Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.
Be sure to check out all of AFP’s free podcasts. You’ll find them on the HOME PAGE, ARCHIVES & PODCAST section.
Victim of U.S. Torture Speaks
• Airman who was drugged, tortured by superiors had refused to commit terrorist acts
• Incredibly, AMERICAN FREE PRESS first paper to report story suppressed for 50 years
By Dave Gahary
SAN ANTONIO, Texas—For those Americans convinced that the recent revelations of United States government-sponsored and condoned torture and murder of its own citizens was borne in the age of 9-11 and the “war on terrorism,” they would be surprised to find that the apparatus of extrajudicial interrogation was in place on U.S. soil for at least 50 years.
On October 24, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, Parmenio A. Iglesias, a 25-year-old U.S. Air Force (USAF) airman, was kidnapped from his desk by agents of the USAF’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) as he calmly performed his duties, and locked in a cell for four days and three nights. While there, he was harshly interrogated, threatened, sleep-deprived and forced to ingest lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, for purposes most likely related to Project MKULTRA. The year prior, USAF officers who were most likely intelligence agents, hoped to enlist Iglesias in a false-flag plan to don a Cuban army uniform and murder U.S. service members at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, to justify an invasion of the Republic of Cuba.
MKULTRA, covered extensively over the years by this newspaper, was a clandestine Central Intelligence Agency human research operation begun in the early 1950s, which used LSD to manipulate a subject’s mind for a variety of reasons, including creating unwitting assassins.
Following the weekend of torture, separated from his Japanese-born wife and two young sons [two-and-a-half years and four-months-old], who had been told her husband had fled to Cuba, Iglesias was admitted to a hospital against his will on an Air Force base 65 miles from his family for nearly three months, for recuperation and interrogation, while OSI agents forced their way into his home, where his wife, under their constant gaze, was ordered to cook and care for them, similar to the forced-quartering of British soldiers in American colonists’ homes.
Quickly forced out of the USAF after millions were spent and no evidence of wrongdoing ever uncovered, Iglesias, shocked and saddened by his country-of-choice’s treatment of him, inspired by the 1975 Church Committee, used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to secure over 1,000 pages of documents related to the espionage investigation against him, which took over eight years, that revealed sordid details, some of which are detailed below.
Perhaps the most shocking part of this story is not the blatant disregard for individual civil liberties exhibited by the U.S government toward one of their own, but the absolute refusal of this nation’s mainstream media to even once report on what Mr. Iglesias had experienced, despite his many persistent and elaborate attempts over the past 45 years to get his story out. The only coverage afforded this man was from a small central Florida newsletter that closed its doors immediately after publishing two articles on this matter. Incredibly, AMERICAN FREE PRESS is the first national newspaper to tell his story, albeit over 50 years later.
After being contacted to comment on a separate story published by AFP, Iglesias, now 76-years-old, a long-time subscriber and financial supporter of this newspaper, apprised this reporter of his personal nightmare, which is still ongoing for him in many ways, at the hands of those he thought were his protectors. Spending many hours over the phone plus many more hours in person prior to the AFP Free Speech Conference in Austin, Texas over Veterans Day weekend, Mr. Iglesias carefully educated this reporter on this matter.
Emigrating from Cuba in 1956 and enlisting in the USAF the following year, Iglesias came to the shores of this country seeking the American dream, only to find a nightmare awaiting him a few years later, simply because he was Cuban as was Fidel Castro, a U.S. government-obsessed Cold War arch-enemy who assumed power of the island nation several years after Iglesias arrived here.
“A couple of OSI agents came to the office where I was with an Air Force policeman, and they told me to accompany them to the OSI office,” he began. “I was handcuffed. I was in shock. I said, ‘What’s going on here?’ They took me to the stockade and put me behind bars. I had to take all my clothing off; I was naked and they gave me some kind of a robe to put on. They started to question me and told me I had been charged with espionage. They started interrogating me for 16 to 18 hours each day.”
“I was not allowed to sleep. If I fell asleep against the wall, the guard would come in with a club and would hit the bars. For those four days and three nights that I was there, I was not allowed to sleep and I was not given any food whatsoever. The only thing they gave me was water and milk.”
“On the third day they gave me milk and a pill as I was feeling sick to my stomach. I began to feel like I was a giant, like I was bigger than the building. I felt that I was so strong that if I wanted to I could walk through the walls. I could take those bars and rip them apart if I wanted to.”
“On the fourth day I went crazy and I was feeling real sick, so they took me to the hospital. They warned me before I went to the hospital, ‘Don’t you dare tell the doctor a word about anything.’ They took me to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base [65 miles away] to a locked [psych] ward and warned me not to tell the psychiatrist anything.”
“The OSI kept on coming to the hospital to continue hours of interrogation and kept warning me not to say anything to anybody.”
AFP asked if he listened.
“I didn’t talk to anybody. I was afraid what they would do to me.”
The USAF diagnosed him with schizophrenia and paranoia and honorably discharged him.
The FOIA documents revealed “how I was followed for weeks on end in the neighborhood,” Iglesias said.
During the entire time in the psych ward he had no contact with his wife and sons.
The FOIA documents also revealed that “there were three generals, 29 full colonels, and 75 OSI agents who worked on my case,” he said.
The FOIA documents also revealed that “the OSI wanted to install electronic [eavesdropping] equipment in my house, but with my wife in the house all the time, it was very difficult for them to do. So they had to get my wife and children out of the house. They went to the hospital for my wife and children’s’ medical records to set up an injection for them that would make them sick enough they would have to be hospitalized to get them out of the house.”
AFP asked if he lives with this nightmare every day.
“I do,” he said. “This has actually taken my life away from me, the way I have lived all those years. I was always thinking about it. It caused me a lot of problems in my job and with my wife, because I was always angry, upset and nervous. I developed a real pain in my stomach for years and even to this day I still have it.”