Category Archives: Federal Government

Marijuana-Related Charges Will Still Be Used to Build Deportation Cases, the Homeland Security Chief Says


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Kevin Lui

Apr 18, 2017

U.S. immigration authorities will continue to enforce federal laws against marijuana and use them as a basis to deport undocumented immigrants, says John Kelly, U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security, on Tuesday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “will continue to use marijuana possession, distribution and convictions as essential elements as they build their deportation removal apprehension packages for targeted operations against illegal aliens living in the United States,” Kelly said in a speech at the George Washington University, according to the New York Daily News. “They have done this in the past, are doing it today, and will do it in the future.”

He also toed the hard line on cannabis taken by others in the Trump Administration, calling it “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs,” reports the Daily News.

Kelly’s latest statement on marijuana and deportation is markedly tougher than earlier comments on the plant’s place in the current administration’s war on drugs, reports NBC News.

On Sunday, he told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that “marijuana is not a factor in the drug war” when asked about how its legalization could affect the U.S. antinarcotics effort.

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Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis have introduced legislation in the House and Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act —


Marijuana Treated Like Alcohol? Legislation Filed In Senate and House

by NORML March 30, 2017

Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis have introduced legislation in the House and Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act — to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matter concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales — thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Email your members of Congress now and urge them to support this effort.

“The first time introduction of this particular piece of legislation in the US Senate is another sign that the growing public support for ending our failed war on cannabis consumers nationwide is continuing to translate into political support amongst federal officials,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “With marijuana legalization being supported by 60% of all Americans while Congress’ approval rating is in the low teens, ending our country’s disastrous prohibition against marijuana would not just be good policy, but good politics.”

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for qualified patients, while eight states now regulate the production and sale of marijuana to all adults. An estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters support these policy changes. According to a 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy. 

“If we are truly going to move our nation towards sensible marijuana policies, the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act is paramount. Annually, 600,000 Americans are arrested for nothing more than the possession of small amounts of marijuana and now is the time for Congress to once and for all end put an end to the national embarrassment that is cannabis prohibition,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “Passing this legislation would end the current conflict between state and federal laws and allow the states to implement more sensible and humane marijuana policies, free from the threat of federal incursion.”

These statewide regulatory schemes are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

“The federal government must respect the decision Oregonians made at the polls and allow law-abiding marijuana businesses to go to the bank just like any other legal business.” Senator Ron Wyden said. “This three-step approach will spur job growth and boost our economy all while ensuring the industry is being held to a fair standard.”

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)

“Colorado has proven that allowing responsible adults to legally purchase marijuana, gives money to classrooms, not cartels; creates jobs, not addicts; and boosts our economy, not our prison population,” Representative Jared Polis said. “Now, more than ever, it is time we end the federal prohibition on marijuana and remove barriers for states’ that have chosen to legalize marijuana.  This budding industry can’t afford to be stifled by the Trump administration and its mixed-messages about marijuana.  The cannabis industry, states’, and citizens deserve leadership when it comes to marijuana.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

“As more states follow Oregon’s leadership in legalizing and regulating marijuana, too many people are trapped between federal and state laws,” Representative Earl Blumenauer said. “It’s not right, and it’s not fair. We need change now – and this bill is the way to do it.”

The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.

By contrast, regulating the adult use of marijuana stimulates economic growth, saves lives, and has the support of the majority of the majority of Americans. 

Send a message to your members of Congress urging them to support the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act

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https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/(4)%20Marijuana%20Revenue%20and%20Regulation%20Act%20Summary.pdf

https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/mrra.pdf

“arriving high in the saddle on Tonto, an Irish sport horse…”


 

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On his first day on the job, the new Interior Department secretary, Ryan Zinke, proved he knows how to make an entrance: arriving high in the saddle on Tonto, an Irish sport horse. Mounted police escorted him a few blocks through Washington.

Mr. Zinke, a fifth-generation Montanan who now oversees the country’s 500 million acres of public land, including 59 national parks, showed up to work to a grand reception.

Officers from various agencies under the Interior Department lined the steps to the administration building. A drummer from his home state’s Northern Cheyenne tribe performed. The department is the liaison with federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native nations.

