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Biden, Carper, Castle want answers - Delegation asks military to investigate whether pilots, crews used as guinea pigs

The News Journal

Delaware's congressional delegation on Monday called on military officials to investigate whether the Defense Department used troops as guinea pigs to test illegal anthrax vaccinations at the Dover Air Force Base in 1999.

Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Tom Carper and Rep. Mike Castle said they will send a
letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asking him to look into the
allegations. They also said an outside investigation may be necessary.

The News Journal reported Sunday that former base commander Col. Felix
Grieder concluded after years of investigation that his troops were the subject
of illegal experiments in Dover. The troops received anthrax vaccine that may have

contained squalene. Some experts say even trace amounts of squalene can
suppress the human immune system, causing arthritis, neurological problems,
memory loss and incapacitating migraine headaches.

The military has secretly experimented with squalene to test its ability to
boost the effect of some vaccines. But the military denies it tested squalene
in Dover and has said any contamination in the vaccine must have occurred

"If it was intentional, I want to see people go to jail," Biden said. "I am
outraged if it's intentional."

In addition to the letter to Rumsfeld, Biden wants investigations by the
House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the Government Accountability

"I want to know, if it was intentional, what compensation will take place;
and if it was negligence, who was responsible and what the federal government
will do," Biden said.

Castle said an independent investigation by a presidential or legislative
commission may be necessary.

"We may need to appoint individuals with medical knowledge and no vested
interest," Castle said. "We may need an outside agency beyond the military."

Carper said, "It may well also be prudent to ask for an independent
investigation by the GAO, as well as by the House and Senate Armed Services
Committees. The bottom line is we need to take these allegations seriously and follow up diligently, and we will."

Ex-pilot wants action

Col. Jay Lacklen, a retired Dover pilot who has spearheaded a public
awareness campaign about problems at Dover, has seen congressional hearings
focused on problems with the anthrax vaccine. Despite huge staffs, subpoena power and
congressional prestige, the hearings accomplished little, Lacklen said.

"Now, if they go in armed with the questions they really need, such as
squalene, and if they can just make someone talk, I'll be happy," said Lacklen,
who suffers from debilitating arthritis he believes was caused by squalene in the
anthrax vaccine he received.

Problems began at Dover in May 1999, after some troops in their 20s and 30s
began developing illnesses normally associated with old age.

Grieder, the former base commander, halted the vaccination program, a move he
said brought an end to his military career. Subsequent testing by the Food
and Drug Administration detected squalene in varying amounts in the vaccine.

The substance was detected in all the vaccine sent to Dover, but not in vaccine
sent to other military installations. The military no longer tests for

"In my opinion, there was illegal medical experimentation going on," Grieder,
who lives in Texas, told The News Journal.

The military has said it suspects that the FDA conducted faulty tests and
that the vaccine contained no squalene. It also contends that the amounts of
squalene the FDA said were contained in the vaccine would have been too small
to affect human health.

However, a group of civilian scientists led by Pamela Asa of Tulane
University has conducted two studies that found evidence of squalene injections
in the blood of troops. The scientists also say trace amounts can cause harm.

Castle said he was struck by the age of the troops reporting medical issues
they said were caused by the anthrax vaccine.

"I am very concerned about the young people getting this," Castle said.
"We're dealing with fit individuals in the military. Secondly, they're used to
hardships. If they say they're sick, it's very real."

History of secret tests

Government officials have acknowledged that the Department of Defense
secretly tested squalene on human beings in Thailand. Grieder believes they did
the same in Dover. In a March 1999 report, the GAO accused the Defense Department
of a "pattern of deception" and said the military confirmed human tests
involving squalene only after investigators found out about them.

The Defense Department made anthrax inoculations mandatory for all
active-duty military personnel in 1998. The immunization order remains in
effect today, and more than 1.9 million troops have received the inoculations.

Officials at Dover Air Force Base and at military offices in Washington were
unavailable Monday because offices were closed for Columbus Day.