French TV channel France 3 recently aired a documentary that covered an interesting episode in the long history of CIA abuse of innocent civilians. Although the incident and its context are highly disturbing, it is a testament to the persistence of a select few researchers that their findings are reaching a wider audience.
The show focuses on the 1951 “mass intoxication” case in the French village of Pont Saint Esprit. For one week in August that year, hundreds of villagers suffered from an apparent attack of psychosis that included hallucinations. As a result, seven people died (two of them by suicide) and some sixty were interned in psychiatric hospitals. Just one month after the events, the British Medical Journal explained it away as a case of poisoned bread by ergot mold (a psychedelic mold). However, investigative journalist Hank P. Albarelli Jr has convincingly argued in recent years that this was in fact an experiment carried out jointly by the CIA and the US Army, involving the deliberate use of LSD or a similar psychotropic substance.