Monday, December 9, 2013

CIA Document Suggests U.S. Lied About Biological, Chemical Weapon Use in the Korean War

According to a CIA document declassified in March 2006, the U.S. government lied publicly about pushing for a United Nations "on-the-spot" investigation into Soviet, Chinese and North Korean charges of U.S. use of biological weapons (BW) during the Korean War.

According to the document, a "Memorandum of Conversation" from the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) dated July 6, 1953, the U.S. was not serious about conducting any investigation into such charges, despite what the government said publicly. The reason the U.S. didn't want any investigation was because an "actual investigation" would reveal military operations, "which, if revealed, could do us psychological as well as military damage."

The memorandum specifically stated as an example of what could be revealed "8th Army preparations or operations (e.g. chemical warfare)."

Psychological Strategy Board

The document in question was an enclosure to a memorandum to CIA director Allan Dulles from Horace S. "Pete" Craig. As CIA director, Dulles sat on the PSB board along with the Undersecretary of State and the Deputy Secretary of Defense, or their designated representatives. Craig was CIA and close to Dulles, working for CIA's Advisory Council on "comint" (communications intelligence). He seems to have been Dulles's representative for awhile at Board meetings. He later was a member of the Operations Coordinating Board, President Eisenhower's replacement for the PSB.

The July 6 meeting was attended by Craig, Wallace Irvin, Jr., Erasmus Kloman, and Richard L. Sneider. The group had many intelligence connections. This was not surprising as "psychological warfare" or "strategy" during the heyday of the early Cold War was, as one historian put it, "most of the time understood as synonymous with covert operations".

The PSB itself was meant to coordinate the activities of different U.S. agencies and departments. Controversial and disbanded about two years after it was founded in 1951, according to the Truman Library website, which has an extensive list of PSB holdings, its function was "to authorize and provide for the more effective planning, coordination, and conduct within the framework of approved national policies, of psychological operations."

Board member Sneider was at the time a State Department "policy analyst and intelligence expert" who also associated with the United Nations Association of the United States. Later he became Officer in Charge of Japanese Affairs. By the late 1960s, he was active on Nixon's National Security Council. From 1973 to 1978, he was U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

Irwin worked closely with UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in shepherding through the latter's "human rights" proposals at the United Nations in the early 1950s. The latter project was organized as a working group within the PSB, with Irwin acting as "Chair". Later, he became a speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, and became ensconced within the foreign policy establishment. He would ultimately become editor for the journal Foreign Policy.

"Ras" Kloman ran the meeting. In a brief telephone exchange I had with Mr. Kloman on November 18, he confirmed he had been with the PSB. He had no memory of the meeting in question, but told me he had been "the principal man on psychological warfare." Ill, and in a nursing home, Kloman declined answering any more questions. He is the only living member of the group who met that summer day 60 years ago.

Kloman had been a World War II Office of Strategic Services operative. He wrote a book about his experiences. An online biography states that Kloman also served in "the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State, and Foreign Policy Research Institute at Penn, and as a corporate executive for AMAX and IBM. He was a Senior Research Associate at the National Academy of Public Administration from which he retired in 1985."

Trouble Countering Charges of Biological Warfare

The "memorandum of conversation" -- really the minutes of the meeting -- concerns a discussion of the difficulties U.S. psywar experts were having getting academics to back the government's own propagandistic critique of the World Peace Council-backed International Scientific Commission's (ISC) conclusion supporting Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean claims that the U.S. had used offensive biological weapons in Korea. The situation was crucial because the evidence was backed up by the statements of a number of captured U.S. airmen, including some officers, providing confessions of use of BW, and giving detailed descriptions of who ordered it and how it was done.

The U.S. responded to the airmen's confessions with claims they were coerced, false confessions. Some claimed (with CIA connivance, if not inspiration) the POWs were "brainwashed." The origins of the Bush-era "enhanced interrogation" torture program can be traced in part to CIA and military research meant to counter, supposedly, the possibility of such "brainwashing." But since they knew it wasn't actually "brainwashing," the whole explanation was really a cover story for the creation of a psychologically based torture program.

(For more on the history of the ISC, which was chaired by the famous British historian of Chinese science, Dr. Joseph Needham, click here.)

