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War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
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The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

The following article is reprinted from the Los Angeles Times as a "fair use" for educational purposes. Copies of this article may be available from the source on-line or via mail. This website has no authority to grant permission to reprint this article. At times we copy an article, with attribution, rather than link directly to the source as media links are often unstable, e.g. the article moves from the source's linked page to an archive, thereby creating a bad link on this site.

Secret trials in six states, from '62 to '73, were to track dispersal patterns, officials say.

October 10 2002

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon sprayed biological and chemical
agents off the coast of San Diego during the Cold War, part
of a series of previously undisclosed tests in several
states that exposed troops and perhaps thousands of
civilians to the compounds, defense officials said

In all, 27 newly disclosed secret tests were conducted in
California, Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland and Utah,
officials said. The tests, conducted from 1962 to 1973, were
also carried out in Canada and the United Kingdom.

In February 1966, a Navy vessel in the Pacific Ocean off the
coast of San Diego was sprayed with methylacetoacetate, or
MA, a chemical that irritates the eyes, skin and respiratory
tract but is not considered hazardous by the Environmental
Protection Agency.

In a second test in the summer of 1968, MA and Bacillus
globigii, or BG, were released in the same waters. A
bacterium related to anthrax, BG was later found to infect
people with weak immune systems. No civilians are thought to
have been exposed to harmful agents in those tests because
they were carried out over the ocean.

It was the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that it
used the agents on U.S. soil and that civilians may have
been exposed during the tests. The Defense Department
previously revealed that 10 tests were carried out during
the Cold War on U.S. ships to determine how they would
perform under chemical or biological attack.

The Defense Department released the information at a House
Veterans Affairs Committee meeting Wednesday; some elements
were leaked to reporters Tuesday.

Military officials insisted that none of the agents used
near civilians was thought at the time to be dangerous,
although some--including E. coli bacteria--were later found
to be harmful, even deadly.

In 21 tests on land and six newly reported tests at sea
overseen by the Deseret Test Center at Ft. Douglas, Utah,
live biological agents and lethal chemicals--including sarin
and VX--were sprayed not only in the six states, but at or
near military facilities in Puerto Rico, Canada, the United
Kingdom, the Marshall Islands, Baker Island and over
international waters in the Pacific Ocean.

The 37 tests disclosed so far affected about 5,000 service
members at sea and 500 on land from 1962 to 1973, defense
officials said. The Pentagon has notified about 1,400 of
those soldiers about the secret testing regimen, dubbed
"Project 112."

The Deseret test center reported that four people were
infected at the time and successfully treated. Veterans
Affairs officials said they were studying the phenomenon; 53
veterans have filed health claims since the 1990s. The
claims blame what they say was their exposure to the
chemical or biological agents for a variety of ailments,
including muscular, skeletal, digestive, hearing, skin and
cardiovascular disorders.

Defense officials said the Pentagon has no process for
notifying civilians who may have been exposed in the U.S.,
including those possibly numbering "into the thousands" on
Oahu, Hawaii.

Pentagon officials believe local authorities were notified
of the tests at the time, said William Winkenwerder Jr.,
assistant Defense secretary for health affairs, but most
citizens apparently were not. Veterans advocates said
lower-level soldiers also were unaware, although defense
officials insisted the soldiers were protected by chemical
gear and masks.

"We're making this information available so that anyone who
believes there may have been some ill effect could come
forward," Winkenwerder said.

Civilians were not believed to have been affected in
California because the four tests conducted there--including
two first reported Wednesday--were all conducted off the San
Diego coast in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Pentagon

Defense officials insisted that civilians were exposed only
to live biological agents that simulated more deadly agents
in the way they spread, but were themselves believed to be
harmless. However, the simulated substances included E. coli
and other agents that were later found to be harmful or
fatal to young children, the elderly and those with
compromised immune systems.

Even soldiers and sailors exposed during the tests "may not
have known all the details of these tests," Winkenwerder

"Most of these people didn't have a clue what they were part
of," said Kirt Love, a veterans advocate with the Desert
Storm Battle Registry who contended that in many cases only
senior officers were aware of the tests. "These were not
safe agents at the time."

After the report was released of the House Veterans Affairs
Committee hearing, it was detailed at a Pentagon briefing.
Defense officials said the tests were conducted for
potential offensive use against U.S. enemies and for defense
against the Cold War biological and chemical weapons arsenal
amassed by the Soviet Union.

The Navy trials tested the ability of ships and sailors,
clad in chemical defense gear, to perform under a chemical
or biological attack at sea. The land-based tests were done
to evaluate how the agents dispersed, officials said. Desert
tests such as those in Utah helped the Pentagon amass much
of the information the military has on how chemical and
biological agents would perform in desert areas such as
Iraq, said Anna Johnson-Winegar, the Pentagon's assistant
secretary for chemical and biological defense.

"The purpose of these operational tests was to test
equipment, procedures, military tactics, etc., and to learn
more about biological and chemical agents," Winkenwerder
said. "The tests were not conducted to evaluate the effects
of dangerous agents on people."

The United States ended its biological weapons program in
the 1960s and in 1997 signed a treaty agreeing to destroy
all of its chemical weapons. Funding and disposal issues
have delayed much of that process, leaving stores of lethal
chemicals at several military sites throughout the nation.

Today, defense officials insist that the only testing of
toxic and biological agents in the United States is given to
chemical specialists among the armed services at a tightly
contained testing facility at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.
So-called stimulants still are used elsewhere.

The disclosures are unlikely to be the last from Project
112. The military had planned 134 tests; 46 were conducted,
62 were canceled and the status of the remainder is unclear.
The newly disclosed tests used a variety of agents under
various conditions.

Tests in the late 1960s in Porton Down, England, and Ralson,
Canada, used tabun and soman, two deadly nerve agents.
In the 1965 Oahu test, BG was sprayed in a simulated attack
called "Big Tom." Near Ft. Greely, Alaska, researchers
tested how deadly sarin gas, the toxin members of the Aum
Supreme Truth cult used in 1995 to kill commuters in the
Tokyo subway, would disperse after being released from
artillery shells and rockets in dense forests in a test
dubbed "Devil Hole I" in 1965. A year later, VX agent, which
lingers like motor oil in deadly pools, was released by
artillery shells in "Devil Hole II."