Friday, October 2, 2015

The Ignorant & The Unwarned

by Ed Gehrman

May 1997

The Ignorant — The Unwarned
Biological Warfare for You and Your Family
and all the Rest of the Folks in Your Neighborhood

May, 1997
Both chemical and biological agents lend themselves to covert use in sabotage...As one pursues the possibilities of such covert uses, one discovers that the scenarios resemble that in which the components of a nuclear weapon are smuggled into New York and assembled in the basement of the Empire State Building. . . once that possibility is recognized to exist, about all one can do is worry about it. . .indeed, insofar as lethal chemical and biological weapons are concerned, all arguments for possessing them finally come down to the basic assertion that if the Soviets or some other potential aggressor possession them, then we must have them too. In essence, then, the real military effectiveness of lethal CWB, in terms of inflicting causalities, will accrue to the force that initiates use against an unwarned enemy.
The Chemical Weapons Convention, banning the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons went into affect on April 29, 1997. Eighty-seven countries, including the USA, have begun dismantling their Chemical weapons stockpiles. 1(see end notes) Maybe I should feel safer, but I don't; neither should you. My anxiety comes from knowing that chemicals were never a serious threat in the first place. Its not gas that we need fear but biologicals—bacteria, minute organisms created in small labs, cheaply, using uncomplicated and well known processes, the poor man's atom bomb.
A few days before the chemical warfare ban was to take effect, a mysterious package arrived at the Washington D.C office of B'nai B'rith, located a short distance from the White House. The package contained a broken petri dish. Fearing the worst, several blocks were cordoned off by authorities and one hundred workers were quarantined for nine hours until the contents of the dish were analyzed. This particular incident turned out to be a cruel hoax but the reality of the event was not lost on the participants.
The officials on the scene were hit with the realization that it is only a matter of time before a "germ bomb" explodes in our midst. We are not prepared. In drills conducted last year in major cities, firefighters moved into contaminated areas without any protective gear and health workers were overwhelmed and unable to give adequate care. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment theorized that a crop dusting plane, spewing anthrax spores over Washington D.C. could kill three million people. A medical "war game" conducted by the National Institute of Health to simulate the spread of airborne Ebola concluded that there were no agencies, national or international, that could prevent this type of epidemic disease threat from spreading from a small initial location to every continent in the world within two months. 2
In spite of all efforts to portray bio-warfare microbiologists as careful, meticulous scientists, there is a surprising amount of serendipitous, chancy behavior. Take this account of the discovery of the Ebola (Marburg) virus by Dr. Frederick A. Murphy who was then the director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC in Atlanta. "The specimen had come back from Zaire to the CDC in Atlanta in less than optimal condition, with the tubes in the box broken. Anyone else would have taken a look and put the whole box in the autoclave, but Dr. Patricia Webb, wearing gloves, gown and mask, squeezed a few drops of fluid out of the cotton surrounding the broken tubes. That was the material the virus was isolated from. It was placed in tissue culture (monkey kidney cells) for a couple of days then I got a drop of the tissue culture fluid and prepared a specimen for the electron microscope. When I saw what I was sure was Marburg, I shut the electron microscope down and went back to the room in which I had prepared the specimen. This was in the days when hoods were a lot more primitive. I 'chloroxed the hell' out of the place where I had done the preparation and carried my discard pan with gown and gloves etc. to the autoclave and ran it." 3
Nowadays, many diseases can be produced on an industrial scale using readily available resources. Trained technicians are easily able to culture large quantities of bacteria using methods formulated in U.S. bio-warfare labs; over a hundred Department of Defense funded laboratories are operating on campuses or in industrial parks across our nation. Our collective ignorance about participating in bio-warfare research is alarming and our seeming innocence, hypocritical. There are serious consequences in allowing our defense establishment and the scientific community to become involved in this grisly business. Shoddy scientific techniques, risky protocols, and the repressive secrecy that prevents peer review and free exchange of opinion are some of the perilous drawbacks.4
Almost all bio-warfare experiments are classified but those few that have become public should be enough to convince us that scientists doing this research need a new moral compass. Sixty-five years ago, four hundred black sharecroppers in Macon County, Alabama were chosen to participate in a bio-warfare experiment sponsored by the scientific community. The main factor these men shared in common, aside from being poor and illiterate, was syphilis. They were tested yearly during the years 1932 to 1972 by the public health service and were never told of their illness, only that they were being treated for "bad blood". The purpose of the study was to follow the long term effects of syphilis on the human body. Having no idea they were carrying around a deadly bacteria, the men tried to conduct their lives in a normal fashion.