An Army epidemiologist, Col. Arthur Long, had been asked to submit a report on ISC's work. Long, of course, found the ISC's own report to be a "complete fabrication." According to Long, the problem was "very few of [the ISC]... particular items of scientific 'evidence' could be demolished as such."

So a committee was formed under Detlev Bronk, president of the National Academy of Sciences. But, Kloman bemoaned, the NAS committee had "accomplished very little of substance." Bronk had disappointed them. A letter he wrote to support Long's analysis was, according to Kloman, "pitched in an extremely low key -- so much so as to be of dubious effect." Even U.S. diplomats at the UN refused to promote Bronk's letter.

The State Department sent a "circular airgram," written by Kloman, to US embassies in all the countries represented by the ISC (Italy, France, Brazil, UK, Sweden), asking them to find scientists to refute ISC's report. But the U.S. was having very little luck. Even the British "were pleasant but did nothing."

Kloman was perturbed but somewhat understanding. The ISC scientists were, he said, "politics aside... highly competent people."

The meeting turned towards countering BW claims at the UN, via pushing a U.S. call for an investigation by the United Nations of the Korean charges. (Of course, North Korea and China were at war with UN forces at the time.) Sneider described the different proposals the U.S. was putting forward, condemning the BW charges and calling for an investigation, while analyzing the results of the UN votes on these proposals. But the results of this campaign were "obscure." There was a sense the U.S. had missed an opportunity to more effectively win propaganda points. Sneider told the group the State Department verdict on the anti-ISC campaign was "no victory and no defeat."

The meeting continued with a discussion of "future possibilities" for action, but it ended with a bombshell.

The Dangers of an "Actual Investigation"

The PSB memorandum (PDF link) concluded with a stunning admission of duplicity, and -- I cannot believe but the CIA's censors were asleep at the switch here, to all our benefit -- a revelation about U.S. military actions in the Korean War that from our standpoint in the 2010s have been buried for decades.
Mr. Kloman observed that US policy, while favoring the proposal for an on-the-spot investigation, does not favor an actual investigation. One reason for this, he said, is the feeling of the military that an investigating commission would inevitably come across the 8th Army preparations or operations (e.g. chemical warfare) which, if revealed, could do us psychological as well as military damage. This reasoning assumes that the commission would have authority to examine anything they liked on either side of the battle line."
While historians of the Korean War BW controversy will find it fascinating to analyze what this document means in the context of the long-standing feud between those who believe one side or the other, I think what is most important for us today is the reopening of the question of U.S. use of chemical weapons in that war.

Most people are probably unaware that there ever were charges of CW use by the U.S. in Korea. I know I was. Yet as early as March 1952, a Commission of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) had visited North Korea to examine charges of war crimes, releasing a report that included documentation of chemical warfare.

"American planes have on various occasions used asphyxiating and other gases or chemical weapons at least since 6th May, 1951," the IADL commission wrote. "The commission took eye witness and expert testimony. Post-mortem examinations and autopsy results argued that some chemical had been used, with a "disagreeable smell, resembling the smell of chlorine.... In the affected area of the city it was noted that grass became yellow brown, objects containing an alloy of copper became blue green and rings of silver became black."

Victims of another alleged attack "felt an itching on the exposed parts of the body.... they observed red spots which grew to a size like haricot beans, which then swelled and were filled with pus." Some had injuries like "second-degree burns but with a much more, serious erosive action and taking a longer time to recover."

Critics of the IADL wrote off their findings as communist, fellow-traveller propaganda. Before long, the main controversy over US war crimes turned to the BW allegations, but the North Koreans have never withdrawn their allegations. In the 2001 Report and Final Judgment on US Crimes in Korea 1945-2001 by the Korea International War Crimes Tribunal, whose indictment was drafted by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsay Clark, the U.S. was found guilty of use of both chemical and biological warfare during the Korean War.

A Circumstantial Case, Records Destroyed

It's worth noting that the Chinese and North Koreans had ample reason to believe the U.S. capable of using biological or chemical warfare. The U.S. then had refused to sign the 1925 Geneva Protocol against use of chemical or biological weapons. The Chinese and Koreans knew the U.S. had amnestied the Japanese scientists of Unit 731, who had undertaken fatal experiments on both BW and CW on prisoners. Indeed, the ISC report had included a chapter on Unit 731.

Moreover, both Chinese and Koreans knew the Japanese had extensively used both biological, and even more so, chemical weapons during the Sino-Japanese War (coinciding in its last years with World War II).

An October 1988 article by historian Yuki Tanaka in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, "Poison Gas: the Story Japan Would Like to Forget," described the CW campaign waged by Japan in China, and how the U.S. helped keep the subject from coming up in war crimes trials at the end of WWII. Meanwhile, the U.S. had become cozy with former Japanese war criminals, now being allowed back into Japanese civil and political life, while former collaborators with the Japanese were members of the U.S. backed Republic of Korea government.

The scope of Japan's chemical war unleashed in China can be ascertained by the damage left afterward. According to Nationalist Chinese sources in Taipei, approximately 700,000 chemical munitions were left abandoned in China after World War II. The Chinese government says that approximately 2,000 people still die each year from encounters with such ordinance. An ongoing clean-up of the chemical mess, in part paid for by Japan, is still ongoing in 2013.

A list of Japanese chemical ordinance and equipment that was captured by the U.S. at the end of WWII was recently declassified, and, revealing here for the first time, documentation shows the chemical weapons were shipped to the Army's Edgewood Arsenal "for detailed study."


U.S. historians either ignore the subject of chemical warfare entirely, or dismiss the charges of chemical warfare. "The United States did not use gas warfare in Korea although authority to do so was requested by some of our commanders in the field," wrote George Bunn in a 1969 article for the Wisconsin Law Review.

For whatever reason, a Chemical Mortar Battalion was sent from Edgewood Arsenal to the Korean theater, though I could not find evidence they had actually used chemical weapons. Perhaps this is evidence of the "preparations" Kloman alluded to and what Bunn meant by "requested authority." We won't know until the government opens up its archives completely. Meanwhile those who lived through the period are quickly passing from this world.

There are some documented, if circumstantial, pointers to possible CW activities. For instance, according to one document, the U.S. Air Force Psychological Warfare Board had a Biological-Chemical Warfare team under Lt. Col. L. N. Stead.

Meanwhile, it is also a fact that many documents of the Army Chemical Corps, which had responsibility for both chemical and biological weapons, were destroyed after recall from the National Archives in 1956. See Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman (York University), "United States Biological Warfare during the Korean War: rhetoric and reality."

Endicott and Hagerman are also the authors of a major analysis of the evidence for U.S. use of biological weapons during in Korea. See The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea by Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman (1999, University of Indiana Press). A totally opposite point of view can be found Milton Leitenberg's "False Allegations of U.S. Biological Weapons Use during the Korean War", in Terrorism, War, or Disease? Unraveling the Use of Biological Weapons (2008, Stanford Security Studies, Anne L. Clunan, Peter R. Lavoy, and Susan B. Martin, eds).

Of course, chemical weapons of a sort were definitely used during the Korean War. The United States extensively used napalm in an extensive bombing campaign that destroyed most of North Korea's cities and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. According to one source, "During the Korean War, the United States dropped approximately 250,000 pounds of napalm per day." Later, in the late 1960s, the U.S. sprayed the defoliant Agent Orange, also being used widely in the Vietnam War, near the demilitarized zone in Korea.

There is no book detailing the charges or refutation of charges of chemical warfare in the Korean War. It's never alluded to in Seymour Hersh's 1968 book, Chemical and Biological Warfare, nor in any book on U.S. chemical warfare that I've looked at, except perhaps in a very passing way. If I am wrong, I'm hoping someone will point that out to me.

"Whose Sarin?"

Seymour Hersh's article in The London Review of Books, "Whose Sarin?", set off a storm of commentary about his motives, his accuracy, and the significance of the revelations. Hersh claimed the Obama administration had been quick to "cherry-pick" intelligence findings. Obama had "failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin...."

For some reason, Hersh did not bring up the history he knows so well of U.S. secrecy and misdirection when it comes to use of chemical and biological weapons. Failing to do so only weakened his argument in what is otherwise a compelling analysis of events inside the Obama administration after news broke of the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack in a neighborhood near Damascus.

But the document and evidence I've laid out above should make anyone think twice, if not three times, about relying on U.S. assurances or propaganda regarding the use of chemical weapons by anybody. U.S. citizens should call for an opening of all archival material, which after 60 or more years cannot constitute a national security threat, though it may be an national shame and embarrassment for the U.S. government.

