The Road to Fort Detrick Runs Through Bethesda
ONCE again, from the bowels of Countway's dusty basement came a
wealth of information about Fort Detrick. As the WHO and
research quietly expanded, a growing wave of world opposition to
biological weapons (BW) came crashing down on Detrick's gate. The
scene was set in 1968 as these Army biowarfare labs were operating
at full tilt on numerous assignments, including the testing of
synthetic viruses designed to attack the very nature of human
At the same time, medical experts and political leaders
from around the world shamed America for its continued BW program
and its use of chemical weapons in Vietnam. As a calculated public
relations ploy designed to bolster sagging public opinion and
counter threatened congressional funding, Detrick's public relations
department announced the Fort's plan to celebrate its silver
In response, protests erupted on Detrick's perimeter.
Detrick's Silver Anniversary
Fort Detrick was the nation's, and likely the world's, "largest and
most sophisticated" BW testing center.
The facility employed some
300 scientists, including 140 microbiologists, 40 of whom had PhDs,
150 specialists "in other disciplines ranging from plant pathology
to mathematical statistics," and between 700 and 1,000 supporting
The operation occupied "some 1,230 acres of federally owned
land" upon which 450 structures were maintained. It produced
annually "some 900,000 mice, 50,000 guinea pigs, 2,500 rabbits...
and 4,000 monkeys."
There was also a large "corral" area for holding
larger animals such as horses, cattle, and sheep. The cost of
running Detrick's BW research alone was reported as $21.9 million in
1969. [1-3] Among the academic festivities planned for Detrick's
twenty-fifth anniversary was an international symposium dealing with
the "entry and control of foreign nucleic acid" into cells during
the process of human and animal immuno-suppression. The frank threat
of manipulating nature's own genetic blueprint for life, and
celebrating its possibilities, brought sharp protests from leading
Despite their harshest warnings, on April 4 and 5, 1969, Detrick played host to the
American Institute of Biological Sciences
(AIBS) - sponsored event. The AIBS involvement additionally outraged
A boycott ensued that was believed to be unparalleled in the "stormy
history of relationships between the military and the scientific
community."  Science news reported:
"At least 16 scientists refused to give papers at a Detrick sponsored
symposium on nucleic acids as part of a half- spontaneous, half
organized protest against the use of science for destructive
military purposes. Some scientists rejected Detrick's invitation
shortly after it was received; others accepted the invitation, but
then, after receiving letters and calls from their colleagues,
decided to withdraw. Four scientists even withdrew after the final
program had been printed, thus forcing Detrick to rearrange the
program at the last minute."
"Pickets marched outside Detrick's main gate carrying signs that
proclaimed "Fort Detrick IS NOT a Respectable Scientific
Institution" and "Fort Detrick Scientists are Prostitutes." One sign
asked "Want to Get Sick? Consult Your Local Physician at Fort
Detrick"; and several signs were decorated with drawings of skulls."
Mark Ptashne, a Harvard graduate researcher, declined on the grounds
that he found Detrick's work "highly repellant" and did "not want my
name associated with Fort Detrick." Dean Fraser, a professor of
microbiology at Indiana University, balked at celebrating research
conducted in an effort to develop BW.
He wrote in declining his
"It seems at best a little like commemorating the
creation of the electric chair and at worst like celebrating the
establishment of Dachau." 
Even some AIBS officials appealed the
event. Dr. John Allen and a group of AIBS board members published a
clarification notice in 'Science' citing their principal concerns:
"It is not appropriate nor proper for an organization representing a
large segment of the biological community to actively participate in
a celebration honoring 25 years of biological and chemical warfare
research... It is not proper for AIBS to lend its name and
prestige to this celebration indirectly conveying the impression
that AIBS actively favors this aspect of Defense Department
activity... The essential issue is a moral one... "
World consensus among physicians and scientists was much the same.
Calling Fort Detrick
Considering that the symposium papers on the "entry and control of
foreign nucleic acid" might hold important information, I decided to
call the library at Fort Detrick. By this time, I realized the NCI
had been the Fort's chief tenant for over two decades. After phoning
directory assistance for their number, I soon contacted one of the
NCI's chief librarians. It took her several hours to field my
request for the papers generated during the beleaguered symposium.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't able to find any publications relating to that
conference, but it's possible the library at the Army's Cancer
Research Facility may have them. Would you like their number?"
