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Homeland Insecurity





  • Vaccine Nation

    • Stephen Marshall,  November 20, 2002

    • Guerrilla News



  • Law Limits Smallpox Vaccine Compensation

    • Some Injured by Smallpox Vaccine Won't Qualify for Compensation

    • The Associated Press


  • US lawmakers against curbs on suing vaccine firms

    • Wed December 11, 2002 07:22 PM ET

    • By Maggie Fox and Joanne Kenen



Pat Oliphant, Universal Press Syndicate, 11/19/02

US Senate Votes to Keep Vaccine Language in Homeland Security Bill

By Julie Rovner


WASHINGTON, DC (Reuters Health) Nov 19 - The US Senate on Tuesday turned back efforts to strike provisions from the homeland security bill that Democrats said benefited special interests, including one that would apparently block lawsuits against the drugmaker Eli Lilly for a preservative it used to include in its vaccines.

The 52-47 vote to defeat the amendment to remove the contentious provisions came only after House and Senate Republican leaders promised to revisit the vaccine provision and two other provisions immediately after Congress returns in January.

Maine Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins flatly refused to vote down the amendment -- which would have struck a half dozen different sections of the bill -- until they received that assurance not only from their own leaders, but also from House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who was finally reached by phone while traveling in Turkey.

The House last week completed its work and tentatively adjourned for the year. House leaders had said that if the Senate changed the Homeland Security Bill, House members would not be able to return to consider the changes until December. The bill is designed to create a Department of Homeland Security.

A spokesman for Snowe said his boss was assured that when Congress considers an omnibus spending bill in early January, the vaccine language will be changed to clarify that it would not block lawsuits already filed against Lilly charging that the mercury-based preservative Thimerosal caused autism in some children.

"I was deeply concerned about the egregious, eleventh-hour addition of special interest provisions to the Homeland Security legislation, and spoke against inclusion of these provisions during a meeting of Senators before the vote, because I didn't believe we could afford to let them stand," said Snowe.

Added Collins, "I am pleased that my Senate colleagues and I were able to ensure that a bill creating the department will reach the President's desk this year [and] at the same time, that three troubling provisions hastily added to the bill without the benefit of debate or committee review will be corrected as soon as possible."

The language in question redefines "vaccine" to include any ingredient listed on the label approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, thus apparently requiring families of children allegedly injured by Thimerosal to submit claims through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund.

But aides to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the language in the bill would actually preclude families from collecting compensation from that fund, because it does not change the Internal Revenue Code to allow the fund to pay for such injuries.

"It appears that the effect of the provision is to preclude court lawsuits over vaccine ingredients or components, but it also precludes compensation from the Fund, because the bill does not change the disbursement purposes for the Fund," the aides wrote in a memo.


Tom Toles, Washington Post
November 29, 2002

A Capitol Hill Mystery: Who Aided Drug Maker?



WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 — Lobbyists for Eli Lilly & Company, the pharmaceutical giant, did not have much luck when they made the rounds on Capitol Hill earlier this year, seeking protection from lawsuits over a preservative in vaccines. Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, tucked a provision into a bill that went nowhere. When lawmakers rebuffed a request to slip language into domestic security legislation, a Lilly spokesman said, the company gave up.

Now, in a Washington whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie, the provision has been resurrected and become law, as part of the domestic security legislation signed on Monday by President Bush. Yet in a city where politicians have perfected the art of claiming credit for deeds large and small, not a single member of Congress — or the Bush administration — will admit to being the author of the Lilly rider.

"It's turning into one of Washington's most interesting parlor games," said Dave Lemmon, spokesman for Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, who has promised to introduce legislation to repeal the provision. "There's a lot of guessing, a lot of speculation as to who did this."

The provision forces lawsuits over the preservative, developed by Eli Lilly and called thimerosal, into a special "vaccine court." It may result in the dismissal of thousands of cases filed by parents who contend that mercury in thimerosal has poisoned their children, causing autism and other neurological ailments. Among them are Joseph and Theresa Counter of Plano, Tex., devoted Republicans whose party allegiance has run smack into family ties.

