Payout brings end to struggle

Payout brings end to struggle
Jean Kavanagh, The Vancouver Sun 05 Oct 1988: A1/ FRONT

After eight years of frustrating, emotional turmoil, Bob Logie expected to be sitting in a Washington, D.C., courtroom today watching one of the most controversial cases involving the CIA, and his life, unfold.

Instead, the 50-year-old Vancouver man – one of nine Canadians who attempted to sue the Central Intelligence Agency for brainwashing experiments conducted 30 years ago – sat pondering his life now that the CIA has agreed to pay the victims $750,000 US.

The out-of-court settlement, which plaintiffs lawyer Jim Turner called the biggest payment ever made by the U.S. government to settle a lawsuit against the CIA, translates into about $80,000 for each victim after lawyers’ expenses, which will likely exceed $1 million US.

Guessing that the lump sum he hopes to receive within two months “isn’t going to change my life,” Logie said “I would have hoped for more but I’m just glad it’s over with.”

“It” is the eight-year nightmare Logie and eight other Canadians from Winnipeg, Brockville, Ont., and Montreal have lived with since discovering in 1979 they’d been used as unwitting guinea pigs in the 1950s by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Ewen Cameron at Montreal’s Allan Memorial Institute.

Cameron received $60,000 in CIA financing between 1957 and 1960 to further his brainwashing research. The controversial mind experiments involved a series of “depatterning” and “repatterning” techniques using electric shocks, days of sensory deprivation, week-long sleep and use of drugs such as LSD.

Logie said a magazine article in 1979 about Winnipeg resident Velma Orlikow, who was the first to launch the suit against the CIA, brought back memories of his time in the Montreal psychiatric hospital.

“I just had a gut feeling I’d been through the same thing,” a tired, emotionally spent Logie said at his West End home Tuesday.

After accessing his medical records from Allan Memorial and rediscovering his tragic past, Logie joined in the civil action against the CIA.

And now, taking some solace from knowing he won’t have to go through more years of legal wrangling before receiving a settlement, Logie is intent on lobbying for compensation from the Canadian government, which spent some $500,000 on Cameron’s work.

“I’m telling (Prime Minister) Brian Mulroney that now the CIA has settled I hope he will do the decent thing and settle with us,” said Logie. He said he feels “50 per cent vindicated now and will feel 100 per cent when Mulroney pays the $100,000 (each) we want from the Canadian government.

“They (the Canadian government) should be embarrassed too. They were involved for 10 years,” he said.

But Orlikow’s daughter, Leslie, said Tuesday her mother was disappointed with the settlement.

“My mother wanted an opportunity to have a moral victory, to have her day in court and to have the CIA convicted of wrongdoing and that’s not going to happen now.”

A 1986 report by former Progressive Conservative MP George Cooper concluded Cameron’s work was of poor scientific quality and probably incautious, but not irresponsible.

Cooper recommended $100,000 payment to each plaintiff.

The federal government paid out $20,000 to each earlier this year to help cover legal costs.

Turner and CIA lawyers were to appear today before U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn to tell him a settlement has been reached. The case had been repeatedly adjourned as the U.S. government tried to have it thrown out of court.

Logie, who has been on a disability pension since 1984 because of symptoms and depression from the treatment and stress induced by the case, said although he wasn’t looking forward to testifying, it might have been therapeutic.

“I have a hard time expressing anger and I was hoping it might have been a catharsis to get the anger out,” he said sitting pensively in his living room where four large volumes of press clippings and information on the case fill a bookcase.

Logie was first hospitalized with an arthritic leg when he was 18, and transferred to Allan Memorial when doctors thought his symptoms were psychosomatic.

“Why they decided to send me to the Allan is beyond me,” he said cynically. “I have no idea why they chose me (as a research subject).”

Logie’s treatment, which he calls a “barbaric experiment,” included repeated doses of the hallucinogenic drug LSD and induced sleep, which once lasted for 23 consecutive days.

He blames the sleep therapy for his depressive nature and sleeping patterns that still only allow him three to four hours rest at a time.