But then the story took an even darker turn: the CIA began to take an interest in the work. After all, this was a time when documented efforts were under way to find a subtle way of assassinating Fidel Castro. Military and Intelligence eyes sparkled at the prospect of somehow injecting Castro with Cancer. His death would appear natural, and there would be no accusations from the Soviet Union.
But what was Oswald's role in all this activity? The evidence of Oswald's intelligence work for the U.S. Government is overwhelming. Did he become involved in a biological weapons experiment so monstrous that it's secret had to be maintained at all costs?
Diligent researchers know that Oswald was playing intelligence games in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. One day he was handing out pro-Castro literature on street corners, some of it stamped with the same address as Bannister's anti-Castro office at 544 Camp Street. Another day Oswald was offering his services to anti-Castro militant Carlos Bringuier. Oswald's duplicity resulted in what appeared to authorities as a staged fight between Oswald and Bringuier on a New Orleans street.
Oswald was arrested for disturbing the peace. While in jail, he did not ask to see a lawyer but instead someone from the FBI. Despite being outside normal business hours, FBI agent John Quigley arrived and spent more then an hour with Oswald, who commenced to detail his activities since arriving in New Orleans, almost as though he was making a report to superiors. Yet Oswald made no public mention of David Ferrie or his work at Ferrie's cancer lab.
According to information gathered by Haslam, Oswald also was much more closely connected to his uncle, Charles "Dutz" Murret and New Orleans crime lord Carlos Marcello then previously expected.
But Haslam's primary focus is on the strange and horrible death of Dr Mary Sherman, whose charred body was found in her home in July 1964. She had been stabbed multiple times. Her body exhibited the effects of extreme scorching and heat, yet there was only superficial fire damage to her bed and home.
He also delves into Oswald's work with Ferrie in the covert cancer lab and it's fatal results. His research provides a plausible explanation for the caged white mice reported in Ferrie's apartment, Oswald's missing time at the Reily Coffee Company and for the never fully understood trip to Clinton I.A. by Oswald, Ferrie, and Shaw.
Readers of Haslam's previous book,Mary, Ferrie & the Monkey Virus will recall the author's suspicion that Dr. Sherman's death may have been the result of an accident involving a linear particle accelerator used in the cancer research. In this updated account, Haslam lays out strong evidence that just such a device was in use on the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital grounds near Tulane in the 1960's.
His previous work was embraced by the late Mary Ferrell, that indefatigable Dallas JFK assassination researcher. When asked her opinion of Haslam's research, Mary replied," Based on what we know today, I think it's totally accurate".
In this new volume, Haslam brings the one thing missing from his earlier work_ a living witness.
The importance of this new testimony was summed up by consummate conspiracy debunker John McAdams who stated," If Judyth Vary Baker is telling the truth,it will change the way we think about the Kennedy assassination."
Ed Haslam's research may indeed change the way we think about the assassination, about Lee Harvey Oswald and about the greatest health scandal in history.
The tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy may come to be seen as a mere bump in the road of a series of national scandals and conspiracies which have plagued the United States right up to today.
"It was a more innocent time and we were more naive", Owen said to me in a moment of somber reflection. The net of all this was that Owen's concern over Juan Valdez's behavior became so acute that he wrote a letter to the FBI to report that behavior as suspicious, suggesting they investigate Valdez. According to Owen, the FBI ignored his warning, and the man who was helping Lee Oswald dispose of something under highly suspicious circumstances was not investigated. The question remains: what were they flushing down Juan Valdez's toilet.
In Me and Lee 3 Judyth Vary Baker explains how she and Lee would kill mice in David Ferrie's apartment, cut out the tumors, grind them up in a blender, put the puree into test tubes and prep slides to be examined by microscope. Judyth would then transport these materials to Mary Sherman's apartment for her review. By August, Dr Alton Ochsner who was directing their project, continuously ramped up " the count" of mice to be killed from 50 mice per day to 500 mice per day. Therefore the quantity of biological material being brought to Mary Sherman's apartment increased dramatically. It is my conclusion that the toilets were flushed in Juan Valdez's apartment because Lee and Juan were disposing of the cancerous biological material from Mary Sherman's apartment.
Frank went on to add that he had solved 104 of the 107 homicides cases assigned to him by the NOPD. From this I concluded that the real point of his phone call was to make sure I knew he was a competent homicide investigator and not some flake. He also reminded me that in 1963, before he became a detective, he was a patrolman working the Canal Street beat on foot, and that he and his partner had arrested Lee Harvey Oswald during a street incident on August 9th. Indeed I later found Haywards name on Oswald's arrest record.
Once Frank was comfortable talking to me, he finally confided that he had wanted to arrest Juan Valdez for Mary Sherman's murder. "There was just something about him that did not add up," Hayward said, "but we did not have sufficient evidence to make the charge stick, and you can't arrest someone on a hunch." Frank said he was mystified by all the phone calls he got from a wide spectrum of law enforcement(FBI, Justice Department, Louisiana State Police etc...) who called him repeatedly to inquire about any progress investigating the Mary Sherman murder.
Frank had since passed on, but I remembered his comments about Valdez clearly. I mentioned these comments to Owen Hawes as we spoke, reminding him that it was Juan Valdez who said that he had smelled the smoke from Mary Sherman's fire from a heating vent. Then Owen dropped his next bombshell, there was no central air in the Patio Apartments. Owen was an engineer experienced in building design and construction, he said that Patio Apartments had only window units installed on the outer wall, and no central system at all, not even for heating. I was getting the picture. Valdez's apartment was the closest to St Charles Ave, and Mary's was the apartment was the farthest from St.Charles,and there was no central air ducts. Juan Valdez was, therefore, the least likely person in the complex to smell smoke from Mary Sherman's fire, unless he had been roaming the courtyard of the Patio Apartments at 4:00 a.m. for some reason. Maybe Juan Valdez knew more about what happened to Mary Sherman than he admitted.
