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US Army Human Experimentation

Allen L. Barker alb at datafilter.com
Fri Aug 1 17:41:04 EST 2003

[This article shows the hypocrisy that the US has practiced for
decades with regard to human experimentation.  The Nazis were publicly
tried and condemned for the violations they committed on nonconsensual
experimental victims.  The Nuremberg Code was developed to codify the
necessary standards for experimenting on human subjects without
violating their human rights.  In the background, though, the US was
recruiting the Nazis it thought were valuable, regardless of any
atrocities they had taken part in.  In 1953, Secretary of Defense
Charles Wilson signed a Nuremberg Code memo.  That was ironically the
same year that MKULTRA started -- though other programs like Bluebird
and Artichoke had been in operation even before that.  Even though the
Nuremberg Code was policy, that policy was often ignored.  When a
court challenge finally made it to the Supreme Court it was ruled
that soldiers have no right to sue for injuries "incident to service."
Even if that "incident" is an unwitting medical experiment conducted
in violation of the Nuremberg Code.  See the article for mention of
the dissenting views in the case.

Moreno always likes to end cheerfully and make the audience think that
despite the horrors he has been describing, everything is just fine
now.  I suppose that gets him the access to investigate the past
crimes and is how he gets appointed to boards like the ACHRE.  Back
when the earlier abuses were being committed, officials lied up and
down about them taking place.  The victims of past abuses have barely
been dealt with as human beings, and many are still have not even been
told what was done to them.

Such abuses have *not* ended; they are just even more secretive now.
Many civilian citizens have been singled out for hideous mind control
experiments that violate them every moment of their lives, for years
on end.  If these are not experiments it is only because they have
perfected the technology and are applying the technology for real in
harassment, influencing, and training operations.  These current
experiments are every bit as vile as the crimes against humanity
conducted by the Nazis.  There can be no possible excuse or
rationalization for such protracted acts of torture, even from the
biggest propaganda system in the world.]


Lessons Learned A Half-Century of Experimenting on Humans.
(U.S. Army experiments)


Sept, 1999
Author/s: Jonathan D. Moreno

Just a few months after Richard Nixon left the White House in
disgrace, the country's confidence in its institutions was further
undermined by news stories about clandestine CIA activities within the
United States during the 1950s and 1960s. A congressional committee
under Senator Frank Church of Idaho and a presidential commission
under Vice President Nelson Rockefeller were established to
investigate the charges. In the summer of 1975, the truth about
domestic experiments with psychoactive drugs, most pervasively
lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), began pouring out.

Approximately 6,700 human subjects were used by the government in
experiments involving psychoactive chemicals. In private contract
research with universities and chemical companies, other agents were
also used, including morphine, Demerol, Seconal, mescaline, atropine,
and psilocybin.

One of those used in LSD experiments while he was in the army, James
B. Stanley, was inspired to undertake a historic attempt to get the
U.S. Supreme Court to recognize the Nuremberg Code -- from the 1947
ruling in the trial of Nazi Germans who conducted experiments on
concentration camp inmates -- as having the force of law in the
U.S. armed forces. In February 1958, Master Sergeant Stanley was
stationed with his wife and children at Fort Knox,
Kentucky. Responding to a posted notice, he volunteered to be a
subject in a study advertised as developing and testing measures
against chemical weapons. He then became one of thousands of men to be
transferred to Edgewood Arsenal in Aberdeen, Maryland, for LSD

But Stanley was never told that the clear liquid he drank for the test
contained a psychoactive drug, nor was he debriefed or monitored for
the hallucinations that followed, nor did he understand the source of
the emotional problems that disrupted his personal life, leading
finally to his divorce in 1970. In 1975 Stanley finally learned the
truth when he received a letter from the army asking him to come to
the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for a follow-up
study of the LSD subjects.

