Chapter 4

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 NCI viral 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 immunity.


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 anniversary.


In response, protests erupted on Detrick's perimeter. [1-8]

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 staff.


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 scientists.


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 conscientious objectors.

A boycott ensued that was believed to be unparalleled in the "stormy history of relationships between the military and the scientific community." [4] 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." [4]

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 invitation,

"It seems at best a little like commemorating the creation of the electric chair and at worst like celebrating the establishment of Dachau." [4]

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... " [5]

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 know, 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?"


"Well, sure, but how much is it?"


"Oh, there's no charge. I'll be happy to send you one."

Two days later, 'Cutting Edge' [9] 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,

"develop 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."

Covert wrote:

"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 project. [10]


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." [10]

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, Institut Pasteur 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... ." [11]

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.


It would have been easy to hide and hard to trace the source of HIV in contaminated vaccines months or even years after they were administered.

"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... ." [11]

That was two years before Gallo announced the discovery of HIV, I reflected.

"... 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." [11]

That meant Montagnier and the French had used Gallo-supplied 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 thought.


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." [11]

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." [9]

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).


A 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." [9]

A couple months after this report to President Roosevelt, Stimson 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). [9]


As a result of this covert effort, according to Detrick's public relations director,

"recombinant DNA research techniques" were being employed "through which certain organisms... [were] cloned to produce weaker, stronger or mutations of the original."

These 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 Covert 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, [12] or in West Point, Pennsylvania at MSD's. [10]

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." [13]


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. [13]

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." [13]

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."


He commented:

"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 housing... ."

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. [9] 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. [14]


After reading this, I reflected on Covert's admission in 'Cutting Edge' that despite preparations for President Nixon to ratify the 1925 Geneva Accord,

"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." [9]

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.

Secretary 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." [13]

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 capability." [13]

Ivan L. Bennett, Jr., a former Deputy Director of the United States 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."


He 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." [13]


"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 defense.

"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." [13]

"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..." [13]

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.


President 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.


Covert wrote:

"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." [9]

"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." [15]


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 chemical weapons."


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. 4.1)


The Ruse

By November 1970, a year after Nixon ratified the Geneva Protocol, nothing had changed except the public's perception of CBW risk. [16] 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 cuts]." [16]

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 field.


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, "Commentary Accuses 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. Jacobo Segal 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." [19]


I 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... ."


This money, the report said, was used to help fund Richard Nixon's upcoming reelection campaign, and was allegedly spent for direct-mail expenses. [18] 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 CIA "front". [18]

"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 activities... ."

"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." [18]

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.

Nostalgic Foreshadowing

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 abhorrent. [18,22]

"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." [22]

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." [23]

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. [24]

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." [25]


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. [25]

"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... ." [25]

All of Fort Detrick's staff were, as Nature reported,

"looking forward with great expectation to taking on the health research projects the National lnstitutes of Health would assign the laboratories... ."

Since many scientists at Fort Detrick were,

"in 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." [25]

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." [25] 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."


It was then announced that the NCI would have a vaccine for cancer available by 1976. [26] 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 AIDS virus.


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. [27] 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." [28]


The 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.

Fig 4.1

- President Nixon Visits Fort Detrick in 1972:

President 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 plowshares."


Source: Covert NM. 'Cutting Edge: A history of Fort Detrick, Maryland 1943-1993.' U.S. Army Garrison Headquarters, Fort Detrick, Maryland 21702-5000, p. 83.


[1] Washington Correspondent. Biological warfare: Detrick left hanging. Nature 1971;229:5279:8.

[2] Washington Correspondent. Biological warfare: Relief of Fort Detrick. Nature November 28.1970;228:803.

[3] Boffey PM. Fort Detrick: A top laboratory is threatened with extinction. Science. January 22,1968;171:262-264.

[4] Boffey PM. Detrick birthday: Dispute flares over biological warfare center. Science. April 19,1968;171:285-288.

[5] Allen JM, Emerson R, Grant P. Schneiderman HA and Siekevitz P. Science. 1%8;160;834:1287-8.

[6] The incomplete reference was given as "Hersh SM. Chemical and biological warfare. Indianapolis, N.Y., 1968.

[7] Anonymous. Control of microbiological warfare. The Lancet 1968;2;564:391.

[8] World Health Organization. Biomedical research: WHO's commitments examined. WHO Chronicle 1975;29:417-422.

[9] Covert NM. Cutting Edge: A history of Fort Detrick, Maryland 1943-1993. Fort Detrick, MD: Headquarters, U.S. Army Garrison, Public Affairs Office, 1993. [For copies call301619-2018]

[10] Szmuness W, Stevens CE, Harley EJ, Zang EA and 01eszko WR et 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.

[11] Walgate R. Hepatitis B vaccine: Pasteur Institute in AIDS fracas. Nature 1983;304:104.

[12] 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 question,

"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.

[13] National Academy of Sciences. Symposium on chemical and biological warfare. Proc. N.A.S. 1970;65:250-279.

[14] Department of Defense Appropriations For 1970: Hearings Before 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, D.C., 1969.

[15] Staff writer. CBW: Geneva Protocol at last. Nature 1970;227;261:884.

[16] Washington Correspondent. Gas and germ warfare renounced but lingers on. Nature 1970 228;273:707-8.

[17] 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 code named 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.

[18] The Rockefeller Commission. Report to the President by the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States. Vice President Nelson A Rockefeller, Chairman. (Co-commissioners included Ronald Reagan). New York: The Rockefeller Foundation. 1975.

[19] Moscow World Service in English. Belitskiy on How, Where AIDS Virus Originated. March II, 1988. Published in International Affairs. FBIS-SOV-88-049, March 14, 1988, p. 24. Text discusses Seale's allegations, but does not furnish specifics.

[20] 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.

[21] 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.

[22] McGinniss J. The Last Brother: The Rise and Fall of Teddy Kennedy. New York: Pocket Star Books, 1994.

[23] World Health Organization. Biomedical research: WHO's commitments examined. WHO Chronicle 1975;29:417-422.32. Washington Correspondent. Relief of Fort Detrick. Nature 1970;228:803.

[24] Brumter C. The North Atlantic Assembly. Dordrecth: Martinus LijhoffPublishers, 1986, p. 215.

[25] Washington Correspondent. Relief of Fort Detrick. Nature 1970;228:803.

[26] Goldman BA and Chappelle M. Is HIV=AIDS wrong? In These 1imes. August 5-18,1992, pp. 8-10.

[27] Gallo R. RNA-dependent DNA polymerase in viruses and cells: Views on the current state. Blood 1972;39;1:117-137.

[28] Shilts R. And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic. New York: Penguin Books, 1987, pp. 450-453.

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