Wednesday, January 7, 2009

MKULTRA: Veterans Sue CIA Over Past Chemical Tests on Soldiers

"Saddam Hussein is a man who is willing to gas his own people, willing to use weapons of mass destruction against Iraq citizens." - President Bush, March 22, 2002 (For the record - and so I'm not accused of GOP-style Saddam-baiting - blood tests of the gassed Kurds at Halabja in 1988, conducted by US Army War College, revealed that Iran actually killed them, not Saddam. And the Kurds were not "his people." Bush was "his people" ((homo fascisti)) ... - AC)
Veterans Sue CIA Over Past Chemical Tests on Soldiers
By Karen Gullo

Jan. 7 - Vietnam Veterans of America and six former soldiers sued the Central Intelligence Agency claiming the U.S. failed to provide care for human subjects in once-secret tests of chemical and biological weapons and drugs.

The veterans say they and others were treated like guinea pigs in tests involving nerve gas, hallucinogenic drugs and mind-control experiments that left civilians and military people who unwittingly volunteered for the program with permanent disabilities. The tests, codenamed MKULTRA, began in the 1940s at a Maryland Army base and continued to about 1976, they said.

“What is not historical about these tests is the impact they had on the enlisted men,” Gordon Erspamer, an attorney with Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, said today at a news conference. “They have never been compensated, they have been denied health care, they have been left alone for more than 30 years.”

The lawsuit, filed today in federal court in San Francisco, names as defendants the CIA, which allegedly funded the experiments, and the Defense Department. It seeks court orders declaring the experiments violated international law and forcing the government to notify and provide health care to people who participated in the tests.

‘Thoroughly Investigated’

“CIA activities related to MKULTRA have been thoroughly investigated and the CIA fully cooperated with each of the investigations,” Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, said in a phone interview. “Tens of thousands of pages from documents related to the program have been declassified and released to the public.”

Harf and Cynthia Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Eric Muth, 60, a plaintiff, said he was exposed to toxic gas and given hallucinogenic drugs in 1958. The lasting effects on him include bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts, according to the lawsuit.

Soldiers were told they could get extra pay to participate as medical volunteers in tests of new protective gear and riot gas, said Frank Rochelle, 68, another plaintiff. The volunteers signed consent forms and were told never to discuss the top- secret work, he said at today’s news conference in San Francisco. . “It was never explained the type of drugs I would be taking,” said Rochelle, who claims he was given high doses of a hallucinogen that still causes sleeplessness and breathing problems.

3,000 Survivors

There are about 3,000 survivors of the tests conducted at the Army’s Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland and at U.S. hospitals and universities, Erspamer said. Most are in their 60s and 70s and have been denied benefits by the Army for health problems related to the experiments, he said.

Jim Benson, a Veterans Affairs department spokesman, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment.

From 1950 to 1975, about 6,720 soldiers took part in experiments involving 254 different chemicals at U.S. Army laboratories at Edgewood Arsenal, according to “Health Effects from Chemical, Biological and Radiological Weapons,” a 2003 training manual by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Congressional hearings in 1974 and 1975 led to disclosure of the program, notification to subjects and compensation for a few families of soldiers who died during the tests, according to the manual.

Erspamer represents Silver Springs, Maryland-based Vietnam Veterans of America in an unsuccessful lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to overhaul mental health care to reduce the suicide rate among veterans. That case is on appeal.

The case is Vietnam Veterans of America v. CIA, 09-37, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at

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