Excerpts From ‘Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten’



From Chapter 3: Hello Edgewood Arsenal

One night I came in at 2 A.M. Two volunteers, under the influence of a generous dose of BZ, were sitting at a table in the area set aside for meals... I watched with interest as one of them suddenly shouted into an aluminum water pitcher; calling out to someone he evidently thought had fallen into a well...

Out in the hallway, Van Sim suddenly ambled by, wearing his underwear. "Oh no," I thought. "I hope he hasn't been getting into the BZ again." Van had acquired a long-standing reputation for fearlessness, insisting on trying every chemical agent himself before giving it to volunteers. For such (perhaps ill-advised) heroism, he had received a certificate for outstanding civilian service, based on his bravery and dedication.

"Hi, Jim," he said in the deep voice that always seemed to be originating from somewhere in his bowels. "What are you doing here?"

"I sometimes come in late at night to check on the guys," I said. "They get pretty interesting around midnight. What are you doing?"

He had what looked like the glass faceplate of an old-fashioned watch taped to his wrist. "I'm trying to see if LSD has any effects through the skin," he replied somewhat distractedly. "I've got it in some ethylene glycol under this watch glass. So far it hasn't had any particular effect."

I was still dubious. For one thing, I was uneasy about people testing themselves and had said as much soon after I began running my own experiments. I also knew that Van had taken LSD by mouth a number of times (for one reason or another) and once or twice by injection.

Van continued to mumble further about his theories of how LSD exerted its effects. His mumbling did not seem much different from the way he sometimes mumbled during the day and his explanation did sound reasonable. I decided he was probably OK after he explained further that he had gone to sleep in his office at the end of the ward in his underwear, and had just gotten up to use the latrine.

From Chapter 5: An Interesting Drug to Start With

To test the range of psycho-activity of a THC analogue, we undertook a study of the mixture (referred to as EA 2233), starting with oral doses of 10 mcg/kg. One of two individuals who received the highest dose (60 mcg/kg) developed clear-cut signs and symptoms of a marijuana high. We videotaped the following interview:

Q: You've got a big grin on your face.
A: Yeah. I don't know what I'm grinning about either.

Q: Do things seem funny or is that just something you can't help?
A: I don't — I don't know. I just — I just feel like laughing.

Q: How do you mean?
A: I don't know. We drew pictures a little while ago. My buddy drew one ([laughing] and I drew one later on [laughing uncontrollably). That's not even funny!

Q: Yeah?
A: I made a green hat with a feather in it, and I don't know why.

Q: You made a green hat?
A: Yeah. A green felt Swiss hat on a cowboy.

Q: How could you make a green one with a black pencil?
A: I don't know. I just think it was green. It seemed like it should be green.

Q: Did it look green when you drew it?
A: Yeah.

Q: Do you find yourself doing any daydreaming?
A: Yeah. I'm daydreaming of all kind of things.

Q: What kind of things?
A: Oh, everything. That light there looked like an ocean at one time.

Q: The light looked like an ocean?
A: Yeah. Like a wave or like being on an ocean liner looking off in the — across the sea as the sun was setting.

A: It gives you a — contented feeling like some [inaudible] of — peace and quiet.
Q: Suppose you had to get up and go to work now. How would you do?

A: I don't think I'd even care.
Q: Yeah? Well, suppose you, you know, you — well, like the place were on fire?

A: I don't know. Fire doesn't seem to present any danger to me right now.
Q: Would you do this again? Take this test again?

A: Yeah. Yeah. It wouldn't bother me at all.

The subject, of course, did not know the name of the drug he had received, which makes his responses even more interesting.

From Chapter 6: BZ: Tiny Baseball Games and DC-3s on a Padded Floor

After testing BZ extensively in animals, the Medical Research Laboratories gave very small doses to volunteers and obtained only minimal effects. As doses approached half a milligram (i.e., 5 or 6 micrograms per kilogram of body weight), however, hallucinations started to appear. It was potent and it worked!

Systematic testing of BZ began in July 1960. It took almost three years, and an estimated 100,000 hours of professional effort by physicians, nurses, technicians and volunteers to learn all the things we wanted to know about BZ.

From Chapter 7

[In an LSD test, four volunteers received approximately 100 mcg and we taped a discussion with them as the effects were wearing off:]

S: You can lay down and close your eyes and it's a wonderful world of fantasy. It's all in color, and it's colors that you've never seen before and...

C: "Color by Med Volunteers!"

[All laugh]

S: Yeah. And it's really beautiful. I, myself, I just went off into a dream; or I couldn't say actually a dream, but it was so nice I just didn't want to come back...

G: I had my own dream. [Speaking in low voice as if to himself]

C: You didn't want to be alone, did you?

G: I don't guess I did. I don't know. [fooling with deck of cards]

C: What do you mean you don't guess you did? You know what you did, don't you? Don't be afraid to say so. Come out with it! Good Grief!

H: You can't keep it in you forever.

C: Well, what did you feel down inside?

G: That's it. [Laughing] [Looks over at camera]

S: I can't say it for you, G. I know what you mean, but I can't say it for you. [Laughing lightly]

C: you might as well go ahead and throw it out.

G: Yeah. Well, as I told Mrs. C it's just like being inside of a little old nutshell. You're in there, you're looking out, you see people on the outside, carrying on their normal activities. You're trying — you try to communicate with them; you try to get out. There's no getting out.

C: Alright.

G: And I told her also, when the drug's wearing off...

C: Well, we weren't there when you were talking to her.

G: ...the nutshell just POP! [Gestures with hands in demonstration] The whole world just come FLOP! Right on top of me... As she said to me, that's the best way for it to come...

[When the discussion ended a few minutes later, G seemed relieved and said he would like to try the drug again and "see the colors." A year later I heard indirectly that his personality had changed from being an introvert into something more sociable. I had to give LSD at least part of the credit.]

From Chapter 17: Edgewood Again: Hoping for Deja vu

Sometime during my second year as Department Chief, another very curious episode occurred. One Monday morning, I entered my office to find a large black steel barrel, resembling an oil drum, parked in the corner of the room. I assumed that there must have been a reason for somebody to put it there and probably not one that I needed to know, so I ignored it for a day or two.

On the second or third day, however, my curiosity overcame my discretion. Having neither asked for nor received any comment or explanation about the black drum, I decided to become Inspector Clouseau. After everyone had gone home, I carefully opened the hasp that held the retaining ring in place around the cover, and peered inside. Neatly labeled, tightly sealed glass canisters, looking like cookie jars, filled the entire drum. I cautiously took one out and examined it. According to the label, it contained approximately three pounds of pure EA 1729 (LSD)!

The next canister had a similar label, indicating about the same amount of EA 1729, expressed to a tenth of a milligram. The remaining canisters, perhaps a dozen or more, looked just like the first two, presumably with similar contents. For a moment, I considered indulging the temptation to remove a very small amount, and save it for some "future experiment." However, I quickly dismissed this idea as being a good way to get in trouble, and not worth the risk. In addition, I knew it was wrong — another rather important consideration. So I replaced the top, re-fastened the hasp and thereafter dismissed the drum and its contents from my mind.

It was Friday, as I recall, when I came to work and found that the drum had vanished. Thirty or forty pounds of chemically pure LSD had spent a week in my office and had now disappeared with no comment from anyone, no receipt form and no other paper work! Enough LSD to intoxicate several hundred million people (by my estimate) had come and gone. I never received any explanation and never asked for one. I calculated, however, that if sold on the street in individual doses, the contents would have been worth close to a billion dollars!

See also: Hallucinogenic Weapons: The Other Chemical Warfare

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