The U.S. Army apparently exaggerated its claims of openness at Dugway Proving Ground during public hearings this year, the Deseret News has found.
During public hearings about a proposed germ warfare defenses lab at Dug-way, Col. Wyett Colclasure II - director of Dugway's Materiel Test Directorate - tried to soften criticism about secrecy at Dugway by saying critics could inspect records of nearly all tests conducted there during the past 10 years.He said, more than once, that the result of only one test at Dugway since 1980 is classified - because it revealed a weakness in national defense - but said the procedure used in that test was unclassified.
So, as Colclasure invited, the Deseret News asked to see records of those tests. But in what is becoming a complicated paper chase despite apparent efforts by Army officials to help, it found many of those records are not available to non-government employees.
In fact, Dugway cannot provide final test reports on any of the eight major biologic warfare defense field tests it
onducted in the past decade - which involved 170 separate open-air trials.
For example, a letter from Dug-way Public Affairs Officer Kathleen Whitaker said results of three of those major experiments (all evaluating an experimental germ agent field detector) were incorporated into one report by the U.S. Army Chemical Research, Development and Engineering Center (CRDEC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
But it said, "Distribution of the document is limited to U.S. Government agencies only; however, you may request that a review be conducted to determine if the report might be released to you."
The Deseret News has requested that review from the CRDEC, but spokesman Brian Killgallin said up front he held little hope that the information would be released.
In four of the other five major experiments (testing detection and decontamination systems), Dugway said it provided raw data to CRDEC in Maryland and was unsure whether reports on them were written. CRDEC spokesman Killgallin said researchers could not find any reports on the tests - and said test files are only kept for a limited time.
He said information about test procedures may be available from Dugway - but it was Dugway that referred the Deseret News to CRDEC for it.
One of the test reports (about a system to decontaminate tanks) is classified "confidential," and its contents are not available to the public. The Deseret News has also asked the CRDEC to review whether it may look at non-sensitive portions of the report that merely describe test procedures.
Of note, the new book "Gene Wars" by Charles Piller and Keith Yamamoto quotes Col R. Rex Brook-shire III, chief counsel of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, saying the Dugway Proving Ground library alone now holds 67,000 reports averaging 150 pages in length. Still, the test data requested by the Deseret News cannot be found.
The Deseret News has also run into some snags researching tests conducted at the base before 1978. Unclassified documents released in 1977 listed at least 106 major biological field tests at Dugway - which likely involved hundreds of open-air trials. The Deseret News asked for files describing every 10th test listed, but the Army has been unable to provide them so far - but says it is continuing to search for them and have them reviewed and cleared.
Dugway said final reports on many of those tests were likely not written, and raw data from them may have been provided to other agencies that may have written reports.
Whitaker suggested that the Deseret News use the computer base operated by the National Technical Data Center to find those documents more quickly. Few documents relating to Dugway tests could be found there. Killgallin also suggested the Deseret News use a computer data base at the Defense Technical Information Center in Virginia, but officials there said its use is limited only to government employees.
In defense of Dugway, it did provide the list of the eight major biological field tests conducted since 1978, along with the types of biologic agents used and test sites. But that list is only 21/2 pages long, and contains little detail.
Also, Dr. I. Gary Resnick, director of life sciences at Dugway, granted an interview about procedures used in the tests and provided some test plans that at least showed what was anticipated in the tests (see accompanying story on open-air tests).
Resnick also provided a list of agents used in lab tests at Dugway during the past 10 years.