INSANE  9:42 am August 30, 2011

U.S. Government Scientists Spent 1940s Infecting Guatemala with STDs

by Kirsten Boyd Johnson

who doesn't love a little siphilis in the afternoon, hmmmm?Fun with science: a U.S. presidential panel has discovered six decades too late that from 1946-1948, U.S. Public Health Service scientists were trolling the insane asylums, prisons and hospitals of Guatemala looking for brown people to inject with syphilis and gonorrhea, “just to see what would happen.” The report notes that “new information indicates that researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era.” Thanks, presidential panel! U.S. officials now have a copy-paste template for the 2081 report uncovering the actual extent of the hellacious torture methods the CIA was busy trying out “just to see what would happen” on its detainees in various other brown people countries across the world at the beginning of this century. 

83 people died out of the roughly 1300 who were infected, out of whom only 700 received any treatment. And, of course, “the research came up with no useful medical information.”

From the AP:

For example, seven women with epilepsy, who were housed at Guatemala’s Asilo de Alienados (Home for the Insane), were injected with syphilis below the back of the skull, a risky procedure. The researchers thought the new infection might somehow help cure epilepsy. The women each got bacterial meningitis, probably as a result of the unsterile injections, but were treated.

Perhaps the most disturbing details involved a female syphilis patient with an undisclosed terminal illness. The researchers, curious to see the impact of an additional infection, infected her with gonorrhea in her eyes and elsewhere. Six months later she died.

Dr Amy Gutmann, head of the commission, described the case as “chillingly egregious”.

Try infecting and torturing some children next time, America. This doesn’t sound like it went far enough. [AP]

 

Hola wonkerados.

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{ 255 comments }

Barb August 30, 2011 at 9:44 am

They could have just gotten a one way plane ticket for Bristol Palin to go there and saved a fortune.

weejee August 30, 2011 at 9:49 am

So ol' Doc Mengele ended up working for the US Pub Health Service in Guatemala after the War and not with the boyz in Brazil. Who knew?

yyyaz August 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Well, they may have been so-called "Nazi" scientists, but they were OUR "Nazi" scientists, sheesh. Besides, we had to keep them busy when they weren't inventing newer and better death machines. Idle hands being the debbil's tools and all that.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Heh. That worked out well, didn't it?

weejee August 30, 2011 at 2:41 pm

And all this mark-up wantonly splattered all-over our Wonkette. yuck

yyyaz August 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Sorry. This is what I get for responding by e-mail.

J Rbt. Oppenheiner August 30, 2011 at 9:49 am

Some of these "scientists" may still be alive. Name and shame.

Serolf_Divad August 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

1946-1948?

Well, somebody had to carry on with horrendous, unethical experiments on captive untermesnchen after Dr. Joseph Mengele was no longer available. Why not us?

baconzgood August 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

Stepping in to fill a void. It's the American way.

1337_1i83r41 August 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

After taking all of their scientists, who's to say he was NOT there??

/adjusts tinfoil

comrad_darkness August 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

It's like carrying on the torture in Iraq that was one of the excuses for the war. We're damn good at this carrying on thing.

SorosBot August 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

Aw man, and here I thought the US government was only giving the syphilis to American black men back then; turns out they were sharing it with the Guatemalans too.

ManchuCandidate August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

Equal opportunity, sort of.

SorosBot August 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

The important thing is, none of the victims test subjects were white.

elviouslyqueer August 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

Browns, blacks… potato, potahtoe.

Doktor Zoom August 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

That's a completely unfair comparison! The Tuskeegee Experiment doctors merely let people who were already infected die horribly without treatment or even being told they had syphilis. They never actually injected anyone with syphilis–why, that would have been unethical.

Redhead August 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I'm curious about the medical reason for injecting people with syphilis IN THE FUCKING EYES.

emmelemm August 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm

"To see what would happen". DUH!!

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

Same guy ran both "experiments," man. Nice to know there weren't two of them.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

And he went on to a nice, well-paid, respectable career in the good old USA.
Good times, and ol' Doc Cutler never once recognized me.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Hold me.

Mumbletypeg August 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

Usually I try to keep a pact w/ myself to avoid becoming guilty of the same vile-and-bile-brained crapitudes as observed within a debased, soulless segment of society.

However, I'll state without qualm there is at least one titanium spine I can think of that might benefit from some experimental innoculations against stoopid.

