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tv   Democracy Now with Amy Goodman  PBS  October 5, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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>> it is an incredible violation of human rights, but there it is. we must face it. we're going to do whatever is necessary so we can find out quickly the affected people. we're interested in the victims. >> the guatemalan president alvaro colom calls it a crime against humanity. 1940's, the u.s. government deliberately infected nearly 700 guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea. the doctor who did it was also involved in the tuskegee experiments, when medical treatment was juror deliberately withheld from hundreds of african-american men -- was deliberately withheld from hundreds of african-american, despite making them believe there are receiving care. it was bought with the medical -- we will stick with the medical historian susan reverby. all of that and more coming up.
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this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. a u.s. drone strike in pakistan has killed at least five german citizens -- 8 german citizens suspected of beg linked t pakiani militants. ah dnities of e german me have not been released. the attack came one day after the u.s. issued a travel alert about potential terrorist attacks in europe. the cia has sharply increased its use of drones to carry out strikes inside pakistan recently. monday's attack was the 26th drone strike in the past 37 days. aid workers are predicting as many as 2 million pakistan's will be infected with malaria in coming months due to the devastating floods. the world health organization estimates 25000 pakistan is are believed to have already been infected. the supreme court started its new term on monday and for the first time, the court has three
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female justices with elena kagan joining sun sotomayor and ruth bitter ginsburg on the bench. elena kagan has recused herself from nearly half the court's 51 scuttle cases because she played a role in litigation while serving as u.s. solicitor general. and one of its first decisions, the court refused monday to hear a lawsuit filed by a group of attorneys seeking to learn whether the national security agency had tapped their phones because they represent prisoners at guantanamo. monday's session of the supreme court also marked the first time in almost 35 years that the court was without justice john paul stevens who retired earlier this year. on monday, npr news aired an interview with the 90-rolled stevens who says he regrets on the one voting and the supreme court -- his decision in 1976 to uphold the death penalty. he describes the decision as incorrect. >> i wanted to uphold the death penalty and i thought at that time that the universe of
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defendant eligible for the death penalty is sufficiently narrow so that you can be confident that the defendant really merits that severe punishment, that the death penalty was appropriate. but what happened over the years is the constantly expanded the case is eligible for the death penalty so that the underlying premise for my vote in those cases disappeared come in a sense. >> "washington post" reports special interest groups have spent $80 million on the 2010 congressional elections, more than five times than during the midterms. the increase is partly because the supreme court cleared the way for unlimited spending by corporations, unions and other interest groups on election ads earlier this year in its decision in the citizens united case. the bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives who have swamped their democratic aligned competition by 7 to 1 margin in
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recent weeks. one of the bigge spenders nationwide is little-knn iowa group calledhe american future fund, which has spent $7 million on behalf of republicans in more than two dozen house and senate races. in campaign news, the comedian bill marr is threatening to continue to release archival footage of republican senatorial candidate christine o'donnell of delaware and she still -- until she agrees to appear on his hbo program. during the 1990's, o'donnell was a regular on his show "politically incorrect." he rectly rehashed a clip of o'donnell from 1999 when she admitted on the program that she dabbled in witchcraft. >> i dabbled in witchcraft. i was a witch. >> how can you be a witch? what i doubt in witchcraft, a hungry people who were doing these things. -- i dabbled in witchcraft, i hung around people who were
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doing these things. i'm not making this up. one of my first dates with the which was on a satanic alter and i did not know about it. thereas a little blooed. >> movie and a sacrifice? as she is a tea party favorite time the reach the conservative. her comments have created such a stir that she decided to address the controversy in the first campaign tv ad released monday. >> i am not a witch. i am nothing you have heard. i am you. none of us are perfect, but none of us can be happy with what we see alaround us. politicians who think spending, trading favors, and backroom deals are the way to stay in office. i will go to washington and do what you would do. i am christine o'donnell and i approve this message.
