Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Sorry for Tests in Cold War Experiments Done on Unknowing Subjects

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Sorry for Tests in Cold War Experiments Done on Unknowing Subjects

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton apologized Tuesday to the unknowing victims of Cold War-era radiation experiments and vowed to compensate them.

Saying the government has a moral responsibility to admit when it does wrong, Clinton endorsed the findings of an advisory committee formed last year to investigate a series of often-secret tests performed in the 1940s.

The president said he hoped the forthright way his administration and the 14-member panel moved to correct past mistakes would restore people's confidence in government.

"Under our watch, we will no longer hide the truth from our citizens," Clinton said. "We will act as if all that we do will see the light of day."

Elmerine Whitfield Bell, a Dallas teacher whose father was injected with plutonium, said she was pleased by the report and the apology.

"I'm happy with the process," Bell said. "It's not going to be easy to get away with this type of thing again."

Bell's father, Elmer Allen, was one of 18 hospital patients given injections of plutonium during the federal government's Manhattan Project from 1945 to 1947.

Allen, whose leg was amputated three days after being injected, was living in Italy, Texas, in 1991 when he died. He never knew the federal government used him as a test subject.

The committee recommended that three types of experiments out of about 4,000 conducted during the Cold War warranted compensation. In addition to the plutonium experiments, they include zirconium injections and whole-body radiation experiments.

Although the identities of the test subjects are not known, Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary has estimated the experiments may have involved 800 people. Some of them consented, and others were not told of the health risks.

Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, who represents Allen's widow, Fredna Allen, said he would introduce a bill when Congress returns next week to provide $50,000 to the experiment victims or a survivor. …

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