Natural Solutions Foundation
Helping Self-Quarantine and Self-Shielding “Go Viral”
There is no action more critical at this moment in time than for health freedom advocates to demand further legal protection for the right to shelf-shield. See the proposed PASS Act at: http://drrimatruthreports.com/?p=2888
We’re reproducing here an email one patriot just sent to his email list, as an example of what we mean by “making it go viral” — we need you — the new independent media — to get the message out, across the world. Here is how it’s done:
———- Original Message ———-
Subject: 2 HOT ACTION ITEMS: From Major General Stubblefield
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 14:40:15 GM
Dear General Stubblebine and Dr. Laibow,
It was a true pleasure speaking with both of you briefly this morning. I am sending you by way of this forward a copy of a mailing that I just sent out to all of my email lists.
God bless your efforts in Europe, and I will look forward to speaking with you when you get back to Panama.
For the Republic,
———- Forwarded Message ———-
Subject: 2 HOT ACTION ITEMS: From Major General Stubblebine
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 14:37:32 GMT
I just got off the phone with Major General Albert Stubblebine (US Army, Ret.) and also his wife, Dr. Rima Laibow. General Stubblebine is one of the real American heroes among our retired Military. He is an outspoken signatory to, and participant in, the “Oath Keepers” program, as well as one of the highest ranking former military people to publicly question the government story about 9-11. I caught both of them just prior to their departure to Rome for the CODEX meetings where further strident steps are underway to remove our rights to self-help health, to alternative medicines and supplements, etc. He will be a guest on my radio program (The Aroostook Watchmen) in a few weeks.
They both pleaded with me, stridently, to please share these two action items with all of my friends in the patriot community. According to both of them, if we lose these two battles, America will be finished as we know it, and I agree.
The first deals with the right to self quarantine in the event of a declared “national health emergency.” There is extensive information about this issue at their primary website (www.healthfreedomusa.org) and the specific action step on this information may be found here:
Please help spread the word about the PASS Act and help me to brainstorm ways to drum up support for it. I will start by leading off the radio show tomorrow with this information, but that touches just a certain circle of listeners in northern Maine. We must do more.
The other item is to urge our elected representatives to work against several new bills under consideration right now that would wipe out small farmers–even gardeners, and restrict private citizens’ access to the means with which they could provide for their own food supply. The information and the form to send on this action item is found here:
National Solutions Foundation and www.HealthFreedomUSA.org always bring you urgent information about your health freedom and practical steps you can take to make a difference.
“Breakthrough casualty” (aka “collateral damage”) is what happens when a poorly tested, new drug or device (or novel GMO product) is publicized in the mass commercial media in ways that are not truthful and are misleading. Here are Action Steps To Help Prevent Yourself and Your Loved Ones From Becoming A “Breakthrough Casualty”
Today, the biggest causes of “breakthrough casualties” are the very issues that Natural Solutions Foundation has championed: GMOs, degraded organic standards, forced vaccinations and drugging, toxins (like pesticide residua, irradiation free-radicals, and the like) in the food chain, regulatory failures…
You’ve heard of “Breakthrough Bleeding,” right? That’s when someone starts to bleed in spite of the fact that the body, or a drug, should be keeping them from doing that. Well, there’s another “Breakthrough” problem, and we are all vulnerable to it: “Breakthrough Death” which occurs when the latest medical “breakthrough” is so dangerous, so poorly tested, so poorly understood and so rapidly embraced by the ever-compliant media (“Ask your doctor is it’s right for YOU”) along with the ever time-pressured and sheepish medical practitioner that you, or someone you love, winds up dead or damaged because of a poorly understood, but hastily taken-up “Medical Breakthrough”.
The article posted below questions the wisdom of new medical “wisdom”. Indeed, the bone-fields of Medicine are littered with discarded ” breakthroughs”, too hastily approved, too gleefully adopted, too poorly tested. Of course, the graveyards of medicine are littered with the patients who blindly rushed to line up for the newest alleged “advances” and trusted the “wisdom” of the usually-well-meaning, carefully preselected and obedient sheep in MD’s clothing who blithely make their livings by being there with the new whatever-it-is-this-time. For example, in my educated opinion, the new chemotherapy which turns out to damage your heart and not work any better than any of the other ineffective conventional cancer approaches and, like every form of conventional chemotherapy, is a leading cause of NEW cancer in long term survivors; or the new antibiotic that turns out to cause your body to stop making any blood cells, red or white, or causes you to go deaf, or damages the dental integrity of your unborn child; or the new vaccine that turns out to cause healthy young girls and women to die or develop life threatening conditions; or the vaccine overload that turns so many happy young families into tragic families coping with the vaccine injury called autism, asthma, ADD/ADHD and a host of other names.
You get the idea.
What you may not know yet is that “fast track” approval for drugs and especially vaccines means that even the woefully inadequate safety assurances used by the FDA are shunted aside. And whether a drug, device or vaccine has been fast-tracked or not, that FDA approved-whatever is not deemed safe until after Phase IV Clinical Trials are completed and evaluated. And you may also not know that the FDA review committees and advisory committees, panels and boards are filled with people who have stocks, bonds, shares, patents and other direct financial conflicts of interest in the very products they are regulating, or seeking to evaluate and forbid if dangerous. Good system? For them, maybe. Just look at the state of American health and the trillions of dollars made by the illness care industry using things that make you sick and kill you although they have been through Phase I, II and II Clinical Trials. And although these devices, drugs and vaccines are now in their much-vaunted “Phase IV Clinical Trials”
What is a Phase IV Clinical Trial? It is the voluntary reporting, over time, of adverse reactions in the public. In other words, when doctors notice that patients are dying, or having strokes or heart attacks, or getting rather more cancer than “normal” or having more life-threatening asthma attacks or other reactions and the doctors involved bother to report (and often incriminate themselves if they were the ones who gave the drug or used the device in the first place), and these results pile up and the scientists reviewing these data do not have too many conflicts of interest, and their superiors in the system do not have too many conflicts of interest (which are now officially permitted by the agencies of the US Government charged with protecting our safety), then perhaps something will happen to remove this item from sale. But usually not. I need only say the word “Vioxx” and you get the idea. Or “Gardasil” or “Avienda”.
Or core systemic corruption and inability to protect the public… you get the idea. *
We like to think that clinical trials and other strategies protective of the public when using drugs, pesticides, vaccines and other toxins are iron clad and powerful. Nothing could be further from the truth. The FDA, EPA and USDA, the principle “guardians” of public health, do not allocate their funding efficiently to do their jobs. Congressional report after Congressional report, investigative piece after investigative piece makes that very clear. But the structure of these agencies themselves makes it even more clear.
For the FDA, a large proportion of whose operating budget comes from “user fees” which Pharmaceutical companies pay to have their products approved. Those user fees mean that the FDA is the client, not the regulator, of the drug industry.
Now it looks like the food industry will be asked to pay the same sort of user fees so the food side of the house will also become a client of the industry it allegedly regulates. Wonder what will happen to small local, organic producers in that regulatory world, where only the big and powerful are “too big to fail…”
Between the revolving door policy of the FDA, USDA, EPA and other federal agencies (through which high level employees are recruited from, revolve into, and continue to move back and forth between government, academia and industry as their careers develop) and the lack of oversight allowed or engaged in by these agencies, allowing “new breakthroughs” to create “new wealth” and “new disasters”.
Read the article below by a concerned and thoughtful Mom and take the Action Steps at the head of this article to make sure your State and National Legislators know that you do not want to be exposed to compulsory vaccination, a form of compulsory drugging.
Yours in health and freedom,
Rima E. Laibow, MD
–x–x– Sometimes ‘new breakthroughs’ in medicine are too new
October 12, 2008
By Kimberly A. Brehm
Every time the medical community changes its mind and announces yet another way to care for your child, I’m amazed that my children made it out of their early years unscathed.
When my babies were young, they slept on their tummies, until the American Medical Association said the position could lead to sudden infant death syndrome. I bathed them in cool water when their fevers ran high, until I heard the tried-and-true practice could cause a seizure. And I gave them over-the-counter cold medicine when they had persistent, hacking coughs and sore throats.
Turns out that wasn’t a good idea, either.
On Tuesday, in response to concerns from medical experts that questioned whether cold and cough remedies do more harm than good to children, drug companies agreed to no longer make such medications for kids younger than 4.
Leading brands like Pediacare, Dimetapp, Robitussin, Triaminic and Little Colds no longer will continue to include dosage information for anyone younger than 4, and some pediatricians are asking the government to go further and ban such medicines for children younger than 6.
Each year, more than 7,000 children – mostly 2- and 3-year-olds – make a trip to the emergency room because of problems with over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. They usually have symptoms such as hives, drowsiness and unsteady walking. The Federal Drug Administration in 2007 pulled over-the-counter cough and cold medications for children younger than 6 to weigh their risks and effectiveness, but it could take another year or more before a final decision is reached.
Since it seems like every decade or so the medical community reverses previous decisions on particular medicines and medical treatments, it’s made me wonder when I can trust “new breakthroughs” and “innovative advances.”
A reversal about something like a cough suppressant – once seen as a benign drug – is the exact reason I have not yet allowed my teen daughters to be vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. It’s too new and hasn’t been researched enough for me to give my approval and feel comfortable.
In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration OK’d Gardasil as a vaccine against four strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. Since then, more than 8 million girls ages 11 to 14 have been given the vaccine, and some states are considering making the shot mandatory for school enrollment, similar to other immunizations.
When Gardasil was approved a few years ago, my oldest daughter was 11, the ideal age to begin the shots. But I hesitated, thinking about other “new and improved” medicines that later proved to cause harm.
Remember when pregnant women were prescribed Thalidomide for nausea, then it was discovered to cause miscarriages and birth defects? Or when vaccines routinely included mercury, until that too proved to be dangerous? Or how about Fen-phen and Ephedra, which were supposed to be safe weight-loss drugs, and women began dying? In the 1990s, infants were given the rotavirus vaccine, until too many babies died after receiving it, and it was pulled from the market. I could go on and on listing dozens of examples like this, including strong, antidotal evidence of a link between immunizations and autism.
Thousands of parents of autistic children, including my brother and his wife, are firmly convinced their child’s autism was caused by vaccines and no amount of denial from drug companies would convince them otherwise.
And now, three years after young girls starting getting the Gardasil vaccine, it’s being investigated. There have been more than 9,000 complaints of serious ill effects filed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including blood clots, genital warts, paralysis and death.
The CDC said the deaths are not linked to Gardasil, but who knows what they’ll discover after further investigation? I personally am not willing to let my daughters be guinea pigs for the fairly new vaccine when even the CDC agrees the vaccine responds differently to each individual’s immune system and should not be mandatory for school participation.
“The overall effect of the vaccines on cervical cancer remains unknown. The real impact of HPV vaccination on cervical cancer will not be observed for decades,” the New England Journal reported in August. “With so many essential questions still unanswered, there is good reason to be cautious.”
When the wrong decision could cause your child harm – or maybe even result in death – it would be negligent not to be cautious. And when the medical experts change their minds every few years on what’s good and what’s harmful, it’s hard to make the right decision.
Please remember the six Action Steps you can take at the beginning of this posting.
* Less than a year ago, a government study of the FDA concluded:
1) The FDA cannot fulfill its mission because its scientific base has eroded and its scientific organizational structure is weak.
2) The FDA cannot fulfill its mission because its scientific workforce does not have sufficient capacity and capability.
3) The FDA cannot fulfill its mission because its information technology (IT) infrastructure is inadequate.
4) FDA does not have the capacity to ensure the safety of food for the nation.
5) The development of medical products based on â€œnew scienceâ€ cannot be adequately regulated by the FDA.