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i am you. >> and other political news, legal questions are being raised in chicago over rahm emanuel's run for mayor to replace richard daley. two of chicago's top election lawyers say president obama's former chief of staff is not eligible to irarun because the canada for mayor must reside in the town for a year before the election. in his first campaign video, he says he is glad to be home. >> i am rahm emanuel. my father came to chicago as an immigrant from israel. i was born here and my wife and i raised our three children here. i spent six years in congress representing chicago and the president obama asked me to serve as his chief of staff. it was a great honor. i am glad to be home. >> the video might give viewers the impression rahm emanuel was glad to be back at his home in chicago, but the website political hazard of the video was filmed in washington, d.c. in the offices of akpd message
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and media, the firm founded by david axelrod. in tennessee, local fired a partner refused to put out a house fire last to because the homeowner had forgotten to pay $75 for fire protection from a nearby town. the firefighters showed up to the scene of the fire and then watched as the home of gene cranick burned to the ground. neighbors 87 $5 fee so when the fire spread across the property line, firefighters took action, but only to save the neighbor's property. the local mayor defended the actions of the firefighters. the mayor said "anybody that's not in the city of south fulton, it's a service we offer. either they accept it or don't." >> everything we possessed was lost in the fire, even three dogs and a cat that belonged to my grandildren was lost and then
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they could have been saved if they have put water on it, but they did not do it. >> when you called 911, as i understand it, he told the operator you pay whatever was necessary to have the firefighters come out? what was their response? >> that we was not on their list. >> new reports by the aclu and the brennan center for justice have found a sharp rise in debtor prisons across the country. poor defendants are bein jaile r failing to payegal deb. in ohio, a man named howard webb who earns $7 an hour as a dishwasher has served two stints in jail totaling over 300 days for being unable to pay nearly $3,000 in fines and costs from various criminal and traffic cases. in michigan, a 25-for a single mother named kawana young has been jailed five times for being unable to afford to pay a few minor traffic tickets.
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the aclu said -- the israeli military has ordered an investigation into a video uploaded to youtube that apparently shows an israeli soldier belly dancing beside a bound and handcuffed palestinian woman. on the video, you can hear the soldier dancing to music and occasional cheers from his fellow soldiers who were documenting the dance. it is known -- it is not known when or where the video was shot. itas uoaded on youtube over the weekend and aired on israeli tv last night. the israeli government has deported irish nobel peace laureate and activist mairead mcguire a week after she is denied entrance at ben-gurion airport. for the past week maguire was held in israeli jails as she challenged israel's decision to ban her from entering the
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country for 10 years. israel -- is role placed the ban on her after she rode on a humanitarian aid boat that attempted to reach gaza earlier this year. she spoke to reporters on monday before her deportation. >> [unintelligible] >> why do you want to come here? >> [unintelligible] i come to support all of those who are working [unintelligible] there will be peace, but only when israel and its apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of the palestinian people. >> fellow nobel prize laureate joday williams defended mairead mcguire's decision to stay in israel. >> she had the right to challenge the state of israel for trying to keep around. she does not believe she has done anything wrong.
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when she was on the rachel correy with the flotilla, it was attacked an international waters. she was dragged it to israel and then they say she cannot come back to israel. it was not her intention to end up there in thfirst place. >> in ws fm haiti, the aid group oxfam says a massive influx of free foreign food after january's earthquake helped feed many displaced people, but undercut haitian agriculture and hurt farmers' incomes. oxfam says the international community needs to help develop haiti's's agriculture based economy. the problem dates back over a decade. earlier this year former president clinton publicly apologized for forcing haiti to drop tariffs on imported subsidized u.s. rice during his time in office which wiped out itian rice farming and seriously damag haiti's possibility to be self- sufficient. british physiologist robert edwards has been awarded the
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2010 nobel prize for medicine and physiology for his role in developing ivf. the prize committee said his work had brought joy to infertile people all over the world. >> briefly what it did was developed in several steps a method whereby you take out eggs from the woman and let those eggs and meat the sperm of your partner in a test tube and then put back a fertilized egg for normal development woman. >> robert edwards said his discovery impacted other areas of medicine as well. >> we need for the first time that medicine had into a human conception and from now on we will look at illnesses and diseases and other disorders in embryoas part of medicine.
