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U.S. weapons of mass destruction protested

By Kermit Leibensperger
Workers World, Baltimore

If President Bush has his way, tens of billions of dollars will be taken from public health spending in the coming years and allocated to the U.S. Army’s Ft. Detrick, the headquarters of U.S. bio weapons research, located in Frederick, MD. The administration’s plans for massive expansion of the number of BLS-4 containment suites and related WMD facilities were protested June 4 by a rally and march through crowds gathered for a fair in downtown Frederick.


Activists alerted the community of upcoming Environmental Impact Study hearings in late August or September, when the Army will try to gloss over the danger posed by experiments—past and future—with disease-causing viruses and bacteria for which there exist neither vaccine nor cure.

Ft. Detrick’s efforts at gene splicing and other DNA modification techniques to increase the virulence of existing strains of viruses and bacteria are perhaps the most foolish and dangerous part of the Bush administration’s WMD programs. In a recent four-article series on the lab, the Frederick News-Post reported Ft. Detrick had “161 mishaps” from 2002 to 2005.

Speakers representing the entire progressive-revolutionary political spectrum called on groups and individuals to work to bring out the community en masse for the hearings, and denounced Ft. Detrick’s bioweapons research as not only a threat to Frederick County, but to all humanity. Documentation of illnesses and deaths related to leaks from the sprawling facilities may be found at www.frederickpac.org.

Two speakers added very sad, personal notes to the rally, stories which deeply touched those present. Mrs. Grace Free Koehl spoke of the involuntary confiscation of dairy farms, upon which the bioweapons labs were built. “One day there was a sign along the road saying we had to vacate three of our fields,” Mrs. Koehl told me as she paged through a scrapbook filled with newspaper articles, photographs, and land plans documenting the Federal land takeovers and the numerous illnesses and deaths in her family, neighboring families, and farm animals that followed the opening of the Army labs. “They took fields my father rented from Dr. Rau for what was called Camp Detrick back then, along with land from other farmers.”

By taking only portions of farms, the Army effectively made the farmers and their families human guinea pigs. Mrs. Koehl denounced the book “50 Year History of Ft. Detrick,” recently published by the government, because it makes no mention of the forced farmland confiscations or of the health consequences to the Free family, their cattle, and the surrounding area, which came to be a “cancer cluster.”

Son of Frank Olson speaks out

Eric Olson, whose father held a key position at the nation’s most secret biological warfare laboratory during the Cold War, told the rally that the government covered up the killing of his father, Frank Olson, not just once, claiming his fall of 10 stories from a Manhattan hotel was a suicide or accident in 1953, but with a second deception in 1975, when President Ford called the Olson family to the White House and apologized for the LSD that was administered to Frank Olson without his knowledge.

However, after receiving information from an old friend of his father’s, Eric Olson has become convinced his father was killed because he was appalled at reports that bioweapons bombs were being tested in the Korean War. Referring to stories that captured American pilots who confessed to dropping bioweapons were brainwashed, Norman Kanoyen confided to Olson, “It wasn’t all brainwashing. Get it? Your dad found it was true.” How much bioweapons testing was actually done in Korea Kanoyen didn’t know or wasn’t willing to say, Olson reported.

Frederick lawyer and congressional candidate Barry Kissin noted in his speech that Ft. Detrick had the creation of anthrax bombs on their agenda since 1943. At that time the Army planned to use anthrax bombs in Germany, but the project was not completed before the end of WWII.

Olson also believes his father opposed the use of Ft. Detrick-produced chemicals and biologicals in the Korean War for what was then called “terminal interrogation.” This is what the Bush administration’s spin-doctors now term the “extraordinary rendition” of kidnapped suspects that the CIA conducts in secret prisons in Europe, according to Dana Priest’s recent Pulitzer Prize winning exposé in The Washington Post (December 4). “He would have known,” Olson said. “He was [chief of the] Special Operations Division, the CIA— Detrick liaison for the CIA.”

Olson encouraged the audience to learn details of CIA crimes, including the killing of his father, by seeing a documentary made for German public television’s ARD network titled “Code Name: Artichoke—The CIA’s Secret Experiments on Humans” by Egmont R. Koch and Michael Wech (Available at Satellite Video, Walkers ville, MD; 301-845-2737). Olson said that PBS had scheduled to show the film, then cancelled. More information, including a transcript of the film and Olson’s continuing investigation of his father’s murder and other CIA criminal activities, may be found at www.frankolsonproject.org.

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