SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The Central Intelligence Agency in January will argue
for dismissal of Vietnam veterans' claims that the CIA must provide them with information about the health effects of chemicals used on them during Cold War-era human experiments. The CIA also claims it is not obligated to provide the veterans with medical care for side effects of the drugs. It's the CIA's third attempt to get the case dismissed.
In a 2009 federal lawsuit, Vietnam Veterans of America claimed that the Army and CIA had used at least 7,800 soldiers as guinea pigs in "Project Paperclip." They were given at least 250 and as many as 400 types of drugs, among them sarin, one of the most deadly drugs known to man, amphetamines, barbiturates, mustard gas, phosgene gas and LSD.
Among the project's goals were to control human behavior, develop drugs that would cause confusion, promote weakness or temporarily cause loss of hearing or vision, create a drug to induce hypnosis and identify drugs that could enhance a person's ability to withstand torture.
The veterans say that some of the soldiers died, and others suffered grand mal seizures, epileptic seizures and paranoia. The veterans say the CIA promised in the 1970s to compensate those who were made guinea pigs, but the 2009 complaint states that the government "never made a sincere effort to locate the survivors."
In its 32-page motion to dismiss the group's third amended complaint, the CIA claims it has no legal obligation under the Administrative Procedures Act to provide the veterans with notice of the drugs' health effects and that the veterans' notice claim "rests solely on state common-law duty."
The CIA claims that the law on which the veterans base their claim for health care compensation stems from the Department of Defense and Army regulations, "which do not purport to have a binding affect on the CIA."
And it claims that the Defense Department "never intended nor committed to providing medical care for service member participants in the test programs."
In its response, the veterans group says the CIA has already tried, in past motions, "to re-argue issues already decided" by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in 2009. "Defendants argue that plaintiffs do not state a claim for relief under the APA against the CIA or the Department of Defense because they do not allege a legally enforceable duty against those agencies," the response states. "Defendants presented this argument in each of their previous motions to dismiss," but the court has already "rejected this line of argument," finding that a letter from the Department of Justice supports the groups' claim that the CIA is obligated to provide them with medical care.
"Contrary to the court's express direction, defendants now seek to use the addition of the new parties as a crass opportunity for another bite at the apple (their third), seeking to re-litigate issues the court already decided nearly a year ago," the group says.
The hearing is set for Jan. 13, 2011 before Judge Wilken. The case is expected to go to trial in 2012.