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Military Releases More Details of Experiments on Soldiers

military

In June, 2003, the U.S. military lifted the veil on a bizarre and cruel set of experiments it had carried out on American GIs in the 1960s. The Pentagon declassified a final set of reports on testing programs known as Project 112 and Project SHAD (shipboard hazard and defense), which took place from 1961 to 1970. The experiments were intended to assess the vulnerability of American forces to chemical or biological attack. In the process, large numbers of soldiers were involved unknowingly and have suffered dire health effects from toxic exposures.

Fifty of 134 planned tests were carried out, and more than 5,800 U.S. troops believed to have been exposed to chemical or biological agents have been identified. Documents revealed that many were sprayed with toxic substances such as VX and sarin. After urging from veterans groups and seven members of Congress, the Pentagon agreed to keep the investigation open and look at any new information brought forward. It also promised to assist veterans who believe they were harmed by the experiments—in some cases, providing benefits for medical problems that appear linked to the exposures.

The experiments occurred in clear disregard of the 1947 Nuremberg Code of Ethics, which, among other obligations, requires voluntary informed consent of human subjects. This key principle protects the right of the individual to control his or her own body and ensures that unnecessary pain and suffering are prevented.

The experiments occurred in clear disregard of the 1947 Nuremberg Code of Ethics, which, among other obligations, requires voluntary informed consent of human subjects.

In 1995, PCRM reported on related cold war–era experiments in which hundreds of thousands of U.S. military and civilian personnel were exposed to radiation, blister and nerve agents, and biological contaminants. Acute injuries, chronic illnesses, and deaths were reported. A General Accounting Office representative at the time testified that the Atomic Energy Commission and the U.S. Public Health Service funded human experiments that left mentaly ill children exposed to low doses of radiation. Other cases involved giving LSD to 100 individuals without consent, spraying biological weapons over parts of St. Louis, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C., and exposing thousands of people to infectious agents such as Venezuelan equine encephalitis and tularemia.



 

Autumn 2003
Volume XII
Number 4

Good Medicine
ARCHIVE

 
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