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How Cointelpro Used Agents of Chaos to Delegitimize Activist Groups

Donald DeFreeze

The fate of Donald DeFreeze (1943-1974) and the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in 1974 is a classic event in the realm of cointel-controlled opposition patsies. DeFreeze (aka Cinque Mtume and “Field Marshal Cinque”) was the leader of the SLA, an American far-left militia group, and Patty Hearst’s alleged kidnapper.

Jolly West

Led by psychopaths like American psychologist Jolly West, California became a spawning ground for Operation Chaos.

In keeping with intelligence proposals to use prisons as experimental laboratories, West drafted a plan for Atascadero State Hospital in California that involved the use of electric shock and drugs in what was called “aversion therapy.” At Atascadero, high impact serial killers were molded and released into society.


Read:  Freeway Killer William Bonin: Ringleader Template of a Band of Sadistic Homosexual Killers


In the 1960s, West could be found in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco, where he continued his LSD experiments, this time within the nascent hippie community.

Atascadero State Hospital was the world’s largest hospital for the criminally insane in 1987. PHOTO: David Middlecamp/The Tribune News

Another West project in the late 1960s and early ’70s was the Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence. West’s plans for such centers were the subject of hearings by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in 1974, whose members were particularly alarmed at reports that West planned to test radical forms of behavior modification, including psychotropic drugs, electric shock and chemical castration.

Other cities selected as locales for West’s violence centers were Vacaville, Camarillo and Atascadero state prison hospitals for California’s criminally insane. It has been documented that CIA drug and radiation experiments took place in Vacaville at the generically named California Medical Facility (CMF/Vacaville).


Read:  Louis Jolyon West: Johnny on the Spot Mind Controller


California Medical Facility (CMF) is a state prison metal hospital in Vacaville, California.

Indeed, two month before Congressman Leo Ryan was gunned down on the Jonestown tarmac, Deputy Director of the CIA Frank Carlucci (later director, and later still the chairman of the Carlyle Group) answered Ryan in response to the congressman’s inquiry concerning questions of whether Donald DeFreeze — “Cinque” — had been subjected to mind control experiments while incarcerated at Vacaville.

Carlucci’s letter to Ryan in 1978 admitted to experiments but denied it happened with SLA leader DeFreeze.

Dear Mr. Ryan:

Thank you for your letter of 27 September to Admiral Turner requesting confirmation or denial of the fact of CIA experiments using prisoners at the California medical facility at Vacaville. It is true that CIA sponsored testing, using volunteer inmates, was conducted at that facility. The project was completed in 1968. … Your letter referred to Donald DeFreese [sic], known as CINQUE, and Clifford Jefferson, both of whom were inmates at Vacaville. In so far as our records reflect the names of the participants, there is nothing to indicate that either was in any way involved in the project.

[18 October 1978]

According to investigative reporter Jack Anderson, who published the article “CIA May Have Inspired Cinque,” DeFreeze claimed that as a prisoner, he was the victim of mind-control experiments and had vowed to another inmate that he would use the same techniques on others when he was out.

DeFreeze — who was reportedly well-behaved as an inmate — was in Vacaville for three years, which is far longer than most prisoners. Coerced into experimentation and for his involvement in cointel, he was given special visitation rights for sex with white radicals Patty Hearst and Patricia Soltysik and Nancy Ling Perry.

DeFreeze and other prisoners were placed on heavy doses of medication in prison. Inmates were reportedly drugged, harassed and confined in isolation to determine “at what point individuals would ‘break’ and follow orders blindly.”

Despite a criminal record spanning over a decade and despite a series of encounters with the police, DeFreeze remained on probation. His offenses included arrests for possession of weapons, a kidnapping charge in New Jersey and an attempted bank robbery in Cleveland.

On March 10, 1968, DeFreeze was charged with burglary in Inglewood, California. There was no disposition of the charges. On Aug. 16, 1968, he was charged with stealing a motorcycle. There was no disposition. On March 20, 1969, he was picked up with a loaded 9-mm semiautomatic rifle with 32 rounds in the magazine. There was no disposition.

On Oct. 11, 1969, in Cleveland, Ohio, police spotted DeFreeze on the roof of a bank carrying two pistols and an 8-inch dagger. Police said they found a burglar’s tool kit and a hand grenade nearby. He was able to pay the $5,000 bond money and then left for Los Angeles.

Psychiatric officials at the prison testing center at Ohio, where he was sent briefly, recommended that he be jailed because his “fascination with firearms and explosives made him dangerous.” DeFreeze was given an additional five years of probation.

The Los Angeles Police Department, like many other departments and the Federal Bureau of investigation, saw a desperate need to expand intelligence activities in the black community in the late 1960s following race rioting and the growth of radical organizations. Detective Farwell moved up to a new unit directing intelligence operations against dissidents as a specialist on blacks. DeFreeze between 1967 and 1969 was employed by the L.A. Police Department’s Public Disorder Unit.

Who Ran the SLA: Dick Russell

On Nov. 17, 1969, DeFreeze was injured in a gun battle with police outside a bank in Los Angeles. He was convicted of having stolen a $1,000 negotiable cashier’s check and sent to Vacaville’s CMF.