Stanley was one of several veterans who sued the government for the
suffering the LSD experiments caused them. His case went the furthest,
all the way to the Supreme Court, which by a five-to-four decision
found that, like all other current or former members of the armed
forces, Stanley was barred from suing the United States for injuries
incurred "incident to service" -- a legal rule known as the Feres
Doctrine. Justice William Brennan dissented:

     The medical trials at Nuremberg in 1947 deeply impressed upon the
     world that experimentation with unknowing human subjects is morally
     and legally unacceptable. The United States Military Tribunal
     established the Nuremberg Code as a standard against which to judge
     German scientists who experimented with human subjects.... In defiance
     of this principle, military intelligence officials ... began
     surreptitiously testing chemical and biological materials, including

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor added her own dissent:

     No judicially crafted rule should insulate from liability the
     involuntary and unknowing human experimentation alleged to have
     occurred in this case.  Indeed, as Justice Brennan observes, the
     United States played an instrumental role in the criminal prosecution
     of Nazi officials who experimented with human subjects during the
     Second World War, and the standards that the Nuremberg Military
     Tribunals developed to judge the behavior of the defendants stated
     that the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely

The irony of Stanley's defeat is that it shows how toothless the
Pentagon's Nuremberg Code-based policy was. Rules were in effect
during his participation in the LSD experiments, but even following
the army's own study that concluded these rules were violated, someone
victimized by the results of failed implementation could not recover
damages in a court of law. What little regulation applied to
military-medical experiments seemed largely worthless.

The Army Calls Itself to Account

The Church committee hearings and Rockefeller investigations were not
only productive in themselves but also stimulated a significant
internal army study of its own conduct concerning hallucinogenic drug
testing with soldiers at Fort Detrick, Maryland. A long-time favorite
object of demonstrations by peace advocates, Fort Detrick has been a
scientific center since 1943 out of concern that German "buzz bombs"
could be outfitted with biological agents. Its series of
hallucinogenic drug experiments from 1953 through 1971 was second in
length only to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study among major American
research ethics scandals. Most importantly, a U.S. Inspector General's
investigation forced a confrontation between the intent of the
Pentagon's Nuremberg Code-based policy and the fact that the army had
failed to act according to the intent of its own rules.

Entitled Use of Volunteers in Critical Agent Research, the IG report
is a fascinating and generally frank assessment of the army's
experimental program. It begins by acknowledging the "inadequacy of
the Army's institutional memory" about the experiments, even though
they had only taken place a few years before, and that written records
had in many cases been destroyed as part of routine destruction
schedules. To reconstruct the events surrounding the history of the
experiments, the investigators interviewed sixty-five witnesses in
thirty-two cities and the District of Columbia and assembled tens of
thousands of pages of documents from several federal repositories and
military installations.

The report includes a number of insights about the reception of the
Wilson Memorandum, which formalized the Pentagon's human experiment
policy for the Eisenhower administration, within the army and the
chemical corps. After the memo was signed but before the army had
prepared its implementing directive, top corps officials and advisers
met at Edgewood Arsenal in March 1953 to interpret the policy. Among
other things, the group agreed that only hazardous experiments fell
within the policy, "blanket type approval" could be obtained rather
than submitting individual experiment proposals for review, "line of
duty" projects involving nonhazardous materials were not covered,
voluntary consent involved such factors as the volunteer's age and
mental capacity, and no coercion is permissible. These interpretations
were reasonable and sound. Altogether, this approach to the use of
human subjects was, with few exceptions, light years ahead of
practices in the civilian world.

Official policy and actual practice did not mesh, however. For
example, in 1955 a Defense Department Ad Hoc Study Group on
Psychochemical Issues recommended that any subjects being administered
LSD be given a training lecture to prepare for its effects. However,
in January 1956 an assistant chief chemical officer who was helping
design an LSD experiment with a group of soldiers commented in
response to the recommendation:

     In view of the fact that a great many of the effects observed in the
     group may be the result of suggestion [placebo effect] it would appear
     desirable to have one control group which has neither been given a
     training lecture on LSD-25, nor any information as to the symptoms of
     the drug being administered.

The officer may have been engaged in sound scientific design but
vacuous research ethics. The point of the Nuremberg Code and the
Pentagon rules based on it was precisely that a desire for greater
knowledge could not simply trump the subject's rights.


Of all the amazing things I learned while researching this article,
nothing surprised me more than the fact that dozens of soldiers of
both genders are still used as normal volunteers in biological
experiments. Throughout the military-medical community, there exists
the problem of where to find a group of healthy, bright,
well-informed, scientifically sophisticated, and uncoerced potential
subjects who require very little money to be in an experiment.
Probably the best answer is the men and women MRVS (pronounced
"mervs") at Fort Detrick. They are a special group of medics -- 91
Bravo -- who come as close to realizing the ethical ideal of true
informed consent as any group of research subjects since Walter Reed's
Yellow Fever Commission in 1900.