Unfortunately, the Army's Cancer Research Facility librarian
reached a similar dead end. She called me back and said,
you might try calling the public relations office to see if they can
dig up the information for you."
Within minutes, I was speaking with
Mr. Norman M. Covert, the chief public relations officer for the
United States Army Garrison at Fort Detrick. What a great name for a
secret military facility's public relations officer, I mused. I
found Mr. Covert exceptionally knowledgeable about the history of
The Fort, and very kind as well.
He recalled the late 1960s being a
period of widespread dissent but could not recall the symposium.
"Protestors held a twenty-four-hour vigil outside the gates for a
full year," he lamented. "I documented it in my new book about our
fifty-year history. Would you like to receive a copy?"
but how much is it?"
"Oh, there's no charge. I'll be happy to send
Two days later, 'Cutting Edge'  arrived in the mail,
and I devoured the eighty-seven page hardcover in a few hours.
Merck - On the Cutting Edge of Biological Warfare
According to Covert's version of Detrick's anthology, The Fort
celebrated its "Birth of Science" in 1943 for two purposes defined
by President Roosevelt and the War Department. They were to,
defensive mechanisms against biological attack; and they were to
develop weapons with which the United States could respond 'in kind'
if attacked by an enemy which deployed biological weapons."
"From the moment of its birth in the highest levels of government,
the fledgling biological warfare effort was kept to an inner circle
of knowledgeable persons. George W. Merck was a key member of the
panel advising President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was charged with
putting such an effort together. Merck owned the pharmaceutical firm
that still bears his name."
"Merck! If that don't beat all," I wailed.
My surprise was based on the knowledge that the hepatitis B vaccine
Strecker alleged infected the American gay community was almost
certainly manufactured by Merck's company. To confirm my suspicions,
I dug out the New England Journal of Medicine report that I had
studied years earlier.
The paper reported that, indeed, the
homosexual hepatitis B vaccine study had been supported "by a grant
from the Department of Virus and Cell Biology of Merck, Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories, West Point, PA." The "National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute, of the U.S. Public Health Services'
National Institutes of Health" also provided grant money for the
Then I recalled another interesting fact from the
'Deadly Innocence' investigation. Robert Gallo's Cell Tumor Biology
Department at the NCI, that had been credited for having discovered
the AIDS virus in 1984, bore a resemblance to Merck's "Department of
Virus and Cell Biology."
I leafed to the page that discussed the
Merck vaccine and read:
"The vaccine was prepared in the laboratories of the Department of
Virus and Cell Biology Research, Merck Institute for Therapeutic
Research, West Point, PA... . The vaccine, made from the plasma of
HBsAg [hepatitis B surface antigen] carriers... was treated...
A large number and variety of tests were carried out by the
manufacturer on the initial plasma pools, the antigen concentrates,
and the vaccine to insure microbial sterility and the absence of
extraneous viruses. The vaccine was also tested for live hepatitis A
virus (HAV) in marmosets [South and Central American monkeys] and
live HBV [hepatitis B virus] in susceptible chimpanzees. The
placebo, also prepared in the Merck Laboratories, consisted of alum
alone in the vaccine diluent." 
So, they produced the experimental and placebo vaccines. They
allegedly tested them both for "extraneous viruses." But wait, I
thought. It's not clear whether they tested the placebo vaccines.
Perhaps there was no need to test the placebo, but could there have
been a potential for sabotage?
A Mysterious French Connection
In fact, a few days later, alone again in Countway's dungeon, I
discovered a 1983 'Nature' article" that said that France's Institut
Pasteur - credited along with Luc Montagnier for having isolated LAV,
the first AIDS virus (identical to Robert Gallo's HTLV-III)
- was under suspicion for allegedly importing tainted hepatitis B
vaccine serum from the United States.
The news report said:
"[Their] independent commercial offshoot,
Production (IPP) ... was accused of clandestine importation of
American blood plasma (automatically suspected of AIDS
contamination) to help with manufacture of hepatitis B vaccine. A
chimpanzee was also said to have died in testing the first batch of
such vaccine: it was an apparent scandal."
