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Maryland Family Files Lawsuit Against Federal Government, Claims CIA was Responsible for the Death of Their Father and Lied About Its Involvement, Says Gilbert LLP

Decades-long cover-up of government's role in alleged murder has denied justice to survivors

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A lawsuit filed today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeks to hold the CIA accountable for its involvement in the death of Dr. Frank Olson, a bio-weapons scientist and covert CIA officer who worked at the United States Army's "Special Operations" laboratory at Camp Detrick, Maryland in the early 1950s.

Eric and Nils Olson, the victim's sons, claim that Dr. Olson had a crisis of conscience about continuing his research into the use of biological weapons and mind control techniques after witnessing extreme interrogations in which the CIA committed murder using the biological agents that he had helped to develop.  Shortly afterwards, the lawsuit alleges, CIA officials drugged Dr. Olson with LSD and then took him to New York under the pretense of psychiatric treatment by a CIA doctor who turned out to be an allergist.  Plaintiffs claim that Dr. Olson was given alcohol and sedatives, and then was thrown from the thirteenth floor of the New York hotel room he was sharing with his CIA colleague.  Instead of apprehending those responsible and telling the Olson family the truth, the family says, the CIA closed ranks and dissembled, embarking on a multi-decade cover-up that continues to this day. 

Dr. Olson plunged to his death from the window of a thirteenth floor hotel room in New York City on Thanksgiving weekend in 1953.  The circumstances of Dr. Olson's death were substantially similar to the "contrived accident" described in detail as "the most effective ["secret assassination"] technique" in a covert CIA manual published that same year.  Indeed, as Dr. Olson lay crumpled and dying on the street, his CIA colleague did not run down to his aid.  Nor did he call the police.  Instead, the complaint alleges, a person in Dr. Olson's room made a phone call.  The hotel operator overheard one party say "Well, he's gone."  The person on the other end responded simply "That's too bad."

Following Dr. Olson's death, the United States informed his widow and three children that Dr. Olson had died in a terrible accident and due to his disfigurement, they should not view the body.  Both statements, the lawsuit alleges, were outright lies.  In the ensuing years of question and doubt, the family suffered at every conceivable level.  Mrs. Olson descended into chronic alcoholism and her sons were raised in part by their father's ex-CIA colleague, who repeatedly abused them sexually, the complaint says.  Throughout, the government's cover-up and lies continued. 

In 1975, after post-Watergate scrutiny of federal intelligence abuses, the United States was forced publicly to acknowledge having drugged Dr. Olson with LSD.  Once again, instead of telling the truth and bringing Dr. Olson's murderers to justice, the government came up with a new explanation:  Dr. Olson's death now was not an accident after all, but the result of an LSD-related suicide.  The family's unanswered questions lingered, however, with repeated requests for full disclosure and the truth.  In 1995, Eric and Nils Olson had their father's body exhumed and an autopsy performed. The autopsy found a previously undisclosed wound consistent with a blow to the head.  The New York District Attorney's Office reopened its investigation into Dr. Olson's death, ultimately reclassifying the official cause of his death from "suicide" to "unknown."

In spite of repeated attempts by Dr. Olson's family to obtain a full accounting from the CIA of its responsibility for his murder, the lawsuit alleges, the CIA has compounded their grief by failing to disclose all information related to his death – an omission confirmed by former CIA Director William Colby in a message to one of Dr. Olson's sons several years before Colby's own death under suspicious circumstances.  The decades-long cover-up allegedly extended to high-ranking White House officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, at the time chief of staff to President Gerald Ford, and, Dick Cheney, his deputy chief of staff.

As recently as February 2011, the CIA refused to produce files that the Olson family requested.  The agency continues to claim that it has given the family "a complete and accurate presentation of what happened to Dr. Olson."  "That is just not the case," said Eric Olson.  "The evidence shows that our father was killed in their custody.  They have lied to us ever since, withholding documents and information, and changing their story when convenient.  We were just little boys and they took away our lives – the CIA didn't kill only our father, they killed our entire family again and again and again." he stated.

"It's unfathomable that our own government could stand by as its agents, operating on United States soil, killed an American citizen in cold blood, destroyed his family, and then allowed those directly responsible to walk away without so much as a blemish on their personnel files.  Instead of putting its energy and resources into doing what is right, the United States – including this Administration – has sought to bury this and hide the truth from Dr. Olson's only surviving relatives and from the American people." said Scott Gilbert, lead counsel and founder of Gilbert LLP.

"We need to put an end to this story of murder and deceit; it is time to do what is right.  And our job is to ensure that happens." he added.

About Gilbert LLP

Gilbert LLP is a Washington, DC-based law firm focused on strategic risk and litigation consulting and on insurance recovery. The firm's clients include business entities, debtors and creditors in bankruptcy matters, trusts and committees formed in such cases, law firms, accounting firms and other professional organizations, non-profits and individuals.  Gilbert LLP also has a very robust public service practice.  For more information about Gilbert LLP, visit www.gotofirm.com.

SOURCE Gilbert LLP



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