Crossposted at The Dissenter/FDL


Saint Howard (a.k.a. Howard the Great) said...

Excellent, well-researched essay. Thanks for confirming what I wrote in a similar essay for Dissident Voice @

-Saint Howard

Valtin said...

Thanks, Howard. I had not seen that article. I'm glad I could add to the documentary evidence that ultimately will help the truth come out.

Light said...

Jeff, I am sorry to tell you that you have been chasing a false proof of a false allegation. It's an old lie from a forgotten war. Unfortunately people don't believe even if the government told the truth.

A recent article, titled "The Germ War of '52 Was A False Alarm", published in a Chinese magazine (Yanhuang Historical Review, Oct 2013), revealed the truth of the allegation. The article was written by Wu, Zhi-Li, the ex-Surgeon General of Chinese People's Volunteer Army (the Chinese troops sent to Korean War). In the article, he clearly stated that the allegation started as a false alarm from the CPV's front-line troops. While he and his medical team (and later the medical experts from Beijing) were still struggling to investigate and confirm the reports, the highest leaders (i.e., Mao, Ze-Dong & etc) had decided to start a large scale propaganda campaign against the U. S. He said that during the whole year of the campaign (1952-1953), his team did not find even a single victim of the biological warfare. Furthermore, he talked about the tremendous political pressure on him and his colleagues to show the "evidences" of the germ war. At the end, he could do nothing but fabricating the evidences and gave those to the so-called "World Peace Council." Even the evidences submitted by the North Korean were also fabricated by one of his colleagues, Professor Chen, who had previously investigated Japanese biological warfare in China during WW2.

I can provide you the copy of the article (in Chinese) if you are interested.

Valtin said...

Dear Light,

Thanks for commenting. I'd have to see the article which you are referring to in order to comment substantively. However, I'd note that Endicott and Hagerman in their book on the subject spoke to numerous officials in China, and got a very different story than that you say is put forward by Wu Zhi-Li. While I cannot read Chinese myself, I would like if you forward the article in question to me.

I'd also note that your comment does not speak to the allegation, raised via the document I found, that the US never seriously wanted an independent investigation of the charges, and they were using chemical weapons, or others, e.g., possibly BW, that they did not want to be publicly known. That, of course, comes from a formerly classified US document, not from China.

Light said...


When Endicott and Hagerman published their book 17 years ago, China was still under the tight control of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). Endicott's interviews (plus his father's alleged "interviews" during Korean War) had to go through the government channels. These (retired) officials, with a sharp sense of the political correctness, knew exactly what to say and what not to say. Why couldn't they even find a single evidence from the American side to support this allegation of such a large scale.

Yes, the scale. In Chinese and North Korean's allegations, it's a wide spread attack covering not just the front line areas but also deep into the heartland of North Korea and China. How many people would be involved in such an operation? What size of the paper trails would such an operation leave behind? Why did Endicott and Hagerman admit reluctantly that they could not find even a single US document showing the use of the biological weapons in Korea after 20 years of research in the US archives?

All right. Documents could be destroyed. How about people? There were the confessions from 25 captured US pilots. Endicott and Hagerman simply dismissed their revoke of the confessions after their repatriation as an act of the government pressure. Did they even consider about the pressure and these POWs faced during the Chinese interrogation?

Furthermore, if we look deeply into these pilots and their confessions, we would be even more amazed by the scale of this "black operation." These 25 pilots came from different branches (USAF, and Marine Corps), belonged to various units stationed at various airfields in Korea, held the various ranks (from lieutenants to colonels), and flied different types of aircraft (fighters, fighter bombers, bombers). They were about 1/4 of the captured US pilots in 1952. These numbers can only point to a "black operation" with an unprecedented scale. However, why couldn't Endicott and Hagerman even produce a single US witness to come forward to testify?

If we look back just a little while ago, we knew that Japanese formed the infamous Unit 731 secretly to conduct the biological warfare and experiments in WW2. With the similar secrecy, US had formed the 509th Composite Group to train and drop the atomic bombs in Japan. Would any of the officials and generals suddenly lose their minds and randomly pick some green lieutenants freshly out of the pilot schools to conduct the biological warfare that any sane people would know its political implication?

