The Yale Report

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The Yale Report

report goes on to explain that while the main objective in the U.S. BW program was still
    to develop methods for defending ourselves against possible enemy use of biological warfare agents, it was necessary to investigate offensive possibilities in order to learn what measures could be used for defense. It was equally clear that the possibility of retaliation in kind could not be disregarded in the event such agents were used against us. . . .  
The report tells in general terms of the activities of the program and lists some of its "more important accomplishments." Needless to say, the most of those mentioned were the spin-offs with a definite bonus in such agreeable areas as pure science, public health, and plant pathology. Toward the end comes the pregnant paragraph whose topic sentence is:
    Steps are being taken to permit the release of such technical papers and reports by those who have been engaged in this field as may be published without endangering the national security.  
If one may be permitted to do a bit of reading between the lines of the Merck report, using something a good bit more substantial than pure intuition, one perceives in a flash that the document was largely designed to forestall future embarrassments. None knew better than the Army of the hundreds of civilian scientists once in the program who were returning to their peacetime pursuits and who in the uncensored atmosphere of their laboratories would be relatively free to talk of their hitherto highly classified research. Biological warfare was a nasty expression, and clearly the Army was eager first to acknowledge of its own free accord that it had indeed engaged in BW work, and second to stress that its primary concern had been "defensive" and "retaliatory," not "offensive."
How the Merck report affected the substance of articles on BW that soon began to be published one cannot say; it is difficult to believe that it did not have an effect on the quantity of books and articles devoted to the subject. By 1951 any foreign intelligence service with a respectable publications procurement enterprise could have had a highly enlightening little library on the BW capabilities of the United States. As in the case of the A-bomb, even had it so desired our government could not have stifled these voices in peacetime without risking a minor upheaval. Accordingly it did the only thing it could to mitigate the worst of the bad effects which it perceived on the horizon. In all likelihood it issued the Merck report with this aim in view. That it also gave the intelligence services of our ill-wishers a long and exhilarating free ride was merely one item in the cost-sheet of our blessings.
It is of more than passing interest that in an exercise of 1948 the combined intelligence resources of the United States and the United Kingdom produced relative to the Soviet BW and CW capabilities only the sentence that virtually nothing was known. If there had been a requirement on the subject in 1951, our intelligence community could have done only a mite better.
And for us who serve in the intelligence profession of our country this is the nut of the matter. I am happy to report that I know no one among us who would amend the Bill of Rights just to make things difficult for our opposite

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Posted: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM