The Dark Secret Behind Project Sunshine The US Government Tried To Hide

It can be a bit risky to talk about "secret government conspiracies" in an historical epoch where far-right groups espouse foolish QAnonsense spouted by elected officials who behave and function like cult leaders — as former Moonie Steven Hassan said of President Trump in Vanity Fair. There's a big difference between stupidity like Pizzagate, the conspiracy claiming that the basement of Washington, D.C. pizza place Comet Ping Pong was being used by Hillary Clinton and other DNC members for child trafficking (explained on Esquire), and documented false flag events like the Johnson administration lying about Vietnamese torpedo attacks on the U.S.S. Maddox to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 and let the U.S. enter the Vietnam War (explained on All That's Interesting).

We do know that the U.S. government, a body of authority full of fallible people that ought to be viewed as skeptically as any figure of power, has conducted secret germ warfare on U.S. citizens. Business Insider recounts one of these more well-known incidents, when in 1950, a naval vessel in San Francisco Bay sprayed "two kinds of bacteria, Serratia marcescens and Bacillus globigii" under cover of morning fog in a "simulated germ-warfare attack" that infected approximately 800,000 people. And then there are intelligence-based operations like COINTELPRO, Operation Mockingbird, and MKULTRA also outlined on Business Insider.

But would the U.S. government resort to something so macabre and horror tale-sounding as collecting deceased baby parts without consent for use in nuclear experiments? Seems so. Enter "Project Sunshine." 

More aptly titled 'Project Grim and Gruesome'

First off, this particular "Project Sunshine" has nothing to do with the "Project Sunshine" ranking high in Google searches, namely, an NGO that supports hospitalized children with games, writing and coloring materials, and in-hospital shows. They're great. Also, Project Sunshine isn't a newly disclosed secret. It was brought to public light in the mid-'90s by the Clinton administration through outlets such as The New York Times. And finally, this tale is disturbing enough to merit a sensitivity disclaimer, especially for the post-natal: steer clear if necessary.

Basically, the gist is this: In the 1950s, the U.S. government established a worldwide trade network of, for lack of a more delicate term, dead baby bodies. To be specific: tissue and bones. The intention was to "gauge possible health problems caused by atomic tests," as The New York Times says, particularly those caused by strontium-90. Strontium-90 is absorbed by plants and animals in areas of nuclear fallout and can pass along to humans through food. Once digested, it's absorbed into bones and, as the CDC tells us, can cause cancer of the bones, bone marrow, and surrounding tissues. The clincher? This was done *without* parents' permission.

In a 1955 transcript from a Project Sunshine meeting, Atomic Energy Commission member Dr. Willard Libby talked about needing samples from young humans to fill gaps in data. "If anybody knows how to do a good job of body snatching," he said, "they will really be serving their country."

When criminal ends justify clandestine means

Of course, it's fully reasonable and plausible that medical research requires the use of human tissue. Cadavers, particularly, have been an integral part of medical progress and the mapping of the body going back millennia, culminating in the still-unparalleled and studied 1858 Gray's Anatomy textbook. Even artists like Michelangelo and Da Vinci, as Gawker says, trafficked in corpses and participated in dissections to better understand the composition of the human form. And if we want to learn how to prevent and treat illnesses in infants, work needs to be done. And what parent who has lost an infant wouldn't wish that another parent's child live, laugh, and grow up to have an actually sunshiny fate?

The issue is consent and transparency. Much like someone choosing to be an organ donor on death, the key word is "choose." But an organ thief furtively sneaking into a morgue and gutting a cadaver to filch a lung? Quite a big difference. And when the filcher is an entire government, that's kind of a big deal. Besides, judging by the aforementioned secret transcript, the body-stealing need was driven by data integrity rather than disease prevention in infants.

Was there any reason why the parents of the deceased and trafficked infants couldn't have simply been asked if their loved ones could be used for medical purposes? Fill out an "in the event of such and such I hereby authorize blah blah" form? Any reason at all why not?

Denied, sidestepped, and buried for decades

ABC News illuminates details about Project Sunshine in a much more concrete and horrifying way. And it's not just the U.S. government who's to blame. 

As part of Project Sunshine, over 1,500 cadavers were spirited away from facilities across the world during the 1950s, particularly Europe and Australia. The 1995 documentary "Deadly Experiments" delved into details, such as the story of mother Jean Prichard. Jean's daughter was born stillborn in 1957, and she wanted to dress her daughter for her funeral. The doctors, however, denied her request because they'd already cut off Jean's daughter's legs as part of Project Sunshine; they didn't want her to find out. "I asked if I could put her christening robe on her, but I wasn't allowed to, and that upset me terribly because she wasn't christened," Prichard said. "No one asked me about doing things like that, taking bits and pieces from her."

To make things worse, all parties have admitted Project Sunshine happened, but essentially disavowed culpability. The Australian government, for instance, is "looking at their own records." Elizabeth Taylor, spokeswoman for the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, admitted in 2006 the British government did indeed work with the U.S. to traffic bodies. It wasn't until 2011, though, per The Guardian, that this formerly "top secret" information was released to the public. The sterility of the babies' designations says it all, such as Baby B-1102, an 8-month-old boy, and Baby B-595, a 13-month-old girl.