Wednesday, September 21, 2016

About Experimenting on the Troops

Transcribed from the last few minutes of last night's episode of Free Talk Live (I think I'm attributing the quotes to the correct hosts):

Cody: If you're going to be punished for not wanting to have a shot put in you where you don't entirely know what is being put into your bloodstream ...

Ian: You can better believe they're experimenting on members of the military, I mean, there's a long history of them experimenting with things that are not even available to the mainstream ...

That's the kind of statement that tends to get certain people yelling "conspiracy theory! Put on your tinfoil hat, got a conspiracy theory here!"

So by way of supporting the show hosts, I want to relate a real-life, first-person account of something that probably isn't quite "experimenting on members of the military" as such, but pretty damn close.

In early 1991 at Camp Five in the vicinity of al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, members of my unit were rousted out to receive a vaccination.

Specifically, the first dose of what was supposedly a two-dose anthrax vaccination.

From boxes of syringes clearly (visible/legible from several feet away) marked EXPERIMENTAL -- DO NOT USE ON HUMANS.

I never got the second dose and it never occurred to me to ask others from my unit whether or not they did (there was a point at which I left my permanent unit on temporary assignment to a provisional outfit). If they didn't, I can think of a few possible reasons why:

  1. The war started and ended pretty quickly -- maybe it was over before they got around to administering the second dose.
  2. Units were moving around a lot in a very chaotic situation -- maybe the second dose didn't catch up with our medical people before the unit went home.
  3. Maybe there were enough and bad enough negative reactions to the vaccine that the powers that be decided it was more trouble than its possible utility (if Saddam used anthrax) was worth, and they canceled its deployment.
Or maybe some other reason. All I know is that when I attempted to exercise what I thought was a US-recognized right to refuse medical treatment, I was told "take the vaccine or take a court martial." I decided the former was preferable to the latter.

When I say it probably wasn't experimenting on the troops as such, what I mean is that the purpose of administering the vaccine appears to have been actual use versus a perceived possibility of exposure to anthrax on the battlefield, as opposed to someone just saying "hey, let's inject a bunch of troops with this and see what happens!" But of course appearances can be deceiving. Maybe the war was just an excuse for doing exactly that.

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