updated 1/7/2009 4:59:57 PM ET 2009-01-07T21:59:57

Six veterans who claim they were unwittingly exposed to dangerous chemicals and germs during government-sponsored Cold War experiments have sued the CIA, Department of Defense and other agencies.

The vets volunteered for military experiments they say were part of a program started in the 1950s to test nerve agents, biological weapons and mind-control techniques. They allege in their federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Francisco that they are in poor health today because of the experiments. They are demanding health care and a court ruling that the program was illegal.

The organization Vietnam Veterans of America is also part of the lawsuit, which seeks class action status on behalf of all participants who were allegedly exposed to unhealthful experiments without their knowledge.

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