By ANNIE YOUDERIAN
Three veterans groups and six individual veterans sued the CIA and other government agencies, claiming they used about 7,800 soldiers as human guinea pigs to research biological, chemical and psychological weapons.
The experiments, many of which took place at Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick in Maryland, allegedly exposed test subjects to chemicals, drugs and electronic implants. Though the soldiers volunteered, they never gave informed consent, because the government didn't fully disclose the risks, the veterans claimed. They were also required to sign an oath of secrecy, according to the complaint.
The veterans filed three sets of document requests to find out who was tested, what substances they were given, and how it affected them. Between October and April, the government produced about 15,000 pages of heavily redacted records, most of which related to the named plaintiffs only.
The CIA argued that much of the information requested was protected under the Privacy Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. U.S. Magistrate Judge James Larson acknowledged that some of the requests were too broad and ordered the veterans to be more specific and to reduce the total number of requests.
For example, Larson said the plaintiffs' definition of "test program" is "overbroad," as it not only named experimental programs like "Bluebird," "Artichoke" and "MKUltra," but also included "any other program of experimentation involving human testing of any substance, including but not limited to 'MATERIAL TESTING PROGRAM EA 1729.'"
He ordered the veterans to provide a list of specific test programs and test substances. But once the plaintiffs narrow their requests, Larson said, they are entitled to most of the information. Each government agency must respond individually to each request, he said, and if an agency denies any request, it must explain -- in sufficient detail -- why the records are purportedly privileged....
Larson....then addressed which topics are fair game for deposition, saying the government must produce witnesses to testify about the following: communication between the VA and test subjects on their health care claims; a 1963 CIA Inspector General report on an experiment called MKUltra, and the basis for each redaction on that report; the scope and conduct of document searches; the doses and effects of substances administered to test subjects; any contract or research proposals concerning the experiments; a confidential Army memo about the use of volunteers in research; all government-led human experiments from 1975 to date, but only those that involve specific drugs; and whether the government secretly administered MKUltra materials to "the patrons of prostitutes" in safe houses in New York and San Francisco, as the veterans claimed.
Judge Larson ruled for the CIA on other issues, however, saying the agency's not required to testify about test subjects who withdrew their consent or refused to participate; devices allegedly implanted into certain test subjects; the alleged use of patients at VA hospitals as guinea pigs in chemical and biological weapons experiments; or the drug research studies conducted by Dr. Paul Hoch, who was purportedly funded by the government and caused the death of a patient named Harold Blauer. http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/11/17/31924.htm
PDF copy of complaint http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/08/27/CIAunderlying.pdf