MK ULTRA PROJECT : General Resources on Experiments on Humans & Web Pages and Databases on Bioethics and Human Experimentation


HUMAN EXPERIMENTS – people killed in radiation experiments in
University of Cincinnati medical Centre 1961 – 1971 :


by Tod Ensign and Glenn Alcalay

If you have any lingering thoughts that the government’s failure
to disclose radiation experimentation on humans was driven by misguided
national security concerns, throw them in the nearest nuclear waste dump. At
least some officials knew what they were doing was unconscionable and were
ducking the consequences and covering their tails. A recently leaked Atomic
Energy Commission (AEC) document lays out in the most bare-knuckled manner the
policy of coverup. It is desired that no document be released which refers to
experiments with humans and might have adverse effect on public opinion or result
in legal suits. Documents covering such work field should be classified
`secret,’ wrote Colonel O.G. Haywood of the AEC. *1 This letter confirms a
policy of complete secrecy where human radiation experiments were concerned.

The Haywood letter may help explain a recently discovered 1953
Pentagon document, declassified in 1975. The two-page order from the secretary
of defense ostensibly brought U.S. guidelines for human experimentation. in
line with the Nuremberg Code, making adherence to a universal standard official
U.S. policy. Ironically, however, the Pentagon document was classified and thus
was probably not seen by many military researchers until its declassification
in 1975.2

As these and a steady stream of similar reports confirm, for
decades, the U.S. government had not only used human guinea pigs in radiation
experiments, but had also followed a policy of deliberate deception and cover
up of its misuse of both civilians and military personnel in nuclear weapons
development and radiation research. While the Department of Energy (DoE) has
made some belated moves toward greater openness, there are clear indications
that other federal agencies and the White House have not yet deviated from the
time-honored tradition of deceit and self-serving secrecy.


The Clinton administration’s first halting step toward taking
responsibility for past government misdeeds occurred on Pearl Harbor Day 1993,
when DoE Secretary Hazel O’Leary confirmed that the AEC, her agency’s
predecessor, had sponsored experiments in which hundreds of Americans were
exposed to radioactive material, often without their consent.

That O’Leary had decided to break with her agency’s long tradition
of secrecy and deception was something of a surprise. After all, she came to
the job after a career in the nuclear power industry. But, confronted by a
media firestorm over the government’s Cold War nuclear experiments, O’Leary was
left with few options.

Her decision to confirm some government abuses and reveal others
was precipitated by a series of reports by journalist Eileen Welsome in the
Albuquerque Tribune last November and the nearly simultaneous release of a
Government Accounting Office (GAO) report on radiation releases. *3 Following a
six-year investigation, Welsome uncovered details of five experiments in which
plutonium was injected into 18 people without their informed consent.

The GAO report, meanwhile, is an important finding that government
scientists deliberately released radioactive material into populated areas so
that they could study fallout patterns and the rate at which radioactivity
decayed. It profiles 13 different releases of radiation from 1948-52. All were
part of the U.S. nuclear weapons development program. The report concludes that
other planned radioactive releases not documented here may have occurred at …
U.S. nuclear sites during these years. *4 The disclaimer suggests that a good
deal of information about radiation experiments remains locked away in
government files.

Top DoE aide Dan Reicher pulled O’Leary out of a meeting last
November just before the story broke to warn her that People were injected with
plutonium back in the 1940s, and there’s a newspaper in New Mexico that’s about
to lay out the whole thing. *5 O’Leary provided information about experiments
at major universities, including MIT, the University of Chicago, California,
and Vanderbilt. Experimenters exposed about 2,000 Americans to varying degrees
of radiation. These numbers may grow as more information about experiments is


When O’Leary confirmed the human experiments, she also revealed
two other important activities. First, she admitted her agency had secretly
conducted 204 underground nuclear tests in Nevada from 1963-1990. These
clandestine blasts were in addition to the 800-plus nuclear tests publicly
announced during that period. DoE’s secrecy may have deceived only Congress and
the U.S. public. In 1990, the Soviet Union’s minister for atomic energy
produced an estimate of U.S. detonations that was very close to the actual
number including the secret ones.

