WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Wednesday that American soldiers used as human guinea pigs in World War II chemical weapons tests can now talk about their experiences, ending decades of secrecy.
The Pentagon is lifting a prohibition against military personnel who were involved in the tests disclosing what happened, Lt. Gen. Robert M. Alexander, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, told a House subcommittee.
Alexander said also that the Pentagon immediately will begin declassifying information on the locations, dates and individuals exposed to chemical weapons in all test programs conducted prior to 1968. He said the individuals involved should be identified by the end of July.
"We share your concerns that many of the individuals exposed may not even know they were exposed," Alexander said in testimony to the veterans affairs subcommittee on compensation, pension and insurance.
The hearing was the first by a congressional panel since the Institute of Medicine concluded in January that more than 60,000 veterans were exposed to large doses of mustard gas during the secret test program, which the government did not admit existed until last year.