ample room for misinterpretation, lack of knowledge about, and outright disregard for established policies and guidelines.
The June 1942 request for human volunteers to the Secretary of War, and its subsequent approval, gave authority to the War Department to use human volunteers in the World War II sulfur mustard and Lewisite testing programs. The approval of this request became the basis on which such authority was retained by the Army and the Chemical Warfare Service to use human volunteers in all other World War II and later testing programs up to the mid 1950s. In July 1950, research was placed under the control of the Army by the Organization of the Army Act. Despite the establishment in 1947 of the Nuremberg Codes regarding the appropriate use and treatment of human subjects in research, Taylor and Johnson reported that no documentation could be found about whether the Army was explicitly bound by the Codes. By 1952, the Armed Forces Medical Policy Council filed a request to use human subjects and suggested that the Nuremberg Codes be used as guidelines.
The possible guidelines were discussed at a meeting at Edgewood Arsenal in March 1953. Recommendations were made at the conference that distinctions be made between hazardous and nonhazardous test situations so that nonhazardous procedures/tests would not require approval of the human-use research protocols. The examples given for nonhazardous situations were training exercises in which men, equipped with gas masks, went through gas chambers filled with high concentrations of sulfur mustard. A further proposal was that any human-use codes based on the Nuremberg Codes should only apply to biological warfare testing, not to chemical or radiological testing. This proposal was rejected.
Formalized guidelines were finally issued in June 1953 in a Chief of Staff Memo (MM 385). These guidelines represented an official adoption of the Nuremberg Codes (although somewhat modified) and were meant to apply to all types of chemical, radiological, and biological warfare testing. Further, they required all projects to be approved by the Secretary of the Army. However, no detailed descriptions of what types of experiments required this approval were included, and the report authors argue later that this was a "loophole" that permitted "selective compliance" with the guidelines. For example, in August 1953 seven research projects were sent for approval, one on vesicants and other agents, one on phosgene, and five on nerve agents. Not sent for approval was a research project labelled a ''local field exercise" at Fort McClellan, Alabama (Operation TOP HAT). This operation involved use of Chemical Corps personnel in tests of decontamination methods for biological warfare agents, sulfur mustard, and nerve gases. These personnel were not informed and were not volunteers. The justification