The secrets of chemical testing on soldiers to stay secret

Supporting our troops and honoring our veterans does not mean telling them what chemical experiments were conducted on them as far as the U.S. House of Representatives is concerned.

McClatchy News reports today that the House has rejected a proposal to declassify information about chemical weapons test — some including nerve gas — that used U.S. soldiers as guinea pigs in the ’60s and ’70s.

A Democratic representative wanted a vote on the issue but he couldn’t get that. That’s not terribly surprising; what flag-waving lawmaker running for re-election would want that on the record?

Six-thousand members of the military were believed to be exposed to the testing during the Vietnam era, according to McClatchy.

What’s at stake? Better access to health care for those still living, the news service says.

The tests involved nerve agents like Sarin and Vx, and bacteria such as E. coli. Sarin and Vx are lethal. According to defense department documents, death can occur within 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to a fatal dose of Vx.

Veterans say the tests have led to serious health issues and that they need answers so they can get proper treatment. The Pentagon has released some information about the tests after a request from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but Thompson said more information is needed, such as the dosages of the chemicals veterans endured.

Ken Wiseman, senior vice commander of the Virginia branch of Veterans of Foreign Wars, one of the nation’s largest veterans groups, said the time has long past for the Pentagon to provide details about the tests.

“The information has no impact on national security anymore,” he said.

The issue could still come up in the Senate where a Republican senator is pushing for a full accounting of the tests.