Unethical human experimentation in the United States describes numerous experiments performed on human test subjects in the United States that have been considered unethical, and were often performed illegally, without the knowledge, consent, or informed consent of the test subjects. Such tests have occurred throughout American history, but particularly in the 20th century.
The experiments include: the exposure of people to chemical and biological weapons (including infection of people with deadly or debilitating diseases), human radiation experiments, injection of people with toxic and radioactive chemicals, surgical experiments, interrogation and torture experiments, tests involving mind-altering substances, and a wide variety of others.
Many of these tests were performed on children, the sick, and mentally disabled individuals, often under the guise of “medical treatment”. In many of the studies, a large portion of the subjects were poor, racial minorities, or prisoners.
Funding for many of the experiments was provided by United States government, especially the United States military, Central Intelligence Agency, or private corporations involved with military activities.
The human research programs were usually highly secretive, and in many cases information about them was not released until many years after the studies had been performed.
The ethical, professional, and legal implications of this in the United States medical and scientific community were quite significant, and led to many institutions and policies that attempted to ensure that future human subject research in the United States would be ethical and legal.
Public outrage in the late 20th century over the discovery of government experiments on human subjects led to numerous congressional investigations and hearings, including the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission, both of 1975 and the 1994 Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, among others.
Operation Big City – Biological Weapons Testing On U.S Citizens
Biological Weapons Testing On U.S. Citizens
Open-air testing takes research into deadly agents out of the laboratories in order to study their effectiveness, including their aerial dispersion patterns, and whether they actually infect and kill in field trials.
***Pentagon Poised To Resume Open Air Weapons Testing***
Freedom’s ground-breaking investigations into joint CIA-military testing of chemical and biological warfare agents on unwitting sections of the population included Operation Big City, in which hundreds of New York City subway passengers were exposed to bacteria. In another series of tests, a fungus that could cause lung disease was used in certain East Coast cities. The germ had been selected for the astounding reason that it was believed to be more harmful to blacks than whites. As stated in an Army report, the purpose of the test was to check logistics lines because “[w]ithin this [supply] system, there are employed large numbers of laborers, including many Negroes, whose incapacitation would seriously affect the operation of the supply system.” Freedom also revealed that personnel from the Special Operations Division utilized specially modified suitcases in 1964 and 1965 to spray bacteria on unsuspecting passengers in Washington, D.C.’s National Airport and Greyhound bus terminal. Those tests, intended to study the consequences of the use of smallpox or other biological agents in public places, employed Bacillus subtilis, a germ since found to cause symptoms of respiratory infections, blood poisoning and food poisoning. Based on tickets sold at the time of the tests, Special Operations Division staff calculated that “infected passengers” transported the bacillus to more than 200 cities. Freedom’s coverage of the government-sponsored chemical and biological warfare tests included, in 1979, exposing “Operation Big City,” covert biological warfare experiments conducted in the New York subway system in 1956 by the CIA with the cooperation of U.S. Army personnel. As Jimmy Breslin wrote in New York Newsday in 1998 regarding the New York experiment originally exposed in Freedom, “If there had been scrutiny from the day of the test on, common sense tells you that over time, the mortuary reports would indicate a stack or so of dead.” Breslin noted that the Church of Scientology had been alone at the time in publicly expressing outrage over such experiments. In 1980, Freedom published an analysis of CIA records which showed that the agency had sponsored biological warfare tests in Florida in 1955. These tests were linked to an outbreak of whooping cough in that state which claimed the lives of 12 people, half of them children under the age of one.