O’Leary’s other significant disclosure concerned DoE’s massive
stock of weapons-grade plutonium: 33.5 metric tons of stockpiled plutonium and
another 55.5 metric tons deployed in nuclear warheads and for similar uses. *6
This admission calls into question DoE’s past claims that national security
required the continued operation of unsafe plutonium processing plants to produce
unnecessary stockpiles of plutonium.

O’Leary’s disclosures about the human experiments have produced a
torrent of publicity. Much less attention has been paid to her admissions about
secret nuclear tests and plutonium stocks, which have much greater long-term
implications for nuclear weapons policy.


O’Leary’s promises of full disclosure by DoE aside, *7 one
well-placed source within the agency suggested that the Pentagon, NASA and the
CIA were just going through the motions. *8 For example, the CIA announced in
January 1994 that after searching its files it could locate only one reference
to human experimentation with radiation. Former CIA official Scott Breckenridge
charged that in 1973, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, chief of the chemical division of
the CIA’s Technical Services Division, may have destroyed many secret files,
including those on human radiation experiments. *9

The history of partial revelation and near complete inaction is
long. In 1975, the Rockefeller Commission first revealed that the CIA may have
conducted radiation experiments, *10 but the records if not destroyed have yet
to be uncovered. William Colby, CIA director from 1973 to 1975, recently said,
I recall the various drug tests, which were scandalous, but nothing about
radiation. *11 So far, the institutional memories of the implicated agencies
appear to be as conveniently spotty as Colby’s.


While officials have dallied, dedicated reporters, angry victims,
and a handful of government whistleblowers have exposed a pattern of secrecy
and deception. A brief sampling of some of the macabre, secret human
experiments uncovered by Welsome and others is chilling.

* In 1945, Albert Stevens, a 58-year old California house painter
suffering from a huge stomach ulcer, was injected with doses of plutonium 238
and 239 equivalent to 446 times the average lifetime exposure. *12 Doctors
recommended an operation and told his children he had only six months to live.
For the next year, scientists collected plutonium-laden urine and fecal samples
from Stevens and used that data in a classified scientific report, A Comparison
of the Metabolism of Plutonium in Man and the Rat. There is little doubt
scientists knew of the danger: The problem of chronic plutonium poisoning is a
matter of serious concern for those who come in contact with this material, the
report concluded.13 AEC officials in 1947 refused to release the information
because it contains material, which in the opinion of the [AEC], might adversely
affect the national interest. 14

* In 1947, doctors injected plutonium into the left leg of Elmer
Allen, a 36-year-old African American railroad porter. Three days later, the
leg was amputated for a supposed pre-existing bone cancer. Researchers analyzed
tissue samples to determine the physiology of plutonium dispersion. *15 In
1973, scientists summoned Allen to the Argonne National Laboratory near
Chicago, where he was subjected to a follow-up whole body radiation scan, and
his urine was analyzed to ascertain lingering levels of plutonium from the 1947
injection. *16

* Beginning in 1949, the Quaker Oats Company, the National
Institutes of Health, and the AEC fed minute doses of radioactive materials to
boys at the Fernald School for the mentally retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts,
to determine if chemicals used in breakfast cereal prevented the body from
absorbing iron and calcium. The unwitting subjects were told that they were
joining a science club. The consent form sent to the boys’ parents made no
mention of the radiation experiment. *17

* In 1963, 131 prison inmates in Oregon and Washington state were
paid about $200 each to be exposed to 600 roentgens of radiation (100 times the
allowable annual dose for nuclear workers). They signed consent forms agreeing
to submit to X-ray radiation of my scrotum and testes, but were not warned
about the possibility of contracting testicular cancer. Doctors later performed
vasectomies on the inmates to avoid the possibility of contaminating the
general population with irradiation-induced mutants. *18

