignment was never completed.
When he was in his 50’s, Gottlieb virtually disappeared. After two decades with the agency, he retired from the CIA in 1973. He and his wife sold their house in Vienna and in May 1974, with two suitcases, they began a two-year trip across Asia and Africa. In July 1975, they took an overland bus tour of the MidEast. A month later, he was informed of impending congressional investigations of CIA covert operations. The ensuing exposes make him feel that he’d been made a scapegoat. He blamed the CIA for failing to protect him and allowing his name and job description to be made public.
After the hearings, he and his wife moved to California to start a new life. He earned a master’s degree in education from San Jose State and in 1980, moved back east to Rappahannock County. He reinvented himself so thoroughly that the former CIA spook now became essentially a saniyasin, a spiritual seeker. Sid and Margaret created a communal home with his cousin Sylvia Gowell and her husband, Robert, 50 acres they named Blackwater Estate. The house was solar heated and they raised chickens and goats, vegetables and fruits. They joked that it was either a geriatric commune or a kibbutz. In reality, it became the center of a growing community of people who sought a simpler, more meaningful lifestyle. They had a morning meditation, candles and incense, wore Birkenstock sandals and Gottlieb was remembered as "calming, quiet, peaceful and humble." He set up a clinic for speech pathology where he helped small children and the elderly. He volunteered at the Hospice, caring for the dying, and was a center of community activities. The former ruthless CIA agent transformed himself into a man remembered with love for living his ideals of virtue, for "personifying the spirit of the selfless servant."
By 1998, at age 80 Gottlieb was too frail to work the land any longer. He and Margaret bought a home in Washington, VA, and his health declined. His heart was poor and he was depressed with the endless residue of lawsuits from his early life. He died on 3/06/1999. Obituary headlines read, "CIA Acid Guru Dies." People who knew him in his last 20 years could not reconcile themselves to the Sid Gottlieb of his early days. During a remarkably contradictory life, in the first part he was all but branded a monster of evil and in the latter part, all but canonized.