6) There is insufficient capacity in modeling risk assessment and analysis.
7) The FDA science agenda lacks a coherent structure and vision, as well as effective coordination and prioritization.
8) The FDA has substantial recruitment and retention challenges.
9) The FDA has an inadequate and ineffective program for scientist performance.
10) The FDA has not taken sufficient advantage of external and internal collaborations.
11) The FDA lacks the information science capability and information infrastructure to fulfill is regulatory mandate.
12) The FDA cannot provide the information infrastructure support to regulate products based on new science.
[From: the November 2007 Report of the Subcommittee on Science and Technology, FDA Science and Mission at Risk]
Oncologists refuse chemotherapy for themselves and others. The State’s Attorney, Glen Ivey, who forced vaccination on 2300 poor, black children in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on November 17, 2007 (at gun point and with police dogs present, by the way) after threatening parent with fines and jail time in a state which allows parents exemptions to vaccination for their children had, himself, taken that option for his own children since Hepatitis B and the other vaccines being forced on the children were, he said, too dangerous for his children.
Doctors, on the other hand, may actually believe that vaccines are good for you and are safe. The Natural Solutions Foundation firmly states that neither condition is true. However, if your doctor does believe in the safety and necessity of vaccination, he or she ought to be willing to tell you why. And since vaccination is such a serious issue, that belief should be based on strong scientific information, not a vague and unformed bias in that direction. Such a science-based belief should be able to be documented in a linear, logical and documented fashion.
A participant in the Natural Solutions Foundation’s No-forced-vaccination Forum named Mary shared this letter. Bring it to your doctor or your child’s doctor and ask the doctor to sign it if he or she believes that vaccines are safe. If your doctor will not sign it, you have your answer!
You might also print off a copy of the Atlanta Manifesto and ask your doctor to read it carefully if, in his or her medical opinion, your doctor still thinks that vaccination is either save, or responsible (or both). Please be aware that you may have to find another doctor since “experts” often respond to effective challenges to wrong information that they have staked their careers and reputations on with less-than-mature responses when they are challenged.
Rima E. Laibow, MD
Natural Solutions Foundation
Now here is the letter:
PHYSICIAN’S WARRANTY OF VACCINE SAFETY
I (Physician’s name, degree)_________________________, _____ am a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of ________________ . My State license number is __________________ , and my DEA number is _______________.
My medical specialty is __________________________________________________________.
I have a thorough understanding of the risks and benefits of all the medications that I prescribe for or administer to my patients. In the case of (Patient’s name)___________________________ , age _________________ , whom I have
examined on this date __________________________________________, I find that in my professional judgment certain risk factors exist that justify the recommended vaccinations. The following is a list of said risk factors and the vaccinations that
will, in my professional judgment, protect against them:
I am aware that vaccines typically contain many of the following
â€¢ aluminum hydroxide
â€¢ aluminum phosphate
â€¢ ammonium sulfate
â€¢ amphotericin B
â€¢ animal tissues: pig blood, horse blood, rabbit brain,
â€¢ dog kidney, monkey kidney,
â€¢ chick embryo, chicken egg, duck egg
â€¢ calf (bovine) serum
â€¢ fetal bovine serum
â€¢ human diploid cells (originating from human aborted fetal tissue)
â€¢ hydrolized gelatin
â€¢ mercury thimerosol
â€¢ monosodium glutamate (MSG)
â€¢ neomycin sulfate
â€¢ phenol red indicator
â€¢ phenoxyethanol (antifreeze)
â€¢ potassium diphosphate
â€¢ potassium monophosphate
â€¢ polymyxin B
â€¢ polysorbate 20
â€¢ polysorbate 80
â€¢ porcine (pig) pancreatic hydrolysate of casein
â€¢ residual MRC5 proteins
â€¢ VERO cells, a continuous line of monkey kidney cells, and
â€¢ washed sheep red blood
and, hereby, warrant that these ingredients are safe for injection into the body of my patient. Reports to the contrary, such as reports that mercury thimerosol causes severe neurological and immunological damage, are not credible. I am aware
that some vaccines have been found to have been contaminated with Simian Virus 40 (SV-40) and that SV-40 is causally linked by some researchers to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and mesotheliomas in humans as well as in experimental animals.
I hereby give my assurance that the vaccines I employ in my practice do not
contain SV 40 or any other live viruses. (Alternately, I hereby give my assurance that said SV-40 or other viruses pose no substantive risk to my patient.)
I hereby warrant that the vaccines I am recommending for the care of (Patient’s name) ______________________________________ do not contain any cells from aborted human babies (also known as “fetuses”).
In order to protect my patient’s well being, I have taken the following steps to guarantee that the vaccines I will use will contain no damaging contaminants.
I have personally investigated the reports made to the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) and state that it is my professional opinion that the vaccines I am recommending are safe for administration to a child under the age of 5 years as well as for patients over that age.
The bases for my opinion are itemized on Exhibit A , attached hereto, “Physician’s Bases for Professional Opinion of Vaccine Safety.” (Please itemize each recommended vaccine separately along with the basis for arriving at your professional conclusion that the vaccine is safe for administration to a child under the age of 5 years and indicate which information provides the basis for arriving at your professional conclusion that the vaccine is safe for administration to a patient over that age.)
The professional journal articles and other peer reviewed sources I have relied upon in the issuance of this Physician’s Warranty of Vaccine Safety are itemized on Exhibit B , attached hereto, “Scientific Articles in Support of Physician’s Warranty of Vaccine Safety.”
The professional journal articles or other peer reviewed sources that I have read which contain opinions adverse to my opinion are itemized on Exhibit C , attached hereto, “Scientific Articles Contrary to Physician’s Opinion of Vaccine Safety.”
The reasons for my determining that the articles in Exhibit C were invalid are delineated in Attachment D , attached hereto, “Physician’s Reasons for Determining the Lack of Validity of Adverse Scientific Opinions.”
Hepatitis B: I understand that 60% of patients who are vaccinated for Hepatitis B will lose detectable antibodies to Hepatitis B within 12 years. I understand that in 1996 only 54 cases of Hepatitis B were reported to the CDC in the 0-1 year age group. I understand that in the VAERS, there were 1,080 total reports of adverse reaction from Hepatitis B vaccine in 1996 in the 0-1 year age group, with 47 vaccination-associated deaths reported.
I understand that 50% of patients who contract Hepatitis B develop no symptoms after exposure. I understand that 30% will develop only flu-like symptoms and will develop lifelong immunity.
I understand that 20% will develop the symptoms of the disease, but that 95% will fully recover and have lifetime immunity. I understand that 5% of the patients who are exposed to Hepatitis B will become chronic carriers of the
disease. I understand that 75% of the chronic carriers will live with an asymptomatic infection and that only 25% of the chronic carriers will develop chronic liver disease or liver cancer, 10-30 years after the acute infection.
The following studies have been performed to demonstrate the safety of the Hepatitis B vaccine in children under the age of 5 years.
The following studies have been performed to demonstrate the safety of the Hepatitis B vaccine in patients over the age of 5 years.
In addition to the recommended vaccinations as protections against the above cited risk factors, I have recommended other non-vaccine measures to protect the health of my patient and have enumerated said non-vaccine measures in Exhibit D,
attached hereto, “Non-vaccine Measures to Protect Against Risk Factors.”
I am issuing this Physician’s Warranty of Vaccine Safety in my professional
capacity as the attending physician to (Patient’s name) ________________________________.
Regardless of the legal entity under which I normally practice medicine, I am issuing this statement in both my business and individual capacities and hereby waive any statutory, Common Law, Constitutional, UCC, international treaty, and
any other legal immunities from liability lawsuits in the instant case. I issue this document of my own free will after consultation with competent legal counsel whose name is _____________________________, an attorney admitted to
the Bar inthe State of __________________________________ .
__________________________________ (Name of Attending Physician)
__________________________________ L.S. (Signature of Attending Physician)
Signed on this _______ day of ______________ A.D. ________
Notary Public: Name______________________________ Signature ________________________________________ Seal___________________________________________ Signed Before Me This Date:_________________________
Vaccination – compulsory vaccination – is not just for kids anymore. College students are being compelled to get vaccinated after they have had their swipe cards turned off and could not get to their dorm rooms, dining halls, libraries, classroom or other facilities – in the dead of Maine’s winter. Nurses and other health workers cannot start – or keep – their jobs unless they submit to vaccinations. The Natural Solutions Foundation believes that vaccination should be a personal option but the US Government and other agencies and governments have given themselves the right (and, they say, the responsibility) to compel people to submit to vaccinations. Failing that, according to the Patriot Act, the Bio-Shield 1 and Bio-Shield 2 Acts and other federal legislation, people who refuse vaccination can be quarantined indefinitely. One must wonder if the more than 800 staffed, but empty, detention centers are related to this eventuality. Whether this is in the cards in the US and elsewhere (as we fear that it may be), children are already a captive, and highly vulnerable, victimized, and suffering population which has been driven into a massive health crisis by dangerous and toxic vaccinations. The vaccination industry has its needles in the arms of virtually every child in the world.
The Atlanta Manifesto is a richly researched and compelling report was written 3 years ago by Mark Blaxill and Barbara Loe Fisher and submitted to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) following their participation in a “Blue Ribbon Panel” convened by the CDC. The report of the panel was so far from the discussion presented that Blaxill and Loe Fisher felt compelled to write a corrective report on the meeting. Although it was presented to the CDC over 3 years ago there has been no response from the CDC since it was submitted.
Blaxill and Loe Fisher have written an exceptionally important document which the Natural Solutions Foundation endorses wholeheartedly. Please take the time to read this exceptional document and share it widely.
Thanks for your activism.
Yours in health and freedom,
The Atlanta Manifesto: Safety Last to Children First
By Mark Blaxill and Barbara Loe Fisher
Safe Minds and the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) are pleased to have an opportunity to present a case for change in our nation’s public health strategy. We are grateful to Dr. Julie Gerberding and her staff for reaching out for a range of views on this subject. As parents and citizens, we have joined this discussion feeling the weight of great responsibility on our shoulders, because we see an urgent need for change in public health policy and practice. The health of the children of our country is deteriorating. Yet rather than facing this reality, our public health leadership has turned away from the challenge in order to defend entrenched practices and controversial policies, some of which may have contributed to these adverse trends. Accordingly, we want to make a strong and clear statement: the public health agenda in our country requires comprehensive reform.
The authors represented our respective organizations — National Vaccine Information Center and Safe Minds — as invited participants to the Blue Ribbon Panel on Vaccine Safety on June 3-4, 2004, in Atlanta. We appreciated receiving our invitations to attend. We also respect and acknowledge the efforts of the chair, Dr. Louis Cooper, to summarize the discussion in his Summary Report. Given the mix of the participants, many of whom have close ties to the past CDC leadership and/or personal involvement in setting the recent course of U.S. public health policy and practice, we did not expect that the Summary Report would convey our sense of urgency and concern. Although the Summary Report represented a good faith effort to report on the Blue Ribbon Panel’s proceedings, it did not provide a coherent reporting of the case for comprehensive change. Accordingly, our two organizations have joined together to author this White Paper on Vaccine Safety, entitled, “From Safety Last to Children First.”
We should note at the outset that our most fundamental dissent from the larger group is the framing of the agenda itself. We are far less concerned with focusing on vaccination than we are concerned with focusing on better health outcomes for America’s children. Although our organizations have frequently (and unfairly) been described as “anti-vaccine,” we share the view that vaccine programs to manage infectious diseases can be a valuable part of strategies to advance the mission of childhood health. These diseases, however, reflect only a fraction of the adverse health outcomes facing children today and a decreasing fraction of these. So although the focus of the agenda for the Blue Ribbon Panel reflects the misplaced emphasis on infectious diseases, we choose not to restrict our Response to the Summary Report to the agenda as defined. Instead we will address the case for change based on some core principles and a hopeful vision of the future.
