This is an informal review with excerpts, by email, from Lynn Weed.
To read the testimony from the official U.S. Government hearings, the
section where three MKULTRA child victims were able to testify,
From: Lynn Weed
To: Eleanor White
Subject: Plutonium Files
Date sent: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 15:24:03 -0000
The name of the book is "The Plutonium Files" by Eileen Welsome, Published
by the Dial Press, Random House, Inc. NY 1999 ISBN 0-385-31402-7.
Subtitle: "America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War". The book
was a gift to me from Tom McClellan, a Manhattan resident, musician, fellow
of victim of mc testing/abuses.
Some of these tests might have been precursors to what we are experiencing
Pg. 253 "Thus the comments made at Fort Monroe show that even before the
first large-scale troop maneuvers were held, the armed forces planned to
ignore inhalation hazards and considered collecting the data with
instruments that would result in lower reported exposures for troops. These
remarks, when combined with the cavalier attitude exhibited by Cooney and
other high-ranking officers toward radiation hazards, strongly suggest that
some troops rreceived greater doses than what has officially been reported.
Before the maneuvers began, the Pentagon's Joint Panel on the Medical
Aspects of Atomic Warfare met to thrash out a shopping list of questions
that needed to be answered at the upcoming bomb tests. "It is of course,
obvious," the panel acknowledge, "that a test of a new and untried atomic
bomb is not a place to have an unlimited number of people milling about."
The top-secret panel was formed in 1949, the year the Soviets exploded their
first bomb, but it's not clear when it was dissolved. Little was known
about the Joint Panle until 1994, when a stack of its records was obtained
by the Clinton Committee. Those records show that James Cooney, Louis
Hempelmann, Robley Evens and Hymer Friedell served as members of
Among other things, the "shopping list" prepared by the Joint Panel called
for an investigation into the Psychological effects of nuclear explosions on
troops, research into the efficiency of protective clothing and devices, the
measurement of radioisotopes in the body fluids of weapons test personnel,
orientation flights in the vicinity of nuclear explosions, and studies on
the effects of the atomic flash on the human eye. It so happened tht the
psychological tests, the orientation flights, and the flashblindness studies
would all begin in the fall of 1951 and continue for the next decade."
continuing on pg 263
"Afterward, the troops went to a decontamination station where they were
swept off with brooms and monitored for radiation. "If the radiation
intensity could not be lowered to 0.01 r/hr the individual was to shower and
change his clothing, and vehicles were to be washed," an official summary of
the test noted. Some of the soldiers underwent psychological testing to
determine the effectiveness of indoctrination programs. Researchers from
HumRRO, the Human Resources Research Organization, an Army contractor based
George Washington University, found the troops' confidence in the use of
atomic weapons had "increased materially". But psychologists from the John
Hopkins University Operations REsearch Office, known as ORO, claimed their
studies showed deep worry and anxiety among the troops despite the
There is also a reference to the "Cardoza" ruling in NY which is very
significant for a lawsuit based on unauthorized testing.
"In 1908 a woman named Mary E. Schloendorff sued the Society New York
Hospital, [(unrelated to radiation experiments )comment added to text]
claiming that she had not given her consent for an operation in which a
fibroid tumor was removed from her stomach. Following the procedure, she
developed gangrene in her left arm and several fingers were amputated. Upon
appeal Benjamin Cardoza, who later went on to become a Supreme Court Judge,
issued his now-famous ruling, "In the case at hand, the wrong complained of
is not merely negligence. It is trespass. Every human being of adult years
and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own
body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient's consent
commits an assault for which he is liable in damages."
p. 208, 209
"Researchers throughout the United States used the radioisotopes in
thousands of human experiments. As these experiments involved minute
amounts of radioactive materials, they are often called "tracer studies".