Now, enough said about the allegation, let's look at the document you mentioned. Regretfully, I have to say that your interpretation was still circumstantial and did not consider the full context thoroughly. The allegation happened between Feb 1952 and Feb 1953. During the period, the US did officially propose to let the International Red Cross to investigate the case but it was ignored by the communist side. By March 1953, after the death of Stalin, Chinese and North Korean suddenly shut up on the allegation. By early July, the ceasefire agreement was expected to be signed any time soon. Why would anyone want to kick the sleeping dog at this moment? Furthermore, even if the US reopened the case, would the communists allow UN to investigate?

Of course, I am not saying that US was totally clean. In early 50s, US military did develop biological weapons and certainly had the plans on their uses. However, plans are plans. They are not equivalent to the actual operations. As there were always op plans of using atomic bombs during the Korean War -- President Eisenhower clearly showed this intention in his first first National Security Council meeting -- there surely were OP plans involving with biological weapons in some staffs' safes. Any investigation at this moment would certainly impact the potential operations no matter they would really happen or not.

Light said...

About the article, here is a link.

The title of the webpage is different but the content is essentially the same. I can also send you a PDF copy of the original article if you like. IMHO, the authenticity of the article is without doubt because it matched squarely with some telegrams officially published previously. People's Daily started the allegation on Feb 22, 1952. However, one of the telegrams from CCP's Central Military Committee on Feb 27, 1952 showed that Wu reported the failure to isolate any harmful bacteria in his telegrams of Feb 22nd and 24th. Another report by China's prime minster, Zhou, En-Lai, on April 15, 1952, clearly indicated that the leadership of CCP and CPV quickly judged the reports of the unknown insects as the conduct of the germ war while the CPV medical leadership and the experts sent to Korea later were still in doubt. These were de-classified Chinese documents published officially as internally circulated materials for the military in 1980s. I can also send you these documents if you like.

Saint Howard (a.k.a. Howard the Great) said...

Shortly after I published my essay in Dissident Voice, a colleague informed me that a relative of his had been in the US forces which conducted the BW in Korea. According to him, it was an open secret among the troops and airmen. I know this is merely unconfirmed hearsay, but to me it's as believable as whatever the Chinese now are saying. Final proof of what happened has to come from the US side. The failure of Chinese and Korean personnel to find evidence does not prove that US forces did not deploy the weapons.

Light said...

Timeline of the allegation

CPV HQ received the report of unknown insects in the snow from 42nd Amry deployed in Iron Triangle area.

People's Daily reported nine incidents of UN planes spreading germ-infested insects between 1/28 and 2/17. The same report claimed the military medical personnel had found Yeresinia pestis, Cholera, and germs causing other diseases.

Zhou, En-Lai, foreign minister then, officially accused the U.S. for conducting the biological warfare in North Korea.

A telegram from CCP CMC mentioned that CPV medical personnel still did not believe there was a germ war going on and their viewpoint needed to be corrected.

A telegram from CCP CMC mentioned that Wu was still in doubts about the germ war due to the failures of finding baterias in his telegrams of 2/22 and 2/24. It requested CPV leadership to reproach him and sent Dai, Zheng Hua from Manchuria to supervise him. (In Wu's article he talked about a harsh and frightful reproach from General Peng, CinC of CPV and Dai's visit.)

Nie, Rongzhen, Chief of Staff, PLA, wrote a report to Mao and Zhou that he had sent a 44-person medical team, including several entomologists, bacteriologists, and epidemiologist, to Korea.

Dean Acheson, US Secretary of State, denied the allegation. He proposed to let International Red Cross to investigate. Same day, the investigators from International Association of Democratic Lawyer (IADL was considered a communist affiliate) arrived North Korea.

Zhou officially accused US for conducting biological warfare in China. He alleged that US planes spread germ-infested insects in Manchuria between 2/29 and 3/5.

Acheson asked International Red Cross Committee to investigate the charge.

International Red Cross Committee agreed to investigate the charge and asked both sides to assure the cooperation and also nominate their own experts to accompany the Red Cross team (composed of 3 Swiss, 1 Pakistanian, and 2 Indian representatives).

Trygve Lie, UN Secretary General, sent North Korea a telegram to notify them that WHO is willing to provide assistance for controlling the diseases. (The offer was provided 3 times in March. No reply.)

IADL announced the result of its investigation and accused US used biological weapons in China.

Lie made the fourth appeal of WHO's assistance to North Korea. Still no reply.