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>> given the administration is expected to announce plans today to install solar panels atop the white house living quarters. the panels will he water for the first family and supply some electricity. the announcement will be made today by environmentally quality chairwoman and energy secretary steven chu one month after the white house rejected a proposal by environmentalist in students from community college to install the white house solar panels used by president carter in the 1970's. e pals were later takenown by president ronald reagan. those are some of theeadlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the united states has apologized to guatemala over the disclosure government researchers deliberately infected thousands of unknowing guatemalans with -- infected 709 guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea in experiments during the 1940's. recently unearthed documents
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show around 700 guatemalan soldiers, prisoners, prostitutes and mental patients were infected as part of a study into the effects of penicillin. it is unclear if the patients were ever cured of the diseases or even given treatment. on friday, state department spokesperson p.j. crowley said the obama administration has apologized. >> secretary clinton called president alvaro colom to express both her shock at the discovy of the details of this research and also to apologize on behalf of the american people. during the course of the conversation, she invited guatemala to participate fully in the investigation that we will carry out to determine the facts behind this research. >> hours after the findings are revealed, president obama personally telephoned guatemalan president alvaro colom to apologize. alvaro colom called the experiments a crime against humanity. >> it is an incredible violation
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of human rights, but there is. we must face it. we're going to do whatever is necessary so we can find out quickly the effect on people. what we're interested in is the victims. if there were officials from the past two were involved in that, that also needs to be told. >> he also says his government is studying whether it can bring a case to the international court to. the guatemala study is the latest covert u.s. government human experiment to come to light. the head of the study, dr. john cutler, was also involved i what my consider the most infamous case, the tuskegee experiments in. for 40 years, u.s. government researchers deliberately withheld medical treatment from over 600 african-american men who had syphilis despite misleading them to believe they were receiving care.
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today, we're joined for the are by medical historian who discovered of guatemala study, susan reverby. she is a professor of women's and gender studies at wellesley college in massachusetts. her article on what a mall study will be published to the jet or edition of "journal ofublic histy." susan rerby ialso an expert on the tuskegee experiment and the author of the book "examining tuskegee: the infamous syphilis study and its legacy." susan reverby joins us now from boston. professor, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you for asking me. >> we have a lot to talk about today, but why don't we start by you telling us how you discovered the story of what happened in guatemala in the 1940's. >> i discovered this history in the way historians do their work, that is to go to archives and we read dead people's mail,
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as a friend of mine put it. i was in the university of pittsburgh archives doing research for my tuskegee book, looking into the papers of the surgeon general in the 1930's and 1940's it was primarily concerned with syphilis. i realized john cutler who have been importing the tuskegee study had taught at pittsburgh d had left paps the, so i asked to lookt wt ever he had left behind in the archives. i opened up the boxes expecting to see material about tuskegee and all that work in the bob -- was in the boxes was his unpublished field notes, lab reports, and lists of patients and pictures of what had happened in guatemala. you can imagine my unbelievable shock on finding this. i just had no idea was there any there did anybody else because none of it have been published. >> you have written two books on tuskegee, so to see the word
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"guatemala" in these papers, what did you first thing? >> the words that hit me before i saw guatemala were "he inoculation syphilis." i have spent almost 20 years working on the tuskegee study. one of the things i do is spend a lot of time trying to explain to people that the u.s. government did not infect anybody in tusgee, that the man already had syphilis. so sgapore "inoculation syphilis" was shocking and then realizing this research which was not done in tuskegee had been done in the global south rather than in the american south was just unbelievable as i increasingly read the details of this and was pretty horrified by what had happened one thing i want to correct in your lead in, this was really a study to look
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at treatment. it was very different than tuskegee. they werereating infection, but also interesten whether penicillin could be used as a prophylaxis. the way to look at this, think about the morning after pill. it is because you have had unprotected sex anything he might get pregnant. the idea was that of soldiers or other men have had unprotected sex that they could possibly use penicillin as a kind of -- in a lotion form rather than wait until they had the infection. that is what you're trying to study. it was not unreasonable. what was ueasonable was not -- was creating infection, violating these things that we think now were corrected but at the time there are real issues about whether this was -- there was no illegality in the general sense. >> i would guess people in the 1940's would be appalled if they heard you're talking about treatment for perhaps soldiers.