In fact, today the military's system for the review of research
proposals with human beings is far stricter than in the civilian
world. Army Regulation 70-25, "Use of Volunteers As Subjects of
Research" -- the descendent of the Wilson Memorandum -- has evolved
into a demanding set of rules that are well recognized. Today's
A.R.70-25 requires multiple levels of review, from the local unit's
"human use committee" to several other screens up the chain of
command. There is one nearly verbatim vestige of the old Nuremberg
Code-based rules in A.R. 70-25: "Voluntary consent of the human
subject is essential," it says at one point, and goes on to state that
soldiers may not be punished for refusing to be human subjects.


But the MRVS' self-assurance would be illusory if it weren't supported
by a system that makes them co-investigators with the research
scientists themselves. For that to be the case, they must have access
to relevant information about the purposes, risks, and potential
benefits of studies. In a sense, the MRVS program is the army's
payment on the promise made in 1953 when Secretary of Defense Charles
Wilson signed his Nuremberg Code memo.

A persistent danger to ethical national security research, however, is
presented by the argument that some experiments need to be conducted
in tight secrecy. Under such circumstances not only is the public
deprived of the right it normally has in a democracy to judge whether
the research is justified under the circumstances, the subjects of the
research may be deprived of their specific right to give informed

The end of the Cold War has lessened the threat of cataclysmic
conflict, but the simmering resentments of small groups around the
world has left Americans feeling as exposed -- or perhaps even more
exposed -- than they were when the world was neatly divided into two
principal camps. The need to keep secrets from terrorist organizations
can easily substitute for the former need to keep secrets from the
Soviets (even though their security apparatus knew far more about what
the U.S. armed forces were doing than did U.S. citizens). Confronted
with several small-scale hot wars, the environment of national
security research could easily slide again into the mentality
demonstrated during much of the Cold War.

In its response to the 1995 recommendations of the president's
Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, the Clinton
administration took two important steps that should help to avoid both
the temptation to future secrecy and the subsequent undermining of
informed consent in national-security-related experiments. First, the
president directed all federal agencies to permanently retain records
related to classified human experiments. Records retention will make
it possible to reconstruct what experiments have actually been done
far more easily than was the case when the CIA's secret experiments
were revealed in the 1970s. Because so many records have been
destroyed, either deliberately or accidentally, the information took
another twenty years and enormous effort by many people to piece
together. The second step was to agree that

* all classified research must meet informed-consent requirements

* potential research subjects should be told what agency is sponsoring
the research (some people might prefer not to be part of research for
the CIA, for example) and if the project involves classified research

* all ethics review panels for secret projects include one
non-governmental member with the appropriate security clearance

* an appeals process be established so that any ethics review panel
member who disagrees with the panel's decision can go to the head of
the agency or the president's science adviser.

An Avenue to Justice

There are seventeen federal agencies that currently conduct human
subjects research. If there is a single lesson to be gleaned from the
story of military-medical experiments it is that we can expect them to
continue as long as nations and political movements are interested in
novel weapons that might gain them at least a temporary strategic
advantage over their adversaries. Accordingly, how those weapons can
be rendered most effective and how they can be defended against will
be important questions that can only be answered with human subjects.

If it is true that human experiments will continue to be attractive to
some nations, I believe it is also true that they can be done
ethically. The army's Infectious Diseases Institute could provide a
model of such experiments. Its critical elements are fair recruitment
practices, fully informed consent with an educated group of potential
subjects, peer support, no more than modest compensation, and careful
review and minimization of risk factors. In principle, at least, the
research should also be confined to defensive rather than offensive
purposes, in spite of the admitted limitations of these categories.

It is also past time for the world to have some mechanism to identify
unethical experiments and to sanction or at least censure governments
that support them. There should be an internationally recognized
system for identifying key individuals in positions of responsibility
-- medical scientists as well as political leaders -- and a research
ethics court that can implement the universal values that have been
repeated time and again and apply the hard lessons learned through so
many failures since World War II.


Mind Control: TT&P ==> http://www.datafilter.com/mc
Home page: http://www.datafilter.com/alb
Allen Barker

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