So I've been looking into what MK-ULTRA is, and recently a scary question has came to mind. That question being, has anyone been punished for the events of MK-ULTRA? By punished, I don't mean a slap on the wrist or the loss of a job. I mean more on the sense of legal ramifications. If not, was there any real reason they weren't?

  • 6
    What is the basis for assuming someone would have been punished? Did anyone do anything illegal?
    – DVK
    Jul 21, 2014 at 4:45
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    What are legal ramifications? What was illegal? Which laws were broken? In general "loss of a job" is illegal unless it is supported by legal process.
    – MCW
    Jul 21, 2014 at 11:04
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    There is a difference between legal and power. At the top there is power, not law.
    – paulj
    Jan 31, 2022 at 12:50
  • @DVK Apparently, very illegal, mostly breaches of the Nuremberg Code (i.e. illegal human experimentation without the subjects' knowledge or consent) and also probably at least one murder.
    – A. B.
    Apr 20, 2023 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


From Wiki with references there:

The program engaged in many illegal activities;[3][4][5] in particular it used unwitting U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects, which led to controversy regarding its legitimacy.[3]

Some of the methods:

administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.

No one was charged.


The closest thing I could find to any kind of restitution is mentioned in the Wikipedia article:

Although the government aggressively, and sometimes successfully, sought to avoid legal liability, several plaintiffs did receive compensation through court order, out-of-court settlement, or acts of Congress. Frank Olson's family received $750,000 by a special act of Congress, and both President Ford and CIA director William Colby met with Olson's family to apologize publicly.

Not all such lawsuits were successful, and I can find no evidence so far of any criminal charges being pursued.

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