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they go down to guatemala and they inject people unknowingly with syphilis. explain how they did this. >> let me explain why it went to guatemala first of all. they did so because prostitution was legal in guatemala and was legal to bring a prostitute in for sexual services into the prisons. so cutler was partner with the man who was the director of sexually transmitted diseases or was then called venereal diseases and the public health department in guatemala and also been trained in the u.s. by the public health service. so they ana few other doctors nt down in the initial studies were using the prostitutes and in giving the treatment of people developed the disease. when they could not create enough infection by law on the prostitutes in, that is when
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they started to do inoculations. the way that art was -- let me explain first of all syphilis is not -- the reason is sexually transmitted disease, you cannot just draw blood from someone who had syphilis and give it to somebody else. you have to create the bactea that caus th disease that can die when it is in the air, which is why it has to pass through liquids and body fluids, primarily. that is why it is sexually transmitted. they created in inoculum easing the ground up testes of rabbits that already had the disease. then they abraded or scraped the arms of people in the prison and the insane asylum and army barracks and used their arms, theirheeks, they also looked for men -- th is the really to me the absolute unbelievable part that makes it look like a bad movie, they found men who had long for skin
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and took their penis and moved the foreskin back, abraded the head of the penis, made the inoculum and put it on a piece of cotton gauze and held the penis for up to two hours and hoped they could transfer the infection this way. >> what are they telling them and were doing? these u.s. government doctors? >> it is impossible to know. they did not say in the records. all i have are dr. keller's notes. i'm sure they made some kind of explanation. cutler spoke spanish, which is one reason may sent him. not everyone went along with this and at one point he is complaining because one guy got up and ran away with a piece of cotton still attached to his penis. there were people who refuse to do it. many of the prisoners thought all of the blood drops that had to happen would weaken them and they refuse to do it, even though tre were being given iron pills
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this is being done in the context of this experimentation -- not this particular kind coming going on elsewhere in the country, where people who are institutionalized whether there were prisoners or in hospitals were considered the people used to do this kind of experimentation. >> in addition to doing what you just described to these men, there were other ways to try to infect them with syphilis when they were not able to get enough people infected. >> correct. th were doinghe o rating, doing spinal taps as well. -- abrading and spinal taps as well. it is too easy to say this is a time when there was not research or norms. bosses of the public health service did this was on the edge.
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the quote i found was from the surgeon general himself who sai it was in letter to cutr or one of his colleagues said the surgeon general says, well, we could not do this in the united states. that is just absolutely stunning acknowledgement of what was going on. >> we're taking a break. when we come back come upon this discovery in the riding of your study, we want to talk about how this has become public. we're speaking with medical historian susan reverby. she is a professor at wellesley college and is written to the books on tuskegee and the latest is "examining tuskegee: the infamous syphilis study and its gacy we will talk about the tuskegee experiments as well as many that have been done around this country over the decades and knowing become unwilling subjects. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are spending the an hour of medical experimentation, the latest explosive story about a study that was done about half a century ago in 1946, 1948. doctors deliberately infecting nearly 700 guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea. susan reverby is the medical historian who discovered this story. she joins us now. she teaches at wellesley college. professor, he made the discovery and it actually did a presentation of this at a conference -- you may discover it and actually did a prestati of this at a conference, buthere's little response >> the best way to explain it, i wrote it up, finished the
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research, wrote it up and gave it as a paper the history of medicine meetings and rochester, minnesota last may. but i was on the last day of the last session on a sunday during the semester, so there were maybe 20 people in the audience. my colleague for pretty horrified, but historians -- i do not mean to say we're jaded, the people understand this happen in the past. we all about other studies. i would say we allow the conversation, but historians do not run out of the room screaming and called the " national enquirer." it is not what we do. people ask what i was going to do with it and i said i have been asked to write it up for a journal of policy history. there during a special on human subjects. i wrote the paper and sent it off to the journal and will be published this january. what i also did with this, and i think this is the difference between what historians normally do and what i did and wasucky