Owen Hawes then said that his own name was mentioned in the police report about the burglary of Mary Sherman's apartment that happened months before her murder. Owen was concerned that the report falsely stated that Owen had noticed Sherman's door ajar and had contacted Mary's friend Carolyn Talley about it. Owen had done neither of these two things, and suspected Juan Valdez had used his name when questioned by the police.
I was aware of the burglary, but had not been able to pin a date on it. The newspapers said it was six months earlier than her July murder, which would have placed it in January 1964. I asked Owen how he knew his name was in the burglary report, and he told me he had a copy of the document. He offered to send it to me, and I accepted. What I found astounded me! Had I realized the importance of this document, I would have been looking for it vigorously. But I didn't, I was lucky. It was handed to me because of our conversation about Juan Valdez. The date of the burglary thundered at me. August 31,1963. It was a date that I knew well.
Today that book is known as Me & Lee, How I came to Know, Love, and lose Lee Harvey Oswald by Judyth Vary Baker. I think it is an extremely important book. One of its great accomplishments is that it nails both the dates and purposes of Oswalds often overlooked trips to Clinton and Jackson Louisiana. The first date in this constellation is August 28, 1963, the date that Rev Martin Luther King gave his " I have a dream" speech in Washington D.C. during the Civil Rights March. Because of this, CORE(the Congress of Racial Equality, a national organization based out of the University of Chicago) had planned voter registration drives for blacks all across the country, especially in the South, for the following day, August 29th, 1963. Highly segregated Clinton, Louisiana was one of those sites targeted by the CORE office in Baton Rouge. 4
After a summer of killing mice and monkeys with their cancerous cocktail, it was time to test the concoction on a human. Thursday August 29th was selected as the date, and David Ferrie, Lee Oswald and the bio-weapon to Jackson, Louisiana. There they would need to get past the guards and fences surrounding the East Louisiana State Mental Hospital(a facility for the criminally insane) to inject the bio weapon into specially selected "volunteer" prisoners. The logistical problem was that the prisoners who were to be injected were still in nearby Angola Penitentiary and needed to be transferred to the hospital in Jackson for that purpose. Jackson, Louisiana(not to be confused with Jackson Mississippi) is a tiny town where a black Cadillac might attract unwanted attention to the men transporting the bio-weapon.
Clinton, Louisiana, however was just down the road from Jackson and was a slightly larger town with a courthouse where cars like black Cadillacs were parked frequently parked by lawyers, judges, and politicians. It was here that Clay Shaw planned to wait for a phone call that said the prisoner had left Angola and was en route to the hospital in Jackson.5 Once the prisoner had left, Shaw would proceed to Jackson to rendezvous with the van from Angola so that he could follow it onto the mental hospital grounds, as if his black Cadillac was part of the official convoy from Angola.
What Shaw and company expected to find in Clinton that day was an empty square in front of a small town courthouse on a hot August afternoon. What they encountered however was a crowded square with a bunch of angry whites watching an unwanted black voter registration drive, with the town's marshal surveying the scene So instead of waiting quietly in the center of a lazy small town in rural Louisiana on a hot August afternoon, they had driven into the center of a hotbed of civil rights activity with everyone watching, as will be discussed in more detail.
Finally the pay phone rang. Shaw got his call,and the black Cadillac headed to the hospital in Jackson where someone(presumably Ferrie) injected the prisoner(s) with the cancer weapon. Once that was done, Shaw's team started the long drive back to New Orleans.6 Their work in Jackson was finished for the moment, but it would be two days before anyone would be able to tell if the bio-weapon had worked.To find out, a blood test would need to be done 48 hours later. And not just any blood test: a blood titration test, these were exotic tests that only a few people in the country even knew how to perform...one of these people was Judyth Vary Baker.
Two days later, at 11:00 a.m. on August 31,1963, Lee Harvey Oswald began driving Judyth Vary Baker from New Orleans to Jackson, Louisiana,7 so Judyth could perform the blood tests on the prisoner(s) to confirm that the cancer cocktail had "kicked in." 8 It had. At the end of the day, Lee dropped Judyth off at her house at 1032 Marengo Street at 10:00 p.m. This was the end of Judyth's involvement with the project,which had proven itself by this time.
The Burglary of Mary Sherman's Apartment
That same night, around 11:00 p.m., someone pried open the door to Mary Sherman's apartment.9 But Mary was not there. Earlier that day she had flown to London, where she was to stay a month.10 The burglar(s) removed thousands of dollars of property from her apartment.
What is clear from reading Me & Lee is that by the end of August 1963, the development phase of the bio-weapon was over. All that remained was to test it on humans, and that involved the 48 hour blood tests that Judyth needed to perform. Before Judyth even tested the patients blood for cancer, Mary was headed out of the country. And by the time the day was over, the evidence that might have connected Mary to the project was stolen from her apartment. So what was stolen from Mary's apartment? And why?
The NOPD made a list of the items stolen, but I don't have that detailed list "The attached list of stolen property" was filed separately.11 What I do have is "Type and value of Property stolen or recovered":
Currency and Negotiable $35.00
Jewelry and Precious Metals $350.00
These are 1963 dollars. In current value over $12,000 of Miscellaneous items had been stolen! That's 71% of the total! How unusual. In an effort to make sense out of this, I contacted Judyth Vary Baker, who had been in Mary's apartment in 1963, and I asked her what she had seen in Mary's apartment that could have been worth that much money. Judyth sent mr back a list of laboratory equipment, including an expensive oil-immersion microscope and a rotating wheel that held test tubes,with their current prices that added up to $ 12,000. I think it is safe to say that Mary's medical equipment was the target of the burglary.
