Chemical Weapons

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Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race

As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.

When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn’t complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside.

“It felt like you were on fire,” recalls Edwards, now 93 years old. “Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out. And then some of the guys fainted. And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape.”

Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.

“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins,” Edwards says.

An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards’ experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.

For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn’t just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.

White enlisted men were used as scientific control groups. Their reactions were used to establish what was “normal,” and then compared to the minority troops.

SAUDI ARABIA. East of the country. January 18, 1991. Soldiers, hotel workers and others, some wearing gas masks, kneel for morning prayers in a basement used as a bomb shelter at a hotel. A Scud missile fired by Iraq had reportedly been intercepted and destroyed by a Patriot missile earlier in the day.

Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Israel fears Islamic State (ISIS) chemical attack in Europe - 11 March 2017

The National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau is concerned that ISIS terrorists might be plotting to carry out chemical attacks in Europe in the coming months.
The bureau intends to issue a travel advisory to the tens of thousands of Israelis who are planning to vacation in Europe over the upcoming Passover holiday, Channel 2 reported. The bureau is said to be particularly concerned with the possibility that, due to losses ISIS is sustaining in Iraq and Syria, foreign fighters there will return to their homes in Europe and carry out attacks along the lines of the truck attack in Berlin in December that killed 12 people, including Dalia Elyakim, an Israeli tourist, and wounded 56 others.
The bureau was specifically concerned with the possibility that ISIS would try to carry out a mass casualty chemical attack in a main European city, the Channel 2 report said. The bomb could be made using over-the-counter ingredients available in supermarkets and home improvement supply stores.
On Tuesday, the US State Department issued a worldwide warning, urging American travelers to be vigilant while traveling overseas.
“Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack to more effectively target crowds, including the use of edged weapons, pistols, and vehicles as weapons,” the State Department said in its statement.

IRAQ. Basra governorate. January 16, 1987. Iranian soldiers wear gas masks near a canal in the Shalamcheh area, southeast of Basra, during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was accused of using mustard gas and the nerve agent taubun in his country’s war with neighbouring Iran as well as his 1987-88 crackdown on Iraq’s Kurdish minority.

Photograph: AP

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
—  –Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum Est, circa 1917-18
nytimes.com
America Covered Up Chemical Weapons Found in Iraq Because They Came From America

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.

Participants in the chemical weapons discoveries said the United States suppressed knowledge of finds for multiple reasons, including that the government bristled at further acknowledgment it had been wrong. “They needed something to say that after Sept. 11 Saddam used chemical rounds,” Mr. Lampier said. “And all of this was from the pre-1991 era.”

Others pointed to another embarrassment. In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies.

The United States had invaded Iraq to reduce the risk of the weapons of mass destruction that it presumed Mr. Hussein still possessed. And after years of encountering and handling Iraq’s old chemical arms, it had retroactively informed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2009 that it had recovered more than 4,500 chemical weapons.

But it had not shared this data publicly. And as it prepared to withdraw, old stocks set loose after the invasion were still circulating. Al Muthanna had still not been cleaned up.

Finding, safeguarding and destroying these weapons was to be the responsibility of Iraq’s government.

Iraq took initial steps to fulfill its obligations. It drafted a plan to entomb the contaminated bunkers on Al Muthanna, which still held remnant chemical stocks, in concrete.

When three journalists from The Times visited Al Muthanna in 2013, a knot of Iraqi police officers and soldiers guarded the entrance. Two contaminated bunkers — one containing cyanide precursors and old sarin rockets — loomed behind. The area where Marines had found mustard shells in 2008 was out of sight, shielded by scrub and shimmering heat.

The Iraqi troops who stood at that entrance are no longer there. The compound, never entombed, is now controlled by the Islamic State.

Even today in just one small village of Caojie, near Jinhua in the province of Zhejiang in China, there are hundreds of victims of biological warfare still suffering from painful wounds originated more than 70 years ago when their village was decimated in 1942 by Japan with glanders, anthrax, and other biological weapon agents. Ruan Shufeng, shown above with his wife, is one such victim who suffers with a festering, open, ulcerous and extremely painful wound in his right leg, That is why Caojie and several other similar villages are called “rotten leg villages”.