Review: CHAOS – Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties

December 21, 2019

By John Titus
1969 was a clear turning point in American society. Opposition to the Vietnam war was at an all-time high, the civil rights movement was rolling, and activists were presenting a new vision of human interaction that was an existential threat to the conservative establishment.
The year before, both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been assassinated like President Kennedy before them. The disastrous Altamont Speedway concert with overdoses and beatings courtesy of The Hells Angels – was framed as the counterpart to the love and peace displayed at the successful Woodstock Music Festival.

The political establishment was scared shitless of the population, the long hair, colorblind sexuality, mystical spiritualism, you name it. What they needed was to re-brand the progressive new movements, turning the peaceful Hippie into the evil Hippie. California was their test tube, and for all intents and purposes, they succeeded.

In the new book “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties”
author Tom O’Neill and co-author Dan Piepenbring re-introduce us to the murders committed by the followers of Charles Manson, and the strange but true rabbit-hole that O’Neill dug through for decades.
Originally tasked with writing a historical perspective article on the Tate-LaBianca murders, O’Neill struggled to understand how and why the case was littered with legal lies and outright fabrication. Over the many years he studied the murders and unraveled the complex cover-up and lies, O’Neill came to the conclusion that both the State of California and the Federal Government were meddling with Hippie culture, drugs, and mind control.

The thumbnail sketch of the crimes goes something like this:
On the evening of August 8-9th 1969, Manson’s followers invaded a house on Cielo drive that was used by film director Roman Polanski. The resulting killing frenzy left a gruesome scene with Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Parent and Jay Sebring brutally murdered.
On August 10th the “Family” murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, they had already tortured and murdered Gary Hinman, who had previously helped them with money.
O’Neill believes he found other murders and motives that were never explored, for reasons we shall see.

CHAOS, the book is broken into various angles and elements that changed and developed over the years and countless interviews conducted by O’Neill. He discovers the outright lies of prosecutor and author Vincent Bugliosi (”Helter Skelter”), as well as the presence of known intelligence agents that influenced the Hippies and Manson’s “family”. O’Neill discovers the use of drugs and hypnosis to create killers, and relates the toll the investigation took on his personal life.

What he discovered was that a full-on cover-up that cloaked the intelligence agents, and protected the highest level of Hollywood elites, as well as introducing the specter of “The Evil Hippie” to the American public.

The atmosphere in August 1969 had soured for Sharon Tate. While her husband Polanski was in Europe, the housemates listed above were on a drug, sex and violence binge. They had filmed orgies as well as beatings and dangerous sex. Tate begged Polanski to kick them out. Actor Steve McQueen, who was a frequent guest at the Cielo Drive house had taken to carrying a gun, and the Hollywood elite were paranoid that “Something was going to go down”.

Abigail Folger’s boyfriend Wojciech Frykowski had fallen in with a dangerous crowd, including “Pic” Dawson, a drug runner who was being investigated by Interpol. Dawson had a partner named Charles Tacot, an ex-Marine who was good with knives. Tacot later told author O’Neill that he worked for military intelligence and reported to an assassin named Hank Fine. Other interviews revealed that Tacot was also a CIA hit man.
It seems the introduction to that culture, as well as Manson himself was routed through Mama Cass Elliot of the band “the Mama’s and the Papas”, and rambled through the Hollywood and record industry icons.

O’Neill painstakingly tracks down the few people who would talk about the case, even fifty years later.
One individual was a fellow barber who knew Hollywood hair stylist Jay Sebring and revealed that Sebring had been a Chicago mob associate, and believed the murders were a drug deal gone bad. This information was relayed to him by casino boss Charlie Baron. Baron was a Mayer Lansky crime family member who was friends with Kennedy-hating fascist General Curtis LeMay.
And with this connection, we start to see the strange bedfellows appearing on all sides.

Part of the “Helter Skelter” myth was that Manson was an untalented nobody with no friends and no connections to Hollywood wealth. That is far from the truth. Manson had been respected by the likes of Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, and many other musicians. The reality was that record producer Terry Melcher, son of actress Doris Day and boyfriend of actress Candice Bergen had hosted Manson in studio recordings. Things started going bad when Doris Day insulted Manson to his face and said she would never produce an album for him. Melcher, the previous resident of the doomed Cielo house, moved out and told people that “Manson was after him”. However, O’Neill discovered that Melcher had actually visited the Manson Family three times after the murders. And here is where we see the prosecution’s case steamrolled by Vincent Bugliosi start falling apart.
Helter Skelter my ass.

On August 16th 1969 the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office (LASO) raided the Spahn Ranch hideout used by Manson’s followers. It was one of the first big SWAT raids and began at 6 am. There were 35 squad cars, helicopters, assault rifles, and desert ATV’s. 27 adults and 7 juveniles were arrested.
But despite Manson being a felon on parole, the stolen cars and the drugs and guns, all were released after three days.

Preston Guillory, a retired LASO detective told O’Neill that his station was ordered to “Take no police action towards Manson or his followers” (page 154).
It appears that Manson and his rag-tag gang were “protected” in some kind of project or operation.

On August 9th, the day the bodies at the Cielo house were found, Sharon Tate’s personal photographer Shahrokh Hatami received a phone call from a friend that informed him of the Tate murders. That phone call was placed 90 minutes before the bodies were officially found (page 185).

