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November 17, 1989 - Image 4

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Page 4

Friday, November 17, 1989

The Michigan Daily W

4be 3icbigau t i
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Biowarfare, AIDS & the CIA


By Mike Sobel

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Vol. C, No. 53

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
El Salvador's civil war explodes:
Prevent intervention

Salvadoran government death squad
drove into the University of El
Salvador and summarily executed six
Jesuit priests. This action took place
against the backdrop of indiscriminate
government bombing of civilians in an
attempt to defeat guerrillas of the
Farabundo Martf National Liberation
Front (FMLN). The FMLN has
initiated a strong offensive against the
U.S.-sponsored government and called
on the people of that country to rise up
in an insurrection.
With U.S. reporters in El Salvador
confined to San Salvador, and even
there to areas largely controlled by the
government, the problem of finding an
accurate source of information on the
rebel insurrection is becoming more
apparent every day; information is in-
creasingly coming from U.S. govern-
ment sources, including daily briefings
at the U.S. Embassy reminiscent of the
Vietnam War.
The U.S. media has generally ac-
cepted that the government of El Sal-
vador is using U.S.-supplied planes,
E{ I

one of its role models, claiming that the
kind of policies Hitler had towards the
Jews are what El Salvador needs now
to quell the popular revolution.
ARENA is well known as a the party
of the death squads; its leader, Roberto
D'Aubuisson, was the center of the
death squad network in the early
1980s. More than 70,000 people have
been killed by the government in El
Salvador, the majority by death
While the media has conceded that
hundreds of civilians are being killed
by the government, largely unreported
are the successes of the FMLN both in
the cities and in rural areas. The rebel
leadership claims to control at least one
major city completely, and with gov-
ernment forces confined to defending
urban areas, the rebels are said to have
mounted massive recruitment and or-
ganizational drives in the countryside.
There are also reports that at least one
brigade of the Salvadoran army has
refused to continue the massacre of
civilians and laid down its arms. And
Western journalists have also reported
seeing U.S. "advisors" in combat, in
direct violation of the law.
Reports downplaying the signifi-
cance of the insurrection are not fooling
the governments of the region, or of the
United States. U.S. forces in Panama
are said to be on full alert, and there are
reports of mobilizations in Guatemala
and Honduras as well.
Ten years of organization and mobi-
lization have proven that the rebels
have the support of the majority of Sal-
vadorans. Those areas liberated from
government control during the course
of the war have already seen significant
improvements - including health and
education campaigns - brought about
by the FMLN's popular interim gov-
If the U.S. public is led to believe
that the FMLN represents a fringe
movement without the support of the
Salvadoran public, the justification for
U.S. intervention - either directly or
indirectly through our surrogate gov-
ernments in the region - will be made
more plausible. A strong show of sup-
port for self determination and against
U.S. intervention is needed to help
prevent further destruction and violence
against the Salvadoran people.
To find out more and help make
a change, attend today's rally,
sponsored by the Latin American
Solidarity Committee, at noon on
the Diag.

The use of chemical biological weapons
(CBW) pre-dates World War I. Although
the United States did not launch its formal
CBW program until after World War II,
there has been documented use of CBW in
both World Wars, in Ethiopia, in China,
in Korea, in the Yemen and in Vietnam.
. The history of Cold War CBW research
is not as well documented as CBW use
during wartime. In this part of the series, I
will try to show how the military's goals
for and abuses of research on biological
agents, prior to 1972, 1) precludes the
possibility that the military could resist
the temptation of using recombinant DNA
(rDNA) technology in biowarfare research
after 1972 and 2) weakens any claims that
the military could or would not investigate
the possibility of producing a pathogenic
retrovirus like AIDS.
The very nature of biological weapons
means that they are likely to kill unpre-
dictably, and over a long period, with con-
sequences which cannot easily be assessed.
It is hard for anyone with an understanding
of the unpredictable nature of microbial
pathogens to reject this claim; if the mili-
tary were to release a bacterial or viral
agent during wartime, it would be difficult
to target a single population. The plan
could easily backfire. A mutated pathogen
could easily spread to other populations.
Use of biological warfare could just as
easily create an epidemic at home as it
could in a targeted country.
Examples exist that prove the military
has accidentally released a pathogen into a
human population. As Lappe mentions in
his 1984 book Broken Code, The Ex-
ploitation of DNA, this occurred in an ex-
periment "with Serratia Marcescens in the
late 50s which exposed several thousand
people to an agent previously thought to
be non-pathogenic, but by the late 60s
known to be capable of producing pneu-
There is also documented evidence that
in the 50s and early 60s, research began on
the possibility of producing 'ethnic
weapons:' the task set was to come up
with a biological agent that selectively in-
capacitated or killed a particular racial
group. For example, the Cubans accused
the United States of introducing (via the
CIA) 'African Swine Fever' into that
The above examples illustrate that 1)
there is precedent for the accidental release
of a pathogen into a human population by
the military and 2) Africa has possibly
been an early target for biowarfare experi-
In the mid to late 60s, military research