All of Mary's medical equipment had been removed from her apartment. A heavy set Cuban looking man had been seen near the scene. The net effect was that evidence connecting Mary Sherman to the bio-weapon plot had been "sanitized". Neither Judyth nor Mary could expose Dr Oschsner's involvement without the evidence, and the evidence was now gone. 12
In the late 1960's, I heard about Mary Sherman's connection to an underground medical laboratory run by a suspect in the murder of President Kennedy. I was told they were using monkey viruses to create cancer. The possibility of this being used as a biological weapon was clear. The dark specter of unleashing a designer virus on the world haunted me. I even offered a sarcastic comment at the time: "The good news is if there's a bizarre global epidemic involving cancer and a monkey virus thirty years from now,at least we'll know where it came from."
In 1971, during what might be described as a deathbed conversation, I confronted my dad about Mary Sherman. He was getting ready to go to the hospital. For the first time in his life, he was going as a patient. His cancerous lung was scheduled to be surgically removed in the morning. We both knew,that due to his fragile health, he would probably not survive the surgery. We discussed it. We both realized that this would probably be the last conversation we would ever have with each other. He stoically gave me instructions gave me instructions about caring for my mother. I listened and pondered the strength of this quiet man who had seen so much death in his professional life. I studied the courage with which he faced his own.
When he finished, I acknowledged his requests and confirmed my willingness to carry out his instructions. Then I said I had a few questions of my own. Questions that I would never be able to ask him again. Questions that I thought were important for him to answer, so that the truth would not die with him. I asked him to tell me about Mary Sherman and about all that spooky stuff that was going on at U.S. Public Health Service Hospital." Wasn't she some kind of cancer expert?" I ventured.
He shook his head slowly from side to side,to let me know that he would not tell me,
I persisted, I wanted to know why he would not tell me.Solemnly he said," There might be repercussions. I have to think about the family first. I have to protect them."
"What if I figure it out myself?" I challenged.
"I'm hardly in a position to stop you," he said with the casual resignation of a man who never expected to see another football game. Then he collected his thoughts and, in a grave voice, he gave me this warning:" Ed, I need you to listen to me carefully. I will not be able to say this to you again. If you do figure out what happened down there and decide to tell the world what you found, I need you to realize,you will be crossing swords with the most powerful people in our country. And you should think twice before crossing them."
The 1980's ushered in the epidemics that I feared in the 1960's. The mainstream scientific community stated that AIDS was caused by the unexplained mutation of a monkey virus. They estimated the date of the mutation to be around 1960. The logical question(who had been mutating monkey viruses around 1960?)was not even asked in the press. And ,yes I was concerned about what I had heard in New Orleans. It all sounded so similar. Could there be a connection? And if there was, was there any point in speaking up about it? Trade places with me for a moment: If you were in my shoes, would you have?
I went to medical libraries and read scientific articles hoping to find facts that would make my fears unfounded. I was anxious to find a flaw in my own argument, which would enable me to walk away from a project that was starting to consume all my free time. I did not find the flaw, but I did find something else.
As I poured over the official cancer statistics from the National Cancer Institute, I saw the dimensions of the massive epidemic of soft tissue cancers that had swept our country. An epidemic that had been all but ignored by our watchdog press. An epidemic that could reasonably be explained by the cancer causing monkey viruses that had contaminated the polio vaccine of my youth. Whatever I felt my options were prior to that moment, they suddenly narrowed.
I also noticed that names connected to the polio vaccine were names connected to Mary Sherman and to the investigation of the JFK assassination. I began to suspect that these secrets were somehow intertwined. A web of secrecy surrounding our national health. Interlocking secrets that protected each other. Secrets which presented serious accountability problems for the people in power. I remembered the warning my father had given me. I could see how unwelcome this news would be in many circles.
In the 1990's I found documentation and witnesses to support much of what I had heard as a child. My fears were now based in facts. I met highly credentialed scientists who understood both the history and the science behind these events clearly, and they took my concerns seriously. Some quietly helped me find people who knew things that I needed to know. They helped me connect the dots.
Finally I found evidence of the radioactive machine used to mutate the monkey viruses. I now had motive, opportunity and what detectives call propinquity(right people,right place,right time). I decided it was time to speak out, even if I did not have all the information in hand at the moment.
In July 1995, I self published my story as Mary, Ferrie,& the Monkey Virus:The Story of an Underground Medical Laboratory. I could only afford to print 1000 copies, but I hoped getting it out there would attract a publisher. After the first thousand books were gone, I could not afford a reprint. Still without a publisher, I switched tactics and started photocopying comb-bound manuscripts in batches of ten.This technique enabled me to update the book with new information as I found it and kept me in print for years. A handful of orders trickled in each week By the end of 1999,a second thousand books had been shipped. With copies in all fifty states and five foreign countries, I felt that "the cat" was now "out of the bag", and I could finally go back to my advertising career, and try to make a living, which I did in 2000.
It was at this exquisitely inconvenient moment that 60 Minutes, the CBS News TV show, contacted me. They were investigating a woman who said that she had been in the underground medical laboratory that I had written about in my book. That she knew Mary Sherman. That she had been trained to handle cancer causing viruses. That she had been part of the effort to develop a biological weapon. That she knew Lee Harvey Oswald. Would I meet with them for an off camera interview? I accepted.
By the time 60 Minutes interviewed me in November 2000, they had already interviewed their witness for hours. They got additional input from other researchers and journalists Finally, they decided not to air her story.
Three years later, in November 2003,the History Channel aired a story about this same underground medical laboratory. It mentioned Mary Sherman,David Ferrie and Lee Oswald, but not my book. The episode, featuring a young woman who had handled the cancer causing monkey viruses for the secret project,was part of the series The Men who Killed Kennedy. A week later the History Channel reversed course. The episode was withdrawn from circulation,and has not aired again.
