Soldiers were given LSD, other
mind-altering drugs and powerful nerve agents.
At about the same time a story appeared about two students in my hometown of Boulder giving pot brownies to unknowing students, a story was published in The New Yorker magazine about James S. Ketchum, a colonel in the U. S. Army who led a group which dosed volunteers with nerve agents and powerful hallucinogens to see if the substances could be used as weapons in warfare.
Colonel Ketchum and the Medical Research Volunteer Program were trying to prepare for a psychochemical war. Were their actions moral, or immoral?
Colonel James S. Ketchum dreamed of war without killing. He joined the Army in 1956 and left it in 1976, and in that time he did not fight in Vietnam; he did not invade the Bay of Pigs; he did not guard Western Europe with tanks, or help build nuclear launch sites beneath the Arctic ice. Instead, he became the military’s leading expert in a secret Cold War experiment: to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals that temporarily incapacitate the mindcausing, in the words of one ranking officer, a "selective malfunctioning of the human machine." For nearly a decade, Ketchum, a psychiatrist, went about his work in the belief that chemicals are more humane instruments of warfare than bullets and shrapnelor, at least, he told himself such things. To achieve his dream, he worked tirelessly at a secluded Army research facility, testing chemical weapons on hundreds of healthy soldiers, and thinking all along that he was doing good.
Operation Delirium. Decades after a risky Cold War experiment, a scientist lives with secrets. The New Yorker>>