 

Mr. Zinke, 55, served nearly two dozen years with the Navy SEALs before entering politics in 2008 as a Republican. After two terms in the Montana legislature, he was elected in 2014 as the state’s at-large representative in the House, before his nomination to the cabinet by President Trump. He was confirmed on Wednesday by the Senate with a vote of 68-31.

His horseback journey on Thursday started around 9 a.m., when Mr. Zinke, wearing a cowboy hat and jeans, mounted Tonto, a bay roan. Tonto, a gelding, stands an inch more than 17 hands, or about 5-foot-9, and belongs to the United States Park police. He is kept in stables at the National Mall.

Mr. Zinke rode several blocks to the entrance of the Interior Department on C Street NW, dismounted and then introduced himself to the staff inside, a department spokeswoman said. The department has 70,000 employees at 2,400 locations.

“It was quite a neat reception,” said Greg Julian, a spokesman at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

CONTINUE READING and TO VIDEO…

Democrats Call For Attorney General Sessions To Resign


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March 2, 20175:08 AM ET

Heard on Morning Edition

Democratic leaders want Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after news reports that he met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. twice last year.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending his meetings with a Russian diplomat The Washington Post reports Sessions met twice with Russia’s ambassador during the presidential campaign and did not disclose it.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now some Democrats want the attorney general to resign or at least keep away from the FBI investigation he’s overseeing into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

INSKEEP: Here’s what we know. Sessions was a senator at the time of the reported meetings, and he was also advising presidential candidate Donald Trump.

MARTIN: The Post found Sessions met twice with Russia’s ambassador, including once in September, the height of the campaign. After the election, at his Senate confirmation hearing to become attorney general, Sessions said he didn’t know of any Trump campaign meetings with Russia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEFF SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t have – not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.

INSKEEP: Sessions was answering Senator Al Franken, who now says if The Post report is true, Sessions must recuse himself from any decisions about the Russia probe. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the same last night on CNN.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDSEY GRAHAM: If there is something there and it goes up the chain of investigation, it is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump. So they may be not – there may be nothing there, but if there is something there that the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor.

MARTIN: Attorney General Sessions and other officials do not appear to explicitly deny meeting Russia’s ambassador. They do suggest the meetings were not relevant to the election. In a statement last night, Jeff Sessions said he has, quote, “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is all about. It is false.”

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Whitehouse Press Release– I have a question on medical marijuana…


 

marijuana

February 23, 2017

 

A LINK TO THE ENTIRE PRESS BRIEFING HERE

I have a question on medical marijuana.  Our state voters passed a medical marijuana amendment in November.  Now we’re in conflict with federal law, as many other states are.  The Obama administration kind of chose not to strictly enforce those federal marijuana laws.  My question to you is:  With Jeff Sessions over at the Department of Justice as AG, what’s going to be the Trump administration’s position on marijuana legalization where it’s in a state-federal conflict like this?

MR. SPICER:  Thanks, Roby.  There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.  

I think medical marijuana, I’ve said before that the President understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.  And that’s one that Congress, through a rider in 2011 — looking for a little help — I think put in an appropriations bill saying the Department of Justice wouldn’t be funded to go after those folks.  

There is a big difference between that and recreational marijuana.  And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people.  There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of the medical — when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.  

So I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, which states have a — the states where it’s allowed, in accordance with the appropriations rider, have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage, versus recreational marijuana.  That’s a very, very different subject.

Shannon.

Q    What does that mean in terms of policy?  A follow-up, Sean.  What does that mean in terms of policy?

MR. SPICER:  Shannon.  Glenn, this isn’t a TV program.  We’re going to —

Q    What is the Justice Department going to do?

MR. SPICER:  Okay, you don’t get to just yell out questions.  We’re going to raise our hands like big boys and girls.

Q    Why don’t you answer the question, though?

MR. SPICER:  Because it’s not your job to just yell out questions.  

Shannon, please go.

Q    Okay.  Well, first, on the manufacturing summit, was the AFL-CIO invited?  And then, yeah, I did want to follow up on this medical marijuana question.  So is the federal government then going to take some sort of action around this recreational marijuana in some of these states?

MR. SPICER:  Well, I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.  Because again, there’s a big difference between the medical use which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue.  That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into. 

I’m sorry, Shannon, what was the first part?

