Jake Crosby: "SafeMinds Ignores Major Allegations While Replying Dishonestly to Other Charges"
Editor's note: I declined to run Contributing Editor Jake Crosby's original article on this topic for reasons outlined here. Since then, it appeared elsewhere and generated a great deal of comment within our community (and without). We subsequently ran a statement from SafeMinds, the object of the original piece. Now Jake has asked us to run this follow-up. Given that the subject is on the table, and that this article would presumably appear elsewhere in any event, I decided to run it, unedited. -- Dan Olmsted.
(PS: After a thorough airing of views, the comment thread is now closed. Go in peace for all mankind.)
By Jake Crosby
On November 29th, SafeMinds hijacked the Dan Burton Congressional Hearing on autism and vaccines by pretending to represent autism parent and scientist Dr. Brian Hooker, and by changing the topic away from vaccines - thus opening the door to autism epidemic denialists among other vaccine program apologists. On its website and on Age of Autism, SafeMinds responded to my Bolen Report article “SafeMinds Steals The Show, Literally…” claiming that what I wrote about the organization were “false allegations.” However, they provided no proof that any of them were false, completely ignoring some of the more serious allegations.
Instead, SafeMinds’ response was a hodgepodge of outright falsehoods, obfuscation, and straw man arguments. The organization claimed to have developed a “professional relationship” with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (COGR). Who knows what they mean by that? What SafeMinds never addressed, however, was the fact that no one from the organization was present when COGR Chair Darrell Issa committed to holding hearings on autism causation and the vaccine program in a May 18, 2012 meeting with other congressmen, congressional staffers and Dr. Brian Hooker.
The following claim by SafeMinds is completely false:
“When SafeMinds became aware of allegations our organization inappropriately represented ourselves or used undue or untoward influence with congressional staff at the COGR to create desired outcomes, we immediately began an investigation.”
Within my own article, I quote Dr. Brian Hooker when he brought this issue up to SafeMinds' Executive Director Eric Uram on December 18th:
“I tried to explain this to Eric Uram, but he used a lot of double-speak on the phone to deny it.”
This is hardly an immediate investigation.
SafeMinds then claims to have exonerated itself by speaking with the congressional staff that organized the hearing and being “assured that nothing undue or untoward occurred in conversations with SafeMinds.” Well, these congressional staffers are the very folks SafeMinds fooled; so of course they didn't notice anything “undue or untoward in conversations with SafeMinds.” Had they noticed, the hearing might have had a much better outcome.
Now, the next two sentences appear to be a tacit admission that indeed SafeMinds-hired, scientology-tied lobbyist Beth Clay did in fact misrepresent herself to staffers:
“At no time did SafeMinds misrepresent our organizational affiliations to congressional staff. At no time did SafeMinds or any of our affiliates seek the recision of Brian Hooker’s invitation to testify before the COGR.”
While the first sentence makes very clear that “SafeMinds” did not misrepresent itself to congressional staff, the second sentence states that at no time did “SafeMinds or any of our affiliates (ie Beth Clay)” try to rescind Brian Hooker's invitation to testify (boldface mine).
If Beth Clay really wasn't misrepresenting Dr. Hooker, SafeMinds would have been consistent and referred to both the organization and its “affiliates” as not misrepresenting him to the staffer or having him uninvited to give testimony. The fact that SafeMinds only included the reference to its affiliates for the latter sentence but not the former indicates that indeed Beth Clay had in fact misrepresented Dr. Hooker to staffers. (Furthermore, the latter sentence is a straw man argument; I did not accuse SafeMinds of trying to rescind Dr. Hooker’s invitation to testify.)
As a matter of fact, Clay openly admitted to narrowly defining Hooker’s role as a mere provider of information and not a key player in resurrecting the Dan Burton autism-vaccine hearings with Congressman Issa, as evidenced by her email from which I quoted other excerpts in my previous article:
“In many meetings over the last year I have explained to others including Congressional staff that the community works in a collaboratory fashion, different groups and individuals taking on specific issues and developing areas of focus. I have been very clear that you picked the FOIA issue as the one you would be point on, something folks from the entire autism community, and myself greatly appreciate.”
