[THS] MKULTRA Legacy: The Stain of Dishonor
vignes at wanadoo.fr
Mon Oct 19 15:25:23 CEST 2009
MKULTRA Legacy: The Stain of Dishonor and the Prerequisites for Redemption
Sunday 18 October 2009
by: Gordon P. Erspamer, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
(Photo: reegmo / flickr)
Despite the passage of four decades, America and its military have never come to
grips with its own ghastly programs of using soldiers as guinea pigs to test chemical
or biological weapons such as LSD, sarin, nerve gases, plague, mescaline, anthrax
and hundreds of others. At the same time, they also conducted mind-control
experiments, as soldiers and others were administered drugs, and septal implants
were inserted in the sinus cavities a la "The Manchurian Candidate." The secret
research programs, originally code-named MKULTRA but continued under a long
succession of other code names, were conducted mainly by the US Army from 1943
until at least 1975. However, the CIA provided planning, financial support and field
testing. Participants in the experiments were recruited by the Army and lured by
promises of no KP duty, a four-day workweek, the promise of medals and special
recognition. At the same time, they were sworn to secrecy and forced to sign a
general consent form without informed consent or even knowing the nature of the
toxic substances that were sprayed in their faces, applied to their skin or injected into
their veins. And the government continues to try to hide the fact that Nazi members
were recruited to help devise these experiments as part of Operation Paperclip, and
that many of the biological experiments were modeled after those conducted by the
notorious Col. Shiro Ishi in Manchuria and Japan.
When word of these programs leaked out in the mid-1970's, the CIA director,
Adm. Stansfield Turner, promised Congress that the affected veterans would be
notified and provided medical treatment. See Final Report of the Senate Select
Committee (Church) on Intelligence Activities, 94th Cong. (1976), Book I: XVII
("Foreign and Military Intelligence: Testing and Use of Chemical and Biological Agents
by the Intelligence Communities"), at
See also Project MKULTRA, The CIA's Program of Research in Behavioral Modification:
Joint Hearing Before the Senate Select Committees on Intelligence and Human
Resources, 95th Cong. (1977), Testimony of CIA Director Admiral Stansfield Turner at
However, that promise was more observed in the breach, as the process of
notifying and treating the victims of human experimentation has barely scratched the
surface of their acts of treachery. And now we learn that the DoD will not even
compile an initial roster of affected veterans until 2012. Unlike Britain, which long ago
compensated its veteran participants in a parallel group of tests at Porton Down,
America is waiting patiently for these veterans to die, and it is one of the greatest
injustices of our time.
Yet, despite the long passage of time, the agents responsible for this program
continue to offer rationalizations to justify their own acts or those of their
predecessors. They cite the fears engendered by the Cold War, real or imagined, and
raise the chance that our enemies might beat us to the punch. You hear a lot of
denial or outright lies, and the trail of documents suddenly disappeared in a purging
ordered by the CIA director, Richard Helms. And they speak of sacrifices for the
common good (not their own, but of those men exposed). The doctors among them
don't like to talk about the Hippocratic Oath or basic principles of morality. Rather,
they talk a lot about science, advances in learning and the thrills of discovery. They
forget that "Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession" (Julia
Ward Howe). And you hear nothing or very little about the long-term health effects of
their programs, and their failure to notify, monitor or treat the victims, who have
experienced a panoply of adverse health effects such as PTSD, breathing and lung
problems, problems with internal organs and countless others.
Walter Lippman once said that a man has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of
conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable or dangerous to do so. The
perpetrators of these programs have stained their honor. In a time of admitted
polarization and confrontation, they sacrificed their scruples, and victimized their
fellow man. Their honor will never be restored unless they candidly admit their
complicity and fault, and do everything in their power to help restore the health and
well-being of their victims. With each death, their debt swells and the possibilities of
redemption become more distant and unlikely. And a miasma of shame, as toxic as
the clouds created by biological weapons, continues to hang over this great nation.
And when the last man standing succumbs, a pall of infamy and shame will
become indelible, and choke the last glimmer of redemption, and history will justly
record another chapter in the annals of infamy.
Note: The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not
necessarily represent the views of any institution or person with whom he is affiliated.
Gordon P. Erspamer is the lead counsel in the class action complaint which is
pending in San Francisco Federal District Court, Vietnam Veterans of America, et al.
v. Central Intelligence Agency, et al., Case No. 09-0037 CW (ND Cal. 2009). More
information regarding this lawsuit can be found at www.edgewoodtestvets.org.
See the following links for the complaint in this action and its exhibits.
VVA, et al. v. CIA, et al. First Amended Complaint.
First Amended Complaint Exhibit A.
First Amended Complaint Exhibit B.
First Amended Complaint Exhibit C.
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