‘Wormwood,’ the DPRK, and germ warfare

In 1952, a six-person international scientific commission, led by the preeminent British biochemist, Joseph Needham, visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The U.S. was carpet bombing the DPRK then.  Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay later bragged to the Office of Air War History of his exploits: “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population.” (Washington Post, March 24, 2015)

But it wasn’t only exploding bombs and napalm that were being rained down on the DPRK. The international commission found evidence that the U.S. had engaged in germ warfare that sickened and killed villagers in this young socialist country — which had so recently liberated itself from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule.

The team took films of insects crawling on the snow-covered ground next to canisters dropped from the sky. They interviewed villagers who had strange lesions all over their bodies and who had become ill with contagious diseases after U.S. planes flew overhead.

When their findings were made public, the U.S. government and obedient media were shocked and scandalized. What an outrageous charge! This country, leader of the free world, would never do such a thing! What liars, what dupes are these “fellow travelers” of the “commies”!

Viewers should keep all this in mind when watching “Wormwood,” the six-part documentary series now being aired on Netflix. “Wormwood” is about the death in 1953 of Frank Olson.  At that time he was a leading scientist at the U.S. Army’s germ warfare facility at Fort Detrick, Md., and an employee of the CIA.

Olson’s body was found on the pavement in front of the Statler Hotel in New York on the night of Nov. 28, 1953. The authorities explained to the press that Olson had plunged to his death from a 13th-story room in the hotel in either an accident or a suicide. Neither explanation was easy for his shocked and mourning family to accept.

One of Olson’s sons, Eric Olson, couldn’t let it go. He turned over and over in his mind the circumstances of his father’s death; the official explanation just didn’t add up. So he began what turned into decades of probing and prodding to try to find out the truth.

CIA secrets exposed

In 1975, secrets of the CIA’s MKUltra mind-control program finally came out. Then came a “confession” from the government: Olson had jumped out of the window because of a CIA experiment with LSD that had “gone wrong.”

Eventually Olson’s family met with CIA head William Colby, as well as President Gerald Ford, who both apologized for the unfortunate “accident.” Olson’s relatives were given a monetary settlement for his “wrongful death.”

But still Eric Olson persisted. Without revealing a “spoiler” for those who intend to watch this series, it is enough to say that the film makes a strong case for Olson being deliberately murdered by the CIA because he wanted “out” from his job of perfecting horrible weapons, like aerosolized anthrax.

Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist, appears in the series. He is cagey not to reveal any sources, but agrees with Eric Olson that the CIA murdered his father. This film uncovers a lifetime of government deceit.

Doesn’t this tell us a lot about the vicious U.S. lies and defamation of the leaders and people of north Korea that persist today and have reached a crescendo just because that country has finally developed a powerful way to defend itself from another horrible U.S. war?

Deirdre Griswold

Deirdre.Griswold@workers.org

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Deirdre Griswold

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