Clay essentially admits that she represented herself to congressional staff (and who knows who else?) by speaking on behalf of this fictitious collaboration led by SafeMinds, in which Brian Hooker supposedly played one very specific role that did not include testifying before Congress.
But as I previously cited, Dr. Hooker corrected her:
“We never collaborated, period.”
What does Clay, or SafeMinds for that matter, think the net result of her actions will be? The net result, of course, is exactly what happened: Dr. Brian Hooker not being invited to testify and SafeMinds Government Affairs Committee Chair Mark Blaxill testifying instead, not to mention SafeMinds successful changing of the topic of the hearing away from vaccines.
On several occasions, I informed Mark Blaxill of Clay's misrepresentation of Dr. Hooker to congressional staff. Blaxill responded that Clay was reporting to others within SafeMinds, but not to him. He later claimed that he had very little knowledge of Clay’s activities “through November,” stating that his primary political activities were with Canary Party members. Yet according to SafeMinds’ Communications Committee Chair, Beth Clay was helping Mark Blaxill write his congressional testimony.
Despite Dr. Hooker’s very disturbing accusations, there is no indication that SafeMinds intends to get rid of Clay as its hired lobbyist. Why would SafeMinds keep her on if it never intended for her to misrepresent Dr. Hooker to congressional staff as collaborating with SafeMinds? Perhaps that's exactly what SafeMinds intended.
Meanwhile, SafeMinds completely avoided responding to the allegation that it changed the topic of the hearing from autism causation and the vaccine program to the “federal response” to the autism epidemic. This wrong-headed strategy, which resulted in autism epidemic denialists being invited to the hearing, is reason enough to eliminate SafeMinds from future hearings. Instead, SafeMinds created another straw man – that the only organization SafeMinds tried to get involved in the hearing was SafeMinds. My article never accused SafeMinds of trying to have representatives from the autism epidemic denialist groups ASAN and GRASP or vaccine program apologist groups ASA and Autism Speaks (even though SafeMinds' President Sallie Bernard serves on Autism Speaks’ board).
The fact is, Congress would have had no reason to invite any of these groups had SafeMinds not changed the topic of the hearing. So Dr. Brian Hooker is probably not the only person whom SafeMinds prevented from testifying.
SafeMinds' response to my criticism that Blaxill’s testimony left out vaccines was comic gold. According to SafeMinds, the autism community is supposed to be satisfied with vaccines and mercury being referred to as “Great unmentionables...causation factors” in response to a follow-up question. Yet, the very members of Congress Blaxill was supposed to be briefing were the only ones who aggressively challenged vaccine safety that day.
I had also pointed out that SafeMinds informed the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs’(CoMeD’s) Dr. Mark Geier of a congressional briefing SafeMinds held on May 18, 2012, only to set up a security trap against him and his son David, also of CoMeD, retroactively minimizing their opportunity to participate because they want to be paid for work they've done as expert witnesses. Does SafeMinds reserve that right as well? How does it expect lawsuits to be won against the government in vaccine court if expert witnesses like Dr. Mark and David Geier aren't paid for their work? You can't win a lawsuit without expert witnesses. And yet, SafeMinds calls the decision to exclude them “outstanding” without explaining why.
SafeMinds repeatedly accuses me of breaching “standard confidentiality.” However, there was no binding agreement or even a discussion of keeping e-mails and conversations confidential when I joined SafeMinds' Government Affairs Committee. I stated up front in my article on the Bolen Report that I had thought long and hard about sharing private email exchanges, doing so only because I felt it was warranted, considering the damage to the congressional autism hearings that SafeMinds has wrought. I was not obliged to follow any confidentiality standards, nor was Dan Olmsted when he revealed Tim Bolen's email without permission.
The only time the issue of privacy came up was after the fact - when Mark Blaxill asked me if I wanted to stay on SafeMinds' Government Affairs Committee after he had learned of my article, indicating I could not remain on it if I publish discussions. I responded that I would not be participating on the committee anymore, to which Blaxill replied:
“Sounds good. I’ll take you off the distribution list.”
