Thursday, May 06, 2004

Plutonium Files: How the U.S. Secretly Fed Radioactivity to Thousands of Americans


The U.S. government secretly experimented with radioactivity on thousands of Americans. Many have heard of the Tukegee Experiments, but until recently it was not realized how widespread was the experimentation on unwitting and unwilling American citizens by their own government. These acts are a direct violation of the Nuremberg Code on medical experimentation. Those still living who participated in planning, authorizing, and conducting these experiments should be tried for crimes against humanity. Those already passed who are known or suspected to have particpated should be considered by the Truth Comission to determine their cuplability. Included in this latter group should be Robert J. Oppenheimer, who is known to have authorized some of this experimentation. The world, and the American people, should know the facts as an important, if painful, part of their nation's history. Unless the ethical issues raised by such atocities are dealt with openly and publicly, becoming a part of the collective conscience and national identity, these crimes will almost certainly happen again. Recent events in Iraq and in American political culture indicate that it has not taken root in American culture that some means can never be justified by the ends, not matter how compelling. We still have not learned that to let loose our grip on the ideals of civilization encoded in our own basic laws and those of the international community in order to grasp at even so important a goal as security, is to plunge the world into barbarism, trading the illusory security of strength for the true security of law and solidarity.

One of reasons that has been frequently used to justify the Iraq war itself are the crimes against humanity committed by Saddam Hussein and those in his regime, including forced medical experimentation (PDF) on unwilling subjects for his weapons program. What separates our own government ethically from the Ba'ath regime in light of revelations that we have done the same? From what ethical basis can we judge the crimes of the Ba'ath regime when we share unexpiated guilt for the some of the very same crimes? Our government performed forced medical experimentation on its own citizens for our weapons programs, and nobody has paid a price; most don't even know. We have engaged in the torture of prisoners, extra-judicial slayings, and the extra-judicial detention of civilians in Iraq. The Ba'ath regime was condemned for many of the very same crimes. How do we claim credibly to bring to Iraqis anything but more of the same.

Despite our propaganda, first about democracy, now about an amorphous liberation, Iraqis only believe what we do, not what we say. And what we have done is monstrous. If the moral lepers of the Bush Administration illegally occupied America, wouldn't we fight back and give our lives rather than submit? Oh yeah... they have, and we haven't. I guess we have less desire for freedom than the Iraqis. But then again, our nightmare of a bloody-handed barbaric dictator has only just begun, the Iraqis suffered from Saddam for 30 years (with our aid and consent, of course). Naturally, their yearning for freedom is more acute.

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