Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23, 2010 by Mike Bailey ·

The veterans of America’s Cold War experimental programs, primarily the 7120 enlisted men and women used at Edgewood Arsenal from 1955 thru 1976, have won the right to be heard in a federal court room this coming year.

The governments lawyers from the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Army have spent the past year attempting to persuade the Judge to dismiss this lawsuit on any and all excuses, they claimed the statuette of limitations has expired, the action was filed in the wrong court, that National Security prevented the court from hearing this case, etc, basically these lawyers threw everything but the kitchen sink at Gordon Erspamer and the other attornies representing the 6 veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America, who as a group represented these men.

Vietnam Veterans of America, et al. v. Central Intelligence Agency, et al.
Case No. CV-09-0037-CW, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal. 2009)

Morrison & Foerster Secures Victory for Troops Exposed to Chemical and Biological Weapons Testing in Case Against the U.S. Government



SAN FRANCISCO (January 20, 2010) – Morrison & Foerster yesterday won the right to proceed with a case against the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Army, filed on behalf of veterans rights organizations Vietnam Veterans of America and Swords to Plowshares, along with six veterans with multiple diseases and ailments, tied to a secret testing program in which U.S. military personnel were deliberately exposed to chemical and biological weapons and other toxins without informed consent. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief that would free them from their secrecy oaths and grant them healthcare that they were promised.
On January 19, 2010, Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, issued an order that overruled the government’s main arguments to dismiss the case, which were based upon lack of jurisdiction, failure to state a claim for relief, statute of limitations, sovereign immunity, and standing.

“The victory obtained for us by our attorneys at Morrison & Foerster finally gives us a chance to redress one of the unfortunate decisions that has made veterans second class citizens,” said Paul Cox, Board of Directors Member at Swords to Plowshares.

The court also dismissed a direct challenge to the Feres doctrine, which is an exception to the waiver of sovereign immunity that was created by the Supreme Court during the Cold War. According to Rick Weidman, Executive Director for Policy and Government Affairs at Vietnam Veterans of America, “the government became immune to damages suits by military veterans after Feres so the use of soldiers became cheaper than using guinea pigs.”

The human experimentation program launched in the early 1950s and continued through at least 1976 when it was suspended in response to hearings conducted by Congress. Thousands of experiments took place at the Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick, as well as several universities and hospitals across America contracted by the Defendants. “Volunteers” were exposed to thousands of toxins under code names such as MKULTRA, including drugs such as LSD, mescaline, and cannabis; biological substances such as plague and anthrax; and noxious gases such as sarin, tabun, and nerve gases.

“The government has long reconciled its war prosecutions and reliance on international treaties with secret actions on its part. As the case moves forward, perhaps we will finally learn an answer to why our vets were made victims at Edgewood,” said Michael Blecker, Executive Director at Swords to Plowshares.

Morrison & Foerster Senior Counsel Gordon Erspamer is the lead attorney representing the veterans, along with partner Timothy Blakely and associates Stacey Sprenkel, Adriano Hrvatin, Tim Reed, and Jonathan McFarland. The case came on the heels of an earlier case the firm filed on behalf of veterans afflicted with Post-Traumatic Distress Disorder, which is now pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The firm is handling both cases pro bono.

The trial should be held either this summer or this fall in San Francisco, hopefully it will be given class action to that it will represent the entire 7120 veterans, their widows and their children, who have been deprived the veterans benefits the victims of these immoral and ill thought out hazards to human health.

The government has stated that this will never happen again, some how I don’t trust them. The term “national security” has been used to hide many nasty things done in this nations name. Rendition, torture, up to and including abusing it’s own military personnel as this case shows. Then they use every means possible to deny it ever happened, they lie about it, they lie about the men who talk about it, they lie to us, they lie to Congress, they lie to Generals in charge, they lie to any and all involved in investigating them.

I have been told I was NOT used in any “secret test programs” no I never claimed I was, I plainly stated I was used in a known classified project at Edgewood Arsenal, nothing more and nothing less. I have the files to prove I was there, can I prove what I was exposed to, no, I have had Congressman tell me that they have been informed by the Army that I was never there, I was not exposed to anything, I was sent home sick in July 1974, despite Army records that prove I was at Edgewood Arsenal from June 25 – August 22, 1974. What took place during that 59 day period is classified, but it did happen.

After decades of ignoring these veterans and their families, it is finally time for this nation to accept their responsibility for these men and women. We just went to war against Saddam Hussein for using WMDs primarily Sarin and Mustard agents against the Kurds, what did these 7120 soldiers do to the government of the US to deserve being used and abused by them? Justice demands that this nation give these men and women medical care and if appropriate comoensation for their medical conditions caused by the “classified experiments” 35-55 years ago.

It is time to honor these volunteers for the danger they placed themselves in to enable the development of chemical, biological safety equipment to protect todays soldiers. They did not even give these men the promised Army Commendation or Soldiers medals they were promised, let alone the promotions we were promised.

Maybe a federal court can make the military keep it’s “honor” since they decided to use and abuse and then ignore these men and women due to the true costs of doing the “right thing” decades ago.

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