In what is shaping up to be one of the most draconian weeks since the Bush Administration took power, Tuesday1s Senate ratification of the Homeland Security Act leaves little doubt that corporate interests have a major stake in the post-9/11 re-engineering of American law.
Just one day after the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court1s decision to expand the Justice Department1s power of surveillance over U.S. citizens, Republican lawmakers squeezed the controversial bill through the Senate with a last-minute promise to moderates that it would later be gutted of 3special interest2 provisions, one of which shields pharmaceutical companies from liability in vaccine-related injury suits.
As it stands, the American public will now be subject to forced immunization, under the penalty of fine and imprisonment, without the potential of legal recourse against the companies that manufacture them. And, while Republicans were quick to spin the liability protection as necessary for the bolstering of unfettered bio-technological research (in an era of potentially nation‹crippling bio-terrorism), one need only read the fine print that retroactively limits the liability of corporations in major class action suits to see that this is one of the most overtly cynical cases of the government1s exploitation of the public panic over terrorism to further its political goals and pay back blue chip corporate donors.
But, in order to fully understand the reasons for and implications of this new legislation, we must trace the more recent history of vaccinations and the culture of tacit federal complicity that has, since the 9/11 attacks, sought to further entrench the pharmaceutical interests with those of the Bush Administration and, more specifically, in the domestic fight against terror. What emerges is the troubling scenario of a federal government which has deliberately and callously chosen to propel the interests of a potentially criminally negligent corporate sector onto the very people it has been elected to protect. Leaving us, it seems, with the now ubiquitous question: for whose interests are they securing the homeland and at what cost to the freedom of its citizenry?
Stepping back to a decade before the specter of forced vaccinations was even conceivable, evidence began to surface that pediatric vaccinations may have some causal relationship to the staggering rise in autism among American and Western European children. What researchers discovered was that Thimerosal, a commonly used vaccine preservative, contained toxic levels of mercury which could have devastating effects on the neural tissue of young children. Alarmed by the geometrically increasing cases of child autism in the United States (the number tripled in the 901s alone), a national coalition of concerned parents and medical practitioners sought to expose the government to scientific data proving the correlation between infant brain injury and mercury-laden vaccine formulas. But it wasn1t until 1997, when a totally unrelated FDA study into federal guidelines on mercury toxicity uncovered evidence that essentially corroborated the coalition1s allegations, that the medical establishment began to seriously question the safety of thimerosal-laced vaccinations.
Quoting from a recent New York Times Magazine article, illuminatively titled The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory: The F.D.A. team's conclusions were frightening. Vaccines added [from 1995 -1999] had tripled the dose of mercury that infants got in their first few months of life. As many as 30 million American children may have been exposed to mercury in excess of Environmental Protection Agency guidelines -- levels of mercury that, in theory, could have killed enough brain cells to scramble thinking or hex behavior. Incredibly, despite a 1999 FDA conclusion that children who received the recommended number of vaccinations were being exposed to unsafe levels of mercury, the core medical establishment elevated its collective denial to nearly psychotic heights.
While some doctors preferred to blame the environment or offer other, equally untenable, theories for the tragic rise in autism, others simply wrote off the oversight as a clinical error without ever turning it back to the pharmaceutical companies who had manufactured the vaccines for public use. Dr. Neal Halsey, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases from 1995 to 1999 (the period in which the mercury levels reached their peak) was quoted in the same Times Magazine article: ''My first reaction was simply disbelief, which was the reaction of almost everybody involved in vaccines,'' Halsey says. ''In most vaccine containers,thimerosal is listed as a mercury derivative, a hundredth of a percent. And what I believed, and what everybody else believed, was that it was truly a trace, a biologically insignificant amount. My honest belief is that if the labels had had the mercury content in micrograms, this would have been uncovered years ago. But the fact is, no one did the calculation.''
It was not until the 1999 FDA recommendation that vaccine manufacturers 3voluntarily2 drop Thimerosal from their formulas that anti-vaccine coalitions gained some political traction and public support for their claims against the major pharmaceutical companies. But, for hundreds of thousands of behaviorally impaired children, this realization may have come too late. In what could well be one of the most potentially tragic stories of the last half century, the medical establishment has acted about as expediently as the Catholic Church in dealing with pedophiliac abuse by its priesthood. In fact, many doctors continued to administer Thimerosal-laced vaccinations right up until the last dosages left the manufacturer plants. A practice that seems, at the least, professionally negligent when you consider the volume of anecdotal evidence and public outcry that was being leveled at the practice of giving children mercury-inclusive vaccinations.
