Sounds like something from a science fiction novel. Doesn’t it? Guess again.
Brain chips are being tested in research facilities around the country. Research began in hopes of enabling physically disabled patients to use their brain waves to communicate with computers. Currently, patients with brain chips are able to overcome severe neurological damage to perform common, everyday tasks by using thought to control electronic devices.
The next logical step in researching this technology will be to enhance or replace normal human senses and communication. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was established to improve the performance of military personnel on the battlefield through scientific projects such as brain chip research. DARPA has already launched a $26 million brain-machine interface project to research the ability of test subjects to control robots at a distance.
Possible military benefits from this research include increased sensory abilities, enhancement of memory and reflexes, ability to interface with weapons or communicate with other soldiers on the battlefield. Military personnel will be the natural test subjects for enhancement purposes.
An army of super soldiers? Sounds pretty cool. Right?
In 1943, the U.S. Navy tested protective clothing and gas masks against the effects of mustard gas. Navy seamen participating in the test were confined in small huts and given masks before mustard gas was released through the ceiling. They were not told they were going to be gassed, they didn’t consent to it and the risks were never explained to them. Many were told they were merely testing summer uniforms for the Navy. Some were even told they’d receive a prison sentence if they refused to participate. As a result, a number of military men received permanent lung damage, heart attacks and other long-term health effects.
This scenario was repeated in 1950 when the CIA gave mind-altering drugs, including LSD, to U.S. civilians and military personnel in order to study mind control techniques. Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, the physician in charge of the experiments, believed that informed consent was not necessary when “national survival might be concerned.” He went so far as to say test results would be inconclusive if test subjects knew what to expect. Some subjects of this experiment suffered permanent psychological problems.
A more recent example of deception in military medical research was during Operation Desert Shield. Military personnel were given a vaccine supposedly to protect against chemical and biological warfare agents. The drug had never been proven safe or effective by the FDA. Not only weren’t these participants given a choice whether they wanted the vaccine or not, they were ordered not to discuss their vaccination, or the catastrophic consequences that some incurred, under threat of court martial.
Obviously, some in the U.S. government don’t understand that the 14th Amendment grants all of our citizens, including military men and women, personal autonomy and bodily integrity. In addition, they apparently don’t understand our troops are heroes and deserve to be treated with honor.
Medical research is a fact of life. Brave men and women, committed to learning the truth and saving lives, step up every day and volunteer for research projects. Kudos to them. Wouldn’t it be nice if researchers, especially the United States government, showed as much integrity as these test subjects?