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Military Used Nerve Gas in '60s Tests

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Doglips, May 24, 2002.

  1. Doglips

    Doglips G&G Newbie

    This came from the ABC news web site..not some off the wall source...and people wounder why I dont trust the goverment...

    Military Used Nerve Gas in '60s Tests
    Military Used Real Nerve Gas, Toxin in 1960s Tests, Pentagon Acknowledges

    The Associated Press

    W A S H I N G T O N, May 23 — The U.S. military used two kinds of nerve gas and a biological toxin in tests on Navy ships in the 1960s, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time Thursday.

    The four tests in the Pacific from 1964 to 1968 used either the deadly nerve agent sarin, the nerve gas known as VX, or a biological toxin that causes flu-like symptoms, Defense Department statements said.

    The tests, conducted on barges, tugs, destroyers and other ships, were to test the weapons themselves, protective gear and decontamination procedures. The Pentagon statements did not indicate if any people participating in the tests have gotten sick.

    "I'm somewhat alarmed by it," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who has pressured the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments to release the information. "It seems to me enough time has passed that someone over there should have known who was involved and what was going on."

    Veterans Affairs has mailed letters to about 600 veterans who may have taken part in the tests, VA Secretary Anthony Principi said Thursday.

    "There's always been a question whether veterans and active-duty service members became ill as a result of that testing," Principi said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's been controversial, so we were sending out letters to veterans to ask them to take a physical and to see if they are entitled to any benefits."

    The Pentagon released details about six tests from a 1960s program to evaluate chemical and biological weapons and defenses against them. The Defense Department had agreed two years ago to begin releasing details about the tests and contacting participants after pressure from Thompson and veterans who participated in the tests.

    The tests also used chemicals and bacteria meant to simulate weapons, as well as fluorescent or radioactive chemicals used as tracers, the Defense Department said.

    The tests were among 113 conducted as part of a project called SHAD, or Shipboard Hazard and Defense. The Pentagon has acknowledged using chemical and biological simulants before, but has not admitted using the actual weapons agents themselves.

    Sarin, the deadly nerve gas used by a cult to kill a dozen people in a Tokyo subway in 1995, was used in a 1964 test code-named Flower Drum Phase I off the coast of Hawaii. Both sarin and a chemical simulant were sprayed onto the USS George Eastman from a turbine on the ship's bow and injected into the ship's ventilation system, the Pentagon statement said.

    Crew members wore gas masks during the tests, and those who worked most directly with the sarin wore chemical protection suits, the statement said.

    Tests in 1964 and 1965 used VX, another deadly nerve gas. For the "Fearless Johnny" tests in 1965, the George Eastman was sprayed with VX and a simulant to test decontamination procedures. In the Flower Drum Phase II tests, VX gas tagged with radioactive phosphorus was sprayed on a barge to test decontamination procedures.

    A 1968 test used staphylococcal enterotoxin Type B a poison produced by bacteria that causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.

    During that test, the toxin was sprayed from tanks on airplanes over five tugboats, the USS Granville S. Hall and some parts of the Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific. The test was to evaluate how the toxin meant to incapacitate soldiers for up to two weeks without killing them could be spread from the air.

    The Granville S. Hall also acted as a support vessel for the tests using nerve gas.

    Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    NRAJOE YOU TALKIN' TO ME!? Forum Contributor