New Jersey Republican Christopher H. Smith believes the US military may have weaponized and released ticks on the public between the 1950’s and 1970’s.
An amendment added to the 2020 defense authorization bill by Representative Smith orders the Pentagon to “conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975.” If the answer to that question is yes then the Pentagon needs to detail the scope and findings of the release. The amendment demands that congress is informed as to “whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design.”
During debate on the floor, Smith said that, “The most recent book—Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons—includes interviews with Dr. Willy Burgdorfer—the researcher who is credited with discovering Lyme disease. The book reveals that Dr. Burgdorfer was a bioweapons specialist. Those interviews combined with access to Dr. Burgdorfer’s lab files suggest that he and other bioweapons specialists stuffed ticks with pathogens to cause severe disability, disease—even death—to potential enemies.”
“With Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases exploding in the United States—with an estimated 300,000 to 437,000 new cases diagnosed each year and 10-20 percent of all patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease—Americans have a right to know whether any of this is true. And have these experiments caused Lyme disease and other tick-borne disease to mutate and to spread?” Smith asked.
“My amendment tasks the DOD Inspector General to ask the hard questions and report back,” he said. During debate on his amendment, Smith said the investigation would explore such questions as:
- “what were the parameters of the program?
- who ordered it?
- was there ever any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any diseased ticks?
- were any ticks released by design?
- did the program contribute to the disease burden?
- can any of this information help current-day researchers find a way to mitigate these diseases?”
Smith’s amendment was co-sponsored by Minnesota Democrat Collin C. Peterson, who is the House caucus’s other leader, and by Maryland Republican Andy Harris.
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