After falsely accusing me of “breaching confidentiality,” SafeMinds then accuses me of taking emails from its members “out of context,” but never says how any of them were taken out of context.
Attempting to take credit for coming up with the thimerosal hypothesis, SafeMinds argued that its year 2000 paper "Autism: A unique type of mercury poisoning" was the first reported link between mercury and autism. (SafeMinds claims the article was also published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. However, a search for the article in the journal archives yields no results.)
Though a well-researched review article, “Autism: A unique type of mercury poisoning” was not the first reported link between mercury and autism as SafeMinds claims. The first reported link was made in 1999 by CDC’s own Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, showing that early thimerosal exposure multiplies the risk of classic autism by 7.62-fold. This remarkable finding was obtained via FOIA request, but would not resurface until five years later when it was discovered not by anyone at SafeMinds, but by David Geier.
SafeMinds, in stark contrast, sat on this data for years. In fact, SafeMinds did not discover the FOIA-obtained or leaked information that definitively proved the thimerosal-autism cover-up. Like David Geier, Dr. Brian Hooker exposed the private emails between Poul Thorsen and his colleagues showing that they had suppressed the fact that autism prevalence and incidence was declining after thimerosal’s removal from vaccines in Denmark. The IOM meeting minutes showed that the IOM report rejecting autism causation by vaccination was pre-empted from the start as a result of undue intervention by CDC; these minutes were obtained as the result of an anonymous leak.
In fact, SafeMinds has a stake in not mentioning any of this information at risk of highlighting the uncomfortable fact that none of it was discovered by anyone at SafeMinds, which perhaps sees itself as competing with other advocates and advocacy groups, not collaborating with them as claimed by Beth Clay. Bringing up the IOM leaks would be especially awkward for SafeMinds since its president and co-founder Sallie Bernard sits on the board of Autism Speaks, which has endorsed the IOM’s whitewash of the vaccine-autism link. So SafeMinds has a stake in pretending there is no thimerosal-autism cover-up.
The rest of SafeMinds' response to my article is nothing more than self-congratulation in which it takes pride in “establishing the scientific basis on the environmental causes of autism...” Thimerosal – the mercury based vaccine preservative implicated in autism's rise, not to mention autism's fall following its removal in some places – went completely unmentioned, just as it went unmentioned in Mark Blaxill's testimony that similarly invoked the vague “environmental causes of autism.”
SafeMinds concludes with an expression of gratitude for the autism community's “continuous support” of SafeMinds. However, “continuous support” was not in evidence in the comments under several articles that recently ran on this controversy on Age of Autism. Support may be something SafeMinds hopes for, but it is not what SafeMinds deserves.
Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.
Posted by: ottoschnaut | February 27, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Thank you Nora, Hilary Butler and others for your continuous and courageous support.
I appreciate your concerns, but please be respectful of other commenters. It's important to maintain a dialogue without condescension or name-calling.
If you think it would be so difficult for SafeMinds to hijack the hearing, imagine how difficult it must have been for Brian Hooker to organize it in the first place - only to have the rug yanked out from under him by SafeMinds.
He's been through enough. We should give him some space; SafeMinds has already confirmed his grievances.
The issue here is not Mark or Dan's commitment, but the way SafeMinds hijacked the congressional hearing. Obviously, it was clear to you what Mark was talking about, but to the average person it wouldn't be, because the average person does not begin to have your knowledge of the issues.
In actuality, Brian did not like Mark's speech at all, having told me so in email. To have not tried sounding complimentary of SafeMinds' testimony in an interview about the hearing with Age of Autism might not have sat well with Mark Blaxill, who has already given Brian grief in the past. That grief included taking a page out of pharma's playbook by suggesting his advocacy was mostly motivated by a vaccine injury compensation payout.
@nd (any reference to neurodiversity?): Before you tell me my allegations are unproven, actually read my articles entirely, not just the first paragraphs.
"Not fair to blame SafeMinds"
It is fair to blame SafeMinds because, as I've explained, SafeMinds kept Brian Hooker from testifying.
"But who are we to hold them accountable?"
The people they claim to represent.