Pragmatist2 August 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

So that story i made up about the Guatemalan toilet seat COULD be true?

deanbooth August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

Racism… It's infectious!

Sue4466 August 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

So, once again South Americans forced to do jobs Americans wouldn't. Except for black folks

arihaya August 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

and this experiment were for naught, as STDs are still rampaging the states …

see: Wasilla, Alaska

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Stupidity Transmitting Diseases, right?

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 2:06 am

Palin's Abstinence Campaign!

Terry August 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

They need to release the name of the doctors who were doing this.

prommie August 30, 2011 at 10:47 am

It was a doctor Cutler, who went on to be Dean of the University of Pittsburgh graduate school of public health. He died in 2003.

Terry August 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

Here he is. I hope he burns in Hell, and I mean that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Charles_Cutler

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:07 am

He had minions, too, many minions.

comrad_darkness August 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

Who co-authored with him? Start there.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm

They were only following orders.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm

He's one of our "special guests."
I'll spare you the details.

emmelemm August 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

No, please, be generous with the details.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Children. They infected orphaned CHILDREN.

Jesus fucking Christ.

J Rbt. Oppenheiner August 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

If I'm gonna contract syphilis and gonorrhea, I want to get it the fun way please.

AJWjr. August 30, 2011 at 10:05 am

No syphilis for you!

Mahousu August 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

They're prepared to accommodate you: The doctors used prostitutes with the disease to pass it to the prisoners (since sexual visits were allowed by law in Guatemalan prisons) and then did direct inoculations made from syphilis bacteria poured onto the men's penises or on forearms and faces that were slightly abraded when the 'normal exposure' produced little disease, or in a few cases through spinal punctures.

So if you're prompt about picking up the syphilis, you're fine. It's only if you're a slowpoke that they resort to sterner measures.

Sue4466 August 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

"The researchers, curious to see the impact of an additional infection, infected her with gonorrhea in her eyes and elsewhere. Six months later she died. Dr Amy Gutmann, head of the commission, described the case as 'chillingly egregious.'"

Really? cause I'd call it first degree murder. But WTF do I know.

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:29 am

Exactly!

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm

It's worse than murder. Murder can be committed in the heat of passion. Murder can result from losing your shit because you're so crazy in your head. This is a crime against humanity, multiple crimes against humanity. It is so disgusting to even read about this. I wish I could take a blowtorch to my skin to burn away the disgust I feel.

Sue4466 August 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Well, technically first degree murder wouldn't apply to heat of passion type killings (usually voluntary manslaughter). First degree murder is premeditated, you wanted to kill this person and you did.

I agree about it being a crime against humanity. I think first degree murder is as well.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 11:25 pm

True. This is what happens when you get overly excited and carried away and neglect to be precise in your definition. I should have stuck to the legal definition, rather than the vague and general concepts that pass in the modern parlance.

Although I've never considered the issue of whether first-degree murder could, or should, or is, classified as a crime against humanity. Perhaps when I'm feeling a little less crushed by this kind of news story, I shall contemplate the issue.

tcaalaw August 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

You know who else used morally challenegd scientists and doctors to abuse people in experiments of dubious scientific value?

Mumbletypeg August 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

Dr. Moreau? (well… animals are people too)

BaldarTFlagass August 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

Philip Morris?

One_who_wanders August 30, 2011 at 10:32 am

In a former job someone from the Tobacco Institute called me up to accuse me of poorly performed research. I laughed and hung up the phone.

zhubajie August 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

Unfortunately, they all did it back in the '30s and '40s.

SorosBot August 30, 2011 at 10:05 am

Drs. Clayton and Pearl Forrester?

tcaalaw August 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Upfisted for the MST3K shout-out!

LabRodent August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

Everybody in this Lab.

mumbly_joe August 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

The United States?

Or maybe it was the United States?

Wait, no, I know: it was the United States. (for added outrage, do a quick page search for things like "vitamin drinks" and "nutrients")

elviouslyqueer August 30, 2011 at 10:16 am
Doktor Zoom August 30, 2011 at 10:21 am

Doogie Howser?

DaRooster August 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

Masters and Johnson?

Radiotherapy® August 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

Dr. Scholl's?

BaldarTFlagass August 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

Alfred Kinsey?

not that Dewey August 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

Supply-side economists?

superdave August 30, 2011 at 10:52 am

Marcus Bachmann?

