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March 2nd, 2012
01:12 PM ET

Vets feel abandoned after secret drug experiments

The moment 18-year-old Army Private Tim Josephs arrived at Edgewood Arsenal in 1968, he knew there was something different about the place.

“It just did not look like a military base, more like a hospital,” recalled Josephs, a Pittsburgh native. Josephs had volunteered for a two-month assignment at Edgewood, in Maryland, lured by three-day weekends closer to home.

“It was like a plum assignment,” Josephs said. “The idea was they would test new Army field jackets, clothing, weapons and things of that nature, but no mention of drugs or chemicals.”

But from 1955 to 1975, military researchers at Edgewood were using Army volunteers to test chemicals ranging from potentially lethal nerve gases like VX and sarin to incapacitating agents like BZ. The military also tested tear gas, barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens like LSD.

This top secret Cold War research program initially looked for ways to defend against a chemical or biological attack by the Soviet Union, thought to be far ahead of the United States in “psycho-chemical” warfare. But the research expanded into offensive chemical weapons including one that could, according to one Army film obtained by CNN, deliver a “veritable chemical ambush” against an enemy.

Join CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta for more from his investigative report on U.S. soldiers used as drug test subjects. CNN Presents premieres Sunday at 8pm ET, re-airing at 11pm and 2am ET.

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