March 9, 2008

Just Testing? We're All Guinea Pigs Now

Heather Wokusch and Wray Forrest have done our country a great service by putting this topic out there for all of us to study. They reveal that our worst fears are all true: the government is using citizens here and abroad, as "test subjects" in life-threatening situations without being given information about the risks being taken. The content of this unusually long post is of critical importance to us all. I have tried to pick some of the most urgent elements out of the original, very detailed article, with the hope you will click the links and read the whole story, with [my bold] throughout:
Breaking the Nuremberg Code: The US Military’s Human-Testing Program Returns
by Heather Wokusch | March 5, 2008 - 11:28pm
The Pentagon is slated to release a suspected toxicant in Crystal City, Virginia this week, ostensibly to test air sensors.
There is a tricky clause in Chapter 32/Title 50 of the United States Code (the aggregation of US general and permanent laws). Specifically, Section 1520a lists the following cases in which the Secretary of Defense can conduct a chemical or biological agent test or experiment on humans if informed consent has been obtained:
(1) Any peaceful purpose that is related to a medical, therapeutic, pharmaceutical, agricultural, industrial, or research activity.
(2) Any purpose that is directly related to protection against toxic chemicals or biological weapons and agents.
(3) Any law enforcement purpose, including any purpose related to riot control.
In other words, there are many circumstances under which the Secretary of Defense can test chemical or biological agents on human beings, but at least informed consent has to be obtained in advance.
Or does it. Section 1515, another part of Chapter 32, is entitled "Suspension; Presidential authorization" and says:
After November 19, 1969, the operation of this chapter, or any portion thereof, may be suspended by the President during the period of any war declared by Congress and during the period of any national emergency declared by Congress or by the President.
Essentially, if the President or Congress decides that we are at war then the Secretary of Defense does not need anybody´s consent to test chemical or biological agents on human beings. Gives one pause during these days of a perpetual "war on terror."

[...Wray C. Forrest] became one of roughly 6,720 soldiers used as Edgewood Arsenal test subjects between 1950-1975.
Forrest was given a new identity at Edgewood: Research Subject #6692. He says, "That was the number assigned to me … similar to the numbers assigned to the Jews in the concentration/death camps in Germany during WWII."
The US military tested heart drugs on Forrest, which he says were administered by IV and various types of injections. Forrest was also exposed to "contaminated drinking water, food, and various ground contaminates that permeate Edgewood Arsenal. BZ [a chemical incapacitating agent], napalm, mustard agents, and any number of other contaminates in the ground and drinking water there, from previous testing done there by the military."
A total of 254 different chemicals were researched on soldiers at Edgewood, and Forrest notes, "We were never informed as to exactly what we were being given. We also did not sign any informed consent prior to the testing. This was a direct violation of the Geneva Convention rules for the use of humans in chemical and drug experiments/research."

The Edgewood Arsenal facility played a role in WWII human subject testing as well. Roughly 4,000 US soldiers were used as human guinea pigs in chemical research which often took place in gas chambers
. US Navy member Nat Schnurman, for example, was sent to an Edgewood gas chamber six times one week in 1942. As The Detroit Free Press reported: "On his last visit, a blend of mustard gas and lewisite was piped in. ”> Schnurman was overcome with toxins, vomited into his mask and begged for release. The request was denied. His next memory is of coming to on a snowbank outside the chamber."
Dubbed "Urban Shield: Crystal City Urban Transport Study," the operation will test the effectiveness of the city’s chemical sensors, and according to The Examiner newspaper, ”> "the data will help the Pentagon and Arlington shape their lockdown policies for chemical and biological attacks or accidents." Lockdown policies.
According to a Pentagon press release from late February 2008, the study "will involve releasing a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and inert tracer gas that poses ”> no health or safety hazards to people or the environment."
But it’s not quite that simple. ”> Sulfur hexafluoride is a suspected respiratory toxicant ; as such, exposure in certain amounts may be harmful for those with asthma, emphysema and other respiratory issues. It also is a suspected neurotoxicant, with potential untold consequences for the nervous systems of those vulnerable.
That part is left out of the Pentagon’s press release. [my bold]
Yet repeated phone calls to the Pentagon yesterday yielded no results. The Force Protection Agency seemed unaware of the upcoming test and the press office was of no help either. No one could - or would - answer basic questions such as how many people could be exposed in the open-air test, if any attempt had been made to brief citizens on potential health risks or if there would be any medical follow-up provided.
The Bush administration has quietly channeled tens of billions of dollars into chemical and biological weapons. Bush’s 2007 budget, for example, earmarked almost $2 billion for biodefense research and development via the National Institutes of Health alone.
Since the R&D is top secret and oversight limited, the public is rarely aware of escalating dangers. As of August 2007, for example, biological weapons laboratories across the country had reported 36 lost shipments and accidents for that year, almost double the number for all of 2004.
In addition to challenging international non-proliferation agreements and risking a global arms race, the Bush administration’s surge in chemical and biological weapons spending raises questions over what deadly weapons may have been tested on populations abroad. And what may be tested domestically, with or without the public’s consent.
Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives’ Handbook: Get the F
acts and Make a Difference Now series and can be reached at ”> . Wray Forrest and other veterans have put together a DVD on "how our Federal Government treated its troops at not only Edgewood Arsenal, but also at other military installations in the United States of America." For a free copy, send a blank DVD+R and self-addressed postage paid DVD Envelope to: EDGEWOOD RESEARCH VETERAN, 3910 Patrick Drive Apt 14, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80916.
Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives' Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now, which went to #1 on Amazon's political activism charts in December 2007.
In searching for photos for this post I came upon yet another expose of the Edge
wood Arsenal from a 2007 article in Wired:
Army's Hallucinogenic Weapons Unveiled
By Sharon Weinberger
, April 06, 2007
[...] Advocates of using chemical agents in nonlethal warfare are increasing, making now a good time to start reviewing the historical record. A recently published book on the Army's infamous "Edgewood Experiments" involving hallucinogenic agents like LSD may help shed more light on the debate. The infamous CIA work, MK ULTRA, is often considered synonymous with all government LSD experimentation. But the historical record is far more complex.
This may be the first and last time in my life that I call a self-published book a "must read," but psychiatrist James Ketchum's Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten is an usual case. As Steve Aftergood of Secrecy News has already pointed out, this book "is a candid, not entirely flattering, sometimes morbidly amusing account of a little-documented aspect of Army research." Ketchum's book is also discussed in an article published today in USA Today, which provides a brief description of the work Ketchum was involved in:
Army doctors gave soldier volunteers synthetic marijuana, LSD and two dozen other psychoactive drugs during experiments aimed at developing chemical weapons that could incapacitate enemy soldiers, a psychiatrist who performed the research says in a new memoir.

The program, which ran at the Army's Edgewood, Md., arsenal from 1955 until about 1972, concluded that counterculture staples such as acid and pot were either too unpredictable or too mellow to be useful as weapons, psychiatrist James Ketchum said in an interview.

The program did yield one hallucinogenic weapon: softball-size artillery rounds that were filled with powdered quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, a deliriant of the belladonnoid family that had placed some research subjects in a sleeplike state and left them impaired for days.

Ketchum says the BZ bombs were stockpiled at an Army arsenal in Arkansas but never deployed. They were later destroyed.

The Army acknowledged the program's existence in 1975. Follow-up studies by the Army in 1978 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1981 found that volunteers suffered no long-term effects.

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