Posted by: Jake Crosby | February 27, 2013 at 04:01 PM
I also have a non-verbal grandson .. now thirteen years of age .. and .. regardless whether some commenters on this site strongly agree with your opinions or not .. I hope you continue to speak your mind .. especially on AoA .. a site dedicated to support families exactly like your own .. who are struggling to cope with the tragedies that autism has introduced into our world.
Stay strong and may god bless your family
Posted by: Bob Moffitt | February 27, 2013 at 06:16 AM
JB: "I have no idea why the airing of all these details ultimately benefits children w autism. FWIW, I have zero confidence that our Congress will lead us out of this mess..."
JAKE: Where is the congressional legal jugular that will eliminate autism causes? Can you re-frame and put your incredible pit bull bite down on that?
Posted by: s | February 26, 2013 at 10:11 PM
"It is unfortunate, that Safe Minds either directly or indirectly caused the work of Dr. Brian Hooker to be eliminated from the hearing."
How do you know that, Nora? Not fair to blame SafeMinds.
But Ottoschnaut, no need to be rude!
Posted by: Twyla | February 26, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Ottoschnaut , are you out of your ever loving mind? Ottoschnaut
I have been reading and writing comments on this site for 5 years. My grandson is
Severely affected and I know damn well that it was caused by
vaccines, a number of vaccines some that possible contain mercury and some that do not. It is
the pertussis vaccine that I now know can exasperate tuberous sclerosis.
Lets see he also had proquad and some 32 vaccines by age two. And I had asked his parents to stop or slow it down when he developed asthma at 5 months.
This is ridiculous. My God, because I just cannot see
A reason why Jake would make all of this up. I can see on the other hand some seasoned hardened
actors weighing the odds and choosing what they thought was the better bet. I have done
This many a time in a doctors office weighing the odds of getting some help against the chance of mentioning vaccines and getting no help. I just believe Jakes account. Big deal live with it and stop acting like you are some guardian of AOA.
Just so you know otto snot I have been with my grandson for the last hour giving him prune juice along with an Epsom salt bath so he can have a BM. Not to many trolls spend their evenings sitting in a bathroom writing on an I phone waiting for a bm to happen and being grateful when it does.
Posted by: Nora | February 26, 2013 at 08:38 PM
..."Dirty laundry always comes clean with a wash in the sunlight..."
I LOVE this expression - and it is so true.
Posted by: Bayareamom | February 26, 2013 at 07:11 PM
So Nora has no evidence that Safeminds influenced Rep Darrell Issa' s witness list, directly or indirectly, despite her earlier post.
Go back under your bridge, Nota - that is where trolls hang out, right?
Posted by: Ottoschnaut | February 26, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Ottoschnaut" I will not be told by you or any other member of this site to go back to a hole. There is obviously truth to both sides of this argument. The older more tempered views are demonstrated by "Safe Minds". Something did happen here and I do believe Jake Crosby to be an honest broker. He does not parse himself almost to a fault and that is where the trouble lies. Those in Safe Minds that communicated with Jake did not suspect that he would take this information and let it out to be seen by the light of day. For better or worse it is out.
For you "Ottoschnaut" I have a non-verbal grandson that is currently being looked at for a left optic pale nerve and an inflamed retina (in other words going blind), a possible rare leukemia, and mitochondrial disease. On top of that we are now investigating tuberous sclerosis. So as far as going under a rock, you can forget it. I will voice my opinion as you have yours.
Posted by: Nora | February 26, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Jake Crosby wrote: "[Safeminds] provided no proof that any of [Crosby's allegations] were false, completely ignoring some of the more serious allegations."
Is that how it works? Safeminds has to prove that Jake's allegations are false, rather than Jake has to prove that his allegations are true?
Posted by: nd | February 26, 2013 at 05:20 PM
@ Dr. Lewis- great post, thank!
"Nora" writes: "It is unfortunate, that Safe Minds either directly or indirectly caused the work of Dr. Brian Hooker to be eliminated from the hearing."
How did Safeminds influence Rep Darrell Issa of California to change a witness list? Directly or indirectly?
Go back to your hole, Nora. The adults are talking.