We share a sense of hope that America’s public health focus can be reformed to serve the health needs of children and families in the 21st century. A forward-looking focus for public health practice would embrace:
1) A mission of securing positive health outcomes for children and families;
2) A commitment to a total health perspective, including chronic as well as infectious disease, developmental disability as well as episodic illness, and quality of life as well as the absence of disease;
3) A recognition of the crisis of the chronic disease epidemics among children, including autism, learning disabilities, attention deficits and other neuro-developmental disorders as well as asthma, allergy, juvenile-onset diabetes and other autoimmune disorders;
4) A vaccine policy that treats all citizens, including parents, as intelligent participants in the health choices they make for themselves, their children and their communities and requires true informed consent for participation in vaccine programs;
5) An operating philosophy that sets a goal of zero vaccine adverse reactions and treats each reaction respectfully, indeed as a resource for diagnosis and prevention of future vaccine adverse reactions, especially those that lead to chronic adverse health outcomes;
6) A governance model for vaccine policy-making based on true public accountability, characterized by public inclusion, openness to scientific criticism and a willingness to accept past shortfalls as an opportunity for learning, growth and change.
We believe that this positive focus is notably absent in public health policy and practice today. Consequently, we share a grave concern that the past approach of public health authorities requires comprehensive and fundamental reform. In contrast to our vision of hope, we see a current approach that is fixated on:
1) A mission of fighting a war on disease that disregards the secondary and tertiary consequences of war and views innocent children as inevitable casualties;
2) A commitment to an unprecedented expansion in the childhood vaccine program , with inadequate, if any, consideration given to the cumulative and interactive effects of this strategy;
3) A consistent posture of hyping the risk of infectious disease, a communication model that relies on fear, hyperbole and incomplete information;
4) A vaccine program concerned largely with herding “the public” into a state of compliance, reflecting a view of citizens as a monolithic entity in need of instruction rather than engagement;
5) An operating ethos in vaccine safety management of utilitarianism, one that allows for “acceptable losses”, based on an approach that places “safety last” in funding priorities;
6) A pattern of governance in which many decision-makers have direct financial and/or career conflicts of interest that produce biases to program expansion and the defense of past policy decisions.
The continued pursuit of the current approach has created an adversarial environment that jeopardizes the health of America’s children and the long-term well-being of our nation. Within the CDC, a defensive bureaucracy finds it increasingly difficult to reconcile past ideological and policy commitments with the emerging realities. Parent organizations, faced by institutional complacency (with respect to epidemic childhood illnesses like autism) and defensiveness (with respect to the examination of plausible environmental and biological hypotheses), are forced into confrontations they do not enjoy, consuming time they do not have. Pediatric organizations, long resigned to becoming instruments of state policy by allowing their members to become a toll gate for vaccine administration in well child visits, have come adrift from the service mission that motivates most pediatricians, securing positive health outcomes for children, not maximizing their office visits. Vaccine manufacturers, prisoners of their extraordinary corporate profit rates, pursue short term profit enhancement with too little regard for the adverse effects to which inappropriate usage of their products may contribute. In the meantime, as a nation we have too many sick children and no shared view about how they got that way.
This all must change.PART 2
From Waging a War on Disease to Securing Childhood Health
For those who join high level discussions of vaccine policy for the first time, it is quite surprising to see many CDC officials wearing uniforms. By embracing a military identity, these officials emphasize their unique prerogatives. That they possess the authority: to deploy the coercive powers of the state as they see fit; to deprive citizens of their liberty in the name of the greater good; and to enforce what they consider to be necessary human sacrifices as they do battle with dangerous microbes and viruses. The language of conflict â€” the “war on disease,” “combating the causes of epidemic,” “fighting emerging infections” â€” is closely connected to the language of military power and, of course, “Disease Control.” History teaches us that when government officials are determined to fight a war, any war, truth can be the first casualty.
Nurse Although the CDC hosts multiple centers for disease prevention, a clear organizational focus on chronic childhood disease and disability and on overall childhood health is absent. The Center for Chronic Disease Prevention focuses almost exclusively on adult conditions, while the Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) focuses its attention on a selective set of childhood conditions, a set that excludes autoimmune conditions. The NCBDDD has meanwhile demonstrated puzzling complacency in its approach to developmental disorders such as autism. Effectively, the CDC’s largest institutional commitment to childhood health lies within the National Immunization Program, a group with an exclusive focus on preventing infectious diseases through mandated mass vaccinations. For most American families, the childhood immunization program represents the public face of the CDC and its most concrete intervention in our everyday lives. We exaggerate only a bit when we say the war on infectious disease as implemented by the NIP is America ‘s primary childhood health initiative.
In the war on infectious disease, the CDC measures progress by its surveillance of “notifiable diseases.” There are now more than 60 such notifiable infectious diseases and the CDC reports these diseases on a weekly basis for each state and territory, with annual breakdowns that itemize case counts by age group, including children. By contrast, no such chronic disease and disability surveillance exists for children, with the sole exception of some rudimentary asthma data. As to clear childhood health crises such as the epidemic of autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs), the CDC only says, “We do not know if ASDs are becoming more common in the United States .”
Clearly, our public health officials possess asymmetric information with respect to the total health of children and how it is changing. This asymmetry results in part from institutional inertia, in part from limited funding and in part from different perceived relevance of such timely reporting for intervention purposes. Whether or not this asymmetry was ever deliberate, it has resulted in clear ignorance regarding chronic disease. And although one might attempt to excuse such ignorance as an historical legacy, at some point such ignorance becomes willful: a conscious choice to forego the acquisition of unwelcome knowledge; an attempt to preserve plausible deniability in the face of disturbing news. In a parent, such denials would amount to negligence. Indeed, diligent, concerned parents have become the most vocal critics of our public health officials’ performance in the area of childhood health.
Yet while parents may know a great deal about their own children, they inevitably possess a limited view of populations, enhanced perhaps, but quite possibly distorted, by shared group experiences in advocacy groups. Scientists typically rely on more rigorous surveillance and research to provide reliable trend and incidence data. Yet scientists and other “experts” will only know what basic surveillance tells them or what they seek to know through sponsored research. When basic surveillance and critical research is lacking, scientists become less reliable sources than parents, absent primary information sources of any kind.
As parents, we therefore often look to front line health professionals such as therapists and nurses for their perspective. These professionals have a broader perspective on childhood health than either parents or scientists. Among such health care professionals, the message is clear: something new and terrible is happening to America ‘s children. Consider, for example, a quote from a representative of school nurses in Missouri, testifying before Congress in 2000.
“The elementary grades are overwhelmed with children who have symptoms of neurological and/or immune system damage: epilepsy, seizure disorders, various kinds of palsies, autism, mental retardation, learning disabilities, juvenile-onset diabetes, asthma, vision /hearing loss, and a multitude of new conduct/behavior disorders â€¦
We (nurses, principals and teachers) have talked many times about the possible cause(s) of the continuing increase in pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), such as autism. From the literature we have found, we should expect a rate for PDD of about 2-5 in 10,000. In our community the rate in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade is more like 1 in 150. The teaching staff is overwhelmed â€¦.
We are all now faced with a moral dilemma: will we protect the “sacred cow of conventional vaccine philosophy” or will we stand up and speak out for the “health and well being of innocent children”? We choose children. We wonder, which will our government choose?
-Patti White, RN Missouri Central District School Nurse Association. Statement to the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human. Resources of the Committee on Government Reform U.S. House of Representatives
In the year 2000, there were 122 cases of AIDS reported in children under five years of age, 37 cases of measles, 57 cases of mumps, 10 cases of rubella, 43 cases of hepatitis B, less than 3,000 cases of pertussis, and zero cases of tetanus, diphtheria and 9 other notifiable diseases. By contrast, California â€” with over 10% of the U.S. population — reported over 6,700 new cases of PDD/autistic disorder, by extrapolation a national reporting rate of 70,000 children annually. Over 800,000 children under five reported an episode of asthma. New juvenile-onset diabetes cases probably numbered in the thousands (unfortunately, no reliable surveillance exists).
We do not presume to judge the relative significance of these diseases to childhood health, however we do submit that chronic diseases are in no way less harmful to children. We would also note that the vast majority of children recover from a case of childhood infectious disease (as parents looking back on our childhood, most of us remember uneventful recoveries from these diseases as children).
We represent a growing constituency of parents of children who developed normally and then acquired a chronic developmental disorder early in childhood. Our children will never fully recover. Although we recognize the risk of childhood disease, we would gladly trade a few episodes of vaccine-preventable, infectious disease in our children for the disabilities they will live with for the rest of their lives. Tragically, our ranks have swelled dramatically. Indeed, the numbers suggest that the weight of the modern public health agenda should revolve around families like ours. The problem we represent therefore is new. It has, moreover, emerged and grown in parallel with the growth in the number of required childhood vaccines. So although we recognize the risk of jumping to premature conclusions regarding causality, we also deplore complacency and defensiveness in any form. It is time, indeed long past time, for our public health officials to reset their priorities and turn their attention to the health issues of greatest consequence for children in the 21 st century.PART 3
From Expansion of Vaccine Interventions to a Commitment to a Total Health Perspective
The Blue Ribbon Panel was convened to consider a proposal to separate vaccine risk management from risk assessment [at the CDC]. We concur with the spirit of this proposal and believe that independence in vaccine safety assessment is overdue. The National Immunization Program has long confused vaccine safety with vaccine promotion. But we also see a deeper force driving the problems with vaccine safety, a force that goes beyond simple questions of organization and governance. The longstanding commitment of our public health leadership to expansion of the mandatory vaccination programs places pressure on the watchdogs of safety to make vaccine risk assessment friendly not just for current programs, but also for new vaccines. Dr. Robert Chen, the official most responsible for vaccine safety over the last decade has openly confessed to this bias in print.
“Given the current increasingly “anti-vaccine” milieu, it is hard to imagine that the full potential of new vaccines will be harnessed. To avoid this impending tragedy, we need to critically examine the factors influencing this change in public sentiments.”
– Dr. Robert Chen, Vaccine Safety and Development Branch, National Immunization Program, CDC, “Vaccine Risks: real, perceived and unknown”, Vaccine, 1999.
Dr. Chen sets forth here the central fallacy of modern vaccine policy: if some vaccine interventions have done some good, then more interventions will do more good. His conclusion that the failure to expand the vaccine program would be a “tragedy” reflects this a priori assumption, shared by so many, that we have only just begun to harness the potential for strategies of increased intervention. Numerous careers, major research programs and large-scale commercial investments have been bet on the promise of public acceptance of unlimited vaccine interventions. Much is at stake.
In just a few short years, we have seen the effects of this strategy. Through the 1970s, the childhood immunization schedule consisted of interventions against a short list of diseases: smallpox, polio, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. Today, the CDC’s “universal use” list for children has expanded to include vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza B, varicella, pneumococcal and influenza. Before they reach their second birthday, a child born today will receive 32 separate vaccine doses when following the CDC’s recommended schedule. With these additions, we have embarked on a public health strategy that constitutes a radical shift in the way our species experiences its environment and a radical shift in the way the human immune and neurological systems develop during the first critical months of life. In a quite literal sense, we have entered unexplored territory.
