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Cryptonym: MKNAOMI

Definition:
A joint project between the CIA and the Army's Special Operations Division involving the use of chemical and biological agents for a variety of purposes including both incapacitation and elimination. Program operational between 1952 and 1970.
Status:
Documented
Discussion:
Project MKNAOMI was initially funded 200,000 dollars yearly and this budget increased to 390,000 during 1958. By the late 1960s funding decreased to less than 100,000 dollars yearly. The Agency was estimated to have spent over "3 million" dollars. Items developed ranged from "attaché cases rigged to disseminate an agent in the air, a cigarette rigged to disseminate an agent when lighted, a fountain pen dart launcher, an engine head bolt designed to release an agent when heated, a fluorescent light starter to activate the light and then release an agent, ect." While most were not specifically designed for Agency use, most of the devices were noted to have been of CIA interest and possessed clandestine qualities employed for undetectable means of dispersing toxins and chemical agents.
Sources:

Project MKULTRA, The CIA's Program of Research in Behavioral Modification - Joint Hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research Current Section: Appendix A: XVII.Testing and Use of Chemical and Biological Agents by the Intelligence Community

"Under an agreement reached with the Army in 1952, the Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick was to assist CIA in developing, testing, and maintaining biological agents and delivery systems...MKNAOMI was terminated in 1970. On November 25, 1969, President Nixon renounced the use of any form of biological weapons that kill or incapacitate and ordered the disposal of existing stocks of bacteriological weapons...The purpose of MKNAOMI included the mission to "stockpile severely incapacitating and lethal materials for the specific use of TSD (Technical Services Division)." Three pages earlier, the same report states that TSD had custody of the MKULTRA records and destroyed them in 1973.

Church Committee: Book I - Foreign and Military Intelligence Current Section: F. Chemical and Biological Activities

"CIA projects were distinct (from those of SOD) because they involved the mating of delivery systems to lethal or incapacitating biological agents, instead of harmless agents used in vulnerability tests...SOD developed pills containing several different biological agents which could remain potent for weeks or months, and dart guns and darts coated with biological agents. SOD also developed a special gun for firing darts coated with a chemical that could incapacitate a guard dog in order to allow CIA agents to knock out the guard dog silently, enter an installation, and return the dog to consciousness when leaving. SOD scientists were unable to develop a similar incapacitant for humans.

178-10004-10087: CIA, Anti Castro-Activities, Clandestine Operations

The referenced document is a summary report of an internal CIA investigation of Project MKNAOMI. The report notes a relationship between the Army Biological Laboratory at Fort Detrick and the Agency's Technical Services Division. "From its outset the project was characterized by a compartmentation that was extreme even by CIA standards. Only two or three Agency officers at any given time were cleared for access to Fort Detrick activities." One related official claimed undertook these efforts to develop "incapacitants" and "BW/CW (biological warfare/chemical warfare) detection" methods. However, additional investigation determined that a store of not just incapacitants but virulent toxins and biological weapons for "possible Agency use." The CIA collaborated with the Fort Detrick Special Operations Division that was "...responsible for developing special application for BW agents and toxins. The principal customer of its activities appears to have been the U.S. Army Special Forces." A related project approval memo states among the project's operational goals was "Maintenance of a stockpile of incapacitating and lethal agents in readiness for operational use...Maintenance, assessment and evaluation of balance of biological and chemical disseminating systems for operational readiness." Additionally, the document notes the extreme lack of most related documentation that should have existed and written notes from related participants. Near the end of the 1960s "a stockpile of some 15 to 20 different BW agents and toxins was maintained on a regular basis by SOD for possible Agency use. At least one official noted similarities between this project's focus and some related items used in assassination plots targeting Fidel Castro. https://www.archives.gov/files/research/jfk/releases/178-10004-10087.pdf

Church Committee: Volume 1 - Hearings on Unauthorized Storage of Toxic Agents Current Section: Testimony of Ambassador Richard Helms...

Helms testified he knew of no destruction of records of Project MKNAOMI.

Contributors:
Bill Simpich • Carmine Savastano

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