Posted by: Ottoschnaut | February 26, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Anyone remember the now infamous "beer summit" called by President Obama to stem the national media firestorm that followed his harsh comments criticizing the arrest of a personal friend of his .. Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates .. by local police officers . who had responded to a 911 report of "men breaking and entering Gate's residence"?
President Obama admitted regretting his initial comments and hoped this incident could prove to be a "teachable moment" by personally inviting both injured parties .. Professor Gates and police officers .. to discuss the issue over beers during a cordial meeting in a courtyard near the White House Rose Garden.
Perhaps we have someone in our community of similar conciliatory stature .. seeing this as a "teachable moment" .. can arrange a similar "beer summit" with all involved in this dispute .. to clear the air of any lingering resentment or hurt feelings which .. if allowed to fester .. will do far more harm than already done.
President Obama eventually won a Nobel Peace Award .. but .. in my humble opinion .. the award for making our community whole again would be just as NOBEL.
Posted by: Bob Moffitt | February 26, 2013 at 02:52 PM
You know if you call somebody crazy, you've got 'em? They'll spend all their time and efforts trying to show how un-crazy they are.
No self-respecting parent is ever going to see their own vaccine-injured child and stand so vehemently strong in support of government-enforced mass vaccinations.
Posted by: Media Scholar | February 26, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Tom Insel put out a blog today about the four kingdoms of autism.
Well - you know the saying you get so mad you can't see straight ---- that is very true-- never been there before -----I don't know what the fourth kingdom said because his third kingdom made me furious.
Tom Insel you are a jerk.
I did not think my kid got autsim just because he regressed after his 18 month shots.
I SAW HIS VACCINE REACTIONS THREE DIFFERENT TIMES- RIGHT ON UP TO THE STROKE -- Oh wait -- your a medical person so I could use the big word on you
Posted by: Benedetta | February 26, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Jake Crosby is a pit bull. He attacks the guts of the issue. He will not stand down if he feels reason to proceed.
Pleasantries and niceties do not fit his model. There is no gray area. He sees this as black and white and what he has documented is factual.
It is unfortunate, that Safe Minds either directly or indirectly caused the work of Dr. Brian Hooker to be eliminated from the hearing.
I for one appreciate the work of all these participants and do not find this discussion of any problem. Dirty laundry always comes clean with a wash in the sunlight. Everyone plays a part and all of you have fallen on a sword or two, it is the nature of being this passionate about something.
Jake is right to express his grievances as Safe Minds has done. Jake is young and passionate. He still believes he can change the world and maybe he just will.
Posted by: Nora | February 26, 2013 at 01:41 PM
It's good to see both sides of the story. But I agree with JB Handley. Let's not forget that all of us have the same goal. So, rather than making something into a political issue without really convincing anyone about the importance of making people aware of autism, we should stay focused on the necessity of changing Congress' mindset which at this point has not happened, and will not happen if this focus is lost.
Posted by: Birgit Calhoun | February 26, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Jake- I think you are a person of principle. You stand by your beliefs and speak the truth. Perhaps those at Safeminds tried to soften the message in the mistaken idea that the message would be then more palatable to those in power. I think they were wrong. It is always better to speak the unvarnished truth....to stand up for what you believe. Playing politics is a risky business. However, all of those folks have worked so tirelessly to get the vaccine- induced concept of autism into the public consciousness that they might be forgiven a miscalculation, however serious. They should admit their mistake, regroup and move on.
I do have concerns about focusing on mercury in vaccines as THE cause of autism. I agree it should be removed and that it COULD be the cause, but there are so many other ways in which vaccines could cause vaccine damage, that focusing on just one could be another mistake. I think that first it must be conclusively shown that vaccines cause damage. Then, it might be possible to isolate the exact pathway by which the damage was caused. A vaxed vs unvaxed study is urgently needed. I have some concerns about the one that is underway about which JB has informed us. I wish that this study were not focusing solely on the home schooled population. I fear that it will give the vaccine proponents too much to criticize simply because of its selectivity.
