Disinformation on gas attacks in Syria (8): U.S. military admits to chemical, biological weapons experiments in Puerto Rico

Protest of Puerto Rican fishermen against U.S. Navy base, Vieques Island

From our archives, with an introductory note

THE United States, Canada and NATO and the monopoly media are going all out with their offensive of blaming so-called “axis of evil” countries or “rogue states” for posing the danger of weapons of mass destruction. The disinformation targets Syria and its alleged “chemical weapons arsenal”, as well as the the Islamic Republic of Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan and other countries on the nuclear issue.

The credibility crisis facing this campaign can be seen in the fact that, along with it, more and more information is being circulated in the official and alternative media that reveal the chemical, biological and nuclear programs of the United States along with those of Britain and Canada.

Much of this information however is, in fact disinformation. Same facts are acknowledged but are being circulated for the deliberate purposes of creating the impression that these programs were in the past, were not directed at human beings, were only used in foreign lands, or were justified as “self-defence.”

A phoney “debate” is also being choreographed involving the critics or “non-believers” of the U.S. offensive who acknowledge the double standards and hypocrisy of Obama, Harper and their ilk. Through this mechanism, the illusion is created that these deadly weapons are a “policy option,” can be humanized and sanitized through various international agreements, and that the real problem is that this or that power, the United States in the first place, is not respecting these agreements. The aim of this “debate” is to divert attention away from the form they take at present and shoring up public opinion behind the plans of the U.S. to escalate its overt and covert intervention against Syria and Iran, and launch wars of annexation. It is aimed at creating a paralysis amongst the people through the method of spreading of doubt and “hopelessness, helplessness and humiliation” that the resistance of the people through their heroic global movement against war cannot accomplish anything.

The disinformation remains silent on the danger posed not only by the U.S. but also by Israel and the other big powers, as well as the fact that the U.S. is the largest stockpiler of chemical and biological weapons and regularly supplies them to other countries such as Iraq in the 1980s and Israel todate. These shipments, and continued storing of the toxins in question are violations of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention which bans the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological and toxin weapons. They are a war crime and those responsible should be held accountable as war criminals. The fact remains that it is the U.S. which poses the greatest potential and actual danger of unleashing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. To date it denies past and present use of these weapons in Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere. And, as documented in this 2002 article from our archives titled “U.S. military admits to chemical, biological weapons experiments in Puerto Rico,” these state terrorists used bio-chemical weapons first and foremost on their own population; on repeated occasions such testing has  been conducted over American and Canadian cities or used Native, black and prison populations with impunity. We will be posting various articles related to this issue. 

* * * 


(October 31, 2002) – ON 9 OCTOBER 2002, the US military admitted to running chemical and biological weapons experiments on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, which it has used as a military range for more than 60 years despite the opposition of its inhabitants.

Canada fully participated in this endeavour. Maritime Command of the Canadian Forces repeatedly used the island for years for sea-to-shore weapons firing tests, including shelling the island with Depleted Uranium shells from the Phalanx naval artillery system, as part of its annual Caribops naval exercises in the Caribbean. The guns were installed on Canadian ships just prior to the Gulf War and, according to a 1999 report by CBC, the DU shells were simply dumped in the Halifax harbour.

“In Vieques, the military sprayed trioctyl phosphate on troops at a firing range in May 1969. According to the local Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV), the substance can harm the skin, eyes and respiratory system, and is known to cause cancer in animals,” Inter Press Service reports.

“This new evidence of the grave danger that the Navy and its training manoeuvres pose to the health of our people calls for an epidemiological study,” said Rafael Rivera Castano, a retired epidemiologist in Vieques. “An executive order from (US) President Bush that guarantees the Navy’s departure as well as environmental cleanup, is more necessary now, in view of this terrifying new information from the Pentagon,” CRDV spokesman Ismael Guadalupe said.

According to reports, the US Navy will be leaving Vieques in spring 2003. Some of the land used by the Navy has already been returned but is highly contaminated. Besides the bombardment of Vieques, the island has been used to test napalm, Agent Orange and other chemical and biological weapons and has been a storage site for nuclear weapons. This has had devastating effects on the population and environment of Vieques. Presently, the cancer rate amongst Vieques residents is twice that of the main island with many children suffering from various manifestations of the disease. The population also suffers from higher rates of mercury and other heavy metals, respiratory disease, hearing problems and emotional problems.

Human rights activists are not only demanding that the Navy fully clean up Vieques but also pay reparations to the people of Vieques who have greatly suffered due to the military’s activities. As part of this campaign, a team of lawyers is being organized to study the issue of reparations in the context of Vieques, as well as a team of experts to assess the environmental impact of the US Navy activity on the island and a team of physicians to put together a health profile of the island’s residents.