on microbial agents reached a fevered
pitch. This was largely due to the poten-
tial for new microagents created by the
rapidly increasing body of knowledge in
the field of genetics. By 1972, the first re-
combinant DNA molecule was constructed
in a lab at Stanford University. The U.S.
government began to hire corporations and
universities to conduct biowarfare research.
The University of Michigan was one of
In the late 60s, biological engineering
was given top priority by the military. In
his Survey of Chemical and Biological
Warfare, published in 1969, Cookson
maintains that the production of virus hy-
brids may prove an extremely useful tech-
nique in the development of BW virus
agents because if a pathogenic strain were
to gain the protein coat of a non-
pathogenic strain, it would be suitably
disguised to the animal or plant it was in-
Cookson also mentions that this
method of virus hybridization "may in fact
be more useful when viruses are of the
RNA type and seem more amenable to
this treatment." It is important to note
that Cookson mentions the potential of
RNA viruses for military genetic engineer-
ing in light of the fact that HIV-1, as dis-
cussed in the first two parts of this series,
is a retrovirus and of the RNA type.
Under public pressure from the scientific
community, who realized the potential for
AlP~ ::::::::.::.:::::::::. . .
military abuse of new genetic technology,
the U.S. government signed the Geneva
convention in 1972, agreeing to use rDNA
technology to produce microbial agents for
"prophylactic, protective or other peaceful
Any violation of the Geneva treaty by
the United States would be classified and
unattainable for my purposes. Since the
Geneva convention, however, as Murphy
points out, the army has consistently de-
nied allegations that hundreds of millions
have been spent on rDNA technology for
bioweapons research. Yet under the
Geneva treaty, governments can initiate
programs and ultimately produce highly
pathogenic organisms under the flag of
medical or protective research.
In 1976, John Allen, a Department of
Defense spokesperson in Research and Ad-
vanced Technology, declared that the "DoD
is prohibited from developing biological
agents by international treaty. As a result
of the approval of the treaty, all work in-

volving rDNA experimentation (in the
U.S.) has been terminated." Yet four years
later the DoD admitted that they had used
rDNA for research on Rift Valley Fever
Virus and Dengue-2. The research was
purportedly conducted to find vaccines.
In 1967, Fort Detrick (the largest
biowarfare lab in the U.S.) sent two re-
ports to Litton Industries discussing
means of effectively producing Rift Valley
Fever Virus in large quantities. As Mur-
phy mentions, Richard Goldstein of the
Harvard Medical School pointed out that
since most viruses researched by the mili-
tary, such as RVFV, are rare and esoteric,
developing vaccines is "useless in any
other than a military context."
It seems that, ultimately, there is no
distinction between defensive and offensive
research in the mind of the military. A re-
cent Pentagon report admits that "research
done for medical, biological and public
health reasons is also relevant to develop-
ing disease agents."
John Stockwell, a former CIA official,
recently spoke here at the University. Ill
his speech he said the CIA "reports that
there were 175 projects in the MK Ultra
Program in which the CIA was experi-
menting on American peoples and popula-
tion groups with the disease and
drugs...some of these diseases were viral
diseases which closely resembled AIDS."
In a phone conversation, Stockwell told
me that there was a group of scientists and
pseudo scientists carelessly conducting ex-
periments for the military BW program
during the 70s.
It is clear that there was heavy military
enthusiasm in the late 60s towards the po-
tential for genetic engineering in biowar-
fare research. Keeping in mind their past
record, I believe it isat the very least,
reasonable to doubt the military 1) re-
frained from engineering viruses in the
70s, 2) did not conduct experiments on
human subjects with some of these
viruses, and 3) could necessarily avoid the
possibility of experiments backfiring.
As Murphy points out, one thing is cer-
tain: since the early 70s, the military has
possessed the technology to create
"rampant pathogens" which could render
the immune system useless by
"genetically transferring existing infec-
tious agents into novel strains."
In the fourth and final part of the series
I will point to some characteristics of th9G
AIDS virus and related viruses that might'
independently suggest in vitro manipula-
tion. I will then provide some possible
scenarios in which the CIA might have
unleashed this disease.
Mike Sobel is a senior in LSA and a
Daily news staff reporter.

helicopters and bombs to indiscrimi-
nately bombard and destroy the areas
of the city which the rebels control.
These are the poor neighborhoods in
which the FMLN's message of free-
dom from economic and political op-
pression has gained substantial support
from the population.
This week the Red Cross asked for a
cease-fire to evacuate the hundreds of
wounded civilians who are going with-
out treatment in the capital. The gov-
ernment refused the offer.
The government's barbarity in deal-
ing with the uprising is consistent with
its fascist ideology. The ruling ARENA
party openly names Adolph Hitler as

