Fort Detrick’s “Dark History of Viruses”: Beginning at Fort Detrick Biological Laboratory

At the end of March, while the new crown pneumonia epidemic broke out in many parts of the United States, the Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland, quietly resumed operations. It is worth noting that in August last year before the outbreak, this historically bad laboratory was suddenly required to close.

As the US military’s former biological warfare research base, Fort Detrick Lab not only took over the biological warfare data of Japanese invaders 731 units stained with thousands of blood in the middle of the last century, but also studied and stored a wide range of lethal biological weapons. , And even been exposed to experiment with “brainwashing” for mind control.

After 1969, although Fort Detrick’s main business shifted from “biological weapons research” to “biological defense projects” and became the only P4 biological laboratory in the US military, many security vulnerabilities have been exposed. In this high-level laboratory with 67 high-risk pathogens (including Ebola virus, anthrax, plague, etc.), there have been serious incidents of human leakage of anthracnose bacteria to death, as well as low-level loopholes such as damage to protective clothing and illegal wastewater treatment.

The image of Fort Detrick’s “evil biological laboratory” has long been deeply rooted in American hearts. In the 1995 American disaster film “Terror Zone” and the 2009 video game “Prototype”, both mentioned or alluded to Fort Detrick’s experience in biological warfare research. What is better known is the eponymous drama “Blood Plague” produced by the National Geographic Channel in 2019. With the help of this drama, Fort Detrick played a role in the suspected Reston Ebola virus leak in 1989. The role was pushed to the front, the protagonist Nancy in the play served at Fort Detrick.

Today, controversy continues around this notorious “dark laboratory”.

Someone puts on a pillow when I just want to fall asleep

In early 1942, the United States, which had been losing ground on the Pacific battlefield, launched the “Doolittle Raid” plan to reverse the decline and bombed the Japanese mainland for the first time to wash away the shame of Pearl Harbor.

According to the “Japan Times” report, after the homeland was bombed, the Japanese army hoped to counter the US army in any possible way. One of the plans was to put the rinderpest virus in a high-altitude balloon and let the balloon drift across the ocean with the high-altitude. , Hit the United States directly. However, due to fear of devastating retaliation from the United States, the Japanese finally “counseled.”

Although the Japanese army temporarily dispelled the crazy idea of ​​launching biological warfare against the United States, the Japanese army’s research on biological weapons has not stopped. The “Washington Post” published an article that the headquarters of the Kwantung Army’s Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Department, the notorious Japanese Army Unit 731, carried out various biological and bacterial warfare research including human trials in Northeast China, and dropped biological bombs on the Chinese battlefield. , The bomb contained flies infected with Vibrio cholerae, causing tens of thousands of people to die.

Shocked by the germ warfare carried out by Japan, the United States chose to fight with the enemy.

After inspection, the US military chose the abandoned Detrick Airport in Maryland as the station of the “US Version 731”. It has a convenient location: it is remote and “isolated”, but not far from Washington, DC and the American Chemical Warfare Institute-Edgewood Arsenal. Of course, after nearly 80 years of development, Detrick is no longer as barren as it was in the past.

In 1943, Detrick Airport officially ceased operations. In the same year, the federal government purchased more land around the airport and renamed it “Camp Detrick.” After a great effort, the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratory (USBWL) emerged.

Detrick became the research center of American biological warfare during World War II.

National Public Radio (NPR) reported that during World War II, Detrick had a total of 4 biologics production plants. In 1944, the Army Biological Warfare Laboratory prepared to produce 1 million anthrax bombs for the U.S. Army after completing simulation tests. It is considered to be its most important biological weapon with a high lethality rate. But in the following year, when World War II ended, the US military cancelled this order.

Although the end of World War II made the US military no longer urgently need biological weapons as a “big killer” (of course, but also because the United States has a larger killer-nuclear weapons), the US military’s ambitions in this area have not been annihilated.