* From 1960-71, in experiments which may have caused the most
deaths and spanned the most years, Dr. Eugene Saenger, a radiologist at the
University of Cincinnati, exposed 88 cancer patients to whole body radiation.
*19 Many of the guinea pigs were poor African-Americans at Cincinnati General
Hospital with inoperable tumors. All but one of the 88 patients have since
died. *20 There is evidence that scientists forged signatures on the consent
forms for the Cincinnati experiments. Gloria Nelson testified before the House
that her grandmother, Amelia Jackson, had been strong and still working before
she was treated by Dr. Saenger. Following exposure to 100 rads of whole body
radiation (about 7,500 chest X-rays), Amelia Jackson bled and vomited for days
and became permanently disabled. Jackson testified that the signa- ture on her
grandmother’s consent form was forged.21


While researchers were running tests on relatively small numbers
of hapless civilians, the military was conducting a series of potentially
lethal experiments on a massive scale. From 1946-63, the military ordered more
than 200,000 active-duty GIs to observe one or more nuclear bomb tests either
in the Pacific or at the Nevada Test Site. The 195,000 GIs who served as part
of the occupation force in Hiroshima and Nagasaki may also have suffered the
effects of radiation. A vast body of information about nuclear bomb testing and
its effects on humans has yet to see the light of day, but some individual
accounts are harrowing.

One atomic veteran, Jim O’Connor, provided a detailed account of
the Turk blast at the Nevada test site in March 1955. O’Connor reported seeing
someone crawling from a bunker near ground-zero after the blast:

“There was a guy with a mannequin look who had apparently
crawled behind the bunker. Something like wires were attached to his arms and
his face was bloody. I smelled an odor like burning flesh. The rotary camera
I’d seen [earlier] was going `zoom, zoom, zoom’ and the guy kept trying to get
up.” *22

At this point, O’Connor fled and was picked up by AEC rad-safety
monitors who took him to a hospital where he was treated for radiation
overdose. The Defense Nuclear Agency refused to confirm or deny O’Connor’s
account, although there are reports which refer to a volunteer officer program
at several of the test blasts.

Navy officer R.A. Hinners was another nuclear guinea pig. *23 Only
a mile from ground zero, he and seven other volunteers witnessed the detonation
of a 55-kiloton bomb (four times the Hiroshima blast) on April 25, 1953. While
the Army’s report, Exercise Desert Rock VII and VIII, covers the 1957 test
series and notes that the observers suffered no adverse effects, the Pentagon
has not released any material relating to the use of volunteers at any other
tests. *24


Nuclear researchers did not limit themselves to small groups of
selected guinea pigs or large groups of soldiers under orders. The U.S.
government also deliberately released radioactive materials into the
atmosphere, endangering military personnel and untold numbers of civilians.
Unsurprisingly, the people exposed during these tests were not informed.

In four of these tests at the AEC’s facility at Los Alamos, New
Mexico, bomb-testers set off conventional explosives to send aloft clouds of
radioactive material, including strontium and uranium. When the AEC tracked the
clouds across northern New Mexico, it detected some radioactivity 70 miles
away. According to a Los Alamos press officer, there may have been as many as
250 other such tests during the same period.25

Nor was this intentional release the largest. During the December
1949 Green Run test at the Hanford (Washington) Nuclear Reservation, the AEC
loosed thousands of curies of radioactive iodine-131 several times the amount
released from the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster into the atmosphere simply to
test its recently installed radiological monitoring equipment. Passing over
Spokane and reaching as far as the California-Oregon border, Green Run
irradiated thousands of downwinders, as civilians exposed to the effects of
airborne radiation tests are known, and contaminated an enormous swath of
cattle grazing and dairy land. *26 A team of epidemiologists is now looking
into an epidemic of late-occurring thyroid tumors and other radiogenic
disorders among the downwind residents in eastern Washington state.

