Clouds of Secrecy: The Army's Germ Warfare Tests over Populated Areas

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Overview

In the 1970s, Americans learned that for decades they had been unsuspecting guinea pigs in a series of astonishing experiments conducted by the U.S. Army. Military researchers had been secretly spraying clouds of bacteria over populated areas in order to study America's vulnerability to biological weapons. No precautions were taken to protect the millions of people exposed, despite known risks to their health.

The army continues to assume the right to resume bacteriological testing at its own discretion -- a 1986 report to Congress indicates that open air testing is now taking place at a military facility in Utah as part of the Reagan administration's expanded biological warfare program.

Clouds of Secrecy is a probing examination of the Army's germ warfare testing program from World War II to the present. Using extensive information from congressional hearings, courtroom testimony, interviews, and government documents, the author details the nature of the Army's biological experiments, the reasoning behind the tests, and the effects on exposed human populations.

These experiments prompt questions not only about the rationale and conduct of the biological warfare research program, but also about the relation of science to contemporary society. Is such testing, as one critic described it, "science gone mad?"

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Editorial Reviews

Science
Cole's book addresses a serious structural problem of constitutional democracy. It is obvious from a reading . . . that the public should demand more protection and Congress should mandate it.
Poltics and The Life Sciences
. . . Through painstaking investigation of participants and publications, he has written not only a real horror story but, even more important, shown how conscientious individuals were led to risk the health and even the lives of fellow Americans in several cities.
Choice
Cole . . . effectively buttresses his arguments with evidence from primary sources and makes a solid, easily readable case for the need for public and congressional oversight.
Professor Edwin Firmage
Clouds of Secrecy focuses on the major issue in our state at this time. I commend it to every Utahan and to every American.
David Wier
Cole has produced a penetrating study of the Army's clandestine 20-year biological warfare testing operation. . . . a persuasive case that Army planners knew-or should have known-they were exposing the young, the old and the medically 'compromised' to infections at 239 sites around the country.
CHOICE
Cole . . . effectively buttresses his arguments with evidence from primary sources and makes a solid, easily readable case for the need for public and congressional oversight.
Janet Maslin
…an assertive account, revelatory but also mystifying, of the long-hidden United States weaponry and espionage programs to which she says Area 51 is home…the book is noteworthy for [Jacobsen]'s dogged devotion to her research.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This disturbing study, based on government records, courtroom testimony and interviews, focuses on biological-warfare testing and the U.S. Army's expanding program to develop cheaper and more effective biological weapons. Cole traces the growth of the biological arsenal during World War II, reviews the scientific literature which questions the Army's contention that bacteria used in tests are harmless and assesses the spraying of several American locales, including San Francisco and the New York subway system. Cole charges that the Army failed to monitor the health of the targeted population, and quotes from a 1981 trial in a case brought by a San Francisco family, one of whose members is believed to have died as a result of the 1950 test in that city. Reflecting on ``the human capacity to confuse good intentions with harmful actions,'' the author, who teaches at Rutgers University, concludes with a discussion of the ethics of spraying unsuspecting citizens with bacteria and the need for protection against such experiments. September
Library Journal
An in-depth analysis of the U.S. Army's biological warfare BW research/testing from World War II to the present. Cole Rutgers Univ. details unpublicized activities at the Army's BW headquarters, the secret ``test'' spraying of bacteria over major American cities, and a court case on one such test. He also examines the charges of Soviet ``yellow rain'' and genetic engineering. His research is solidon-site visits, interviews, congressional hearings, court testimony, government documents, and scientific and scholarly literature. While this careful work is not a polemic, it raises a specter of government secrecy and deception with chilling implications. One of the best efforts on a topic long concealed from the American public. Clifton E. Wilson, Political Science Dept., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847675791
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/1989
  • Pages: 202
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Leonard Cole is professor of political science at Rutgers University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Foreword by Senator Alan Cranston Chapter 2 Preface Chapter 3 Clouds of Secrecy: Introduction Chapter 4 Infecting the Enemy: Biological Warfare in the Past, and the Road to Testing Chapter 5 Living Near Gruinard Island Chapter 6 Fort Detrick's Mysteries Chapter 7 The Army's Germ Warfare Simulants: How Dangerous Are They? Chapter 8 Airborne in the U.S.A.: Open Air Vulnerability Tests in Minneapolis, St. Louis, and the New York City Subway System Chapter 9 Edward Nevin and the Spraying of San Francisco Chapter 10 The Trial Chapter 11 Terror or Error: The Yellow Rain Puzzle Chapter 12 Engineering Genes for Defense: Recombinant DNA Technology and Biological Warfare Chapter 13 Return to Testing: Field Experiments, the Dugway Issue, and Ethical Questions Chapter 14 Worries and Ambiguities Chapter 15 Appendices Chapter 16 Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2003

    Surprising Information

    This book contains shocking but carefully documented details about germ warfare tests conducted by the U.S. Army in the 1960s. It is an eye opener about a range of Army experiments that exposed millions of Americans to various bacteria without their knowledge. The purpose supposedly was to see how vulnerable Americans would be to a germ attack. The book is clearly written and provides riveting descriptions of many of the tests. The most amazing thing about the tests was the number of American cities and their populations that were targeted. They included New York City, San Francisco, St. Louis and hundreds of other cities and towns. The germs were not true warfare agents like anthrax, but they apparently caused several people to become sick, some perhaps fatally. In the current climate of fear about terrorism, Clouds of Secrecy provides an invaluable reminder that secret government actions intended to protect the public may themselves create risks to its safety.

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