SayItWithWookies August 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

Jenny McCarthy?

HelmutNewton August 30, 2011 at 11:31 am

The Abominable Dr. Phibes?

horsedreamer_1 August 30, 2011 at 11:34 am

Stanley Milgrim?

mrblifil August 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Danny Elfman?

freakishlywrong August 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

What the fuck is wrong with this country? I mean, look at the Republican nominees. And we intentionally infected brown people with syphilis. And seriously, look at those fucking nominees. I hate us.

LabRodent August 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

We can treat a dick for syphilis. But we cant treat a stupid Dick.

Moonbatting Average August 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

The Truman Doctorin'?

never mind joking, do what J Rbt. Oppenheiner said above.

LesBontemps August 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

Get STDs the fun way?

prommie August 30, 2011 at 9:56 am

Hey, you know, they were gomers, feebs, anyway.

slithytoves August 30, 2011 at 9:57 am

Unfortunately, that template has existed a long time. The historical record of medical experimentation in this country is richly horrific.

Mumbletypeg August 30, 2011 at 10:02 am
MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Oh god/.

LabRodent August 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

In other words the USA been fucking over people for decades!

MissusBarry August 30, 2011 at 9:57 am

Ugh, my cuckoo's nest nightmares will be making a comeback tonight.

Doktor Zoom August 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

Here, have an extra pillow.

ManchuCandidate August 30, 2011 at 9:58 am

Morality/wisdom and the pursuit of science don't go hand in hand.

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

Certainly not in America, apparently.

Buzz Feedback August 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

No wonder I can't get Oswaldo and Rojelio to finish that fence in my backyard.

zhubajie August 30, 2011 at 10:02 am

The US Army agreed not to prosecute the Imperial Japanese Army's Unit 731, the horrid human experiment unit, at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, in exchange for all their data. I don't know if Unit 731 did any VD experiments, but they did a lot of poison gas experiments, experiments infecting villages with Black Plague, exposing people to radioactive materials, etc. I've been to their headquarters, outside Harbin. The museum there is funded by the present day Japanese government, so it's not just Commie propaganda.

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:32 am

And the difference between them and us is…….? Oh, right, they're little yellow people.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm

http://kalimao.blogspot.com/2009/12/war-crimes-ne….

It's not just that they "agreed not to prosecute." They helped smuggle Shiro Ishii out of China (well, Harbin) and into Japan, and repeatedly lied about the whereabouts of many of the other scientists involved, despite the USSR repeatedly calling for production of these criminals at the trials they held. The war crimes trials in the USSR resulted in the imprisonment of those scientists they captured. The scientists were released after serving about 2/3 of their sentences, and were repatriated to Japan.

BerkeleyBear August 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Of course, the Soviets probably made them work the entire time on the same ideas/processes (Solzhynitzin covered this phenomenon, at least for Soviet citizen/prisoners, in "The First Circle" – a Dante reference).

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I regret to say that I have never read Solzhynitzin. My reading list is doubling, and I've barely been here for a few months.

Anything else you think I should read?

I don't know if the Soviet Union had their captive scientists work on the same or similar projects, but I DO know that Unit 731 and the Japanese military had devised plans to attack the Soviet Union as early as the 1930s, and possibly earlier, based on the resentments left over from the conflict of 1904. They did attempt to introduce plague into the Soviet Union, unsuccessfully, IIRC, although yersinia pestis continues to thrive in those parts.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 2:51 am

There were several weeks of border skirmishes at Nomonhon in the '30s between the Red Army and the Kwantung Army. The Japanese did quite poorly!

Chinese villages were definitely infected with Plague by the Japanese army, as well as subjected to poison gas, etc. Poison gas bombs are still being unearthed.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 2:49 am

Well, I always thought the idea of the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trials was pretty ironic.

There were lots of shenanigans in connection with the Tokyo War Crimes Trials and they are not generally accepted as legit in modern Japan, or so I've read. Yuma Totani, author of “The Tokyo War Crimes Trials: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II”Harvard University Press, 2008, gave an interesting podcast interview, available at http://newbooksinhistory.com/?s=tokyo+war+crimes+

MichelesPantalones August 31, 2011 at 11:37 am

Xie xie ni, ah.

lefty74 August 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

Isn't that how Hernan Cortes hurt the Aztecs in 1519?
Didn't the Dept of Indian Affairs move filthy blankets infected with smallpox from reservation to reservation in the mid to late 1800's?
I'm sure we as a nation will not lose too much sleep over this one.
Its not like Hiroshima, or Dresden, but it is who and what we are. Uh Sorry!

