News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinedeceptionsexperimentation — Viewing Item

1948 hepatitis prisoners { April 5 1948 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

Attachment 4

April 5, 1948 letter from C.J. Watson, M.D., Army
Epidemiological Board to Dr. McLeod, with a copy to Dr.
Stokes and others

War Department
Office of the Surgeon General
United States Army

April 5, 1948

Dr. Colin M. MacLeod
New York University
College of Medicine
477 First Avenue
New York 16, N.Y.

Dear Dr. MacLeod:

I have given careful consideration in the past few weeks to
the matter of using volunteers in penal institutions for
experimentation, with particular reference to hepatitis. Three
weeks ago I had a conversation with Mr. Durnquist, the Attorney
General of the State of Minnesota, with respect to the
possibility of conducting experimental work on volunteers in the
Minnesota penitentiaries. Mr. Durnquist was favorably inclined
to the idea and quite optimistic about its feasibility. Later I
had a lengthy discussion with Dean Everett Fraser (Law School)
and with Dr. Vold of the Division of Criminology of the
Department of Sociology in the University. I asked them
specifically whether a waiver signed by the volunteers would be
legal at a later date, insofar as evidence of responsibility for
disability or death was concerned. I asked this question both
with respect to a waiver made out to the individual experimenter
as well as to one assigned to the official agency sponsoring the
research, that is to say, the army Epidemiological Board of the
War Department. They did not believe that such a waiver would be
of much value, although they stated that so far as they knew
there was no precedent in law to determine in advance what might
happen in case of a suit. They pointed out that a clever
attorney at some later date might very well be able to overthrow
such a waiver and get a judgment against an experimenter in case
of a disability or even succeed in having him declared guilty of
homicide in case of a death.

Mr. Vold stated that there might be some recorded law ___ing
on this whole matter in the state of Massachusetts. He pointed
out that during the war volunteer prisoners were used for the
testing "of synthetic blood serum", and that one or more deaths
in addition to a number of severe illnesses resulted. He
suggests one might get all the information about this from the
Commissioner of Correction of the State of Massachusetts, State
House, Boston. Mr. Vold also informed me of an interesting point
that may have no bearing on the present matter; namely, that the
brains of criminals executed in New York state are removed by law
or at least

COPIED: 12/2/94
RECORD Group: # 334
Entry: #14
File: Commission on Liver Diseases on Human Volunteers for
Hepatitis Studies in Feb. 1945

Dr. Colin M. MacLeod April 5, 1948

by state prerogative, but that the body is not available for
dissection unless it is unclaimed. While this is probably not
germane to the problem of using volunteers for experimentation,
Mr. Vold thought that it might be of interest to determine
whether there is any written law concerning this prerogative and,
if so, how it has been established.

There is, of course, precedent for the use of volunteers for
experimental purposes, as for example in Illinois and New Jersey.
According to my legal friends, however, the responsibility for
these experiments would devolve entirely upon the individual
experimenter in case of a later suit or complaint. The mere fact
that the warden or the state authorities give permission to the
experimenter to ask for volunteers in no way removes his
responsibility, not does it place any of it on the state. This
at least is the interpretation that Dean Fraser put upon the
question, although he admitted that he knew of no law by which
any real decision could be reached in advance.

I have given considerable thought to the matter of whether
it would be advisable to approach individuals or groups in
Congress with the idea of having laws passed relating either to
payment of compensation for disability or release of the
experimenter from liability. I am afraid that this would be a
very dangerous course, and that it might in fact, injure clinical
investigations generally. There is a very real possibility that
unfavorable publicity would quickly result. Dean Fraser and his
colleagues were in thorough agreement on this point.

I have concluded then that any human experimentation must be
carried out in the future as in the past, on the basis of the
sole liability of the individual experimenter.

I should be glad to hear from you or from others to whom
copies of this letter are being sent as to any alternative
approaches to the problem that the may have in mind. I think it
would be well if someone could look in the Massachusetts
experience as mentioned above.

With kindest regards,

Sincerely yours,

C. J. Watson, M. D.
cc: Col. F. Rauer
Dr. W. P. Havens
Dr. J. Neefe
Dr. J. Stokes
Dr. J. Paul
P.S.: I do feel strongly, however, that if the
Army approves and finances a specific research
involving human experimentation, with the
intention of accepting and utilizing any practical
results therefrom, it should be willing to
obligate itself to the protection of the
experimenter, at least to the extent of purchasing
a special insurance policy for each project of
this type, covering disability or death. (By this
I mean one comparable to a malpractice policy ,
protecting the experimenter against later suit for
compensation. Obviously, no publicity should be
given to this.)

COPIED: 12/2/94
RECORD Group: # 334
Entry: #14
File: Commission on Liver Diseases on Human Volunteers for
Hepatitis Studies in Feb. 1945

1948 hepatitis prisoners { April 5 1948 }
1953 operation upshot [jpg]
50 chem bio tests 5842 military personnel
65 thousand women secretly sterilized by the state { May 15 2005 }
Cia drug experimentation { May 11 2003 }
Cia gottlieb lsd mk ultra { March 10 1999 }
Cia uses nazi brainwashing { October 17 2004 }
Cia vulnerability testing { October 25 2001 }
Deaths feared linked a bomb tests
Desert rock 1955 [jpg]
Epa looking at using tests on people
Experimental drugs tested on veterans { June 17 2008 }
Fed releases gas in grand central station new york
Feds tested aids drugs on foster kids { May 5 2005 }
Files reveal state supported sterilization { July 19 2003 }
Forced sterilization seen path better world { July 16 2003 }
History human experiementation
Human experimentation { May 11 1987 }
Invulintary sterilization compensation
Mindcontrol clockwork
Minute12 { March 15 1995 }
Mustarg gas 1944 { March 7 1993 }
Nerve gas tests
Nerve sarin tests
Nonlethal weapons to be tested on americans
Nuclear exposure underestimated { May 9 2003 }
Op redwing 1956 [jpg]
Pesticide study using children postponed { November 13 2004 }
Private firm uses foster children for aids trials { April 23 2005 }
Scot paid by cia to brainwash patients { October 19 2004 }
State seeks forced sterilization victims { July 17 2003 }
Trnsc12a { March 15 1995 }
US releases bio weapons in NY subway { February 13 2006 }
Veterans of atomic testing { May 11 2003 }

Files Listed: 35


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple