by J.D. Heyes
July 26, 2012
The United States, for its warts, has achieved much in its short 230-plus
It is a benevolent world superpower, for the
most part, that serves as a beacon of hope and freedom for an increasingly
oppressed world, even as it serves as a guardian against tyranny for as many
as half of the world's nearly seven billion people.
But a few chapters in our history,
oppression of the Native
causes of the civil rights movement
unconstitutionality on the part of our elected leaders,
...serve as more than
simple blemishes on an otherwise admirable record of defending liberty and
One such stain is the way we've treated some of our nation's
The maltreatment is summed up in a recent federal case.
In late July, a
group of veterans managed to win a court order forcing the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs to hand over a trove of documents detailing the
department's alleged Cold War-era drug experiments on Vietnam vets.
What's problematic about this case isn't the
decision - the VA owes these veterans any answers they are seeking - but the
fact that the case had to be filed at all.
According to court documents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott
Corley, in Oakland, Calif., said in her ruling that the documents
requested by the veteran-plaintiffs were "squarely relevant" to their claim
that the government, through the VA, did not adequately notify veterans of
chemicals they were purposely exposed to during experimentation, and -
perhaps more importantly - what effects that exposure might have had on
their physical and mental health.
Details of this sad episode in our history were contained in a 2009 class
Filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America and
individual soldiers, the suit charges the U.S. Army and the Central
Intelligence Agency, with the help of former Nazi scientists, of using at
least 7,800 vets as guinea pigs to test the effects of as many as 400
different types of drugs and chemicals.
The suit also says the government worked to cover up the testing and the
nature of its experiments, which began in the 1950s under such exotic code
names as "Bluebird," "Artichoke" and "MKUltra."
The government launched "Project Paperclip," the suit alleges, an all-out
effort by the Army and CIA to allegedly recruit former Nazi scientists to
help test various psycho-chemicals, as well as develop a new truth serum
using the nation's own vets as test subjects, Courthouse News Service
"Over half of these Nazi recruits had been
members of the SS or Nazi Party," said the class-action suit. "The
'Paperclip' name was chosen because so many of the employment
applications were clipped to immigration papers."
According to Colin A. Ross, a
psychiatrist and author of "The CIA Doctors," said he pored over more than
15,000 documents he received from the nation's premier spy agency detailing
the "mind control" operations which he said took place between 1950-1972,
"at many leading universities including
Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins and Stanford."
The goal, simply, is
In a report posted on the Citizens Commission on Human Rights
International's Web site, Ross said,
"MKUltra and related programs had several
"One was to purchase mind control drugs from suppliers. Another was to
form relationships with researchers who might later be used as
consultants at the TOP SECRET level," he wrote.
"The core purpose of these programs was to
learn how to enhance interrogations, erase and insert memories, and
create and run Manchurian Candidates."
Ross said all of that is documented "clearly and
explicitly" in the declassified CIA documents he obtained, though he said it
"a glimpse into the tip of the iceberg of
CIA and military mind control."
"The experimental subjects were not told the real purpose of the
experiments, did not give informed consent, were not afforded outside
counsel and received no meaningful follow-up," he wrote.
"As described by the psychiatrists in
published papers, experiments with LSD and other hallucinogens, combined
with sensory deprivation, electroshock and other interrogation
techniques, resulted in psychosis and death among other 'side effects.'
The purpose of these experiments was to see how easily a person could be
put into a psychotic state or controlled."
In a review of the MKUltra program, which was
launched in 1953,
Wired.com said its goal was, simply, mind-control.
"1953: The agency launches one of its most
dubious covert programs ever, turning unsuspecting humans into guinea
pigs for its research into mind-altering drugs," said the report, which
said then-Central Intelligence Agency director Allen Dulles authorized
"Dulles wanted to close the 'brainwashing gap' that arose after the
United States learned that American prisoners of war in Korea were
subjected to mind-control techniques by their captors," said Wired.com.
"Loathe to be outdone by foreign enemies,
the CIA sought, through its research, to devise a truth serum to enhance
the interrogations of POWs and captured spies.
The agency also wanted to
develop techniques and drugs - such as 'amnesia pills' - to create CIA superagents (sic) who would be immune to the mind-control efforts of
The creation of so-called Manchurian Candidates
- a programmable assassin, essentially - was also a goal of the program.
Besides drug and chemical experimentation, the program included the use of
radiological implants, hypnosis and subliminal persuasion, electroshock
therapy and isolation techniques, the report said.
In their suit, the vets level similar charges - that the government was
attempting to develop and test substances capable of inducing mind control,
euphoria, altered personalities, confusion, physical paralysis, mania,
illogical thinking and other effects.
Many of the experiments, the suit says, were conducted at Army facilities at
Edgewood Arsenal and Ft. Detrick, Md. Some left a number of veterans saddled
with debilitating health problems for decades to follow. Worse, the veterans
say the government has neglected to provide follow-up medical care to
mitigate the damages.
Some soldiers died from the testing, while others suffered physical and
mental ailments including seizures and paranoia, an earlier ruling in the
In this latest bid for full disclosure, the VVA sought documents from the
government that reveal the VA's processes of identifying and notifying
soldiers who may have been exposed to the chemical and biological tests.
No relevant medical
In arguing against releasing the documents, attorneys for the VA said the
agency should be exempted from doing so by the deliberative process
privilege, which aims to shield the decision-making processes of government
Judge Corley did not buy the argument, ruling instead that that veterans
group and others,
"have demonstrated a sufficient, substantial
need to overcome the qualified deliberative process privilege."
"The Court agrees that considerable discovery has been provided on this
subject; however, having reviewed the thousands of pages of documents
submitted for in camera review, the Court notes that these processes are
far from clear or consistent, and in fact, seem to have undergone
numerous modifications over time," she wrote.
Corley ordered the VA to release more than 40
documents, which she said were,
"both relevant and unavailable from other
sources given that the documents reflect processes which have evolved
"The purpose of mind control experiments is
controlling human behavior:
making enemy combatants open up during
protecting secret information by erasing memories
spies more resistant to interrogation because secret information is held
by hidden identities
making people more prone to
influence, social control and suggestion
"The mind control experiments and operational programs violate basic
human rights and all codes of medical ethics," he said.
The government should never use American
citizens or others for any sort of experimentation, at least without first
Using those who protect and defend us for the
same is unspeakable.