As the childhood vaccine program has expanded, it has also changed character. The earliest vaccinesâ€”polio, diphtheria, smallpoxâ€”protected against highly infectious and frequently fatal diseases, diseases to which infants were also highly vulnerable. The new additions to the vaccine program have not targeted similar attributes or shared the same benefits. These new targets are often less dangerous to children (chickenpox or rubella), less infectious (haemophilus influenza B or pneumococcal) or otherwise less prevalent among children (hepatitis B).
Although the original vaccines had demonstrable preventive benefits, their risks were also meaningful. Dramatic, sometimes fatal, adverse events associated with neurological damage have been documented, most notably with whole cell pertussis vaccine, but also with oral polio vaccines. The re-introduction of smallpox vaccine after September 11, 2001 was curtailed due to unacceptable rates of adverse events, including cardiac events that led to death. One distinguishing feature of these events, however, was their clear cause-and-effect relationship with single vaccine exposures.
As the vaccine program has expanded, we face new safety concerns. In addition to the ongoing risk of single vaccine adverse events, we need to recognize new exposure risks, either from the cumulative effect of vaccine ingredients or from the unintended consequence of interactions between vaccine and other environmental antigens and the potential for accidents in a complex, closely-coupled system like the developing immune system.
Vaccine mercury exposure provides a dramatic example of the cumulative effect risk. Exposing the developing brain to mercury was never a good idea, but the introduction of two new vaccines in the early 1990s (not to mention the increasing practice of antenatal Rho D immunization) tripled the earliest exposure rates. These additions effectively compounded acknowledged mercury risks to pregnant mothers from seafood consumption and dental amalgams. In the case of mercury, we see the dark side of the “more is better”, expansionist bias: if some mercury exposure is bad, then more is unquestionably worse. Yet now the CDC has recommended new childhood mercury exposures via influenza vaccines, when evidence continues to accumulate underscoring the danger of these exposures.
More complex, but no less concerning, is the issue of interactive effects. We simply do not know what the risks of these 39 doses of 12 vaccines might be for human health when combined together in developing infants. In the face of this recent escalation in intervention, common sense would suggest a testing discipline involving more than assessments of each new vaccine, or even combination vaccine, on its own, but rather involving comprehensive assessments of the old strategy vs. the new strategy in their entirety. Such comprehensive testing has been dismissed as too expensive, or even absurd. But it has never been attempted.
So as parents, we are faced with a puzzling paradox. We want our children to be healthy, but they are not, even though we have done what we have been told to do by public health officials and pediatricians. We see families around us in similar distress, with asthma inhalers and epi pens as common in schools today as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were in our day. We are concerned about a radical strategy of intervention that has never been tested for safety and yet we watch as responsible government officials behave defensively and with more regard for their beliefs and careers than for the future of our children. We want to believe in the integrity of our public health system, yet we cannot, because we fear that excessive specialization and bureaucratic inertia has led us away from the only focus that matters: the overall health and well-being of our children. We believe it is time to call a halt to the expansionist momentum and revisit basic strategic premises. We strongly encourage the CDC to move away from strategies focused on the parts to a strategy focused on a total health perspective. This may be difficult, but it is necessary if we are going to answer the question: why are so many children chronically ill today? PART 4
From Hyping The Risk Of Infectious Disease To Facing The Reality Of Chronic Disease Epidemics
As the vaccine program expands and the complex assessment of marginal cost and benefits becomes more critical, the integrity of the analysis surrounding these assessments matters even more. A prior commitment to a strategy of program expansion casts suspicion on the CDC’s internal analysis when the institutional proponents of the expansion strategy control the interpretation and dissemination of information and analysis. The obvious concern is that benefits may be overstated and that risks will be suppressed.
We see pervasive evidence of bias among CDC’s analysts that lends credence to such concerns. Hepatitis B vaccine policy serves as useful first case in point.
CDC officials display a bias toward vaccine interventions. When the mandatory hepatitis B vaccination was added to the childhood immunization schedule in 1991, this new initiative was the outcome of years of policy discussions. CDC infectious disease specialists took a public advocacy stance in favor of “worldwide elimination of hepatitis B transmission,” claiming “we have the way, we need the will.” Oddly, for a disease transmitted primarily through promiscuous sexual activity and intravenous drug use, the strategy they chose was universal infant immunization, including a first dose immediately at birth. Yet claims supporting the wisdom of this “way” have been called into question by recent research showing that infant hepatitis B immunization provides protection for five years at most.
CDC models exaggerate the incidence of infectious disease. Promoting a short-lived intervention in populations far removed from the main source of the infection is odd enough, but the CDC felt obliged to defend the urgency of such an unusual choice by overstating the overall risks of this (largely adult) disease. Until the late 1990s, annual infections by hepatitis B virus (HBV) in the U.S. were routinely quoted at more than 300,000 despite the fact that CDC’s own surveillance numbers showed far fewer cases, less than 10% of the quoted cases, and these case counts fell rapidly through the 1990s
CDC models overstate childhood disease risk to justify vaccine interventions. Defenders of the universal hepatitis B vaccine birth dose policy estimated that 25,000 HBV infections occurred annually in children prior to the introduction of the vaccine. These calculations have not been challenged but are full of holes: surveillance reports of childhood infections have never reached even 1% of these modeled levels; the models that produce high infection estimates require large rates of horizontal transmission, transmissions that have never been reliably described; and distinctions between peri-natal transmission (where mothers could reasonably be offered a choice between vaccine exposure and maternal HBV testing) and childhood transmission (where vaccines provide unique benefits) have never been established. In evaluating a policy that requires annual immunizations of millions of newborns, rigor and accuracy in making such distinctions are critical, but such scrutiny has been forsaken in favor of salesmanship and hype.
We have by now become familiar with the fear-mongering that makes infectious disease a reliable news item. From the infamous swine flu to the West Nile virus, we have grown accustomed to seeing the threat of deadly infection on the front page and the evening news. Even with more legitimate threats like SARS, the reality of these threats consistently fails to meet the hype, yet spreading the fear of infection remains a reliable tactic. By contrast, chronic diseases–perhaps because they are judged to be less preventable, a matter for families to accept rather than a prevention opportunity â€” receive nowhere near the same attention or priority. Autism rates have increase tenfold but the CDC has not yet declared a public health crisis. Similar to the case of hepatitis B, autism provides a second case example of CDC policy bias.
CDC surveillance designs fail to specify chronic disease variants. The featured activity in CDC’s autism surveillance activities is the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP). Although only a single publication has been produced so far as an output of this effort, this publication revealed the manifold weaknesses of the program. The MADDSP approach fails to distinguish between the sub-categories of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) â€” autistic disorder, PDD not otherwise specified and Asperger’s syndrome â€” an approach that makes it impossible to compare results of MADDSP with other studies around the world. MADDSP researchers place children in diagnostic categories based only on a records review and do not require standardized diagnostic interviews. Diagnostic precision is essential to effective surveillance (can you imagine hepatitis reports that fail to distinguish between viruses A, B and C?) yet the MADDSP program has abandoned any effort to institute such precision. Even so, the CDC now offers their approach as the model for other states to follow. Lack of diagnostic precision may provide a deliberate refuge for analysts who are not interested in obtaining good facts, but makes for poor health policy in the long run.
CDC studies avoid the assessment of chronic disease trends. When CDC studies have embraced a more rigorous approach to PDD classifications, they have still failed to report accurately on time trends. The autism prevalence researchers in Brick Township, NJ provided accurate estimates of autism rates in a well-defined study population. Yet they suppressed important evidence on changes in autism rates over time, reporting rates by only two large age groups. More disturbing, these authors failed to publish autism rates by birth year, rates that would have demonstrated clear and compelling evidence of an increasing time trend in autism rates. Safe Minds has obtained these rates, and they contradict the CDC authors’ claims that “prevalence rates for the two [time periods] were not different.” We cannot help but wonder how the surveillance disciplines, so well developed in infectious diseases, break down so completely in chronic diseases like autism. Yet they do.
When increasing trends are acknowledged they are dismissed with speculation. When discussing the undeniable increases in reported autism rates, CDC officials profess little concern and offer unsupported hypotheses that attempt to play down the likelihood of any real increase. The NCBDD web site on autism offers the following account.
“The studies that have looked at how common ASDs are often used different ways to identify children with ASDs, and it is possible that researchers have just gotten better at identifying these children. It is also possible that professionals know more about ASDs now and are therefore more likely to diagnose them correctly. Also, a wider range of people are now being classified as having ASDs, including people with very good language and thinking skills in some areas who have unusual ways of interacting or behaving.”
In the face of the spectacular rise in reported autism rates, speculations like these cry out for scientific support. Yet there is no scientific evidence of any kind that supports a single one of these speculations. How is such carelessness allowed?
Taken together, these tendencies form a pernicious pattern of misinformation and deception. The favored diseases and interventions are supported, while the inconvenient trends and anomalies are suppressed. Responsible public health management demands a clear-eyed view of the current health reality, one based on high-quality data, sound analysis and rigorous logic. It is time to start facing this reality without further delay. PART 5
From Herding the Public to Informed Consent
The rising complexity of vaccine risks and benefits makes the assessment of risk far more sensitive to the assessment of such complex trade-offs. But when the guardians of vaccine safety [at the CDC] play a dual role as advocates of program expansion, the potential for bias, conflict of interest and bureaucratic error in these assessments rise when there are no mechanisms in place for self-correction. When advocates of vaccine programs can also exercise the coercive power of the state to enforce their decisions through vaccine mandates, the risks of catastrophic failure multiply.
In an open society, we typically rely on the free choices of informed citizens as the corrective mechanism for dealing with complex trade-offs. We express our freedom in two ways, through the free market (for economic trade-offs) or free elections (for policy making). In either domain, we know from long experience that assigning decision rights to centralized state authorities can produce lasting inefficiencies and/or inappropriate concentrations of power. Checks and balances on such power are essential to prevent the abuse of power by the state and secure improved outcomes for society.
Vaccine programs introduce special problems in an open society. Mass vaccination programs for infectious disease prevention are based on the premise that herd immunity is the only way to manage infectious diseases. Achieving herd immunity requires widespread compliance, indeed significantly greater compliance than either free markets or free elections require for success. Vaccination coverage rates sufficient to provide herd immunity have been estimated to be in the 80-95% range depending on the disease. Achieving such high compliance rates in large populations demands extraordinary efforts. Compounding this difficulty, public health officials have increasingly defined success as compliance rates approaching 100%, a shift from a goal of herd immunity to a goal of local elimination, even global eradication, of most diseases for which vaccines have been developed. With such aggressive targets the exercise of economic choice (“I don’t want to receive that service”) or the declaration of dissent (“I don’t support that policy”) runs in direct opposition to the interests of the bureaucracy in meeting its performance goals.
In order to reach these rising compliance targets, vaccine program sponsors ask for and typically receive exemptions from normal checks and balances on state power. These exemptions are justified because the prevention of disease is seen as an area in which the interests of the collective override the rights of the individual. Consequently, manufacturers receive exemptions from product liability laws. Citizens face powerful sanctions if they fail to comply with state recommendations — children can be denied entry to school, parents can be declared negligent, and pediatricians can deny service to families when they choose not to vaccinate. Program managers are protected from accountability to external parties in numerous ways.
These exemptions can end up producing an unhealthy relationship between citizens and central authorities. In the eyes of the officials, a diverse and autonomous citizenry becomes a monolithic and (ideally) submissive “public.” The public must be convinced of the virtues of compliance so that the herd can maintain its immunity and remain safe from disease. The more submissive the herd, the greater the opportunity for heroic achievements in disease elimination and the less the need to apply coercive measures to dissenting citizens.
Yet the childhood immunization program is the only medical intervention capable of producing injury or death that the state imposes on healthy children. Vaccines are also the only privately manufactured product whose universal consumption is made a prerequisite for participation in public services. These extraordinary exemptions from our normal democratic system of checks and balances and free markets demand extraordinary, and constant, scrutiny. Vaccine program management must not only work when safety is secured, it must also be robust in the face of safety failures.
