OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – The CIA asked a federal judge to dismiss it from a case in which U.S. veterans claim the government used them as human guinea pigs in Cold War-era drug experiments. The CIA claims veterans can’t sue the it because they cannot prove they took “secrecy oaths.”
Vietnam Veterans of America filed a class action against the Army and CIA in 2009, claiming that at least 7,800 soldiers had been used as guinea pigs in “Project Paperclip.”
Soldiers were administered at least 250 and 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.
The veterans say that some soldiers died, and others suffered seizures and paranoia.
The CIA sought summary judgment and dismissal, claiming the Vietnam Veterans’ remaining claim on the validity of “secrecy oaths” had no merit.
The agency claimed the veterans “have not identified any service member who purportedly had such an oath with the CIA” and do not have “specific facts to support this claim at the time they filed their complaint (or at the present time).” (Parentheses in original.)
“This record makes clear that plaintiffs have never seriously pursued their ‘secrecy oath’ claim against the CIA,” Justice Department attorney Kimberly Herb wrote for the CIA. “Due to the absence of allegations concerning the CIA with regard to this sole remaining claim and plaintiffs’ own admissions that they do not have specific facts to support it, the CIA has repeatedly asked plaintiffs to voluntarily withdraw the claim.”
Herb added: “With regard to the seven individual plaintiffs, the Third Amended Complaint devotes over eighty paragraphs to their individual claims, but not once does it ever allege that one of them has or had a secrecy oath with the CIA. …
“The only other allegations in the Third Amended Complaint regarding the nature of the secrecy oaths allegedly administered to test participants not only fail to mention the CIA, but also make clear that plaintiffs are alleging that [the Department of Defense] was responsible for the administration of such oaths.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to a reporting error, the original version of this story erroneously reported that U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken had granted the CIA’s request. Actually, Judge Wilken had not ruled; the reporter read the CIA’s proposed order as a judicial order. Here is the veterans’ response to the CIA’s proposed order, which the veterans filed on Aug. 11. Courthouse News regrets the error.)