On the walls of a sun-dappled corner office overlooking the heart of Washington, rows of photographs trace a legal career that has spanned a half century. Signed tributes from Eleanor Roosevelt and former vice-president Hubert Humphrey catalogue the cases that have made Joseph Rauh one of America’s most distinguished civil rights lawyers. In the 1950s he defended playwrights Arthur Miller and Lillian Heilman in congressional investigations into alleged Communist activity. And his role in promoting passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was so pivotal that President Lyndon Johnson gave him one of the pens used to sign the bill. But for the past six years—working without fees—Rauh’s chief fight has been against the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. His clients: nine Canadians who were subjects of mind-control experiments conducted at Montreal’s Allan Memorial Institute between 1957 and 1961.
The experiments, performed by Dr. Ewan Cameron and funded by more than $60,000 in CIA grants, used Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), forced sleep
therapy and other “psychic driving” techniques. Rauh is suing the CIA for $1 million (U.S.) for each of the nine people but has offered to settle out of court for $250,000 each. But his effort has been complicated by Ottawa’s apparent reluctance to press Canadian claims. External Affairs Minister Joe Clark declared last month that the government had “acted as much as we can” in MKULTRA—the CIA’s code name for the case. But Rauh disagrees. “I thought the Canadian government would be on my side,” he says. “Boy, did I make a mistake. They have fought this thing the whole way.” And the agenda for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s meeting with President Ronald Reagan this week did not include the CIA case.
Regret: For a short time last month, Rauh, 75, says that he thought Ottawa’s attitude might be changing. On Feb. 15 Mulroney agreed to permit Rauh to take a sworn deposition from John Hadwen, a top-ranking intelligence officer in External Affairs. In a written memo to senior External Affairs officials, Hadwen has acknowleged receiving statements of regret for the experiments
from U.S. envoys in Ottawa in 1977. In court, those apologies could amount to an admission of guilt. But early this month Rauh received a letter from External Affairs setting out stringent conditions for his interview. Among them: Ottawa will allow a CIA lawyer to prevent Hadwen from replying to any questions. Said Rauh: “I’ve never heard of one country giving another extra-legal right over one of its own citizens. They’re letting the CIA run the whole show.”
Offer: Although the CIA’s involvement was publicized by American writer John Marks in 1977, it was not until 1984 that Ottawa raised the issue with Secretary of State George Shultz. Then, two months before last year’s Shamrock Summit, Washington offered to settle out of court with the plaintiffs for $20,000 each. That amount, said NDP MP David Orlikow—whose wife, Velma, was one of the 53 Canadians subjected to Cameron’s experiments—was “a mockery, an insult.”
Rauh has also charged Ottawa with supporting U.S. “delaying tactics.” Last October Shultz outlined the CIA’s case to Clark and invited him to send a justice department official to review the facts. But the government waited five months before dispatching general counsel Mark Jewett to Washington on March 3.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Court Judge John Penn agreed in February to give the suit top priority so that it can go to trial in the summer. But Rauh is acutely aware of the danger of further postponements. One of his elderly plaintiffs, Florence Langleben, 69, died last January. Said Rauh at the time: “The Canadian government has allowed one of its citizens to die without lifting a finger to help her.” Canadian officials in Washington vigorously deny that accusation.
Review: In fact, Canada continues to regard the case as a U.S. violation of Canadian sovereignty—despite U.S. government claims that Canada bears responsibility. One development that may shed more light on the case is a still-secret review requested last summer by Justice Minister John Crosbie from Halifax lawyer George Cooper. According to Crosbie, Cooper’s report—a draft is under study by federal lawyers—is to determine whether “we have any responsibility, legal or otherwise.” The findings, which could make Ottawa liable to additional suits by the plaintiffs, will not, however, alter their suit against the CIA. Said Rauh: “It doesn’t make a legal bit of difference to our case, but it makes a moral difference. All along, Canada has denied it knew what the CIA was up to. If that is not so, there is a crisis of credibility in its relations with the U.S. government.”
— MARCI MCDONALD in Washington with MICHAEL ROSE in Ottawa
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