Q    Was the AFL-CIO invited to the manufacturing meeting today with the CFOs?  Because they are part of this manufacturing —

MR. SPICER:  Right.  I think this was just focused on people who actually — they were not, I don’t believe, part of this one.  As you know, that we’ve had union representation at other meetings.  I think this was specifically for people who are hiring people and the impediments that they’re having to create additional jobs, hire more people.  And obviously, while the President values their opinion — and that’s why they’ve been involved in some of the past — this was specifically a manufacturing — people who hire people, who manufacture, who grow the economy, who grow jobs.  And that is a vastly different situation.

SOURCE

Privacy and Civil Liberties at CIA (as updated 1/18/2017)


 

Central Intelligence Agency

The CIA of the U.S. has released information on the updated rules and regulations concerning collection of data and investigation of U.S. Citizens as of 1/18/2017.

The published information is available on their new website, “Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties”.

This is the first time that this information has been readily available to Citizens.

It states that,  “All of the CIA’s intelligence activities must be properly authorized, and the collection, retention, or dissemination of information concerning United States persons may only be conducted pursuant to specific procedures approved by the Director of the CIA and the Attorney General”.

The PDF’s of the information is available at these links:

Please visit the website for further information!

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Marijuana backers worry over AG Sessions


Marijuana backers worry over AG Sessions

Supporters of liberalizing marijuana laws worry their relationship with the federal government is about to get a lot more contentious as members of the incoming Donald Trump administration signal they will take a harder line on drug policy.

During the Obama administration, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch agreed not to enforce some drug laws in states where marijuana is legal. That is likely to change under Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), President-elect Trump’s nominee to become attorney general.

Sessions is considered one of the staunchest pot opponents in the Senate, a hard-line conservative who once remarked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK” until he learned members smoked marijuana. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year, Sessions said he wanted to send a message that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

“Sessions doesn’t appear to have a very enlightened view about the war on drugs, so that’s somewhat discouraging,” said Pete Holmes, Seattle’s city attorney and one of the driving forces behind Washington’s decision to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

“When you hear the kind of knee-jerk biases expressed by a guy who will be the nation’s top law enforcement official, it’s scary.”

Supporters of liberalizing marijuana laws have scored big wins in recent years, as voters in both red and blue states have loosened marijuana laws. After November’s elections, more than half of states will allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and eight states will allow marijuana for recreational purposes. 

The legal marijuana industry is becoming a billion-dollar boon for businesses and investors and a reliable new source of revenue for cash-poor cities and states. Earlier this month, voters in Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada joined Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

But marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and pro-pot advocates have maintained an uneasy truce with the Justice Department under President Obama.

As attorney general, Sessions has a host of options for changing the federal government’s posture toward marijuana.

He could follow precedent set by Holder and Lynch and let states chart their own path, or, on the other extreme, he could tell governors that any state that issues a license to permit marijuana sales would stand in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. 

Sessions could revisit the Cole memo, the August 2013 memorandum written to federal prosecutors by then-deputy Attorney General James Cole that lays out the Justice Department’s priorities in prosecuting drug cases. The Cole memo allowed prosecutors to skip cases in states that institute regulatory and enforcement systems to oversee marijuana sales.

To legal pot opponents, the Cole memo — and other steps the Obama Justice Department has taken — is an abdication of responsibility to implement federal law.

“We want to see federal law enforced. I think a clear letter asking states to stand down until Congress changes the law makes the most sense, and I think governors in these states would gladly oblige,” said Kevin Sabet, who heads Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes legalization.

The debate over marijuana legalization is a proxy, however imperfect, for the larger question of states’ rights.

Legal marijuana backers say they hope Sessions and Trump let the states experiment as the founders intended.

Sessions co-sponsored a bill introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) last year that would have allowed states to challenge proposed federal rules under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves rights for the states. That gives some legal marijuana backers at least a glimmer of hope that the incoming administration won’t crack the whip.

“Voters in 28 states have chosen programs that shift cannabis from the criminal market to highly regulated, tax-paying businesses. Sen. Sessions has long advocated for state sovereignty, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that states’ rights and voter choices on cannabis are respected,” said Aaron Smith, who heads the National Cannabis Industry Association in Denver. 

