Lately, lots of popular podcasts have featured strong lead characters with pretty unbelievable stories — Eddie Gallagher, Maria Butina, Suave. Each one of these is a thoroughly irresistible kind of anti-hero, but none of them have lived life quite as close to the edge as George Hunter White (aka Morgan Hall), whose time working for the US government drives the narrative of Operation Midnight Climax.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of this clandestine CIA-led operation then sit tight, because with this one we’re firmly in the category of wouldn’t-believe-it-if-it-wasn’t-true. In fact, Operation Midnight Climax is quite possibly the king of that category…
White was a true maverick, a human chameleon and — for the most part — an excellent operative known for working on an undercover (and entirely off-the-books) Cold War-era CIA experiment into the effects of mind-altering drugs like LSD on unsuspecting targets. This research led to a series of seriously morally dubious tests on underground criminals, San Francisco prostitutes and their johns, White’s personal friends and even whole New York subway cars full of unsuspecting passengers.
Oh, and White was more than obliging in testing his supply out on himself.
A times this podcast is dark, but it is never anything short of fascinating. It’s a glimpse into the secret world of some of the most controversial methods ever used by the US government against — and without the knowledge of — its own citizens.
The story has it all to begin with: sex, drugs, unexplained deaths, and secret agents gone rogue, but it is all spun together into one enthralling package thanks to an appealing soundtrack, a strong and cinematic narrator’s voice (Noel Brown), some solid dramatic recreations, and just really great storytelling from writer, Jake Rossen.