U.S. Biological Weapon Testing


U.S. Biological Weapon Testing

The United States government performed experiments related to biological warfare on consenting and non-consenting military personnel and occasionally civilians, especially during the Cold War. President Richard Nixon decided to officially end the U.S. biological weapons program in 1969, but tests continued past this date because they were considered defensive in nature.

Experiments on consenting individuals

Operation Whitecoat involved the controlled testing of many serious agents on military personnel who did consent to experimentation, and understood the risks involved. No deaths are known to have resulted from this program.

Experiments on non-consenting individuals

In August of 1949 a U.S. Army Special Operations Division, operating out of Fort Detrick in Maryland, set up its first test at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Operatives sprayed harmless bacteria into the building's air conditioning system and observed as the microbes spread throughout the Pentagon.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Timeline: Biological Weapons
work =
publisher =American Experience
date =2006-12-15
url =http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weapon/timeline/index.html
format =
doi =
accessdate =2007-04-09
]

There were massive medical experiments that involved civilians who had not consented to participate. Often, these experiments took place in urban areas in order to test dispersion methods. Questions were raised about detrimental health effects after experiments in San Francisco, California, were followed by a spike in hospital visits; however, in 1977 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that there was no association between the testing and the occurrence of pneumonia or influenza.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Biological Weapons-United States
work =
publisher =Global Security.org
date =
url =http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/bw.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =2007-04-09
]

The San Francisco test involved a U.S. Navy ship that sprayed Serratia marcescens from the bay; it traveled more than 30 miles.

One dispersion test involved laboratory personnel disguised as passengers spraying harmless bacteria in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Scientists tested biological pathogens, including "Bacillus globigii", which were thought to be harmless, at public places such as subways. A light bulb containing "Bacillus globigii" was dropped on New York City's subway system; the result was strong enough to affect people prone to illness (also known as Subway Experiment). cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title =Hidden history of US germ testing
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =BBC
date =2006-02-13
url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/file_on_4/4701196.stm
accessdate =08-04-2007
] Based on the circulation measurements, thousands of people would have been killed if a dangerous microbe was released in the same manner.

A jet aircraft released material over Victoria, Texas, that was monitored in the Florida Keys.

GAO Report

In February, 2008, the GAO released report GAO-08-366 titled, "CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE, DOD and VA Need to Improve Efforts to Identify and Notify Individuals Potentially Exposed during Chemical and Biological Tests." The report stated that tens of thousands of military personnel and civilians may have been exposed to biological and chemical substances through DOD tests. In 2003, the DOD reported it had identified 5,842 military personnel and estimated 350 civilians as being potentially exposed during Project 112.

The GAO asserts that the DOD's decision in 2003 to stop searching for people affected by the tests was premature. They also claimed that the DOD made no effort to inform civilians of exposure; furthermore, they assert that the VA is not using available resources to inform veterans of possible exposure or to determine if they were deceased. After the DOD halted efforts to find those who may have been affected by the tests, non-DOD sources have identified approximately 600 additional names of individuals who were potentially exposed during Project 112.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Chemical and Biological Defense: DOD and VA Need to Improve Efforts to Identify and Notify Individuals Potentially Exposed during Chemical and Biological Tests
work =GAO-08-366
publisher =Government Accountability Office
date = 2008-02-28
url =http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-08-366
format =
doi =
accessdate =2008-03-17
] Some of the individuals were identified after the GAO reviewed records stored at the Dugway Proving Ground, others were identified by the Institute of Medicine.cite news
last =LaPlante
first =Matthew
coauthors =
title =Report: Military lagged in contacting Utahns, others exposed to tests
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =Salt Lake Tribune
date =2008-02-29
url =http://www.sltrib.com//ci_8399208
accessdate =08-04-2007
] Many of the newly identified suffer from long term illnesses that may have been caused by the biological or chemical testing. cite news
last =LaPlante
first =Matthew
coauthors =
title =
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =Salt Lake Tribune
date =2008-02-28
url =http://www.sltrib.com//ci_8399208
accessdate =08-04-2007
]

ee also

* United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories
* Soviet program of biological weapons
* Iraq and weapons of mass destruction
* US Senate Report on chemical weapons
* Project SHAD
* Tuskegee Syphilis Study

References


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