Even in the 1940's when a penicillin cure became available, the men were still denied treatment. The impact of four hundred syphilitic men socializing in a relatively closed rural community can never be measured. When the experiment was terminated in 1972, fifty surviving wives and twenty surviving children were still infected with syphilis. Articles appeared in respected scientific journals during the forty years of the study reporting the progress of these untreated men. A belated apology from the government and ten million dollars to the six thousand survivors seems little recompense for the suffering and torment these folks endured. This experiment also spread syphilis far and wide throughout the US. Biologics cannot be contained.
There is a tendency in the scientific community to first ignore and then ridicule information or opinions that are contrary to prevailing beliefs; but a few balky doctors and health care workers have voiced their concern, often to a deaf public and media. Dr. Alan Cantwell M.D. represents this minority when he states: "Does the government secretly experiment with people? Of course, it does. This is not a paranoid fantasy. There is circumstantial evidence that shows AIDS is a man-made disease with a genetically engineered virus that came out of a cancer virus Bio-warfare laboratory. It is a commonly believed, particularly in the Black community, that AIDS is a secret government genocide plot to eliminate 'undesirables.' The major media never mention books written on the subject of AIDS as man-made, nor will they quote physicians, like myself and others, who publicly promote this idea. Without discussion, the media simply dismiss the idea as paranoid, or as right or left-wing, or as tied to extremist or terrorist or Militia groups." 5
To make matters worse, acute scientific mistakes are glossed over or covered up. Henrietta Lack died in 1965 of uterine cancer. She gained dubious immortality through her cancer cells for they were the first cells to be grown in perpetuity in tissue cultures. Before HELA (Henrietta Lack) cells, only one or two divisions were possible. The HELA cells were sent world wide. It's not well known but even during the peak of the "cold war", Soviet and U.S scientists were collaborating on bio-warfare and cancer virus research. In 1972 the Russians sent us six cell lines they thought contained cells with cancer causing viruses. As it turned out, these cell lines were all contaminated with HELA cells that contained monkey viruses. Dr. Walter Nelson Reese had the responsibility of keeping the cell lines in the U.S. cataloged. After the incident with the Russians, he decided to examine all cell lines. He discovered, much to his amazement, that over a third of them were HELA contaminated, probably when culture lids were opened and aerosolized particles would float around the lab and sometimes drop into another cell line. The aggressive HELA cells, often carrying viruses from other species, would soon take over a culture. Instead of rewarding these findings, Dr. Reese's program was defunded and he now runs an art studio. 6
Doctors Garth and Nancy Nicolson are prime examples of what can happen when one questions authority. They have been hounded from prestigious jobs and threatened, both physically and professionally; their labs have been vandalized, irreplaceable specimens destroyed, correspondence intercepted and phones tapped. Why? Because they had the audacity to suggest, and evidence to indicate that many sick gulf war vets are suffering from exposure to a bio-warfare, weaponized organism, a mycoplasma named incognitus.
Mycoplasma are the smallest and perhaps the oldest life forms. These cell wall deficient bacteria, the cause of "walking pneumonia", have been implicated in a variety of other &"emerging" diseases. Lyme disease is a mycoplasma spirochete dispersed by ticks and thought to originate at the Plum Island bio-warfare center. It escaped to the island's huge bird refuge and then across to New England, where it is still a major cause of illness. From there, the mainland states were contaminated via the migratory bird routes. A form of mycoplasma, a spiroplasma, is also implicated in Mad Cow Disease but is being ignored by most BSE researchers. Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Alzheimers are also being investigated as possibly caused by mycoplasmic type bacteria. Mycoplasma are thought by many to be rather fragile, but nothing could be further from the truth. They tolerate extreme fluctuations in temperature, lay dormant in the soil for generations and survive the harshest elements; only drano-like chemicals kill them effectively outside the body. Under normal circumstances our immune system efficiently deals with mycoplasmas and other life-threatening bacteria; we evolved from this complicated, membrane enclosed piece of DNA and up until now have developed defenses that keep these critters in check. The new strains seem different. Difficult to spot in tissue, they do not react to normal bacterial tests. There has been no sure way to test for these organisms in living tissue since they are often not a problem until the immune system is exposed to stress. The symptoms are flu-like but to the extreme: headaches, sore joints, rashes, chest pain, heart problems, and neurological disorders. Dementia is common in advanced stages of these gruesome afflictions. 7
The Nicolsons' test is able to identify the presence of mycoplasma in living tissue. The normal way to determine infection is to inject a lab animal with tissue or cultured material and wait for the lab animal to develop the target disease. The Nicolson's claim that a method they have invented named Gene Sequencing seems to do a much better and more accurate job. Labor intensive, thus expensive, Gene Sequencing has been peer reviewed and found to be credible and dependable. Government scientists and the Defense Department refuse to even consider the validity of this approach because if the Nicolson's are correct, and the mycoplasmic infections sickening the Gulf War vets are found to have originated in government funded bio-warfare labs, these programs will be exposed as the dangerous and shortsighted escapades they have become.