In Zhou's report about the germ war, he mentioned that CCP and CPV leadership immediately judged it's an act of germ war as soon as they received the report of the unknown insects, although CPV medical personnel and the experts sent by Nie were still in doubt.

James Endicott announced the result of his own investigation, conducted in Manchuria, in a press conference in London. (His accusation can be found here.

After repeated calls for cooperation of China and North Korea without receiving any response, International Red Cross announced it considered the silence meant a rejection.

People's Daily started to publish the confessions of 25 captured US pilots. Chinese announced that there were 36 airman admitted the crime of using biological weapons.

International Scientific Commission (lead by Joseph Needham) arrived China and then North Korea to investigate the charge.

Soviet vetoed US's proposal at UN Security Council to ask International Red Cross for investigating the charge. Soviet was the only one voted against this proposal while 10 other countries in the Council all voted yea.

In Zhou's report summarizing the five months' efforts against germ war, it accused US had conducted the germ war in 19 provinces of China.

Valtin said...

To Light,

I appreciate your comments and most recently the timeline you developed on the subject. I plan to incorporate it into a timeline I'm developing from various sources.

I have a number of problems with your view of the matter. First, there is nothing published I can see from anyone on these documents. Of course, I can't read Chinese. I followed your link, but it was not helpful.

Two, your new "find" is not only in contradistinction to Endicott and Hagerman's work (which did find a very strong circumstantial case for the use of BW -- I find they in fact were being overly cautious, but that's a story for another day), but it is in contradiction to those who publicized purported documents from the old USSR. Those scholars claimed the Chinese really did think the BW was happening, and it was the Soviets with the North Koreans who gamed the results for propaganda purposes.

One thing your claim shares with the latter is that there is no way to verify the authenticity of the documents, at least so far. I'm not saying it can't be done, but you'll have to admit it would be silly to do so on the basis of a comment from someone I do not know. For that matter, I do not ask readers to just believe me, but to follow and judge the evidence for themselves.

Finally, the entire matter labors under a tremendous problem, the fact that much material in fact published in English is practically unavailable to English readers via the Internet, or otherwise easily available. I'm speaking of the report of the Needham investigation, including the transcripts of many of the fliers' confessions. I have a copy of the Needham investigtion and those confessions. I can tell you there's much in that report that is never mentioned by those who deny use of BW by the U.S. in Korea. One example, for instance, are the interviews with South Korean spies sent to the North to investigate the results of the BW "epidemics".

The confessions are themselves remarkable documents. I've reproduced the full text of one at this blog. But there are a number of others.

You ask why no one would come forward to testify about the BW. But in fact, the returned POWs were kept under wraps and threatened with court-martials if they did not renounce their testimony. This is a fact. In addition, the records of their debriefings were supposedly destroyed in a fire. How convenient!

I have never said, and neither has Endicott and Hagerman, that we know for sure what happened. We should call for all sides in the previous conflict to release all documents from that time, and release any legal restrictions on anyone still left alive who could testify to these matters.

In the U.S. to this day, it is unknown exactly what universities and professors participated in the CIA's MKULTRA program. We know some, but by no means all. If this can be kept secret after many decades, as well as the actual substance of what a number of the MKULTRA subprograms involved, or what else went on with associated programs like MKNAOMI, then why is it so hard to believe the BW program and possible use by the US is still mostly under wraps?

Light said...


The Chinese documents come from The Summary of Logistic Experiences in The War of Resisting America and Supporting Korea: Selected Documents - Medical (抗美援朝戰爭後勤經驗總結資料選編:衛生類). It was published in Beijing in 1986 and for PLA staff. It started to be circulated on the Internet semi-openly about 10 years ago.

02/25/52, telegram from CCP CMC, pg. 331.

02/27/52, telegram from CCP CMC, pg. 333.

Dai, Zheng-Hua was then the Assistant Chief of Staff, G4, North-East Military Region (now Shenyang Military Region).

04/15/52, report from Zhou, pg. 353

This report mentioned that CPV medical leadership and some of the experts sent to Korea were doubtful about the charge.

In Wu’s article, he talked about the failure to find the bacteria by both his team and the Beijing team that was lead by two renown professors, He Chi and Wei Xi. Professor He was an entomologist with a Ph. D. from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in UK. Professor Wei was an bacteriologist who had done researches under Professor Hans Zinsser at Harvard. Professor He concluded their investigation by saying “I think it’s a ‘false alarm’ (these two words he had said it specifically in English).”