Congress allocated $175 million to the AEC in 1947 with up to $5 million to
be reserved for cancer research that did not duplicate the work of other
public or private agencies. At that time the $5 million was a huge sum, and
more money than some AEC officials believed could bespent on legimate
projects. Under Shields Warren's direction, three AEC cancer hospitals were
eventually set up: the Argonne Cancer REsearch Hospital, located in Chicago
next to Billings Hospital, the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies in
Tennessee and a 48 bed facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory near
Upton, New York. During the next 3 to 4 decades, scores of human
experiments using radioisotopes and external radioactive sources were
conducted at these facilities."
Concerning the "wall of silence ... cracking"
Although information on the human radiation experiments occassionally made
its way into obscure journals, the scientists managed to pursue their
studies without drawing much public attention to their projects. This was
due in large part, of course, to the deliberate efforst on the part of the
researchers and their government funders to keep the experimentation quiet.
But the silence was also the result of the media's complacency and lack of
sophistication. Activities related to nuclear weapons involved a
labyrinthine bureaucracy and complicated scientific and technical issues,
and spokesmen for the nuclear weapons industry were adept at manipulating
the press. Controversial information was difficult to obtain and oftentimes
documents were deliberately classified to keep them away from reporters.
With tight deadlines and long obstacles, many journalists wound up reporting
what they were told. Slowly though, the wall of silence began to crack."
" The test ban victory notwithstanding. O"leary recognized that if she was
going to succeed in making any permanent, long-term reforms, she would have
to begin by reversing the "culture of secrecy" that had been created by the
Manhattan Project. that meant, among other things, declassifying documents
and revising the long-standing practiceof compartmentalization -- the old
idea promulgated by General Leslie Groves that workers should know only what
they need to know to do their jobs and nothing more. Gover's policy was
beginning to backfire. "
" O'Leary also changed the name of the Office of Classification to the
Office of Declassification and instructed A. Bryan Siebert, the director to
develop a plan for making more documents available to the public. Siebert
readily embraced O'Leary's oders: "I have been in the program for 20 to 30
years and it has been clear to me that classification has been used against
the public time and time again. I thought it was wrong" he said. "
This is out in print and paperback. The issues it raises are the same
issues we are raising.
From: Lynn Weed
To: Eleanor White
Subject: re: "The Plutonium Files" related issues
Date sent: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 22:53:48 -0000
It seems that the radiation studies may have been early versions of what
they are doing to us now -- or that our "testing" is somehow being
rationalized as being necessary for military "readiness". I'm sending these
excerpts from the book:
p. 346, 347 ("The Plutonium Files" by Eileen Wilsome)
"Often the patients were moved to a private room after irradiation so
that their mental state could be better evaluated. What's more, the doctors
told their military funders, "there are no other patients receiving
radiation therapy with whom the patient can exchange experiences." These
psychological studies were another important component of the experiment and
became more elaborate as the years went on. Tests were administered to
measure the patients' depression, hope, denial, and pessimism. Brief
interviews were conducted before and after irradiation and then "scored" for
cognitive dysfunction. Many of the patients were so sick after they were
irradiated that they could not complete all the testing. Herb Varin
remembers his mother Nina Cline, complaining about the constant barrage of
questioning. "I tell them I'm feeling terrible but they just want to talk
to me," Varin recalled his mother saying. The psychological research was
pertinent to the military, the Cincinnati doctors wrote, because of the way
TBI affected thought processes:
Following exposure to acute whole or partial body radiation it
is possible that there will be significant impairment of the decision
making capability of key personnel who have major command
responsibilities. This concern has become more important in recent
years since the findings that complex electronic systems can be
rendered inoperative by very high doses of radiation. Thus it is
necessary to maintain dependence on the human being. It is quite
possible that even moderately high doses or dose rates could produce
impairment of cognitive processes either of an obvious or of a subtle
nature which in moments of stress would impair or defeat a military
operation. In order to gain understanding of such possible
changes it is necessary to seek changes in cognitive processes and
decrease in the capability to perform highly technical processes."