The plant’s emissions control systems were turned off during the
experiment, releasing into the atmosphere almost twice as much radioactive
iodine-131 as originally planned. The GAO report notes that the off-site
population was not forewarned [nor] made aware of the [test] for several decades.
It also notes that although adverse weather patterns kept the radiation from
spreading as far as expected, monitoring Air Force planes detected hot clouds
over 100 miles northeast of the site. *27


Even when the government took steps to create the appearance of
openness, it was less than candid.

You are in a very real sense active participants in the Nation’s
atomic test program, proclaimed a 1955 AEC propaganda booklet widely
disseminated to downwind neighbors of the Nevada Test Site. Some of you have
been inconvenienced by our test operations, and at times some of you have been
exposed to potential risk from flash, blast, or fallout. You have accepted the
inconvenience or the risk without fuss, without alarm, and without panic. *28

The AEC’s concern for inconveniences or honesty, however, did not
extend to the 4,500 Utah and Nevada sheep who died mysteriously in 1953 after
exposure to fallout. The AEC denied any causal connection between the sheep’s
exposure to radioactive fallout from the 1953 Upshot-Knothole tests and their
deaths. *29 In a 1956 trial, Utah and Nevada sheep ranchers lost their lawsuit
against the government.

But years later, Harold Knapp, a former AEC scientist who analyzed
the 1953 sheep deaths, challenged the AEC’s accounts. The simplest explanation,
he told a 1979 congressional committee, of the primary cause of death in the
lambing ewes is irradiation of the ewe’s gastrointestinal tract by beta
particles from all the fission products ingested by the sheep along with open
range forage. *30

In a 1982 retrial, A. Sherman Christensen, the same judge who
presided over the 1956 trial, noting that fraud was committed by the U.S.
Government when it lied, pressured witnesses, and manipulated the processes of
the court, ruled for the ranchers. *31


U.S. government callousness and deception extended halfway around
the world. Another nuclear experiment was underway in the Marshall Islands a de
facto strategic colony of the U.S. located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. exploded 67 atomic and hydrogen bombs at Bikini
and Enewetok, two Marshall group atolls. Once again, the full impact and
consequences of this experiment would not be disclosed for decades, and then
only reluctantly.

The largest and dirtiest of the Marshall Islands blasts was
code-named Bravo. At 15 megatons more than 1,000 times the size of the
Hiroshima bomb Bravo rained lethal radioactive fallout over thousands of
unsuspecting islanders under circumstances which remain mysterious. The people
of Rongelap atoll were especially hard-hit. They were evacuated from their home
islands two days after Bravo, following the absorption of massive doses of
high-level fallout.

Following the Rongelap evacuation, the AEC considered repatriating
the islanders to their home atoll in order to gather vital fallout data. In
1956, Dr. G. Failla, chair of the AEC’s Advisory Committee on Biology and
Medicine, wrote to AEC head Lewis Strauss: The Advisory Committee hopes that
conditions will permit an early accomplishment of the plan [to return the
Rongelap people]. The Committee is also of the opinion that here is the
opportunity for a useful genetic study of the effects on these people. 32 Three
years later, Dr. C.L. Dunham, head of the AEC’s Division of Biology and
Medicine, reiterated the AEC’s interest. Studying the Rongelap victims of the
Bravo blast will, he wrote, … contribute to estimates of long term hazards to
human beings and to an evaluation of the recovery period following a single
nuclear detonation. *33 Having established the near-perfect longitudinal human
radiation experiment in 1954, DoE continues to compile data from their
Marshallese subjects.

