America Has Deployed Chemical and Biological Weapons on the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and More
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This essay is excerpted from Jeffrey St. Clair’s book Grand Theft Pentagon. As Washington deliberates about a 'principled' response to an alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, the history of the US's own use of chemical and biological weapons should be read widely.
The United States, which has deployed its CBW arsenal against the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Haitian boat people and Canada, plus exposure of hundreds of thousands of unwitting US citizens to an astonishing array of germ agents and toxic chemicals, killing dozens of people.
The US experimentation with bio-weapons goes back to the distribution of cholera-infect blankets to American Indian tribes in the 1860s. In 1900, US Army doctors in the Philippines infected five prisoners with a variety of plague and 29 prisoners with Beriberi. At least four of the subjects died. In 1915, a doctor working with government grants exposed 12 prisoners in Mississippi to pellagra, an incapacitating disease that attacks the central nervous system.
After World War I, the United States went on a chemical weapons binge, producing millions of barrels of mustard gas and Lewisite. Thousands of US troops were exposed to these chemical agents in order to “test the efficacy of gas masks and protective clothing”. The Veterans Administration refused to honor disability claims from victims of such experiments. The Army also deployed mustard gas against anti-US protesters in Puerto Rico and the Philippines in the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1931, Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, then under contract with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations, initiated his horrific Puerto Rico Cancer Experiments, infecting dozens of unwitting subjects with cancer cells.At least thirteen of his victims died as a result. Rhoads went on to headof the US Army Biological Weapons division and to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission, where he oversaw radiation experiments on thousands of US citizens. In memos to the Department of Defense, Rhoads expressed his opinion that Puerto Rican dissidents could be “eradicated” with the judicious use of germ bombs.
In 1942, US Army and Navy doctors infected 400 prisoners in Chicago withmalaria in experiments designed to get “a profile of the disease and develop a treatment for it.” Most of the inmates were black and none was informed of the risks of the experiment. Nazi doctors on trial at Nuremberg cited the Chicago malaria experiments as part of their defense.
At the close of World War II, the US Army put on its payroll, Dr. Shiro Ishii, the head of the Imperial Army of Japan’s bio-warfare unit. Dr. Ishii had deployed a wide range of biological and chemical agents against Chinese and Allied troops. He also operated a large research center in Manchuria,where he conducted bio-weapons experiments on Chinese, Russian and American prisoners of war. Ishii infected prisoners with tetanus; gave them typhoid-laced tomatoes; developed plague-infected fleas; infected women with syphilis; performed dissections on live prisoners; and exploded germ bombs over dozens of men tied to stakes. In a deal hatched by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Ishii turned over more than 10,000 pages of his “research findings”to the US Army, avoided prosecution for war crimes and was invited to lecture at Ft. Detrick, the US Army bio-weapons center in Frederick, Maryland.
In 1950 the US Navy sprayed large quantities of serratia marcescens, a bacteriological agent, over San Francisco, promoting an outbreak of pneumonia-like illnesses and causing the death of at least one man, Ed Nevins.
A year later, Chinese Premier Chou En-lai charged that the US military and the CIA had used bio-agents against North Korea and China. Chou produced statements from 25 US prisoners of war backing him his claims that the US had dropped anthrax contaminated feathers, mosquitoes and fleas carrying Yellow Fever and propaganda leaflets spiked with cholera over Manchuria and North Korea.