Concerned about the government’s role in radiation experiments on humans, the Clinton Administration Thursday summoned officials from an array of federal agencies to a White House meeting Monday.
The White House called the meeting as Defense Secretary Les Aspin ordered the armed forces and the Defense Nuclear Agency to review all files that may shed light on hundreds of radiation experiments the government conducted on humans in the 1940s and 1950s.
Staffers from the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Energy and from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will meet with Administration officials “to coordinate the process of going through the records of these agencies,” White House spokesman Jeff Eller said Thursday night from Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Clinton is vacationing.
The meeting is the outgrowth of discussions between White House Chief of Staff Thomas (Mack) McLarty and Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary, said Eller. President Clinton will not attend.
“This is something that the White House is going to carefully review as we continue to investigate this situation and then work with Congress on what we need to do to remedy it in the future,” Eller said.
Aspin’s action follows a directive from O’Leary directing her department to investigate the scope of human radiation testing beginning in the 1940s.
“I am concerned about reports that human beings may have been used in conducting radiation tests without their knowledge,” Aspin said in a statement.
“I want to make sure we explore all avenues to uncover any information held by the Department of Defense that may shed light on those allegations and that we are completely forthcoming with our findings,” he said. “We want our veterans and civilians to know how seriously we consider this matter.”
Aspin named Dr. Harold Smith, assistant secretary of defense for atomic energy, to coordinate the review.
And he called on the Pentagon to cooperate “openly and fully” with the Energy Department’s parallel efforts to uncover the extent of human experimentation using radioactive materials.