Biological warfare: Injecting Puerto Ricans with cancer cells

Long before the onset of the Cold War and the War on Terror, American use of cancer-causing biological warfare agents had its start. While not forgetting that such agents were historically first introduced by the infamous Gen Amherst against the First Nations, the victims of such genocidal weapons included Latin Americans and African-Americans.

Cornelius P. Rhoads on the cover of Time magazine, June 27, 1948

Just three years after the end of the anti-fascist World War II, Time magazine honours Cornelius P. Rhoads, the American Mengele, on its cover, June 27, 1948

A campaign has been launched in Puerto Rico to persuade the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to change the name of the AACR-Cornelius P. Rhoads Memorial Award. In 1931, Dr. Cornelius P. Rhoads, an American white racist and anti-Latin American scientist with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations (now Rockefeller University) in San Juan, subjected 13 Puerto Ricans to “experiments” in the Puerto Rico Presbyterian Hospital in San Juan by injecting them with cancer-causing biological agents. Nor was this the first case of such “experiments” in the Rockefeller Institute. [1] [2]

“In 1931 (Rhoads) used the Puerto Rican population as guinea pigs, injecting patients with cancer cells without their knowledge,” San Juan doctor Hector Pesquera said.

“At least 13 people died as a result of these experiments,” he said.

Page fromRhoad’s letter | Archivo Nacional de Puerto Rico, Fondo: Departamento de Justicia, Serie: Documentos Nacionalistas, Tarea: 90-29.

Page fromRhoad’s letter | Archivo Nacional de Puerto Rico, Fondo: Departamento de Justicia, Serie: Documentos Nacionalistas, Tarea: 90-29.

In a letter by Rhoads written on November 12, 1931 to a colleague friend, F.W. Stewart who was also a doctor, Rhoads openly bragged about murdering Puerto Ricans. The letter was recently displayed by the local media.

“What the island needs is not public health work, but a tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population,” the letter said. Rhoads also gave his racist view of Puerto Ricans in the letter. He said, “they are beyond doubt the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere.”

The letter originally came to light when the then-leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, obtained the letter from a third party and in 1932 published a manuscript in which he accused Doctor Cornelius P. Rhoades of killing Puerto Rican patients. Here is the full excerpt of Rhoads’ opinion of Puerto Ricans and his arrogant confession to murder:

“I can get a damn fine job here and am tempted to take it. It would be ideal except for the Porto [sic] Ricans. They are beyond doubt the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere. It makes you sick to inhabit the same island with them. They are even lower than Italians. What the island needs is not public health work but a tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population. It might then be livable. I have done my best to further the process of extermination by killing off 8 and transplanting cancer into several more. The latter has not resulted in any fatalities so far . . . The matter of consideration for the patients’ welfare plays no role here – in fact all physicians take delight in the abuse and torture of the unfortunate subjects.”

Pedro Albizu Campos

Pedro Albizu Campos

Dr. Campos was by all accounts an exceptional patriot and internationalist. He had studied chemistry and engineering at the University of Vermont and Harvard, obtaining a Law degree while studying Literature, Philosophy, Chemical Engineering and Military Science. He was fluent in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Latin and Greek. He met with foreign students and lecturers, like Subhas Chandra Bose (Indian Nationalist leader) and the Hindu poet Rabindranath Tagore. He became interested in the cause of Indian independence and also helped to establish several centers in Boston for Irish independence. Albizu met Éamon de Valera and later became a consultant in the drafting of the constitution of theIrish Free State. Known as El Maestro (“The Teacher”) for his oratorical skill, Albizu was one of the leading figures in the Puerto Rican independence movement. He was the leader and president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party from 1930 until his death.

Rhoads, who actually admitted writing the letter, was vindicated while Albizu was discredited, despite his background in chemical engineering. He was then arrested and convicted in 1936 to ten years in a federal prison in Atlanta of conspiring to overthrow the colonial government.

Albizu further complained to the League of Nations to no avail. In 1950, and now under daily FBI surveillance, he was arrested in a crackdown on Puerto Rican nationalist activities on the island.

Albizu was himself subjected to radiation burns and poisoning, as reportedly were other nationalist prisoners. It is said that Rhoads, who directed the Army’s chemical and biological weapons programs at Fort Detrick, the Dugway Proving Ground and Deseret Test Center in Utah, and the Panama Canal Zone, subjected Albizu to the revenge experimentation. Rhoads was later director of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City.[3] According to Albizu’s biography in Wikipedia,

“He alleged that he was the subject of human radiation experiments in prison and stated that he could see colored rays bombarding him. Officials suggested that Albizu was insane, although many doctors were able to examine Albizu and test for signs of radiation. The President of the Cuban Cancer Association, Dr. Orlando Damuy, traveled to PR to examine him. The burns on his body were reported by Dr. Damuy, where he diagnosed that they were the cause of intense radiation. It is said when they placed a metal paper clip with a film on Albizu’s skin, the clip was radiated into the film. It is also said he did not receive any medical attention for five days and instead suffered.”

