The lawsuit’s argument is in line with broader criticisms of Edgewood: that, whether out of military urgency or scientific dabbling, the Army recklessly endangered the lives of its soldiers—naïve men, mostly, who were deceived or pressured into submitting to the risky experiments. The drugs under review ranged from tear gas and LSD to highly lethal nerve agents, like VX, a substance developed at Edgewood and, later, sought by Saddam Hussein. Ketchum’s specialty was a family of molecules that block a key neurotransmitter, causing delirium. The drugs were known mainly by Army codes, with their true formulas classified. The soldiers were never told what they were given, or what the specific effects might be, and the Army made no effort to track how they did afterward. Edgewood’s most extreme critics raise the spectre of mass injury—a hidden American tragedy. The New Yorker
In the latest issue of The New Yorker, journalist Raffi Khatchadourian writes about a secret chemical weapons testing program run by the U.S. Army during the Cold War.
Throughout the 1950s and '60s, at the now-crumbling Edgewood Arsenal by the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, military doctors tested the effects of nerve gas, LSD and other drugs on 5,000 U.S. soldiers to gauge the effects on their brain and behavior.
The most famous bit of footage in “Manufacturing Madness” is of a cat locked in a cage with a mouse; it is from an Army propaganda reel that was widely circulated in the nineteen-fifties. The cat, once dosed with LSD, appears to run in fear from a mouse; the normal power balance is reversed. “These effects upon the human are substantially the same as those demonstrated on the cat,” an Army official told Congress.