Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 25 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/14/20

U.S. Biological Warfare Korean War Redux

By       (Page 1 of 5 pages)   2 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Jeffrey Kaye
Become a Fan
  (1 fan)

This piece was reprinted by OpEd News with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Published by CounterPunch

Korean War in pictures, 1951-1953 (19)
Korean War in pictures, 1951-1953 (19)
(Image by manhhai)
  Details   DMCA

The question whether the United States used biological weapons during the Korean War remains a fierce controversy nearly 70 years after the North Korea and China made the initial allegations of such attacks.

An important new book by author Nicolson Baker, published in July by Penguin Books, Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act, makes the case that the U.S. pursued a very limited use of germ warfare during the Korean War, turning then to deception around use of biological weapons (BW) in the latter stages of the conflict as a form of psychological warfare.

According to Baker, the U.S. used deception to make the North Koreans and Chinese believe they were under bacteriological attack, using dropped insects and voles, but not, except perhaps in very limited cases, actual biological weapons. The Chinese and North Koreans, for their own propaganda reasons, supposedly responded by falsifying evidence for some of the BW attacks, even as they presumably knew the attacks were not bacteriological in nature.

Baker is wrong about this, for reasons I will explain below. In my estimation, after pursuing the issue for many years (as has Baker), the evidence of U.S. biological warfare during the Korean War is well-nigh overwhelming. The novel incorporation into Baseless of portions of the CIA's 2013 release of declassified Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) intercepts and reports from the Korean War corroborates the BW claims of the Soviet, Chinese and North Korean governments. In fact, the use of the fairly new SIGINT evidence marks this book as a landmark in the historiography of that savage and poorly understood war.

Despite my conclusion that he erred in his conclusion to his book, Baker, who won the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award for Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, is an honest and fearless reporter, one who doesn't pretend his work is definitive. In fact, he writes concerning his conclusion on the Korean War BW issue, "You may not be convinced, but that's okay. My aim is to open the files, not necessarily to convince." Baker wants to "squeeze germs of truth from the sanitized documentary record of the U.S. government."

In this, he is partly successful. His pursuit is dogged. Years go by as the author waits for documents withheld from FOIA release, or are unreasonably redacted, or just lost in the bureaucracy.

Baker rails against the corrosive actions of censorship, about destroyed documents, and the malign intent of bad actors, even as he battles his own emotional fatigue generated by persistent exposure to the horror of what he is reporting.

Cold War Secrecy

Baseless is initially introduced as a narrative about the inanities and frustrations of using FOIA to pursue Cold War documents. The title refers to the eponymous name of an early 1950s secret government operation, which Baker describes as "a Pentagon program that aimed to achieve 'an Air Force-wide combat capability in biological and chemical warfare at the earliest possible date'". assigned priority category I, as high as atomic weapons."

The Department of Defense's decision to withhold twenty-one Project Baseless documents from FOIA release became the precipitant for Baker's journey into the depths of Cold War secrecy. In particular, he sought the truth about U.S. germ warfare during the Korean War, a truth Baker fears may never be found without the release of still more classified documents.

As a narrative, Baseless can be read as a modern version of Joseph Conrad's famous novella, Heart of Darkness. But instead of the crimes of King Leopold II and the International African Association, Baker exposes the activities of a group of CIA and Pentagon proponents of biological warfare, in league with top U.S. and Canadian scientific experts, who conducted "devious, manipulative, violent operations that might affect - did affect - millions of families all over the planet."

Among other covert U.S. campaigns documented in the pages of this book are the deployment of biological weapons against enemy agriculture and livestock, including use of hog cholera in East Germany in 1953 and 1954; swine fever and tobacco mold in Cuba; coffee rust in Guatemala; wheat rust in Russia; and an unprecedented experimentation with biological warfare agents or their simulants on urban populations in Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Francisco, New York and other areas.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Jeffrey Kaye Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jeffrey Kaye is the author of Cover-up at Guantanamo, and his articles can be found on Medium and Invectus.  He is a  retired psychologist.  He has written extensively on torture issues, psychological and (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Newly Revealed Portions of CIA Torture Manual: Doctoring Tapes, Foreign Detentions, Interrogating 'Defectors"

CIA Document Suggests U.S. Lied About Biological, Chemical Weapon Use in the Korean War

Leaked! International Red Cross Report on CIA Torture

Broken Faith: How a Navy Psychologist Drove A U.S. Prisoner to Attempt Suicide

Despite New Denials by Rumsfeld, Evidence Shows US Military Used Waterboarding-Style Torture

NRC on Experiments on "War on Terror" Detainees: "A Contemporary Problem"?

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend