Joseph Scheider (Sidney Gottlieb) was born in 1918. He studied chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and after he finished his Ph.D. he joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He worked as a member of the Technical Services Staff (TSS) and eventually became head of the Chemical Division.
Richard Bissell, head of the Directorate for Plans, an organization instructed to conduct covert anti-Communist operations around the world, made full use of Gottlieb's abilities. The Directorate for Plans was responsible for what became known as the CIA's Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power).
In March I960, President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States approved a CIA plan to overthrow Fidel Castro. Gottlieb was asked to come up with proposals that would undermine Castro's popularity with the Cuban people. Plans included a scheme to spray a television studio in which he was about to appear with an hallucinogenic drug (LSD) and contaminating his shoes with thallium which they believed would cause the hair in his beard to fall out.
Richard Bissell eventually decided to organize a CIA plot to kill Castro. Gottlieb came up with several ideas on how to do this including the insertion of poison into cigars Castro was known to smoke. Another scheme involved a conch shell that would be programmed to explode when Castro was swimming underwater. Gottlieb also came up with the idea of planting a poisoned handkerchief in his suit pocket. This was unsuccessfully used against General Abd al-Karim Kassem of Iraq.
Gottlieb was also assigned the task of planning the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. This included the idea of a lethal biological agent that would be added to a tube of toothpaste. Attempts were made to develop a biological agent that would cause tularemia, brucelloisis, anthrax, smallpox, tuberculosis and equine encephalis. These experiments ended in failure and eventually Lumumba was murdered by soldiers loyal to Moise Tshombe.
By 1967 Gottlieb became head of the Technical Services Staff and held the post until his retirement in 1972. Before he left he destroyed some 80 percent of the CIA's most damaging files. Most of these had something to do with programs run by Gottlieb.
In 1975 Frank Church and his Select Committee on Intelligence Activities began investigating the work of the Central Intelligence Agency. They discovered the existence of Executive Action. The disclosure of Gottlieb's work resulted in some of his victims taking legal action against the CIA.
Sidney Gottlieb died on 10th March, 1999.