The Black Cultural Association (BCA) was an African-American inmate group founded in 1968 at CMF. The primary purpose of the BCA was to provide educational tutoring to inmates, which it did in conjunction with graduate college students from the nearby San Francisco Bay Area. Outsiders were allowed to attend meetings of the BCA. In time, radical political organizations — such as Venceremos, a Chicano political organization — infiltrated the BCA, giving rise to BCA factions, such as Unisight, which eventually gave birth to the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Colston Westbrook
Colston Westbrook

Black University of California at Berkeley professor Colston Westbrook (1937–1989)  became “outside coordinator” for the BCA. It was reported that he was asked to work with this group, but it’s unclear who asked. Westbrook is credited with bringing prisoner DeFreeze (Cinque) into the group, where he rose as BCA organizer.

Under the sketchy Westbrook, the California prison system, hell-bent on suppressing all radicals and creating conspiracies to separate and segregate potential leaders, began teaching Maoist doctrine and revolutionary ideas to a new criminally violent recruit in Vacaville of all places?

Westbrook was the man who dubbed DeFreeze “Cinque Mtume,” meaning “fifth prophet,” and who designed the seven-headed cobra logo for the group that Cinque later headed up: the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). Although an avowed hater of whites, DeFreeze never before showed a political ideology but suddenly morphed into an anti-white radical.

The New York Times wrote that Westbrook has said that he served in both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force in Korea and that he worked in Vietnam for five years for private contracting firm Pacific Architects & Engineers.

Pacific Architects & Engineers has been used as a recruiting pool and cover by the CIA for its Phoenix program, which included assassination teams, according to Bart Osborne of the Fifth Estate, a Washington ‐based research group of former intelligence personnel who had turned against the Vietnam war. Osborne was, at one time, a handler of Phoenix teams.

In 1972, DeFreeze invited white radicals Willie Wolfe and Russ Little to join his separate study group, Unisight. A former Black Panther, an inmate by the name of Thero Wheeler was also in the clique. This was to be the beginnings of the Symbionese Liberation Army. [See “The Man Patty Hearst Loved”]

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Two of the families of deceased white SLA members, including Wolfe‘s father, contracted top-notch private investigator Lake Headley in an attempt to shed some more light on the matter. On May 4, 1974, Headley, along with freelance writer Donald Freed, held a press conference in San Francisco. They presented 400 pages of documentation of their findings, some of which included:

  • A year before the kidnapping, Patty Hearst had visited Donald DeFreeze, who later became the SLA‘s figurehead. Using a fraudulent I.D. of friend Mary Alice Siem in a time when prison rules were much more lax, she then began sending money to DeFreeze.
  • The work of Westbrook with Los Angeles Police Department’s CCS (Criminal Conspiracy Section) and the State of California’s Sacramento-based CII (Criminal Identification and Investigation) unit.; and
  • Evidence of links of the CIA to Police Departments.

DeFreeze was offered a deal by the California Department of Corrections and the CIA. He would be released (portrayed as an escapee) in exchange for starting a phony left-wing group — the SLA — to infiltrate black radical groups and secretly work in chaotic opposition.

In March 1973, DeFreeze “escaped” from Soledad. But using the word “escape” is misleading. The facts are that DeFreeze was placed in a situation at Soledad prison hospital where all he had to do was walk away from the prison.

He found shelter with members or associates of Venceremos at the Peking House commune in Oakland. Concerns about police surveillance led DeFreeze to be moved to a lower-profile location in nearby Concord, where (under the name General Cinque) he organized SLA with some former Venceremos members.

As an agent provocateur upon meeting radicals after his prison escape, DeFreeze was known for his eagerness to sell firearms, explosives and related items, raising suspicions that he was trying to set up sting operations. His means of acquiring weaponry has remained unexplained.

DeFreeze later kidnapped the wealthy heiress Patty Hearst, daughter of the renowned newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. The SLA also murdered Oakland School Superintendent Marcus Foster. Surviving SLA member Russell Little has stated: “Who actually pulled the trigger that killed Foster was Mizmoon (Soltysik, a woman). The Foster hit had been instigated by Westbrook.

At this point, DeFreeze turned on his handler. After the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the SLA placed Westbrook on their death list, claiming he was a CIA agent, and had worked as a “torturer” for the CIA in Vietnam. He was marked as “an enemy to be shot on sight.” They also claimed he was an FBI informer. Westbrook soon went into hiding for fear of his life.

On April 15, 1974, SLA members burst into the Hibernia Bank bank, including Hearst holding a rifle, and the security camera footage of Hearst became an iconic image.

Security camera photo of Donald DeFreeze (aka Cinque) and Patty Hearst robbing the Hibernia Bank on Noriega Street in San Francisco on April 15, 1974. PHOTO: Skyhorse Publishing

Ultimately, the crew went to Los Angeles. On May 17, 1974, the Los Angeles Police Department surrounded a house at 1466 East 54th Street, where DeFreeze and five other SLA members were staying, and demanded that occupants surrender. They were answered with bursts of automatic weapons fire. During the shootout, the police were outgunned by the SLA’s automatic weapons and the SLA’s gas masks rendered tear gas ineffective. The house caught fire during the shootout.

DeFreeze and others crawled through a hole in the floor into a crawlspace beneath the house, where they continued to fire at police until the crawlspace likely caught fire. Apparently burning alive, DeFreeze committed suicide by shooting himself in the right side of his head with a pistol. He was the final fatality during the shootout. His corpse was so severely burned that his family did not initially believe the remains were him. The SLA dead were: Nancy Ling Perry (“Fahizah”), Angela Atwood (“General Gelina”), Camilla Hall (“Gabi”), Willie Wolfe (“Kahjoh”, misspelled by the media at the time as “Cujo”),[17] Donald DeFreeze (“Cinque”), and Patricia Soltysik (“Mizmoon,” “Zoya”).

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