Veterans file for class action over weapons testing
The plaintiffs, including Vietnam Veterans of America and Swords into Plowshares, allege that none of the estimated 100,000 "volunteers" for the program provided their informed consent and that some of the testing was conducted on unwitting participants, according to Salem-News.com.
The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages, but has called for the overturning of the so-called Feres doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court decision that has served to insulate the federal government from liability under the Federal Torts Claims Act for claims brought by service personnel. The court dismissed this claim early in the case.
In addition, the plaintiffs are demanding the military notify participants what substances were tested on them, the method of administration and the known health effects. They are also seeking healthcare coverage for veterans who have suffered diseases or other conditions related to their participation in the program, Salem-News.com reports.
The research programs allegedly tested more than 400 different chemical and biological agents on soldiers during five decades of research, including anthrax, plague, tularemia, Q fever, dioxin and Agent Orange.
In an ongoing process, the plaintiffs have filed a series of motions challenging the defendants' claims that key documents in the case are considered state secrets.
"The chem/bio veterans were used by the government many years ago and were discharged and abandoned. It is a national disgrace that must be made right," Rick Weidman of the Vietnam Veterans of America said, Salem-News.org reports.