Our story comes from a fermenting mash of science, secrecy, patriotism, power, paranoia and extremism. It is not a pretty picture. It involves death, disease, covert wars and the quiet hand of power. In our path sit innocent people who I am sure would prefer not to be involved. I apologize to them in advance. Then there are others who claim to have forgotten everything they know about this matter or who know but refuse to talk. To them I offer no apology.
This story casts a shadow that is so dark and so long that I have chosen to tell it simply. Some have said that it has the nightmarish quality of an anxiety dream. I prefer to see it in a different light. It is, as songwriter Jackson Browne once said,"the fitful dream of some greater awakening". We are just beginning to wake up to the responsibilities of being a free society. It is much more complicated than dropping bombs on an obvious enemy. It is time we began to question what the people of power did with the trust and money we gave them.
I doubt we will ever hear the Surgeon General stand up at a press conference and acknowledge this operation. This one still possesses serious accountability problems for those who hold positions of power. Further, it comes from the land of unvouchered expenditures were obscured by professionals decades ago.
There are reasons for such secrecy. Powerful reasons.Reasons capable of destroying careers and toppling governments. A full exposure here would threaten the treasure of our nation's wealthiest corporations, the reputation of some of the powerful politicians figures of the day, and the precious confidence we give our national institutions. While we can understand why they kept these matters secret, we have a different goal.
Our task is to unmask these secrets because they were hidden from us for reasons. Powerful reasons.Reasons that affect decisions being made today. Reasons that involve politics and medicine Reasons that affect our health and ultimately our freedom.
To investigate such secrecy is a formidable task. We tread lightly for we walk upon tender ground, over the bones of children,through sour rooms of tumor bearing mice,and into the bloodstained bedroom of one of our nation's most respected cancer researchers. It is here we search for knowledge that was not meant to be known. We will use published sources and official records as best we can. At times we examine these more closely and in greater detail than anyone before us. But we must be prepared to look beyond the official paper trail and to use less certain methods to find our way Methods like oral history, personal testimony, feeble press accounts,censored government documents, and our own capable and curious intellects.
Complicating our task further is the catastrophic flood of 2005 that followed hurricane Katrina. Irreplaceable documents(like the crime scene photos)and precious physical evidence(like the blood soaked gloves found in Mary Sherman's apartment, which could still yield DNA or other clues) may have been lost forever when the waters of Lake Pontchartrain engulfed the city of New Orleans, Yet we can proceed with what we do know. As you will see,plenty of evidence had been collected previously.
You will find this book as much of a personal odyssey as a journalistic work. But that's what happens when you investigate a murder only to discover an epidemic. Either way the destination is the same. I will tell you why I am deeply suspicious of activities that occured in New Orleans in the 1960's, and why you should be too. We will begin with what I personally saw and heard over the years. To that we will add years of research. Then we get questions. Fair and honorable questions. Questions which deserve answers. Questions which have their own purpose, their own energy, even their own dignity. Questions which will eventually help us coax this Orwellian monster out of its swamp of secrecy.
The fact that these diseases obviously concerned my father more than rabies made a huge impression upon me. His comments ended my desire for a pet monkey, but they were the beginning of my curiosity about the monkey virus research being conducted in New Orleans. My first real question arose from my dad's cautiousness: Why were Tulane's doctors not supposed to talk about the monkey virus research program?
Several days after the pirate incident we had a substitute teacher at school. In the middle of the day she turned her attention to science and started talking about germs and diseases. She reviewed the basics about how germs caused diseases and how our bodies fought back. She went on to explain the differences among bacteria, fungi, and viruses. As her lecture continued, she confidently explained how modern medicine had triumphed over bacteria and fungi with medicines and antibiotics. Then she moved the discussion to the frontier of medicine, where researchers were battling the mysterious world of viruses.
I raised my hand to make a contribution to the discussion: They were researching viruses down at Tulane Medical School(I knew the monkey subject was taboo,so I didn't mention it). "No", she said immediately, and turning toward the entire class, she said,"That's wrong", in a definite voice. "Tulane is just a college, and its purpose is to teach students, not do research, Virus research," she continued, "is a very complex subject and is only done by very intelligent specialists at faraway places like Harvard and John Hopkins universities and at special government research centers which have special equipment."
I was embarrassed by her response, but there was nothing I could do about it. I knew she was both right and wrong. Tulane's facility was full of people from Harvard and Hopkins. My father was one of them. Many of them were doing research. For over 100 years the reputation of Tulane had been based on battling tropical diseases like yellow fever and malaria.
It was true that the names Harvard and John Hopkins were in the news more often than Tulane, each time announcing some medical breakthrough or at least updating the public on their progress in fighting some dreaded disease. Other than announcing its pathetic football scores, Tulane's name hardly ever appeared in the local press. Public news about Tulane Medical School was basically non-existent in the 1960's. 2 The teacher had stated the public's perception accurately enough. More importantly, I knew that nothing I could say would change her mind. More than likely she just could not grasp that idea that something "local" might be important. Beaten for the moment,I held my tongue.
The next time I had a chance to talk with my father, I asked him why it was that we always heard on the news about the medical research being done at faraway places like Harvard and John Hopkins, but we never heard about the research being conducted at Tulane.
"Not everybody wants publicity" he patiently explained. "Yes some people do research because they want to be famous and tell the world how great they are, but other people are not interested in publicity, and they do the research to get information and knowledge. It's just part of being involved in academic medicine."
While I understood that he was trying to communicate the nobility of quiet scholarship, his answer did not make sense to me. Such an explanation might explain the bragging of an upstart school, but it did not explain why we heard about research from first class schools like Harvard and Hopkins, but not Tulane. I thought about his comment for a minute and asked: " What sort of people wouldn't want the public to know about their research?"
