Gerald D. Klee dies
He had complications from surgery, said a son, Kenneth A. Klee.
Dr. Klee made headlines in 1975 when he confirmed published reports that the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Psychiatric Institute had been involved in secret research between 1956 and 1959, when hundreds of Army soldiers were given lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD.
He said that the Army also experimented with other hallucinogens as part of a wide-ranging chemical weapons research program.
Dr. Klee explained that the Army had negotiated a contract in 1956 with Jacob E. Finsinger, director of the U-Md. Psychiatric Institute, to conduct physiological and psychological tests on the soldiers.
“A large proportion of the people who have gotten involved in research in this area have been harebrained and irresponsible — Timothy Leary being the most notorious example,” Dr. Klee told the Baltimore Evening Sun in 1975.
“We didn’t have any axes to grind, and the university’s role was to conduct scientific experimentation,” he said. “The interests of the University of Maryland group were purely scientific, and the military was just there.”
Dr. Klee said that soldiers from military posts around the country were brought to Edgewood Arsenal and the adjoining Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County to participate in experiments involving various drugs and chemical warfare agents, of which the hallucinogens were a small part, the newspaper reported.
“They were mostly enlisted men — there were a few commissioned officers — but they were mostly unlettered and rather naive,” said Dr. Klee. “Now, the people knew they were volunteering, the bonus was leave time — seeing their girlfriends and mothers and that kind of thing. They had a lot of free time, and most of them enjoyed it.”
Before the experiments commenced, Dr. Klee experimented with LSD.
“I figured that if I was going to study this stuff, then I’ve got to experience it myself,” he told the Evening Sun. “I felt obliged to take it for experimental reasons and also because I didn’t think it would be fair to administer a drug to someone else that I hadn’t taken myself.”
The LSD was slipped into cocktails at a party in the soldiers’ honor. While this approach garnered criticism, Dr. Klee said the Army and civilian researchers acted responsibly.
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