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The little-known story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition, killing thousands

Wow. From Slate:

Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, the routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government.

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

Although mostly forgotten today, the "chemist's war of Prohibition" remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination." Poisonous alcohol still kills—16 people died just this month after drinking lethal booze in Indonesia, where bootleggers make their own brews to avoid steep taxes—but that's due to unscrupulous businessmen rather than government order.

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Somedays I really hate coming here

Ignorance truly is bliss.

I cant believe I have lived on this earth so long and never realized that denatured alcohol is simply regular alcohol with poison added intentionally so the government doesn't lose out of revenue.

TwelveOhOne's picture

Think about the term: "de-natured"

It has been removed from nature. It is not natural. This is an abomination of alcohol; if something that came from nature consumes it, that thing will perish. It is bereft of life, pining for the fjords, run down the curtain and cetera -- and anyway I've always wanted to be a lumberjack.

I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
http://fija.org - Fully Informed Jury Association
http://jsjinc.net - Jin Shin Jyutsu (energy healing)

Same here

You phrased it much better than I did in one of my posts below. To protect their freaking tax revenue they put citizen's lives at risk. I mean if this were widely known, wouldn't that change people's minds on the idea that government looks out for the interest of its citizens? I would think it would change a few minds at least

It's for the public good though

During prohibition, the government decided it had the right to murder its citizens in order to protect them from the evils of drinking.

Well put...

Killing someone...to ummm... protect them from...wait a minute

Oh, that's it, they did it to control us. If there isn't any more clear an example of why the gov't imposes laws, sanctions, spying, it has nothing to do with protection. They will kill you to control you. That is it.

This is also evidenced as clearly with the drug war.

Protection is also the reasoning for NSA metadata collection.

Homemade distillates contain methanol and isopropyl...

called 'tops and bottoms' - brewing does not create this toxic problem.

Distillation does create this problem however, and it is easy enough to fake or add to - for example adding methyl alcohol/methanol to a batch.

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

Commenly referred to as...

Heads and tails. It has to do with the impurities having a lower boiling temperature then even the ethyl...

thanks for clarifying.


Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

Kicking people while their

Kicking people while their down. What our Gov. really does best.

Pure Evil



me think of firesafe cigarettes as well. They call cigarettes dangerous and then add carpet glue to make sure.

"Endless money forms the sinews of war." - Cicero, www.freedomshift.blogspot.com

Who remembers the poisoning of pot with paraquat?

The only concern is for maintaining power at all costs.

"A vote for the lesser of two evils is a vote to keep things the same", Buckminster Fuller..
A choice for liberty is always a choice for liberty.

I forgot all about that one....

Does anyone here know of a website with a log on all this stuff? I've seen a few but they list just a fraction of the crimes that are really out there.

Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm-

What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks

I remember.

That's how they work. The easiest most efficient way to control something... anything, is to BE it. The U.S. government is responsible for smuggling more drugs into this country than ANY OTHER entity, period. They do it for training, profit and control... always have, always will.

God forgives always. Man forgives sometimes. But Nature never forgives.


We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

Hadn't Heard Of Mike Ruppert

I think most people at the DP either knew or suspected the CIA of this but I didn't realize there was such a public hearing. Also, it's an interesting format with a public audience and all these members of government. Thankfully his story (so far) hasn't had a Michael Hastings-like ending.

Btw, the guy apparently hosts a radio show on Sundays at 9PM EST:


Any one heard of

"Meet me in Mena"? I saw this vid several years ago but can not seem to find it any more. What was the guy's name who interviewed for this and has since disappeared?
Did find this site with lots of info http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/MENA/mena.php

Michael Nystrom's picture

That was before my time

Thanks for the reminder.

He's the man.

They got caught posioning cannabis consumers

back in the 70's.. Remember paraquat?

Government is supposed to protect our freedom, our property, our privacy, not invade it. Ron Paul 2007

deacon's picture

I remember that

And I also remember my first thought about it.
What right do we have to do this in another country?
And to this day,it makes me angry at the FED'S perceived authority
over other nations.

If we deny truth before your very eyes,then the rest of what we have to say,is of little consequence

They still do it!

But not to alcohol. The gubmint forces the pharm companies to put ibuprofen with some narcotics like oxycodone. That way if you are pleasure seeking, you will encounter toxic effects of the ibuprofen.

Can You Say...

Population Control?

God forgives always. Man forgives sometimes. But Nature never forgives.

Weird I was just thinking this could be being done

to heroine.I know of three people besides Phillip Seymore Hoffman who have died recently of heroine.Coincidence?



Slight correction

It is 'Heroin,' not 'Heroine.'

Unless you were trying to say those 3 were killed by a woman.

Breaking News

3 suspicious deaths allegedly caused by superhero Heroine lol. ;)


Michael Nystrom's picture

That's what I was thinking too

There's a bad batch going around the east coast (they say).

He's the man.
wolfe's picture

The difference between...

alcohol in your hardware store (--denatured--) and alcohol in your liquor store is that the companies agreed to poison their alcohol (--denatured--) in exchange for a lower tax rate.

It still kills people every year in the US who are so poor, they try it anyway.

It is poisoned with a distilling equivalent poison. So that you can not distill the poison out of it since it has the same boil temp.

How can a moral society choose to poison a single human being for tax avoidance?

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

a moral society?

...where is this moral society of which you speak?

Wow I Had No Idea About That

This thread is very interesting overall. The government penalizes companies less (aka "tax breaks") if they poison alcohol??

I guess it adds new meaning to the 2 certainties in life being "death and taxes".