WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Napa Valley), today called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to continue the Department of Defense (DoD) inquiry into Project 112 and Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) until all the facts are known. Citing fears that new information about the tests emerges on an almost daily basis, Congressman Thompson urged Secretary Rumsfeld to consult with Congress before shutting the door on the SHAD investigation forever.
June 30, 2003
THOMPSON CAUTIONS DOD AGAINST PREMATURE CLOSURE OF CHEMICAL/BIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION
The DoD released today what it claims are the final fact sheets regarding Project 112 and Project SHAD. The fact sheets released today provided new information regarding some of the agents used, dispersal methods and vessels involved. For the first time, today’s release included the fact that submarines were also involved in these tests. Over 134 tests were planned during Project 112/SHAD experiments and the DoD estimates that over 5,800 servicemen participated in one or more of these tests.
“Thousands of veterans unknowingly participated in SHAD tests that could have exposed them to serious health risks. It is imperative that members of Congress continue to have contact with the Department of Defense and we continue to declassify as much information as possible,” said Thompson. “Veterans who may have been exposed during these tests deserve to know all the facts. The Department of Defense’s decision to close its investigation may unfairly deny them that right.”
Congressman Thompson, joined by Representatives Dennis Moore (KS), Lane Evans (IL), Ciro Rodriguez (TX), Susan Davis (CA), Duke Cunningham (CA) and Neil Abercrombie (HI) argued in the letter that, “A decision by the Department of Defense to discontinue its investigation would be premature and would put thousands of veterans at further risk. In recent weeks, new information has indicated that additional military vessels may have been involved in these tests. We owe it to our veterans to fully investigate these new details.”
Project 112, which included Project SHAD, involved a series of tests conducted by the Army, Navy and Air Force during the 1960’s to evaluate ground and sea defenses against biological or chemical attack.
Service members exposed during these tests could be eligible for health care benefits from the VA. Further information will enable affected veterans to receive more accurate care once their physician knows exactly what agents they may have come in contact with. Veterans who believe they may have been involved in SHAD tests can call the VA Helpline at (800) 749-8387.
A full text of the letter is as follows:
The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:
We are writing to you with concern regarding recent reports that the Defense Health Directorate plans to issue its final report and cease its investigation on Project 112 (including Project SHAD) within the next two weeks.
We appreciate the Department’s determination to declassify information concerning known tests by the end of June. However, new information emerges on an almost daily basis that has not yet been investigated. A decision by the Department to discontinue its investigation would be premature and would put thousands of veterans at further risk. In recent weeks, new information has indicated that additional military vessels may have been involved in these tests. We owe it to our veterans to fully investigate these new details.
Before any decision is made to discontinue the investigation into Project 112, members of Congress should be briefed about the decision and evidence should be provided to substantiate that no further information needs to be examined. We request your assistance in coordinating such a briefing.
We urge you to act immediately to ensure that these veterans are not forgotten. We look forward to your prompt reply.
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