The report noted the IPP was up against:
"... fierce competition with its American rival, Merck, Sharp and
Dohme. Both companies are seeking lucrative contracts in Asia, and
particularly in China where IPP had foreseen a market of "dozens of
millions of doses of vaccine," an order of magnitude larger than its
previous sales... ." 
With so many millions of doses worth billions of dollars in revenue,
I realized, there was certainly potential motive for industrial
espionage. The article did not cite, however, the source of the
American plasma, an omission possibly due to liability concerns. But
it could have been Merck or one of its subsidiaries, I reckoned. It
was certainly plausible that the imported plasma had been as tainted
as our domestic blood supply had been until screening procedures
began in 1986. If tainted though, I reasoned, it could have just as
easily been sabotage - an intentional targeting of a competitor.
would have been easy to hide and hard to trace the source of HIV in
contaminated vaccines months or even years after they were
"As for some of Libertion's accusations, the truth now seems a
little difficult to establish since French Health officials who
earlier were said to have been "furious" about not having been
informed by IPP about the use of American plasma now have to accept
a Ministry of Health statement that the ministry was, in fact,
informed, and had granted authorization from the first date of
importation in March 1982... ." 
That was two years before Gallo announced the
discovery of HIV, I
"... In this particular chimpanzee, treated with the first lot of
vaccine to be based in part on American plasma (3 per cent of the
total), there was a small lesion of the liver. Two French and one
American expert concluded it was "nonspecific" and the vaccine was
marketed with approval... . However, there had been "some
disagreement" (says Dr. Netter) among the experts about the nature
of the lesion. When a kit for detecting human T-cell leukaemia virus
(HTLV) - a suspected AIDS agent - arrived from the United States [by
way of Dr. Robert Gallo's NCI research lab no doubt], the ministry
requested a new test. Marketing was stopped for a while but the
[second] test proved negative and sales were resumed." 
That meant Montagnier and the French had used
anti-bodies for AIDS-like virus testing two years before they
announced the discovery of HTLV-III or LA V-the AIDS virus. How
could that be? I recalled that Margaret Heckler, Secretary of Health
and Human Services, announced in 1984 that they would not have such
a test kit available for at least six months. How bizarre, I
The article concluded:
"Libertion is left with one substantial point: that confusion over
the origin of IPP's plasma, and an early lack of information about
the chimpanzee, which resulted in the facts being "discovered" by
journalists, indicate a lack of "clarity" in IPP's affairs; and that
it would have been much better for the company if the confusion had
not been allowed to arise. IPP might heartily agree." 
In any case, I considered, the fact that the press discovered the
confusion meant they were tipped off, and who stood the best chance
of capitalizing on IPP's negative publicity more than their foremost
competitor - Merck, Sharp and Dohme.
More Merck Nostalgia
According to Covert's 'Cutting Edge,' the United States biowarfare
effort began "in the fall of 1941 when Secretary of War Henry
Stimson wrote to Dr. Frank B. Jewett, then president of the National
Academy of Sciences (NAS):
"Because of the dangers that might confront this country from
potential enemies employing what may be broadly described as
biological warfare, it seems advisable that investigations be
initiated to survey the present situation and the future
possibilities. I am therefore, asking if you will undertake the
appointment of an appropriate committee to survey all phases of this
matter. Your organization already has before it a request from The
Surgeon General for the appointment of a committee by the Division
of Medical Sciences of the National Research Council to examine one
phase of the matter. I trust that appropriate integration of these
efforts can be arranged." 
I noted the reference to the NAS's National Research Council
(NAS-NRC), recalling its part in the DOD appropriations request for
funding AIDS-like virus research and development (see fig. 1.1).
year later, Secretary of War Stimson added:
"The value of biological warfare will be a debatable question until
it has been clearly proven or disproven by experiences. The wide
assumption is that any method which appears to offer advantages to a
nation at war will be vigorously employed by that
nation. There is but one logical course to pursue, namely, to study
the possibilities of such warfare from every angle, make every
preparation for reducing its effectiveness, and thereby reduce the
likelihood of its use." 
