Did the Pentagon Release Weaponized Bugs?
Last week the House of Representatives added a bill to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Pentagon inspector general to investigate “whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding its use as a biological weapon.”
The NDAA is one of the few bills that gets revised every term, so it is no shock that new amendments have been added this year to the defense spending bill. However, this one is a little bit unusual to be sure.
It was proposed by Republican Chris Smith from New Jersey and asked that a review be conducted about possible military experiments with making ticks into biological weapons during the years 1950 through 1975.
Smith said Friday on the House floor, “My amendment tasks the DOD inspector general to ask the hard questions and report back.” The following are the questions he would like answered:
What were the parameters of the program? Who ordered it? Was there ever an accidental release anywhere or at any time of any diseased ticks? Were any ticks released by design? Did the program contribute to the disease burden? Could any of this information help current-day researchers find a way to mitigate these diseases?
Smith, who is an active advocate for the study, prevention, and awareness of Lyme disease, wants to know if there is any connection between the apparent spread of such an illness and government experiments. Lyme disease arises after a person has been introduced to a bacterial pathogen that is usually tick-born and spread.
While it might sound like something right out of science fiction, Smith claims he came to these conclusions after reading several science-backed articles and books. One such book is called Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons written by Kris Newby. Newby published the book earlier this year and is science writer for Stanford University and formerly suffered from Lyme disease.
One of the book’s main features are interviews with Willy Burgdorfer, a late swiss-born scientist. Burgdorfer is credited with discovering the bacterial pathogen that causes Lyme disease. He also worked for a while as a bioweapons scientist for the DOD.
Smith said, “Those interviews combined with access to Dr. Burgdorfer’s lab files suggest that he and other bioweapons specialists stuffed ticks with pathogens to cause severe disability, disease – even death – to potential enemies.
According to the book, these insects were then dropped from the air for testing purposes. Other uninfected bugs were also released to see how they would spread in residential areas of the US. And even though former president Richard Nixon banned research on biological weapons in 1969, Newby implies that related experiments may have continued and caused the spread of Lyme disease.
However, there are many, including Lyme disease experts, who are skeptical of Newby’s Bitten and similar works that seem to spread ‘conspiracy theories’ without probable cause. They say that such writings, as well as Smith’s claims, should be viewed with caution.
Philip Baker, who is the Executive Director of the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF), says that Smith has been “terribly misinformed” with “false and misleading information.” He goes on to say, “He would be well advised to check the facts by consulting experts on Lyme disease at the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for accurate and reliable information before proposing such legislation.”
Baker gives an example that many people believe Lyme disease to have been introduced following experiments with ticks who escaped from the Plum Island biological warfare facility. “However, there is ample evidence to indicate that both (ticks and the cause of the disease) were present in the US well before the Plum Island facility was ever established,” Baker wrote.
But Smith, whether convinced of the ‘conspiracy’ or not wants to find the truth.
He said, “With Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases exploding in the United States – with an estimated 300,000 to 437,000 new cases diagnosed each year and 10-20 percent of all patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease – Americans have a right to know whether any of this is true.” He added, “And have these experiments caused Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases to mutate and spread?”