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

Sorry is one characterization.

LesBontemps August 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

You mean, "USA! USA! USA!"

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

They say it was the other way around, that the Spanish brought a particularly virulent form of syphillis to Europe from America.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Depends on who "they" are. I'm trying to remember what I've read on the subject. I wish my brain weren't so leaky. I think I remember reading that syphilis spread from sheep to humans. And that it originated in the old world. I believe there is a tropical disease known as "yaws," that some scientists speculate might have given rise to syphilis. Do you have any links for this information?

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Some diseases leave scars on the bones, but most don't, and the soft tissues are rarely preserved. Also, most people don't like archaeologists messing around with their dead relatives, so studying such things is hard.

MichelesPantalones August 31, 2011 at 9:10 pm

It turns out that yaws is, as I thought, related to syphilis. Both diseases deform the bones, although different areas of bone, I understand. It would appear that yaws was seen in bones discovered in thenorthern parts of the North American continent, while further in the south, and in South America, syphilis prevailed. You might be interested in this article, since it examines the question of the origins of syphilis from a paleopathological point of view.

BerkeleyBear August 30, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Cut both way, as it were – we killed them, they made our dicks fall off.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 2:54 am

Cortes wanted living subjects, but the Massachusetts Puritans did distribute blankets infected with smallpox. So did General Wolfe after the conquest of Quebec. Of all the American countries, only the US, Canada, Argentina and Uruguay are not mostly descended from Native Americans, at least in part.

LabRodent August 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

I hate this Job!

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I understand, believe me.

BaldarTFlagass August 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

It's pretty hard to understand how anyone in the world can even pretend to like the United States.

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:34 am

Imagine yourself scared shitless of brown people, that might help explain it.

KenLayIsAlive August 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm

It's all our freedom, they're just totally jealous.

SheriffRoscoe August 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Who else is gonna buy their cheap crap?

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 11:29 pm

And yet, a VietNamese farmer rescued John McCain after he crashed his plane. Even though the US had dropped tons of bombs on his country.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 2:55 am

They know us mostly from our movies and TV shows, so are quite mis-informed.

Fawkdifiknow August 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

And Dick Cheney brags about it as if it only happened "In My Time."

genxr August 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

Man, Florida's new requirements for welfare recipients are getting really strict!

not that Dewey August 30, 2011 at 10:47 am

The state will reimburse them the $30 if they test negative. Fair is fair!

ifthethunderdontgetya August 30, 2011 at 10:08 am

Thank goodness our CIA today would never do such a thing.

Oh, here's a book coming out… "Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives" by Jose Rodriguez.
~

SayItWithWookies August 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

Why do people who say (erroneously, of course) that torture saved lives seem to have such an aversion to the word?

weejee August 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

Injecting folks with gonorrhea gives new meaning to being put on the drip.

AJWjr. August 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

Vivisectionists worldwide are appalled at USAmerica's lack of morality.

Oblios_Cap August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

This certainly explains Michelle Bachmann. Wasn't she born in 1949?

yyyaz August 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Great new false title: Presidential Hopeful and Syphilitic Pus Bag Michele Bachmann.

mannacler August 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm

1956

DerrickWildcat August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

This was the only way to kill Scully's alien baby.

Chillwaver August 30, 2011 at 10:17 am

This proves Rick Perry's theory that all scientists are money-driven whores that will do anything to get Gov't grants. Therefore, Climate Change is not real.

baconzgood August 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

USA USA USA!

Seriously. Sometimes it really shames me to be American. We're not exactly the nicest country sometimes.

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

Or ever, perhaps.

DaRooster August 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

So 2012 is just gonna be payback? Man, the complete end of the world? Kinda overkill Mayans…

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Nah, just the beginning of a new cycle.

baconzgood August 30, 2011 at 10:22 am

Hippocratic WHAAA? Never heard of it.

WunkRocker August 30, 2011 at 10:22 am

The Great State of North Carolina had a Eugenics program going on into the 70's. Suck it Guatemala.

prommie August 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

Three generations of idiots is enough!

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Thank you so much, Oliver Wendell Holmes, for that opinion in Buck v. Bell. There's a woman suing right now for her sterilization in that benighted state, if I'm not mistaken. Does it ever end?

genxr August 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

It didn't work.

