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The History Of Human Guinea Pigs In Amerikkka


In an attempt to justify their own activities, some of the German
    doctors on trial at Nuremberg cited American experiments as part of their

    A Few Good Mengeles

         One Nazi doctor cited in his defense the work of American Colonel Dr.
    Richard P. Strong  later Professor of Tropical Medicine at Harvard  who
    infected Philippine convicts with cholera and the bubonic plague, killing 18
    people. Survivors were compensated with cigars and cigarettes.

         A Dachau doc referred to the work of public health official Dr. Goldberger,
    who in 1915 produced the disease pellegra in Mississippi convicts. One test
    subject said that he had been through, "a thousand hells," and another swore
    he would choose a lifetime of hard labor rather than go through such an
    experiment again.

         Also cited were a series of experiments conducted in 1944 in a Chicago
    prison where 441 convicts were infected with malaria. British Medical Journal
    commentary: "One of the nicest American scientists I know was heard to say:
    'Criminals in our penitentiaries are fine experimental material  and much
    cheaper than chimpanzees."

         Some American experiments on prisoners were not mentioned at
    Nuremburg. For example, a doctor in the California prison system spent four
    years transplanting testicles from recently executed convicts into senile men. By
    1920, he had improved on the technique, implanting pieces of goat testicle "the
    size of a silver dollar" into the scrotums or abdominal walls of inmates.

         All of these experiments used convicts. The Germans used the same
    excuse. From Nazi Doctors: "Time and again, the doctors who froze screaming
    subjects to death, watched their brains explode as a result of rapid
    compression... stated that only prisoners condemned to death were used."

    Acres of Skin

         While the Nazi experiments were stopped, there was tremendous
    expansion in prison experimentation in postwar America. The world now had
    the Nuremberg Code though, whose first principle precluded the use of
    prisoners. The American medical community either claimed ignorance of the
    document or ignored it.

              Federal prisoners, for example, were enlisted in a broad range
         of clinical studies that included... hepatitis, syphilis, and amebic
         dysentery, and additional malaria experiments. State prisoners
         were considered to be equally valuable and were soon utilized for
         studies of... flash burns 'which might result from atomic bomb

              The Ohio state prison system, for example, allowed
         researchers from the Sloan Kettering Institute... to inject at least
         396 inmates at the Ohio State Prison with live cancer cells so
         researchers could study the progression of the disease. Between
         1963 and 1971, radioactive thymidine, a genetic compound, was
         injected into the testicles of more than one hundred prisoners at the
         Oregon State Penitentiary to see whether the rate of sperm
         production was affected by exposure to steroid hormones.

         Professor Emeritus of Dermatology Albert Kligman  multi-millionaire
    inventor of Retin-A - was paid by the Dow Chemical Company to test the
    effects of dioxin on human subjects. Kligman applied the most powerful known
    carcinogen to the skin of 70 prisoners. In 1966, Kligman said to a reporter -
    speaking of his access to Holmesburg prisoners - "All I saw before me were
    acres of skin.... It was an anthropoid colony... which wasn't going anywhere....
    I was like a farmer seeing fertile field for the first time"

              At a California medical facility between 1967 and 1968,
         prisoners were paralyzed with succinylcholine, a neuromuscular
         compound. Because their breathing capacity was shut down, many
         likened the experience to drowning. When five of the sixty-four
         prisoners refused to participate in the experiment, the institution's
         special treatment board gave 'permission' for prisoners to be
         injected against their will. Experi-ments on prisoners openly
         continued until 1976.

    First, Do No Harm

         The landmark article on human experimentation was written by Harry
    Beecher. It was rejected by JAMA, but picked up by the New England Journal
    of Medicine. It created a furor both inside and outside the medical
    profession. He described a sampling of experiments he gleaned from the
    medical literature at the time detailing prestigious scientists egregiously
    violating Nuremburg principles.

              Dr. Alf Alving of the University of Chicago under [a
         government grant]... purposely infected [Illinois State Hospital
         psychotic, back-ward patients] with malaria through blood
         transfusions and then gave them experimental antimalarial

              Dr. Saul Krugman purposefully infected retarded children
         with hepatitis. He became the chairman of pediatrics at New York
         University and won the Lasker prize (the American equivalent of
         the Nobel).