But opponents of marijuana liberalization say they see their own encouraging signs that the tide toward legalization may be turning.

“We’ve all wondered whether the Trump presidency would be ‘states rights’ or ‘law and order’ when it comes to drugs,” Sabet wrote in an email. “The Sessions pick makes many of us think it may be the latter.”

Even with Sessions overseeing the Justice Department, legal marijuana proponents are likely to continue pursuing liberalization through ballot measures and state legislatures. 

Marijuana legalization measures are already circulating in Ohio, Texas, Mississippi and Missouri. Legislatures in states like New Jersey, Vermont, Delaware and Rhode Island are likely to take up marijuana legalization bills in upcoming legislative sessions.

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Obama sets new record for regulations, 527 pages in just one day


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By Paul Bedard (@SecretsBedard) • 11/17/16

President Obama has just set a new record for rules and regulations, his administration spitting out 527 pages worth in just one day, as he races to put his fingerprint on virtually every corner of American life and business.

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the administration has just shattered the old record for pages of regulations and rules published by the in-house journal, the Federal Register.

At 81,640 total pages for 2016, it ranks first and 235 pages more than all of those published in 2010, the previous record.

What’s more, there are still about 26 working days left in the year.

“No one knows what the future holds, but at a pace of well over 1,000 pages weekly, the Federal Register could easily top 90,000 pages this year. The simple algebra says that at the current pace we’ll add 11,190 pages over the next 44 days, to end 2016 at around 92,830 pages,” said CEI’s Clyde Wayne Crews.

“This is astonishing and should be of great concern, and intolerable, to policymakers. It is remarkable enough that the all-time record has been passed before Thanksgiving,” he added.

Obama has promised to regulate by executive authority, but the sheer number of pages of regulations being rushed through is astonishing.

Still, it’s not a big surprise to CEI and other regulation watchdogs.

The reason, said Crews, Obama owns seven of the 10 highest-ever Federal Register counts.

He called on President-elect Trump to make good on campaign promises and cut regulations.

“President-elect Donald Trump could take a page from President Reagan, who brought page counts down from Carter’s 73,258 to as low as 44,812. We don’t need a pen and phone, we need a meat axe,” said Crews.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com

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Take Action Now – Amnesty International USA


 

 

Demand that Sheriff Kirchmeier and all other law enforcement in North Dakota respect the human rights of people opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Demilitarize, deescalate and do not use excessive force. Indigenous rights are human rights.

Source: Take Action Now – Amnesty International USA

Over and over again, the military has conducted dangerous biowarfare experiments on Americans


 

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Kevin Loria / Oct 1st 2016 4:00AM

On September 20, 1950, a US Navy ship just off the coast of San Francisco used a giant hose to spray a cloud of microbes into the air and into the city’s famous fog. The military was testing how a biological weapon attack would affect the 800,000 residents of the city.

The people of San Francisco had no idea.

The Navy continued the tests for seven days, potentially causing at least one death. It was one of the first large-scale biological weapon trials that would be conducted under a "germ warfare testing program" that went on for 20 years, from 1949 to 1969. The goal "was to deter [the use of biological weapons] against the United States and its allies and to retaliate if deterrence failed," the government explained later. "Fundamental to the development of a deterrent strategy was the need for a thorough study and analysis of our vulnerability to overt and covert attack."

Of the 239 known tests in that program, San Francisco was notable for two reasons, according to Dr. Leonard Cole, who documented the episode in his book "Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas."

Cole, now the director of the Terror Medicine and Security Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells Business Insider that this incident was "notable: first, because it was really early in the program … but also because of the extraordinary coincidence that took place at Stanford Hospital, beginning days after the Army’s tests had taken place."

Hospital staff were so shocked at the appearance of a patient infected with a bacteria, Serratia marcescens, that had never been found in the hospital and was rare in the area, that they published an article about it in a medical journal. The patient, Edward Nevin, died after the infection spread to his heart.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that Americans, as Cole wrote in the book, "learned that for decades they had been serving as experimental animals for agencies of their government."

San Francisco wasn’t the first or the last experiment on citizens who hadn’t given informed consent.