A couple months after this report to President Roosevelt,
was authorized to develop a civilian agency to "take the lead on all
aspects of biological warfare." It was assigned to the Federal
Security Agency (FSA) to obscure its existence, and George Merck was
named director of the new War Research Service (WRS). 
result of this covert effort, according to Detrick's public
"recombinant DNA research techniques" were being
employed "through which certain organisms... [were] cloned to
produce weaker, stronger or mutations of the original."
experiments, Covert wrote, became the "legacies of Fort Detrick, but
it was not done in the Fort Detrick laboratories." In other words, I
thought, the road to Fort Detrick leads through Bethesda. If
printed the truth, the AIDS-like virus prototypes were developed
outside the Fort and brought in for testing.
The only other regional
facilities with the means and organisms needed to produce
immune-system-destroying viruses, in 1969-1970, was right down the
road in Bethesda at the NCI's labs,  or in West Point,
Pennsylvania at MSD's. 
The NAS on CBW
On October 13, 1969, following the onslaught of opposition to Fort
Detrick's silver anniversary festivities and the international CBW
race in general, the NAS responded - not by disclosing its
clandestine efforts to support the development and testing of BW and
antidotes, but by addressing the controversy at a "Symposium on
Chemical and Biological Warfare." 
The meeting was chaired by
Dr. Matthew S. Meselson, Director of the Biological Laboratories,
Harvard University, and included three presentations from American CBW notables. Attorney
George Bunn, a former General Counsel for the
United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency presented a
session dealing with,
"Gas and Germ Warfare: International Legal
History and Present Status," during which he heralded the "success"
of "the Geneva Protocol of 1925 which prohibits the use of gasses
and bacteriological methods of warfare. More than 80 countries have
ratified this treaty... Many in recent years. The United States,
the one country most responsible for the drafting of the treaty, has
still not become a party to it," he noted.
The chairman, commenting on Bunn's presentation, wrote:
"This winter a group of 21 nonaligned states at the United National
General Assembly introduced a resolution declaring as contrary to
international law as embodied in the Geneva Protocol the use in war
of all toxic chemical agents directed at men, animals, or plants.
Its sponsors made clear that the resolution applied to irritant
gases and anti-plant chemicals such as those used by the United
States in Vietnam. Just this month, the resolution was passed by a
vote of 80 to 3, with only Portugal, Australia, and the United
States in opposition." 
Next, Han Swyter, formerly with the DOD, addressed the NAS assembly
with the "Political Considerations and Analysis of Military
Requirements for Chemical and Biological Weapons."
"We are talking about a dollar magnitude of only hundreds of
millions of dollars annually. This is insignificant in an $80
billion Defense budget. On the other hand, these funds could instead
be spent on other scientific or medical research, on welfare, or on
The entire chemical and biological warfare research budget for 1969,
Covert reported, was $300 million. Research for herbicides, such as
the ones used in Vietnam that were "designed to kill food crops or
strip trees of foliage to deprive enemy forces of ground cover," was
granted $5 million.  I found it interesting that twice this
amount - $10 million - was requested and received by DOD for
developing an AIDS-like virus that same year. 
this, I reflected on Covert's admission in 'Cutting Edge' that
despite preparations for President Nixon to ratify the 1925 Geneva
"Nixon assured Fort Detrick its research would continue."
Lt. Col. Lucien Winegar, Covert wrote, said it would "be fair to
assume" that the Frederick, MD labs:
"... would continue to work with dangerous organisms used in
offensive BW since any defense required knowledge of those agents.
Continuation of the defensive research program was authorized in the
biological warfare convention." 
The Grisly Business of CBW
Within months of Winegar's announcement, Swyter said before the NAS:
"Chemical and biological war is grisly business. I am going to
approach it unemotionally, much as an economist analyzes the need
for mythical widgets, rather than like a Dr. Strangelove, gleefully
plotting the destruction of millions by plague or anthrax. My
general approach - that is, identifying objectives, breaking the
problem into smaller manageable parts, and examine each part in
terms of objectives - is being used at the Pentagon.
Laird has a group, known as his Systems Analysis Office,
which examines the need for each kind of military capability much as
I will examine for you the need for chemical and biological
capability. Unemotional analysis of the need for war - fighting
capability goes on every day." [emphasis added]
"The first kind of capability I will analyze is lethal biologicals... . These are
population-killing weapons. In situations in which
our national objective would be to kill other countries'
populations, lethal biologicals could be used."
"If we want to kill population, we can now do that with our
strategic nuclear weapons - our B-52's, Minutemen, and Polaris. We
keep the nuclear capability whether or not we have a lethal
biological capability. A lethal biological capability would be in
addition to our nuclear capability rather than a substitute for it."
