Thompson, Young, Jones Introduce Amendment to Declassify DOD Vietnam Era Biological and Chemical Test Project
Note: The press conference was streamed live on Congressman Mike Thompson’s Facebook. The link can be found here or at https://www.facebook.com/RepMikeThompson/videos/10154865256275748/.
Washington - Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Don Young (AK-01), and Walter Jones (NC-03) introduced a bipartisan amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2018 to declassify Project 112/Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD), a Vietnam Era project that exposed servicemembers and civilians to some of the deadliest chemical agents on Earth: Vx Nerve Gas, Sarin Nerve Gas, and E. coli.
The amendment would require the Department of Defense to declassify Project 112/Project SHAD and disclose information related to the project. If the DOD finds the information cannot be declassified because of national security concerns, they must brief Congressional defense committees in a classified setting explaining why the information cannot be declassified.
“For over 40 years the DOD has continued to drag their feet on releasing information, and have not made it a priority to notify those potentially exposed,” said Thompson. “We cannot allow this information to continue being released by piecemeal.”
“Often, the impacts of toxic exposure don’t appear until long after service members have returned home from the battlefield and military records are filed away,” said Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Moran has a similar amendment he will introduce when the NDAA is scheduled for a Senate vote. “We have a duty to make certain our servicemembers’ health is protected both in and out of service, and providing access to classified military records that may prove exposure to toxic substances is critical to veterans applying for VA benefits and service-connection. Our veterans and their families deserve the benefits they have earned, and I commend Congressman Thompson and Congressman Young, as well as the Vietnam Veterans of America, for their commitment to this issue and urge the House to quickly pass the SHAD amendment.”
The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America have all come out in support of the amendment.
“On behalf of the 2 million members of The American Legion, we are pleased to support the SHAD amendment to the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, as currently written, that would declassify records associated with the Project 112 and Project SHAD chemical and biological warfare test programs,” said Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander of The American Legion. “From 1962 to 1974, the Department of Defense conducted vulnerability tests involving approximately 6,000 servicemembers, many of whom experienced serious health implications as a result. This amendment would help veterans exposed to chemical and biological agents get the access to care and benefits they have earned through their service. We applaud Representative Thompson for his leadership on this important issue.”
“Veterans were exposed to several extremely hazardous agents, including Sarin and VX during Project SHAD and now suffer from debilitating health care conditions,” said Carlos Fuentes, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Service Director. “The VFW would like to thank both Senator Moran and Representative Thompson for their bipartisan leadership on this important issue. The time has long passed when the classified information from this operation would be dangerous to release but the wounds inflicted on these veterans will always be relevant.”
The amendment is currently being considered by the House Rules Committee. If the amendment is made in order, it will be voted on by the full House of Representatives.
“Human experimentation on our servicemembers and civilians was a dark time for country,” said Thompson. “We owe it to our heroes to be open and honest about what the government did to them.”