WunkRocker August 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Srsly. Meanwhile in Mecklenburgistan we kept telling kids we were putting them under for teeth cleanings and snipping their reproductive organs more than the other 99 counties. NEVER accept free medical care from the gubmint. Death Panels? Hheehhhhnnnnnnnggh?!!

angryhaiku August 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

Can I go back to 1941 and join Team Japan? I wouldn't have thought we could do shit that would make the Rape of Nanjing and comfort women look "meh" in comparison. USA #1

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I was going to say something about Unit 731, but then I realized that the US Government was complicit in ensuring that Shiro Ishii and most of his team were never prosecuted. In fact, some of them went on to work for large Japanese corporations and were rewarded for their "distinguished service." Thanks to us, of course.

subsum August 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

I'm waiting to see what Fox News' argument is going to be to defend the scientists who did this and the policy that motivated the creation of this "program". I'm pretty sure they will defend it. To them, government work is God's work as long as it involves screwing non-whites.

Maman August 30, 2011 at 10:29 am

No doubt they were "exceptional" Americans.

Doktor Zoom August 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

It Was A Long Time Ago And Dragging It Up Now Just Hurts America. Why Do You Liberals Always Blame America?

LesBontemps August 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

Roger Ailes, is that you?

genxr August 30, 2011 at 10:49 am

Our brave scientists were continuing the founding fathers' fight against slavery. Also. Too.

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:36 am

You think it will get a mention in or Media? Faux, especially? Surely you jest. You don't mind if I call you……

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Naive? Stupid? Clueless? Optimistic?

Surely even our media whores will stop palpating their genitalia long enough to put (sticky) fingers to keyboard for something this big? No?

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Shirley, surely….Airplane?

mumbly_joe August 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I dunno, though- siding with scientists??? My money's actually on Fox News finding a way to make this about how global warming is a fraud or how Obamacare is death panels.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 2:57 am

FOX will probably ignore the story, or claim that it's false, invented to get money or something.

BTWBFDIMHO August 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

I propose to set Texas on fire in order to study the impact of global warming in situ.

subsum August 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

It is on fire already. We're almost through this year's One Hundred Days of Hell (100 days of 100-degree temperatures) and no rain in sight yet.

SorosBot August 30, 2011 at 10:43 am

Better get used to it; from now on 100 straight days of 100 degree temperatures in Texas will likely be known as "summer".

comrad_darkness August 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

Better yet, Winter.

comrad_darkness August 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

So, what does One-L Michele say God's message is regarding that, exactly?

BTWBFDIMHO August 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

Fort Worth here…

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:37 am

Latin phraseology to Wonketeers? You are shitting me, right? ;)

ShaveTheWhales August 30, 2011 at 10:44 pm

in situ = in the shit, right?

ttommyunger August 31, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Sounds about right.

ProudLibunatic August 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I feel bad for Wonketteers (think 3 Musketeers, Dust Bowl), in TX and OK. Thank you all for fighting the good fight.

Now, carry on, IMHO.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Too late, bub.

BlueStateLibel August 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

"First do no harm" Wait, what?

mrblifil August 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

What's the harm in a little eyeball clap? Besides more rapid onset of death I mean…

Redhead August 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Meh, I don't see that anywhere in my bible.

Doktor Zoom August 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

Disgusting though it is, this story should be useful to all the incoming college freshman who are reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as part of their "Campus Read." Needless to say, the kids who think these issues are just old news will be unimpressed…

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Thank you. I think I had heard of that book in my usual dim daily fog. Clearly, I should read it.

CivicHoliday August 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I listened to an interview with several of her family members on NPR recently. Such a sad and crazy story.

Mahousu August 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

Conducted between 1946 and 1948, the experiments were led by John Cutler, a US health service physician who would later be part of the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study in Alabama in the 1960s.

Because, when you've got a good gig going, who wants to give it up, right?

genxr August 30, 2011 at 10:50 am

Makes you wonder who was on his thesis defense board, doesn't it?

Mahousu August 30, 2011 at 11:36 am

The best thesis defense is a good offense?

BTWBFDIMHO August 30, 2011 at 11:41 am

Oral Roberts Defense: Michele Bachmann.
Anal Defense: Marcus Bachmann.

chicken_thief August 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Jesus fucking Christ, who approved these experiments?! You'd think after the first one they'd say "yo, John, wtf is with you and STD's? Ya know, we still have a long way to go in finding a cure for cancer." or something like that.