But how robust can our system of vaccine safety management ever be? If one assumes that program managers are always diligent, competent and correct in their assessments and that the programs themselves unambiguously and universally safe, then these exemptions from our standards of openness are a small price to pay for results. But when there is a possibility of negligence, incompetence, or even well-intentioned error, these protections run the risk of perpetuating and exacerbating truly catastrophic failures. In their book, The Virus and the Vaccine, Deborah Bookchin and Jim Schumacher elaborated the dangers:
“The decisions of our health policy makers, even when well intentioned are not always well informed. And sometimes those decisions are not even well intentioned. Sometimes they are based on bias or inadequate scientific evidence. Sometimes they are biased by the close relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the government health officials who are charged with regulating that industry. Moreover, sometimes even the best scientists can make mistakes. The safest medical products can have unforeseen side effects. Things do occasionally go wrong, sometimes dreadfully wrong, during even the most noble of scientific endeavors .”
And when things do go wrong, the inevitably defensive reactions can creep down a slippery slope from the prevention of unnecessary panic to the dissemination of propaganda and the suppression of dissent. The resources available to health officials to mount defenses in the face of failure are extensive. Prestigious journals can relax their standards in support of questionable research; at-risk constituencies can mobilize resources to attack discomforting facts; funding agencies can deny resources for investigations into possible failures; and conscientious scientists can face disincentives (even sanctions) when they pursue unpopular investigations.
One powerful bulwark against such breakdowns is the right of informed consent. Informed consent requires and empowers each citizen to make choices for themselves and their families based on their independent assessment of risks and benefits. Informed consent thereby provides a counterbalancing force against overreaching activities of the state and provides incentives for manufacturers to improve the safety and effectiveness of their products:
â€¢ In the absence of an ability to choose between vaccine formulations, combinations and producers, citizens can at least exercise choice with respect to timing and receipt of specific vaccinations;
â€¢ In the absence of meaningful product guarantees or warranties, citizens can request and expect the provision of scientific information regarding attributed risks and benefits of vaccines;
â€¢ In the absence of clear scientific knowledge regarding the immunological mechanisms, failure modes and adverse exposure consequences, citizens can seek, consider and act on information from multiple sources, reserving the right to critically review official interpretations of vaccine benefits and risks and freely act upon the information they have obtained.
Today, parents who wish to make a different choice with respect to their children’s vaccinations face numerous obstacles. They can claim a medical exemption if their child has suffered a “severe vaccine reaction” that must meet restrictive CDC standards as a contraindication to further vaccination and are able to find a doctor willing to write a medical exemption to vaccination. They can, in most states, claim exemption based on sincerely held religious beliefs. In eighteen states, they can exercise their right to a philosophical or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination. But everywhere these rights might be exercised, they are, practically speaking, nearly impossible to obtain (in the case of medical exemptions), under challenge (religious exemptions) or available only to a small number of parents who are aware of their rights.
In real life, when parents resist their pediatrician’s advice, they risk sanctions of varying severity, up to and including loss of medical care, health insurance and even custody. Pediatricians or nurses can and do notify Child Welfare authorities when parents resist vaccination and the parents can be charged with child medical neglect. Parents can postpone the age at vaccination, but in doing so they forego access to most child-care and educational services. Indeed, with respect to the universal hepatitis B birth dose, they often find that vaccination takes place in hospital nurseries without their knowledge, preceding consent. The provision of true informed consent, which has defined the ethical practice of modern medicine and is so essential as a counterweight to state power, remains a distant promise for most American parents. PART 6
From Safety Last to a Quest for Zero Vaccine Adverse Events
Members of our organizations (SafeMinds and the National Vaccine Information Center) recall private conversations during which National Immunization Program officials revealed their underlying utilitarian philosophy: parents of vaccine injured children, calling for reform of the vaccination system, were described as “selfish”; adverse events were described as “acceptable losses”; while adverse events resulting in injuries and death were dismissed as either coincidences or the inevitable by-products of the pursuit of the “greater good.” Dr. Robert Chen, the man most responsible for setting the tone and direction of NIP safety practices for over a decade, described the end result of a utilitarianism mindset on safety management at NIP in 1999:
“[W]e have been relatively slow in appreciating the importance the public now places on vaccines safety. In fact, much of our resource allocations still unfortunately reflect safety last rather than safety firstâ€¦Furthermoreâ€¦we have not been as interested in preventing vaccine-induced illnesses as we are with vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The fact that Chen would make this concession in print suggests strongly that not only does this “safety last” mindset exist, but that it is more severe and pervasive than he and others acknowledge. Indeed, it affects all aspects of safety management in the childhood immunization program. A partial list of “safety last” examples would include the following.
â€¢ The CDC has long acknowledged the central problem with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systems (VAERS): that the reporting of vaccine adverse events will necessarily be reduced under a passive reporting system. Estimates of the underreporting vary (a common estimate is that only 5-10% of adverse events are reported), yet there are only limited efforts in place to promote and encourage the reporting of these events as mandated by Congress (under PL 99-5500).
â€¢ When observed, adverse events are routinely dismissed by pediatricians as unrelated to vaccination, with the tacit support and encouragement of NIP officials. Adverse event reports are frequently met with the assertion that the timing of onset of seizure disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, hospitalizations and other vaccine injuries are only coincidentally related to vaccination.
â€¢ When faced with adverse event claims, families of vaccine injured children in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) often find themselves the target of active suppression of those claims, as even straightforward events are routinely opposed in an adversarial process. Expert witnesses for the CDC called to testify in VICP award proceedings routinely deny the very existence of vaccine adverse events.
â€¢ More broadly, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, originally conceived as a means for rapid compensation for families suffering from vaccine injury, has approached the management of compensation with a stubborn reluctance to grant awards. The result of this reluctance is that only a fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars set aside in the vaccine injury trust fund has ever been paid out.
â€¢ In the meantime, vaccine manufacturers have received widespread protection from product liability claims, an exemption that substantially reduces the normal marketplace incentives on manufacturers to ensure the safety of their products.
â€¢ This unusual liability exemption stands in stark contrast to disturbing examples of longstanding product contamination, including the recent discoveries of connections between contaminated polio vaccines and highly carcinogenic simian virus (SV40) detected in many human cancers.
â€¢ More complex safety concerns have faced even greater neglect, as safety testing of the new expanded-program strategies, e.g., comparing exposed populations to zero exposure populations, has never been attempted.
â€¢ When high profile safety investigations have taken place, these investigations have been carried out by interested parties. In the case of three thimerosal studies in Denmark, for example, the primary authors for all of them were directly employed by a vaccine manufacturer (or its affiliates) that held direct profit interests in the products involved
These problems have all been compounded as the safety management agenda has shifted from evaluating narrowly defined events, such as a seizure response to a dose of whole cell pertussis in DPT vaccines, to assessing adverse effects rooted in cumulative exposures to vaccine elements ( e.g., thimerosal exposure from three separate childhood vaccines in combination with prenatal mercury exposures from maternal dental amalgams or seafood ingestion) or the interactive effects of multiple antigen vaccines and/or multiple vaccines given in close succession. Co-factors, which could also play a role in vaccine adverse events suffered by an individual, such as coinciding viral or bacterial infection at the time of vaccination; simultaneous exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides or toxic mold; or predisposing genetic factors due to biodiversity in an ethnically diverse population, are never factored in. Vaccine safety administrators are ill prepared even to acknowledge the possibility of such effects, let alone evaluate them.
One consequence of combining mandatory vaccination policies with exempting manufacturers from product liability has been the absence of free market competitive pressures to raise quality performance. As the quality revolution in management swept through the business world in the latter part of the 20th century, most competitive industries have embraced quality disciplines that have not yet penetrated the NIP. One of the leading quality management experts, Philip Crosby, in his influential book, Quality is Free (1980), succinctly described one of the core lessons of quality management.
“The first step is to examine and adopt the attitude of defect prevention. This attitude is called symbolically, Zero Defects. Zero Defects isâ€¦a standard that management can convey to employees to help them decide to do the job right the first timeâ€¦Most people talk about an AQL, an acceptable quality level. An AQL really means a commitment before the job to produce imperfect materialâ€¦Consider the AQL you would accept on the products you buy. Would you accept in advance an automobile that you knew in advance was 15% defective?â€¦How about the nurses that care for newborn babies? Would an AQL of 3% on mishandling be too rigid?â€¦The only proper performance standard is Zero Defects. Why settle for less? People accept the performance standards you give them.”
The pursuit of zero defects in vaccine safety would demand a performance standard of zero adverse reactions. Such a goal need not be immediately attainable, but the relentless focus on continuous improvement toward that goal would mean that no disabling injuries or deaths would be viewed as acceptable. Instead, every adverse reaction would be managed as an opportunity for analysis of the root causes of vaccine failures. Instead of encouraging reclassification of adverse events as coincidental events, severe reactions would be treated with respect, compassion and curiosity. And instead of fighting injured families as greedy opportunists, compensation programs would be restored to their original role, as an occasion to provide justice and deserved financial support. But as Philip Crosby describes it, embracing Zero Defects (Zero Adverse Reactions in this context) requires adopting a new attitude, one that several panel participants noted would require sweeping cultural changes in all aspects of vaccine safety management. Culture change can only come from the top. This brings us to the conditions and context for leadership on vaccine programs and safety, in other words, vaccine governance. PART 7
From Conflicts of Interest to True Public Accountability
Public institutions have the responsibility to carry out public affairs with governance mechanisms that keep decisions free of conflicts of interest and resultant self-dealing by interested parties. As our society has evolved, the influence of well-organized and well-funded interest groups has made avoiding such conflicts of interest progressively more difficult. In the area of vaccine safety, we see serious conflicts between the promotion and management of the childhood immunization program and the exercise of diligence and care in the safety monitoring of the program.
These conflicts play out in numerous ways. Indeed, despite many years of effort by dedicated consumer advocates, we fear that vaccine program governance has deteriorated to a point where the most economically interested parties have effectively collaborated to dominate decision-making in ways that maximize their direct benefits, while marginalizing the legitimate concerns and life-altering experiences of dissatisfied customers of the vaccine programs. These partiesâ€”vaccine manufacturers, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), pediatrician groups and government public health officials–have demonstrable interests in favor of expanding vaccine administration and mandates while constraining vaccine safety initiatives and in some cases suppressing unwelcome vaccine risk findings. To illustrate this governance dilemma, we review the interlocking interests of these four parties briefly.
Vaccine manufacturers. Maintaining a successful vaccine program requires the participation of a viable base of vaccine suppliers. These suppliers deserve the opportunity to make competitive, market returns, consistent with their risks and investments. Increasingly, however, the “market” for vaccine suppliers has become a regulated state oligopoly, not really a market at all, but rather a highly managed public-private partnership with guaranteed returns and minimal financial risks. Large, stable and growing markets are guaranteed by official decree. Product liability is more limited than for any other manufactured product. New firm entry is highly constrained and only a small set of competitors share the market, with only a small set of competitive formulations granted market access at any point in time. Public health officials, in their quest to serve their suppliers, have effectively become supplier advocates, consistently acquiescing in decisions that benefit vaccine manufacturers and disadvantage consumers.
