While the United States government claims to be horrified every time there are reports of a chemical attack that was allegedly carried out by the Syrian government, history serves as a reminder that the U.S. is responsible for carrying out a number of chemical attacks on thousands of unsuspecting Americans, and some of the innocent victims are still suffering from the effects today.
In 1977, the U.S. Army admitted that it secretly conducted at least 239 germ warfare tests in the open air in cities across the country between 1949 and 1969. The areas where the lethal germs were simulated on the public were typically in major cities such as Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York City, Key West and Panama City, according to a report the Army submitted to the Senate Health Subcommittee.
In the report, the Army insisted that the purpose of the tests was to study how biological warfare affects the public, in case it needs to defend against it. Calling tests “essential,” the Army claimed it needed to “substantiate theories and fill knowledge gaps and to determine vulnerability to attack.”
According to a report from the Washington Post, the release of the Army’s censored report was “the most complete official version of this nation’s biological warfare effort,” and it revealed that in addition to public areas, military personnel and their families were also targeted:
“The Army listed 27 times that it tested simulated toxins on public property, including releasing spores in two tunnels on a stretch of Pennsylvania Turnpike. In addition to those experiments in public places, the Army secretary used military personnel and their families for open-air experiments by spraying simulated germs into the air at a number of bases, including Fort Detrick, Md.; Fort Belvoir, Va.; and the Marine training school at Quantico, Va. … Another 504 workers connected with biological warfare activities at Ft. Detrick, Dugway Proving Ground and the Deseret Test Center in Utah and the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas suffered infections, according to the Army’s count.”
The Army’s report also noted that while the initial tests were carried out 1942, the testing of biological warfare agents increased drastically in 1961 when the Secretary of Defense ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “evaluate the potentialities” of biological and chemical warfare, instead of just studying the effects of the agents from a defense standpoint.
While the report from the Army maintained that the live bacteria deployed in tests across the country were “deemed harmless at the time,” the tests resulted in lifelong illnesses and health problems for many of the innocent victims who were unaware that their quality of life was being compromised by a government experiment.
As The Free Thought Project reported, the largest experiment was carried out in San Francisco, California, in 1950. The Army sprayed the city with the microbe Serratia marcescens in an attack that was called “Operation Sea-Spray.” They claimed San Francisco was chosen as the target because it is close to the ocean and because it has a unique geography, tall buildings, and dense population.
For six days in September 1950, military members used giant hoses to spray clouds of Serratia along the San Francisco coastline, which resulted in the city’s 800,000 residents receiving heavy doses of the chemical. It is also estimated that residents in the neighboring communities of Albany, Berkeley, Daly City, Colma, Oakland, San Leandro, and Sausalito, were exposed to it.
While the military insisted that Serratia marcescens is “rarely a cause of illness,” Discover Magazine noted that there were a number of serious illnesses and even one tragic death reported as a result of the government’s chemical attack:
“A week after the spraying, 11 patients were admitted to the now-defunct Stanford University Hospital in San Francisco with severe urinary tract infections, resistant to the limited antibiotics available in that era. One gentleman, recovering from prostate surgery, developed complications of heart infection as Serratia colonized his heart valves. His would be the only death during the aftermath of the experiment … Later, the repeated occurrence of urinary-tract infection by this organism, with bacteremia in two patients and death in one, indicated the potential clinical importance of this group of bacteria.’”
While the idea that the U.S. government would willingly poison its own citizens may seem shocking to some, it is not unprecedented. Earlier this year, a study found that the Pentagon has contaminated more than 40,000 sites across the United States, exposing hundreds of thousands of Americans to dangerous chemicals.
The investigation, which was conducted by ProPublica and Vox, revealed that by testing and disposing of deadly chemical weapons in the United States, the Pentagon has “poisoned drinking water supplies, rendered millions of acres of land unsafe or unusable, and jeopardized the health of often unwitting Americans.”
The study noted that while the Pentagon has spent more than $40 billion in an effort to clean up the contaminated sites over the years, the results have been overwhelmingly inadequate, and many Americans are still at risk, even after the government claims that the sites have been rendered “safe” for public use.
The Department of Defense and its contractors are also currently using at least 61 active military sites across the country to “burn and detonate unused munitions and raw explosives in the open air with no environmental emissions controls,” according to a series of reports from ProPublica.
Ultimately, while the U.S. claims that it must engage in the “War on Terror” to protect Americans from terrorists, the fact remains that some of the most harmful warfare launched against Americans on U.S. soil has resulted from secret experiments backed by the Pentagon. Yet none of the officials from the government agencies who are responsible have been held accountable for poisoning countless innocent Americans with the attacks.