He hid his exasperation with my relentless questioning in his quite bedside manner, and said that much of the research at Tulane was financed by money from drug companies and the U.S.Government. These grants were frequently for experiments with drugs that were not ready for the public, Therefore, there was no reason to tell the public about them.
That still not answer the question to my satisfaction. Sooner or later those drugs would be ready, but somehow I knew we would still not hear about them. The not ready yet argument was as true for Harvard and Hopkins as for Tulane. But I did understand his main points clearly. First, Tulane did not have enough money to fund its own research and was dependent upon others, like drug companies and the U.S. Government, who consequently dictated what was to be researched and what was to be talked about. Secondly Tulane Medical School did not get publicity because it did not want publicity. While this was not much of a victory for me, at least I understood why the teacher and the public did not know about Tulane's virus research programs.
Actually there were some very good reasons to keep subjects like researching monkey viruses quiet. The main ones were:
1)potential public panic over an accidental epidemic.
2)growing public pressure from the animal rights movement.
3)the secrecy demanded by covert operations.
The possibility of public panic over an accidental epidemic was a real and present danger to both researchers and their financial backers. One bad incident might trigger a public outcry that would effectively shut down all such research for years. The possibility of such an accidental epidemic was very real, and the scientists knew it. 3
Monkey handlers who drew blood from one cancerous monkey to inject it into another occasionally stabbed themselves with needles full of blood laced with carcinogenic monkey viruses.5 The dangers were enormous, and the controls were feeble by today's standards. The generality of all this is well documented in medical libraries around the country. One book published during the 1960's made the point clearly in its title, The Hazards of Handling Simians and listed the numerous outbreaks of diseases in the primate research facilities during the previous two decades.6
Then the monkey handlers would go home and resume their normal lives, including sexual activities. The potential for zoonoses(diseases jumping from animal to man)was very real, and the medical community knew it.
Consider these comments written in the 1960s by Richard Fiennes, Britain's leading primate researcher, about the danger of primate research:
There is...a serious danger that viruses from such closely related groups as the simian primates could show an altered pathogenesis in man, of which malignancy could be a feature. The dangers of such happening are enhanced by man's exposure in crowded cities to oncogenic agents and increased radiation hazards.
The danger of transmitting simian viruses in vaccines is a real and alarming one...
The further danger is that simian viruses might become adapted to human populations, and spread with appaling rapidity, and under circumstances in which there were no possible immediate means of control....
Knowledge of prophylaxis against viral diseases is in its infancy, and time must elapse before any effective vaccine could be prepared, tested and manufactured in bulk to protect populations against a pandemic caused by a new virus...
Plainly it is in the realms of virology that primate zoonoses present the greatest danger...
Far too little is known of the virology of simians.7
Does this sound familiar? Does it not predict the current AIDS epidemic? Speaking further of this danger, Fiennes discussed O'nyong-nyong, a mildly lethal virus that swept Africa:
Had O'nyong- nyong been attended by a high death rate, the human population of a large part of East and Central Africa would have virtually ceased to exist. To such an extent , in spite of 20th century medicine, is man still vulnerable to attack from new viruses. 8
The danger was real. The fear of the public panic was real. With experimental animals, unpredictable viruses and exposed animal handlers intermingled in a sweltering tropical city of nearly a million people(like New Orleans) the opportunity for a biological disaster was ripe.
The idea of an epidemic suddenly sweeping the streets of an American city was not foreign to the public. In fact a movie called Panic in the Streets won the Academy Award for best screenplay in 1952. Panic in the Street depicted a U.S. Public Health Service officer battling a modern day outbreak of bubonic plague on the streets of New Orleans. But the press of the 1950s and 1960s either did not consider the public's interest in medical matters substantial enough to warrant coverage, or they felt they had a higher duty to prevent public panic. Either way, the press did a poor job of covering the issue then. But, they do a better job of covering it today.[That is open to debate DC]
For example, an accident occured at a Yale laboratory in the 1990s. The headline in Time shouted "A deadly virus escapes." The sub-headline continued, "Concerns about lab security arise as a mysterious disease from Brazil strikes a Yale researcher"9 The researcher worked at a Biohazard-3 lab and was studying a rare, potentially lethal virus when he broke a test tube. He failed to report the incident, which sprayed this virus into his nostrils. Instead he went to visit friends in Boston. When the incident was discovered, the researcher was quarantined, and his friends were put under medical surveillance. The article concluded, "If researchers do not tighten some of their procedures, the next outbreak might not be so benign." All of which makes one wonder: What safety procedures were enforced in the monkey labs of the 1960s? And what procedures would have been followed in an underground medical laboratory with no visible sponsor?
To understand the type and extent of monkey virus research being done in medical schools in the 1950s and 1960s, I went to medical libraries and started reading the history of virology. While even an overview of these activities is beyond our scope at the moment, there are a few points worth mentioning. First is that it was well established in these medical research circles around the world prior to 1960, that certain monkey viruses caused various types of cancer. including cancers of the skin, lungs, and bones.10
Secondly, experimentation with carcinogenic viruses was widespread throughout the network of primate research centers, from the U.S., to Europe, to the U.S.S.R. Blood, tumor cells, and viral extracts were routinely taken from a variety of animals and injected into monkeys like a game of viral roulette. One lab created tumors in as little as eight days.11 Another lab injected human volunteers with the known cancer causing monkey viruses to observe the effects.12
New diseases started to appear, diseases which were unknown in the wild. One such disease that first appeared in the lab is now called SAIDS or Simian AIDS 13. It occured when African monkey viruses were given to Asian monkeys. SIV, the retrovirus that collapsed the immune systems of Asian monkeys, did not cause disease in its natural host, the African green monkeys.14
In addition to viral roulette, researchers experimented with radiation therapy, beaming x-rays and gamma rays directly into tumors to encourage remission. The medical researchers of the 1960s irradiated tumors in laboratory animals, including primates, and shot radiation directly into the tumors of human patients.15 Think this one through before we proceed. When you shoot a radioactive beam at a tumor, you not only hit the tumor, but you also hit the blood and viruses in and around the tumor. Was the type of radiation used to dissolve cancer tumors strong enough and focused enough to damage the DNA and RNA of the viruses floating in the patients blood?