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oughoo inhe situation, while is working on the tuskegee book, i had interviewed and kept up my relationship with the man named david sensor who is a physician who is retired now in his 80s. he had been the director of the centers for disease control and the late 1960's and 1970's when the story of tuskegee had broken. i had interviewed him and we had talked a lot about research and government. i was right to the paper about syphilis. i am not ahysician, the medical historian. i asked in a look at it and make sure it was correct. he read it and was completely horrified. he wrote me back immediately. he said, do you mind if i send this to people at cdc's so they know that this is coming? i said, yes. it was not like those discovering a cure for cancer
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and did not want to share with anyone until i got the publication. was important for them to think about it andet tm know. they read it coming gave it to the leading syphilis expert-they read it, gave it to the leading swiss expert. they said, we need to look at this and went to pittsburgh to archives.he i car a corroborated what i had said. it was like getting the best peer review could imagine. then they started to talk about with in cdc and one of the chain of command. i and a stand from cdc to the national instites of health and -- i understand from the cdc to the national institutes of health and in the state department and then even to the white house. that took about a month to month and a half. the man who went to pittsburgh came out in early august, so it
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took them a couple of weeks to figure out how to respond to it. we should really think dr. david sensor for giving in to the cdc. he had the connections tha i did n. 'realking with professor susan reverby, and medical historian who has exposed the latest study done in the 1940's in guatemala. spinal taps, direct injections of syphilis, gonorrhea. this is president of them calling the guatemalan president who has called as a crime against humanity and once an international investigation. what do you think of his response, professor? >> which person, alvaro colom? >> yes. >> i think he is right. i think this was terrific. but we're going to have to understand why it was -- membmb, it was an attempt to
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treat. i am not try to downplay. please come understand. -- please come to understand it was to be treatment. we have to look at the data. >> how many people died? >> we do not know. we do not know. we really don't know. one person for sure we know died from epilepsy. syphilis does not cause an epilepsy. many people in the insane asylum already had epilepsy. one of the things the public health service did was to give the drug of choice at that time to cure epilepsy to the institution as part of the quid pro quo for getting in. i think alvaro colom is right that this was terrific and should be looked into and frankly, i help thicken find anyone -- the children nor
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anyone alive, i hope they confined these people. these were diseases that were not totally cured. maybe about one-third of these people were not given totally the right amount of treatment, but we will have to look into it. we do not know whether thereas follow-up with the rig treatment. i was only working with what cutler had left behind. i look for more material in the national archives, which is where all of the public health service material is left, and i did not see anything else. because this was unpublished, all we have we havecutler left behind. >> professor, you describe three studies as the trinity of unholy medical research. can you describe what tse three studies are?
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in my start talking about the quartet with guatemala, but go on with these experiments. >> by out at this is talk about what we have regulations in place. -- bioethicists talk about what we have revelations in this place. talk about the japanese. you get the nuremberg code after the war which says doing this kind of research on people w cannot give informed consent is immoral and a crime against humanity. the problem is americans treated those crimes by the nazis and the japanese as something done as a code for barbarians. so if you think they were not the doctors come you do not think that you come a good researcher, could possibly do
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anything like that. so the "holy trinity" which is my term, of udies thatooke at ithe u.s are horror stories are the providing-using life cancer cells on patients and a jewish, disease hospital in new york, the feeding of feces -- >> you're talking about injecting life cancer cells into patients in this hospital? creeks into chronic disease patients, yes. that is the first case that came to light. then there was a steady at willowbrook whichas a sta- run institutiofor children with retardation. in that case, it was because -- it was common for the children to get hepatitis because a living conditions, there was the feeding, and in some cases injecting, of live hepatitis cells and also sometimes laced into fecal matter into these children and nearly 1970's, late
