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Pentagon Mustard Gas Tests in WWII Based on Race, Says NPR

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Jun 2015 06:54 AM

The Pentagon has acknowledged that mustard gas experiments were conducted on Army soldiers during World War II based on race and that the government failed to provide benefits to those injured by the test, according to an investigation by National Public Radio.

Some 60,000 enlisted men were part of the secret military program that was declassified in 1993, reported NPR. African-Americans, Japanese-Americans and Puerto Ricans were singled out for the testing while white soldiers were used as the scientific control groups.

NPR said military officials didn't provide follow-up care for the tested minority soldiers and swore them to secrecy about the tests under threat of dishonorable discharge and military prison time. That left the soldiers unable to receive medical treatment on their own because they were forbidden to tell doctors what happened to them.

"The first thing to be very clear about is that the Department of Defense does not conduct chemical weapons testing any longer," Army Col. Steve Warren, director of press operations at the Pentagon, told NPR. "And I think we have probably come as far as any institution in America on race. So I think particularly for us in uniform, to hear and see something like this, it's stark. It's even a little bit jarring."

The Pentagon had acknowledged long before that it used its own troops for chemical weapons experiments. CNN reported in 2012 that military researchers at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland used human subjects to test drugs and chemicals from 1955 to 1975. Those test included potentially lethal nerve gases like VX and sarin to incapacitating agents like BZ.

NPR reported that the mustard gas test, though, was the first time the Pentagon admitted the race-based aspect of the research.

"I'm angry. I'm very sad," said U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of California who sits on a House subcommittee for veterans affairs. "I guess I shouldn't be shocked when you look at the syphilis studies and all the other very terrible experiments that have taken place as it relates to African-Americans and people of color. But I guess I'm still shocked that, here we go again."

Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, made the syphilis study remark in reference to the tests which U.S. government scientists conducted from 1932 to 1972 in which researchers withheld treatment from black sharecroppers in Alabama to observe the disease's progression.

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The Pentagon has acknowledged that mustard gas experiments were conducted on Army soldiers during World War II based on race and that the government failed to provide benefits to those injured by the test, according to an investigation by National Public Radio.
pentagon, mustard, gas, tests, based, race, npr
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Wednesday, 24 Jun 2015 06:54 AM
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