"It's outrageous to think that injecting a child with all that toxicity is an acceptable risk," said Bernard Rimland, director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego. "It's also outrageous that despite such compelling evidence of harm, the medical community would subject children to it." And so it is under this climate of intense scrutiny and potentially devastating class action litigation that the Senate passed the Homeland Security bill, with its future and retroactive liability protection for the vaccine-manufacturing pharmaceutical sector. Just at a time when mainstream news publications have finally begun to publicly air and corroborate long-standing accusations of a major cover-up by pharmaceutical companies of their guilt in producing mercury-poisoned vaccines to a generation of child immunization patients, many of whom have developed autism and other forms of neural damage as a result. And it may not end there.
In a radio interview broadcast after the Senate vote, Dr. Len Horowitz, one of the leading voices for increased public scrutiny of the pharmaceutical sector, warned: "This legislation not only impacts the victims of mercury poisoning, but equally guarantees that other ongoing class action lawsuits, such as those waged on behalf of polio vaccine recipients who developed cancer from monkey virus contaminations, will have no legal recourse.
Nor will those affected by Gulf War Syndrome as a result of drug and vaccine side effects, military personnel recently inoculated who became ill from anthrax vaccinations, and claimants who cite recent studies increasingly proving early hepatitis B vaccines triggered the international AIDS pandemic." Putting this all into perspective, Big Tobacco could have learned a lot from the pharmaceutical giants.
One of the chief beneficiaries of the Homeland Security provisions is Eli Lilly, a former Thimerosal producer who has become the poster child for mercury poisoning class action law suits. When executives of Eli Lilly were interviewed about the last minute provision for a November 16 article in the St. Petersburg Times, they said they were 3pleased with the amendment but [had] no idea how it wound up being attached to the homeland security bill.2 And, while the paper did allude to the fact that Lilly had contributed $1.6 million to congressional candidates before the November 5 election, the most of any pharmaceutical corporation, it did not report that Sydney Taurel the firm1s Chairman, President and CEO was "....appointed in June 2002 to the President1s Homeland Security Advisory Council, a select group whose members were chosen to provide George W. Bush with advice on homeland security matters."
Nor did it recount the particularly troublesome fact that, in 1977, George Bush Sr. was made a director of Eli Lilly, a position that was offered to him by former Vice President Dan Quayle1s father, who then owned a controlling interest in the company. The legacy of the Bush family1s ties to U.S. pharmaceutical interests and, specifically, Eli Lilly, is an exhaustive subject of research itself. Suffice it to say, there is ample evidence for us to understand the current Bush Administration1s desire to provide sanctuary for the company from its ever increasing number of alleged victims. What is, perhaps, more alarming than this blatant level of political cronyism is the little known MEHPA legislation and the direct implications it holds for citizens and doctors who refuse to trust the vaccines forced upon them by this government and its allegedly, criminally, negligent pharmaceutical backers.
To backtrack, the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act was first drafted in December, 2001. Four days before Christmas, actually, so we can safely assume that it was not something that was encountered with the most reassuring degree of public scrutiny. But, as with much of the post-9/11 legislation, the Act came into being and was swiftly endorsed by one of the Bush Adminstration's seemingly endless entourage of white knights. In this case, Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy Thompson. In describing the new legislation, even the typically bland USA Today Health and Science reporter Mimi Hall could not veil its ominous potential:
A model law developed for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provided to state legislatures last year would give authorities the right to enforce quarantines, vaccinate people, seize and destroy property without compensation, and ration medical supplies, food and fuel in a public-health emergency. In other words, the worst-case-scenario interpretation of the legislation is that U.S. citizens living in MEHPA adopting states will: * have a mandatory vaccination or be charged with a crime,* get a mandatory medical exam, or be charged with a crime and, Furthermore, * doctors in those states will give the exam or be charged with a crime * property can be seized if there is "reasonable cause to believe" that it may pose a public health hazard... it can be burned or destroyed and you will not have recourse or compensation. Now, as far as the powers granted to the State Governor under the provisions of the Act, they are what you would expect. The Governor is granted unrestricted power to declare an emergency at his own discretion. The legislature can not interfere for at least 60 days and, even after thatdeadline, a two-thirds vote of both chambers would be needed to block the dictatorial powers.
