The Pentagon sponsored a program led by Dr. Eugene L. Saenger of the University of Cincinnati to test the affects of radiation on the human body.

In order to find out how much radiation a soldier could withstand before they become disoriented during a nuclear explosion, Saenger exposed 90 cancer patients at the university to large doses of radiation—many patients had radiation exposed to their entire bodies—from 1960 to 1971. During the tests, Saenger would record their mental and physical responses. It was later discovered that the radiation had reduced the white blood cell count in some of the patients to practically nothing. Twenty-one patients died within a month of their exposure under Saenger's watch. Many were poor, and 60 percent were black. 

“What happened here is one of the worst things this government has ever done to its citizens in secret,”  Dr. David Egilman of Brown University told the NY Times.