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Military Experiments

Date: 02-15-09
Host: George Knapp
Guests: Gordon P. Erspamer, Dr. James Ketchum, Frank Rochelle, Trevor Paglen

George Knapp was joined by attorney Gordon P. Erspamer and psychiatrist Dr. James Ketchum, who engaged in a spirited debate over military experiments conducted on troops during the 1950s and 60s. The two guests offered vastly different perspectives on how much soldiers were told about the tests and just who was behind the project.

Ketchum, who conducted such tests for the Army at the Edgewood Arsenal facility, said that the research was aimed at protecting soldiers against potential chemical attacks by enemy nations. He contended that the soldiers in the program were "prepared quite thoroughly." Ketchum detailed a rigorous process in which "they have plenty of time to ask questions and have them answered and they also have the opportunity to withdraw from any study they don't want to go into."
Erspamer vehemently disagreed with Ketchum's claims that the soldiers were extensively informed about the experiments, saying "it's absolutely contrary to my understanding and all the discussions I've had with every single soldier I've spoken to." He asserted that the participants at Edgewood had been duped beforehand and told that they'd be testing military equipment. "Once there, they just started injecting them with various codenamed substances," Erspamer alleged.

In the latter half of the program, they were joined by Frank Rochelle, who was one of the soldiers tested at the Edgewood facility. "I signed a paper stating that I knew all the facts involved, which was a lie," he said. Regarding the lack of informed consent afforded to the soldiers, he put forth the rhetorical question, "How can you know something when that's the purpose of the test is to find out what the results are?"

Secret Sites

Appearing during the first hour, Trevor Paglen discussed his research into the Pentagon's secret sites. Paglen talked about the infamous Area 51 lawsuit which resulted in the government receiving protected status for such locations. He explained how this set a dangerous legal precedent which is still in use today. Paglen noted that secret government sites exist in a variety of places, including at international locations and even a building in San Francisco which Paglen says is the "hub of the NSA's domestic surveillance system."

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