No US knowledge about dioxin & Agent Orange

No US knowledge about dioxin & Agent Orange

Whether the United States government knew that the phenoxy herbicides they were using as an alternative to napalm and heavy artillery as a means of defensive defoliation during the war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia were contaminated with dioxin and that dioxin was toxic has been an American and international question since the Vietnam combat veterans filed their action against the chemical company war contractors who manufactured dioxin contaminated phenoxy herbicides and sold it to the Department of Defense.

Shortly after the action was filed in January 1979, the chemical company public relations flacks bombarded the media with press releases claiming that the “government” was to blame and that the chemical company manufacturers “were only following orders.”

The United States Department of Justice declassified and freely produced all of the documents dealing with the phenoxy herbicides, Agent Orange, and Operation Ranch Hand from all of the federal agencies which had anything to do with the herbicides or the use during the war in Southeast Asia beginning with the administration of President John F. Kennedy.

In order to resolve the question of whether government official involved in making the decision to deploy phenoxy herbicides is chemical defoliants during the war in Southeast Asia, noted historian W. Keith Kavenagh, head of the Institute of Colonial Studies at the State University of New York in Stony Brook who had left this position to become a lawyer and shortly after his admission to the bar became the only attorney devoting full time to the Agent Orange litigation besides Yannacone, analyzed more than 100,000 pages of government documents and developed the web of information flow about herbidies throughout the federal government.

It is clear from the web which Dr. Kavenagh developed and United States District Court Judge George C Pratt accepted as the basis for rejecting the government contractor immunity defense raised by the war contractors that no one at the highest levels of the United States government including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Richard M Nixon nor anyone in their cabinets had any knowledge that the phenoxy herbicides deployed in Vietnam during the war in Southeast Asia were contaminated with dioxin or that dioxin was toxic.

What little information was available in the federal government was scattered among the pigeonholes of agency bureaucracy and had been provided by the chemical companies who, as the documents they produced clearly indicated, deliberately and intentionally withheld any information about the contamination of the phenoxy herbicides, particularly 2,4,5-T, with dioxin. The highest levels of management within the chemical industry in America and Germany knew that dioxin was highly toxic to their workers, and although they occasionally paid workers compensation benefits to some of their workers who became ill or died from exposure to the chemical, they scrupulously avoided disclosing what they knew about the toxicity of the chemical.