As predictions for the eventual toll of the deadly AIDS disease grow higher, speculation as to the origin of the virus remain unanswered. Reports continue to surface that rather than a natural occurring new strain, the disease was a result of U.S. Army germ warfare research conducted at Fort Detrick, Maryland in the mid 1970s.
Obviously, this contention has incredibly significant political consequences and the allegations of U.S. military responsibility have already been labeled by the U.S. government as a Soviet “disinformation campaign,” and an official protest has been lodged with Moscow. Still the murky origins of the AIDS plague and the 40-year research into killer microbes by the U.S. Army make the contention worth examination.
According to the May 24, 1987 Detroit Free Press, it has been “established to the satisfaction of most AIDS researchers that this affliction of humankind is connected closely to a virus found in African green monkeys,” and that “some researchers have theorized that the virus might have ‘jumped’ from monkey to man as African hunters came in contact with monkey blood and meat.” This, then, is the prevalent and politically safest view: it blames, no one government or racial group. However, some researchers, such as Dr. John Seale, writing in the English Royal Society of Medicine Journal, believe the virus to be manmade and describe the green monkey theory as “ludicrous and scientifically incredible.”
Predictions of a human-designed killer virus produced from U.S. germ warfare labs surfaced repeatedly through the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and their descriptions sound uncannily like the definitions of AIDS. The October 27, 1986 British Guardian reports on evidence presented before a 1969 U.S. Senate sub-committee which stated, “Within the next five or ten years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective micro-organism which would differ from any known disease-causing organism. Most important is that it might be refractory (not yielding to treatment) to the immunological and therapeutic properties on which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.”
The British Observer of June 30, 1968, quoted from an article in the Journal of General Microbiology by, among others, W.D. Walton of Fort Detrick, Maryland which states, “By engineering the genetics of individual strains, micro-biologists aim to produce a single strain containing the most deadly combination of properties.” The first quote particularly gives a precise description of AIDS.
Perhaps the researcher most committed to the theory that the plague had its origins at the Fort Detrick facility is Eastern German biologist Jakob Segal who maintains that the theory that AIDS was originally a harmless monkey virus transferred to human beings where it underwent a lethal mutation to AIDS is “deliberate misinformation.” Segal said in a 50-page research report: “This transformation is so immense that it lies beyond all probability” and says he has come across plausible and scientifically acceptable evidence pointing to Fort Detrick. He states that the virological evidence points to a laboratory-based gene recombining of segments from the so-called Visna virus and parts of the HTLV1 virus. Segal says there is no natural biological process by which such an exchange could occur, so the AIDS virus was the result of either a miracle or of genetic engineering.
Segal’s conclusion is that the genetically engineered Visna virus had to originate in a P-4 high-security laboratory. These costly facilities manipulate pathogenic agents (viruses) for use in biological and germ warfare. Fort Detrick has included staff members who were former Japanese war criminals guilty of biological warfare experiments on humans in Manchuria during World War II.
Segal also noted recently published U.S. Congressional reports which admit that experiments with radioactive material, viruses and infectious germs have been performed on human beings mostly “volunteers”—long-term prisoners who were promised their freedom after the tests. These reports contain specific statistics from Fort Detrick for past years detailing the number of test persons, lethal cases and prisoners released. It is from these reports that Segal postulates that AIDS resulted from an experiment gone berserk.
As to how the genetically manipulated Visna viruses could have escaped from the laboratory; Segal postulated thusly: An AIDS infection begins with a phase comparable to a slight infection (raised temperature, diarrhea, skin rashes). This phase lasts only a few weeks and then the virus lies dormant for anywhere from 1 Year to 5 years while the body’s immune system begins to collapse.
In experiments with prisoners, it would have been observed that the test persons became slightly ill and then recovered with no visible effects. It would have appeared to the researchers that the newly developed virus lived only a short time in the host and then died, thus being diagnosed as relatively harmless. As promised, the prisoners were then released.
Fort Detrick is located fairly close to New York City and it seems plausible to Segal that the released test subjects would go there with some entering the homosexual and intravenous drug subcultures. This would explain why the first cases of AIDS were discovered in the first half of 1979 which coincides with the virus’ incubation period.
Segal contends’ that there is not a single known case to prove that AIDS originated in Africa. He says that the literature of immunology supports his contention of AIDS being observed for the first time in 1979 in the U.S., spreading first to other major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco and Miami and then to Europe by 1982. He puts the first case of AIDS in Africa at early 1983 citing World Health Organization (WHO) figures as his source, although he said he had read of one earlier case.
It makes one wonder why Kinshasa, Zaire has been called the source of AIDS when San Francisco has 275 cases per 100,000 while the African city has 30 cases per 100,000. The U.S. leads the world in reported cases of AIDS by a 35 to 1 factor over second place France. Recent reports from the Center for Disease Control lists the U.S. with 35,769 reported cases with the first African nation to appear ‘on the list, Uganda, in seventh place with 766. Even figuring in faulty reporting statistics for African nations, it seems to make sense on the face of it that the place of origin would show the highest number of cases.
Can the Segal theories be taken with complete assuredness? Probably not, but the cataclysmic appearance of the AIDS virus does seem to meet the pattern of genetic engineering. Also, the deadly business of biological warfare has no boundaries in research and it does seem plausible that a virus strain could have been developed which got out of hand.
Problems with the Segal hypothesis are that some reports affirm the conventional view of the origins of the disease in Africa and place the first death on that continent in 1976. Scientists say they have found AIDS antibodies in blood samples as early as 1959 and several others from the early 1960’s.
Still, the work of Segal and others is a grim reminder of the deadly potential of genetic engineering and brings into focus the lethal research being carried out in the field of biological warfare by the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
There are currently almost 40,000 cases of AIDS in the United States centered mainly in minority group homosexuals and intravenous drug users. Still the wide-spread fear of the plague’s geometric progression has led to slowing down the sexual jubilance and experimentation of the 1960s and ’70s which has the sexually repressive right-wing and fundamentalists almost gleeful. Mathematical projections for illness don’t always follow the calculator’s formula and along with a sense of caution, it is important that we do not enter an era of sexual denial based on a mass hysteria created by the media.
Sensual existence is the right of all free humans and whether AIDS was created by the U.S. Army (which, frankly, seems plausible to us) or came naturally from Africa, we should remember the wall graffiti of the 1968 Paris uprising: “The more I make revolution, the more I want to make love.”
Dr. Segal’s remarks were taken from an interview with him which appeared in the independent left daily, TAZ Berlin, Wattstrasse 11-12, Berlin 65, W. Germany.