Under the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947, the CIA was established. One of the main areas investigated by the CIA was mind control. The behavior control program was motivated by Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind control techniques. The CIA originated its first program in 1950 under the name BLUEBIRD. MKULTRA officially began in 1953. In 1973, tipped off about forthcoming investigations, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of any MKULTRA records.
The Senate Intelligence Committee did find some records during its investigation in 1976. Senator Frank Church, who led the congressional investigations of the CIA's unlawful actions, said that the agency was "a rogue elephant" operating above the law as it plotted assassinations, illegally spied on thousands of Americans, and even drugged citizens in its effort to develop new weapons for its covert arsenal.
MKULTRA grew into a mammoth undertaking. The nature of the research included these specific problems:
Can we create by post-H (hypnotic) control an action contrary to an individual's basic moral principles?
Can we "alter" a person's personality? Can we guarantee total amnesia under any and all conditions?
Could we seize a subject and in the space of an hour by post-H control have him crash an airplane?
Can we devise a system for making unwilling subjects into willing agents and then transfer that control to untrained agency agents in the field by use of codes or identifying signs?