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RADIATION EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI MEDICAL SCHOOL WITH DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FUNDING
MONDAY, APRIL 11, 1994
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
AND GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS,
Cincinnati, OH. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in courtroom 2, room 822, U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Fifth and Walnut Streets, Cincinnati, OH, Hon. John Bryant (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives John Bryant and David Mann.
Staff present: David Naimon, assistant counsel; Nichole Jenkins, assistant counsel; and Ray Smietanka, minority counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN BRYANT Mr. BRYANT. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests. The subcommittee will come to order.
The House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Administrative Law and Governmental Relations meets today in Cincinnati to take testimony concerning the whole and partial body of radiation experiments conducted in Cincinnati General Hospital and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center between 1960 and 1991, and partially funded by the Department of Defense.
This subcommittee has jurisdiction over compensation for claims against the Federal Government based on the Federal Government's wrongdoing and considered previous compensation legislation such as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which compensates Japanese-Americans who were in internment camps during World War II, and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990, which compensates the residents who lived downwind from a Nevada nuclear test site and participated in those tests by the Government.
On February 2, 1994, the subcommittee held a hearing examining the issue of Government-sponsored experiments performed on humans who did not give informed consent to the experiments, including separate tests involving radiation, mustard gas, LSD, and other chemical agents.
The allegations regarding the Cincinnati radiation experiments are very serious. If they are true, these human experiments could be the most egregious that have been brought to light yet.
Our task is to examine these tests, determine whether the subjects gave informed consent to participating in such tests, and what harm resulted from the tests, and whether compensation is appropriate.
I would like to thank Congressman David Mann, a member of this subcommittee, for bringing the Cincinnati radiation experiments to the subcommittee's attention. I commend Congressman Mann's commitment and persistence for bringing these experiments to the forefront of the Congress and to the attention of the Clinton administration.
I know he also has worked closely with the working group established by President Clinton to ensure these experiments get serious examination as part of that group's consideration.
The subcommittee would also like to welcome Rob Portman to this subcommittee. While he is not a member of this specific subcommittee and the Judiciary
the Judiciary Committee does not allow nonmembers to question witnesses at committee hearings, as chairman I think it is appropriate in this instance for Congressman Portman to sit with the subcommittee based on his extensive involvement with this issue. I think Congressman Portman's involvement in this hearing is an unusual case and it does not set a precedent for future subcommittee or committee policies elsewhere.
The subcommittee expects to be involved in the human testing issue for some time to come. Today's hearing is just a step in that process. It does not focus on any particular legislation, which has not yet been written by this subcommittee. We expect to have more hearings before we consider whether to legislate in this area, and we will be working closely with the Clinton administration in fashioning an appropriate response.
We appreciate the presence today of all of our witnesses and commend them for their preparation. We realize that with so many witnesses there will be limited time for making statements and answering questions today. However, additional materials and answers may be submitted at a later date.
I am informed that I said 1960 through 1991 while referring to those experiments. As everyone knows, it was 1960 through 1971.
I would like, before concluding my statement, to say a very profound thank you to Judge Webber for the use of his courtroom. I would also like to give thanks to Betsy Brockmeyer for all of her logistical development in making this possible.
At this time, I recognize Congressman Mann. Mr. MANN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome to Cincinnati. We are proud that you are here and I am proud to serve on your subcommittee. I enjoy very much working with you and I admire your leadership.
I think this is an important hearing. As you know, I have been working on this subject for some months now, as this entire community has been focused increasingly on the experiments that occurred between 1961 to 1971. I hope this hearing will cast new light and help focus the issue as this subcommittee takes up the question of compensation.
I too would like to thank the witnesses who have agreed to testify today. My heart goes out to all of the family members of the patients we will be discussing during this hearing. I know that reliving the illnesses of your loved ones some 20 years ago has brought you real pain. Three of you will sit at the witness table today. But I know many more of you would have liked to share your stories.
I would like to ask unanimous consent, Mr. Chairman, that all the written statements submitted to the subcommittee, whether by witnesses or otherwise, be included in the record for today's proceedings.
Mr. BRYANT. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. MANN. I would like to voice my appreciation for all witnesses other than family members who will be participating today, including Dr. Saenger.
What we know to date, Mr. Chairman, is that some 87 patients received whole or partial body radiation. We know the patients involved were diagnosed with various forms of cancer believed to be terminal.
We also know while they may have consented to the treatment, many or perhaps all of them were unaware of the Department of Defense interest in their conditions and many or perhaps all were unaware of the potential side effects of the radiation.
We also know that written consent forms were not used until the mid-1960's.
But let's get to the heart of the matter. We also know that the original University of Cincinnati proposal to the Pentagon, the contract between the University of Cincinnati and the Pentagon, and the first five reports about the project from the University of Cincinnati to the Pentagon all describe the purpose of the project in terms only of the Pentagon's needs, particularly its need for biological tests of radiation exposure, and not in terms of therapy for patients.
Each of the first five reports covering the period from February 1960 to April 1967 label the project as "metabolic changes in humans following total body irradiation.”
The term “therapeutic efforts” does not even become a part of the title of the reports to the Pentagon until 1968 when the title becomes “Radiation Effects in Man: Manifestations and Therapeutic Efforts.”
It is also important to understand and keep focused on the fact that this project was conducted while the contract with the Pentagon and while the Pentagon's money continued. Whole body radiation under this project neither preceded nor outlived the Pentagon's contract.
The two primary issues that I believe we need to resolve, Mr. Chairman, are, first, did the patients knowledgeably consent to the experiments? And by “knowledgeably," I mean were they fully informed of all the facts and circumstances and possible consequences to them and funding.
And second, was this type of treatment appropriate for the types of illnesses suffered by the patients? By this I mean, absent the $8,000 or $10,000 per patient provided by the Department of De
fense, would whole body radiation have been an appropriate medical therapy for these patients?
If we find the answer to any of these questions is "no," then I believe we have no choice but to conclude that the radiation experiments were simply wrong and that the Government owes a huge apology to the victims, their families, and the Nation.
Again, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the hard work you and the staff have put into preparing for this hearing and I look forward to the testimony here today. Thank you very much.
[The opening statements of Messrs. Bryant and Mann follow:]
REP. JOHN BRYANT, CHAIRMAN
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
AND GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
HEARING ON RADIATION EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI MEDICAL SCHOOL WITH
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FUNDING
GOOD MORNING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS. THE SUBCOMMITTEE WILL COME TO
ORDER. THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE'S SUBCOMMITTEE
ON ADMINISTRATIVE LAW AND GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
MEETS TODAY IN CINCINNATI TO TAKE TESTIMONY
CONCERNING THE WHOLE AND PARTIAL BODY RADIATION
EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED AT CINCINNATI GENERAL HOSPITAL
AND THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI MEDICAL CENTER
BETWEEN 1960 AND 1971 AND PARTIALLY FUNDED BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.
THIS SUBCOMMITTEE HAS JURISDICTION OVER
COMPENSATION FOR CLAIMS AGAINST THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT BASED ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S