15
Jan
2005

US Army Dugway Secrecy Challenged by Watchdogs

FYI

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The Sunshine Project
News Release - 13 January 2005
//www.sunshine-project.org

US Army Dugway Secrecy Challenged by Watchdogs

Dispute Over Report on Effects of Chemical Weapons on Ethnic Groups

Call for Greater Transparency and Oversight of Dugway Proving Ground

(13 Jan 2005) - Watchdogs are appealing the US Army's refusal to release a study that compared the effects of different chemical, and possibly biological, weapons on different ethnic, gender, and age groups. The US Army has refused to release a single page of the study, which was conducted in 1999 by the US Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The experiments harken back to dark Cold War days, when Dugway used religious minorities in weapons tests.

The watchdogs, the Sunshine Project (Austin, TX) and Citizens Education Project (Salt Lake City, UT), are demanding two things:

First, they want the report Chemical Warfare Agent Toxicity for Both Genders from Different Age and Ethnic Groups to be immediately released. They requested it under the Freedom of Information Act in August 2004. The Army replied in December acknowledging that the report exists; but refusing to release it.

This week, the groups have filed an appeal with the US Army General Counsel's Office.

"We want to know how and why the US Army is researching chemical weapons effects on different kinds of people," says Sunshine Project Director Edward Hammond, "We see no valid defensive purpose to build data on ethnic chemical warfare. On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons why this research might make others nervous. Did the Army segregate people based on ethnicity, gender, and age and then expose them to weapons agents?"

The US Army reply to the watchdog's request for the report mentions biological agents in addition to the chemicals. According to the watchdogs, that these studies may extend into biological weapons is more cause for concern. Says Hammond "The Army's reference to biological agents is all the more reason why it must disclose this report to explain what it has done and why it wants data on the effects of prohibited weapons on ethnic groups."

Secondly, the watchdogs want increased transparency and public oversight of Dugway Proving Ground (DPG). DPG is in the middle of a massive expansion of its biological and chemical activities, building new BSL-3 labs, expanding the perimeter of the base, and adding a new counter-terrorism training mission. Steve Erickson of the Citizens Education Project says the expansion is "like nothing we've seen since the Cold War days when Dugway was in its heyday of chem-bio testing and human experimentation." "As it stands now, Dugway can claim that everything they do now or in the future is to protect the nation from bad guys with bad intentions. But studying ethnic specificity of chemical or biological weapons? How can that not be viewed by other nations as provocative? Given Dugway's track record and the money the feds are throwing at perceived threats at the expense of serious, identified public health problems, a healthy dose of skepticism and oversight is in order," Erickson said.

Utah State Senator Gene Davis has filed a bill (SB 85) which would re-establish a committee of Utah legislators, regulators and citizen representatives, disbanded in the 1990s, to assure a modicum of state oversight of federal facilities in Utah like the Dugway Proving Ground, and to keep the public informed on developments at those installations that could affect their health and safety.


Resources:

FOIA correspondence concerning release of Chemical Warfare Agent
Toxicity for Both Genders from Different Age and Ethnic Groups:
//www.sunshine-project.org/publications/pr/pr130105docs.html

Citizens Education Project Information Page on Dugway Proving Ground: //www.citizensedproject.org/dugway.html


Contacts:

Steve Erickson, Citizens Education Project, Salt Lake City, UT
Tel: (801) 554 9029

Edward Hammond, The Sunshine Project, Austin, TX
Tel: (512) 494 0545


Informant: Anna Webb
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