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May 19, 2009 6:52 AM   Subscribe

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."
posted by Joe Beese (42 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh good, I'll get my daily dose of outrage and anger out of the way early.
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 AM on May 19, 2009



In the late forties and early fifties we were constantly told that the Russian population was brain washed.
Sure glad it never happened to us Americans/USians whichever you prefer.
posted by notreally at 7:13 AM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh that's nice. But obviously all this stuff happened a long time ago and I'm sure that they stopped doing anything unethical just right after the declassification horizon.
posted by delmoi at 7:14 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well I guess seeing as it is in the interests of national security it is OK.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:22 AM on May 19, 2009


I am also saying things I don't believe. I am a part of the thing.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:24 AM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


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.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:24 AM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gonna die gonna die gonna die for your government!
posted by fuq at 7:24 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


My highschool had a case where LSD was administered to an undetermined number of people without their knowlege.

Somehow the VX, tabun, soman and sarin part concernes me more. If you ever want the sensation of being rudely awakend again and again, I reccomend A Higher form of Killing.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:26 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


We have to destroy people in order to save them.
posted by adipocere at 7:30 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


the agency's mefi's own infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments
posted by DU at 7:34 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


This makes me want to cry.
posted by lagreen at 7:34 AM on May 19, 2009


This is news? MKULTRA was first revealed in the mid-seventies--Stephen King based Firestarter on it--and some people suspect that Theodore Kaczynski was a participant. The only thing that's new here is that some people have filed a lawsuit, and even that's nothing new.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:36 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Which sick bastard thought of this bright idea?

Also, this is partially why I generally dislike the CIA and the military. They are incredibly creepy and laced with fascism. Even military hospitals are scary and I generally find hospitals fascinating.
posted by kldickson at 7:38 AM on May 19, 2009


Right- this information is not new, per se. It's always had a tinge of conspiracy theory, but I never really doubted it.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:39 AM on May 19, 2009


Fun fact: Walter Reed uses the word 'Warrior' in all of its medical programs.
posted by kldickson at 7:39 AM on May 19, 2009


Looked up this Kaczynski/MK_ULTRA link and found this gem:

Merry Prankster Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, volunteered for MK-ULTRA experiments while he was a student at Stanford University. Kesey's ingestion of LSD during these experiments led directly to his widespread promotion of the drug and the subsequent development of hippie culture.

Oh fascism, is there any seed of your own destruction you cannot sow?
posted by DU at 7:40 AM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Then there was that homeless guy that I used to buy beer for all the time- claimed he was trying to saturate himself in booze because all the aluminum filings he'd consumed via bags of nacho chees doritos all those years were leaving him susceptible to government control.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:41 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seems like this research violated the Nuremberg Code and the researchers could be prosecuted on that basis.
posted by RussHy at 7:46 AM on May 19, 2009


Here's some footage of British and (briefly) American troops drilling after being administered LSD, amount unknown. Please note that the efficiency of the rocket launcher team (!) was very impaired.

also, kitty on LSD
posted by now i'm piste at 7:47 AM on May 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


.
posted by kalessin at 7:48 AM on May 19, 2009


I read a really terrible article a few years back about experiments they used to do on civilian prisoners. I think it was mostly chemicals that destroyed the skin. There was some doctor in charge of the project, and he was one scary fucking guy. He had some quote to the effect of, "I looked out at the prison .... and all I saw were yards and yards of flesh." I'll have to look for it when I get home.

And of course Tuskeegee is something that all Americans know about, yet few do.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:57 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


A lot of people over the years have paid good money for their hits of acid. Very few were left with debilitating illnesses.
posted by caddis at 8:01 AM on May 19, 2009


Oh fascism, is there any seed of your own destruction you cannot sow?

Those are some slow germinating seeds.
posted by srboisvert at 8:01 AM on May 19, 2009


srboisvert: "Those are some slow germinating seeds."

When Zhou Enlai was asked his opinion of the French Revolution, he replied, "It is too soon to tell."
posted by Joe Beese at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Seems like this research violated the Nuremberg Code and the researchers could be prosecuted on that basis.
posted by RussHy at 10:46 AM on May 19


Seems like the Nurmeberg Code (a) isn't a law, (b) is only an ethical guideline at the NIH, and (c) the experiments described here were not performed by the NIH. So, no, you can't prosecute anyone here on the basis of the Nuremberg Code.

You might also want to ask why, if the Nuremberg Code was written in light of the Nazi atrocities, the allies never codified it into law in their home countries? Answer: because they wanted to be able to do stuff like this legally.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:31 AM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


"A lot of people over the years have paid good money for their hits of acid. Very few were left with debilitating illnesses."

That's true, but it's generally considered not cool to dose someone without their consent. Also, if you have a history in the military and/or CIA, the revelations from dropping could potentially be severe and not all that pleasant.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:42 AM on May 19, 2009


VX, tabun, soman, sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like phosgene and mustard

At least it wasn't plutonium...