The USA supplies much of the know how and advanced technology used in this deadly endeavor. Microbiologists from every country study at our universities and learn all the necessary techniques needed to establish successful germ labs. Scientists from the USA were working with Iraq's microbiologists on bio-warfare just weeks before the Gulf War, and Iraq was importing highly toxic bacteria and viruses from companies in the USA. By 1990 they were manufacturing large quantities of botulism toxin and anthrax bacteria.
The Army command knew of the possibility that our forces could be exposed to toxic agents while stationed in Iraq; the compulsory inoculations, with multiple vaccines, indicates foreknowledge. But the Command didn't notify the troops about what was about to happen; they were participating in a huge experiment without their informed consent. They still have not been informed and most of the information surrounding the inoculations has been classified, the contents of the vaccines have still to be positively identified. One of the doctors who complained and refused to cooperate because she felt using force was a violation of the Geneva Protocols was court marshaled and given eighteen months in federal prison. 8 "The nation's historical record on bio-warfare is replete with subterfuge, reckless experimentation, and rogue actions and is punctuated by violations of both domestic policy and international and national norms. . . the modern record is no more reassuring. . .If modern biology is to be a tool for human benefit, not the seed of our destruction, then all its facets, including military applications, must be opened to new levels of public understanding and to careful public scrutiny." 9
The perfect bio-warfare agent would be similar to that used to kill and control the rabbits in Australia: the virus Myxoma . It is ninety percent fatal for rabbits, but is harmless to almost everything else. The ideal agent would also be suitable for mass production, and contagious through the air, with a short incubation period, but still able to survive in the environment. Medical defense should be difficult, and counter measures available so that friendly forces could be inoculated, but like the rabbits, the enemy wouldn't have access to a vaccine. Most of all, the pestilence needs to produce terror and demoralization in its victims.
The average person has the impression that the USA has long since stopped hazardous biological experimentation and has destroyed its stockpiles of biological weapons. In 1975 Richard Nixon signed the Geneva Protocol which among other things states: "Each State party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: 1) Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; 2) Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict."
This straight forward language makes the overall impression quite clear. Our country should not be mucking around with biological weapons. We have ignored this law since its signing. The main way we circumvent our legal obligations is to maintain that we have defensive reasons for all the research, but there is absolutely no difference between offensive research and defensive public health research. Our signing of the law was a sham and a sop to those scientists who foresaw the predicament we were getting ourselves into, but were mostly ignored. They were put off by statements like this: "Those who regard themselves as guardians of the public safety must count not only the speculative hazards of these marginal situations, but also the costs to the public health of impeding their (biological weapons) investigation."
These protocols may now be meaningless in an age of new technologies; advances in DNA and cloning could produce a deadly new agent almost overnight, with relative ease. Recombinant DNA is a process known to most biologists and is easily accomplished in well equipped labs. Bacteria contain plasmids which are tiny pieces of DNA. This DNA is much smaller than, and independent of, the DNA contained in the chromosomes. The plasmids are removed from the bacteria and then sliced apart using enzymes. A virus gene that has already been removed from the virus is fitted into the gap in the plasmid. Then this altered plasmid is inserted into a bacteria, where it can perform any number of tasks. As a bio-warfare bacteria the new DNA could manufacture toxins that would poison the body or cause disruptions in vital organs, like the brain. If mycoplasmas were the bacteria used in the transfer, they would be almost impossible to detect. Mycoplasmas have the ability to blend with the cell wall of the host and then move deeply into the nucleus of the cell where they stay hidden, waiting to emerge when the immune system weakens.