At this point, the medically sophisticated reader might say."Wait a minute! the radiation exposure of a clinical x-ray machine does minimal damage to DNA or RNA and very many people receive very many x-rays without getting cancer." And this is true where we are talking about the exposure and energy levels associated with common clinical use, which have been clinically established as relatively safe for humans.
However in the late 1950s a powerful new device emerged from the physics lab and quietly began to be distributed to selected medical research facilities. It was called a linear particle accelerator.16 Never before had a machine of this magnitude been put into the commercial workplace. You might think of it as a poor mans atom smasher. These high voltage scientific machines were capable of doing things never done before, and they spawned new ultra hi-tech applications that stretched the imagination. Their basic capabilities included producing high energy radiation and hurling sub-atomic particles near the speed of light into whatever object one desired.17 To illustrate their ability to change things generally considered to be unchangeable, lets look at a commercial application of a linear accelerator in South Africa. Shooting sub-atomic particles through imperfect yellow diamonds stripped the impurities out of the yellow diamonds, and turned them into clear marketable diamonds. These linear accelerators were capable of destroying anything in their paths. There is nothing they could not cut,if directed to do so.
This particular point was dramatically demonstrated by a man named Jack Nygard, an engineer at a company in Boston which manufactured linear accelerators.18 Nygard developed ingenious new commercial applications for linear accelerators, from preserving bananas to cross-bonding wood. By shooting particles laterally through plastic laminated wood, Nygard created a new structural matrix inside the wood. The result was an ultra hard super wood that would never warp. It was the perfect low maintenance solution for the bowling industry. Nygard turned entrepreneur and set up shop in the heart of the lumber industry near Seattle, Washington, where he began producing his super wood on a commercial scale. His success continued until the day the technician running his accelerator did not notice that Jack had stepped into the wood processing area. When the technician flipped the switch on the 5,000,000 volt machine, it was the last anyone saw of Jack Nygard.19 The beam of electromagnetic radiation burned him to the point of disintegration. They swept up his ashes(Or so the story goes).
The medical applications of linear particle accelerators included destroying cancer tissue and conducting various types of viral and genetic research. These machines were quite capable of either killing viruses or simply mangling the molecules in the genome necessary for reproduction.
In the field of virus research, radioactive medical experiments greatly increased the danger of an already dangerous scenario. They introduced the capability of mutating viruses already known to be deadly, and raised the possibility of creating both new vaccines and new super diseases.
Some of the scientists involved in the field of monkey virus experiments got extremely nervous about the dangers of such experiments, and warned their colleagues in the mid 1960s that if one of the monkey viruses mutated into a more lethal form and got into the human blood supply, there could be a global epidemic which would be unstoppable, given the current level of medical knowledge.!20
In 1959 the U.S.Congress finally took the danger of an accidental monkey virus epidemic seriously and financed seven regional primate centers in order to get the experiments out of the cities.21
The Delta primates lab's $4,000,000 per year operating budget comes directly from the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health, as it has the past 40 years. One critic of animal research , Dr Peggy Carlson of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, claimed that animal research is big business, and said, "They are taking money away from other areas, and dumping it into a sinkhole."25 Other critics opposed animal research on humanitarian grounds, many believing that animal research actually contributes more to advancing professional careers than to advancing human medicine.
A case in point involved ten monkeys, which were transferred to the Delta Regional Primate Center from Silver Springs laboratory after their infamous experiments triggered a national animal rights debate in the 1980's. Delta terminated eight of the monkeys following heavy handed experiments. The other two monkeys which had their spinal cords deliberately severed at Silver Springs in the mid 1980s were kept alive at the Delta Regional Primate Center until the early 1990s.26
Dana Dorson an activist from a group called Legislation in Support of Animals, saw little improvement in the new experimental oversight procedures: "Those committee's just rubber stamp whatever is presented to them."27 Attempting to counter the animal rights critics, Delta Regional Primate Center's director Peter Gerone said, "Sometimes the public perception is that we do anything we want to monkeys,but that's a myth. Maybe it was like that thirty years ago, but it's not like that now."28
OK, so just what was it like then? Gerone surely knew. A virologist, Gerone had been director of the Delta Primate Center twenty three years before making that statement in 1994. Appointed in 1971, he had left the U.S.Army's Biological Warfare Center at Fort Detrick, where he had been one of their experts on airborne transmission of diseases.29 In 1975 he collaborated with representatives of the Defense Nuclear Agency, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to attend an NCI sponsored symposium on "Biohazards and Zoonotic Problems of Primate Procurement, Quarantine, and Research." There he presented his paper on "Biohazards of Experimentally Infected Primates."30
I can say from personal experience that, despite the establishment of the Delta Regional Primate Center in 1964, other primate research continued at Tulane Medical School in downtown New Orleans for years to come.
At the end of one hall, I found an open door and a room full of cages. Inside there were monkeys. Each appeared to be wearing a flat topped organ grinders hat. But a closer look revealed these were not hats.
A voice came fro inside the room."Come in.Come in. Who are you? And what can I do for you?" A professor sat in his chair looking at me, his head cocked to one side. He was dressed casually, a plaid shirt, no coat, no tie, no medical jacket. I introduced myself saying that I was visiting my father who was a professor in orthopedics. He invited me to come in and see the monkeys. He explained that the tops of their skulls had been removed with a bone saw and electrodes had been placed deep inside their brains. He held a sample electrode up for me to see.