Someone puts on pillows when they just want to fall asleep. This person was the leader of Japanese Army Unit 731, Shiro Ishii, who had a lot of information in his hands and tried to escape the post-war trial.

The US “National Interest” magazine pointed out that in order to avoid death, Ishii Shiro and the US military reached a “deal”: handing over all the research data he obtained through in vivo experiments in exchange for himself and his scientists from war crimes prosecution .

In the eyes of the person in charge of the US Biological Weapons Program, the research data of Unit 731 on biological warfare is “absolutely priceless.”

After obtaining Ishii Shiro’s research data, Detrick Army Biological Warfare Laboratory developed rapidly. The NPR report pointed out that in the 1950s, the biological weapons program was one of the Pentagon’s most secret projects. The focus of the project was to develop biological agents that could deal with enemy forces, animals and plants.

Crazy biological research

In 1956, Camp Detrick was first designated by the Federal Government as a permanent research and development facility for biological research in peacetime, and was renamed Fort Detrick (Fort Detrick). The mission of the facility was to continue biological research and make The level of biological warfare in the United States maintains its leading position in the world.

In order to achieve this goal, the US military carried out a series of appalling experiments in Fort Detrick. For example, in a biological warfare plan, the US military tried to release mosquitoes carrying yellow fever virus through airplanes or helicopters to attack enemy countries. According to data, Fort Detrick was able to produce 500,000 mosquitoes carrying the yellow fever virus every month, but the US military was not satisfied with this and plans to increase this number to an astonishing 130 million per month.

In addition to using the “pervasive” mosquitoes as weapons, Fort Detrick also studied many pathogens that can be used to destroy crops or trees, and even developed a variety of biotoxins and conducted simulated combat experiments in densely populated cities such as New York. .

The New York Times disclosed in 1975 that an engineer named Charles Senseney of the US Department of Defense stated that he had participated in the “vulnerability study” conducted by the Fort Detrick Army Laboratory in New York. Designed to test the dangers of biological warfare.

Sanseni claimed that Fort Detrick’s staff were instructed by the U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to throw a simulated biological toxin on two subway tracks in New York in 1966 or 1967. The “bulb”.

Sanseni pointed out that after the “bulb” burst, the airflow generated by the subway trains drove the simulated biological toxins to spread along the rails. “In a short period of time after the two subway trains passed, the simulated biological toxins had spread from 15th Street. 58th Street.”

However, the New York project is only part of Fort Detrick’s many experiments. Sanseni said frankly that the staff of Fort Detrick and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) secretly put a colored dye into the water supply system of a building in Washington, D.C., to test the building. The rate of death or disability of the residents of the building after the biological weapons were put into the water supply system of the object.

At the same time, Fort Detrick also conducted research on the use of drugs to control the human spirit. The U.S. political news website Politico disclosed in September last year that the CIA conducted a mind control study in Fort Detrick in the 1950s. The head of the agency’s covert operations, Allen Dulles, named it “Blue Bird”.

In 1951, Dulles hired chemist Sidney Gottlieb to advance the mind control project. The latter was called the “Joseph Mengle of America” ​​by Stephen Kanazawa, author of “The Chief Poisoner: Gottlieb and the CIA’s Pursuit of Mind Control.” Mengle was the notorious Nazi “doctor” in Auschwitz.

Gottlieb combined various psychotropic drugs and combined with electric shocks to conduct mind control experiments on prisoners in secret detention centers.

The report pointed out that in 1954, a prison doctor in Kentucky isolated seven black prisoners and injected them with “double, triple, and quadruple” doses of hallucinogens for 77 consecutive days. No one knows the whereabouts of these victims. They may also be ignorant of the CIA project in which they are “participated”.

In another experiment, captured Korean People’s Army soldiers were sedated and then forced to take strong stimulants. When they were in a weak transitional state, the experimenters at Fort Detrick took them again Placed in a high temperature and electric shock environment, trying to control their spirit.

“This is the most terrifying experiment the U.S. government has conducted on humans,” Politico wrote.