Mycoplasmas play only a small part in this tragic production. Any virus or bacteria that could cause a disease has or will be, or is now being studied and considered as a possible warfare agent. All means of transmission have been deliberated and researched and the stage is set for an emerging crisis. We could stop this before it's too late. We only need to lift the cloak of secrecy that hides the Frankensteinian nightmares we've created in our sequestered laboratories. When we see clearly what is happening in these government funded labs, we'll shut them down. 10
If we don't, we're in for more trouble. An example of just how reckless scientists have become can be seen in a new threat that has appeared. Not some "emerging" virus, stumbled upon during a trek through previously unknown environs, but in lung tissue from a soldier who died in1918 . During the late spring of that year a strange and lethal new disease began appearing at military installations across the US. By September this infection, known as Spanish flu, rapidly spread across the country and then to every corner of the world. It was over by year's end but with twenty million dead it became the deadliest plague the world has ever known. The virus that caused this pestilence has not been available for studying. But now, using modern techniques, the eighty year old lung tissue that sat undisturbed in Washington D.C. has revealed fragments of the virus, enough so that the DNA sequences may soon be known. The CDC is also planning a trip to Norway to study the remains of seven miners who also died of the Spanish flu. They hope to find an intact virus, but if successful they may unleash this possible pandemic. Is it worthwhile to take these kinds of risks? Regretfully, we will have no say in the matter; it's classified and beyond discussion by mere mortals.
The elimination of all bio-warfare research and testing, even if it is theoretically defensive in nature, should be the goal of the scientific community. The public can apply only so much pressure; it is the scientists themselves who must sever their connections to the growing menace of bio-warfare. The easiest way would be by refusing to work on secret science. There are no credible justifications to continue these explorations and only scientists have the prestige, influence and status to redirect the attitudes and practices of their fellow scientists.

  1. End Notes
  2. Ivan L. Bennett, Jr., former Deputy Director of the U.S Office of Science and Technology before a symposium on chemical and biological warfare, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. Proc. N.A.S. 1970; 65:250-279. Taken from Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola.
  3. Lee Bowman, "America Gets a Taste of Chemical Terror", April 26, 1997 Scripps Howard News Service. A well written news report; one of the few I've read that tries to point out the significant danger of bio-warfare.
  4. Dr. Frederick A. Murphy Talks about the Ebola Virus—An Interview by Sean Henahan, Access Excellence: a WWW site that supplies information about emerging diseases and viruses.
  5. Dr. Garth Nicolson from a discussion recorded by Gustav Grossman, 7/28/97.
  6. This is from an interview I conducted, about a year ago, with Dr. Cantwell for my column in the Sonoma County Free Press. The Tuskegee syphilis experiment, funded by the Center for Disease Control, is well documented in Dr. Cantwell's writings and in numerous other sources as well. Dr. Cantwell has written two books on the genesis of the HIV: AIDS and the Doctors of Death and Queer Blood. Both are excellent. He has also written about the ability of bacteria to cause disease in the Cancer Microbe.
  7. This also is well documented information. Michael Gold's Conspiracy of Cells shows clearly the type of scientific errors that can occur on a regular basis, even in well run labs. Another look at scientific Snafus and downright skullduggery is the brilliantly researched "Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola, Nature, Accident or Genocide?" by Leonard Horowitz. There is no need to distort or fabricate information concerning bio-warfare; the truth is there for all to see.
  8. I had previously researched the nature of mycoplasmas and spiroplasmas for an article I wrote on Transmissible Spongiform Encephlopathy : Mad Cows —Mad Scientists; FLATLAND #14 or Sonoma County Free Press. Mycoplasma type organisms are poorly understood, even by most scientists because they are so difficult to culture. They are often ignorantly discounted as the cause of disease. This could prove to be a fatal mistake for us all.
  9. From recorded conversations by Gustav Grossman 6/23/96. The Eight Myths of Operation Desert Storm—Gulf War Syndrome by Garth L. Nicolson, Ph.D., and Nancy L. Nicolson, Ph.D. The Institute for Molecular Medicine, P. O. Box 52470, Irvine, California 92619-2470 USA.
  10. From the introduction to Gene Wars: Military Control Over the New Genetic Technologies by Charles Piller and Dr. Keith Yamamoto.
  11. Much of the above information can be found in Gene Wars . This is an important look at our government's bio-warfare program, the rationale and motives. It is also a plea to their fellow scientists to take a long, hard look at the pitfalls of continuing this dangerous activity. Written in 1986, it predicts clearly the type of problems that might arise, just as they did four years later during the Gulf War. Too bad we didn't listen.