Alton Ochsner, the son of German immigrants, was born Kimball, South Dakota, on 4th May, 1896. His uncle, A. J. Ochsner, was founder and president of the American College of Surgeons.
Ochsner studied at Washington University, St. Louis before moving to the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He then went to work with A. J. Ochsner in Chicago where he helped develop techniques for blood typing.
In 1939 Alton Ochsner and Michael De Bakey published an article suggesting that there was a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Along with William Donovan Ochsner was on the board of the American Cancer Society. Later he became president of the organization.
As a result of his research he established the Ochsner Clinic in 1942 and pioneered the "war against smoking." In 1952 Ochsner appointed Mary Sherman to take control of the cancer laboratory.In 1955 he published Smoking and Cancer: A Doctor's Report.
Ochsner was a passionate anti-communist and after becoming friends with Cordell Hull, was invited to look after Tomas Gabriel Duque, the former dictator of Panama. He also become friends with Anastasio Somoza, the dictator of Nicaragua. Ochsner also treated Juan Peron, the dictator of Argentina.
Ochsner also developed a close friendship with Clint Murchison who helped fund various right-wing organizations. Ochsner was also connected to Warren Commission member, Hale Boggs. According to one Louisiana State Representative, Ochsner was "the most aggressive seeker and recipient of so-called federal handouts in the Second District (Hale Boggs' district).
In 1961 Ochsner, with the financial help of Clint Murchison, established the Information Council of the Americas (INCA). Ed Butler was appointed as Executive Director of INCA. The main objective of the organization was to prevent communist revolutions in Latin America. Ochsner told the New Orleans States Item: "We must spread the warning of the creeping sickness of communism faster to Latin Americas, and to our own people, or Central and South America will be exposed to the same sickness as Cuba." (16th April, 1963)
Edgar and Edith Stern, owners of WDSU radio and television, were members of INCA. Eustis Reily of the Reily Coffee Company personally donated thousands of dollars to INCA. However, it was Patrick J. Frawley, a Californian industrialist and close friend of Richard Nixon, who was INCA's largest financial contributor. The organization used some of this money to make a film about Fidel Castro entitled, Hitler in Havana. The New York Times reviewed the film calling it a "tasteless affront to minimum journalistic standards."
One of Ochsner's friends described him as being "like a fundamentalist preacher in the sense that the fight against communism was the only subject that he would talk about, or even allow you to talk about, in his presence."
Edward Haslam argues in Dr. Mary's Monkey that "Ochsner's hospital was one of the 159 covert research centers which the CIA had admitted to setting up." Haslam believes that Ochsner recruited Mary Sherman to run the research operation The basic project was set up March 23, 1962, using conventional facilities, which then expanded out of the loop for its final phases. Haslam believes that Sherman was involved in carrying out secret research into developing a vaccine to prevent an epidemic of soft-tissue cancers caused by polio vaccine contaminated with SV-40. This work included using a linear particle accelerator located in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans. According to Haslam there was a second-lab working on this project. This was being run by David Ferrie on Louisiana Avenue Parkway.
Ochsner was strongly opposed to the domestic and foreign policy of President John F. Kennedy. He wrote to Senator Allen Ellender: "I sincerely hope that the Civil Rights Bill can also be defeated, because if it was passed, it would certainly mean virtual dictatorship by the President and the Attorney General, a thing I am sure they both want."
Ochsner was also friends with Clay Shaw. Ochsner was president of the International House, whereas Shaw was director of the organization. Both men were also directors of the Foreign Policy Association of New Orleans and arranged for CIA Deputy Director to New Orleans to discuss the communist threat.
Ochsner sat on the National Institute of Health Board of Directors. A fellow director in the early 1960s was Jose Rivera. In 1963 Rivera was in New Orleans handing out research grants from NIH to the Tulane Medical School.
The records of the Mexican consulate office in New Orleans show that when Lee Harvey Oswald obtained his visa for his trip to Mexico, he did so at the same time as William Gaudet. As Edward Haslam points out in Dr. Mary's Monkey : "Gaudet.. is known to have worked for the CIA and edited an anti-Communist newsletter which Ochsner financed."
On 21st July, 1964, Mary Sherman was murdered. The following day, Ochsner wrote a letter to R. H. Crosby, his largest financial contributor saying "our Government, our schools, our press, and our churches have become infiltrated with Communism".
In 1967 Jim Garrison began investigating the activities of Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans. Ochsner told a friend that he feared Garrison would order his arrest and the seizure of INCA's corporate records. Ed Butler took these records to California where Patrick J. Frawley arranged for them to be hidden. Ronald Reagan, the governor of California refused all of Garrison's extradition requests. Frawley had previously helped fund Reagan's political campaigns in California.
Ochsner attacked the Garrison investigation as being unpatriotic because it eroded public confidence and threatened the stability of the American government. In his article, Social Origins of Anticommunism: The Information Council of the Americas (Louisiana History, Spring 1989) Arthur Carpenter claimed that Ochsner launched a propaganda campaign against Garrison. This included sending information to a friend who was the publisher of the Nashville Banner.
According to Carpenter, Ochsner also attempted to discredit Mark Lane, who was assisting the Garrison investigation. He told Felix Edward Hebert that Lane was "a professional propagandist of the lunatic left". Ochsner also instructed Herbert to tell Edwin E. Willis (Chairman of the House Committee) to dig up "whatever information you can" on Lane.
Felix Edward Hebert later sent Ochsner a report on Mark Lane extracted from confidential government files. This included "the files of the New York City Police, the FBI, and other security agencies." These files claimed that Lane was "a sadist and masochist, charged on numerous occasions with sodomy". Hebert also supplied Ochsner with a photograph that was supposed to be Lane engaged in a sadomasochistic act with a prostitute.
Alton Ochsner died on 6th September, 1981.