The Schnacke Affidavit: U.S. Admission of Offensive Germ Warfare Capability During the Korean War

Affidavit by U.S. Attorney Robert H. Schnacke in case US v John W Powell, et al.
Screenshot from July 1954 Memorandum for the Record, from Secretary, Chemical Corps Technical Committee, concerning “Special Aircraft Equipment for BW Munitions”, which detailed early research on the issue, including a “letter Hq USAF to Hq WADC [Wright Air Development Center], dated March 1951, Subj: ‘(Secret Title) Temperature Control for Airborne BW Munitions’. (SECRET LETTER)”. Another reference in the memo was to “WADC Memorandum Report No. WCEG-R-555–1350, dated October 1951, Subj: ‘(Secret Title) A Preliminary Study of Temperature Requirements for the Protection of BW Munitions During Airborne Delivery to Target Areas.’” (SECRET REPORT) — PDF pgs. 47–48 at Link
View of the main entrance to Fort Detrick in 1956, west of current main gate on West 7th Street. (Source: Ch. 3, “Cutting Edge: The History of Ft. Detrick,” Public Domain)
In January 1951, the Chemical Corps Technical Committee approved the M33 biological cluster bomb as a standardized BW weapon with a “fill” of the pathogen brucella suis. — Picture in the Public Domain, via Wikipedia

From a Ft. Detrick in-house history, this blurry, “rare picture,” dated 5 October 1954, shows “many of the principals of the biological laboratories from World War II to early 1960’s. They represented the Chemical Corps Advisory Council.” Dr. John L. Schwab, “technical operations,” is middle row, far left. Dr. Henry I. Stubblefield is middle row, third from the right. Dr. Edwin Hill, a Ft. Detrick scientist who co-authored a secret report on the work of Unit 731 is in the back row, fourth from the right — Public Domain (see alternate version of this picture at this link, p. 55)
Screenshot of cover page of the June 1950 Stevenson Report

The Stevenson report considered the “military worth” of biological weapons, and opined, “Conclusive information” of such military worth “is not likely to be found short of their use in war.” Data on “their operational feasibility and effectiveness could be obtained if the BW agents, together with their munitions, were subjected to large-scale field tests.” But “adequate field testing facilities” were “not available.”

1. Milton Leitenberg (2016), China’s False Allegations of the Use of Biological Weapons by the United States during the Korean War, CWIHP Working Paper #78, March 2016, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. [Online] Available at link. Accessed 29 October 2020. — Leitenberg turned down my request to answer a number of questions about his work, except to reiterate that Soviet archival documents, unearthed in 1998 and supposedly proving the Communists concocted BW “evidence,” were real. He would not answer questions I had about factual statements made in these documents and asked that I not write to him any further. A more intensive analysis of Leitenberg’s work on this subject is forthcoming soon, but some examples of my critique can be followed in this article. Similarly, questions sent to Kathryn Weathersby, the translator of the Soviet documents, and author of an early essay claiming their authenticity and reliability, went unanswered.

2. Dorothy L. Miller, History of the Air Force Participation in Biological Warfare Program 1944–1951, Historical Office, Office of the Executive, Air Materiel Command, Historical Study no 194, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, September 1952. Originally Top Secret, but declassified with deletions, June 1978. Available at link. The second part of her history, covering the period 1951–1954, is available at this link. Both links accessed 17 July 2021.

3. For a discussion of the CIA’s role in the Korean War, with special emphasis on the BW issue, see Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, (1998, Indiana Univ. Press), Ch. 9, “The CIA in the Korean War,” pp. 129–142.

For an example of internal Chemical Corps references to the BW “crash” program in BW, see “Research and Development Division, Office of the Chief Chemical Officer, Historical Report, 15 October 1951 to 31 December 1951,” Part V, “Operations”, pp. 8–9:
“Recommendations of the Chemical Corps Advisory Council (7–8 September 1951) were approved for implementation with the following reservations and comments:
“a. That the recommendation concerning cold weather agents correctly expressed the concern of the Chief Chemical Officer.
“b. That the proposed Crash Program in the BW field applied specifically to the development of the data necessary for design of plants and did not embrace the munition field. The recommendation was deferred pending receipt of an Advisory Council estimate as to the cost and availability of funds for the recommended Crash Program.”
The discussion about who was responsible for what in the BW program was a focus of Miller’s USAF history of participation in the BW program during the 1944–1954, referenced in this article. It was issued in two parts and is not fully declassified even now.

4. The documentation for this extraordinary claim, not documented in any current history of the subject, comes from “Final Summary Report on BW [Biological Warfare], from the Special Assistants Division, Research and Development Branch,” September 27, 1945, 7 pp., Records of the Office of Strategic Services (Record Group 226) 1940–1947, Entry 211, Box 20 of 45. Location: 250/64/32/1. CIA Accession: 85–0215R. Folder “G/6, Med Res. Lab #3”.

5. Since these two doctors will play an important role in the U.S. BW program, the relevant biographical details are provided here. In June 1947, Edward Wetter served as “Panel Director” of the Committee on Biological Warfare, part of the Defense Department’s Research and Development Board (Powell, 1980, p. 9). A June 1950 report to the U.S. Secretary of Defense from the “Ad Hoc Committee on Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare,” aka the Stevenson Report, listed Edward Wetter as a representative of the Defense Department’s Research and Development Board on a four-person “Secretariat” to the Committee (Secretary of Defense Report, 1950, p. ix). In 1952, Wetter was introduced to a Congressional subcommittee on Appropriations, to whom he provided a classified briefing, as Deputy Executive Director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Research and Development Board’s Committee on Biological Warfare (Hearings, 1952, p. 212; Powell, 1980, p. 9) Only a few years after the end of the Korean War, Wetter worked as Executive Secretary, Committee and Panel on Special Operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Research and Development (U.S. Civil Service Commission, 1955, p. 114).

6. On November 1, 1951, Dr. Henry I. Stubblefield was appointed Chief, Research Branch, Research and Development Division of the Office of Chief Chemical Officer (OCCO, part of U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps). The same report that announced Stubblefield’s promotion directly referenced the Chemical Board’s proposed “Crash Program in the BW field” (Historical Report, 1952a, p. 9). Stubblefield apparently also served for some time during this period as Security Officer for the R&D Division of OCCO (Historical Report, 1952b, pp. 4 and 12). In February 1952, Dr. Stubblefield attended “Research and Development Board subpanel” meetings on “Agents” and “Medical Aspects,” presumably related to BW. In a 1993 history of Ft. Detrick operations, Stubblefield was listed as one of “many of the principles of the biological laboratories from World War II to early 1960s.” In a photo dated 5 October 1954, he is identified as being with the “Chemical Corps office” and, along with all the individuals in the photo, also a member of the Chemical Corps Advisory Council (Covert, 1993, p. 57).

7. U.S. Army Activity in the U.S. Biological Warfare Programs, 1942–1977, Vol. 1, 25 February 1977, Department of the Army. [Online] Available at link. Accessed 22 May 2021.

Jeffrey Kaye is a psychologist (retired) and author of “Cover-up at Guantanamo“.