"Therefore, we do not need a lethal biological capability." 
Failing to describe the benefits of biological versus nuclear
weapons for population control, the former Defense Department
analyst rhetorically concluded that since a "... crude biological
capability is economically available to very many nations."
"... a decision to have capability, to have an option for that
rare situation, requires weighing the uncertainties of
nonproliferation with the value of human life, perhaps of tens of
thousands of Americans. If we decide today that we would be willing
to sacrifice our soldiers in the situation I described, we do not
need a capability. However, if we want the option to decide later,
perhaps we need an incapacitating [as opposed to lethal] biological
Ivan L. Bennett, Jr., a former Deputy Director of the
Office of Science and Technology, was the last one to address the
NAS general session. The topic of his presentation was "The
Significance of Chemical and Biological Warfare for the People."
began by defining biological weapons as,
"organisms, whatever their
nature, or infective material derived from them which are intended
to cause disease or death in man, animals, or plants, and which
depend for their effects on their ability to multiply in the person,
animal or plant attacked." 
"Both chemical and biological agents
lend themselves to covert use in sabotage," he noted, against which
it would be exceedingly difficult to develop any really effective
"As one pursues the possibilities of such covert uses, one discovers
that the scenarios resemble that in which the components of a
nuclear weapon are smuggled into New York City and assembled in the
basement of the Empire State Building.
In other words, once the possibility is recognized to exist, about
all that one can do is worry about it." 
"General military philosophy according to Bennett:
says that our national security demands that we "keep all options
open" no matter how limited the need for or the utility of a given
option may be. Similarly, arguments of cost-effectiveness or
maintaining an option because it is "cheap" should be countered by
asking, "Relative to what?"
Indeed, insofar as lethal chemical and
biological weapons are concerned, all arguments for possessing them
finally come down to the basic assertion that if the Soviets or some
other potential aggressor possesses them, then we must have them
too... . In essence, then, the real military effectiveness of
lethal CBW, in terms of inflicting casualties, will accrue to the
force that initiates use against an un warned enemy..." 
Kissinger and Nixon Respond
The following month, as a calculated diplomatic measure, Dr. Henry
Kissinger, Nixon's National Security Counsel director and foreign
policy chief, advised the president to sign the Geneva accord.
History proved the act was a public relations ploy intended to
silence American BW critics, bolster sagging public opinion
regarding American military efforts, and respond to threatened
congressional funding for additional BW research.
Nixon-pressured on the one hand to respond to growing public
criticism of America's involvement in Vietnam, and on the other by
DOD militarists citing their unwillingness to "sacrifice our
soldiers" should Russia deploy their biological weapons - renounced
the "first use of lethal chemical weapons... incapacitating chemical[s],
... and biological weapons" of any kind in support of
the objectives of the Geneva Protocol of 1925.
"President Nixon, scoring a major international diplomatic victory
on November 25, 1969, signed an executive order outlawing offensive
biological research in the United States... Nixon said the
Nation would destroy its stockpile of bacteriological weapons and
limit its research to defensive measures." 
"The President articulated his BW concerns this way:
" "Biological weapons have
massive, unpredictable, and potentially uncontrollable
consequences. They may produce global epidemics and impair
the health of future generations. I have therefore decided
that: -The U.S. shall renounce the use of lethal biological
agents and weapons, and all other methods of biological
warfare. The U.S.
will confine its biological research to defensive measures such as
immunization and safety measures, and The Department of Defense has
been asked to make recommendations as to the disposal of existing
stocks of bacteriological weapons." [13,15]
Nixon's recommendation to Congress went further than the position of
many other countries that had earlier ratified the protocol in
suggesting that "bacteriological weapons will never be used,
whatever other countries may do." 
In an accompanying document,
Nixon's Secretary of State William P. Rogers made it clear that "the
United States Government considers that toxins, however
manufactured, will be considered as biological weapons and not
In this and other ways, Nature observed, "the
position of the United States on chemical and biological weapons"
had been "transformed within the short space of a year." (see fig.
By November 1970, a year after Nixon ratified the Geneva Protocol,
nothing had changed except the public's perception of CBW risk. 
