- CIA "legends" die hard.
- A "legend" is a cover story
concocted by the CIA to cover-up US state-sanctioned criminality. During
the Korean War, CIA operative Colonel Edward Hunter created the "legend"
that US airmen were "brainwashed" by the Red Chinese to make
false confessions about engaging in germ warfare.
- "The popularization of the idea
that the flyers were 'brainwashed' grew out of a widely read book of the
time by Edward Hunter titled Brainwashing in Red China (1951)," write
Toronto's York University historians Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman
in their fascinating book, The United States and Biological Warfare.
- "A few years later, after the results
of a mammoth US Army study were known, the US Defense Department concluded
that US POWs had not been subject to brainwashing, merely hardship, stress
and duress," they continue.
- The CIA's disinformation campaign, however,
took on a life of its own. This "legend" has become a myth of
20th century history, further enshrined in movies like The Manchurian Candidate.
- The CIA promoted the idea that American
soldiers were coerced through mind control to confess to imaginary crimes.
And the fact that they had actually engaged in "germ" warfare
during the Korean War was effectively covered-up.
- Roosevelt's Biological Warfare Program
- And how did US biowarfare get started?
Under Roosevelt, during World War Two. "Begun with an inital grant
of $250,000, modest by wartime standards, the biological warfare program
quickly grew to be one of the largest wartime scientific projects in American
history, second only to the Manhattan Project, which created the atomic
bomb," write Endicott and Hagerman.
- "Granted top priority status, the
program employed approximately four thousand people by the end of the war.
The center of activity was the Special Projects division of the Chemical
Warfare Service and its new research and development center located in
Camp Detrick, Maryland," they continue.
- The Pentagon and its devil's workshop
was a busy place. "The Detrick scientists cast a wide experimental
net. They studied anthrax, brucellosis (undulant fever), botulinus toxin,
plague, ricin, southern blight of grains, potatoes and sugar beets (Sclerotium
rolfoil), late blight, late blast, brownspot of rice, plant growth inhibitors,
rinderpest, glanders and melioidosis..., tularemia (Rabbit fever), mussel
poisoning, coccidioidomycosis, rickettsia, psittacosis, neurotropic encephalitis,
Newcastle disease and fowl plague," write the authors.
- "The first to receive concentrated
attention were anthrax and botulinus toxin... It also was Detrick's mission
to mass produce agents for operational use."
- Meanwhile the Detrick scientists, among
them George Merck, head of the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., was
recruited by the FDR administration to head the War Research Service (WRS)
Committee. However, because of internal ethical arguments by Admiral William
D. Leahy and others, "there remained certain constraints in the use
of biological and chemical weapons. One was the lingering fear that US
and world opinion would morally condemn this extension of the limits of
war. The burden of using chemical weapons was politically great because
the United States had ratified the 1925 Geneva Protocol against chemical
weapons. Its failure, along with Japan, to ratify the protocol banning
biological weapons relieved the US from arms-limitation obligations in
that direction, but it raised nagging questions about US intentions before
the international community."
- The Lucky Accident
- It wasn't until 1980 that American journalist
John William Powell discovered the "smoking gun" of US biological
warfare. "In one of those lucky accidents that sometimes befall researchers,"
write the authors, "he uncovered evidence of the US deal with the
Japanese biological warfare criminals by getting his hands on an exchange
of memoranda involving General MacArthur, his intelligence chief General
Charles Willoughby" and others. Powell's exposure of the cover-up
appeared first in the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars and, later in
abbreviated form, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, according to
- "The US government continued to
make denials, but two years later Japan officially acknowledged its World
War II biological warfare program, as well as the fact that General Ishii
[its head] had received a large retirement pension."
- Continuous lying by successive administrations,
denials of wrongdoing, and complicity with Nazi and Japanese war criminals
has contributed enormously to the current distrust of the US government.
Ironically, lying to the American public is called "psychological
warfare" (PsyWar). Directed at not only so-called enemies but the
public in general, PsyWar has historically included biological warfare.
- The Psychological Warfare Division was
assigned to "integrate capabilities and requirements for BW [biological
warfare] and CW [chemical warfare] into war plans," write the authors.
- "The innocuous sounding rubric 'psychological
warfare' concealed the fact that this division had a special responsibility
to direct and supervise covert operations in the scope of unconventional
BW and CW operations and programs, warfare that went beyond normal propaganda
- "Psychological warfare included
a host of activities aimed at creating delays, confusion, fear, anxiety
and panic among the enemy," write Endicott and Hagerman.
