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American Diplomacy
Foreign Service Life

October 2002

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The author, now retired from a long career in the Foreign Service and living in the South of France, has written a number of articles for this section of American Diplomacy. One assumes that he was glad the letter writer had not shownup at the embassy in person; the case is typical of problems embassy officers sometimes had to deal with.—Ed.

The Flood in Lisbon

Some time after I left Laos in October 1958, I read an article in a news magazine about that remote place. The author of the article made a statement to the effect that often it seemed easier to communicate with the man in the moon than to get a message to or from Vientiane. Those who served in Laos probably know from their own experience how true this statement was. I recall having heard about numerous letters addressed to me while I was there that I never received, and I think that a good number of letters that I wrote failed to reach their destination.

For that reason, I thought it an anomaly that the letter that appears below should be delivered without the slightest difficulty. Written in May 1958 and placed in an envelope bearing only a four-cent stamp, and inadequately addressed to “Police Department, Laos,” it came by air mail from the United States to Vientiane, and was sent immediately to the headquarters of the National Police. The official who opened it fortunately had no understanding of English, and seeing that the letter came from America, assumed that it was intended for the Public Safety Division of the USOM (United States Operations Mission). He sent the letter by messenger to a clerk in our office. The latter, in turn, could not understand it and brought it to me.

It was a letter written by a woman living in Berkeley, California. She had had it mimeographed in numerous copies, which presumably she had mailed to police departments throughout the world, probably judging this the most effective way to divulge on a large scale the feeling of alarm with which she was obsessed. She apparently had serious misgivings concerning the school board of Oakland, California, British and American doctors and politicians, and an ominous institution known to her as the Foundation Room. Not considering any of these matters particularly relevant to the task of providing technical and economic assistance to the Laotian police force, I never referred the letter to anyone for action. I decided to keep it, however, because it struck me as being a minor masterpiece of science fiction. I quote it here in its entirety:

Dear Sir:

There is a mental telepathy device supposedly medical in nature which talks to every brain in the world simultaneously and can get an answer from anyone's subcons

The Marconi Radio Device is located in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Johns Hopkins Medical College. Filthy demonological case studies, in part taken from medieval textbooks and in part invented by "doctors," and tape recorded, have been broadcast to every mind in the world for more than 50 years, specifically into the classrooms of Oakland, California. Many prominent politicians and doctors, both British and American, some of them epileptic, make this a clubhouse.

Thousands of people, perhaps yourself included, have been talked to individually, without their knowledge or permission, in their beds and in their offices, and answered intimate questions the nature of which I leave to your imagination. Opinion and personalities are beside the point here -- WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

(In investigating, please check with any of the 8,000 sane psychiatrists who have never been in the Foundation Room.)

Over 43,000 people know how to use the device and over 12,000 have keys to the room. Almost anyone of prominence or position can get one and are using the device as a form of entertainment.

I have, over a long period of time, repeatedly reported this disgraceful situation to all branches of the Federal government, as well as to several state governments, but no one concerned seems to have the intellect or the sense of responsibility to realize that intrusion into any one home or into the minds of the whole human race is criminal.

Not only is information for blackmail gotten here, but also elections are influenced and wars are caused.

If you have any business or research secrets of personal secrets you might like to keep, and if you object to unscreened laymen and doctors alike talking to any branch of our armed forces or research labs anywhere in the U. S. or in the world, then I feel sure you will find a way to make your voice felt.

If there is any question about my character of that of my family, please send a woman doctor to see me at any time. (6th exam today. O. K. at age 46.)

For further information on the interference with our schools, see the Oakland School Board.

Sincerely yours,
[signature]

P. S. The publications by the groups concerned, the Foundation Group at the Johns Hopkins Medical College and those concerned at Cambridge University, England, are salacious and slanderous, and as for "medicine," they are not worth the paper they are written on, for they are demonology. I welcome your investigation here.

The letter was carefully signed in ink by the woman who wrote it, and it also indicated her address, that of a house in a quiet street in Berkeley. I have the impression, however, that anybody interested in obtaining from her some further information about the curious mental telepathy device would have beeen likely to find her in some psychiatric ward.


First published in SIROCCO, the weekly bulletin of the U. S. Embassy, Tunis, January 25, 1962. Republished by permission of the author.

Jack Nixon's long career as a USAID officer included several years in Haiti during the 1970’s. Retired, he now lives in France with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and several pets.

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