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1960's. then the revelations of the research in tuskegee that when on for years. it was tse tee studiesn particular that generatehe mo toward the setting up of a bioethics commission, the belmont commission and the promulgating regulations that we live under now that mandate institutional review boards, informed consent, protection for the vulnerable. >> professor, i want to turn to a 1993 documentary about the tuskegee experiments called "to the deception." this clip addresses how black men were lured into the experiment believing they were receiving medical care. this clip includes interviews with tuskegee subject herman shaw and medical historian vanessa gamble. >> this letter sent to each man before his spinal tap claims it was a very special free
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treatment. >> some time ago, you're given a thorough examination and since that time, we hope the of gun agree to a treatment for b blood. you'll be given a last chance to get a second examination. this examination, which is a very special one, and after it is finished, you will be given a special treatment if it is believed >> your in a condition to stand it. remember, this is your last chance for a special free treatment. >> the men were told that the spinal taps were a treatment. that shows you some of the deception and deceit involved in the study. these are physicians saying this, so it has a certain authority. >> an each subject, they performed physicals and blood tests. to maintain the appearance of treatment, the men were given placebos, all useless against
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syphilis. >> three types of medicine. a round hill, sometimes a capsule, and then a little a vial of liquid medicine. everybody got the same thing. >> these were men who are not going to question the system. they were not want to question the government doctors. it or not quantity out there picketing and rioting and protesting about that. -- they were n going to be out there picketing and ranting and protesting about it. these were men in macon county, alabama. who is quick to speak for them? >> this turn to another clip "deadly deception." >> throughout the nation, including alabama, the public health service pushed for syphilis treatment program, but not for the men of tuskegee. there were systematically excluded. if they sought help, there were tracked down and stopped.
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this happen to herman shaw when you to birmingham, alabama for treatment. >> when i got there, i saw a nurse. she was disturbed. they gave me breakfast and put me on a bus and set me back. >> one of the remarkable aspects of the study was the length to which the public health service went to ensure the man never received treatment. and when some of the men, by their own design, were able to obtain treatment, this was perceived by the researchers as abrogating the steady. >> another excerpt of "deadly deception." the subjects were denied penicillin, even when it became widely used to cure syphilis. doctor john heller who headed the tuskegee study at the u.s. public health service in the 1940's is seen touting the benefits of penicillin for syphilis treatment in a public-
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service announcement. >> whatever the future may hold for penicillin therapy, we physicians already have and our hands weapons with which proper medical usage should enable us to reduce materially the amount of venereal disease in the united states. >> while promoting peninsula for the nation, he continue the policy of denying treatment to the men in macon county. in 1947, he published the latest findings from the study in the journal of venereal disease information. >> the life expectancy of a negro man between 25-50 infected with syphilis and receives no treatment is reduced by about 20%. the fact that nearly twice as large a proportion of the control group has died come is a very striking one. even with undisputed evidence that men were dying, no penicillin was offered. one of the few surviving public health service doctors who worked in the study still
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defends that decision. john cutler. >> it was important, there's a puzzling and treated, and it would be undesirable to go ahead and use large amounts of penicillin to treat the disease because you would interfere with the study. >> the fact that men are denied penicillin simply reaffirms how to turn in the public health service is to keep this experiment going. i do not see it as a new issue. having decided to withhold their treatment was choice in the 1930's, treatment that doctors in the 1930's it was good treatment, i do not think would be any ethical dilemma. they already crossed that bridge. >> if the ethics of the study had ever been unclear, the events of 1947 should have brought them into sharp focus. >> second nuremberg trials. the american military tribunal hearing evidence against 23 of the leading not the doctors.