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

Once again, words fail.

baconzgood August 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

See two comments down!

x111e7thst August 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

The is no statue of limitations for murder. If any of these "doctors" are still alive they should be prosecuted.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:46 pm

This is not just murder. This is crimes against humanity. No statute of limitations.

baconzgood August 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

(in my Tom Brokaw voice)

America's Greatest Generation. I mean the Clap in the eye balls……two words: FUUUUUUUUUCKED UP!!!!!!!!!!!!

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

Hey did you know, to this day, the first thing they do with a baby after it is born, is put silver iodide eye drops in its eyes, to prevent it from getting gonorreah of the eyes from the mother? And I believe they may have been exploring co-infections because it had already been discovered that malaria can "cure" syphillis.

baconzgood August 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm

You know what else cures syphillis?, penicillin!

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm

In a less debilitating manner, too, if I recall correctly. "Exploring co-infections" should not result in experimentation upon live human subjects exposing them to dangerous diseases, which, IIRC, is banned by all international treaties and laws on human rights. We executed several Japanese and German military personnel for doing the same. Although it's also true that we helped some of the worst of their war criminals to evade prosecution, as we continue to do today.

FlipOffResearch August 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

God we've been abusing that country for decades, and still are. I was looking for an article to share with you guys, but I can't find it. It was about how the banana plantations and some sort of vegetable oil plantations take up all the arable land leaving the peasant class with little choice besides working on the plantation for slave wages. One option more are taking is to go north to america.

So enjoy your cheap bananas.

comrad_darkness August 30, 2011 at 11:07 am

Back up a few years to the attempted repatriation of the land and Henry Kissenger's invention of the Banana Republic.

Good times. Good times. But they hate us for our freedums, don't you know? Also.

BaldarTFlagass August 30, 2011 at 11:10 am

You've got to go a bit further back than that. The CIA was overthrowing Guatemalan governments when Henry was still working on his PhD dissertation. Just look up Jacobo Arbenz. United Fruit FTW!!!

MissusBarry August 30, 2011 at 11:36 am

Damn it, I knew somebody would beat me to United Fruit.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I just Tweeted this story with a variation of that exact comment: No, they don't hate us for our freedoms.

Gads. Just how much blood and murder IS on our collective conscience, anyway?

ShaveTheWhales August 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm

1. Quite a bit more than we usually realize/admit.

2. Still, less than some.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I'm reading about the attacks on Cambodia, right now.

I think I understand why a lot of RWNJs deny reality. The reality of what the US did here is horrible.

anniegetyerfun August 30, 2011 at 11:47 am

I'm sure this isn't what you were looking for, but Socialist Public Radio will be playing this upcoming segment on Fresh Air: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?stor

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Science News had an excellent recent article about the exact nature of the threat to the Dole banana. Of course, if you have ever lived anywhere in the tropics, you know that bananas come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours, unlike the ubiquitous yellow crescent offered by the Dole company (pretty fucking bland and tasteless, in my opinion. A good banana should smell like cat butt). Thanks for the link, I really should go listen to that.

emmelemm August 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Slightly off-topic: I was on a movie-related site, and there was some discussion of Commando (Arnold Schwartzenegger movie of the 80s), and some commenters used the phrase "Banana Republic".

Some obviously young commenters has NO IDEA what that phrase meant unless it referred to overpriced clothes.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Arbenz, UFC, and in any event, this particular strain of banana is now falling prey to some sort of disease that will wipe it out soon, so it's all for naught. In the attempt to breed this strain as some sort of commercially preferred fruit, we pretty much isolated and wiped out many members of the banana family just for the Dole corporation.

ShaveTheWhales August 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Monocultures are always vulnerable.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Yes. Yet we keep attacking the diversity around us, trying to reduce it to something we can control, only to find we have done even greater harm than if we had left it alone.

Radiotherapy® August 30, 2011 at 10:43 am

I'm shocked! Our gov't would NEVER conspire. Especially in the light of the upcoming, much anticipated, 10th Anniversary of the Day of Heroes.

mereoblivion August 30, 2011 at 10:44 am

"Unusually unethical" or "chillingly egregious"? You make the call.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Where's "downright criminal"?