Some of these tests were done anticipating space travel:
p. 358, 359 (IBID)
"The radiation sources were located in a larger, outer, heavily shielded
room. the patients were able to move about freely while they were
continuously exposed to a low-level sea of radiation. Attached to the
patient's body were electrodes and an umbilical cord that measured cardiac
and respiratory signals. The data were fed into a computer and stored for
later analysis by NASA. Occasionally rats were hung in between the walls of
the two rooms and irradiated simultaneously with the human patients.
LETBI cost $26 million. The AEC picked up the tab for the design and
construction of the chamber and NASA contributed $2.2 million which was used
mostly to pay the salaries of Lushbaugh and a technician, and to buy some
A third high-dose irradiation facility was constructed at the animal
research laboratory run by the U of Tennessee's School of Agriculture.
Referred to in some documents as HETBI, an acronym which apparently stood
for the High Exposure Total Body Irradiator, the chamber delivered massive
doses of radiation within minutes to plants, seeds, and large animals such
as cows and horses. It became operational in 1970 and was used by ORINS
researchers to irradiate four patients undergoing bone marrow transplants.
One worker who was irradiating seeds accidentally recevied a large dose of
radiation in the high-exposure facility and developed acute leukemia ten
The exposures in LETBI mimicked the low, chronic radiation doses that
astronauts were likely to encounter when they traveled through space. The
information, wrote the Oak Ridge scientists, was "increasingly more relevant
to the occupational medical needs of deep space exploration where exposures
are expected to be small, multiple and randomly timed." The HETBI data would
be useful in the event of a serious accident "like that which could occur
during extra-vehicular activities in space from the unexpected occurrence of
a large solar flare or in an accident resulting from the use of nuclear
energy propulsion systems."
Records also reveal that the Army was funding a study on the irradiated
patients to find out how single, repeated, or protracted doses affected the
intestinal bacteria of exposed patients. NASA was also provided this data
"without additional costs." Thus the data from patients irradiated in METBI
and LETBI were used in multiple investigations: Oak Ridge scientists used
the information in their search for a biological dosimeter and to better
learn how to treat accident victims; NASA used the data in its space
missions; and the Army used the findings to better predict soldiers'
reactions on the nuclear battlefield."
The secrecy of unauthorized testing and the ethical and legal
implications of secrecy --
p. 481-486 (IBID)
" When Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary acknowledged that the federal
government had conducted radiation experiments on its own people, thousands
of callers had flooded a hot line set up by the DOE: What was going on?
Had we become a nation of paranoiacs? A country of guinea pigs? Or had
O'Leary touched on something that resonated deeply with the American public?
Certainly the radiation experiments raised complex questons that go to the
core of our society: the trust between a government and its people, the
subjugation of individuals to the interest of the state, and the ethical
dilemma associated with the development of weapons of mass destruction.
But what O'leary did in a dramatic and unexpected way was confirm the hunch
that all was not well beneath the soothing no harm, do danger statements
that accompanied the reports of nuclear blasts, spills, and accidents of the
Cold War. Her admission produced an electrifying response, something akin
to the emotions a person might feel after being subjected to a lifetime of
vague allusions and abrupt silences and suddently learning a dark family
secret he or she had always suspected.
When the Nevada Test Site opened in 1951, the Atomic Energy Commission
warned its public relations men to approach the tests "matter-of-factly" and
not go overboard in emphasizing how safe the explosions were going to be.
Such a campaign might be interpreted as one of the "lady doth protest too
much", an AEC official cautioned.
The bomb project's public relations machine succeeded in keeping a lid on
the experiments for fifty years. Its spokesmen were able to blame the
fallout controversy, the illnesses of the atomic veterans, and the diseases
of the downwinders on sudden wind shifts, misinformed scientists, the
overactive imagination of agine soldiers, and even Communits propagandists.
