America's Struggle with Chemical-Biological Warfare

By Albert J. Mauroni | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Bad News Gets Worse

Public scrutiny of the Army's CB warfare program grew louder and more abrasive, with national headlines tripling in 1969 as compared to the year prior. The Army Medical Unit at Fort Detrick was renamed the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in January 1969, which announced its intent to carry on the medical biological defense research in an open, unclassified scientific environment. In the middle of the month, United Nations Secretary General U Thant announced the appointment of a panel of fourteen experts to help him prepare a report on CB weapons, as directed by the General Assembly resolution in December 1968. The fourteen scientists, hailing from as many nations, were to examine the threat to the environment as well as to civilians created by CB warfare agents. No military representatives were on the panel to discuss why these weapons are used.

In February 1969 a former senator accused the Army of searching for a remote Pacific island for the purpose of continuing its CB weapons testing, which was denied by Army spokespersons. This statement is based on the "fact" that the Army sponsored a Smithsonian Institute study of wildlife in the Pacific, briefed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In March, congressmen leaked the details of the annual Army budget for CB munitions production--$350 million a year--a previously classified figure released during a private meeting with twentyfour House members. Later that month, it was announced that U.S. and Soviet representatives were in Geneva, agreeing to work together toward the control of CB weapons.

In April the U.S. military sprayed 37,000 acres in Cambodia with Agent Orange, sparking an official letter of protest from its government to the United States and to the United Nations. Representative Richard McCarthy (D-NY) introduced a joint resolution to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to study the use and effects of anticrop sprays and chemical defoliants in Vietnam. 1 At the end of the month, House Minority Leader Representative Gerald Ford (R-MI) reportedly suggested that Congressional critics of DoD CB warfare programs are

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