The Counters' 6-year-old son, Joseph Alexander, was normal and healthy until he was 2, they say. Then he took an unexplained downward slide. Today, the boy struggles with words. He cannot zip his pants, snap buttons or tie his shoes. His parents say tests eventually showed that he had mercury poisoning, which they attribute to vaccines. They sued last year.

"I know that our legislative system can be very, very messy at times," said Mr. Counter, a political consultant, who with his wife has spent many thousands of dollars on medical care and therapy for their son. "But for them to attempt this, in the dead of night? It disgusts me. This morning, I am ashamed to be a Republican."

With lawmakers now scattered across the country, Washington is rife with speculation about who is responsible for aiding Lilly, a major Republican donor. During the 2002 election cycle, the company gave more money to political candidates, $1.6 million, than any other pharmaceutical company, with 79 percent of it going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group that monitors campaign finances.

Critics of the provision, mainly Democrats and trial lawyers, are quick to point out that the White House has close ties to Lilly. The first president Bush sat on the Lilly board in the late 1970's. The White House budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., is a former Lilly executive. The company's chairman and chief executive, Sidney Taurel, was appointed in June by President Bush to serve on a presidential council that will advise Mr. Bush on domestic security.

The White House, however, has said that it did not ask Congress for the provision. Rob Smith, a spokesman for Lilly, said that the company's lobbyists "made absolutely no contact with Mitch or anyone in his office about this," and that Mr. Taurel "did not at any time ask" for any favors.

"It's a mystery to us how it got in there," Mr. Smith said of the provision.

Senator Frist has said it is a mystery to him as well. As the Senate's only doctor, he sought to include the provision in legislation that would promote the availability of vaccines. But the vaccine bill is stalled; Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the Senate health committee, opposes it. Mr. Frist's spokesman said he did not seek to have the provision included in the domestic security bill.

On Capitol Hill, Congressional aides-turned-detectives have traced the emergence of the provision to the Veterans Day weekend. Flush from their party's victories on Election Day, and with a mandate from President Bush to pass a domestic security bill, Republican negotiators in the House and Senate holed up for three days in the Capitol to hammer out the details, said Richard Diamond, spokesman for the retiring House majority leader, Representative Dick Armey of Texas.

One aide said the language mysteriously appeared in the House version of the bill in entirely different type than the rest of the measure, as though someone had clipped it out of Mr. Frist's legislation and simply pasted it in. Mr. Diamond said all the negotiators supported the move, but would not say who was responsible.

"If you want to give somebody credit for it," he said, "Mr. Armey takes ultimate credit. It's his bill. We are happy to wrap ourselves around it, but Mr. Armey is not a doctor, like Senator Frist. He's the source of the language."

Whether thimerosal is truly harmful is the subject of intense scientific controversy. Earlier this year, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report saying there was no scientific evidence either to prove or disprove a link between thimerosal and brain disorders like autism. But the academy did find that such a link was "biologically plausible," and so it urged pharmaceutical companies to eliminate thimerosal, which has already been removed from many vaccines, as quickly as possible.

The Lilly rider closes a loophole in a 1986 law that requires victims to file claims with the vaccine court, which awards payments from a taxpayer-financed compensation fund, before going to civil court. But the law covered only vaccines themselves, not their ingredients, which meant people like the Counters could sue ingredient manufacturers like Lilly directly.

While Washington debates the origins of the provision, families are fuming. Some say the government fund will do them no good, because they have missed the statute of limitations — three years from the date symptoms first appear — for filing claims. Scott and Laura Bono of Durham, N.C., say that while their son Jackson, now 13, showed symptoms similar to autism six or seven years ago, it was not until August 2000 that they learned he had mercury poisoning. They filed suit just the other day.

Aware of the controversy, lawmakers in both parties have pledged to alter the thimerosal rider, but are arguing about how to do so. While many Democrats want it repealed, Republicans have suggested that they may simply alter the language to apply to future cases only.

"I'll believe it when I see it," said Mr. Waters, the Counters' lawyer.

In the meantime, Mr. Smith, the Lilly spokesman, said his company would soon go to court to seek dismissal of the suits.

That news made Theresa Counter cry.

"It just makes me sick," she said. "I cannot tell you how devastating it is to think that we might have to start all over."