- "It employed a variety of means
including a mandate to use atomic, bacteriological, chemical and radiological
- Leaflets Loaded with Bios
- "And not to be forgotten with respect
to the Psychological Warfare Division's responsibility for determining
munitions requirements for bacteriological warfare -- the most advanced
propaganda weapon of psychological warfare units, the leaflet bomb, was
adapted as a standard bacteriological munition," write Endicott and
- What does that mean? Leaflets dropped
on enemy targets were used as carriers for germ warfare, imbedded with
bacteria. Also the practice of using "chaff," bundles of tin
foil to confuse enemy radar, or chopped up bits of grass straw and leaves,
were also used for spreading bacteria against enemy troops during the Korean
- "Chaff was one of several unusual
things that the North Koreans and Chinese reported falling on their heads
in 1952," write the authors. Combined with reports of disease epidemics,
there is enough evidence that germ warfare during the Korean War was a
fact, and not communist propaganda.
- "The 581st ARC Wing operating in
Asia under cover of a transportation service as a means to carry out its
mandate" is an example of covert warfare by the CIA, an example of
using a "cutout," or a third-party, to distance itself from illegal
or compromising activities.
- When American fliers captured in Korea
subsequently revealed that they were engaged in biowarfare, the CIA denied
everything. The Department of Defense characterized the flights as "routine"
while "some American congressmen worked themselves in to a fury against
the hated Chinese who supposedly were able to brainwash their captives
in to making false confessions."
- Charges by the Chinese were dismissed
"despite the fact that to there was considerable overlap between the
kinds of diseases that the United States was preparing for its biological
warfare program and those which the Chinese claim followed attacks by US
aircraft in the spring of 1952."
- "With respect to methods of delivering
infected insects, feathers, bacteria, viruses, fungi and other materials,
according to the Chinese and North Koreans' observations, the most important
were spraying, non-exploding objects and paper packets, air-bursting leaflet
bombs, cardboard cylinders with silk parachutes..."
- "The US archives show that spray
methods and the leaflet bomb were part of the covert biological warfare
program during 1952-53," conclude the authors.
- Plausible Deniability & Media Hacks
- "Another aspect of the CIA office
of Policy Coordination activity came under the heading of psychological
warfare," write the authors. "The National Security Council gave
the CIA responsibility for covert psychological warfare in 1947 and 1948,
and the agency somewhat ironically spent much of its time and money in
propaganda activities to refute enemy claims and in covering up traces
of US covert activities so as to avoid scrutiny by the American people
and allies abroad. The CIA had to make good the government,s demand for
plausible deniability of questionable or illegal acts, such as using biological
- "To accomplish its propaganda objectives,
the CIA infiltrated news agencies, established radio networks, gave money
to journalists, financed student organizations, subsidized academic journals
and influenced publishers. All this was done through a web of fictitious
corporate structures, sham cultural foundations and financial arrangements
that cost up to $200 million annually by 1953," write Endicott and
- What makes this history so deliciously
ironic is that CIA disinformation through the media seems to be alive and
well. Two months prior to the publication of this book, US News and World
Report (November 16, 1998) published an article by Bruce B. Auster called
"Unmasking an old lie: The Korean War charge is exposed as a hoax."
- Without even the pretense of "objectivity,"
Auster parrots the CIA legend that germ warfare during the Korean War was
a hoax, pointedly ignoring the book by Endicott and Hagerman.
- In a brief telephone interview with Auster,
he denied being paid by the CIA to continue its disinformation. He also
denied having seen or read the book. When asked if he received payment
for his "services" by the CIA in an offshore account, he said
he "resented" any such inference. His disingenuous response belies
the curious synchronicity of the book,s release and his own article which
ignores evidence of US germ warfare.
- In an interview with Hagerman, the book's
author said that "just before he [Auster] wrote that story, he called
me one late Friday afternoon, with a message that he had to go to press
- Hagerman said, "if I could contact
him in two hours, he'd like my opinion on the Soviet documents which purport
that the biowarfare story was disinformation concocted by the Soviets.
So I called him back the next Monday, after the story had gone, and I suggested
that he read our book, perhaps balancing the story somewhere down the line.
He said 'he'd think about it.' "
- The presumption is that Auster is still
thinking. Ignoring the real news is a standard modus operandi by Big Media,
and media hack Auster seems to be no exception.
- "I offered to have a book sent to
him," says Hagerman. "He said that if he was interested, he would
let me or the publisher know, but he has not in fact asked for a book."
- The United States and Biological Warfare
is a premier analysis of America,s secret history. Deconstructing reality,
buried by disinformation, is an awesome task. This carefully documented,
well-referenced, and highly readable work will remain an important contribution
to its understanding.
- The United States and Biological Warfare:
Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, by Stephen Endicott and Edward
Hagerman, University of Indiana Press, 1999, 273 pp. ISBN: 025334721.
- Uri Dowbenko is the CEO of New Improved
Entertainment Corp. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.