The Committee has accomplished a good deal. It has made
significant progress towards identifying and organizing the world
of past experiments and reconstructing the framework needed to
evaluate them.  It has sought and has begun to receive the advice
and assistance of groups and individuals interested in its work.
It has initiated projects to evaluate the conduct of experiments
today.  And, with the agency search teams, it is recovering
documentation of our past, which is being archived for use
following the conclusion of the Committee's work.


    The President's request that Federal agencies open their
Cold War files to the Committee, and the public, was ambitious.
There were many reasons for skepticism: the enormity of Federal
records collections, the disorganization of many collections, the
large number of classified records, and the potential for
bureaucratic delay.  These factors remain real, yet the Committee
and the agency search teams have been able to locate significant
collections of material. Of greater importance, the work has
produced a road map that will permit the completion of a
substantial search within the Committee's life, and will remain
as a guide to national records that will serve public, Congress,
the press, and Government agencies in years to come. For example:

    o    At the Committee's request, the Defense Nuclear Agency
         has declassified the table of contents of its more than
         500 histories, on the basis of which declassification
         of portions of these histories is being requested. The
         histories of this agency, which has been at the center
         of nuclear weapons research and development, had
         previously been available only on a limited basis.

    o    The Committee is organizing the minutes and related
         records of the AEC Advisory Committee on Biology and
         Medicine and several DOD committees that were central
         to biomedical research related to atomic warfare.

    o    The Committee has located and is assembling
         documentation of the mid- century relationship between
         the civilian health research agencies (predecessors to
         the current HHS) and defense agencies.

    o    The Committee is assembling histories of military
         research organizations and activities.  (DOD, for
         example, has provided multivolume histories of the Air
         Force's School of Aviation Medicine, the Naval
         Radiological Defense Laboratory, and a history of the
         Atomic Cloud Sampling Program.)


    The Committee is learning that secrecy is not necessarily
the primary bar to comprehending our past:  a vast amount of
relevant information is public but scattered.  In tandem with the
task of opening up that which was secret, the Committee places a
premium on collecting and organizing that which is public.  For
example, the reconstruction of the story of human radiation
experimentation in connection with the atomic bomb tests requires
the piecing together of previously disconnected public and secret
data, including: (1) facts that have, to some extent, long been
public and relatively well known--such as the performance of
psychological testing in connection with atomic bomb tests, or
the manned flythrough of atomic clouds;  (2)  facts that were
initially secret, had to some extent become public, but have not
been relatively well known--such as the existence of the 1953 top
secret Secretary of Defense ethics policy; and (3) facts that
were initially secret, have been partially declassified, and are
still being discovered, such as the biomedical planning related
to atomic tests, and the relationship between this planning and
DOD ethics policy and test activities.

    The lists of experiments provided by the agencies are
forming the core of the Committee's database of experiments. This
database, in turn, is the starting point for the addition of new
experiments, new data, and new information from the further
sources that are currently being canvassed.  Following the
Committee's expiration, this database will remain as a "living
electronic document."


    The work of the Committee is the work of a national
government looking into its own past.  Among the most important
findings and implications of this search have been the following:

         1.   Government Ethics Debate and Policy

    While full evaluation must await the final report, it
already is clear that the information developed by the Committee
should require a significant revision of our understanding of the
history of research ethics.  (This information is detailed in
staff memoranda.)

         2.   Discovery of the Present in the Past

    When the Committee began its work six months ago, it might
reasonably have been presumed that human experimentation
conducted in the mid-century world was so different from current
research that its relevance to the present day would be limited.
The examination of the past was, and remains, an end in its own
right. However, the story that is unfolding appears to have far
greater relevance to the contemporary questions faced by the
Committee than might have been expected. For example:

    o    It might have been assumed that the mid-century was
         marked by the complete absence of debate on consent,
         much less formal consent policies. Documents now show
         that discussion took place and policy statements were
         issued. Then, as now, a key question is the way in
         which bureaucracies translate policies into practice
         and the extent to which policies that have been
         implemented are adhered to or enforced.

    o    Similarly, it appears that the meaning and reach of
         policies that were intended to govern experimentation
         were then, as now, not always clear.  Where policies
         did exist, what were they intended to cover? Did they
         cover sick patients undergoing experimental therapy, as
         well as healthy volunteers? What was the assumed
         boundary between experimentation with healthy
         volunteers and occupational safety monitoring?

    o    Then, as now, questions include the assignment of
         responsibility for policies designed to ensure basic
         rights of subjects.  Where experiments involved
         multiple agencies and institutions, how was
         responsibility for ensuring rights assigned? When the
         decisionmakers included medical professionals,
         government officials, military officers, and civilian
         administrators, what rules and expectations governed
         the conduct of the differing professions?

    o    Documents show that, faced with critical decisions
         concerning the safety of  workers, soldiers, and the
         public health, Cold War experts were eager for
         opportunities to gather data on radiation.  Then, as
         today, there was tension between the role of the
         physician as healer and as seeker of new knowledge.
         What can the study of the resolution of this tension in
         the past tell us about its resolution in the present?

    o    A conflict of interest may also exist within
         institutions that have dual responsibility for
         promoting human subject research and assuring health
         and safety.  Biomedical offices or committees vested
         with responsibility for ensuring that health standards
         were met also promoted the exposures needed to learn
         about the appropriate standards.  What can this
         experience tell us about the desired relation of
         promotional and regulatory roles today? What difference
         did it make when the promotion and regulation were
         conducted, at least in part, in secret? What can this
         experience tell us about the future organization of
         research that involves secret components?