It appears that AEC was guilty of both negligently disregarding
the well-being of the Marshallese and then lying about its actions. On February
24, 1994, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chair of the House Committee on
Natural Resources, convened a hearing on Bravo. Recalling weather data that
demonstrated prior knowledge that islanders would receive substantial fallout,
and that winds had not unexpectedly shifted, *34 Rep. Miller declared that We
have deliberately kept that information from the Marshallese. That clearly
constitutes a cover-up. *35


The record of U.S. government lies, misrepresentation, and
cover-ups to support its nuclear research program is incontrovertible, if not
yet complete. From the inception of the U.S. nuclear program, government policy
has placed military and scientific interests above both the well-being of
thousands of people and the truth. And, Secretary O’Leary’s evident openness
notwithstanding, the government’s record in responding to earlier disclosures
is not reassuring. When faced with damaging disclosures in the past, the
government attempted to stonewall. When that would not suffice, the government
only grudgingly responded. A few examples:

* In 1980, Congress issued a stinging report, The Forgotten Guinea
Pigs, which concluded that the AEC chose to secure, at any cost, the
atmospheric nuclear weapons testing program rather than to protect the health
and welfare of the residents of the area who lived downwind from the site. *36

* In 1982, the New York Times provided evidence that policy-makers
foresaw dangers and acted to cover them up. The story included a statement by a
former Army medic, Van R. Brandon, of Sacramento, that his medical unit kept
two sets of books of radiation readings at the Nevada Test Site during the
1956-57 tests. One set was to show that no one received an [elevated] exposure,
Brandon told the paper. The other set of books showed … the actual reading.
That set was brought in a locked briefcase every morning, he recalled. *37 DoE
officials simply denied Brandon’s allegations, and no further investigation was
pursued. *38

* In 1986, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) released a report
detailing human radiation experiments that AEC and its successors conducted
between the 1940s and the 1970s. Many were designed to measure the effects of
radiation on humans, and according to Markey, American citizens thus became
nuclear calibration devices for experimenters run amok. 39 The Markey report,
American Nuclear Guinea Pigs, described 31 grisly experiments involving 695
people who were captive audiences or populations that some experimenters
frighteningly might have considered `expendable.’ 40

When the Reagan administration refused to investigate the
disclosures, the Markey report was quickly forgotten. There was a massive
public relations relationship that existed between the [Reagan] administration,
the defense contractors and experimenters in America, charged Markey, that
worked very effectively throughout the 1980s. I’d say something, and I’d get
attacked, and it would be a one-day story. *41


From the beginning of the nuclear age, the federal government not
only ignored or suppressed knowledge of abuses in the nuclear experimental
program, it also fought all attempts to hold it accountable for damages. A
series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1950 bars both atomic veterans
and downwinders from suing the federal government. *42 Veterans are denied the
right to sue for injuries suffered while on active duty because the Court
believes that this would interfere with military necessity and national
security. *43

Downwinders have also encountered many obstacles in their long
struggle for medical studies and compensation. One group of Utah residents who
lived under the fallout during the 1950s and early 1960s finally succeeded in
bringing their federal lawsuit to trial in 1982. They scored an important
victory when the trial judge found the bomb tests were responsible for their
cancers and awarded them damages. *44 But the appeals court reversed this
verdict by re-defining the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort
Claims Act to make the government immune from lawsuits of this kind. *45 In
essence, the court held that setting off nuclear bombs was within the
discretionary power of high-ranking officials and could not be questioned in a
lawsuit for damages.

After the federal appeals court stripped the downwinders of their
victory, in 1990, Congress finally stepped in and adopted the Radiation
Exposure Compensation Act for downwinders and some groups of uranium miners.
Claimants must document residence in the fallout area and that they suffer from
one of 13 cancers linked to radia-tion exposure. The program, administered by
the Department of Justice, places a ceiling of $50,000 per claim, although many
awards were smaller. Justice granted 818 claims out of 1,460 which were
submitted as of January 1994.46 In 1988, Congress acted on behalf of atomic
veterans, forcing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a
limited compensation plan with a $75,000 cap. It provides presumptive
disability to veterans who can prove that they suffer from one of a list of 13
cancers (e.g., bone, breast, skin, stomach, thyroid, leukemia, etc.), and that
they were present during one or more nuclear test blasts.