Other experiments involved testing mind-altering drugs on unsuspecting citizens. In one shocking, well-known incident, government researchers studied the effects of syphilis on black Americans without informing the men that they had the disease — they were told they had "bad blood." Researchers withheld treatment after it became available so they could continue studying the illness, despite the devastating and life-threatening implications of doing so for the men and their families.

But it was the germ warfare tests that Cole focused on.

"All these other tests, while terrible, they affected people counted in the hundreds at most," he says. "But when you talk about exposing millions of people to potential harm, by spreading around certain chemicals or biological agents, the quantitative effect of that is just unbelievable."

"Every one of the [biological and chemical] agents the Army used had been challenged" by medical reports, he says, despite the Army’s contention in public hearings that they’d selected "harmless simulants" of biological weapons.

"They’re all considered pathogens now," Cole says.

Here are some of the other difficult-to-believe germ warfare experiments that occurred during this dark chapter in US history. These tests were documented in Cole’s book and verified by Business Insider using congressional reports and archived news articles.

From Minneapolis to St. Louis

The military tested how a biological or chemical weapon would spread throughout the country by spraying bacteria as well as various chemical powders — including an especially controversial one called zinc cadmium sulfide. Low flying airplanes would take off, sometimes near the Canadian border, "and they would fly down through the Midwest," dropping their payloads over cities, says Cole.

These sprays were tested on the ground too, with machines that would release clouds from city rooftops or intersections to see how they spread.

In the book, Cole cites military reports that documented various Minneapolis tests, including one where chemicals spread through a school. The clouds were clearly visible.

To prevent suspicion, the military pretended that they were testing a way to mask the whole city in order to protect it. They told city officials that "the tests involved efforts to measure ability to lay smoke screens about the city" to "hide" it in case of nuclear attack, according to Cole’s account.

The potential toxicity of that controversial compound zinc cadmium sulfide is debated. One component, cadmium, is highly toxic and can cause cancer. Some reports suggest a possibility that the zinc cadmium sulfide could perhaps degrade into cadmium, but a 1997 report from the National Research Council concluded that the Army’s secret tests "did not expose residents of the United States and Canada to chemical levels considered harmful." However, the same report noted that research on the chemical used was sparse, mostly based on very limited animal studies.

These air tests were conducted around the country as part of Operation Large Area Coverage.

"There was evidence that the powder after it was released would be then located a day or two later as far away as 1,200 miles," Cole says. "There was a sense that you could really blanket the country with a similar agent."

In 2012, Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociology professor at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, released a report theorizing that the army’s experiments could be connected to cancer rates in a low-income, mostly black neighborhood in the city where zinc cadmium sulfide had been tested. She said she was concerned that there could have been a radioactive component to some testing, though she did not have direct evidence for that possibility.

Her report, however, prompted both senators from Missouri to write to the Army secretary, "demanding answers," the Associated Press noted at the time.

While Martino-Taylor’s suggestion remains purely hypothetical, "the human dimension is never mentioned" in most Army documents, Cole writes in the book. Instead there’s just a discussion of how well the particulates spread and what they learned about the possibility of biological attacks from them.

1966: "A Study of the Vulnerability of Subway Passengers in New York City to Covert Attack with Biological Agents"

In a field test called "A Study of the Vulnerability of Subway Passengers in New York City to Covert Attack with Biological Agents," military officials tried to see how easy it would be to unleash biological weapons using the New York City subway. They would break light bulbs full of bacteria on the tracks to see how they spread through the city.

"If you can get trillions of bacteria into a light bulb and throw it on the track as a train pulls into a station, they’ll get pulled through the air as the train leaves," Cole says, travelling through the tunnels and into different stations.

Clouds would engulf people as trains pulled away, but documents say that they "brushed their clothing, looked up at the grating apron and walked on." No one was concerned.

In a 1995 Newsday story, reporter Dennis Duggan contacted retired Army scientist Charles Senseney, who had testified about the experiments to a Senate subcommittee in 1975. In his testimony, he explained that one light bulb full of bacteria dropped at 14th Street easily spread the bacteria up to at least 58th Street.

But he declined to reveal anything to the Newsday reporter. "I don’t want to get near this," Senseney said to Duggan. "I [testified], because I was told I had to by the people at the Department of Defense … I better get off the phone."

Experiments continued in New York for six days using Bacillus subtilis, then known as Bacillus globigii, and S. marcescens.

