Nerve gas tests

by John Q on July 6, 2008

It doesn’t appear to have been covered yet by any US news sources, so I just thought I’d link to this story reporting that, in the 60s, the US military proposed to test nerve gases (Sarin and VX) on Australian troops, who were to be kept in the dark on what was going on. Amazingly, given our generally supine attitude in such matters, the conservative Australian government of the day refused.



abb1 07.06.08 at 10:01 am

John, I read this yesterday: , never heard about it before. Is there any truth to it as far as you know?


Hidari 07.06.08 at 10:14 am

The inquest into a young airman who died 51 years ago during secret nerve gas tests has ruled that he was unlawfully killed.

Ronald Maddison, 20, from County Durham, died after being exposed to sarin at Porton Down in Wiltshire.

The original inquest in 1953 ruled that Leading Aircraftman Maddison’s death was caused by misadventure.

In 2002, the High Court quashed that verdict and ordered that a new inquest should be held.

After hearing 64 days of evidence, the jury concluded that the cause of Mr Maddison’s death was “application of a nerve agent in a non-therapeutic experiment”.’

Although to be extremely fair, according to the Wikipedia, the MoD is appealing.


Jeff Rubard 07.06.08 at 1:34 pm

Well, you know, the US government used to intentionally dump radioactive materials on its own citizens to see what would happen (at Hanford), so maybe they were just trying to apply the Golden Rule.


Jeff Rubard 07.06.08 at 1:40 pm

Well, you know, the US government used to intentionally dump radioactive materials on its own citizens to see what would happen (at Hanford), so maybe they were just trying to apply the Golden Rule.


geo 07.06.08 at 5:25 pm

This is actually rather heartening news. At least they were open to experimenting on light-skinned people for a change.


qingl78 07.06.08 at 6:07 pm

US/Canada tested Agent Orange in New Brunswick on troops.


SG 07.06.08 at 6:16 pm

Abb1, that theory has been doing the rounds for years. It was put forward strongly by John Pilger,I think, in his book A secret country (at least that’s where I read it). A lot of the other stuff in that book was quite solid so I was always inclined to want to believe the CIA stuff too. But it is just so outlandish that I can’t help thinking it must be a conspiracy theory.


Jeff Rubard 07.06.08 at 7:17 pm

Seriously, it would have been terrible if that had happened, but the US Government makes lots of plans it doesn’t implement. The Hanford leaks are actual historical events which have been admitted, and steps have been taken to address the harm caused.

My grandparents were living right on top of Hanford when my father was in utero: all three used to get regular letters from the “Dose Reconstruction Panel”. Mostly Hanford people had thyroid problems as a result of the iodine isotope releases, though there is a markedly greater incidence of some cancers in the Tri-Cities.

So, I actually know USG guinea pigs, and they weren’t really that skeeved: of course it turned out to be a bad thing to do, but it’s just part of the historical fabric of the US (you could say it was in our DNA). So, maybe sometimes hating on the outrages of Uncle Sam is a little campy.


John Quiggin 07.07.08 at 5:49 am

#1 I broadly agree with SG. I think it’s pretty clear that the decision by the conservative parties to block the budget, thereby precipitating a constitutional crisis was their own. Given that decision, and the character of the Governor-General (delusions of grandeur is a charitable description), his decision to dismiss the government wasn’t surprising in retrospect

That said, I’m sure any US government representatives, including the CIA, who were consulted on the quiet would have welcomed the dismissal and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this happened. Still, after 30+ years no evidence has emerged and unless someone committed a record to paper, its unlikely that anything is going to come out now.


PersonFromPorlock 07.07.08 at 3:18 pm

Not a lot of evidence adduced in the report: a claim about what government files show, but no showing of the files, and one quote from a ‘former staffer’ of unstated qualifications.

The claimed plot just doesn’t make sense: dropping nerve gas on unprotected troops would prove nothing – they’d die, very predictably – and dropping it on protected troops might be a useful test of Australian protective gear but it’s hard to see much American interest in that.

Absent further proof I’m inclined to put this in the “the CIA created AIDS” category, or better yet compare it to “Operation Tailwind,” the CNN hoax about the CIA dropping Sarin on American deserters in Cambodia.


Daniel Rosa 07.07.08 at 5:09 pm

Ever heard of Ewen Cameron?

With the consent of the Canadian government, and money from the CIA, he did crackpot “mind control” experiments on Canadian citizens.


PersonFromPorlock 07.07.08 at 5:48 pm

Oh, I’m not saying it didn’t happen: but at this point the evidence I’ve seen is no better than it was for “Operation Tailwind,” which turned out to be a hoax.

The CIA may be guilty of ninety nine things but that doesn’t automatically make it guilty of the hundredth.


Martin Wisse 07.08.08 at 7:00 am

Of course dropping sarin on unprotected people has value; tells you how they die.


Martin Wisse 07.08.08 at 7:00 am

And how effective air delivery is.

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