Canadian Soldier Refuses
Anthrax Vaccine In Kuwait
By William Thomas
From Charles Petras
VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada, March 30, 1998 (ENS) - Sergeant Mike Kipling's refusal to line up for experimental anthrax shots in Kuwait last week could see the Canadian Forces flight engineer court marshaled, stripped of rank and locked in a stockade.
But just taking his anthrax pills had already made him sick. And the experimental vaccine was not licensed for use by Canadian health authorities. Was Kipling being paranoid or prescient in his refusal to be another military guinea pig?
Whether inserted into a vaccine or a warhead, this virulent cattle disease has proven tricky to control. Scotland's Gruinard Island is still under quarantine following British anthrax experiments during World War II. Thirty years later, an explosion at Sverdlovsk's secret Microbiology and Virology Institute spread almost 10 kilograms of dry anthrax spores over Boris Yeltsin's hometown, killing scores of Soviet citizens. Pointing to US biowar efforts, AIDS expert Dr. Robert Gallo also notes that "the anthrax building is contaminated and off-limits at Fort Detrick."
Saddam's scientists had been weaponizing anthrax since 1988, after 19 containers of anthrax were received at the Salman Pak biowar complex near Baghdad. The White House approved shipments were later identified by the U.S. defense department as a "major component" in Iraq's biological warfare program. They had been sent by the American Type Culture Collection, a company located just down the road from the U.S. Army's germ warfare labs at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Washington's hope was to help kill enough Iranian conscripts to save Saddam's regime from losing an eight-year war it had urged him to undertake. By 1990, U.S. intelligence estimated that Salman Pak had produced at least a ton of anthrax, botulinum toxin and another disease called clostridium perfringens.
Within a week of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, urgent classified messages from Fort Detrick warned U.S. commanders that anthrax could infect wide areas if released by agricultural sprayers mounted on Iraqi trucks. At least 25 al Hussein warheads were also tipped with anthrax, botulinum, or aflatoxin.
At Tallil airfield in southern Iraq, reconnaissance photos also showed SU-22 ground-attack jets equipped with spray tanks capable of dousing allied troops with 2,000 liters of anthrax. U.S. Department of Defence Intelligence reports reveal that the first wave of anthrax attackers was shot down.
But on January 19, 1991, as SCUD missiles spread a skin-burning yellow mist over the coalition centre at al Jubayl, a single enemy aircraft was logged by Central Command "overhead at time of explosion traveling at high rate of speed." The American radio net soon reported anthrax in hundreds of dead sheep and camels outside that Saudi city.
Just five days later, the U.S. Army's 513th Military Intelligence Brigade confirmed that King Khalid Military City - another big coalition complex in Saudi Arabia - had been hit by anthrax.
With this record of documented anthrax attacks, there could be no doubt that Kipling and his cohorts faced further biological mayhem. But their most immediate germ warfare threat came from their own forces. Everyone had heard how tens of thousands of Americans, Brits and Canadians had become ill during Desert Storm after taking experimental anti-chemical warfare pills and at least 10 different vaccinations for anthrax and other plagues - often in a single sitting.
Among surveyed Gulf War veterans, 43 percent said they became ill immediately after taking anthrax shots. Some platoons saw half their members sicken from this vaccine-induced "Saudi flu."
The anthrax inoculations given to 400 Canadian soldiers in Kuwait last month came from the same U.S. stockpiles. As far back as 1990, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concern about a vaccine that was then nearly 20 years old.
Hoping to boost its effectiveness in time for Desert Storm, American medicos added an adjuvent called squalene to the anthrax mix. Squalene is not approved for human use. After the war, nearly three out of four anthrax-vaccinated GI's tested positive for squalene antibodies.
"We found soldiers who never left the United States but who got shots who are sick, and they have squalene in their systems," reported an independent scientist hired by New York's Insight magazine. "The sicker an individual, the higher the level of antibodies for this [squalene] stuff."
Pamela Asa, a Tennessee immunologist who first suggested the adjuvent angle to Gulf War Illness investigators in 1995, says that autoimmune disorders from squalene vary from person to person. "But it's still the same disease process, basically...neurological disease."
This sounds scary enough to justify Kipling's caution and defiance. But the anthrax vaccines administered to U.S. and Canadian soldiers during the Gulf War were most likely also contaminated by a sexually-transmissible bug called mycoplasma Fermentans.
Once injected into the bloodstream, this microscopic bacteria can cause heart problems, organ failure and crippling symptoms resembling rheumatoid arthritis.
In sworn Congressional testimony, leading Gulf War Illness researchers Gath and Nancy Nicholson stated that, "With reports of anthrax detected at KKMC in Saudi Arabia and other exposures possibly by residue of bombings, anthrax in the sand, or anthrax in SCUD missiles with airburst CBW warheads, it would appear that the anthrax vaccines worked."
Unfortunately, the impecably-credentialled microbiologists added, "there is no known vaccine against the m. Fermentans that is present in anthrax preparations."
The Nicholsons testified that because so many sick veterans had been vaccinated but never sent to the Gulf, the mycoplasma Fermentans they were seeing in nearly half of their Gulf War patients must have been injected into their veins through contaminated anthrax vaccines.
It would not have been the first time. In the spring of 1976, thousands of U.S. Marines and Air Force personnel were injected with experimental mycoplasma vaccines. Many became sick with autoimmune disorders resembling chronic fatigue syndrome or multiple sclerosis. At least one volunteer later tested positive for both mycoplasma Fermentans and anthrax.
Was Sergeant Kipling justified in refusing to obey a direct order? A military court will decide.
{William Thomas is the author of Bringing the War Home, a recently published book on the Gulf bio-war. The information on military anthrax experiments by the British, Soviets and Americans comes from his earlier book, Scorched Earth. Thomas' writing on the lingering after-effects of the Gulf War have appeared on the Environment News Service, in the Vancouver Sun, Globe & Mail, and the Toronto Star newspapers as well as Ecodecision and Monday magazines. His award-winning Gulf War footage has aired on the CBC, CNN, IKON (Holland) and NBC networks. He can be reached at Email: [1]; Website: [2]

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