Sept. 10 — To the Editor:
I am responding to a recent letter to the editor from David Wickham on Sept. 7 that criticized a letter I had previously written on our government's chemical warfare with Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Wickham said the resultant health effects that happened to Vietnamese and our veterans were "unintended consequences" and "certainly not the result of some deliberate attempt to injure or kill humans." I suggest Wickham research further about the tragic history of Agent Orange.
Admiral E.R. Zumwalt submitted a classified report to the Veterans Administration in 1990 concerning associated health effects from Agent Orange exposure. The classified report is now available online at http://www.gulfwarvets.com/ao.html. In this report, it is disclosed the military "dispensed Agent Orange in concentrations six to 25 times the manufacturer's suggested rate." Furthermore, Zumwalt quotes Dr. David Clary, a government scientist who worked with Agent Orange, as saying, "When we (military scientists) initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the 'military' formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the 'civilian' version due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the 'enemy,' none of us were overly concerned."
September 15, 2013 — To the Editor:
Agent Orange was criminal.
I am writing to add a bit of information about our government's decision to use Agent Orange and the subsequent cover-up. In his recent letter, Mr. Meinhold documents that our Department of Defense knew they were spraying dioxin, a very, very powerful carcinogen, citing specifics from Admiral Zumwalt's 1990 report to the VA.
In the mid-1960s, I was a support member to a team, led by a company president and comprised of scientists and lawyers, whose sole purpose was to convince the Department of Defense that spraying Agent Orange in areas that might be inhabited by humans would be criminal, a crime against humanity. We believed that dioxin was among the most hazardous substances known to man and that if "they" understood, they would abandon this idea. After several presentations at the Pentagon detailing the hazards, the team failed to convince and, shockingly, the decision was made to spray in even higher, more toxic concentrations.
I can remember vividly sitting in a final debriefing meeting and witnessing the dismay, disbelief, revulsion from these senior executives that our government would take this decision. The company president decided to make one last stand, deciding to refuse to produce a component required in Agent Orange manufacture. Within days, he was told that unless he complied with the DOD's directive to produce, he would be charged and tried for treason. An act of conscience would make a respected executive, a community leader, into a war criminal. The rest is history and, as Mr. Meinhold states, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, and our soldiers contracted a variety of dioxin-caused cancers.