Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Veterans Sue CIA Over Past Chemical Tests on Soldiers (Update2)

Veterans Sue CIA Over Past Chemical Tests on Soldiers (Update2)
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By Karen Gullo

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- 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

Last Updated: January 7, 2009 16:30 EST Veterans Sue CIA Over Past Chemical Tests on Soldiers (Update2)


Tim Fleming said...

Good to hear the victimized vets are fighting back against the CIA and the government.

Tim Fleming
author,"Murder of an American Nazi"

Mary said...

I wish you luck. My hisband was part of the SHAD Project 112. He has Lung Cancer now. (NEVER SMOKED).

while he was stationed on the USS Fort Snelling he was part of the Department of Defense’s Project 112, and its subset Project SHAD.  he was exposed to harmful chemical and biological weapons without his knowledge. he was outside when the plane flew over the ship and sprayed. His cloths nor his skin was never tested for exposure. he was sprayed when he was outside on the bridge and was told by a Lt. Com. it was nothing don’t worry about it. Almost 40 years later he found out that he was part of a top secret exercise and was use as a guinea pig.) He was also on the landing party that went on a amphibious exercise on the Island of Vieques. During the amphibious excise 6 navy personnel were part of the landing party ( He was one of them)) and many marines. He does not know what all we were sprayed with. He does remember teargas was used.

He is being treated at the Tampa VA Hospital. He was denided a VA pension.

Mike (Beetle) Bailey said...

Mary, has your husband joined the SHAD vets group? They are working trying to get compensation for the SHAD vets, they have them a special class so they should be receiving all their medical care at the VA for all of theor medical problems regardless if they are service connected or not, so they are better off than the other veterans used in the Fort Detrick tests, or the Edgewood Veterans or Deseret/Dugway Utah or other places not known. Some of us are still pushing Congress and the Senate to help us. Mike

Ellen said...

The Edgewood Arsenal subjects were notified after Congressional hearings in 1974-75. Is it possible to find out who was on the list of subjects? More specifically, if my father was among those enlisted men?

Dennis said...

Senior Care Associates has consulted with thousands of families of Veterans and their surviving spouses on how to qualify for the Aid and Attendance pension. You need to be 65, in need of care, either living at home, assisted living or a nursing home. This tax free pension is worth from $1,056-$1,949 a month and is directly deposited into your bank account. Call us for a free consultation to see if you qualify. 877-424-1333,

Don G said...


I am a gulf war 1 veteran. I was given the anthrax vac. and told I was in an area where there was sarin gas exposure.

The sarin gas exposure is bs. It is a cover for the the cancer I will probably experience at some point in my life.

The anthrax shot was given to combat code 1 veterans and is used/activated later when a veteran appears to have ptsd/anger issues. Thanks for those satelites ronald reagan.

The "program" also includes a head mri with cia type dye later in life-ie: to prove gulf war illness
which will really fuck up ones head. It is america's mind/body/spirit program.

I have battled this for 9 years, reading all the different opinions and research thats going on about gwi. We are wasting millions of tax payer dollars on research over gwi when it is a program that was advanced by ronald reagan and those "star war satelites".

I gave up my so called benefits and will die knowing the truth about my government and the abuse of some honorably discharged combat veterans.