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Court Orders Va To Turn Over Data
Posted 01 August 2012 - 09:24 AM
Monday, July 23, 2012
(CN) - Veterans won another court order requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hand over more documents about its Cold War-era drug experiments on thousands of Vietnam veterans.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in Oakland, Calif., said the document s requested were "squarely relevant" to the claim that the government failed to adequately notify veterans of the chemicals they were exposed to and what that exposure might do to their health.
The Army and the CIA, with the help of Nazi scientists, used at least 7,800 veterans as human guinea pigs for testing the effects of up to 400 types of drugs and chemicals, including mescaline, LSD, amphetamines, barbituates, mustard gas and nerve agents, the Vietnam Veterans of America and individual soldiers claim in a 2009
The government covered up the true nature of its experiments, which began in the 1950s und er code names such as "Bluebird," "Artichoke" and "MKUltra."
In "Project Paperclip," the Army and CIA allegedly recruited Nazi scientists to help test various psychochemicals and develop a new truth serum using its own veterans as test subjects.
"Over half of these Nazi recruits had been members of the SS or Nazi Party," according to the class action. "The 'Paperclip' name was chosen because so many of the employment applications were clipped to immigration papers."
Veterans say the government was trying to develop and test substances that could trigger mind control, confusion, euphoria, altered personality, unconsciousness, physical paralysis, illogical thinking and mania, among other effects.
The experiments in Army compounds at Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick, Md., left many veterans with debilitating health problems for decades. Veterans say the government has since refused to provide proper medica l care.
In their latest bid for disclosure, the Vietnam Veterans of America sought documents revealing the VA's processes of identifying and notifying soldiers who were potentially exposed during the chemical and biological tests.
The department claimed the documents were shielded by the deliberative process privilege, which protects the decision-making processes of government agencies.
Corley ordered the VA to turn over most of the documents requested. She said the privilege either did not apply to the documents sought, or the veterans "have demonstrated a sufficient substantial need to overcome the qualified deliberative process privilege."
Corley rejected the VA's claim that the plaintiffs already have &q uot;an abundance of information and documents" about its notification and verification processes.
"The Court agrees that considerable discovery has been provided on this subject; however, having reviewed the thousands of pages of documents submitted for in camera review, the Court notes that these processes are far from clear or consistent, and in fact, seem to have undergone numerous modifications over time," Corley wrote (italics in original).
She ordered the VA to disclose more than 40 documents, which she deemed "both relevant and unavailable from other sources given that the documents reflect processes which have evolved over time."
However, Corley ruled that the VA need not reimburse the plaintiffs for the costs of resuming two depositions.
Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:14 AM
Its frankly disgusting that the VA is spending resources supposedly for Veterans benefits to fight Veterans who are trying to get the Va to turn over documents that pertain to their benefits.
What happened to the promises of "open government"? Its "open" all right...except to the extent that it may cost the government money if they find out the truth about what happened.
THIS is a good reason we need EAJA. When the VA bullies us into refusing to release this stuff, then maybe the Vet can get his attornies fees paid compelling the VA to what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.
However, it is not clear from this decision the Vet got his or her attorneys fees. It sounds more like EAJA fees were denied.
Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:18 AM
Its almost like the VA drops a gum wrapper in a box and then taunts the Veteran to find out what is in the "black hole". After the Veteran hires an attorney to find out what is in the box, the VA goes..Ok..here is what you were fighting for. "Its Wrigley's SPEARMMINT GUM"....oh, now that you have spent all your money on lawyers, you cant afford to sue the VA to get at the real document we did not want you to see.
Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:19 AM
It is not unusual to do that and receive the whole nine yards and then pick out what is relevant.
Been there done that many times.
If you define why they should all be in the same place (The department claimed the documents were shielded by the deliberative process privilege, which protects the decision-making processes of government agencies.)
so the VA apparently knows exactly where these documents are at.
Often however if a FOIA is specific to only one or a few documents , they get acknowledged faster.
I FOIAed a town clerk's office telling her exactly what documents I wanted and where the documents were on the clerk's long counter .They came right away in the mail.
I FOIAed the US Drug Administration once and that took time. I wanted death reports attributing death to certain meds.The result was all on a 3 1/2 floppy.It was extensive info on a few medications VA prescribes..
This is good news."Corley ordered the VA to turn over most of the documents requested. She said the privilege either did not apply to the documents sought, or the veterans "have demonstrated a sufficient substantial need to overcome the qualified deliberative process privilege."
Edited by Berta, 29 September 2012 - 08:20 AM.
Posted 29 September 2012 - 11:18 AM