The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

May/June 2004
Project 112/SHAD Task Force Report
 
 

Questions for the Authorities

BY JACK DEVINE, CHAIR

Information is the key to knowledge. Unfortunately for thousands of veterans who served our country, information that they need for filing claims for compensation for illness and disease potentially caused by exposure to biological agents and chemical decontaminants tested under Project 112/SHAD is not easily forthcoming. An "exhaustive investigation," concluded last June 30 by the Department of Defense, provided more questions than illumination, caused more confusion, and fueled additional speculation.

To obtain information, VVA's Government Relations staff and members of VVA's Project 112/SHAD Task Force (Jack Alderson, John Olsen, and Norman La Chapelle) conducted a series of interviews in February. They spoke with sailors whose roles during the SHAD tests gave them insight into how the tests were conducted and, to some extent, what agents were employed. They also spoke with a half-dozen scientists employed at Deseret Test Center and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the operational arm of 112/SHAD. Several of those interviewed had never been spoken to beforenot by DoD, not by any member of Congress, not by the news media.

What became clear from these interviews was that for DoD to dub its investigation "exhaustive" was akin to calling 3.2 beer "intoxicating." Several sailors recollected that the dates of specific tests did not jibe with the dates noted in DoD's Fact Sheets. Some noted that certain testsin particular a series of land-based tests in Hawaiisimply were not listed.

Of particular interest was the fact that a safety plan was formulated and a safety officer assigned to each SHAD test. A panel of expertsmicrobiologists, toxicologists, chemistsconvened at least once a year to discuss the tests and the test results.

Many questions, however, need answers:

  • Who qualifies as a "SHAD veteran''?
  • Why were inoculations not recorded in the medical shot records of many SHAD sailors? What can be done at this time to retrieve this information?
  • If sailors were inoculated and then only subjected to biological simulants, why were they inoculated? Or were hot agents tested more than has been acknowledged?
  • Because SHAD was only a small piece of a much larger puzzle, what other tests of chemicals and biologicals were done that involved military personnel?
  • If sailors were, in fact, human guinea pigs, wouldn't they have been followed up medically?
  • How many SHAD veterans have been sent letters from VA?
  • How many SHAD veterans have been seen at VAMCs for physicals?
  • What decontamination agents were used in the tests? (On several of DoD's Fact Sheets, this information is not recorded.)
  • Also on DoD's Fact Sheets, several dates of tests are scrambled and other alleged tests are not noted. What needs to be done to set the record straight?
  • What information can be released vis-a-vis human dose levels for hot agents and for simulants? Why is this information still classified?
  • Can we obtain copies of the safety plans drawn up for each 112/SHAD test? Can they be incorporated into the Fact Sheets developed and disseminated by DoD? If not, why not?
  • Are the minutes of the advisory panel that met at least annually at Deseret/Dugway to review the test data available? If not, why not? If so, can we review them?
  • Can we review the unclassified and declassified information on SHAD currently held at Dugway Proving Ground?
Over the next several months, VVA will be pursuing answers to these questions. We hope to enlist the support of other VSOs and military service organizations, for which we held a briefing in early April, to demand answers to these questions. We also will work with members of Congress, particularly the office of Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), in crafting legislation calling for an independent investigation of the 112/SHAD cover-up.
 

   

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