Quantcast

Bioterrorism Hits Home | The Nation

  •  

Bioterrorism Hits Home

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

The authors are not disinterested prosecutors. Endicott, an East Asia scholar, was born in Shanghai, the son of missionary parents. His father, Dr. James Endicott, was convinced of the truth of the charges against the United States and said so at the time, which got him into some hot water: The Canadian government, which viewed Endicott as too sympathetic to the revolutionary movement in China, considered prosecuting him for treason but was persuaded against such a move by Washington, which apparently didn't want to stir things up. His son was granted unique access to top-secret Chinese archives, and this information lends the book credibility from an entirely new angle.

About the Author

Peter Pringle
Peter Pringle is the author, with Philip Jacobson, of Those Are Real Bullets: Bloody Sunday, Derry, 1972.

Also by the Author

Lord Saville's Bloody Sunday report clarifies who shot whom. But the darker truth about the role of Britain's secret service is unexplained.

Hagerman is a military historian and a well-known critic of what Professor Richard Falk of Princeton calls the "war mentality." One of Hagerman's tenets is that Korea was not a "limited war" at all. The US experience in Korea, say the authors, "reveals a military culture that allowed an army to resort to scorched-earth tactics, to incendiarism [in 1952 US forces were using an average of 70,000 gallons of napalm daily], to a strategy of total warfare within the confines of Korea, even to the condoning of war crimes." Indeed, their book shows in alarming detail how the United States was doggedly developing an array of biological weapons for offensive purposes at a time when the public was being told the arsenal was purely defensive.

Endicott and Hagerman have not only raised the level of debate over the charges but also, apparently coincidentally, run headlong into the first "official" documentary evidence from Communist sources strongly suggesting that the charges may have been Communist propaganda after all: In a total surprise last year, a dozen documents said to have been found in the Soviet presidential archives suddenly appeared in a Japanese newspaper. They suggest that in 1952, Moscow was behind a plot to blame the United States for using biological weapons in Korea when the Soviet leadership was perfectly aware that the American forces were doing no such thing. The documents have led some commentators to consider the case closed and the United States absolved. But are the documents genuine? What are we to make of the quiet development of these weapons, if not their deployment?

During World War II, the main Allied effort in biological weapons was conducted, strange to relate, by Canada--far away from the threat of war in the wide-open spaces of Alberta, where germ weapons could be tested in secret and with reduced risk of disastrous accidents to the resident population. Canada secretly developed a series of biological weapons, including anthrax. At war's end, the experiments were taken over by the United States and further developed into actual bombs at Fort Detrick in Maryland. By 1949, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had incorporated biological weapons into emergency war plans; their intent was to use these outlawed arms if the Berlin blockade led to general war.

By the start of the Korean War in 1950, The United States and Biological Warfare points out, the United States had an offensive biological capability that, "in case of emergency," could be operational within three months. By the end of 1950, five anti-personnel and two anticrop agents--cereal rust and chemical growth regulators--were on the ready-to-go list. The agents were tested in M33 cluster bombs, each containing 108 aerosol bomblets. By mid-1952, the Air Force had requisitioned 23,900 of these cluster bombs. If a world war came, the plan was to carry atomic and biological bombs in the same aircraft. Even the Navy weighed in, developing a submarine-launched biological mine.

Fort Detrick scientists also continued to work with the Canadians on using insects--flies, fleas, lice, mosquitoes and ticks--to spread germs; the Canadians developed a 500-pound bomb that could carry 200,000 flies. At the same time, the US Air Force in the Far East was told by the military chiefs to plan for biological warfare attacks against China.

Exactly what the Joint Chiefs planned to do with this clandestine arsenal was a secret so tightly held that besides themselves and the President, who had to give the go-ahead for use of germ warfare, only the Secretary of Defense was to be consulted. That, of course, left the Secretary of State out of the loop and conveniently free should the need arise for "plausible denial" of the use of such banned weapons.

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size