However, in 1973, most of the records surrounding Fort Detrick and the CIA’s mind control project were destroyed.

The hidden truth about death

While Fort Detrick carried out various terrorist experiments on a large scale, accidents occurred frequently inside and outside the laboratory, such as leakage of pollutants, animal deaths, bizarre deaths of employees, and cancers of residents. A series of incidents shocked the American people.

The New York Times published two reports on September 20 and 21, 1975, exposing that the U.S. Army had covered up the deaths of three civilian employees of Fort Detrick. All three were violent in the 1950s and 1960s. shoot.

The daughter of microbiologist William A. Boyles cried and complained that his father had worked in Fort De Crick and died of a “rare disease” in 1951. When he first became ill, he was diagnosed with a common cold by army doctors, but as his condition deteriorated, the army hospital refused to admit him. He was forced to be admitted to the local hospital, and then fell into a coma and died.

The U.S. military did not admit that Boyles’ real cause of death was anthrax until July 1975, and stated that the military had forged his death certificate and designated his cause of death as “bronchial pneumonia with gastric ulcer and bleeding.”

At the same time, the U.S. military also admitted to covering up the true cause of death of two other Fort Detrick employees: an electrician and an animal caretaker died of illness on July 5, 1958 and October 10, 1964, respectively. Was deemed to have died of a “rare disease” by the military.

However, the real cause of death of the electrician was also anthrax, but the US military claimed that he died of “occupational respiratory disease.” The real cause of death of the zookeeper was Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, but his death certificate listed the cause of death as “viral encephalitis with an unidentified cause.”

In addition, there are also Fort Detrick employees who have been alive when they were alive, and bluntly said that the biological weapons in the laboratory are amazingly lethal.

According to the New York Times in 1998, Bill Patrick was a senior employee of Fort Detrick, responsible for research on germ warfare and supervising the work of the team. He confessed that when the US military secretly tested deadly bacteria in remote areas, he himself was always present. For example, in 1968, he went to the sea 1,000 kilometers southwest of Hawaii to observe a bacterial weapon test. At that time, the U.S. military dispatched warplanes to throw the bacterial weapon developed by Fort Detrick onto a barge, which was full of numbers. After hundreds of rhesus monkeys and guinea pigs were attacked by bacterial weapons, half of the animals died.

At the same time, Patrick confessed that three of his colleagues also died after accidentally contacting germ weapons.

The repeated incidents of deaths caused by the leakage of biological weapons caused the national public opinion to explode. Under heavy pressure, the then US President Nixon was forced to order in 1969 to stop the research and development of biological weapons, destroy existing biological weapons, and ban them. Carry out “offensive biological research” in the United States. Since then, Fort Detrick’s research focus has turned to “defensive biological research.”

However, critics within the US military pointed out that “offensive” and “defensive” biological research are actually the same thing. Therefore, the public opposition has not subsided. The New York Times reported in July 1970 that the Alliance of Peace Organizations launched protest demonstrations that month and petitioned Congress to request the US military to stop the development and production of chemical and biological weapons. An anti-biological weapons alliance called the “CBW Movement” also Call for the conversion of Fort Detrick’s biological weapons research facility into a World Health Center.

In the face of wave after wave of protests, the U.S. government had to “concession” again. According to the New York Times in October 1971, Nixon went to Fort Detrick on the 19th of that month and announced the Army’s biological warfare research. The center was converted into a cancer research center.

Experts in the U.S. federal government praised this move. They believed that biological weapons were “almost useless” for a country that already possessed chemical weapons and nuclear weapons. However, some analysts suspected that Nixon was just a “show”, saying that he was only doing so. In order to build its image as a “biological weapon terminator,” the US military’s biological weapons research and development work may not have changed substantially.