         3.   Government Rediscovery of its Past

    The events that the Committee is studying often predate the
working careers, even lives, of those now staffing the agencies.
The search process has involved the continued discovery of a
heritage that had been lost even to those to whom it had been
bequeathed.  Consequently, the  search has been an opportunity to
rediscover this past. For example, there was limited recollection
of the extent to which the Cold War linked the activities of
civilian and military agencies. The reconstruction of the
intertwined Cold War roots of civilian and defense agencies
requires the piecing together of documents and memories from many


    As discussed above and in Appendix F, the Committee is
devoting considerable resources to organizing important record
collections so that they can be made available to the public
during the Committee's lifetime. This effort includes the
organization of collections (in paper form) and the development
of databases for electronic access via Internet.


     The primary challenge to the Committee's task is its
daunting nature.  Agency searches are time consuming, data on
experiments are fragmentary, some important document collections
have been lost or destroyed, and declassification is slow and

         1.   Agency Searches Are Time Consuming

    While the process of identifying and retrieving documents
remains overwhelming, the basic contours of the search have been
established.  As discussed in detail in Appendix E,  agency
searches have now located many headquarters-level collections
that are likely to contain relevant information.  The effort is
currently directed at the retrieval of these documents. At the
same time, effort will be required to access field collections
that appear most promising.  These efforts will take more time,
but they should be relatively well-defined tasks--the time should
not be open-ended.

         2.   Data on Experiments are Fragmentary

     In the case of many experiments, only fragmentary data are
available from government and public sources (e.g., journal
articles).  Data on key questions, such as consent practices and
subject selection, are often lacking.  Additional information may
be available from the institutions that conducted the
experiments, the investigators who conducted them, and the
subjects themselves. The Committee will seek to focus its efforts
on cases where access to additional information is more likely.
However, the reconstruction of experiments will be time consuming
and its success uncertain.    The problem of fragmentary data
also applies to intentional releases, where in some cases
pertinent information remains classified.

         3.   Loss or Destruction of Important Document

    Even when important document collections have been
identified, they can rarely be recovered in toto.  In some cases,
significant collections appear to have been lost or destroyed.  
(The destruction may well have been in accord with standard
records retention practices; however, at many years remove, it is
often difficult to know the precise circumstances of
destruction.)  For example:

    o    CIA acknowledged that the charter of its MKULTRA
         program of experiments included radiation research;
         however, as CIA previously reported, Director of
         Central Intelligence  ordered MKULTRA files destroyed
         in 1973.

    o    As noted above, documents provided by DOD and DOE,
         and/or located by staff in the National Archives (in
         the files of HHS predecessors) show that CIA played a
         role in the mid-century DOD committees that debated and
         planned for, among other things, human experimentation.
         CIA, however, has not yet located any materials related
         to these groups in its own files.

    o    In issuing his Nuremberg Code directive in 1953,
         Secretary of Defense Wilson required the advance
         approval of covered human experimentation by the
         Service Secretaries.  With limited exceptions, the
         files containing such approvals have not been located.

    o    The Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) was
         established in 1947 to study contamination problems
         posed by the use of the atomic bomb. At the time of its
         "disestablishment" in 1969, its library of research
         reports was evidently dispersed, and basic records were
         apparently destroyed.  The Navy continues, however, to
         search for surviving NRDL materials.

    o    DOE was unable to locate the pre-1970s files of its
         Intelligence Division, which could have provided
         critical data on intentional releases and work done for
         others. In response to Committee request, a DOE
         investigation revealed that these files were
         substantially purged during the 1970s and as late as

    o    In the early 1970s, DOE's predecessor (AEC) conducted
         an extensive inquiry into the plutonium injection
         experiments. The resulting reports referenced a
         collection of 250 documents that were gathered and used
         in the reports. DOE has not yet been able to locate
         this potentially important collection.

    o    Requests for the use of isotopes for human experiments,
         as well as other purposes, required the approval of the
         AEC Isotope Development Division. However, DOE has been
         unable to locate much of the basic licensing
         documentation, which would provide fundamental data on
         human experimentation conducted with isotopes.

    o    At the outset, HHS reported that, except for skeletal
         records of grants, there was a paucity of information
         on experiments for the years through the early 1960s.

    o    In the 1960s, NASA contracted with DOE's Oak Ridge
         operations to perform a retrospective study of whole
         body irradiation. The study encompassed over 3,000
         radiation exposures at over 40 institutions. If
         recoverable, the data would be an essential source on
         whole body irradiation. However, in 1981 congressional
         testimony, NASA stated that the data had been destroyed
         in the routine course of business.

    o    At the time of the Committee's creation, VA announced
         its intent to learn about the purpose of a confidential
         "Atomic Medicine Division," that, according to a 1952
         report, was created in 1947.  VA has located only a
         handful of additional relevant documents that might
         shed light on any activities of this confidential
         division.  However, as noted, VA has asked its
         Inspector General to assist in the search.

         4.   Classification

    As noted, a substantial amount of material of relevance to
the Committee remains classified.  The declassification process
slows the document retrieval process.  The Committee has sought
and received written assurance that declassification decisions
will be made within a short time frame.  Possessed of security
clearances, Committee and staff will be able to review documents
and earmark those meriting speedy declassification.  However,
security clearances have been received only recently and on a
limited basis.  In addition, as noted earlier, agencies have
stated that in some cases declassification requests will not be

Interim Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation
Experiments, October 21, 1994