The extraordinary profitability of pharmaceutical manufacturing (the 2001 profits of the top 10 pharmaceutical manufacturers exceeded the profits of the rest of the Fortune 500 combined) can make vaccines appear unattractive as a business: indeed drug manufacturers have long complained about the poor relative profitability of their vaccine divisions. But as the vaccine program has expanded and most childhood vaccines produced by manufacturers have been added to the CDC’s “universal use” and state mandatory vaccination requirements, this performance profile has shifted. New, patent protected products with high prices and healthy margins have replaced older vaccine formulations in the product mix. While decisions to endorse and promote the strategic expansion of childhood vaccines (vaccines with increasingly small incremental consumer benefits) have provided large financial benefits to these companies, the management of safety concerns has consistently placed manufacturers’ interests ahead of those of consumers.
Despite demonstrable health threats, recalls of dangerous vaccine products are a rare event. Remarkably, polio vaccines contaminated with highly carcinogenic viruses were never recalled and have now been associated with widespread cancer incidence. Similarly, longstanding calls to recall vaccines containing the highly neurotoxic element, mercury, have gone unheeded, with unknown developmental consequences in the millions of children exposed after the risks of mercury exposure were first identified. Even now, new flu vaccine formulations containing mercury have received CDC endorsement. Meanwhile, sensitive safety investigations into vaccine failures have been entrusted, in some cases, to vaccine manufacturers themselves and, in others, to researchers with close financial ties to manufacturing companies. Not surprisingly, the research results of such investigations routinely find no adverse consequences of vaccine exposure.
Health maintenance organizations. HMOs face the unique challenge of maintaining profitability in the face of skyrocketing health care costs and pressure from their own customers, primarily private companies seeking to minimize the cost of providing health care benefits. In pursuit of their profit goals, these insurers have clear interests in minimizing the cost of their service obligations and reducing the variability of their patient risk profiles, while also projecting an image of responsive service and high quality care to their patients. Because of the known turnover in their patient bases, HMO investments in health and prevention require relatively short payback periods; by extension, long-term risk reduction and chronic disease prevention is unlikely to receive HMO financial support.
By contrast, childhood vaccinations provide a strong economic benefit to HMOs: they provide visible services to young families; the unit of service delivery (the well child visit) is highly predictable, routinized and therefore low cost at the delivery level; and they prevent less structured (and potentially higher cost) care delivery in the case of children infected with a childhood disease. Another economic goal of HMOs lies in restricting the cumulative number of well child visits, one reason why combination vaccines have proven popular. The potential adverse consequences of an expanded childhood vaccine program (and expanded vaccine combinations) are either out of their services scope ( e.g., autism and other developmental disabilities) or beyond their preventive planning horizon (e.g., asthma, diabetes, cancer).
With respect to vaccine safety, HMOs can, and in some cases do, provide important information resources for safety management. Given the value of their patient data, HMOs have an interest in maintaining control over their private databases. Pooled databases like the Vaccine Safety Datalink provide information resources of extraordinary potential societal value; yet by increasing the transparency around health outcomes across different participating HMOs, information sharing also threatens the autonomy of these organizations. The public interest lies clearly in full and prompt reporting of health outcomes, especially as they relate to vaccine safety, but HMOs have resisted the expansion of public health claims on their data resources. They typically fall back on claims of patient confidentiality to restrict outside access, but these claims are rarely in the interests of their patients, instead they are largely a mechanism to retain autonomy and control. As a consequence, resources for vaccine safety reporting have remained highly restricted, non-standardized, inaccessible and unreliable for assessing health outcomes.
Pediatricians. One consequence of the cost squeeze in health insurance has been that pediatricians, like most primary care physicians, have become captives of a new economic model of primary care delivery: high volume, low touch, and increasingly structured around compensation rules for specific diagnosis codes rather than time spent with children. Most pediatricians enter the field of pediatric medicine out of a desire to serve children. Increasingly, they are becoming captives of the compensation rules regarding allowable services. One of these allowable routines is the well child visit, a repeatable and tightly defined procedure that is little more than a tollgate for vaccine administration. The economics of pediatric practice have become increasingly dependent on these tolls, and the well child toll has become a critical component of a pediatrician’s annual income.
By contrast, as the front line of vaccine adverse effect reporting, pediatricians have incentives to avoid adverse event reporting. When faced with a possible vaccine adverse event, each pediatrician has discretion in associating the event with the vaccine, although the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act obligated the pediatrician simply to report the event and not make a causation determination at the provider level. Pediatricians have a personal stake in the success of the vaccine program and, more important, an emotional stake in the absence of causal relationship between vaccination and injured children. No pediatrician wants to believe that their personal interventions have caused harm to their young patients.
At the same time, the report of an adverse event takes time and effort while also causing the pediatrician to fear litigious behavior on the part of parents, even though the 1986 Vaccine Injury Act protected pediatricians from most vaccine injury lawsuits. For all these reasons, pediatricians view reporting vaccine reactions as a risk rather than a benefit. Not surprisingly, the groups that represent pediatricians seek to minimize the concerns over adverse events and preserve the confidence of parents in the childhood immunization program and its associated well child visit.
Public health officials. Public health officials in positions of vaccine policy leadership typically have sustained long careers in the field and have participated in the long trail of policy choices that has produced the current expansive strategy. These career officials draw meaning from this legacy of work and often reveal their search for meaning by seeking other ways to expand their mission, either through heroic efforts at disease eradication (“Worldwide elimination of hepatitis B transmission: we have the way we need the will”) or global collaborations to spread vaccine successes to new countries. They certainly have little appetite for seeking evidence that might constrain this mission or, what would be far worse, to demonstrate that it might have inflicted more harm than good.
As the regulatory hub for the field vaccine development, these officials interact regularly with interested parties in the vaccine program: the vaccine manufacturers, the HMO industry representatives and pediatrician groups. After many years of collaboration in this community (what Eisenhower might have called the vaccine development complex), public health officials can easily lose their objectivity as they are caught in the web of their connections with industry professionals: they may become friends with their industry colleagues–certainly they often develop mutual respect as colleagues–as they also maintain a range of professional and social contacts across the community. Those who may question or criticize their mission are threatening and unwelcome. Frequently, these outsiders are dismissed with epithets: they (indeed we) are derided as “anti-vaccine”, “not scholarly” or “junk scientists and charlatans.”
Effective dismissal, however, requires a larger scale denial of resources for which these officials serve as gate-keeper: they deny funding for legitimate vaccine injury hypotheses; they deny independent access to vaccine safety data resources; they forgo deep investigations into adverse consequences; they work to deny exemptions and informed consent provisions in vaccine laws; and they effectively deny meaningful access and participation in vaccine research-setting priorities and policy-making to the interested and injured parties
Missing from this governance system are the only parties without a real conflict of interest, the real customers of the childhood immunization program: parents and children. As parent organizations, we represent a part of that most vital constituency, not the whole constituency, but a vital part nevertheless. And we are calling for a clear break from the practice of business as usual. It is time that the public health officials became more accountable to the parents, whose children’s lives are on the line, than to the industry, which profits from government mandates and protections. PART 8
We conclude this white paper with a distress call, not because we are alarmist by natures, but because we share a concern that the default path of vaccine development and safety management will not lead us closer to the hopeful future we described at the beginning of this report. Instead, we fear that the more likely direction will turn sharply toward an even more extreme approach to childhood public health strategy.
â€¢ The mission will continue to creep, away from mere overemphasis on infectious disease prevention and management to a pursuit of disease eradication, a far more radical and quixotic goal;
â€¢ The strategy will continue to overreach, from a step-wise expansion of the U.S. vaccine program expansion to a global escalation of vaccine interventions across diseases and geographies;
â€¢ The communication approach will grow increasingly strident, shifting from the mere hyping of infectious disease risk to promoting an ambiance of fear, hijacking the threat of terrorism to lend legitimacy to the creeping mission;
â€¢ The style of engagement with families will become more coercive, moving from an emphasis on herding the public with public relations to imposing forced vaccination with all the necessary suppression of dissent and infringement on civil liberties that would be required to institute such coercive measures;
â€¢ The operational oversight of vaccine safety will degenerate, from the current utilitarian stance, which merely devalues adverse reactions, to a more Orwellian posture in which adverse event denial becomes the prevailing mode of management;
â€¢ The program governance standards will decline further, from a half-hearted attempt to manage conflict of interest to a full embrace of governance by and for the vaccine development complex, as continued engagement with increasingly restive (and non-compliant) parent groups becomes less and less appealing.
We believe you have an historic opportunity to signal a new day in childhood public health management. To do this, we suggest you take the following ten simple steps.
1. Declare autism a national emergency. It is the proverbial “canary in a coal mine” for a host of chronic neurological and immune system disorders.
2. Launch a full-scale investigation into all potential environmental causes of autism and related disorders, including mercury and vaccines.
3. Extend the investigation to address the broader increases in immune and neurological dysfunction in children, including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, asthma and diabetes.
4. Design and launch a comprehensive surveillance system aimed at quantifying the incidence rates, trends and costs to society for chronic diseases and disabilities in American children.
5. Re-structure CDC vaccine program funding priorities to commit funds for independent research into the biological mechanisms of vaccine injury and death, including research into genetic and other biological factors which put some individuals at greater risk than others for suffering vaccine adverse events.
6. Launch a comprehensive audit of the safety of the newly expanded vaccine program, comparing the incidence of chronic disease and disability in high, low and zero vaccine exposure populations.
7. Maintain and expand independent researcher access to government vaccine risk assessment data resources such as the Vaccine Safety Datalink and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
8. Remove vaccine risk assessment and vaccine safety oversight responsibilities from CDC and FDA and place them in a separate federal agency, with accountability to the general public, including parent groups.
9. Charge the new federal agency with responsibility to investigate vaccine adverse reactions and provide necessary resources for a comprehensive re-assessment of long-term health outcomes of alternative childhood vaccination strategies.
10. Reconstitute the current leadership of the NIP to include outside scientists with no previous involvement in vaccine development, regulation, policy-making or promotion.
We appreciate the opportunity to submit this report and hope that we will have an occasion to review it with you in person in the near future.
(Editor’s note: To date — more than three years later — there has been no response from Gerberding or anyone else at the CDC.)
Mark Blaxill is Editor at Large for Age of Autism. Barbara Loe Fisher is co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center.
It is an old saying that when you marry a woman, you marry her mother: she will be part of your family because, alive or dead, she is part of your wife and will, with time, make her presence in your life and hers clearer and clearer. The outstanding political analysis below (outstanding, that is, except for the fact that it totally omits Ron Paul and his candidacy) makes that point very well within the political family.
The Natural Solutions Foundation is a not for profit 501 (c) (3) organization and therefore cannot engage in activities which are intended to impact directly the outcome of elections. However, we can provide information and education. In that spirit, we are providing the analysis below. We believe it is of great importance.
Bill Clinton’s academic mentor Prof. Carroll Quigley provided the definitive analysis of the USA’s bi-polar, bi-partisan system:
â€œThe argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can â€˜throw the rascals outâ€™ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policyâ€¦.
But either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, â€¦by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.
. . .The policies that are vital and necessary for America are no longer subjects of significant disagreement, but are disputable only in detail, procedure, priority, or method…. ”
Carroll Quigley in Tragedy and Hope â€“ 1966
Democracy Now! January 3, 2008
Allan Nairn, Independent journalist. Runs the web-blog â€œNews and Comment.â€ http://newsc.blogspot.com
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Freelance journalist in Washington. Her article on presidential advisers titled â€œWar Whisperersâ€ appeared in the American Conservative.
* Allan Nairn’s Blog “News and Comment” http://newsc.blogspot.com/
AMY GOODMAN: Presidential candidates are scrambling to win last-minute support in Iowa ahead of tonightâ€™s caucus. Thousands of reporters have also descended on Iowa this week, covering everything from Mike Huckabeeâ€™s haircut to John Edwardsâ€™s rally with singer John Mellencamp.
