BBC Radio is doing a fascinating program on U.S. germ warfare experiments. The focus of the first episode is on Operation Whitecoat, during which conscientious objectors were used as human guinea-pigs at Fort Detrick, Maryland. While this isn't new information by any means, it's very interesting to hear actual participants in these tests describe what they went through:
One white coat, George Shores, tells of how he was infected with tularaemia or rabbit fever. A giant metal sphere, known as the Eight Ball because of its resemblance to a snooker ball, was used in the experiment. Technicians exploded prototype bio-weapons inside the structure.The Eight Ball still stands, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. (Personally, I'd like to see it turned into a monument symbolizing the dialectic of Enlightenment: Cénotaphe de Adorno et Horkheimer, after Etienne-Louis Boullee.)
"They had like telephone booths all the way around the outside of the Eight Ball and you went into the telephone booth and shut the door and put on a mask like a gas mask.
"It was hooked up to the material that was inside the Eight Ball and you breathed it in," explained Mr Shores.
You can listen to the BBC program here.
In related news, the British Ministry of Defense has settled with the family of a serviceman who died during a nerve-gas test in 1953. The original inquiry was held in secret, and returned a verdict of "death by misadventure." A second inquiry was opened in 1999, at the family's insistence, and returned a verdict of "gross negligence."