The controversy continues, surrounding residents are bizarrely suffering from cancer

A 1988 article in The New York Times pointed out that after Nixon announced the transformation of Fort Detrick into a cancer research center, scientists are still here to participate in what they call “medical defense BW research” and develop any bacterial weapons that may be used against the US military. Vaccine or antidote. The Pentagon has identified a variety of deadly diseases that can be used to launch biological warfare. They are all included in the first batch of the Fort Detrick research list, including Rift Valley fever, anthrax and hemorrhagic fever.

“For this, we are engaged in a unique kind of medical defense research.” said Colonel Richard Barquist, director of the Army Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Some public opinion continues to criticize Fort Detrick’s research, emphasizing that there is virtually no difference between “offensive” and “defensive” research. In this regard, Colonel Baquist agreed, “Although there is really no difference between the two in terms of research, we do not develop biological weapons. This is all medical research.”

It is worth noting that after the transition to “defensive” research, Fort Detrick has experienced multiple pollutant leakage accidents. Not only do the employees of Fort Detrick “deal with death” when they go to work every day, Moreover, even the residents around the laboratory have lost their lives.

The New York Times published an article in 1988 that the U.S. Senate found “serious flaws” in the Pentagon’s security procedures for research on chemical and biological defense measures during an 18-month review.

The Senate pointed out in the report that in the Department of Defense’s research on vaccines, drugs and equipment, “the number of problems such as unreasonable regulations, lax safety measures, and ineffective safety measures has increased fivefold since 1980.” The report also listed incidents involving biological research in Fort Detrick, including fires and agent leakage.

The Pentagon only responded by saying that it would conduct a comprehensive review of the report and work with Congress to ensure compliance with the best safety standards, but avoided discussing whether it will continue biological research.

However, the situation did not improve afterwards. In the early 1990s, the Fort Detrick Biolab also experienced the loss of deadly strains and virus strains such as anthrax.

After the anthrax attack that triggered panic in the United States in 2001, the FBI has accused

The suspect came from Fort Detrick’s Biological Laboratory. The incident caused 22 infections, 5 of whom died, and 20,000 Americans were given antibiotics. The reputation of the laboratory has plummeted.

In 2014, the laboratory was exposed to at least 37 incidents of rupture or perforation of protective clothing.

With these large and small accidents, residents living near Fort Detrick will inevitably be worried.

According to news from the Baltimore Sun in 2011, although residents around Fort Detrick have been speculating for decades that Fort Detrick’s experiments may have affected their health, the U.S. military responded by saying, The army has cleared 4,000 tons of contaminated soil and laid an anti-seepage layer underground. Residents are completely worried.

Maryland health officials, who have studied the incidence of cancer in the area over the past two decades, also said that they have not found any evidence of excessive concentrations of pollutants, and the incidence of cancer among local residents has not been significantly higher than average.

However, a local pastor and businessman named Randy White pointed out that Maryland’s cancer registration system is not only incomplete, but also outdated. White claimed to have two daughters, one died of brain cancer at the age of 30, and the other had a tumor in his abdomen. His ex-wife also died of renal cell carcinoma in November 2010. White’s mother also died in 2011. He was diagnosed with melanoma in September. In response, the doctor told White that their condition was probably caused by the surrounding environment.

Because of this, White hired epidemiologists and toxicologists to examine the air, soil, and water pollution near Fort Detrick. In addition, he asked his neighbors about their health history and Measure the toxin content in his blood. The test results show that there is indeed a leakage of pollutants in the surrounding area of ​​Fort Detrick.

At the same time, the “Baltimore Sun” published an article that the 161 hectare area B on the west side of the Fort Detrick base was used as a dumping ground for discarded laboratory equipment and materials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that toxic substances are indeed found in the soil near Fort Detrick, the most common of which are trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), both of which are known Carcinogen. In addition to the pollutants in the soil, the groundwater near Fort Detrick also contains the above two carcinogens. For example, in 1992, Maryland government officials detected higher than normal values ​​in the drinking water of four households outside Zone B. TCE.