Of more than 15,000 veterans’ claims filed as of January 1994,
only 1,401 have been approved, indicating that most claimants are unable to
qualify under the terms of the program. *47 One problem confronting many
veterans is inaccurate or missing military records that omit service at a
nuclear test site. *48 Another is to prepare a radiation dose reconstruction
that estimates the amount of exposure the veteran received. Many vets have
challenged the accuracy of dose estimates prepared by a private contractor,
Science Applications International. This privately held research corporation
includes among its stockholders Defense Department officials including
Secretary William Perry and Deputy Secretary John Deutch, and one-time nominee
Bobby Ray Inman. The Defense Department has little to say about potential
conflicts of interest. We’re going to decline to comment on this. I don’t think
we would have anything that would be meaningful to say, said Pentagon spokesman
Capt. Michael Doubleday. *49

A final obstacle is that just having cancer isn’t enough; veterans
must prove they are disabled by it.


The Clinton administration is about to undergo a test of its own.
The key question will be how it defines who will be considered a nuclear test
victim for purposes of health research and compensation. Given the decades-long
record of coverup and callousness, there is little reason to assume that the
recent revelations concerning human experimentation will produce any lasting
benefit for the tens of thousands of veterans and civilians harmed by nuclear
weapons testing and radiation experiments over the past half century let alone
the estimated five million U.S. citizens exposed to dangerous levels of
radiation during the Cold War. *

Early indications are that the White House will stake out a
restrictive position. DoE head O’Leary also appears to be seeking some remedy
short of compensating all categories of victims. So, apparently, is the GAO.

The GAO’s report on atmospheric radiation releases provides a
glimpse of the emerging strategy. In assessing the significance of the Green
Run test, the GAO struck a cautious note. The test [was not] intended to be a
radiation experiment or a field test of radiobiological effects. [After]
examining still classified passages [we] found that they don’t refer to any
such intentions. *50 This interpretation could provide the basis for a
restrictive reading of who is entitled to compensation and follow-up health


The Clinton administration may also be moving to head off
potentially monstrous payouts to victims. To deal with the predicted avalanche
of claims, as well as to fend off adverse publicity, the administration has
established an advisory committee and an interagency working group to define
policy. The advisory committee’s mission statement, as well as the backgrounds
of some of the people appointed to the panels, give victims cause for

The President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments
is composed of scientists, medical ethicists, and lawyers and is chaired by Dr.
Ruth Faden of Johns Hopkins University. The White House announcement stated
that its mission is to evaluate the ethical and scientific standards of
government sponsored human experiments which involved intentional exposure to
ionizing radiation. *51 (emphasis added) When read in conjunction with the GAO
report’s cautious conclusion, this language appears to sharply limit possible

And one of the advisory panel members, Washington, D.C. lawyer
Kenneth Feinberg, has credentials that have raised eyebrows. Feinberg played a
controversial role in forging an 11th-hour settlement of the class action
lawsuit against Agent Orange manufacturers in 1984. Working at the direction of
trial judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn, New York, Feinberg helped ram through a
$180 million settlement. Although the figure seems large, it is grossly
inadequate in light of the 250,000 veteran-claimants and the severity of their
disabilities. Since the settlement, Judge Weinstein has blocked every
subsequent lawsuit against the Agent Orange makers even for veterans whose
cancer appeared years after the settlement was reached. *

The Interagency Working Group has representatives from every
federal agency involved in radiation research and also includes a lawyer member
whose past clients raise questions about his impartiality. Joel Klein, recently
named White House Deputy Legal Counsel, was previously a partner in Klein Farr
Smith & Taranto, a Washington, D.C. law firm which represented a number of
corporate defendants in cases involving the due process rights of class action
members. In 1985, Klein’s firm won a Supreme Court decision in Phillips
Petroleum v. Shutts, which narrowly interpreted the rights of claimants in
class actions. Klein also has a case pending before the Supreme Court, Ticor
Title v. Brown, which experts expect will further diminish the rights of
injured parties in class action suits.