The man who placed that call and had foreknowledge of the murders was one of the most mysterious characters associated with the case; Reeve Whitson.

Tom O’Neill in his office

Multiple people told O’Neill that Whitson was an intelligence agent infiltrating Manson’s group as well as the entire Laurel Canyon milieu. Others seperately said Whitson was CIA.
Even Sharon Tate’s father, Paul Tate, was a former Colonel in Military Intelligence and conducted his own investigation. Colonel Tate suggested that the Cielo house was under surveillance at the time of the murders. That may have involved Reeve Whitson.
Whitson ran in circles that included General Curtis LeMay (through casino owner Charlie Baron) as well as legendary Nazi commando Otto Skorzeny. These people were not Hippie-friendly.
Before he died, “Whitson was destitute and disgruntled, telling rueful stories of “The Quarry” – his term for the section of the CIA he worked for. It was Whitson who deeply penetrated Manson’s group as well as the entire rock music scene. Whitson was known to have said he could have prevented the murders.

At this time, the CIA had authorized an illegal surveillance program code-named CHAOS, and the FBI had a counterinsurgency program called COINTELPRO. Both programs were conducted to “induce the left to feed on itself”.
Manson himself was assigned to parole officer Roger Smith, who in turn was part of “The San Francisco Project”, an experimental parole program funded by The National Institute of Mental Health” (287), which a 1976 FOIA request had shown to be a CIA front (301).

The nexus-crossover of intelligence agencies and Hippie culture revolved around The Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic (HAFMC). David Smith (no relation to Roger Smith) ran the clinic at a time when Manson would bring the girls in for medical attention. Smith was also running experiments involving amphetamines, and his subjects ranged from mice in the lab to Hippies on the street. “The Haight” was now flooded with amphetamines that fueled violence, and it was no accident.

As early as 1966, Dr. Louis “Jolly” West began his work at the HAFMC. West had his fingers in many unusual operations. He once killed an elephant with an overdose of LSD. He was known for combining drugs and hypnosis to re-pattern behavior. West also treated the ill-fated Jack Ruby (Oswald’s assassin) and testified in the Patty Hearst trial as well as many other strange events.
In 1965 West wrote a paper titled “Dangers of Hypnosis” (West was a master hypnotist) that “foresaw the rise of dangerous groups led by “crackpots” who hypnotized their followers into violent criminality”.

By 1966, West had set up a fake “Hippie crash pad”, funded by the “Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry”, which O’Neill found was another CIA front. In an amazing experiment, Hippies were encouraged to live in the “crash pad” while college students took notes about their behavior.

West may well have been running this experiment as part of the CIA’s MKULTRA project. Here we had the perfect storm; communal living sabotaged by amphetamine violence with the shadow of hypo-programming lurking in the background. O’Neill interviewed Alan Scheflin, “a forensic psychologist and law professor who’d written a book on MKULTRA.- “I laid out a circumstantial case linking West to Manson. Was it possible, I asked, that the Manson murders were an MKULTRA experiment gone wrong? “No” he said. “An MKULTRA experiment gone right.”

O’Neill finally landed an interview with Manson in prison, and this is what he says:

“Manson spoke in riddles when he spoke at all. He claimed there was a lot of money behind the murders, and that the “United States Navy” held the purse strings”

O’Neill may have not known what to do with that information, or simply didn’t want to go there, or dropped that on us as a big clue.
But, as I will show in an article attached at the end of this review, the Navy was indeed involved in mind-control experiments. The Navy actually took men out of prison and put them through this test: they would strap the man into a chair, head clamped and eyes pried open. They gradually introduced violent images of maiming and killing to desensitize them and prepare them to be assassins. It is likely drugs and hypnosis were used in these and similar experiments to create killers that would feel no remorse.

Tom O’Neill went through a very strange corner of Hell while researching this book. The startling revelations, the reluctance of people to talk even decades after the murders, and the fights he had with Vincent Bugliosi. O’Neill was the first journalist to crack the veneer of the blustering prosecutor and author of “Helter Skelter”, which was shown to be a work of fiction. Revealing this would have been a huge stain on the late Bugliosi’s career. Yes, O’Neill easily proves that Bugliosi fabricated the Helter-Skelter race-war scenario as a Manson plan, withheld evidence, and got people to lie on the stand.
But there were also very powerful people behind him that wanted to keep a lid on the greater entertainment-drug-power broker complex and all the money behind it.
Blame it on “The Evil Hippie”.

Contemporary analysis of the Cielo Drive murders suggest that they were revenge killings in a drug deal burn. Linda Kasabian and Tex Watson likely acted on their own, but involved Manson after the initial killings.
We should look at these murders in the context of similar events. The creation of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) that kidnapped Patty Hearst was a mind control program that was run out of Vacaville Prison. Even the O.J. Simpson case has a parallel in that Nicole Simpson was rumored to owe a huge amount of money to drug dealers, and white supremacist cops tampered with evidence.
These things don’t happen in isolation or by accident.

CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties is a great read, there is simply too much information to squeeze into this review. Please take a look and prepare to have your mind blown.

US Navy Mind-controlled assassin Program:

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