Valtin said...

Thanks, Light, for the references. As you can imagine, it will take awhile to determine the significance and meaning of these documents. Have there been no U.S. or Canadian scholars who you've approached or have interest in this material? Certainly I'd think Stephen Endicott at York University would be interested. (He may be retired, but his website is still active.)

Light said...


I have done some personal researches on this topic for the past 10 years. I agree with you that there are not a lot of English materials readily available these days. However, since I could read Chinese, I have used a lot of the materials from China to form my opinions.

I have studied Needham's report closely and founds several problems. For example, the report mentioned several delivery methods alleged to be used by the US planes. However, the investigators only saw three containers/munitions physically.

One was the M16A1/M105 leaf bomb used in PsyWar. Chinese and North Korean produced several photos of insects lying around the opened cases of M16A1/M105 and those photos do looked authentic at the first glance. Looking again, one could not help but soon wonder how the US military could have dealt with the self-contamination problems. The M16A1/M105 could not be sealed properly due to its construction. On page 56 of Endicott and Hagerman's book, you can see the opening and slits on the cover of the M105 bomb. At the minimum, it needs a sub-munition system, such as the M33/M114 on page 54 of the same book, to provide some protections. Unfortunately, the communist side had never produced any remains of the sub-munitions that were absolutely indispensable in this kind of delivery system.

The 2nd type of munitions was described as "a cylindrical cardboard container with a parachute". Needham's report alleged that it did not look like a aircraft parachute flare as marked on its case because there was no sign of burning and its parachute was much much smaller than the ones on normal parachute flares (see page 53 of Endicott's book.) Sounds plausible? Not really. Actually it's an auxiliary parachute and the parachute case of the main parachute used in certain types of parachute flares (E.g., Mk 4, Mk 8, and Mk 11.) After the flare is dropped off the aircraft, a time fuze would deploy the auxiliary parachute and it consequently pull the case off the main parachute to let it deployed. Thus it's smaller and no burning sign.

The third type was a container with a thickness thinner than an eggshell. Needham and his colleagues could have done nothing but rejected it as an evidence due to its fragility.

Light said...

I would not give too much credits to the words of the alleged "witnesses" in Needham's report. According to Wu, his team made up the cases and fabricated the evidence. As previously mentioned, Professor Chen, Wen-Gui provided the write-ups of the two North Korean cases, using his own experiences in WW2. Wu also talked about how he convinced two CPV lieutenants to alter their testimony by saying they found the fleas and flies out-door instead of the inside of a hut (so it's more plausible to be air-dropped.) Wu also mentioned that he had to ask medical people in Manchuria to give him samples of Yeresinia pestis since they had not found any in Korea. He had someone traveled to Shenyang to pick them up. It's not known whether they came from Chinese themselves or from the Russians. He received them in two sealed steel tubes. He gave one to the North Korean and kept one as an evidence for Needham.

Now, I still want to go back to the scale. As is well known that the bomb fuses were not very reliable in that period. For example, USAAF had a fuse failure rate of 12% in ETO during WW2. With such a large scale of attacks alleged by the communist side, why they could not even find a single (semi-)intact bomb/container with somewhat intact sub-munitions/packages?

Furthermore, I have also studied several of the 25 confessions. IMHO, I won't give anything produced under duress too much credits. Actually if one reads between the lines, one would find that these POWs were still trying to give secret hints to the outside world. For example, Lt. John Quinn's confession included three parts, the very abstract training class about biological weapons, the dropping of "un-exploding bombs", and the same abstract training class about atomic weapons. What did he try to hint? "I took the training but I did nothing." Another example, in Col. Frank H. Schwable's confession, he even openly said that the germ war project's code name was "Super Propaganda." Isn't that clear enough?

Wu had a comment regarding the confessions of the US POWs. He said "I sincerely admire the persuasion capabilities of our comrades at the POW camps."

Nevertheless, I haven't shared much about the documents with the western scholars. I'd like to do a little bit more studies and maybe send a query to some the journals or magazines in the near future.

Saint Howard (a.k.a. Howard the Great) said...

In light of what is alleged in the Senate torture report just released, this topic should be re-evaluated. See my comments @

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