         Dr. Chester Southam injected cancer cells into elderly and senile patients.
    The subjects were merely told they would be receiving "some cells," the word
    cancer was entirely omitted. Dr. Chester Southam was elected president of
    the American Association for Cancer Research.

    This Won't Hurt a Bit

         The list goes on. In 1963, the United States Public Health Service, the
    American Cancer Society, and the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital of
    Brooklyn, participated in an experiment in which physicians injected live
    cancer cells into twenty-two chronically ill and debilitated African American
    patients. The patients did not consent, nor were they aware that they were
    being injected with cancer.

         During the 1970s, the government collected blood samples from seven
    thousand Black youths. Parents were told that their children were being tested
    for anemia, but instead, the government was looking for signs that the children
    were genetically predisposed to criminal activity.

         At least eighty-two "charity" patients were exposed to full-body radiation
    at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The patients were exposed to
    radiation ten times the level believed to be safe at the time twenty-five patients
    died. Three-quarters of the patients in the study were Black men and women.
    The consent signatures were forged.

         Loretta Bender, president of the Society of Biological Psychiatry: "In the
    children's unit of Creedmore State Hospital with a resident population of 450
    patients, ages 4 to 15, we have investigated the responses of some of these
    children to lysergic acid [LSD] and related drugs in the psychiatric,
    psychological, and biochemical areas."


         In 1977, a Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy was
    convened to investigate the CIA's testing of LSD on unwitting citizens. Frank
    Olsen was one such citizen. After drinking punch the CIA spiked with LSD,
    Olsen became terribly frightened of cars, thinking they were monsters out to
    get him. Before the CIA could make arrangements to treat him, Olsen checked
    into a hotel and threw himself out of his tenth story room.

         Then there was the CIA's "Operation Midnight Climax." Taxpayer dollars
    at work hiring prostitutes to lure men from bars back to safehouses after their
    drinks had been spiked with LSD. Captain George Hunter White, who headed
    many of these experiments, wrote to the head of the CIA's Technical Services
    Staff upon leaving government service in 1966:

              I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled
         wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun....
         Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal,
         rape and pillage with the sanction and blessings of the

    A Glowing Report

         On November 19,1996, the Secretary of Energy announced that a $4.8
    million settlement will be paid to the families of 12 people injected with
    radioactive materials during the Cold War period. The official "Report of
    the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments" was published in
    JAMA. The committee found, "serious deficiencies in the current system of
    protections for human subjects...."

         Unlucky charms. Beginning in 1949, the Quaker Oats company, the
    National Institutes of Health, and the Atomic Energy Commission fed minute
    doses of radioactive materials to boys at the Fernald School for the mentally
    retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts via breakfast cereal. The unwitting
    subjects were told that they were joining a science club. The consent form sent
    to the boys' parents made no mention of the radiation experiment. Tricks
    are for kids.

              The Advisory Committee reserved its harshest criticism for
         those cases in which physicians used patients without their consent
         as subjects in research from which the patients could not possibly
         benefit medically. These cases included a series of experiments in
         which 18 patients, some but not all of whom were terminally ill,
         were injected with plutonium at... the University of Chicago and
         the University of California, San Francisco, as well as 2
         experiments in which seriously ill patients were injected with
         uranium, 6 at the University of Rochester and 11 at Massachusetts
         General Hospital, Boston.

         Ebb Cabe, for example, a 53-year-old "colored male" who was
    hospitalized following an auto accident but was other wise in good health, was
    injected with plutonium. A lawyer for the plaintiffs in ensuing suits said
    that the scientists, "had a code word for plutonium in the medical records, so
    people couldn't figure out that these people were injected."

    Very Poor Effect

         We are lucky to know this much. A recently leaked Atomic Energy
    Commission (AEC) document: "It is desired that no document be released
    which refers to experiments on humans and might have an adverse effect on
    public opinion or resulting legal suits." Government for the people, by the

              When the AEC considered declassifying some of these
         research reports, its declassification officer concluded that such a
         step was unthinkable: 'The document appears to be most
         dangerous since it describes experiments performed on human
         subjects, including the actual injection of plutonium into the
         body.... The coldly scientific manner in which the results are
         tabulated and discussed would have a very poor effect on the

    A Sort of Memorial

         When confronted, what do the researchers who participated in these
    experiments have to say for themselves?

