The CIA has been known to do some unethical and sometimes illegal things in the past and present. Some things are justified when the intention is for the greater good, while some things are going too far, and the CIA and similar organizations can and do cross the line once in a while. Perhaps this would not be a problem if it were never revealed, but many declassified documents have shown the public things that it should never have seen. In one sentence, MK-ULTRA is a CIA program that tested chemical and biological weapons on ordinary citizens during the Cold War, often without their knowledge or consent.
It was launched in 1953 with multiple goals in mind. The program attempted to develop substances that strengthen or induce hypnosis and produce shock and confusion, and a “truth serum”-like drug for interrogation. On the other hand, they also tried to develop ones that prevent hypnosis and improve resistance to interrogation. Another objective was a drug that can limit and control the behavior of citizens, so mind alteration/control were also heavily experimented with. Needless to say, not all experiments were approved by Congress, and a public confession was eventually forced.
It is unknown if the CIA succeeded in developing these and other biological weapons, though it is unlikely that it was all fruitless. The explanation provided for the motive behind the project was that the US was forced to do this because rival countries had already developed similar weapons and would use them in the near future.
Many experiments using the drug LSD were dangerous to patients, and multiple subjects were hospitalized. Disturbingly, some tests caused symptoms of paranoia and schizophrenia, while others were lethal, and yet the project continued without second thought. In November 1953, a group of ten CIA scientists were drugged with modified LSD via cocktails and only informed afterwards. One of them mysteriously fell to his death from a 10th floor hotel room he shared with a CIA officer that night, and no, you are not the only one who thinks he was assassinated. A second autopsy revealed wounds from before impact, and most people agree that they were not self-inflicted.
Institutions such as hospitals, universities, and even prisons were involved in MK-ULTRA. The CIA bribed many of them to get their consent to perform experiments. Note that they bribed the institutions, not the patients. The subjects didn’t know that they were being experimented on until afterwards.
Only two lawsuits made it to the Supreme Court, both of which apparently favored the project over human rights, so both were discarded. The CIA claims nearly all records of the program were “lost” so no one would have to deal with them again. The project was shut down due to the spiking death toll and to avoid further controversy in 1973, but some say the project continues under other names.