‘We need answers and we need them now,’ says Republican congressman.
Congress has backed an amendment to the 2020 US Defense budget which could force an investigation into allegations that the pentagon had weaponized insects, including ticks, in a secret program.
The bill passed in the House of Representatives requires the Defense Department’s inspector general to investigate whether biological warfare tests involving the tiny arachnids took place over a 25-year period.
This follows claims that Pentagon researchers implanted diseases into inspects to study the potential of biological weapons in the decades after the Second World War.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey), co-chair of the House Lyme Disease Caucus, asked a series of hard-hitting questions about the alleged ‘bioweaponization’ program and its potential side-effects, including the possible spread of a bacterial infection.
Smith’s language was terse.
Smith said on the House floor Friday that his amendment tasks the DOD’s inspector general “to ask the hard questions and report back.”
“Americans have a right to know whether any of this is true,” Smith said in a news release. “And have these experiments caused Lyme disease and other tick-borne disease to mutate and to spread? Who ordered it? Were any ticks released by design?”
“If true, what were the parameters of the program? Who ordered it?” Smith said during a debate for the amendment. “Was there any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any of the diseased ticks?”
He said he was inspired to add the amendment after reading material that suggested: “significant research had been done at U.S. government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland and Plum Island, New York to turn ticks and other insects into bioweapons.”
The amendment to the House version of the Defense budget for 2020 would require the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General to explain whether the US military had indeed experimented with weaponizing ticks and other insects between 1950 and 1975.
If found to be true, the inspector general must present Congress with information regarding the full extent and scope of the research.
Rumors have persisted for years of researchers at New York’s Plum Island and Maryland’s Fort Detrick conducting experiments on insects to turn them into biological weapons though no conclusive evidence of such biowarfare programs has been found. Yet.
The defense authorization bill still needs to pass in the Senate before heading to President Trump’s desk at the White House.
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