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>> the nuremberg tribunals uncovered the course of the not the regime, and gross examples of human experimentation in the name of medical science. the trial of these doctors led to the international community to formulate the nuremberg code for the protection of human subjects. it's first and central principle was informed consent. subject was voluntarily agreed to be part of an experiment-must voluntarily agree to be part of the experiment and be aware of all risks. >> i asked him specifically about nuremberg and with the that gave him any pause and he said absolutely not. i asked him whether he would try associations between what he was doing and wt they wer doing any said, certainly not. then he looked at me with a kind of wounded innocence and said,
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they were not seized. >> critical point, that is from "deadly deception." i want to go back to one of the clips within that, or least the man in the clip come in case you missed a committee had of the guatemala study dr. john cutler, a member of the medical team that conducted the tuskegee experiments interviewed for "deadly deception," defending the experiments. he went to guatemala. he is defending the tuskegee experiments. >> the study has been grossly misunderstood and misrepresented this way. the fact was, it was concern for the black community trying to set the stage for the best public health approach possible and the best therapy that led to the study being carried out. my regret is in terms of the study, i have none. as a scientist, i would have liked to sing the deal
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scientific study, but we're dealing with human beings over a long period of time and it is impossible. >> there is dr. cutler, one of the doctors involved in both studies, tuskegee and guatemala. susan reverby, iowa to go back to the point of the nuremberg trials that you raised. -- i want to go back to the point of the nuremberg trials that you raise. the study was happening at the same time -- is the u.n. on for 40 years. at the same time, the nurembe trials were going on. >> yes. but i think the most chilling in the clip that you just played is jim jones, the historian, retelling what rod heller said to him, which is, but they were not seized. i think that is the point i was making earlier, that it is just too easy to assume it is only
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monsters. will we have to think about is the culture of medical research itself and why controls are necessary. it is too easy for physicians like dr. keller to fall in love with their data come to see the larger research goal as the most important. -- like dr. cutler to follow with their data, to see the larger research goals as the most important. >> professor susan reverby, we of to take a break. we will come back to this discussion and talk about tuskegee, talk about other studies around the country. for example, what happened in puerto rico come a part of the united states, but the testing of high estrogen birth control, something that would never be accepted today in the united states, on one in there. and the study of the injection of plutonium and unwitting subjects all over the u.s. our guest susan reverby is
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susan who teaches at wellesley college and her latest book is called "examining tuskegee: the infamous syphilis study and its legacy." her report on the guatemala study will appear in the january issue of "journal of policy history." we will be back with susan reverby in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. speaking for the hour with professor susan reverby who teaches at wellesley college, and medical historian, the author of "examining tuskegee: the infamous syphilis study and its legacy." she is the medical historian who has exposed the guatemala study nearly 700 guatemalans injected with venereal disease by u.s. government doctors. susan revby, can you briefly tell uabou what happened in puerto rican, the history of the testing of the birth control pill in this country?
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>> i would be glad to do that, but i want to correct something for me to ski thing for a moment i think is important. i need to -- i want to talk about this but i knew herman shaw quite well. the public health service in tuskegee thought they had captured population, but it was not a concentration camp. many people left the area. even thoughhe public alth servictried to track them down, many of the men who into the antibiotic era, including herman shaw. he died when he was in his 90s. he died of pneumonia. even though he was turned away at this rapid treatment center in birmingham, he was treated later by serendipity. >>ecause yet another problem,
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right? when herman shaw those elsewhere to try to get treatment for his syphilis and he is told he cannot get treatment -- he does not understand why. >> right, but limit explain why. this is what makes the history so much more complicated. he went to something called a rapid treatment center, which was set up by the government in the postwar to provide penicillin. but at the birmingham center where he went, nobody who was in latency, that is no longer contagious, was provided with the penicillin. we do not know whether he was turned away in birmingham because he was in the study and the government had that kind of control or if he was turned away because he is no longer contagious. therefore, when there's such limited supplies of penicillin,
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he would not have been given in. was the second historian to get into the actual patient recordsor tuskegee better available for anyone to look at in the national archives in morrow, georgia. other people went to the place of birmingham and were treated. so i think one thing to remember is when it does tell a very important story that is the intention of the public full- service, but also remember these are human beings and serendipity, the ability to get around this kind of stuff often happens. these men wer nure victims. the's always a more compcatepart of the store at also needs to be told. i just want to clear that up. >> what was also wawas outstanding, tuskegee was so well known in the community, among professionals, in the literature, and so few
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people spoke out could of hundreds of men did not understand what was happening to them, that they're going for two men of a disease that could kill them, but were not receiving treatment. that was not well known. >> o thing amazing was there were 13 published studies of this before the press got a hold of it in 1972. remember, if you look at these articles and my first book has some of the exurbs of this, it says "volunteers. you think how as a physician reading is going to know? starting in the 1950's, doctors started to write to the public health service, documenting this in another book, physicians wrote in said, my god, what you doing? look at this.
