Pentagon fights soldiers who allege they were chemical agent guinea pigs

The U.S. Department of Defense is fighting against medical bills for veterans who allege that they were used as subjects in Cold War-era drug experiments.

In 2009, the non-governmental organization Vietnam Veterans of Americas filed a class action suit against the U.S. Army and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The suit claims that nearly 8,000 soldiers were involved in experiments as part of Project Paperclip, according to

The soldiers say there were exposed to at least 250 different kinds of drugs and possibly more, including the chemical warfare agents Sarin, mustard gas and phosgene gas. In addition, they say that mood-altering drugs such as LSD, barbiturates and amphetamines were also administered.

Last year the defendants succeeded in having the claims against the CIA dismissed. Claims against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also likewise dismissed, leaving the DOD and the Department of the Army to defend against the charges.

If they go to trial and lose, the departments could be forced to notify participants of the known impacts of the substances they were given, mandate healthcare for those who have suffered related illnesses and guarantee due process for those denied benefits.

"In the end, plaintiffs' lawsuit amounts to no more than an inappropriate attempt to micromanage (or completely overhaul) comprehensive government programs through the courts," Justice Department attorney Joshua Gardner wrote, reports.

The defendants said that the government has a legal obligation to provide healthcare to veterans, but they believe the Veterans Administration should be responsible.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken is expected to rule on a motion for summary judgment filed by the plaintiffs on March 14.

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