The idea that the United States government purposefully sprayed, injected and fed hazardous chemicals to countless Americans during the Cold War is one “crazy conspiracy theory” that has significant evidence behind it, and three members of Congress are finally demanding answers.
Democratic Congressmen William Lacy Clay of Missouri, Brad Sherman of California and Jim Cooper of Tennessee all represent areas where Army records reveal that the U.S. government conducted secret testing of zinc cadmium sulfide that included radioactive materials on vulnerable and poor populations.
The revelations—which included information about victims in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada—were recently brought to light by author and professor Lisa Martino-Taylor in her book, “Behind the Fog: How the US Cold War Radiological Weapons Program Exposed Innocent Americans.”
Martino-Taylor said she began researching the health effects of radioactive materials and tests on vulnerable populations without consent in St. Louis for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Missouri-Columbia. When she presented a colloquium on the preliminary research findings in September 2012, she said she was shocked by the attention it received.
“Many people from St. Louis and around the world were interested and concerned about the covert military studies that were the subject of my research,” Martino-Taylor said. “Now, five years later, I continue to receive inquiries. Behind the Fog is the result of five years of additional research that presents new findings, greater context, and additional evidence as to how the US military exposed vulnerable populations to radiation and other harmful chemicals during covert testing to develop radiological weapons.”
Martino-Taylor told the Associated Press that her research was based on Freedom of Information Act requests that were used to obtain previously unreleased documents and Army records, along with public records and published articles. She said she discovered that a small group of researchers “worked to develop radiological weapons and later ‘combination weapons’ using radioactive materials along with chemical or biological weapons.”
"They targeted the most vulnerable in society in most cases," Martino-Taylor said. "They targeted children. They targeted pregnant women in Nashville. People who were ill in hospitals. They targeted wards of the state. And they targeted minority populations."
When fields in St. Louis were sprayed with chemicals that included radioactive materials in the 1950s, Mary Helen Brindell, who is now 73, told the AP that she was aware of a squadron of green planes flying low overhead while she was playing a baseball game with friends, and covering them all in “a fine powdery substance that stuck to skin.”
Since then, Brindell said she has suffered from “breast, thyroid, skin and uterine cancers,” and her sister died of a rare form of esophageal cancer. "I just want an explanation from the government. Why would you do that to people?" she said.
Recommended for You
The 2012 dissertation from Martino-Taylor’s research generated so much attention that the Army launched an internal investigation and—not surprisingly—concluded that they had done nothing wrong, and no one’s health was at risk.
Martino-Taylor told the AP that the offensive radiological weapons program was “a top priority for the government,” and they tested it on “unknowing people at places across the U.S. as well as parts of England and Canada were subjected to potentially deadly material through open-air spraying, ingestion and injection.”
The testing included a variety of victims—from thousands of poor, pregnant women in Nashville, Chicago and San Francisco, who were unknowingly given a mixture that included radioactive iron on their first pre-natal visit, to thousands of students who were subjected to “radiation fields” that were created at various high schools and universities in California.
In response, a spokesperson for Congressman Cooper’s office told the AP that it is seeking more information from the Army Legislative Liaison. "We are asking for details on the Pentagon's role, along with any cooperation by research institutions and other organizations. These revelations are shocking, disturbing and painful,” he said.
Congressman Sherman said he is seeking additional information from the Department of Energy, and he wants a survey of people who graduated from the schools using the radiation field testing to see if they had suffered from illnesses such as cancer.
Congressman Clay told the AP that he is reaching out to the House Armed Services Committee and demanding “the whole truth about this testing,” and why Americans were used as "guinea pigs" for research.
The idea that the United States government would carry out testing on innocent Americans, without their knowledge, that would negatively impact them for the rest of their lives, is sinister, horrific and infuriating. But because there is significant evidence that it did occur, it serves as a reminder of the importance of raising awareness and demanding justice for all of the victims whose lives were impacted as a result.