www.mybaycity.com April 14, 2018
Columns Article 11224

Three test subjects enter a gas chamber, which will fill with mustard gas, as part of the military's secret chemical warfare testing in March 1945. )Courtesy of Edgewood Arsenal)

POISON GAS: U.S. Took 73 Years to Agree to Ban Chemical Weapons

Government Finally Agrees to Treat Vets for Test Injuries

April 14, 2018
By: Dave Rogers

The moral standing of the United States to control the international use of chemical weapons is thin -- at best -- since it took this country 73 years to finally agree to sign a ban.

And, mustard gas and other chemical weapons were made in the U.S. until 1968. Lawsuits by veterans injured during testing continue with the government incongruously asserting "the divine right of kings" as its authority to subject military personnel to chemical tests.

National Public Radio reported: "Tens of thousands of troops were used in testing conducted by the U.S. military between 1922 and 1975. As one Army scientist explained, the military wanted to learn how to induce symptoms such as "fear, panic, hysteria, and hallucinations" in enemy soldiers. Recruitment was done on a volunteer basis, but the details of the testing and associated risks were often withheld from those who signed up.

"Many of the veterans who served as test subjects have since died. But today, those who are still alive are part of a class action lawsuit against the Army."

The current action was brought in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans of America and six aging veterans with multiple diseases and ailments tied to a diabolical and secret testing program, whereby U.S. military personnel were deliberately exposed, by government and military agencies, to chemical and biological weapons and other toxins without informed consent. This multifaceted research program, which was launched in the early 1950s and continued through at least 1976, was conducted not only at the Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick, Maryland but also across America by universities and hospitals under contract to Defendants.

Defendants include the CIA, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense (DoD), and various government officials responsible for these agencies. The CIA secretly provided financing, personnel, and direction for the experiments, which were mainly conducted or contracted by the Army.

Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief only -- no monetary damages -- and Plaintiffs seek redress for 25 years of diabolical experiments followed by over 30 years of neglect, including:

--the use of troops to test nerve gas, psychochemicals, and thousands of other toxic chemicals or biological substances, and perhaps most gruesomely, the insertion of septal implants in the brains of subjects in a ghastly series of mind control experiments that went awry, leaving many civilian and military subjects with permanent disabilities;

--the failure to secure informed consent and other widespread failures to follow the precepts of U.S. and international law regarding the use of human subjects, including the 1953 Wilson Directive and the Nuremberg Code;

--an almost fanatical refusal by the DoD, the CIA, and the Army to satisfy their legal and moral obligations to locate the victims of their gruesome experiments or to provide health care or compensation to them;

--the deliberate destruction by the CIA of evidence and files documenting its illegal actions, actions which were punctuated by fraud, deception, and a callous disregard for the value of human life.

The complaint asks the court to determine that defendants' actions were illegal and that defendants have a duty to notify all victims and to provide them with health care going forward.

Late last year, after thousands of U.S. veterans won a class action suit against the military over being used in chemical and biological testing, the Army says it will pay for their medical care. But the group's attorneys say the service is falling short of meeting its obligations and that it's withholding details veterans are seeking about what agents they were exposed to.

After refusing to sign international agreements banning chemical weapons in 1907 and 1922, it was not until 1997 when the U.S. ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In fact, the U.S. still has stockpiles of chemical weapons in several locations around the country, as noted in the 2014 book "The G-34 Paradox: Inside the Army's Secret Mustard Gas Project at Dow Chemical in World War I." The book by this author is published by Historical Press of Bay City and includes a foreword by Dr. Roger Pajak, a Bay City native and former U.S. national security analyst.

After the war, Dow founder Herbert H. Dow was honored by the Chemical Warfare Service of the U.S. Army at a special ceremony in Midland crediting the Midland firm with being the Army's first and main source of mustard gas to combat the Germans.

Testimony was entered into the Congressional Record documenting Dow's contribution.

U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service officials maintained for years that chemical weapons were "more humane" than bullets or bombs. Military installations and companies other than Dow continued to make mustard gas until 1968.

The supplies of mustard gas and other chemical weapons produced during World War I were mainly dumped into the Atlantic Ocean by the Army. Numerous reports and books about gas warfare in the war fail to mention the contribution of the Dow company to national defense. In fact, a recent book incorrectly credits Harvard president J.B. Conant with being the inventor of mustard gas.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, "by the end of the Fiscal Year 1999, (chemical weapons) material had been identified or was believed to exist, at 99 locations in 38 states and U.S. territories, some of which had or have multiple burial sites. Approximately 229 known or suspected sites have been identified. At 33 of the 99 locations, the hazardous material was removed, or no hazardous material was found."

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague, Netherlands, has considered the deployment of a Fact-Finding Mission team to Douma to establish facts surrounding allegations of chemical weapons use.

On April 10, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has requested the Syrian Arab Republic to make the necessary arrangements for such a deployment. This has coincided with a request from the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma. The team is preparing to deploy to Syria shortly.

Since the publication of the G-34 book, many questions have arisen about Dow's part in making Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The firm has issued a statement: "As a nation at war, the U.S. government compelled a number of companies to produce Agent Orange under the Defense Production Act. The government specified how Agent Orange would be produced and then subsequently controlled its transportation, storage, and use.

"All historic wartime issues, including the use of Agent Orange, are appropriately a matter of resolution by and among the governments of the United States, Vietnam, and the allied forces. The U.S. government has committed resources to address this issue and collaboration between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments continues on a number of fronts.

"The scientific investigation of Agent Orange has gone on since the Vietnam War and continues today. The very substantial body of human evidence on Agent Orange does not establish that veterans' illnesses are caused by Agent Orange."


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