Agee speaks out:
Ex-agent exposes CIA atrocities


Freedom fo
FOR THE past three years the Federal
Government has tried, and failed, to
establish a case for the deportation of
eight residents of Los Angeles, one
Kenyan and seven Palestinians, based
on the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952.
The Act, which is rooted intthe worst
red scare ideology, outlaws most of
what the First Amendment is designed
to protect. Though the sections of the
Act which form the "basis" for the case
have been reversed in recent court de-
cisions, the feds, in spite of tremen-
dous public opposition, still maintain
that the "L.A. Eight" are a "threat to
national security" and are continuing
their illegal, McCarthy-esque deporta-
tion campaign.
Initially charged under a provision of
the Act which outlaws affiliation with
an organization which distributes litera-
ture advocating "worldwide commu-
nism," the Eight have correctly main-
tained that this case is fundamentally
about the rights of immigrants in the
U.S. to free political speech. The gov-
ernment has admitted that in spite of
intense electronic surveillance over a
n rin f mnnv, ,mn'nthC, these is nol

or the L.A. 8
charge has been brought against the
remaining two: affiliation with an or-
ganization which "advocates the de-
struction of property," namely the
Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine (PFLP), a member group of
the PLO. And as with most guilt by as-
sociation, or thought crimes, the bur-
den falls on the defense to disprove the
vague notion of "affiliation."
A recent ruling in the case of ADC v.
Meese said that alien immigrants and
nonimmigrants cannot be deported
from the U.S. for activities which
would be constitutionally protected if
they were engaged in by U.S. citizens.
This decision overturned four sections
of McCarran-Walter and significantly
weakened the government's position.
Despite this, the feds won't give up,
and they have added a new charge:
"affiliation with an organization which
advocates or teaches the duty, necessity
or propriety of the unlawful assaulting
or killing of government officials." If
the predictions by legal "experts" are
correct, this too will be overturned as
unconstitutional, and the government
wiAll have to find 2nnther wav tn rn

On November 14 former Central
Intelligence Agency agent Philip Agee
spoke to a crowd of over 700 University
students and Ann Arbor residents in the
Natural Science Auditorium. The event
was sponsored by the Latin American
Solidarity Committee.
The following are excerpts of an inter-
view with Agee and Opinion Page staff
writer Liz Paige. This is the first part in a
three part series.
Daily: Why did you leave the CIA?
Was there something specific that
forced you to leave the Agency?
Agee: No, it was a combination of per-
sonal and political reasons. The political
reasons were building through the years
after I got down to Latin America, because
I went into the CIA like any naive young
American kid, who had no political educa-
tion despite an honors degree from univer-
sity. And this type of education, a politi-
cal education, is the one I got once down
in Central America saw the realities
around me day after day.
There is a situation throughout Latin
America wherein a very few people live
like the wealthiest people in the United
States. And the bulk of the population,
75-80% or more of the people are in abject
poverty, and there are reasons for this, and
I began to see that the social, economic
and political structures of those countries
were the reasons why this gross social and
economic injustice existed, and it could
only be sustained through political repres-
Everything I was doing and my col-
leagues were doing in one way or another

A: Yes, and that is one of the things
that I am doing a lot of, that is, working
with students who are working against
CIA recruitment on campus. I try to assist
in any way I can in this movement across
the country to keep Murder Inc. out of
There is no justification for those peo-
ple to come on the campuses to recruit
American youth into that work. That work
that I am talking about is the overthrow of
democratically elected civilian govern-
ments, the support of security services and
death squads like those in El Salvador, the
subversion of democratic institutions.
There are two positions which are taken
often. One is that students have every
right to interview with anyone they want.
Second is that it is a free speech issue.
Well, the answer to those to objections
is that the government has no free speech
at all. The first amendment protects the
individuals from government power, it
doesn't apply to the government at all.
Secondly, any student who is interested
in interviewing with the CIA can do it at
any Federal Building across the country.
The CIA stands for many things, if not
everything, opposed to what a university
stands for in terms of free investigation -
free flow of ideas. They stand for secrecy,
as opposed to openness. They stand for the
twisting of truth. They stand for propa-
ganda, as opposed to truth.
And when one considers the type of
work that they do, and are used to do by
the president of the day, there is an in-
compatibility with what a university
stands for, I feel, and so do a lot of other

attempts against chiefs of state of foreign
countries such as Cuba, as if they were
aberrations, that is a misconcept.
When the CIA does all of those things
it is doing precisely what it was estab-
lished in 1947 to do - to carry out the
policies of the President. There is a con=
cept of plausible denial, which you mayW
have heard of, which is when the President
can plausibly deny that he gave such
orders or even knew about certain things
but that is a lie. The CIA has never done
things that the presidents didn't know
about or ordered specifically.
D: Do you believe that governments
should or could have intelligence gath-
ering agencies especially in light of the
of atrocities which you have attributed
to the CIA?
A: Absolutely. The purpose of any in-
telligence agency, which is what the CIA
purpose and function should be, is to pre-
vent war, to keep the peace, and not to
wage terrorist war against defenseless
peasants in Central America, for instance.
But from the very beginning in 1947
the CIA was used for these other types o
activities. The first meeting of the
National Security Council in 1947 with
President Truman in the chair, decided to
set $10 million aside so the CIA could in-
tervene secretly in the upcoming Italian
elections scheduled for April 1948. And
that has been going on ever since.
The current intervention in the
Nicaraguan elections by the CIA and the
rest of the U.S. government is only a con-'

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