Frankensteins in the Pentagon
DAPRA's Creepy Bioengineering Program
By Cheryl Seal
25 August 2003
DARPA Bioengineering Program Seeks to Turn Soldiers Into Cyborgs
Not long ago, the public was stunned by the practical and moral idiocy of the
Pentagon researcher (and unprosecuted war criminal) John Poindexter, who
proposed a 'football pool' scheme for predicting terrorist attacks. We all
laughed at such insanity and were relieved to see the scheme speedily
deep-sixed. However, this bit of lunacy was just the lightest ice in the tip of
the very large, very dark iceberg that the Pentagon's research program, better
known as DARPA, has become.
Just a few weeks before the bizarro world 'terrorism gambling' project was
exposed, a DARPA (which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency)-sponsored conference was held in Washington, DC, that showcased the
latest love child of the Bush Pentagon: military bioengineering. The euphemisms
being used by the Pentagon to disguise the true nature of this research are
being spread as thick as bondo and cheap paint at a used car lot. For example,
the title of the conference was: 'Harvesting Biology for Defense Technology,'
while the subheading of the section on human 'bioengineering' was entitled,
rather ominously, in light of the military's history, 'Enhancing Human
So how does the Bush DARPA seek to 'enhance' human performance? In a kinder,
gentler administration, the solution would be better training, better food,
better pay, more leave time, and greater use of stress-reducing duty rotations.
But this is not a kinder, gentler -or even rational- administration. Bush and
Company plan to enhance soldier performance by squeezing the most that can be
humanly -and not so humanly- squeezed from troops without having to resort to
anything as primitive as decent pay. Their motto: Get the most human output for
the least human input: After all, it's the corporate way!
Here are some examples of DARPA 'Human-enhancing' schemes:
The 'Brain Interface Program' is the most lavishly funded of nearly all the
DARPA bioengineering efforts (the project has been given $24 million for the
next two years). It is aimed at developing ways to 'integrate' soldiers into
machines -literally- by wiring them (remotely or directly) to their planes,
tanks, or computers. An implantable brain chip is now under development in this
sick program, which has already proudly demonstrated how rats can be turned
into living robots through the manipulation of stimulus-response signals in the
brain via electrodes. The Pentagon hopes to use these pathetic, 'modified'
creatures (you should see the photos -makes you want to join People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals!) in mine clearance.
"The use of animals in warfare is ugly enough without the further insult to
their dignity involved in turning them into involuntary cyborgs," writes James
Meek in the Guardian. "And a military command committed to the use of creatures
which are part-animal, part-machine, is going to be that bit less reluctant to
interfere in its soldiers in similar ways."
But, as the conference heading would have you believe, DARPA isn't
interfering -it is merely 'enhancing.' After all, as an official at DARPA
recently observed, "The human is becoming the weakest link in defense systems."
Enhancement efforts at the Brain Interface Program are now progressing nicely.
The chief Frankenstein of the project, one Alan S. Rudolph, now wants to be
able to transmit images or sound directly into the brains of rats -and of
course, later, soldiers...or prisoners of war (just imagine the torture
The 'Metabolic Dominance and Engineered Tissue' program is aimed at being able
to artificially pump up soldier endurance and muscle strength.
The 'Persistence in Combat' program is a bizarre self-treatment scheme which
would include pain-reducing and blood-stopping devices and techniques soldiers
would apply to their own wounds -even moderately severe ones- thereby bypassing
the need for a medic and enabling a soldier to keep fighting, despite serious
wounds! Yep, just keep on runnin' through the jungle on that broken leg or with
that bullet in the gut! Once that pain-obliterating electrode in your brain is
activated, you won't feel a thing!
The 'Continuous Assisted Perfomance' program hopes to find biotechnological
ways (implants, metabolic manipulation, etc) to make it possible to push
exhausted soldiers on without loss of performance for up to seven days without
The above technologies are referred to by DARPA under the subheading of
'neuroengineering.' Neuroengineering was played around with back in the early
1990s (no doubt given the initial green light by Bush I), but became a rather
minor and exotic 'side line' of research in the Clinton years. Since Bush II
came on the scene, however, neuroengineering programs have been shoved into a
position of major importance.
The wording of the descriptions of all the 'human enhancement' programs is
extremely deceptive -even deliberately misleading. For example, having read the
Brain Interface Program background in Nature magazine, I know for a fact that
'noninvasive' technologies (contrary to what is claimed in the description) are
not currently the project priority and are considered at best a remote goal.
What is in the works right now is a microprocessing chip that can be implanted
beneath the skull and remotely manipulated. In a June 19 Nature article,
Rudolph estimated that a usable chip that could be field-tested in rats is
about two years away, while noninvasive technologies (whatever that means -how
can it not be when you are manipulating someone's neurons?) is only an
The researchers also try to hide behind grandiose-sounding claims of working to
the greater good as a way to fool the public, and possibly themselves, into
believing that these projects really do have some benign reasons for being, if
only to promote the cause of 'science.' That is why nearly every program in the
conference guide comes with a 'suggested benign use' (my own flippant phrase).
