US Use of VX & Sarin on US Servicemen

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sat Jul 12 10:28:45 MDT 2003


*****   New York Times   July 12, 2003
Investigations of Chemicals Will Continue
By THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON, July 11 - The Pentagon has assured Congress that it will
not shut down its inquiry into a cold war program that tested the
vulnerability of American forces to chemical or biological attack,
officials said today.

Seven members of Congress had written to Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld on June 26 arguing that any decision by the Pentagon to
"discontinue its investigation would be premature and would put
thousands of veterans at further risk." Veterans groups also
complained to the Pentagon.

Late last month, the Pentagon declassified a final set of reports on
the test program, which ran from 1961 to 1970, after having
identified 5,842 people who may have been exposed to chemical or
biological agents.

In a statement today, a senior Pentagon health official said that
while its active search of Defense Department records had been
completed, officials would continue the inquiry if new information
surfaced.

"We remain committed to further investigating any new information
regarding these tests," Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of
defense for force health protection and readiness, said.

That promise to keep the inquiry open, even in a passive status, was
deemed a victory by members of Congress who had urged the Pentagon to
declassify the reports.

Representative Mike Thompson, Democrat of California, said in a
statement that the Pentagon also promised Congress that it would
"continue responding to veterans who contact the department believing
they may have been exposed to potentially harmful agents."

Mr. Thompson, an author of the letter to Mr. Rumsfeld, also said:
"Many service members in our armed forces unknowingly participated in
these tests. It is our duty to provide them with every piece of
available information so they may be properly treated for health
problems they may have developed as a result of this."

Pentagon officials said that under the testing program, known as
Project 112 and Project SHAD, for shipboard hazard and defense, the
military conducted 50 exercises of 134 that had been planned.

Some of those tests included spraying deadly substances, including VX
and sarin, on military personnel, ships and even on American soil.

Veterans may be eligible for benefits if medical problems or
disabilities can be linked to exposure during the tests.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/12/national/12CHEM.html>   *****

*****   Article Last Updated: Friday, July 11, 2003 - 6:13:22 AM PST

Defense department to continue SHAD probe, Thompson says
By The Times-Standard

...Project SHAD, or Shipboard Hazard and Defense, was a series of
experiments conducted in the Pacific Ocean during the mid-1960s to
evaluate ship defenses against biological or chemical attacks.

At the request of North Coast veterans who were involved in the
project, Thompson several years ago began pressuring the federal
government to release information on the testing. Two years ago, the
U.S. Department of Defense finally admitted the project existed. It
was only last year, when the Defense Department released new
information, that it admitted publicly for the first time that
American servicemen were exposed to real threats such as Sarin gas
and VX nerve agent, and not merely simulants, as the government had
previously claimed.

Last month, the Pentagon indicated that it would no longer be
investigating further testing information related to tests conducted
on servicemen between 1961 and 1970.

Along with the assurances this week that the investigation is still
open, the Defense Department also agreed to continue responding to
veterans who contact the department believing they may have been
exposed to potentially harmful agents.

"I look forward to seeing the information that has previously been
submitted as well as erroneous information corrected in the
Pentagon's documentation of SHAD," Thompson said. "Many service
members in our armed forces unknowingly participated in these tests.
It is our duty to provide them with every piece of available
information so they may be properly treated for health problems they
may have developed as a result of this (testing)."

<http://www.times-standard.com/Stories/0,1413,127%257E2896%257E1507041,00.html>
*****

Gabe Friedman, "Thompson Fights Pentagon over Secret Military Tests,"
_Napa Valley Register_, July 6, 2003,
<http://www.napanews.com/templates/printurl.cfm?id=25911803-F3D2-430A-B631-8E6DC1E3BBFC>

*****   The Scotsman, July 2, 2003
US tested nerve gas in Britain

THE United States military conducted 50 secret tests of biological
and chemical weapons during the 1960s, including a trial of deadly
nerve agents in Britain.

According to documents released in the US yesterday, nearly 6,000
American troops took part in the tests to examine the combat uses of
the agents. Many of the soldiers were not told of the substances to
which they were exposed.

An Anglo-American programme between 1967 and 1968 at the Ministry of
Defence's chemical-weapons establishment in Porton Down, on Salisbury
Plain, compared the relative strengths of lethal agents sarin and VX.

The investigation was launched after claims by 260 American veterans
that exposure to nerve agents had affected their health.

<http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/international.cfm?id=723372003>   *****

"US Tested Deadly Weapons in US and UK," _The Irish Examiner_, July
2, 2003, <http://breaking.examiner.ie/2003/07/02/story104686.html>

"Secret US Biological and Chemical Weapons Tests Disclosed," _Daily
Times_ (Pakistan), July 1, 2003,
<http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_2-7-2003_pg4_2>

"DoD Tested Weapons On Thousands," _CBS News_, July 1, 2003,
<http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/07/01/national/main561218.shtml>

Christopher Smith, "Deseret Bio Tests Done on 6,000," _The Salt Lake
Tribune_, July 1, 2003,
<http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jul/07012003/utah/71509.asp>

*****   The New York Times
July 1, 2003, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A;  Page 21;  Column 6;  National Desk
LENGTH: 484 words
HEADLINE: Reports Detail Tests of Troops For Exposures
BYLINE:  By THOM SHANKER
DATELINE: WASHINGTON, June 30

BODY: The Pentagon made public today a final set of reports on a cold
war program that tested the vulnerability of American forces to
unconventional attack, having identified 5,842 people who may have
been exposed to chemical or biological agents.

The end of the inquiry was criticized on Capitol Hill and by a
leading veterans' organization, whose leaders said they remained
unconvinced that all the tests had been documented and all those
potentially exposed had been identified.

The 10 test reports declassified today offered none of the
revelations of earlier Pentagon releases on the test program, in
which deadly substances like VX and sarin had been sprayed on
sailors, ships and even on American soil.

One new fact was the disclosure that military personnel used a
substance called Betapropriolactone to decontaminate naval vessels,
structures and clothing. Studies of mice, rats, hamsters and guinea
pigs now indicate that it may cause cancer, the Pentagon said,
although the findings are not definitive.

Under the testing program, which was known as Project 112 and Project
SHAD (for shipboard hazard and defense), the military conducted 50
exercises out of 134 that had been planned, the Pentagon said. The
names of those known to have participated in the tests have been
provided to the Department of Veterans Affairs, because they may be
eligible for benefits if medical problems or disabilities can be
linked to exposure.

"This release concludes a significant effort on the part of many
people in the Department of Defense to ensure important information
was made available to service members and the Department of Veterans
Affairs," William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense
for health affairs, said. "That effort reflects our individual and
collective commitment to veterans and their families."

But seven members of Congress wrote to Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld on Thursday stating that while they "appreciate the
determination to declassify information concerning known tests," any
decision by the Pentagon to "discontinue its investigation would be
premature and would put thousands of veterans at further risk."

An author of the letter, Representative Mike Thompson, a California
Democrat, said today: "There are still a lot of unanswered questions,
and a lot of new information is still coming out. I think we do need
a hearing, or at a minimum a briefing by the Department of Defense,
to ask some of these questions, in particular why they think it is
necessary to shut this down."

Rick Weidman, director of government relations for the Vietnam
Veterans of America, said his organization had been contacted by
retired military personnel who provided information that suggested
additional tests were conducted and that other military units were
involved beyond those described in the Pentagon reports.   *****

--
Yoshie

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