Finding The Answer To Washington's Hottest Whodunit

Filed December 4, 2002


1158 26th Street, P.O. Box 428
Santa Monica, CA 90403
email: arianna@ariannaonline.com

Arianna Online 

Quick, somebody call Sherlock Holmes. Or at least the Hardy Boys. Or maybe even newly-designated Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. There's a Washington mystery that needs solving.

Everyone in D.C., it seems, is utterly baffled as to how an ugly little provision shielding pharmaceutical behemoth Eli Lilly from billions in lawsuits filed by the parents of autistic children made its way, in the 12th hour, into, of all things, the 475-page Homeland Security bill.

"It's a mystery to us," shrugged Eli Lilly spokesman Rob Smith.

It's a mystery to us, too, echoed spokesmen for the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and physician-turned-senator-turned-drug-company-shill Bill Frist, who had originally penned the Lilly-friendly provision for a different bill.

The haphazard lawmaking also proved baffling for pharmaceutical industry lobbyists, and for White House budget director Mitch Daniels, a former Lilly executive, who made a very public show of disavowing any knowledge of the amendment's mystifying genesis. Gosh, maybe the little provision just flew down from heaven. Or was immaculately conceived. Or maybe Osama bin Laden snuck over and planted the little public policy bomb himself.

The outrageous rider stuck onto the end of the Homeland Security bill provides security for Lilly from suits filed by the families of autistic children who believe that their kids' condition is linked to Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative made by Lilly that used to be a common ingredient in childhood vaccines.

But in a town where knowledge is power, and where there is no shortage of people willing to take credit for even the most minute accomplishment, there has been a sudden outbreak of people playing dumb. Official Washington is observing a code of omerta that makes the Sopranos look like the loose-lipped gals on "The View." In other words: nobody's seen nothin'.

Here are the clues we have to work with: over the Veteran’s Day weekend, GOP negotiators from the House and Senate hunkered down to finalize the details of the elephantine security bill. At some point -- no one is willing to say when -- someone -- no one is willing to say who -- inserted the Lilly provision -- though no one is willing to say why.

It's vital that we solve the mystery -- even if you believe that the custom-made legislation is justified. We need to find out because this kind of behind-closed-doors monkey business is an affront to our democracy -- the very democracy this bill was theoretically designed to protect. Perhaps it should have been called "The Homeland and Lilly Protection Act."

"The ability," Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, told me "of a special interest group to secretly insert provisions into law for its own narrow benefit and to the detriment of the public interest raises fundamental questions about the integrity of our government."

Kucinich has vowed to lead a challenge to congressional rules that permit our representatives to do the bidding of their deep-pocket donors away from the prying eyes of the public. At the most crucial part of the bill-drafting process -- when the language of the law is being finalized -- Washington’s corporate alchemists work their black magic to turn legislative gold into self-preserving lead.

"It's a defect in the system," explains Kucinich. "When a bill goes into a conference committee, it gets yanked out of the sunlight and into the shadows. The conference process is a closed one, so you can go into a conference committee and basically add anything or take out anything you want and no one really knows. It transforms the legislature into a secret cabal."

So this fight is about a lot more than pushing for the repeal of the Lilly provision, something Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., have promised to do when the 108th Congress convenes in January. It's about putting an end to the gaming of the system that is turning the legislative process into a prize-a-minute carnival for big contributors. “Inserting such favors for special interests in a bill is a directive that can only come from some very high places,” Stabenow told me.

Intriguingly, Stabenow, McCain, and Kucinich may have found an unlikely ally in their battle -- one with a very personal stake in the issue. It turns out that Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., the chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, has a grandson who first began showing symptoms of autism within days of receiving vaccinations containing Thimerosal. "He became radically different," says Burton, "banging his head against the wall, running around flapping his arms. Twenty years ago we had one in 10,000 children that they thought was autistic. Now, it's more than one out of 250."