Rather than receive the promised annual cut in biological warfare
research funding, the DOD's BW budget increased from $21.9 to $23.2
million. The stockpiled bioweapons Nixon pledged would be rapidly
destroyed remained intact in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and the announced
transition of Fort Detrick from a BW testing facility to a solely
defensive NIH run health research lab had not occurred.
'Nature' carefully followed the events from Washington, Bethesda,
and Fort Detrick, and reported:
"The general absence of forward movement in the direction pointed by
President Nixon is ascribed by some to skillful delaying tactics by
the Army, which is held to be determined not to drop its biological
weapons until its hand is forced... . Nixon seems not to have been
properly briefed on the extent of the likely opposition [to the
I later learned that, indeed, Nixon may not have been properly
advised, but the ruse was by no means an accident.
The BPL Exercise
"Would this library have the Rockefeller Commission's report on CIA
Wrongdoing?" I asked Mike, one of several Countway librarians
stationed at the on-line services center.
I was interested in
following up a hunch that the CIA, reportedly involved in LSD and
other drug experiments, might have also been involved in viral
research. A Canadian colleague had mentioned the Rockefeller report
might be available through a local library. [17,18]
"Let me check,"
Mike replied; then he quickly keyed in a few words on his PC.
"That's over in the BPL, The Boston Pubic Library. They have a copy
available in the government documents office."
"All right. Thanks."
That afternoon I visited the BPL's government documents office and
asked one of the librarians for assistance in tracking down the CIA
wrong-doing report. "That'll be a few minutes," the librarian
responded after I handed him my completed request form. "Have a seat
and we'll bring it right to you." I made myself comfortable in a
seat adjacent a functioning PC. The screen displayed a search menu
that beckoned my curiosity. Just for the hell of it I thought, I
typed the words, "biological weapons" and "CIA" in the subject
Then I pressed the Enter key. To my surprise, the screen
filled with data-references regarding the CIA and biological
weapons. Somewhat astonished, I suddenly realized how easy it was to
access information I assumed would be classified. I selected and
then output the information to the printer. The hardcopy included
Soviet, Caribbean, and Cuban International Affairs references.
"Belitskiy on How, Where AIDS Virus Originated," read one title. It
documented a Moscow World Service broadcast in English. Another,
U.S. of Developing AIDS Virus," was broadcast by the Havana
International Service. A third in the Caribbean press was tagged
"German Claims AIDS Created by Pentagon." [19-21]
Moments later, the BPL librarian returned with the Rockefeller Commission report about
the CIA. Before he left, I asked how I might locate the documents I
had just learned about. He told me they were on microfilm two floors
up. Within a couple of hours, I had retrieved and read them all.
Apparently, several researchers throughout the world - Dr. John
Seale from London, Dr. Manuel Servin in Mexico, and Dr.
from Berlin - had alleged what Strecker had.
The Russian report even
cited a West German company named OTRAG for having conducted green
monkey virus experiments in Zaire that had allegedly led to the
development of "a mutant virus that would be a human killer." 
filed these documents neatly away for later reference.
The Rockefeller Commission Report on CIA Wrongdoing
In the spring of 1970, after Congress granted DOD funds for the
development of AIDS-like viruses, the CIA illegally "forwarded
two checks totaling $33,655.68 to the White House... ."
money, the report said, was used to help fund Richard Nixon's
upcoming reelection campaign, and was allegedly spent for
direct-mail expenses.  So as Nixon administration officials were
stalling the announced biological weapons cutback, the president was
being rewarded by America's espionage establishment, I realized,
though the two may not have been related.
In April 1970, E. Howard
Hunt, most famous for orchestrating the Watergate break - in which
led to President Nixon's resignation, allegedly "retired from the
CIA after having served in it for over twenty years."
With the help
of the CIA's External Employment Affairs Branch, The Rockefeller
Commission reported that Hunt then obtained a job with Robert R.
Mullen and Company, a Washington, D.C., public relations firm, a
"The Mullen Company itself had for years cooperated with the Agency
by providing cover abroad for Agency officers, carrying them as
ostensible employees of its offices overseas. Hunt, while employed
by Mullen, orchestrated and led the [Dr. Lewis] Fielding and
Watergate break-ins and participated in other questionable
"During 1971, the CIA, at the request of members of the White House
staff, provided alias documents and disguise materials, a tape
recorder, camera, film and film processing to E. Howard Hunt... ."