It was a copper wire with a silver ball on the end which acted like a microscope inside the monkeys brain, sensing and amplifying electrical signals. Once fifteen or so of these electrodes were implanted in the monkeys brain, they were soldered to a data plug which was then glued to the monkey's skull. Once everything was in place the monkeys would be plugged into a electronic data collection machine, similar to an EEG, and then injected with psychoactive drugs. The machine measured the reaction of their various parts of their brains to the drugs. The professor held up a haphazardly folded scroll of paper full of squiggly lines to show me how the raw data was collected. "Its amazing work," I commented gesturing to the monkeys.
"Putting the plugs in is nothing," he said in a tone that could only be described as arrogant. "The technicians do that, The hard part is figuring out whats happening inside their brains". I thanked him and left. I had to get back to my task.
His 1924 book The Mind of The Gorilla catapulted him to become the world's leading authority on brain function. In 1928 he established the first large scale scientific primate laboratory for Yale University, not in Connecticut, but in the warmer suburbs of Jacksonville Florida.31 There they used lobotomies and other techniques to isolate brain function further. In 1942 the laboratory was renamed in his honor. The Yerkes lab was eventually moved to Emory University in Atlanta, near the Center for Disease Control. Today it is one of the seven federally funded primate research centers. Only seven, if you do not count the U.S. military's primate laboratories.
For some reason, before the Delta Regional Primate Center was established, the Tulane/LSU monkey lab was unofficially referred to as the "Yerkes lab". I say this mostly from personal experience. Growing up I repeatedly heard heard the New Orleans lab referred to as "Yerkes". As my seventh grade teacher put it, "Its not the famous Yerkes lab, but it's like the Yerkes lab." During the course of researching and writing this book, I heard three separate people refer to the Delta primate lab as "Yerkes." Further, I found a reference in a 1967 medical book to an "outbreak" of hepatitis at Yerkes in New Orleans,"32 reported by Dr Arthur Riopelle in 1963, a year before the Delta Regional Primate Center opened.
Monkey research in the 1930s and 1940s was by no means confined to psychology. Monkeys were the primary means of studying many viruses, including polio. Then in the late 1940s John F.Enders, a microbiologist from Harvard, and several students figured out how to grow viruses in a test tube full of human cells. At the time, the breakthrough was hailed as the end of the monkey era.33 Today, however there are approximately 20,000 monkeys sitting in cages in scientific laboratories across the country who might disagree with that prediction.
The second reason for maintaining a low profile was that the animal rights movement was just starting to grow. Anti-vivisectionists groups were protesting the treatment of experimental animals, and were distributing literature which showed the horrors of life and death in the animal labs. Keeping a low profile prevented such publicity from creating negative pressures on researchers and their employers.
The third reason for keeping a low profile was the secrecy demanded by covert Cold War operations. Simply said, Tulane was conducting sensitive research for the U.S. government, some of which was for the CIA. This was as much a matter of political pork as national security. Louisiana had one of the most powerful delegations in Washington, and much of that power was concentrated in the hands of legislators who controlled the military budgets. Congress works on the seniority system, and very few people had been in Washington longer than Louisiana's most powerful members:
✵F. EDWARD HEBERT, Chairman of Armed Service Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Taxes start in the House, and budgets start in Committee. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the entire U.S. military budget and the vast majority of the CIA budget started on Hebert's desk. One of his jobs was to hide most of the CIA budget in the U.S, military budget. He was known as " the military's best friend."34
✵ALLEN ELLENDER had been in the U.S, Senate for over 40 years. He was the senior senator when Huey Long was the junior senator in the 1930s. Ellender sat on the Armed Services Committee of the U.S.Senate and got Hebert's budget through the Senate. Between the two, they made sure that Louisiana received its fair share of military and space contracts.35
✵RUSSELL LONG, the son of Huey Long was Majority whip of the U.S.Senate, Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and a member of the Senate Banking Committee.
✵HALE BOGGS, Majority whip of the U.S.House of Representatives, was the third most powerful man in that body, and was considered by many to be LBJ's "man in the house".
Tulane was a majoring waterhole for the Louisiana delegation and it got "pork" whenever they could dish it out. Hebert and Ellender were in terrific position to assure that Tulane received pork in the form of CIA contracts.CIA projects were hidden from both Soviet and American scrucity by placing them in other agencies budgets, such as the National Institutes of Health, in the various military branches, or in private foundations. 36 From what I heard though Tulane's student grapevine over the years, I must conclude that Tulane was definitely involved in both NIH 37 and CIA sponsored projects, especially research with Psychoactive drugs.
Why would the CIA be interested in doing medical research? There were three main reasons:1) mind control, 2) to get rid of Castro or other foreign leaders. 3)to Keep up with the Soviets.