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another wrote back and said, it is not bad. it is not so terrible. we're really helping them, blah, blah, blah. with a look at the context of the research and what happens in it. i think it is important to look at how complicated it can be. >> the testing of -- >> that you return to -- women comingan, ye yes. >> as a historian, i had to clear up the facts. we believe in context, too. that means to be explained. what happened in puerto rico, the research for birth control pills was done here in massachusetts, actually, the major research, the giving of birth control pls was illegal at the time in massachusetts.
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the use of high estrogen does was because of that point they were not sure what would be necessary. they wanted to absolutely make sure they could stop the pregnancy. there were connections to people that were working with those in puerto rican, that is one reason they went there. there were some objections clearly within the puerto rican community. but women frankly wanted a better way to protect themsves om unwanted prnancy. at that point, the church protected sterilization and thought it was acceptable after women had had enough children. they did object to the pill. we think a couple of women die because of high estrogen. >> how high was the estrogen? >> you know, i frankly do not remember the exact details of how high of estrogen. cracks like 10-100 times --
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>> much higher than we take now. not just the puerto rican, but all of us. i took the pill as soon as i became sexually active. only in 1969 when the hearings took place at the federal level in the research started to come out how dangerous they were did i stop taking it myself. the research started in puerto rican, but millions of women like me who ticket in the late 1960's, were part of a massive experiment to see whether this would work. -- like me who took in the late 1960's, were part of a maive experiment to see whether this would work. >> i want to turn to another experiment from the 1940's. i asked eileen welsome about one of those people, his name was alan r. allen come in in 2004 interview on "democracy now!" >> the tragic part about his story is that nobody believed him.
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he went to his doctor and told him, you know, i think i have been injected with something. his doctor diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic at the same time he was conversing with the atomic energy scientists and argon national lab to provide them with tissue samples -- >> wait, wait, wait, his doctor said he was a paranoid schizophrenic at the same time his doctor was providing his tissue to the government scientists for the experiment? creeks that is what the records show. -- >> that is what the recos show. elmer was the only used when he was injected in 1947 with his radioactive isotope, but he continued to be used as a guinea pig for the rest of his life. >> that was pulitzer prize- winning journalist eileen
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welsome to reveal the names of 18 people in this country injected with plutonium. elmer allen was a black conductor and on a train in san francisco, injected at the universi hospital. this story of theeople in check it with plutonium, he had always said "i was a guinea pig ged." his family never understood what he was saying and believe the psychiatrist coming get the psychiatrist was working with the u.s. government, telling them -- his family never understood what he was saying and lead psychiatrist, who was the psychiatrist working with u.s. government, telling them he was schizophrenic. >> this cold war radiation not from 1947 until the 1973, 1974 that we know about upon thousands of thousands of people involved.
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i think what is really hard as when this kind of thing happens and people start to try to figure out what is going on, there were not being listened to. it is heartbreaking. to listen to this man and his family and the way in which the physician cooperated with the government, i just -- it is horrifying. >> i am racing for time. there been some experiments. this is an issue that goes on today as well, but the issue of experimentation on prisoners are around this country, a remarkable book called "acres of skin caused what about experimentation on the -- "acres of skin" about experimentation on prisoners. it is amazing. it looks like a checkerboard on their back. >> exactly. prisonesearch -- onehing w stopd is prison research and there is the debate going on about whether it should be done
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again. but a lot of american research was done in prison. there was an inoculation steady after guatemalans that was published in 1954 down on prisoners in sing sing in upstate new york in 1954. this was common on institutionalized people who saw this frankly as a bonus. prison research was done mostly on white psoners because it was considered a privilege and you got extra money or cigarettes. we have to be cognizant -- we need research. all of us are probably alive because of medical progress and medical research, but controls need to be there and absolutely people need to know what is happening, need to be heard when they think something is wrong. that is the most important lesson of all of this. >> susan reverby, professor at wellesley college, mical
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storn, author of "examining tuskegee: the infamous syphilis study and its legacy." that is one of two books she is written on tuskegee. we will continue to follow this story and have a link to all previous interviews done on democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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