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 10:45 am

True, Bacon. Also brings to mind the 2011 (as in current) programs by our Pharma Giants using the poors in undeveloped countries to test their wares. Yes, Pilgrims, today.

BaldarTFlagass August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am

Just go watch "The Constant Gardener" if you don't believe Ttommy.

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:56 am

But, but, but, they get paid!

ttommyunger August 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm

But of course, how silly of me.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 8:24 pm

But not necessarily the right people.

prommie August 30, 2011 at 10:50 am

Apparently, pennicillin has eradicated even the memory of what a public health horror syphillis once was. In most states, you still have to get a syphillis test to get married, it never got to that point with aids. The doctors involved apparently beleived they were on a crusade to rid the world of a scourge and therefore the ends justified the means.

BaldarTFlagass August 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

Apologist!!!!

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:10 am

No, a moral relativist. We don't live in their world or time.

AddHomonym August 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm

!

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm

It's hard to imagine a time when it wouldn't occur to anybody involved that maybe they should blow the whistle. Consider that the Nuremberg "Doctors' Trials" were held simultaneously with these experiments, and were headline news (seven men hanged) … yet there's no sign that anybody stopped for a moment and went, "hmm…"

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Quite so.

SheriffRoscoe August 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

But they still carried this out in secret, so they must have thought it was bad, right?

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm

There must have been a dim glimmer of conscience in them all, warning them that this was not a deed in line with that oath they once took: First, do NO HARM.

Pricks.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm

"The doctors involved apparently beleived they were on a crusade to rid the world of a scourge and therefore the ends justified the means."

Actually, they were on a mission to rid the U.S. military of a scourge.
Which was enough to justify the means.

They never published anything, by the way, so naming names is going to take some digging.

not that Dewey August 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

The Constant Murderer

MrFizzy August 30, 2011 at 10:58 am

I wish they would start testing on tea baggers to see what would happen.

widestanceshakedown August 30, 2011 at 11:12 am

I'm guessing nothing unusual would be noted.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Don't you suppose most of them already have cerebral syphilis?

Thurman Munster IV August 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

Faux news will find a way to spin this as another example of how Obama doesn't love Amerikkka in 1…2…3…

widestanceshakedown August 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

This story will never see the light of day there.

comrad_darkness August 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

Dick Cheney and Henry Kissenger's secret love child must be so proud.

Thurman Munster IV August 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

So this is what Mad Men did before going into advertising.

SheriffRoscoe August 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

Whos' the greatest nation in the history of the world? USA! USA!

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

Through all time, it has been the universal law, that might makes right, that to the victor goes the spoils, that rape and pillage is the right of the conqueror, that enslavement and death are the fate of the vanquished. That a significant segment of the US population has reached the stage where they are horrified by the commonplace cruelties that have always been part of human existence is, well, its progress. Really, I mean it.

SheriffRoscoe August 30, 2011 at 11:48 am

Yes, and anyone old enough to have been to a real, live circus, (ala Ringling or Barnum, not one of those new age, sexytime "cirques") would realize that. Maybe we are still evolving?

LesBontemps August 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

Uh, have you seen the GOP candidates? I wouldn't be too hopeful.

SheriffRoscoe August 30, 2011 at 11:56 am

Having said that, it disturbs me to see the level of blind, fervent patriotism so prevalent in America today. Patriotism and religious zealotry are two things holding us back as a species, in my opinion.

ShaveTheWhales August 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Imperfect (or dreadful) as we may be, the fact that some of us want to puke about historical misbehavior is a positive sign. The fact that the majority of us are able to stomach current misbehavior (e.g., black sites) suggests that it's not very positive.

HempDogbane August 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

"Chillingly Egregious" is going to be my entrant in Sullivan's Name That Memoir contest.

MinAgain August 30, 2011 at 11:41 am

She blinded me with science!

What? Too soon?

emmelemm August 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Naw, that's a good one!

mavenmaven August 30, 2011 at 11:46 am

American exceptionalism! Couldn't let those Germans pull ahead of us in criminal medical experiments!

donner_froh August 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Add the syphilis experiments in 1958, the CIA coup against the popularly elected socialist government in 1954, the U.S. military and diplomatic support for the oligarchs in the civil war that started in 1965, arming and providing intelligence for death squads from the 1970s onward and the destruction of the Guatemalan civil society led by neo-cons led by Elliot Abrams…

and you see why the United States of Amerikkka is so loved throughout Central America.