(The name "Gottlieb" shows up frequently in AID's literature. Dr Michael S. Gottlieb is an immunologist at UCLA Medical School who"discovered AID's" in 1981. Dr A. Arthur Gottlieb is also an immunologist and is a professor at Tulane Medical School, as is his wife. In 1972 A. Arthur Gottlieb was chosen by the U.S. Army's Biological Warfare Laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland to edit its book on infectious diseases.42 Please note that I have no information to suggest whether or not there is any relationship between Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, Dr Michael Gottlieb, or Dr A.Author Gottlieb, so the reader should be cautious about any such conclusions)
One of the best sources of information on "the secret war against Cuba" is a book called Deadly Secrets: The CIA-Mafia War against Castro and the Assassination of JFK, written by Warren Hinckle and William Turner. Turner is an ex-FBI agent who specialized in the political right. He worked with Jim Garrison on his JFK probe and was inside David Ferrie's apartment. His writing partner Warren Hinckle was editor of Ramparts magazine. In Deadly Secrets they made numerous references to the fact the CIA was getting the best minds in America, and particularly from the universities, involved in figuring out exotic ways to eliminate Castro and his government from Cuba. 43
Hinckle and Turner explained the frustration of the Kennedy White House. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars and recruiting thousands of Cuban exiles for Operation Mongoose(a free Cuba paramilitary operation based on the University of Miami), the Kennedy brothers wanted to see some action. They pressed the CIA for more tangible and immediate results and encouraged the use of alternative means to remove Castro and Communism from Cuba. Consider this passage:
Other than naming the University of Miami,Deadly Secrets does not say which universities were involved.Was Tulane one of the universities asked "to put the American genius to work"? It certainly would have fit into the economic interests and anti-Communism sentiment of the New Orleans business community. It would have fit into the tradition of close cooperation between CIA officials and certain members of the Tulane Board, most notably Sam Zemurray(who was chairman of both the United Fruit Company and the Tulane University Board of Directors in 1954, when the CIA produced a coup d'etat in Guatemala to reclaim 250,000 acres of United Fruit land which had been nationalized by Guatemala's democratically elected government)45 And the project would have been considered "pork" by the elected political officials who were in a position to approve the budget.
And what of Lansdale's proposal to "uncork the touchdown play independently of the institutional program"? Does this not suggest that there were some back channels open which were not officially or overtly connected to institutions? Was he referring to the CIA'S much publicized use of the mafia to try to kill Castro? Or might he have been referring to an underground medical laboratory run by politically sympathetic scientists who might develop a biological means of eliminating the entire Cuban leadership?
Thirdly, the CIA would have been interested in medical research for political reasons. In the 1950s and 1960s, Soviet scientists were ahead of U.S. scientists in certain areas of medical research, one of which was the investigation of cancer causing monkey viruses. The Soviets were explicit,as early as 1951, about their demonstration that certain simian viruses caused a variety of cancers.46 This was six to eight years before American government researchers produced the same results. This Soviet edge was a concern for American Cold War planners, who monitored Soviet scientific journals. From their perspective, this was just another Soviet threat. Either the Soviets might use this information to develop a sexually transmitted biological weapon to undermine freedom in the promiscuous West, or they might develop a cure for cancer before the U.S. did and therefore cause a major American political embarrassment. Either could provide sufficient reason for the CIA not to want the U.S. to fall behind the Soviets in this important area.47
Whatever the motive, the U.S.government wanted the work done.The money was provided for researching monkey viruses through convenient channels, but the doctors were not supposed to talk about it. In the Process, New Orleans became one of the leading centers of knowledge about immunology and retroviruses. The doctors at Tulane who Specialized in cancer and pathology had access to this knowledge, to these monkeys,and their viruses.
1.My Father was a limb surgeon whose specialties were reconstructive surgery and the rehabilitation of amputees. He was President of the Crippled Children's Hospital and Medical Directors of the Physical Rehabilitation Center at Delgado College. He knew Mary Sherman because they both taught orthopedic surgery at Tulane Medical School in the 1950s and early 60's. He never worked at Ochsner's clinic or hospital.He was not a virus researcher and was not involved in the underground medical laboratory in any way.
2.Tulane did publish the Bulletin of the Tulane Medical School but an industry relations piece sent to other medical schools.
3.An outbreak of infectious hepatitis was reported in New Orleans in 1962 by A.Riopelle and J.F. Molloy' infectious Hepatitis at Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology Laboratory Primate Newsletter,1962,Vol 1p 12.See also Fiennes,Zoonoses of Primates as related to Human Disease[Cornell,1965]p.146
4.Fiennes Zoonoses of Primates p.142 plus Hazards of Handling Simians[International Association of Microbiological Association 1969]
5.Allison,A.C 'Simian Oncogenic Viruses, 'Hazards of handling Simians p.172
6.Hazards of Handling Simians[International Association of Microbiology Associations 1969]table
7.Fiennes, Zoonoses of Primates pp.144-150
9.Lemonick Michael D. 'A Deadly Virus Escapes' Time magazine September 5,1994 p63
10.Petrov, a Soviet scientist used viruses to produce bone cancer in monkeys, in 1951;Lapin,B.A, et al, Use of Non Human Primates in Medical Research. Especially in the study of Cardiovascular Pathology and Oncology Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy,U.S.S.R. in Some Recent Developments in Comparative Medicine[London 1966]ed.Richard Fiennes p204 in the U.S., in 1957.....
11.Lapin,'The Use of Non-Human Primates',Some Recent Developments in Comparative Medicine. ed, Fiennes p 206.....
12.Grace,J.T. Jr &E.A. Mirand 'Human Susceptibility to a Simian Tumor Virus' Annals of the N.Y. Academy of Science vol 108 p.1123
13.Essex,Max& Phyllis J. Kanki,'The Origins of the AIDS Virus' Science of AID's A Scientific American Reader[New York 1989]p.30
15.Three references to the use of radiation on tumors can be found in Tumors of Bone and Soft Tissue[Chicago 1964] in Histogenesis of Bones Tumors p 16..
16.The New War on Cancer via Virus Research and Chemotherapy, Time July 27,1959 p54
17.Interview by Author,with Dr John Roberts, surgeon and president of the Medical Legal Foundation, October 3,1994
20.Fiennes, Zoonoses of Primates p.149
21.Eyestone. Willard H.'Some Recent Developments in Comparative Medicine'ed.Fiennes p2
note, the remaining notes in Chapter 1, and Introduction are similar to those above, if any reader desires a footnote Not above, make note in the comment section below and I will get it for you. reading and typing on this one......