During and after the end of World War II, scientists working on the Manhattan Project and other nuclear weapons research projects conducted studies of the effects of plutonium on laboratory animals and human subjects. In the case of human subjects, this involved injecting solutions containing (typically) five micrograms of plutonium into hospital patients who were thought either to be terminally ill or to have a life expectancy of less than ten years due either to age or chronic disease condition. The injections were made without the informed consent of those patients. [3]

In her book, The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War, Eileen Welsome, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Albuquerque Tribune, revealed the extent of the experiments conducted on unwitting participants.[4] At the Fernald school in Massachusetts, an institution for "feeble-minded" boys, 73 disabled children were fed oatmeal containing radioactive calcium and other radioisotopes. The radioactive tracers allowed scientists to track how the nutrients were digested. Immediately after World War II, 829 pregnant mothers in Tennessee received what they were told were "vitamin drinks" that would improve the health of their babies, but were, in fact, mixtures containing radioactive iron, to determine how fast the radioisotope crossed into the placenta. Other incidents included an eighteen-year-old woman at an upstate New York hospital, expecting to be treated for a pituitary gland disorder, who was injected with plutonium.[5] Such experiments are now considered to be a serious breach of medical ethics.

posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]



That's true, but it's generally considered not cool totally fucking sadistic and insane to dose someone without their consent.
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 AM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Umm, yeah. Conspiracy nuts and psychonauts (surprisingly enough, often a largely intersecting population) have been raving about MK-Ultra for years. As far as I can tell, this article doesn't shed a bit of new light on an old situation.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:46 AM on May 19, 2009


It's a funny coincidence you should link this just as the voices in my head were telling me to up Jacob's Ladder on my Netflix queue.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:49 AM on May 19, 2009


There's a difference between scoring a few hundred micrograms, bracing yourself for the trip, having good music handy, friends if you're into that, and:

whammo, receiving a completely unknown dose (raise your hand if you think the amount the soldiers received was anything like a street dose), not knowing that this stuff is going to be psychoactive or how long it lasts or anything, and, since it's all about set and setting, having it administered to you in a chilly room by guys in white coats. Who would, instead of stopping you, just write down "patient continues to dig at the 'bugs' under this skin" in a little notepad.
posted by adipocere at 8:49 AM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


i am piste, that's one of my all time fav videos. The money quote is "10 minutes later the attacking section had lost all sense of urgency. Notice the bunching and indecision."

I would like my next acid trip to be narrated by this man.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:52 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


solipsophistocracy: "Conspiracy nuts and psychonauts (surprisingly enough, often a largely intersecting population) have been raving about MK-Ultra for years."

"Raving" implies that the program is a delusion of theirs. It isn't.

Following the recommendations of the Church Committee, President Gerald Ford in 1976 issued the first Executive Order on Intelligence Activities which, among other things, prohibited "experimentation with drugs on human subjects, except with the informed consent, in writing and witnessed by a disinterested party, of each such human subject" and in accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Commission.


But since Ford volunteered to be a stool pigeon for the FBI concerning the deliberations of the Warren Commission, perhaps he qualifies as a "conspiracy nut" as well.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:59 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


If we don't use chemical weapons on our troops, the terrorists win!
posted by yeloson at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2009


also, kitty on LSD

Ahh two great tastes that... you know actually it didn't look like the cat was having a good time.
Cat's experience these things as free fall? Sure it was probably an intravenous dose high enough to try and determine the LD50. Still though, coupled with having seen this, that's a little unsettling.
posted by JackarypQQ at 9:04 AM on May 19, 2009


"Raving" implies that the program is a delusion of theirs. It isn't.

Oh, I don't doubt that MK-Ultra was very very real, but this is pretty old news.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2009


Somewhat baffled by the fact Dr. Ewen Cameron hasn't been mentioned in the article or this thread.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


An interesting way the govt does things is to set up a place to study what the enemy might do to us and in so doing, use that cover explanation to develop what we might do to them, and this might be seen in places such as
http://www.ask.com/bar?q=fort+dietrick&page=1&qsrc=121&ab=2&u=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FFort_Detrick
posted by Postroad at 10:20 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ever since reading Underground, I've had a sort of fascinated terror surrounding the nerve agent sarin. I was aware of the Porton Down experiments in the UK on RAF volunteers but I wasn't aware it was also tested as part of the MK-ULTRA experiments in the US.

Alfred Thornhill describing the death of airman Roland Maddison during the Porton Down experiments:

'I had never seen anyone die before and what that lad went through was absolutely horrific... it was awful,' he said. 'It was like he was being electrocuted, his whole body was convulsing. I have seen somebody suffer an epileptic fit, but you have never seen anything like what happened to that lad... the skin was vibrating and there was all this terrible stuff coming out of his mouth...it looked like frogspawn or tapioca.' Thornhill recalls a number of scientists standing around Maddison. 'You could see the panic in their eyes - one guy looked as if he was trying to hold his head down. There were four of us who picked him off the floor and put him in the back of the ambulance. He was still having these violent convulsions and we drove him to the medical unit at Porton.' By the time he reached the unit, it had been cleared of other casualties and there were men in white coats standing around a bed.

'I saw his leg rise up from the bed and I saw his skin begin turning blue. It started from the ankle and started spreading up his leg. It was like watching somebody pouring a blue liquid into a glass, it just began filling up. I was standing by the bed gawping. It was like watching something from outer space and then one of the doctors produced the biggest needle I had ever seen. It was the size of a bicycle pump and went down onto the lad's body. The sister saw me gawping and told me to get out.' The next day Thornhill was 'devastated' when he was told by a medical officer that the young man had died. He recalls the whole medical unit stinking of Dettol as if it had been sprayed everywhere to decontaminate the rooms.'
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:24 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


O Lucky Man!
posted by the cuban at 5:16 PM on May 19, 2009


I trust someone has mentioned that the CIA never acts without the authority of the President etcetera excuses, as were piled out in its defense in the torture thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:54 PM on May 19, 2009


The Whelk: "That's true, but it's generally considered not cool totally fucking sadistic and insane to dose someone without their consent."

Ah crap. For those of you who've clicked this link, it's already too late. Sorry!
posted by not_on_display at 10:19 PM on May 19, 2009


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