But little attention has been paid to perhaps one of the most important aspects of the candidates: their advisers, the men and women who likely form the backbone of the candidateâ€™s future cabinet if elected president. Many of the names will be familiar.
Advisers to Hillary Rodham Clinton include many former top officials in President Clintonâ€™s administration: former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Senator Barack Obamaâ€™s list includes President Carterâ€™s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross.
Rudolph Giulianiâ€™s advisers include Norman Podhoretz, one of the fathers of the neoconservative movement. John McCainâ€™s list of official and formal policy advisers includes former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, General Colin Powell, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and former CIA Director James Woolsey. One of Mitt Romneyâ€™s top advisers is Cofer Black, the former CIA official who now serves as vice chair of Blackwater Worldwide. Vice President Dick Cheneyâ€™s daughter Elizabeth is advising Fred Thompson.
As for Mike Huckabee, itâ€™s not clear. In December, Huckabee listed former UN Ambassador John Bolton as someone with whom he either has â€œspoken or will continue to speak,â€ but Bolton then revealed the two had never spoken. Huckabee also named Richard Allen, but the former National Security Adviser also admitted he had never spoken to Huckabee.
To talk more about the advisers behind the presidential campaigns, Iâ€™m joined by two guests. Kelley Vlahos is a freelance journalist in Washington. Her article on presidential advisers called â€œWar Whisperersâ€ appeared in The American Conservative in October. Investigative journalist Allan Nairn joins us here in the firehouse studio. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
I want to begin by going to Washington, D.C., to our guest there, to the author of â€œWar Whisperers.â€ Talk about why you focused, Kelley, on the advisers of the presidential candidates.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: Well, it was becoming clear to me and to others here in Washington in certain circles that the advisers that were emerging for the campaigns, whether it be Democratic or Republican, were part of some seriously pro-establishment cliques. And I say â€œcliques,â€ because there is really no other way to describe it. But these cliques generally can be categorized as not only pro-establishment, but more pro-interventionist, whether it be the so-called liberal interventionists on the Democratic side or your war hawks on the Republican side.
But what became clear is that the candidates werenâ€™t reaching outside of these establishment cliques and that they were getting no fresh ideas, no vision outside of these pretty standard parameters. And we thoughtâ€”me and the editors thought it might be a good idea to explore a little bit under the surface about where these of advisers were coming from, in hopes of maybe deciphering where foreign policy might be going in the future.
AMY GOODMAN: Letâ€™s begin with Hillary Clinton, Kelley Vlahos.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: OK. Well, Hillary Clintonâ€™sâ€”her foreign policy team can be best described asâ€”and I hate to use this word so casually, butâ€”â€œthrowbacksâ€ of her husbandâ€™s administration. We have, you know, Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, you have Sandy Berger as your sort of top-tier advisers, your key advisers, the most recognized faces. And then, beyond that, as I say in the article, you have this newer generationâ€”I want to say newer generation, but a generation of former Clinton types who you might not recognize their names, but theyâ€™ve been around for a long time and are seriously scrambling for position in what they see as a new Clinton administration. So youâ€™re seeing a lot of old faces, old names, who havenâ€™t really changed their ideas from, you know, what I and others can see, in terms of doing the research, havenâ€™t changed their real vision of the world and foreign policy since the 1990s.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me bring Allan Nairn into this conversation. You have just written about the advisers, as well, on your blog, newsc.blogspot.com. Elaborate further on Hillary Clintonâ€™s advisers.
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, I think one thing you could say about the advisers for all the candidates who have a chance is that the presence of these advisers makes it clear that these candidates arenâ€™t serious about enforcing the murder laws and that theyâ€™re willing to kill civilians, foreign civilians, en masse in order to advance US policy. And theyâ€™re not serious about law and order. Theyâ€™re soft on crime.
And start with Clinton. Madeleine Albright, she was the main force behind the Iraq sanctions that killed more than 400,000 Iraqi civilians. General Wesley Clark, he was the one who ran the bombing of Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, came out and publicly said that he was going after civilian targets, like electrical plants, like the TV station there. Richard Holbrooke, in the Carter administration he was the one who oversaw the shipment of weapons to the Indonesian military as they were invadingâ€”illegally invading East Timor and killing a third of the population there, and he was the one who kept the UN Security Council from enforcing its resolution against that invasion. Strobe Talbott, he was the one who, during the Clinton administration, oversaw Russia policy, a backing of Yeltsin, which resulted in turning over the national wealth to the oligarchs and a drop in life expectancy in much of Russia of about fifteen yearsâ€”massive, massive death. And you have various backers of the Iraq invasion and occupation and the recent escalation, people like General Jack Keane, Michael Oâ€™Hanlon and others. Thatâ€™s just Clinton.
AMY GOODMAN: Barack Obama?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Obamaâ€™s top adviser is Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski gave an interview to the French press a number of years ago where he boasted about the fact that it was he who created the whole Afghan jihadi movement, the movement that produced Osama bin Laden. And he was asked by the interviewer, â€œWell, donâ€™t you think this might have had some bad consequences?â€ And Brzezinski replied, â€œAbsolutely not. It was definitely worth it, because we were going after the Soviets. We were getting the Soviets.â€ Another top Obama personâ€”
AMY GOODMAN: I think his comment actually was, â€œWhatâ€™s a few riled-up Muslims?â€ And this, that whole idea of blowback, the idea of arming, financing, training the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, including Osama bin Laden, and then when theyâ€™re done with the Soviets, they set their sights, well, on the United States.
ALLAN NAIRN: Right. And later, during Bill Clintonâ€™s administration, during the Bosnia killing, the US actually flew some of the Afghan Mujahideen, the early al-Qaeda peopleâ€”the US actually arranged for them to be flown from there to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim/NATO side.
Another key Obama adviser, Anthony Lake, he was the main force behind the US invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years during which they brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster in Haiti.
Another Obama adviser, General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre in East Timor in â€™91 that you and I survived, he wasâ€”I happened to see on Indonesian TV shortly after thatâ€”there was General McPeak overseeing the delivery to Indonesia of US fighter planes.
Another key Obama adviser, Dennis Ross. Ross, for many years under both Clinton and Bush 2, a keyâ€”he has advised Clinton and both Bushes. He oversaw US policy toward Israel/Palestine. He pushed the principle that the legal rights of the Palestinians, the rights recognized under international law, must be subordinated to the needs of the Israeli governmentâ€”in other words, their desires, their desires to expand to do whatever they want in the Occupied Territories. And Ross was one of the people who, interestingly, led the political assault on former Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Carter, no peacenikâ€”I mean, Carter is the one who bears ultimate responsibility for that Timor terror that Holbrooke was involved in. But Ross led an assault on him, because, regarding Palestine, Carter was so bold as to agree with Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa that what Israel was doing in the Occupied Territories was tantamount to apartheid. And so, Ross was one of those who fiercely attacked him.
Another Obama adviser, Sarah Sewall, who heads a human rights center at Harvard and is a former Defense official, she wrote the introduction to General Petraeusâ€™s Marine Corps/Army counterinsurgency handbook, the handbook that is now being used worldwide by US troops in various killing operations. Thatâ€™s the Obama team.
AMY GOODMAN: John Edwards?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Edwards is a little different. The list of his foreign advisers is not as complete, so itâ€™s not as clear exactly where they may be coming from, but itâ€™s interesting. Last night on TV, one of the top Edwards advisers, â€œMudcatâ€ Saunders, was complaining about the fact that there are 35,000 lobbyists in Washington. And it appears, from the Edwards list, that many of the military lobbyists are working on the Edwards foreign policy team, because the names thatâ€”the Edwards names that are out there mainly come from the Army and the Air Force and the Navy Material Command. Those are the portions of the Pentagon that do the Defense contracts, that do the deals with the big companies like Raytheon and Boeing, etc. One of those listed on the Edwards team is the lobbyist for the big military contractor EADS. So, although Edwards talks about going after lobbyists, if he tries to go after the military lobbyists, he may get a little blowback from his own advisers.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you saying that thereâ€™s no difference between these candidates?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, fundamentally, thereâ€™s no difference on the basic principle of, are you against the killing of civilians and are you willing to enforce the murder laws. If we were willing to enforce the murder laws, the headquarters of each of these candidates could be raided, and various advisers and many candidates could be hauled away by the cops, because they have backed various actions that, under established principles like the Nuremberg Principles, like the principles set up in the Rwanda tribunals, the Bosnia tribunals, things that are unacceptable, like aggressive war, like the killing of civilians for political purposes. So, in a basic sense, there is no choice.
But there is a difference in this sense: the US is so vastly powerful, the US influences and has the potential to end so many millions of lives around the world, that if, letâ€™s say, you have two candidates that are 99% the sameâ€”thereâ€™s only 1% difference between themâ€”if youâ€™re talking about decisions that affect a million livesâ€”1% of a million is 10,000â€”thatâ€™s 10,000 lives. So, even though itâ€™s a bitter choice, if you choose the one who is going to kill 10,000 fewer people, well, then youâ€™ve saved 10,000 lives. We shouldnâ€™t be limited to that choice. Itâ€™s unacceptable. And Americans should start to realize that itâ€™s unacceptable.
But thatâ€™s the choice we have at the moment. In Iowa, I think there are steps people could take to start to challenge that system, if they wanted to.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, weâ€™ll talk about that in a minute, and weâ€™ll continue to talk about the advisers. Our guests are Allan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos. Weâ€™ll be back with them both in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue this discussion about the advisers to the presidential candidates, the men and women behind the men and women who are running today. Our guests are Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, a freelance journalist in Washington, wrote a piece in The American Conservative called â€œWar Whisperers: The 2008 Hopefuls Promised a Change in Foreign Policy Then Hired the Old Guard.â€ We are also joined by independent investigative journalist Allan Nairn. He writes a blog called newsc.blogspot.com. His piece today on this issue is called â€œThe US Election is Already Over. Murder and Preventable Death Have Won.â€
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, would you like to add to any of the advisers Allan just talked about? And then weâ€™ll move on to the Republicans.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: Well, I think Allan has covered most of it and pretty thoroughly. I agree with him that there is very little difference among these people, and I think what he said really speaks to the idea and the challenge that there is no incentive for these candidates to reach out beyond any of this orbit or galaxy of foreign policy advisers who have been linked in, you know, weâ€™re talking decades of war and events and actions and operations. And there seems, whether it be John Edwards reaching out to the Defense contracting community or Hillary Clinton reaching out to her husbandâ€™s former security advisers and operatives or whether itâ€™s Obama reaching out to former Clinton types, there doesnâ€™t seem to be any incentive to reach out beyond that. It seems like there is a stranglehold in this town on the kind of advisers that one is supposed to be linked with.
And I think a lot of that is linked to money, where, you know, the candidates have big names, big lobbyists; that in turn brings them in more funders, more bundlers. And itâ€™s sort of like this hand-in-glove symbiotic relationship, where the bigger names you have, the more familiar names, the more entrenched you have in these cliques I spoke to previously, the more money youâ€™re bringing into your campaign. So thereâ€™s no incentive to go beyond that, unless youâ€™re ready for some amount of rebuke and some of the spigot being turned off.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, actually, in terms of money, Allan Nairn, someone like Obama raises an enormous amount of money from just the grassroots.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, Obamaâ€”thatâ€™s a very telling example. Like Dean in the last campaign, Obama has the ability to get all the money he needs from the middle class through the internet, through $50, $80, $100 contributions. He actually doesnâ€™t need to finance his campaign, to go to the hedge funds, to go to Wall Street. But he does anyway. And he does, I think, because if he doesnâ€™t, they wouldnâ€™t trust him. They might think that heâ€™s on the wrong team, and they might start attacking him. He is someone who, in terms of the money he needs for his campaign, he could afford to come out for single-payer healthcare, for example, but he doesnâ€™t. He doesnâ€™t need money from the health insurance industry, thatâ€™s wasting several percentage points of the American GDP in a way that no other industrial rich country in the world does, yet he chooses not to do that, because he doesnâ€™t want to be attacked by those corporations.