After all, whines Rudolph, today's soldier's brain chip may be tomorrow's brain
damage therapy. We should be impressed? After all, the same argument was used
by Hitler's researchers to justify their heartless 'medical' experiments on
Jews, gypsies, retarded children, enemy soldiers, prisoners, et al.). What is
truly chilling is that these technologies, in essence, are seeking to turn our
soldiers into human fighting machines, sacrificing their autonomy and, very
likely, long-term quality of life for short term military savings -savings that
will go right into the pockets of the government's beloved defense contractors.
There is no way these technologies can be benign -the whole concept is totally
against what America stands for and against any other reasonable code of
ethics, for that matter. In addition, with the way they are being rushed
through the research gamut, there is no way they can be proven safe, especially
long-term. I can just imagine the residual tissue damage, cancers,
post-traumatic stress disorders, etc, that DARPA-style 'human enhancement' will
inflict on our guys and gals in uniform. Remember Agent Orange? Remember
aboveground nuke testing? Remember submarine sailors being gassed as a DARPA
'experiment,' or those soldiers, most of them black or Hispanic, fed LSD? As it
is, more than half of all Gulf War vets have now filed for disability because
of the devastating effects of Gulf War Syndrome.
The only variable that has been conclusively linked to the syndrome is the
ingestion by US Gulf War soldiers (and some British troops) of a 'cocktail' of
anti-bacterial inoculations (including the anthrax vaccine) and an anti-nerve
gas agent. A clear pattern was shown: Soldiers who did not receive the
'cocktail' (including all French soldiers) did not later report Gulf War
syndrome symptoms, even if exposed to depleted uranium (another suspected
cause). This finding came out in European journals way back in the mid-1990s.
French commanders and many British commanders seriously questioned the wisdom
of the cocktail at the time. But not the Pentagon! After all, the cocktail was
'human enhancing.' So now, will beneath-the-skull implants for soldiers become
as mandatory as anthrax vaccines? (for my theory of Gulf War syndrome, read the
paragraph after this article).
With the insane Bush DARPA plunging forward with its Darth Vader research, the
possibilities for horrific misuse and long-term consequences are staggering.
For example, one of the DARPA Frankensteins, one Ted Berger of the University
of Southern California, envisions pilots who would be able to pilot their
planes by thought alone, thanks to brain implants. This concept, like so much
military research, fails to consider realistic variables. To name just a few of
these: what about the impact of fear, exhaustion, pain, or dizziness on
effective neural function? Whoops -didn't mean to crash into that busy highway!
Or how about ruthless generals turning their pilots into 'instant Kamikazes' as
a shortcut to winning a battle? Or, for that matter, who's to stop the enemy or
a lone terrorist who has gained access to the technology from finding a way to
repeat 9/11 scenarios using our own pilots or soldiers? At the very least,
there can be no benign consequence to pushing men and women beyond their
'unassisted' endurance. The risk of brain damage, brain tumors, cancers,
catastrophic immune responses similar to host-graft disease, heart attacks
(from electronic signals triggering arrhythmias), and other assaults on the
body seem the most imminent dangers. But who knows what unforeseen consequences
may emerge? For example, the children conceived during and right after the
first above-ground nuclear tests are just now approaching 60 - who knows what
sort of long smoldering cancers may yet erupt into 'epidemics.'
One chief neuroethicist at the Center for Cognitive Neurosciences at the
University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia has questioned not just the ethics
of some of DARPA's research, but the ethics of those researchers who accept
DARPA money. If they do so knowing the research is questionable, she asserts,
then they have compromised their ethics.
And, I might add, our soldier's lives.
Resources on DARPA's Neuroengineering Project
Click here for information on the DARPA-sponsored convention.
Click here for James Meek's Roborat Ethics article.
Click here for tips on how to investigate military research at your university.
To help get you started, here's a list of names of DARPA 'human enhancement'
program research fund recipients and their universities. Miguel Nicolelis, Duke
University at Durham, North Carolina; Tomaso Poggio, James DiCarlo and Christof
Koch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sam Deadwyler, Wake Forest
University; Jon Kaas, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; Ted Berger,
University of Southern California.
Afterword: My Gulf War Syndrome Theory
Based on hundreds of readings I have done on the human immune system in the
course of my abstracting job, I have formulated the following theory:
All vaccines cause a temporary weakening of the immune system as they 'kick
in,' including the common flu vaccine. This effect lasts from about 7-14 days.
If you combine a mishmash of powerful and, let's face it, largely unproven
vaccines, along with an anti-nerve gas agent, you will be dealing a formidable
temporary blow to your natural immune system. Because the immune system is
responsible not just for warding off viruses and bacteria, but for confronting
all other sorts of foreign 'invaders' including irritants such as toxic
particles in the air, chemical sprays (bug spray, sun screen, etc.), a slammed
immune system (ask any AIDS patient) can leave you wide open to all sorts of
nasty stuff, from skin lesions to tumors. So, I believe the cocktail was a
secondary agent of damage -primary elements of the soldiers' immune systems
were knocked out, then assaulted by carcinogens, irritants, and other elements
that ordinarily could have been resisted, as they were by most troops who did
not receive the vaccines. This would also explain why the symptoms of the
Syndrome are so diverse. It all depended on what you happened to get exposed to
out in the field following the cocktail and how, specifically, your immune
system responded to the assault on it by the vaccine cocktail.
Copyright © 2003 by the News Insider and Cheryl Seal
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