Biowarfare in the news

This new case makes these biowarfare reports topical now –
. I also wrote another story on Shulgin who worked at Edgewater in the early days.

Long version –
short version –

Claims Come 2Light in New Court Case,
Government Experiments on U.S. Soldiers: Shocking Claims Come to Light
in New Court Case
By Bruce Falconer, Mother Jones

Posted on May 23, 2009, Printed on May 26, 2009

Their stories are a staple of conspiracy culture: broken men, suffering
hallucinations and near-total amnesia, who say they are victims of
secret government mind-control experiments. Think Liev Schreiber in The
Manchurian Candidate or Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory. Journalists are
a favorite target for the paranoid delusions of this population. So is
Gordon ErspamerâEUR”
and the San Francisco lawyer’s latest case isn’t helping him to fend off
the tinfoil-hat crowd. He has filed suit against the CIA and the US Army
on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans of America and six former American
soldiers who claim they are the real thing:
survivors of classified government tests conducted at the Army’s
Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland between 1950 and 1975. “I get a lot of
calls,” he says. “There are a lot of crazy people out there who think
that somebody from Mars is controlling their behavior via radio waves.”
But when it comes to Edgewood, “I’m finding that more and more of those
stories are true!”
That government scientists conducted human experiments at Edgewood is
not in question. “The program involved testing of nerve agents, nerve
agent antidotes, psychochemicals, and irritants,” according to a 1994
General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office)
report (PDF). At least 7,800 US servicemen served “as laboratory rats or
guinea pigs” at Edgewood, alleges Erspamer’s complaint, filed in January
in a federal district court in California. The Department of Veterans
Affairs has reported that military scientists tested hundreds of
chemical and biological substances on them, including VX, tabun, soman,
sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like
phosgene and mustard. The full scope of the tests, however, may never be
known. As a CIA official explained to the GAO, referring to the agency’s
infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments, “The names of those involved
in the tests are not available because names were not recorded or the
records were subsequently destroyed.”
Besides, said the official, some of the tests involving LSD and other
psychochemical drugs “were administered to an undetermined number of
people without their knowledge.”
Erspamer’s plaintiffs claim that, although they volunteered for the
Edgewood program, they were never adequately informed of the potential
risks and continue to suffer debilitating health effects as a result of
the experiments. They hope to force the CIA and the Army to admit
wrongdoing, inform them of the specific substances they were exposed to,
and provide access to subsidized health care to treat their
Edgewood-related ailments. Despite what they describe as decades of
suffering resulting from their Edgewood experiences, the former soldiers
are not seeking monetary damages; a 1950 Supreme Court decision, the
Feres case, precludes military personnel from suing the federal
government for personal injuries sustained in the line of duty. The
CIA’s decision to use military personnel as test subjects followed the
court’s decision and is an issue Erspamer plans to raise at trial.
“Suddenly, they stopped using civilian subjects and said, ‘Oh, we can
get these military guys for free,'” he says. “The government could do
whatever it wanted to them without liability. We want to bring that to
the attention of the public, because I don’t think most people
understand that.”
(Asked about Erspamer’s suit, CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf would say only
that the agency’s human testing program has “been thoroughly
investigated, and the CIA fully cooperated with each of the
Erspamer’s involvement in the case is deeply personal. His father was a
government scientist during Operation Crossroads, a series of nuclear
tests conducted at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in the summer of 1946; he
was present aboard a research vessel for the “Baker” test, during which
a 21-kiloton thermonuclear bomb was detonated 90 feet below water. The
blast resulted in massive radioactive contamination. Erspamer’s father
and the rest of the ship’s crew, he says, all died in middle age from
radiogenic diseases. Erspamer makes his living in the field of energy
litigation, but has twice before argued class action suits for
one for soldiers who, like his father, were exposed to radiation during
nuclear tests (a case he ultimately lost in a 1992 appellate decision)
and more recently one on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans denied
treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The case is on appeal in
California’s 9th Circuit.
“Nobody out there is doing these types of cases,” he says. “It’s really
sad because the veterans are left holding the bag, and it’s not a very
pretty bag.”
One of those vets is Frank Rochelle. Unlike those of other test
veterans, portions of his heavily redacted medical records have
survived, providing a rare, if incomplete, account of his experiences.
In 1968, while posted at Virginia’s Fort Lee as a 20-year-old Army
draftee, he saw a notice calling for volunteers for the Edgewood
program. Among the promised incentives were relief from guard duty, the
freedom to wear civilian clothes, three-day weekends, and, upon
completion, a medal of commendationâEUR”
all for participation in experiments that, according to the notice,
would help the military test a new generation of equipment, clothing,
and gas masks. Upon his arrival at the testing facility in Maryland, he
says he was asked to sign a series of documents, including a release
form and a secrecy agreement. The tests would be risk free, he says he
was told, and any drugs given would not exceed normal dosage. Over the
next two months, however, he was subjected to three rounds of
experiments that, Rochelle says, left him permanently damaged. His
medical records indicate that he was exposed to nonlethal incapacitating
agents like DHMP and glycolate, both of which act as sedatives that
produce hallucinations. In the latter case, Rochelle says he was taken
into a gas chamber and strapped to a chair by two men in white lab
coats, who affixed a mask to his face and told him to breathe normally.
He quickly lost consciousness. According to Erspamer’s complaint,
“Over the next two to three days, Frank was hallucinating and high:
he thought he was three feet tall, saw animals on the walls, thought he
was being pursued by a 6-foot-tall white rabbit, heard people calling
his name, thought that all his freckles were bugs under his skin, and
used a razor to try to cut these bugs out. No one from the clinical
staff intervened on his behalfâEUR¦”
Medical records indicate that Rochelle went through a third round of
testing, but he has no memory of it. For years he’s been having
nightmares about the Edgewood tests and now suffers from anxiety, memory
loss, sleep apnea, tinnitus, and loss of vision, all of which he claims
are direct results of the experiments. Still, he didn’t inform his
doctor of the tests until 2006, believing that he was still bound by the
oath of secrecy he swore in 1968.
(The government finally released human test subjects to speak to their
physicians about the tests in June 2006, under the condition that they
not “discuss anything that relates to operational information that might
reveal chemical or biological warfare vulnerabilities or capabilities.”)
Rochelle’s story is similar to those of Erspamer’s other plaintiffs, all
of whom claim to be suffering debilitating health effects stemming from
the experiments. Of course, substantiating these claims is a challenge,
given that most of the medical records were destroyed upon completion of
the program. Rochelle’s records remain intact, but for “others we have
less information,” says Erspamer. “We spent a great deal of time on that
topic, and we are confident that the plaintiffs are who they say they
are, were where they said they were, and got what they said they got,”
in terms of exposure to experimental chemicals. “Who bears the burden on
that issue when the defendants destroyed the evidence?” Erspamer asks.
“They’ve put all that stuff through the shredder.”
Compensation for injuries sustained during human testing of chemical and
biological agents is not unprecedented. Last year, more than 350
servicemen who served as test subjects at Porton Down, a secret military
research facility where the British government conducted its own series
of mind-
control experiments, were granted nearly $6 million in compensation in
an out-of-court settlement with the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
Likewise, in 2004, the Canadian government began offering $18,000
payments to eligible veterans of experiments at its testing facilities.
Nevertheless, says Erspamer, “No American soldiers have ever been
compensated.” The CIA and the Army “just hope they’re all gonna die off,
and they will unless somebody does something.”


~ by ionamiller on June 26, 2009.

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