Gerald Klee Dies: Army LSD Researcher Involved in Secret Military Projects

Monday, 11 Mar 2013 10:15 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Gerald D. Klee, a retired psychiatrist and who was known for prescribing LSD to United States servicemen in experiments following the Korean War, died March 3. He was 86.

Klee made national headlines in 1975 when he came forward and confirmed reports that he, along with other physicians, conducted secret research projects at several military bases in the 1950s for the University of Maryland's School of Medicine's Psychiatric Institute.

The Army admitted that between 1956 and 1959, LSD and other drugs were prescribed to 1,500 volunteer soldiers so that experts could measure the effects of hallucinogens. Physiological and psychological tests were then performed on the soldiers as part of a chemical weapons research program, The Los Angeles Times reported.

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"They were mostly enlisted men — there were a few commissioned officers — but they were mostly unlettered and rather naive," Klee said. "Now the people knew they were volunteering, the bonus was leave time — seeing their girlfriends and mothers and that kind of thing. They had a lot of free time, and most of them enjoyed it."

Prior to administering the controversial drugs, Klee admitted to experimenting with LSD.

"I figured that if I was going to study this stuff, then I've got to experience it myself. I felt obliged to take it for experimental reasons and also because I didn't think it would be fair to administer a drug to someone else that I hadn't taken myself," he told The Evening Sun.

He also maintained that all of his research was done in a professional, scientific manner, unlike other LSD experiments of the day.

"A large proportion of the people who have gotten involved in research in this area have been harebrained and irresponsible — Timothy Leary being the most notorious example — and a lot of the stuff that has been published reflects that," Klee told the Evening Sun in 1975. "The interests of the University of Maryland group were purely scientific, and the military was just there."

According to a family member, Klee died last Sunday at the University of Maryland's St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md. due to complications after a surgery.

Klee retired from his private practice in 2000, after teaching medicine at the University of Maryland, Temple and Johns Hopkins University.

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Klee was married four times, all of which ended in divorce. He is survived by two sons, three daughters, a brother, and 11 grandchildren.

Related stories:

The Mushroom Policy: Human Experimentation

Survey: Parents Blasé About Kids' Drug Use

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