After collecting relevant evidence, White initiated a joint lawsuit with more than 100 residents around Fort Detrick in 2010, demanding that the federal government compensate the people whose health was damaged due to the leakage of pollutants in Detrick.

However, the District Court of Maryland rejected this request in 2016, saying that the court had no jurisdiction over the case. In 2017, the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals also stated that it would not review the case, and the matter was not resolved. The residents of “Zheshou” and their families have nowhere to avenge their grievances.

In March of this year, David Franz, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served as the director of Fort Detrick Laboratory from 1995 to 1998, and Judith Miller, author of “Bacteria: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War” A co-signed article published in the City Journal bluntly stated the problems of poor laboratory management, including lack of funds, not being taken seriously by the Pentagon, layman leaders, insiders, and distractions.

In 2016, an audit report on military biological research companies issued by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense also pointed out that “the health and safety of the public are at risk” because these laboratories “use unverified research programs,” There is a lack of regular inspections, or even no inspections, and there are obvious deficiencies and loopholes that have not been corrected by the Ministry of Defense.”

Suddenly shut down and restart

However, despite the above-mentioned problems, surrounding residents questioned the leakage of pollutants, Fort Detrick began to expand with great fanfare. The Science Journal of Nature pointed out in an article in August 2006 that the federal government plans to overhaul the existing facilities in Fort Detrick and build a new “biodefense research complex”. The new facilities will include the highest biosafety Level-operated laboratories that can handle the deadliest pathogens.

As soon as the plan was announced, it immediately caused public opinion. “From any point of view, this is almost meaningless.” Maryland lawyer and congressional candidate Barry Kissin accused. “This plan is not only expensive, but also dangerous, and it is not safe for residents. create a threat.”

Analysts believe that more laboratories will only increase the threat to surrounding communities, “pathogens may leak from the laboratory.” Other opponents accused the expansion of Fort Detrick may make other countries suspect that the United States is attempting to develop an offensive. Sexual biological weapons.

Despite the heavy opposition, Fort Detrick’s expansion plan was successfully completed in 2008. However, just a few years after the expansion was completed, Fort Detrick was suddenly shut down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August 2019.

The US Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick issued a statement saying that the facility’s research involving dangerous microorganisms such as Ebola virus is currently on hold. The spokesperson of the institute, Vander Linden, said in an interview that Fort Detrick may continue to be shut down for several months because of its “insufficient wastewater purification system capacity” in its highest security laboratory.

Linden revealed that Fort Detrick’s problems can be traced back to May 2018, when heavy rains made the institute’s steam sterilization equipment used to treat laboratory wastewater scrapped and scrapped for decades. “This stopped the research for several months until the institute developed a new decontamination system that uses chemicals.”

However, new problems followed one after another. Linden pointed out that although the new system required changes to certain procedures in the laboratory, the inspection in June 2019 found that the staff did not follow the new procedures. “The inspectors also found mechanical problems with the decontamination system, while still There is a chemical leak.”

In addition, according to the US “Military” news website, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the staff in Fort Detrick had repeatedly violated the safety operation guidelines, such as when cleaning up biohazardous waste. , The staff even opened the door of the autoclave chamber, increasing the risk of contaminated air entering the autoclave chamber. In the autoclave room, the staff do not even wear protective equipment.

However, Fort Detrick did not completely stop there. According to a report on the “Military” website in November 2019, the U.S. Army Institute of Infectious Diseases announced that month that Fort Detrick would restart some facilities. The head of the institute Colonel Darrin Cox emphasized that all non-compliance with safety rules and regulations pointed out by the CDC have been resolved.

A few months later, the new crown pneumonia epidemic broke out in many places around the world, and the United States was not immune.

The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2020 that Fort Detrick, who has studied SARS, Zika, and Ebola virus vaccines in recent years, was once again entrusted with a heavy responsibility. After passing the CDC’s last field inspection, Fort Detrick resumed operations on March 27 and received a grant of up to US$900 million from the federal government to develop a new coronavirus vaccine.

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