The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Testing Weapons of Mass Destruction on Its Own People—The U.S. Beat Hussein to the Punch

Oct 28, 2002

Between 1962 and 1973, the U.S. government tested chemical and biological weapons–that is, weapons of mass destruction–on its own population, both military and civilian in the U.S. It also tested these weapons on people in Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom and several islands in the Pacific.

According to a new report released by the Pentagon, the U.S. military used sarin and VX gas, which are some of the most poisonous gases, as well as such deadly germs as anthrax and various strains of e-coli bacteria in tests, whose purpose was to find out the effectiveness of special suits and masks in protecting troops against gases and germs, as well as the ability of U.S. military personnel to carry out their duties while under chemical or biological attack. At least 5,500 military personnel were used as human guinea pigs. And some of these tests were carried out near populous areas–on bases, such as Edgewood Arsenal, (later known as the Aberdeen Proving Ground) in Maryland. Thus, the U.S. military also exposed thousands of civilians to these deadly agents.

All of these tests were done in secret. Not even those who participated in the tests were informed about what was being tested, or what risks they ran. And the military did not keep track afterwards of what happened to the health of the people who participated in the tests. The aim of the tests was simply to find out whether soldiers could function in the middle of chemical or biological attacks, whether carried out by the enemy of by "the good guys."It was not until 55 sick veterans filed claims asserting that their illnesses resulted from their exposure to nerve gases while on U.S. warships, that the Pentagon was finally forced to release a report.

One of the charges that the Bush administration makes against the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq is that it used poison gas or other weapons of mass destruction against its own people. By testing the very same gases on its own people, the U.S. government had beaten Hussein to the punch by more than three decades.