A paper from the National Academy of Sciences analyzing military experiments notes that B. globigii is "now considered a pathogen" and is often a cause of food poisoning. "Infections are rarely known to be fatal," the report said — though fatal cases have occurred.

Particularly controversial tests

Cole’s book notes that "portions of a report about an army test in 1951 involving Aspergillus fumigatus … indicate that the army intentionally exposed a disproportionate number of black people to the organism." Most of the employees at the supply center were black.

In the military reports cited by Cole, researchers claim they are preparing for an attack that might target black citizens. He quotes from a section that reads: "Since Negroes are more susceptible to coccidioides than are whites, this fungus disease was simulated."

When these experiments were first revealed in 1980, the racial aspect of these tests engendered controversy and skepticism about the "army’s interest in the public welfare," according to Cole.

Tests revealed by an unexpected source

One 1979 Washington Post news story discusses open air experiments in the Tampa Bay area involving the release of pertussis, or whooping cough, in 1955. State records show that whooping cough cases in Florida spiked from 339 (one death) in 1954 to 1,080 (12 deaths) in 1955, according to that story.

But it’s hard to trace how accurate the information about the whooping cough release is: The only documentation goes back to an investigation by the Church of Scientology.

The Church of Scientology formed a group called American Citizens for Honesty in Government that spent a significant amount of time investigating controversial experiments run by the Army and CIA, according to the Post. Through FOIA requests they uncovered a number of documents related to these experiments in the late 1970s.

Cole understands why some people are skeptical of those reports. "I certainly am not a member and I think a lot of what they do is quackery," he says, but "in this case, I have no reason to believe any of this isn’t real."

Many of the documents Scientologists made public were the same documents he’d received doing his own research, redacted in the same places.

Perhaps the hardest question is how much information is still missing.

As Cole writes in the book:

Many details about the army’s tests over populated areas remain secret. Most of the test reports are still classified or cannot be located, although a few of the earlier ones have become available in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and in conjunction with the Nevin case. Among those available, sections have been blocked out and pages are missing.

What we learned

Military officials were called to testify before Congress in 1977 after information about these biological warfare experiments was revealed.

At the time, those officials said that determining just how vulnerable the US was to a biological attack "required extensive research and development to determine precisely our vulnerability, the efficacy of our protective measures, and the tactical and strategic capability of various delivery systems and agents," according to a record of that testimony quoted in "Clouds of Secrecy."

Cole too says it’s hard to see these events now from the perspective that people had then.

There was "a different mindset in the country then … [a] Cold War mentality," he says. But, he argues, that doesn’t justify glossing over the already known potential danger of the agents used.

At the same time, part of what the military knows about how clouds of chemicals spread comes from these experiments. Cole says that knowledge gleaned from these biological warfare testing programs helped inform the US reaction when reports came in on the potential use of chemical weapons in the first Gulf War.

So what’s happening now?

Cole says that the obvious question that’s on people’s minds is what’s happening now. After all, if secret tests could occur then, what prevents them from continuing? Are they, in fact, still going on?

He doesn’t think it’s likely.

"I would never swear on your life or my life that nothing illegitimate is happening, but based on what I do know, I don’t have any sense that there’s illicit activity now that would involve risking exposure to tons of people, as happened in the 50s and 60s," he says.

Biological agents are still studied and tested, but informed consent is more widely appreciated now. There’s also less of a Cold War mentality that would be used to justify this research.

Still, more recent reports show that experiments in this area went on longer than we thought.

In 2001, a New York Times report revealed projects testing biological weapons that began under the Clinton administration and continued under the second Bush administration. A 1972 treaty theoretically prohibited developing biological weapons, but this program justified it with the argument that new weapons needed to be studied in order to develop adequate defenses.

And the "War on Terror" raises other concerns, according to Cole.

After the 2001 anthrax attacks, funding for bioterrorism research spiked by $1.5 billion. Then in 2004, Congress approved another $5.6 billion bioterror research project.

These projects are meant to protect society from the dangers of biological agents, but they may have an unintended consequence, Cole says.

"Thousands and thousands of people became familiar with pathogens that they were not familiar with before," he says. "You now have many more people that could potentially do bad with these organisms, and it only takes one person."

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