|Ken Shirriff -> AIDS theories -> Manmade? -> DOD research|
Mr. Sikes. Tell us something about the biological weapons, both lethal and incapacitants. Tell us what we are doing and what the Russians are doing.Page 121:
Dr. MacArthur. I am sure all of you know biologicals are microorganisms. We have had a policy that the biological agents that we would try to develop would be noncontagious; that is, that it could not be passed on directly from indivual to individual.
Mr. Flood. Would they be effective if not contagious?
Dr. MacArthur. They could be infectious from the standpoint that they would be used as a primary aerosol and infect people inhaling it. After that they could be carried from me to you, say by an insect vector - a mosquito, for example.
Mr. Flood. Could they be effective and contagious?
Dr. MacArthur. No.
Mr. Flood. I doubt that. I doubt that.
Dr. MacArthur. A contagious disease would not be effective as a biological warfare agent, although it might have devastating effects. It lacks the essential element of control which I alluded to earlier since there would be no way to predict or control the course of the epidemic that might result.
Mr. Sikes. Tell us the story of our progress and our capability.
Dr. MacArthur. I want to reemphasize that our policy has been not to develop any contagious agents so that we could control the effects so that they would not "boomerang" on our own people if ever we were forced to use them. Typical examples of diseases caused by agents we have worked on are tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, "Q" fever, Venezuelan equine encephalitis. These agents are different from the chemicals in that they are naturally occurring diseases.
Dr. MacArthur. Talking about potential offensive agents, I will first restate the contraints I mentioned earlier that we have put on ourselves as a matter of policy to prevent exactly what people have been saying - that there will be a worldwide scourge, or a black death type disease that will envelop the world or major geographical areas if some of these materials were to accidentally escape. That could not possibly happen with the biological agents that we have. That is a constraint that we have put on ourselves.
However, to keep the record straight, we have done a small amount of research on a few agents that do not satisfy this contraint - the reason for this is that a potential enemy might use them against us and we have to be prepared to defend ourselves - so we try to develop vaccines and rapid identification systems, for example, for defensive purposes.
[... there are many limitations:] Also, for most of these agents there is natural immunity. Some people will not be affected because of natural immunity. Second, you cannot use the same agent twice against the same population because after the first attack, the people build up immunity to that agent.
There are two things about the biological agent field I would like to mention. One is the possibility of technological surprise. Molecular biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly, and eminent biologists believe that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired.
Mr. Sikes. Are we doing any work in that field?
Dr. MacArthur. We are not.
Mr. Sikes. Why not? Lack of money or lack of interest?
Dr. MacArthur. Certainly not lack of interest.
[MacArthur provides the following information:]
The dramatic progress being made in the field of molecular biology led us to investigate the relevance of this field of science to biological warfare. A small group of experts considered this matter and provided the following observations:
- All biological agents up to the present time are representatives of naturally occurring disease, and are thus known by scientists throughout the world. They are easily available to qualified scientists for research, either for offensive or defensive purposes.
- Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.
- A research program to explore the feasibility of this could be completed in approximately 5 years at a total cost of $10 million.''
- It would be very difficult to establish such a program. Molecular biology is a relatively new science. There are not many highly competent scientists in the field, almost all are in university laboratories, and they are generally adequately supported from sources other than DOD. However, it was considered possible to initiate an adequate program through the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council (NAS-NRC).
The matter was discussed with the NAS-NRC and tentative plans were made to initiate the program. However, decreasing funds in CB (chemical and biological) program, and our reluctance to involve the NAS-NRC in such a controversial endeavor have led us to postpone it for the past 2 years.
It is a highly controversial issue, and there are many who believe such research should not be undertaken lest it lead to yet another method of massive killing of large populations. On the other hand, without the sure scientific knowledge that such a weapon is possible, and and understanding of the ways it could be done, there is little that can be done to devise defensive measures. Should an enemy develop it there is little doubt that this is an important area of potential military technological inferiority in which there is no adequate research program.
Chemical and biological R.D.T.& E. programThe current R.D.T.& E. program in chemical and biological warfare has been divided into three priority groups, which are described in the following paragraphs.
- New and improved items for individual and collective CB protection. [...]
- Rapid detection and warning devices for chemical and biological agents. [...]
- New and improved materials and methods for prevention and treatment of CB casualties. [...]
- Improved nonlethal and riot control chemical agents. [...]
- Binary chemical weapons. [...]
- New and improved methods for personnel marking and detection.
- Universal decontamination system. [...]
- Advanced collective protective equiment, especially field shelters. [...]
- Automatic biological agent sampling system. [...]
- Advanced field laboratory. [...]
- Improved defoliant dispensers for aerial dissemination. [...]
- Research in biological agent and munitions systems. The nature and extent of the thread to our national security from enemy use of biological weapons has not been completely defined. Questions such as efficiency of dissemination, whether viruses and bacteria can be mutated to new forms resistant to vaccines, the longevity of microbes in aerosols, and others must be quantitated so that we can accurately assess our vulnerability and develop effective defense.
- Prevention of technological surprise in CB. A broad continuing research program is required to provide some attention to areas of potential technological advances not covered by the specific R & D efforts enumberated above. This is particularly necessary in view of the very rapid strides being made worldwide in molecular biology, pharmacology, and related sciences.
- Vehicle, structure, and medical CB decontamination systems. [...]
- Large area incapacitating weapons systems. [...]
Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.However, "refractory to the immunological processes" means that it resists immunological processes, not destroys them.
Other text makes it fairly clear that what they want is something new so that people won't have natural immunity to it:
Also, for most of these agents there is natural immunity. Some people will not be affected because of natural immunity.
Eminent biologists believe that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired.
Questions such as [...] whether viruses and bacteria can be mutated to new forms resistant to vaccinesFinally, if you check CBW books from the early 1970's, they refer to these DOD hearings and describe various research they consider related, none of which is anything like AIDS. (One example is stripping the protein coat off viruses so that the immune system can't detect it. "Refractory to the immunological processes"? Yes. Anything like AIDS? No.)