              Patricia Durbin, a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore
         Laboratory in California who participated in plutonium
         experiments, recently said: 'These things were not done to plague
         people or make them sick and miserable. They were not done to kill
         people. They were done to gain potentially valuable information.
         The fact that they were injected and provided this valuable data
         should almost be sort of a memorial rather than something to be
         ashamed of. It doesn't bother me to talk about the plutonium
         injections because of the value of the information they provided.'

         Other doctors speak to other memorials. Dr. Joseph Hamilton, a
    neurologist at the University of California hospital in San Francisco, referred to
    his own human radiation experiments in the 1940s as having, "a little of the
    Buchenwald touch."

    Special Free Treatment

         No discussion would be complete without mention of Tuskegee. On May
    16, 1997, President Bill Clinton apologized in a White House ceremony for the
    Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the 40-year government study in which 399 Black
    men from Macon County, Alabama were deliberately denied effective
    treatment for syphilis. In fact, the United States Public Health Service went to
    extreme lengths to ensure that they would not receive any treatment, in their
    words, "in order to document the natural history of the disease."
    The Public Health Service leaders' excuse was that with the advent of
    antibiotics, no one would ever again be able to trace the long term effects of the
    disease. The press reported that as of 1969, at least 28 and perhaps as
    many as 100 men had died as a direct result of complications caused by
    syphilis. The women these men passed the disease to are rarely

         The physicians conducting the study deceived the men, telling them they
    were being treated for "bad blood." The men were informed that the lumbar
    punctures were therapeutic, not diagnostic. The regular spinal taps were
    described as, "special free treatment."

         From Perspectives in Medical Sociology:

              The Los Angeles Times... editors qualified their accusation
         that Public Health Service officials had persuaded hundreds of
         black men to become 'human guinea pigs' by adding: 'Well,
         perhaps not quite that, because the doctors obviously did not regard
         their subjects as completely human.'

         As late as 1969, a committee from the Centers for Disease Control
    examined the study and decided to continue it. As one of the longest medical
    studies in history, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study continued until 1976 despite
    having been openly discussed in conferences at professional meetings. As
    described in Perspectives in Medical Sociology, "It continued despite more than
    a dozen articles appearing in some of the nation's best medical journals, which
    described the study to a combined readership of well over a hundred thousand


    "They Were Cheap and Available: Prisoners as Research Subjects in
    Twentieth Century America." British Medical Journal 315:1437.
     Mellanby, K. Human Guinea Pigs London: Merlin Press, 1973.
     Lifton, RJ. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of
    Genocide New York: Basic Books, 1986.
    Kaye, J. "Retin-A's Wrinkled Past." Pennsylvania History Review
     Rothman, DJ. Strangers at the Bedside A History of How Law & Bioethics
    Transformed Medical Decision-Making New York: Basic Books, 1992:15.
     Beecher, HK. "Ethics and Clinical Research." New England Journal of
    Medicine 274(1966):1354-1360.
     Rothman, DJ. Strangers at the Bedside A History of How Law & Bioethics
    Transformed Medical Decision-Making New York: Basic Books, 1992:77.
     "Autonomic Nervous System Responses in Hospitalized Children Treated
    with LSD and UML." Proceedings of the 19th Annual Convention and Scientific
    Program of the Society of Biological Psychiatry Los Angeles, 13 May 1964.
     Martin, HV and D Caul. "Mind Control." Napa Sentinel, 1991.
 Guinea Pig Zero 3:7.
   Rothman, DJ. "Radiation." Journal of the American Medical Association
     Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. "Research Ethics
    and the Medical Profession." Journal of the American Medical Association
    Ensign, T and G Alcalay. "Duck and Cover[up]." Covert Action Quarterly
     Gamble, VN. "Americans and Medical Research." American Journal of
    Preventive Medicine 9(1):35-38.
     Gamble VN. "Under the Shadow of Tuskegee: African Americans and
    Health Care." American Journal of Public Health 7(1997):1773-1778.
     Brown, P. Perspectives in Medical Sociology Prospect Heights: Waveland
    Press, 1996:538.
     Youngson, RM. Medical Blunders: Amazing True Stories of Mad, Bad &
    Dangerous Doctors New York: New York University Press 1999:344.

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