Like other agencies of the U.S. government back in the 1950s, the CIA saw rich promise in the idea of injecting radioactive materials into humans. But whereas documents recently released by the Department of Energy show radioactivated recipients usually to have been either unwitting (schoolchildren told they were getting “vitamin supplements”) or in unfortunate circumstances (lifers in prison, terminally ill patients), the Agency planned to inject radioactive matter into the bodies of its own agents, or personnel.
The CIA took the prudent course of destroying almost all its files on biological and chemical research back in 1973, on the orders of Richard Helms. The Agency now says piously it can find no record of any such activities. But researchers in the 1970s managed to unearth some bizarre and revealing documents, including one—never to our knowledge published—on “Establishing and substantiating the ‘bona fides’ of agent and/or staff personnel through techniques and methods other than interrogation.”