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Just a few months after Richard Nixon left the White House in disgrace, the country's confidence in its institutions was further undermined by news stories about clandestine CIA activities within the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. A congressional committee under Senator Frank Church of Idaho and a presidential commission under Vice President Nelson Rockefeller were established to investigate the charges. In the summer of 1975, the truth about domestic experiments with psychoactive drugs, most pervasively lysergic acid diethylamide ('___'), began pouring out.
Wolff offered to devise ways to use the broadest cultural and social processes in human ecology for covert operations. He understood that every country had unique customs for child rearing, military training, and nearly every other form of human intercourse. From the CIA's point of view, he noted, this kind of sociological information could be applied mainly to indoctrinating and motivating people. He distinguished these motivating techniques from the "special methods" that he felt were 'more relevant to subversion, seduction, and interrogation." He offered to study those methods, too, and asked the Agency to give him access to everything in its files on "threats, coercion, imprisonment, isolation, deprivation, humiliation, torture, 'brainwashing, "black psychiatry,' hypnosis, and combinations of these with or without chemical agents." Beyond mere study, Wolff volunteered the unwitting use of Cornell patients for brainwashing experiments, so long as no one got hurt. He added, however, that he would advise the CIA on experiments that harmed their subjects if they were performed elsewhere. He obviously felt that only the grandest sweep of knowledge, flowing freely between scholar and spy, could bring the best available techniques to bear on their respective subjects
In 1955 Wolff incorporated his CIA-funded study group as the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, with himself as president. Through the Society, Wolff extended his efforts for the Agency, and his organization turned into a CIA-controlled funding mechanism for studies and experiments in the behavioral sciences.