This is clearly not a left-right issue. Any politician who has waxed lyrical about "accountability" and "transparency" -- that includes you, Mr. President -- owes it to the public to demand that Congress get to the bottom of just whose directive it was to insert into the homeland security bill a provision that has absolutely nothing to do with homeland security. And to find out whether the $1.6 million that Lilly contributed in the last election cycle -- 79 percent of which went to Republicans -- had anything to do with the inclusion of this designer provision. And, come to think of it, whether these donations had anything to do with the Bush administration asking a federal claims court to block public access to documents unearthed in over a thousand Thimerosal-related lawsuits.

For anyone remotely familiar with the ways of Washington -- and Sherlock Holmes -- the answer should be "elementary."

We're used to having pounds of fatty pork stirred into almost every recipe Congress dishes up. But the abuse of a bill about homeland security is especially distasteful. Washington's greedy corporate masters may finally have overreached. Their continued influence constitutes a clear and present danger to our security and if the president is serious about protecting the homeland, he should speak up.


Vaccine Nation
Stephen Marshall,  November 20, 2002


In what is shaping up to be one of the most draconian weeks since the Bush Administration took power, Tuesday’s 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 Court’s decision to expand the Justice Department’s 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 “special interest” 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 (growth factor plus guide)(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 government’s 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 90’s 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 wasn’t until 1997, when a totally unrelated FDA study into federal guidelines on mercury toxicity uncovered evidence that essentially corroborated the coalition’s 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 “voluntarily” 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 “pleased with the amendment but [had] no idea how it wound up being attached to the homeland security bill.” 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 firm’s Chairman, President and CEO was

    "....appointed in June 2002 to the President’s 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 Quayle’s father, who then owned a controlling interest in the company. The legacy of the Bush family’s 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 Administration’s 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,


    * 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 that deadline, 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 Jersey’s 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 belief of the people of the State, and with this fact as a foundation we hold that the statute in question is a health law, enacted as a reasonable and proper exercise of police power."

Incredibly, 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.”

In his remarks following the Senate vote, President Bush called the new Homeland Security legislation “the 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.

To discuss this Article and other issues please visit the Guerrilla News Forum

The Man Behind The Vaccine Mystery

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2002



Section Front

Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, says he's behind a provision in the homeland security bill that protects Eli Lilly and Co. (CBS/AP)

"It's a matter of national security. We need their vaccines if the country is attacked with germ weapons."

House Majority Leader Dick Armey

(CBS) It's been a mystery in Washington for weeks. Just before President Bush signed the homeland security bill into law an unknown member of Congress inserted a provision into the legislation that blocks lawsuits against the maker of a controversial vaccine preservative called "thimerosal," used in vaccines that are given to children.

Drug giant Eli Lilly and Company makes thimerosal. It's the mercury in the preservative that many parents say causes autism in thousands of children – like Mary Kate Kilpatrick.

Asked if she thinks her daughter is a victim of thimerosal, Mary Kate's mother, Kathy Kilpatrick, says, "I think autism is mercury poisoning."

But nobody in Congress would admit to adding the provision, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta – until now.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey tells CBS News he did it to keep vaccine-makers from going out of business under the weight of mounting lawsuits.

"I did it and I'm proud of it," says Armey, R-Texas.

"It's a matter of national security," Armey says. "We need their vaccines if the country is attacked with germ weapons."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., isn't buying it. The grandfather of an autistic child, Burton says Armey slipped the provision in at the last minute, too late for debate.

"And I said, 'Who told you to put it in?'" He said, 'No, they asked me to do it at the White House.'"

Critics say the Bush family and the administration have too many ties to Eli Lilly. There's President Bush's father, who sat on the company's board in the 1970's; White House budget director Mitch Daniels, once an Eli Lilly executive; and Eli Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel, who serves on the president's homeland security advisory council.

Officials at the drug giant insist they did nothing wrong. "No one, not our CEO, not myself, not anyone who works with me asked the White House to insert this legislation," said Eli Lilly spokeswoman Debra Steelman.

But Kathy Kilpatrick and her husband Michael argue that the thimerosal provision is not designed to protect the nation, but rather to protect Eli Lilly.

Asked what he'd say to a congressman who came forward and admitted he was responsible for inserting the provision, Michael Kilpatrick says, "I would ask him if he knew he was protecting mercury being shot into our kids."