It is too early to tell what role either Feinberg or Klein will
play in determining compensation for nuclear test victims, but their histories
don’t lend cause for optimism. And given the administration’s efforts at damage
control, some advocates of radiation victims are dubious that the recent
disclosures will bring any more change than those in the past. Rob Hager, a
public interest lawyer in Washington, has been fighting the DoE for years. He
has waged an 11-year legal battle on behalf of the widow of Joe Harding, who
developed cancer after working at a DoE uranium processing plant in Paducah,

The DoE’s approach to compensation is a scorched earth policy;
settle no claims and litigate to the hilt, Hager charges. They’ve changed their
head, but it doesn’t seem to be connected to the body. *52 Eileen Welsome
agrees. The Albuquerque journalist, who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for her
reporting on this issue, was asked what she learned. She responded, The DoE of
today is no different from the DoE of 50 years ago. It’s an obstructionist
agency; it doesn’t follow the law. I think it’s an agency that bears careful
scrutiny and constant scrutiny. 53




The still-emerging history of nuclear experimentation raises
important issues of medical ethics and calls into question the scientific
community’s sensitivity to and awareness of these issues. It also raises the
question of whether these experimenters, in furthering the Pentagon’s military
and security demands, violated international standards on human
experimentation. Even at this late date, it seems that some scientists involved
are unable to see any problems with their behavior. Patricia Durbin, a
scientist at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California who participated
in plutonium experiments, recently said:

“They were always on the lookout for somebody who had some
kind of terminal disease who was going to undergo an amputation. These things
were not done to plague people or make them sick and miserable.

They were not done to kill people. They were done to gain
potentially valuable information. The fact that they were injected and provided
this valuable data should almost be a sort of memorial rather than something to
be ashamed of. It doesn’t bother me to talk about the plutonium injectees
because of the value of the information they provided. *1″

And Dr. Victor Bond, a medical physicist and doctor at Brookhaven
National Laboratory, recently defended the Fernald experiments, in which
retarded children were deliberately given radioactive substances in their
breakfast cereal. A question arose as to whether chemicals in breakfast cereals
interfered with the uptake of iron or calcium in children. An answer was
needed, declared Bond. In reference to the entire series of cold war nuclear
experiments, Bond offered that It’s useful to know what dose of radiation
sterilizes; it’s useful to know what different doses of radiation will do to
human beings. *2

While Drs. Bond and Durbin rationalized such programs, other
scientists have spoken out. Referring to the Cincinnati experiments in which 88
cancer patients were exposed to massive whole body doses of radiation, Dr.
David Egilman, a former Cincinnati faculty member, said, The study was designed
to test the effects of radiation on soldiers. It was known that whole-body
radiation wouldn’t treat the patients’ cancer. What happened was one of the
worst things this government has done to its citizens. *3 And Dr. Joseph
Hamilton, a neurologist at the University of California Hospital in San
Francisco, referred to his own human radiation experiments in the 1940s as
having a little of the Buchenwald touch. *4

THE BUCHENWALD TOUCH is not limited to Cold War-related
experiments. In what has come to be known as the Tuskegee Study, 412 African
American sharecroppers suffering from syphillis were rounded up in Tuskegee,
Alabama, in the early 1930s. For forty years, the men were never told what had stricken
them while doctors from the U.S. Public Health Service observed the ravages of
the disease, from blindness and paralysis to dementia and early death. Even
after penicillin proved to be an effective treatment for syphilis, they were
left untreated. *5

Nor are such experiments a thing of the past. Recent congressional
hearings revealed studies on schizophrenia in the late 1980s where doctors
intentionally worsened patients’ symptoms, causing relapses and leading to the
death by suicide of at least one of the patients. Dr. Michael Davidson, who led
a study at the VA Hospital in the Bronx, defended the study, saying, it would
not be advisable to [warn] the patients about psychosis or relapse. *6