"Some of these materials were used by Hunt and [G. Gordon] Liddy in
preparing for and carrying out the entry into the office of Dr.
Fielding, Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist. In particular, the CIA at
Hunt's request developed pictures taken by him of that office in the
course of his reconnaissance for the break-in." 
It took till 1974 before a stunned public learned that at least four
CIA operatives had engineered "Watergate" allegedly to discredit
Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy who was viewed as Nixon's only
formidable Democratic rival.
In retrospect, Ted Kennedy's brother Bobby had been considered a
"shoe-in" for defeating Nixon in the 1968 presidential election. He
was assassinated not long after Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and
killed. Besides embodying the Kennedy mystique, Bobby was gaining in
the polls for being sharply critical of America's increasingly
unpopular involvement in Vietnam.
In particular, both John and Bobby
Kennedy had found the use of chemical and biological weapons
"These horrors, Bobby said, were the
responsibility of all American citizens, not just the
administration's policymakers. "It is we," he said, "who live in
abundance and send our young men out to die. It is our chemicals
that scorch the children and our bombs that level the villages. We
are all participants." 
Unlike his brothers, Ted Kennedy's position on CBW and related
"defense" research was one of moderate tolerance. He alleged that
"society must give its informed consent to technological
innovation." On the other hand, he argued that the "prospects of
significant medical advances" surely outweigh the "hazards of saying
no" to such exploration.
"The particular field of DNA-splicing
research," he commented not long after Bobby's assassination is "far
from being an idle scientific toy." 
Ted Kennedy, I also learned
that afternoon in the government documents library, had been
appointed to serve as vice president of NATO during the Nixon and
Ford administrations. 
Onward and Upward
With Jack and Bobby out of the way, the King-led civil rights
movement in disarray, and Ted on board and politically neutralized,
the manufacturers of war and biological weapons got on with their
business. Researchers at the NCI were now hard at work filling the
DOD's order for AIDS-like viruses. Because of the adverse political
climate, and Nixon's superficial endorsement of the Geneva accord,
funding needed to be secured covertly through an "amendment to the
appropriation bill for the Departments of Labor and of Health,
Education and Welfare." 
This was how it came to pass that Fort Detrick - the world's largest and most active biological weapons
facility - was virtually overtaken by the NIH and NCI for allegedly
"peaceful uses." The cost of the conversion (approved by the U.S.
Senate) was $15 million. 
"The proposals by the National Institutes of Health were judged the
most meritorious and seem to have had the agreement in principle of
Mr. Robert Finch, previous Secretary of the Department of Health,
Education and Welfare, and Dr. Lee Dubridge, former science adviser
to the President... ." 
All of Fort Detrick's staff were, as Nature reported,
forward with great expectation to taking on the health research
projects the National lnstitutes of Health would assign the
Since many scientists at Fort Detrick were,
any case involved in basic research and some are already cooperating
in projects with the National Cancer Institute, there would not be
much of a shift." 
Not surprisingly then, among the projects
heralded for immediate action at the new NIH-run facility, was
"research on hazardous viruses." The NCI, it was reported, would
"use Fort Detrick for the containment and large scale production of
suspected viral tumor agents."  The following year, 1971, in the
heat of his reelection campaign, Nixon launched the "war on cancer"
and soon thereafter, hailed Dr. Robert Gallo, the head of the NIH
and NCI's Section on Cellular Control Mechanisms, for having
discovered leukemia's alleged cause - an "RNA-retrovirus."
then announced that the NCI would have a vaccine for cancer
available by 1976.  This knowledge brought me back to Countway
for the final hour of my day. In a mad rush to find anything Gallo
had published, my search led me to a fascinating and disturbing
discovery: As this history-making announcement was being made, Gallo
was drafting a review article describing his group's methods of
injecting ribonucleic acids from one strain of virus into other
strains in an effort to create mutants that functioned just like the
In essence, they developed AIDS-like viruses by the
early 1970s. Their stated purpose was to alter a host's genetic
immunity allegedly to control cancer. Experiments were designed to
produce an assortment of lymphocytic leukemias, sarcomas, and
opportunistic infections in chickens, mice, rats, sheep, cats,
monkeys, and humans.  Thirteen years later, President Reagan's
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Margaret Heckler, hailed Dr.
