December, 1990: FDA issued a waiver from informed consent to permit the Department of Defense to use unapproved, experimental drugs and vaccines – e.g. anthrax vaccine on soldiers. This violated the foremost “absolutely essential” mandatory ethical principle defined by the Nuremberg Code which was promulgated by U.S. judges under the authority of the U.S. Army.
In 1991, CBS “60 Minutes” with Mike Wallace broke the silence about US servicemen having been exposed to mustard gas experiments during World War II. The report was written by Charles Thompson II who won an Emmy for it.
In 1991, the Veterans Administration requested a committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess the causal relationship between these diseases and exposure to the toxic agents. The committee heard testimony “smoldering with betrayal” by a sad procession of veterans in their 60s and 70s who testified of the pain they had endured since the Navy lured them into secret mustard gas experiments during World War II. They described physical ailments such as skin cancer, loss of sight and hearing, shortness of breath and digestive illnesses which they believe are linked to the long-secret experiments.
The IOM found that by the end of 1945, more than 60,000 American service personnel had been used as human subjects in chemical experiments that exposed them to highly toxic mustard gas and Lewisite, an arsenic-containing agent. The IOM determined that although they were called “volunteers” they had been coerced and were not informed about the risks. More than 4,000 men had been used in trials using high concentrations of mustard gas and Lewisite. The men had been threatened not to disclose their involvement in the experiments; and they kept silent for 55 years.