Albizu suffered a stroke in a U.S. federal prison in 1956. In 1964, he was pardoned but died on April 21, 1965 shortly after his release from prison that year. More than 75,000 Puerto Ricans carried the remains of his body to the Old San Juan Cemetery in his honour. (Five public schools in Puerto Rico are named after him, as well as numerous streets in most of Puerto Rico’s municipalities. In 1976, Public School 161 in Harlem in New York City was named after him as well.)

“Conspiracy theories” or not, it is a fact that Puerto Rico’s nationalist leader was assassinated by the United States in brutal medical experiments while he was in prison. In 1994, under the administration of President Bill Clinton, the United States Department of Energy disclosed that human radiation “experiments” had in fact been conducted without consent on prisoners during the 1950s and 1970s. Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was among the subjects of such experimentation. If that is what the United States is willing to do to its own citizens, one can only imagine to what it subjects its foreign adversaries.

Rhoads went on during the 1940s to direct the U.S. Army’s chemical and biological weapons programs at Fort Detrick in Maryland, Utah; the Dugway Proving Ground and Deseret Test Center in Utah; and the Panama Canal Zone. He was then given a seat on the Atomic Energy Commission, where he oversaw dangerous radiation experiments on thousands of US citizens. He was also awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit by the government for his research.

In an 16 October 2002 letter to the AACR, attorney Flavio Cumpiano said, “Cornelius P. Rhoads is to Puerto Ricans what Josef Mengele is to Jews.”

He added, “Clearly, establishing an award in honour of Dr. Josef Mengele would be a monumental insult to Jews, regardless of Dr. Mengele’s contributions to medicine.

“Accordingly, regardless of Dr. Rhoads’ contributions in the field of cancer research, your organization’s establishment of the ‘AACR-Cornelius P. Rhoads Memorial Award’ is either an unfortunate oversight or an egregious insult to the more than 8 million Puerto Ricans,” Cumpiano said.


In 2004 the AACR announced that the Cornelius P. Rhoads Memorial Award would no longer be associated with his name, after an investigation commissioned by them and led by bioethicist Jay Katz found the allegations against him to be well founded and documented.

According to Wikipedia, “As of 2007, not a single U.S. government researcher had been prosecuted for human experimentation, and many of the victims of U.S. government experiments have not received compensation, or in many cases, acknowledgment of what was done to them.“


1 In 1911, Dr. Hideyo Noguchi of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research injected 146 hospital patients (some of whom were children) with syphilis. He was later sued by the parents of some of the child subjects, who allegedly contracted syphilis as a result of his experiments. (Reviews and Notes: History of Medicine: Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America before the Second World War, Annals of Internal Medicine, American College of Physicians, July 15, 1995 vol. 123 no. 2 159)

2 It was also at the same time that African-Americans became unwitting guinea pigs in the infamous Tuskegee experiments for syphilis without their knowledge, carried out from 1932 to 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. Four hundred black men from Alabama, diagnosed with syphilis, were never told of their illness, denied treatment, and instead used as human guinea pigs in order to follow the progression and symptoms of the disease. They all subsequently died from syphilis, their families never told that they could have been treated. In addition, the wives of more than 40 patients and 19 of their infant children were infected with syphilis. The study was not shut down until 1972, when its existence was leaked to the press, forcing the researchers to stop in the face of a public outcry.

3 In 1952, Sloan-Kettering Institute researcher Chester M. Southam injected live cancer cells into prisoners at the Ohio State Prison. Half of the prisoners in this NIH-sponsored study were black. Also at Sloan-Kettering, 300 healthy women were injected with live cancer cells without being told. The doctors stated that they knew at the time that it might cause cancer

Original Source: TML Daily, 31 October 2002. Edited, updated and expanded for this publication

Additional References: Wkipedia; Starr, Douglas.Science 25 April 2003: Vol. 300. no. 5619, pp. 573 – 574; Packard, Gabriel. RIGHTS: Group Strips Racist Scientist’s Name from Award. IPS.org 29/04/2003 2 

Aponte Vásquez, Pedro. The Unsolved case of Dr. Cornelius P. Rhoads. Publicaciones René. ISBN: 1931702071

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Filed under Caribbean, Media, Journalism & Disinformation, No Harbour for War (Halifax)

7 responses to “Disinformation on gas attacks in Syria (8): U.S. military admits to chemical, biological weapons experiments in Puerto Rico

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