AMY GOODMAN: And is Edwards and Clinton any different on those issues?
ALLAN NAIRN: Not as far as I can tell. None of them have come out for single payer. The only one who came out for single payer was Kucinich. Campaign contributions is just one of many tools that rich people have to get their way. There are basically two parallel factors in any democracy. One is one person, one vote. The other is one dollar, one vote. And those two are mixed together. So, although the people do have some say, there are usually a lot more dollars out there than people, and they find ways of prevailing in the end, unless the people become aggressive and disruptive and demanding and threaten to shake the system so that big concessions are made.
AMY GOODMAN: Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, letâ€™s go to the Republicans: Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, John McCain. Give us a few of their advisers.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: Well, Giuliani, as you had mentioned, and you had a pretty thorough list of people, but Giuliani is probably strikinglyâ€”strikingly is reaching out to the most strident neoconservatives on the scene today. He has familiar neoconservatives on his team, like you said: Norman Podhoretz, also Daniel Pipes, whoâ€”and I donâ€™t remember if you had mentioned, butâ€”has been leading the charge against â€œIslamofascismâ€ on college campuses, has put out his Campus Watch, in terms of going after professors that he deems are not pro-Israel enough. He has other less familiar names, like Martin Kramer, Stephen Rosen, Peter Berkowitz of the Hoover Institution. He has basically a small galaxy of neoconservatives from familiar think tanks as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Hoover, the Hudson.
And basically, I mean, just to start, you know, with Giuliani, because I think he has the most poignant list of people in terms of where you would think that his foreign policy strategy is moving, he has basicallyâ€”and I said this in my articleâ€”has taken the Bush Doctrine, has just pumped it up with steroids. He is fully on boardâ€”he always has beenâ€”with the Bush Doctrine. His people behind him are. Weâ€™re talking about no-holds-barred forward with the war on terror, the war against â€œIslamofascism.â€ He believes that the war on terror is a grand war versus good and evil. He is not shy to say that, his people arenâ€™t shy to say that. Heâ€™s fully in grip of these people and the Bush Doctrine.
And, you know, if you want to see where the Rudy Giulianiâ€”President Rudy Giuliani will take us, you just look at the Bush Doctrine as if the Iraq war never happened or, better yet, the problems that have arisen from the Iraq war have never happened, because Rudy Giuliani doesnâ€™t seem to acknowledge any of that. Any issues before the surge are incidental. You know, everything is moving forward, and his policy team is right there backing him.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, more on Rudolph Giuliani, and then to Mitt Romney.
ALLAN NAIRN: Giuliani, as was mentioned, his big adviser is Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretzâ€™s new book is World War IV, which he seems to like. Podhoretz says, bomb the Iranians. And heâ€™s not just talking about pinpoint Iranian nuclear installations; heâ€™s saying bomb the Iranians. And he says he prays that this will happen. Ex-Senator Robert Kasten, an old major backer of the Pakistani military dictatorships and the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, heâ€™s another key Giuliani adviser.
McCain has General Alexander Haig, who oversaw the US policy of mass terror killings of civilians in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, when American nuns and religious workers were abducted, raped and murdered by the Salvadoran National Guard. General Haig said those nuns died in an exchange of gunfire, the pistol-packing nuns. He has a youngerâ€”McCain has a younger adviser, Max Boot, who now points to El Salvador, where 70,000 civilians were killed by American-backed death squads, as a model counterinsurgency, a model for what the US should be doing today. Henry Kissinger advises McCain, as he advises many others. And Kissinger, of course, was responsible for mass death in Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, countless other places. Bud McFarlane from the Reagan administration, who was a key backer of the Contras. Brent Scowcroft, who these days is popular with some liberals because he opposesâ€”he opposed the Iraq invasion, who is a leader of the realist schoolâ€”the realist school basically says, yes, kill civilians, but make sure you win the war, as opposed to the Bush-Cheney school, which has been killing civilians but losing the war, as the US has been doing until recently in Iraq and is now starting to do in Afghanistanâ€”Scowcroft was the one who, during the Bush 1 administration, went to China right after the Tiananmen Square massacre and reassured the Chinese leadership, â€œDonâ€™t worry about it, weâ€™re still behind you.â€
Romney, as you mentioned, Romney has Cofer Black, a longtime CIA operative who was one of the key people behind the invasion of Afghanistan. During the course of that, according to Bob Woodward, he went in and said, â€œWeâ€™re going to go into Afghanistan. Weâ€™re going to cut their heads off.â€ Heâ€™s the one who organized Detachment 88 in Indonesia just recently, the supposed antiterrorist outfit that recently went after a Papuan human rights lawyer. Two key figures in backing the old US policy in Central America, Mark Falcoff and Roger Noriega, are also on the Romney team. And Dan Senor, who viewers probably remember as the voice of the early invasion and occupation of Iraq, heâ€™s one of the Romney guys. Now, as you mentionedâ€”
AMY GOODMAN: Dan Senor is one of the spokespeople in Iraq, is married to, I think it is, Campbell Brown, whoâ€™s just been hired by CNN to replace Paula Zahn.
ALLAN NAIRN: Huckabee, who you mentioned, itâ€™s not clear who his advisers are. Huckabee recently was attacked by Romney for being soft on crime. So Huckabee responded, â€œSoft on crime? I executed sixteen people in Arkansas. How many people did you execute in Massachusetts?â€ Well, Massachusetts didnâ€™t have the death penalty. But if Huckabee were really tough on crime, he would have used his post as governor of Arkansas to extradite Bill Clinton to Arkansas to stand trial before the courts there, as is permissible under international law, for the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths brought on by the Iraqi sanctions during the Clinton administration. But thatâ€™s unthinkable in American politics. It probably didnâ€™t even occur to Huckabee. But if we had a civilized political order and we defined crime and murder objectively, something like that would have been on the table, and Huckabee would have been challenged on it.
Bloomberg, who may step in as the independent, using his money, heâ€™s an interesting example of another aspect.
AMY GOODMAN: The current mayor of New York.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yes. One is, we ought to be enforcing the murder laws evenhandedly, so that anyone who facilitates the killing of civilians faces trial and jail, just like any street criminal, even if theyâ€™re a CIA operative, even if theyâ€™re an American general, even if theyâ€™re American president.
Two, we ought to be preventing preventable death if we can. Kids who are defecating to death, kids who are dying from malnutrition for the lack of a couple of dollars, we should be stopping that every single time it can be stopped in the world. Last year in the world, there were anywhere from three to five million deaths of children under the age of five, children who were suffering from malnutrition. If he had so chosenâ€”and he chose not toâ€”Bloomberg could have personally prevented those deaths, because according to Forbes magazine, heâ€™s worth $11.5 billion, and thatâ€™s more than enough money, if distributed properly, to prevent that many deaths, millions of one yearâ€™s deaths of entirely preventable, entirely inexcusable malnutrition deaths. But it probably never even occurred to him, and he was certainly never challenged on it politically.
But we can start to challenge people on this politically. For example, in the Iowa caucuses, weâ€™re now in a situation where, you know, we have very bitter choices. So what are you going to do? I mean, Kucinich, who has good positions on many of these issues, heâ€™s decided to throw in his lot with Obama. Ralph Nader, who has good positions, heâ€™s implying support for Edwards. OK, these are tactical choices. But one thing that people can do in the Iowa caucuses tonight, they can go in there and say, OK, Iâ€™m caucusing for whomever, but I am making my support conditional on you renouncing support for the murder of civilians, on you firing all of your advisers who have been involved in the killing of civilians in the past, you turning them over to the International Criminal Court if you can get the International Criminal Court to accept it, you signing a pledge that says no more killing of civilians, you signing a pledge that says we will prevent preventable death.
You know, the right wing has been doing this for years on the issue of taxes. They makeâ€”they go around, they make all the Republican candidates sign a no-tax pledge. Thatâ€™s been somewhat effective. A very similar thing could be done, and I think it could have appeal, left and right, to anyone who is decent to have candidates pledge no more support for killing civilians, tough on crime, enforce the murder laws, prevent preventable deaths. Letâ€™s not have kids dying of diarrhea. If we have spare dollars floating around that people only want, give them to people whose bodies need them.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, itâ€™s interesting, there is an Occupation Project, and a group of people were just arrested in Huckabeeâ€™s offices, among them the longtime peace activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee several times over, Kathy Kelly, who founded Voices in the Wilderness.
ALLAN NAIRN: Right. Thatâ€™s a good tactic. I think we have to try many tactics from many directions. And one possible one is, you know, getting inside things like the Iowa caucus, getting inside things like the conventions of both parties and threaten to create a disturbance on the floor, ruckus on the floor, if the candidate for whom you are there as a delegate doesnâ€™t back these simple things that should be the basis of any civilization: no murder, save someone if you can save them.
AMY GOODMAN: Final question, this is on a totally different issue, Allan Nairn, our top headline, the Justice Department launching a formal criminal investigation to the destruction of the videotapes documenting the interrogation of two prisoners. You have long been writing about investigating the CIA and US policy, whether itâ€™s in Central America or Asia. What are your thoughts on the destruction of these videotapes?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, oneâ€”and who knows?â€”Iâ€™m skeptical that theyâ€™ve actually been destroyed. I mean, anyone, you know, who works with computers knows that itâ€™s almost impossible to truly eliminate something from a hard disk and also that when thereâ€™s a document, there are always multiple copies made, especially when youâ€™re in a network system. So Iâ€™d be surprised if this thing was really destroyed.
But, anyway, itâ€™s unfortunate that the issue of tortureâ€”I mean, itâ€™s good that the issue of torture has finally been put on the table of American politics and people talk about it to some extent, but itâ€™s unfortunate that itâ€™s been put on the table in the context of the torture of these al-Qaeda people, these people who were openly proud killers, mass murderers of civilians. In that context, a lot of people look at it and say, â€œWell, yeah, look at these lowlifes. Maybe they should be tortured.â€
But the fact of the matter is, 90% , at least, worldwide of cases of torture are not of people like this who are open mass murderers. They are usually of dissidents, of rebels, or of common criminals. And often, it is done by regimes that are armed, trained or financed by the United States. This was the case in El Salvador. In El Salvador, I interviewed Salvadoran military people who told of torture training classes they got from CIA officials, and they talked about how the CIA people would be in the room as the torture sessions were going on. And these were not al-Qaeda types that they were torturing; these were labor organizers, these were people who were speaking for justice, these were peasants.
Thatâ€™s what most torture is in the world, and it should be completely banned and abolished, not in the soft rhetorical way that McCain is talking about it, but actually stopping it by stopping support for all the forces that make a practice of torture. And that would involve completely rewriting the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, the Defense Appropriations Bill, and it would also involve calling in the authorities and carrying out many US officials in chains, because theyâ€™ve been backing this illegal stuff for years.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, weâ€™re going to leave it there. In talking about, by the way, the occupation of offices, it was not only Huckabeeâ€™s office, it was also Barack Obamaâ€™s Iowa office, as well as Mitt Romneyâ€™s Iowa office, people occupied yesterday. Allan Nairn, I want to thank you for being with us. Your blog at â€œnewscâ€ for â€œNews and Comment,â€ newsc.blogspot.com. And Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, thank you for joining us from Washington, D.C. Her article appeared in The American Conservative. The piece was called â€œWar Whisperers.â€
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