Kathy Kilpatrick asks, "Why would anyone want to save Eli Lilly on our children's backs?"

Because Armey is retiring at the end of the year, some say the outgoing majority leader is the perfect fall guy to take the heat and shield the White House from embarrassment.

It's a claim both the White house and Armey deny.


Law Limits Smallpox Vaccine Compensation

Some Injured by Smallpox Vaccine Won't Qualify for Compensation

The Associated Press



Some people who may be injured by the smallpox vaccine will not qualify for compensation under current law, health officials said Saturday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said he is open to discussing a compensation fund like the one that aids people hurt by other vaccines, but he said there is no legislation drafted and none is imminent.

The smallpox vaccine, which is being recommended for some 10 million Americans, is more dangerous than any other given in this country. It has rare but serious side effects, and history suggests that one or two people out of every million being vaccinated for the first time will die.

A provision in the Homeland Security Act bars most lawsuits related to smallpox vaccinations. People who are injured may sue in federal court, but they would have to prove negligence. Given that the vaccine is inherently dangerous, that would be very difficult.

People who get the shot through their jobs could make claims through workers' compensation and get reimbursed for health expenses and time lost from work, officials said.

But people who get sick by coming into contact with someone who was inoculated have no real option, officials allowed.

The vaccine is made of a live virus that can cause infections until the injection site scabs over. A vaccinated person can spread the virus by touching the injection site, then touching someone else. That person would not qualify for workers' compensation.

"We do recognize that there may be gaps in the compensation," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We are going to identify those gaps and look at options for closing them."


Mercury Policy Project


12/11/02 December 11, 2002--US Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), along with Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) held a press conference at the US Capital today to condemn the last minute "Eli Lily rider" attached to the Homeland Security Bill and to announce their support for eliminating the special interest rider. Also participating in the press conference were Lyn Redwood, President of Safe Minds, Janell Duncan of Consumers Union, and Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project (see MPP statement).

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)and Herb Kohl (D-WI) sent a letter to Attorney General Ashcroft And Secretary Thompson questioning the Bush Administration's attempt to hide information pertinent to the Omnibus Autism Proceeding Case.

11/22/02 A front-page story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on the Homeland bill's impacts on injured childen, their families and the lawsuits filed on their behalf against pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly for intentionally adding mercury to infant vaccines.

11/21/02 Safe Minds and the Mercury Policy Project are hailing a statement by the US House and Senate leadership that they will work to repeal a corporate special-interest provision in the Homeland Security Act (read the joint press release). The provision wipes out all legal remedies for thousands of autistic children harmed by mercury in infant vaccines and must be eliminated, the two groups working to prevent mercury-related injuries said today. The Act only allows the families to re-file their claims in a special administrative court for vaccine-related injury cases where it takes years for cases to be heard and 87% of the claims filed are denied. And claims can only be made by parents if their child's first symptom of neurological damage occurred within the last three years, which effectively bars many families from going to court to hold Lilly accountable for their children's injuries, the groups said."We strongly support Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Democratic Leader-Elect Nancy Pelosi's vow to remove egregious special interest provisions, including the thimerosal liability shield for Eli Lilly," said Michael Bender, Director of the Mercury Policy Project.

11/20/02 Read the statement by US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) to reporters concerning the thimerosal liability shield provision in the 2002 Homeland Security Act.

11/19/02 The Mercury Policy Project and Safemind's released a joint statement expressing outrage over a US Senate vote providing Eli Lilly and other drug makers with a blanket thimerosal liability shield in the 2002 Homeland Security Act. "I was enraged to hear the misinformation and half truths stated on the US senate floor over the past few days related to these last minute additions," said Lyn Redwood, President of Safe Minds and parent of a child with numerous disabilities associated with mercury toxicity after receiving 125 times the Environmental Protection Agency's allowable exposure to mercury. "It's a sad day in America when injured children are denied their due process and day in court," said Redwood, who in the attached document rebutts statements made by US Senators Frist and Gramm on the Senate floor. Also see the statement from Sen. Leahy (D-VT) on thimerosal.

11/18/02 Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) sent all the members of the US Senate a "Dear Colleague" letter concerning the Facts and Fictions About Thimerosal in Vaccines.