Gallo for having "discovered the virus which causes AIDS." 
train ride home that night was one I will always remember. It's
amazing what you can dig up in libraries, I thought as I solemnly
contemplated the lessons of the day.
- President Nixon Visits Fort Detrick in 1972:
Richard M. Nixon greets members of the press outside former Fort Detrick Headquarters in November 1972. Nixon, under advisement of
Henry Kissinger, established Frederick Cancer Research and
Development Center in former Army laboratory buildings. This change
he heralded by saying the U.S. was "beating its swords into
Source: Covert NM. 'Cutting Edge: A history of Fort Detrick, Maryland 1943-1993.'
U.S. Army Garrison Headquarters, Fort Detrick, Maryland 21702-5000,
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hanging. Nature 1971;229:5279:8.
 Washington Correspondent. Biological warfare: Relief of Fort
Detrick. Nature November 28.1970;228:803.
 Boffey PM. Fort Detrick: A top laboratory is threatened with
extinction. Science. January 22,1968;171:262-264.
 Boffey PM. Detrick birthday: Dispute flares over biological
warfare center. Science. April 19,1968;171:285-288.
 Allen JM, Emerson R, Grant P. Schneiderman HA and Siekevitz P.
 The incomplete reference was given as "Hersh SM. Chemical and
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 Anonymous. Control of microbiological warfare. The Lancet
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commitments examined. WHO Chronicle 1975;29:417-422.
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al. Hepatitis B vaccine: Demonstration of efficacy in a controlled
clinical trial in a high-risk population in the United States. New
England Journal of Medicine 1980;303;15:833-841.
 Walgate R. Hepatitis B vaccine: Pasteur Institute in AIDS
fracas. Nature 1983;304:104.
 This knowledge also made me wonder whether Bethesda maintained
any secret, highest biosafety leve14, BSL4, labs. Later I learned
that, BSL 4 facilities were only available at Fort Detrick and at
the CDC, they were not needed to produce or study the AIDS virus.
This was confirmed during a telephone call to Bethesda's NCI AIDS
research labs. The technician I spoke with there responded to my
"Yes, we are handling the [AIDS] virus in level 3 labs as
are numerous study groups around the country."
Despite the CDC labs
ability to handle the AIDS-like viruses however, a review of the
research literature from that period shows they were not active in
such efforts. Only the NCI was conducting this kind of research and
only in the Cell Tumor Biology Department at the NCI which was
headed by Dr. Robert Gallo.
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biological warfare. Proc. N.A.S. 1970;65:250-279.
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A Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations House of
Representatives. Ninety-first Contress, First Session.
H.B. 15090, Part 5, Research, Development, Test and Evaluation,
Dept. of the Army. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
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lingers on. Nature 1970 228;273:707-8.
 My hunch that the CIA might have been involved in viral
research was based on my association with a Canadian colleague who
relayed the story of Dr. Ewen Cameron. Cameron, the Chief of
Psychiatry at McGill University's Allan Memorial Institute in
Montreal, conducted LSD experiments for the CIA during a project
MKULTRA. Victims of Cameron's brainwashing experiments
were paid $7 million in settlements in a case which never went to
court and was hushed up in the U.S. See: Bindman S. Ottawa has paid
$7 million to brainwashing victims. Montreal Gazette, Wed. Jan. 19,
1994. p. Bl.
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Ronald Reagan). New York: The Rockefeller Foundation. 1975.
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Affairs. FBIS-SOV-88-049, March 14, 1988, p. 24. Text discusses
Seale's allegations, but does not furnish specifics.
 Havana International Service in Spanish. German Claims AIDS
Virus Created by Pentagon. FBIS-LAT 91-017. January 25,1991.
Caribbean, Cuba. Text discusses Dr. Jacobo Segal's allegations.
Document PA 2401213091-0000 GMT 24, January 1991.
 Havana International Service in Spanish. Commentary Accuses
U.S. of Developing AIDS Virus. LAT 24, June 1987. Caribbean, Cuba
"Viewpoint" commentary read by Angel Hernandez. Document PA 200342-
OOOGMT 19, June 1987. pp. A5-6.
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Kennedy. New York: Pocket Star Books, 1994.
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