No New Info on Army's Human Guinea Pigs
(CN) - The Army says it has not located any new information about the health effects on veterans who were subjected to Cold War-era drug experiments known as Operation Paperclip.
The Army was ordered to submit a report on its efforts to locate veterans in response to a class action that claimed at least 7,800 soldiers had been used as guinea pigs in Project Paperclip.
Soldiers were administered at least 250 and perhaps as many as 400 types of drugs, among them Sarin, one of the most deadly drugs known, amphetamines, barbiturates, mustard gas, phosgene gas and LSD.
Using tactics it often attributed to the Soviet enemy, the U.S. government sought drugs to control human behavior, cause confusion, promote weakness or temporary loss of hearing and vision, induce hypnosis, and enhance a person's ability to withstand torture.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken certified the class in 2012, which made make thousands of veterans potentially eligible for relief.
The defendants succeeded in dismissing claims against Attorney General Eric Holder and the CIA, and in November 2103, Judge Wilken gave both sides some relief , granting the Defense Department, Army and CIA summary judgment on certain claims, and giving the plaintiffs summary judgment only on one claim against the Army.
"The court concludes that defendants' duty to warn test subjects of possible health effects is not limited to the time that these individuals provide consent to participate in the experiments," Wilken wrote then.
"Instead, defendants have an ongoing duty to warn about newly acquired information that may affect the well-being of test subjects after they completed their participation in research."
In an injunction accompanying the summary judgment order, Wilken directed the Army to provide such test subjects with newly acquired information that may affect their well-being.
The judge also required the Department of the Army to submit a report of its efforts to find new information, and its plan to get that information to affected people.
The Army submitted a plan in March describing a "multi-step process" that takes "several weeks" to locate information.
In response to the report, Wilken found the plan was "unduly time-consuming and vague" and dealt largely with the Army's actions before the lawsuit and the injunction.
Wilken ordered the Army to file a revised plan.
"Although the Army states that it is unaware of any such information in its possession and goes to lengths to describe its past efforts to collect and disseminate information, it does not describe any effort to confirm the lack of information in its possession since the entry of the injunction," Wilken wrote in the four-page order . "Moreover, the plan must include an actual timeline for completion of the search for newly acquired information."
This week, the Army submitted its revised report, in which its lawyers reiterated that the Army could not find any newly acquired information related to the test subjects.
The Army said it contacted its medical research institutes that deal with infectious diseases and chemical defense, and the Defense Department's Office of Force Health Protection and Readiness, and found no new information that has not already been distributed.
The Army also addressed Wilken's characterization of its "unduly time-consuming and vague" plan in her previous order.
"The Army respectfully advises the Court that, because of the contingent nature of some of the steps involved in this process, it cannot state with precise certainty when the process directed by the Court will be completed," the Army's attorney Joshua Gardner wrote.
The Army said it is developing a "performance work statement" describing the databases it will search, which should be completed by May 5.
"As a rough estimate, if conducted in-house, the search for newly acquired information concerning health effects is estimated to take approximately 1,800 work hours to complete," Gardner wrote. "This is just an estimate, and may need to be revised as the project progresses."