But the radiation experiments revealed a deliberate intent, a willingness to
inflict harm or the risk of harm, which could not be explained away so
easily. Somebody inserted the needle into the human vein, mixed the
radioisotopes in the paper cup, or flipped the switch that delivered a
potentially lethal dose of whole-body radiation. There is no denying that:
. Thousands of Americans were used as laboratory animals in radiation
experiments funded by the federal government. Many of the subjects were not
asked for their consent or given accurate information about the nature of
these experiments. Some didn't learn they or their loved ones had been used
as guinea pigs until 1994 or 1995 . Some still don't know, and never will.
. Many of the doctors and scientists who performed these experiments
routinely violated their patient's trust and engaged in deception. They
ignored the Hippocratic Oath, the 1946 American Medical Association
guidelines, the Nuremberg Code, as well as policies adopted by the Atomic
Energy Commission in 1947 and by the DEfense Department in 1953. Civil and
criminal laws may also have been broken. Beyond everything else, the
experimenters violated a fundamental right that belongs to all competent
adults: the right to control one's body.
. Although the majority of the experiments were the so-called tracer
studies, which involved administering radioactive materials in quantities so
small that they probably caused no harm, most scientists agree that no dose
can absolutely be called safe.
. Some studies are known to have had very serious consequences. The
total-body irradiation experiments caused intense suffering and premature
death in some patients. The radium rod treatments and some of the
radioactive iodine experiments increased the risk of head, neck and thyroid
cancers and other secondary disorders."
. . .
"The culture bred by the Manhattan Project caused a blanket of secrecy to
be thrown over everything related to atomic weapons. The secrecy was
essential during the Manhattan Project, but it hardened into a protective
and impenetrable shell after the war. The secrecy cut researchers off from
the healthy sunlight of inquiry that would surely have put a stop to some of
the experiments and perhaps reduced the number of atmospheric tests. Many
of the scientists, such as Carl Heller and C. Alvin Paulsen were instructed
to avoid publicity and several studies such as Eugene Seanger's, were halted
only after they received public attention."
. . .
"It's difficult to describe how pervasive, how all-encompassing this
propaganda campaign was. In the films of the atmospheric testing program
now being declassified by the Department of Energy, military officials
continually emphasize how safe the bomb tests are, how vital they are to the
security of the free world, how glorious the future of mankind will be when
the full potential of the atom has been realized. "It's a huge fraternity,
this order of the mushroom, and it's growing all the time," one narrator
. . .
For five decades the public remained largely ignorant of the systematic
nature of human radiation experiments. Secrecy, compounded by the insular,
inbred nature of the atomic establishment, helped keep the experiments from
becoming known. But the fact is, the Manhattan Project veterans and their
proteges controlled virtually all the information. They sat on the boards
that set radiation standards, consulted at meetings where further human
experimentation was discussed, investigated nuclear accidents, and served as
expert witnesses in radiation injury cases. The Manhattan Project
researchers also worked in a professional world that remained remarkably
stable. Once the project itself had been disbanded, the scientists got jobs
in the weapons laboratories and at universities, many of which had contracts
with the Atomic Energy Commission, and they remained in these jobs for the
rest of their lives.
The experiments conducted after the war generally were not secret. But
the results were published in obscure journals or laboratory health reports
that were inaccessible to the public. Furthermore, many of the policy
discussions surrounding the purpose of the experiments were kept secret."
. . .
"Although many of the experimental subjects and their relativeswere
disappointed by the government's response, the American people nevertheless
gained a vast amount of knowledge from the documents about the Cold War.
It's as if a submerged continent has risen to the surface. There are peaks
and valleys and still lost of shadows, but the contours are better
Much of the information is disturbing, shocking, and will serve as a
cautionary tale about the corrupting power of secrecy, the danger of
special interest groups, the excesses of science and medicine, and the need
to monitor closely the activities of civilian and military weapons makers.
The breathtaking advances in science and technology demand we always keep
our ethical watch light burning. No matter how rapid the pace of change, it
can never outrun our core conviction that have stood us so well as a nation
for more than two hundred years now, through many different scientific
revolutions, " President Clinton observed when he accepted the Advisory
Committee's report." (IBID).