The United States, for its warts, has achieved much in its short 230-plus year history. It is a benevolent world superpower, for the most part, that serves as a beacon of hope and freedom for an increasingly oppressed world, even as it serves as a guardian against tyranny for as many as half of the worldís nearly seven billion people.
But a few chapters in our history - slavery, oppression of the Native American tribes, causes of the civil rights movement, and moments of unconstitutionality on the part of our elected leaders - serve as more than simple blemishes on an otherwise admirable record of defending liberty and freedom. One such stain is the way weíve treated some of our nationís military veterans.
The maltreatment is summed up in a recent federal case. In late July, a group of veterans managed to win a court order forcing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hand over a trove of documents detailing the departmentís alleged Cold War-era drug experiments on Vietnam vets. Whatís problematic about this case isnít the decision - the VA owes these veterans any answers they are seeking - but the fact that the case had to be filed at all.
According to court documents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, in Oakland, Calif., said in her ruling that the documents requested by the veteran-plaintiffs were "squarely relevant" to their claim that the government, through the VA, did not adequately notify veterans of chemicals they were purposely exposed to during experimentation, and - perhaps more importantly - what effects that exposure might have had on their physical and mental health.
Details of this sad episode in our history were contained in a 2009 class action suit. Filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America and individual soldiers, the suit charges the U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency, with the help of former Nazi scientists, of using at least 7,800 vets as guinea pigs to test the effects of as many as 400 different types of drugs and chemicals. They included mescaline (psychedelic alkaloid), LSD (psychedelic drug), amphetamines, barbiturates, nerve agents and mustard gas.
The suit also says the government worked to cover up the testing and the nature of its experiments, which began in the 1950s under such exotic code names as "Bluebird," "Artichoke" and MKUltra."
The government launched "Project Paperclip," the suit alleges, an all-out effort by the Army and CIA to allegedly recruit former Nazi scientists to help test various psycho-chemicals, as well as develop a new truth serum using the nationís own vets as test subjects, Courthouse News Service reported.
"Over half of these Nazi recruits had been members of the SS or Nazi Party," said the class-action suit. "The íPaperclipí name was chosen because so many of the employment applications were clipped to immigration papers."
According to Colin A. Ross, a psychiatrist and author of "The CIA Doctors," said he pored over more than 15,000 documents he received from the nationís premier spy agency detailing the "mind control" operations which he said took place between 1950-1972 "at many leading universities including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins and Stanford."
The goal, simply, is mind control
In a report posted on the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Internationalís Web site, Ross said "MKUltra and related programs had several over-lapping purposes."
"One was to purchase mind control drugs from suppliers. Another was to form relationships with researchers who might later be used as consultants at the TOP SECRET level," he wrote. "The core purpose of these programs was to learn how to enhance interrogations, erase and insert memories, and create and run Manchurian Candidates."
Ross said all of that is documented "clearly and explicitly" in the declassified CIA documents he obtained, though he said it was merely "a glimpse into the tip of the iceberg of CIA and military mind control."
"The experimental subjects were not told the real purpose of the experiments, did not give informed consent, were not afforded outside counsel and received no meaningful follow-up," he wrote. "As described by the psychiatrists in published papers, experiments with LSD and other hallucinogens, combined with sensory deprivation, electroshock and other interrogation techniques, resulted in psychosis and death among other íside effects.í The purpose of these experiments was to see how easily a person could be put into a psychotic state or controlled."
In a review of the MKUltra program, which was launched in 1953, Wired.com said its goal was, simply, mind-control.
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