In the late 20th century, Amy Newton was interning as a molecular biologist while she was pursuing her Bachelor’s degree working on antidepressants for Arizona State University at the ASU’s Research Park in Chandler, Arizona.
Amy was clearly gifted – this was readily recognized by everyone she came in contact with, but as an intern who lacked any degrees and real credibility in her field, her early efforts and surprisingly savvy breakthroughs which had stumped far more educated scientists who were one and the same receiving credit for her work.
This lack of credit put a bad taste in her mouth, early on, which had Amy discussing shifting her major with her counselor to something less male dominated and friendlier for women – something like Marketing.
Appalled at the stereotypical treatment – her counselor insisted on her maintaining course.
And a friend of hers took it one step further and put in a call which changed her life.
In 1999, while packing up her desk, her internship complete and her Bachelor’s degree nearly in the bag, Amy was called into her manager’s office who then discussed the real nature of her work.
“The efforts you’ve put in have been nothing short of remarkable,” her manager and a few other men she didn’t recognize had told her, “and we’d like to make you an offer to continue what you’re doing.”
Amy bit her lip. She hadn’t told them of her plans to continue her education after receiving her Molecular Biology degree to combine that with Marketing and get into pharmaceutical sales.
“I don’t think I’m cut out for this line of work,” she said.
She’d already made up her mind.
“Look, we’re well aware you’re planning on obtaining a marketing degree and plan to get into pharmaceutical sales. You’re clearly re more than well equipped both physically and intellectually to handle this role, but we think this path won’t be using your talents to their fullest.”
Amy seethed. She didn’t hear the compliment he intended which subtly commended her intelligence and abilities.
Instead. She’d focused on what had turned her off of this field to begin with.
The words echoed in her mind.
“well equipped physically…. well equipped physically…. well equipped physically…. well equipped physically…. “
Would she be recognized for her work after her looks faded?
And what would happen to her debt?
No. She needed predictable.
Amy’s face was clearly emotionally guarded as she said nothing.
A older man in civilian clothes walked up to her and shook her hand.
“We should have introduced you to the others as you stepped into the office. Ms Newton, I’m Frank Nemen, General Frank Nemen, and I am here on behalf of DARPA – the Defense and Research Project Agency”
Amy shook his hand as she stood up.
The manager stood up, I’m sorry Amy, we’re blindsiding you a bit here.
“And I’m Anthony Grey, I am head of Research and Development for Pfizer.”
Amy shook his hand, unsure what was happening here.
“Michael Woodward, I represent the US Intelligence services, I’m not at liberty to say which branch”
Amy shook his hand, starting to feel overwhelmed and not knowing why.
“And I’m Adriana Peterson. I’ve been asked to be here by a high level authority I am also not at liberty to name.”
Amy ‘s sullen look had turned to one of unsureness as she sat down.
“Amy, again, I apologize about blindsiding you here. Now that you know the company you’re in, “ he slid a Non disclosure agreement across the table to her “If you would like to hear what we have to say next, I need you to agree that you will not discuss anything we talk with you about with ANYONE unless explicitly authorized by those you see in this room.”
Amy looked around the room.
“What is this about, what are you doing to me?,” she stood up, wanting to run from the room, but her curiosity was raised.
“Amy, it’s the nature of your work. We haven’t been able to discuss how important it is not just to us, but to this country and this world. We’d like to tell you more, but unless you sign that agreement, we’re unable to.”
She looked at the agreement on the desk.
The choice seemed so simple.
Don’t look back.
And pretend this all never happened.
It was safe.
It was secure.
It was easy.
And her future. Utterly predictable.
But there was a part of her that didn’t like that, and she knew it.
“IF I sign it and don’t agree to anything else other than not to discuss anything, am I free to leave?,” she said.
Her manager looked at her, with genuineness “of course you are.”
The others nodded in agreement.
“What have I got to lose?,” she thought, succeeded by “How hard could it be? Not discussing what they have to say. But the world? Naw, they have to be overstating things.”
She enjoyed what she did. And she had to admit she felt like she was selling herself short in pharmaceutical sales, falling back and pandering to the stereotypes she so loathed to make a living.
“Fine,” she said, as she reached across the table and signed the paper.
With this, the manager got up, and said “Would you care to join us in the meeting room, we have a presentation prepared for you”
What followed next blew Amy away.
Everything Amy thought she knew about the world at that point was upended.
In the presentation, Amy learned that the work she’d been doing wasn’t for antidepressants as she’d been led to believe, it was for Nootropics or mind enhancing drugs.
Pfizer had been working in secret with the US Government to sponsor the research at ASU, in what they had referred to as a seed program. The goal of the work they’d had her do as an intern wasn’t to resolve problems for depressed people.
It was to continue the work based on privatized CIA research done in the late 1960s and early 1970s for a mind control program referred to as MKUltra, a program which undermined free will itself, and which not knowing the nature of the mind seemed to be undermining civilized society itself in a fashion that was predictably similar to the fall of ancient Rome and Greece.
Suddenly. Amy’s petty concerns about how to pay her bills seemed selfish.
Amy felt tiny in the chair at the end of the table watching all this in motion.
That’s when the offer of a lifetime came.
“We will not only pay for your continued research, we’ll pay for your school, in it’s entirety, ass we’ll expect you to pursue a Master’s Degree – and we’ll also sponsor your Doctorate research. “
She hadn’t thought that far ahead.
And this deal. Was too good to be true.
She grew suspicious.
That’s when the catch came.
“You can’t tell anyone about your decision to stick with molecular biology. To your friends. Your family. Your loved ones. You’ll become a marketer. We’ll provide you a cover. But if you take our offer, you are absolutely required to maintain strict confidence.”
And there it was.
But wait. There was more.
“Also, because of the nature of your work – you will be required to submit to being monitored 24×7 due to the nature of your work.”
“Jesus,” she said. “What are you some kind of perverts?”
“Miss Newton. I’ll be candid with you. Our success is contingent on one little girl who were all praying will succeed in her work. You. Those who monitor you will be professionals, but should you take this opportunity on, you will become our asset to protect from harm. If that means keeping you safe whether you’re bumping your head in the shower or intimately engaged with another, we and you need you to know we’re there. You’re an investment we intend on protecting at all costs.”
Amy was besides herself, unsure how to react.
“Can I think about this overnight?,” she said.
“Sure,” her manager replied, “But please don’t discuss anything we talked with you about today.”
As she left the room and began her drive home, she couldn’t help but think…
How can I tell if I’m being lied to?
The temptation and allure of having her education and lifestyle completely paid for was too….
Difficult to resist.
But was there more to this all than she was being led to believe?