Since the latest reports regarding the number of states that had passed the law were from last summer, we cannot confirm their accuracy. But, as of late July, USA Today reported that "16 states and the District of Columbia have passed all or parts of the model law. It has been rejected or stalled in 22 states." One of the first states to pass it was Secretary Thompson's own Wisconsin (he was formerly the Governor). And, as Barbara Flynn, founder of CHERUBS reported, the criminalization of vaccine-resistors is hardly symbolic:
On February 27, 2002, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a Mandated Vaccination/ Emergency Health Powers Act which calls for a $10,000 fine and /or nine months in prison for those who refuse vaccinations. In describing the way that Federal agencies are using monetary incentives to fuel pro-MEHPA legislation, Flynn cited this case from her home state of New Jersey:
In an article in New Jersey1s Daily Record on January 20, 2002, District 21 Assemblyman Dr. Eric Munoz promised to spearhead a Rapid Mass Smallpox Immunization Plan for New Jersey. And in the February 1, 2002 edition of the Star-Ledger we find that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has offered New Jersey $26.8 million to "come up with a plan" by April 15, 2002.
So, as you can see, there was a very strong movement coming from the Administration's core clinical assets for the passage of this Act. And, as history proves, this is not the first time that the American citizenry has faced this kind of authoritarian directive from the medical establishment. Here is a quote from Jamie Murphy's seminal book on vaccines, What Every Parent Should Know about Childhood Immunization:
In 1902, Cambridge Massachusetts Board of Health passed an ordinance that required everyone to get smallpox vaccinations every 5 years or pay a $5 fine. Henning Jacobsen and his son who had both suffered severe and prolonged reactions to the vaccine refused both the vaccine and the fine. Both were found guilty by the Massachusetts Supreme Court and Jacobsen vs. Massachusetts became the first and only vaccination case to reach the highest court. The Supreme Court ignored compelling evidence that the vaccines did not work and were dangerous. "While we do not decide and cannot decide that vaccination is a preventative of smallpox, we take judicial notice of the fact that this is the common relief of the people of the State, and with this fact as a foundation we told that the statute in question is a health law, enacted as a reasonable and proper exercise of police power."
ncredibly, the Supreme Court was basing its decision on the widely held, public conception of vaccines instead of any empirical, scientific evidence. Which can be a dangerous thing. Especially, as we have seen, when it comes to vaccination.
The new Homeland Security bill has now, once again, pushed the debate over vaccines and their potentially harmful effects outside of the public realm. Reacting to the news of the Senate vote, National Vaccine Information Center president Barbara Loe Fisher summed it up thusly: "Several years ago the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) commissioned the creation of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act which would give sweeping new powers to public health officials. They have tried to get that law passed in every state but have failed so far. So now they are going to go federal and get the power they have wanted for years. This bill is a violation of freedom in the name of protecting freedom. At the very least there should be informed consent protections in the bill to allow exemptions to vaccination and medical treatment for conscientious and religious beliefs as well as quarantine protections for those who exercise them.2 In his remarks following the Senate vote, President Bush called the new Homeland Security legislation 3the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s.
And while there is no doubt about the fact that he is at the helm of a verifiable dismantling of the American socio-political super-structure - a process upon which the citizenry seems to have very little impact - we must not lose sight of the one physical realm that we should, at all costs, remain autonomous over. Our bodies. If this Administration is allowed to progress, unchallenged, with this new assault on the human right to consensual medical treatment, we will have fallen to the status of guinea pigs... defenseless before the poking and prodding by State practitioners with all manner of biological technologies. If ever there was an issue that should congeal the masses around the protestation of this ever-advancing incursion on our civil liberties, it should form as the last barrier to that final border. Our skin. And perhaps we should begin by demanding answers to the most basic of questions. Namely, if the vaccines are so effective, then why are those who opt out of them considered such a risk to the immunized populace?
Especially to the extent that they are going to be criminalized and fined? And, furthermore, if such drastic measures are being contemplated in respect to the collective health and welfare of the U.S. population, why can't more scrutiny and funding be allocated for an investigation into the rise in autism among child immunization clients, as well as an entire generation's sudden affliction of "attention deficit disorders"?
Otherwise, we may just wake a little too late from our collective political somnambulism... but just in time to hear the benevolent nurse whisper, "Now just bend over... this won't hurt a bit."
Stephen Marshall is co-founder and Creative/Strategic director of GNN.
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