SheriffRoscoe August 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm

The chickens always come home to roost.

genxr August 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Yeah but who wants to eat a syphilis infested chicken?

Chet Kincaid August 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Nothing riles up a rightwing nut like that phrase! It's like telling them Malcolm X and Jeremiah Wright are tag-teaming their daughters.

proudgrampa August 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

The more I know people, the more I love my dog.

prommie August 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Mencken? No, thats Twain, isn't it?

proudgrampa August 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm

<DIV>Good call! It was Mark Twain, indeed.</DIV> <DIV></DIV> <DIV></DIV> <DIV></DIV> <DIV>—

mrblifil August 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Now this is stimulus spending I can get behind. Heh, I said "behind."

AlaskaGrrl August 30, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Where was Dick Cheney?

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Where d'you think?

ShaveTheWhales August 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Avoiding the draft.

DahBoner August 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm

So what happened next?

WhatTheHeck August 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

…and 100 years before that, Smallpox in blankets…

Smitros August 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm

¿Cómo se dice “Tuskegee Experiment” en español?

proudgrampa August 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm

El Experimento de Tuskegee?

genxr August 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Montezuma necesitar mas revenge.

joobajooba August 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Don't forget the CIA started AIDS. And the crack epidemic. Or are those the delusions of conspiracy buffs?

ShaveTheWhales August 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm

1. Yes (that is, yes it's a delusion)

2. Maybe

owhatever August 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm

This country does not torture. Much.

If we cannot punish the people who did this, we should at least publish their names (Hear me, Wikileaks!) so they can be shamed, even if they are dead.

ShaveTheWhales August 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I agree. They are too old to punish meaningfully, other than by fouling their names, so we should do that.

(edit) This reads like sarcasm. It isn't. I'm in complete agreement with you.

SaintRond August 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Shooting up brown people in the back of the skull with clap. Lovely. Where do I go to renounce my citizenship?

KenLayIsAlive August 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm

They got free government syphillis? I paid for mine!

Syphillis Welfare Queens!

prommie August 30, 2011 at 4:47 pm

It would be a good deal if you could get some free government pot to treat it with.

glamourdammerung August 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm

While clearly unethical, still not as straight up weird as Stalin trying to create human-ape hybrids. Ewwwww.

lochnessmonster August 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Man's inhumanity to man.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I have no words. Soldiers killing and torturing people, I can understand. It's what we train them for. *Medical doctors* who take an oath not to harm other people, killing and torturing people — no. Just no.

High_Tea_Party August 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm

USA! USA! USA! USA! SA! USA!

prommie August 30, 2011 at 11:59 am

I'm guessing its brought on by our fall, the retreat from our height of prosperity and power. Since Reagan, there has been a generation of decreasing wages and scarce jobs. I think its the same mechanism at play which led Weimar Germany to spawn the Nazis.

proudgrampa August 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Well said, Roscoe. With people like you in the world, there is hope. And I mean that. Really.

Love,

proudgrampa

prommie August 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm

In my opinion, they are forms of mental illness.

emmelemm August 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Exactly. Crazy-eyed demagogues who play on people's fear and anger over disastrous economic conditions, advocate restrictions on any and all "minority" groups, accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being unpatriotic… check, check, CHECK.

Are we doomed?

prommie August 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Well, I prefer to say "we're fucked," but yes, we are.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Let's just say our extremophile lab needed test subjects.

MichelesPantalones August 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Jesus, Biely, they infected CHILDREN. Nine years old.

I hope you're giving them your very best attention.

MichelesPantalones August 31, 2011 at 11:37 am

Still? Horrors!

Agnes Smedley was my very first source for information on the two-edged struggle for freedom in China. But I have a stack of contemporary reading on China that I will get to as soon as I finish the stack on VietNam.

How long did you say you had lived there?

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I've been teaching in China since 1997.

zhubajie August 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I once took part in a dig in Israel, where we were told to be real careful walking around, because there had been a big battle there in 1917 (UK vs. Turks) and that there was a lot of unexploded ordinance laying around. The French army has a special unit of "demineurs" that does nothing but defuse shells, etc., re-discovered along the former Western Front.

MichelesPantalones August 31, 2011 at 9:05 pm

No need to ask if you're liking it, I suppose. Do you think you will ever return here?

MichelesPantalones August 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I take it, then, that archaeology is one of your interests?

Will we ever rid ourselves of the horrors of war, do you think?

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