11/17/02 A thimerosal liability shield rider tacked on to the Homeland Security Bill at the last minute and passed by the US House last week is being opposed by lawmakers, activists and parents of children with autism as unfair and irresponsible. The rider would effectively end lawsuits for damages caused to children after multiple mercury exposures from thimerosal in infant vaccines. An amendment introduced into the US Senate by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Tom Daschle (D-SD) to remove this and other riders unrelated to bioterrorism is scheduled to be voted on this Monday, November 18th. "The Mercury Policy Project and Safe Minds hope the entire Senate will support this amendment and not let a small number of corporations exploit a national threat to America to further their own private agendas," said Michael Bender, Director of the Mercury Policy Project. "While no one now wants to take credit for it, this rider smacks of payback, smells of blackmail, has no relation to homeland security and should be defeated." Read the MPP Press Release.

For a timeline of information related to thimerosal, please see the March 17, 2002 press release from the Dallas-based law firm of Waters & Kraus, who is leading a coalition of firms in litigating a growing number of individual cases across the country involving infants that sustained serious neurological injuries from the thimerosal contained in their pediatric vaccines.

On November 15, US Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent a letter to White House Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels requesting information on the Bush Administration's involvement in the amendment (see the letter). Daniels was previously employed by Eli Lilly as a top executive. Also, for more information relate to the thimerosal liability shielding rider, see the briefing document entitled The Homeland Security Bill Fiasco, prepared by an anonomous congressional staff source.


US lawmakers against curbs on suing vaccine firms

Wed December 11, 2002 07:22 PM ET
By Maggie Fox and Joanne Kenen


WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate vowed on Wednesday to get rid of controversial provisions, slipped quietly into the Homeland Security Act, that they say benefit vaccine makers at the expense of children with autism and other diseases.

But one of the authors of the provisions said they were meant to ensure the country will have vaccines to give children.

Vaccine critics say they can cause autism, and many have filed lawsuits. Studies have found no link between vaccines and autism but vaccine makers say they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars defending against these suits. Companies say it is one big reason that so many of them have stopped making vaccines.

A huge outcry followed the news that provisions making it harder to sue vaccine makers had been added to the bill creating the federal Department of Homeland Security last month. Groups advocating safer vaccines immediately decried the move as being aimed at protecting rich companies.

Several members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, took up the call, and on Wednesday several vowed to remove the provisions when Congress reconvenes in January.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, called the provision an "outrage." "It is really government at its worst," she told a news conference.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, called it a "huge gift to drug companies ... at the expense of autistic children."

But Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Frist said the provisions came from a bill he was sponsoring that was aimed at encouraging more companies to make vaccines.

"The threat of liability has become a barrier to our ability to protect the American people," he said. "Three provisions from my bill were put into the Homeland Security Bill," he added. "It's a big mystery who did this."

Only four companies now make the vaccines routinely given to children to protect them against measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, chickenpox, meningitis and pneumococcal disease.

They are Merck and Co. Inc. MRK.N , GlaxoSmithKline Plc GSK.L , Wyeth WYE.N and Aventis-Pasteur AVEP.PA . Just two of those companies -- Merck and Wyeth -- are U.S.-based.

The country had a severe shortage of vaccines this past year that left thousands of children under-vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking reports of disease outbreaks to see if there have been any extra cases of childhood disease because of the shortage.


Frist said trial lawyers found a loophole around the Vaccine Injury Compensation Act of 1986, which was designed to provide a pool of money to take care of children who have side-effects from vaccines.

Frist said that trial lawyers had begun suing the makers of thimerosol, a mercury-based preservative recently removed from childhood vaccines. Eli Lilly and Co. LLY.N has been a primary target.

"Trial lawyers don't like it because manufacturers are the huge pockets," he said. Studies have found no link between thimerosol and autism.

The 1986 act is aimed at preventing multiple lawsuits against vaccine makers, hospitals, nurses and others who give vaccines to people, with the idea being that vaccines provide for the greater good of society, and thus society should bear the burden of any side-effects.

"It was supposed to be no-fault," Dr. Robert Chen, chief of vaccine safety and development for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a recent interview



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