Posted by: CT teacher | February 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM
This reminds me of some old episodes of the TV show Gunsmoke, in which as soon as someone alleged something against Marshal Dillon at least half the town turned against him, even though they all knew his character, knew of his many years of service to their community.
SafeMinds board: Mark Blaxill, Lyn Redwood, Laurie & Scott Bono, Katie Wright, and more - these are people who have worked tirelessly for many years. Mark cofounded the Age of Autism web site, one of the only voices of reason amidst all this madness, cowrote the book Age of Autism and spent months touring the country to promote his and Dan's findings relating to vaccines and mercury in medicine.
How can we be so quick to turn on them? Yes, this doesn't mean they can do no wrong, and surely people can disagree on the best course of action. But to question their motives, to act like they have some kind of Machiavellian secret plot, is ridiculous.
re: "Perhaps this public torching will show them that there are people out there that hold them accountable for telling the truth..." They are telling the truth. But who are we to hold them accountable? They are a group of volunteers who are working their butts off for our community, our children. Anyone who thinks they can do it better is welcome to try. There are a number of organizations who are involved in autism advocacy, with various approaches.
As JB said, "Congress has more than enough facts, many sourced and organized by the heroes above..." This hearing was amazing - not so much the testimony, but the questions from congress. That was an accomplishment.
I still have no idea what went into Congress's selection of autism panelists, but to blame Mark Blaxill and Beth Clayton seems quite wrong to me. I wish they had that much power over this committee.
We should unite in figuring out what to do next, including how to get Dr. Brian Hooker before Congress and other ways to bring to light his FOIA findings. Nothing we do will be perfect. It's a fallen world.
We have much bigger enemies than each other.
Posted by: Twyla | February 26, 2013 at 11:36 AM
There is much accomplished every time the word vaccines and autism are addressed in any fashion in high profile, public forums. It's all part of turning the tide. Slow, painful but once it gets momentum there is no stopping it. I would have dearly loved hearing Brian Hooker's testimony and hope this exposure by jake will bring about clarity. Even if it is uncomfortable, awkward and stinging. This movement should be the very last to ever try to silence dissent. Maybe in the end Jake will be wrong.....but I want to KNOW.
Posted by: Kathryn | February 26, 2013 at 11:07 AM
If you think this kind of nit-picking debate with the accompanying accusations and energy-sucking negativity is going to help the world wake up and understand more about the underlying causes of autism...you are way off target! Airing out the dirty laundry in order to settle a score is never a productive way to advance a cause.
Without defending one side or the other, I've witnessed this type of interaction involving finger pointing and name calling dissolve the best of intentions and bring whole movements down.
The autism community at this point in time may not have the best collaborative style, but we better damn well develop one if we ever hope to create a tipping point in society in which the association between vaccines and autism becomes well known and accepted. Maureen McDonnell, RN
Posted by: Maureen McDonnell, RN | February 26, 2013 at 09:51 AM
Vaccines are a criminal enterprise , holocaust in nature .
Criminal prosecutions is what we should be demanding at this stage ..... forget about compensation and help and cures and all else besides . Lets start demanding that people who defend mercury , aluminium , Polysorbate80 , formaldehyde straight into infants bloodstreams , be prosecuted for crimes against humanity . That will send all these hangers on scurrying for their burrows like the rodents that they are ! Plus all our other demands will follow if we can get them to concede their guilt .
If Collen Boyle is the best that they have got , then we have got to be close to winning this , because she was singularly the most unspectacular "expert" I have ever witnessed . Jake is right ! We need to demand more action now ! God bless AoA and all the honest true people fighting on our side (I believe there will be some infiltration occurring because if you are willing to poison children on an industrial scale like this , then why wouldnt you do a small thing like that ?)
I would like to see a response from Beth Clay .... lets hear what she has to say ? Come on Beth please explain the collaboration you say occurred that Dr Brian Hooker says did not occur .
How can we get Dr Brian Hooker into a position where he can testify ? What is our next opportunity ? I would like to hear more from Dr Hooker .
Criminal Prosecutions ! Thats what I want . We'll soon see who is brave enough to defend vaccines then ! We'll see who doesnt believe the vaccine autism link then ....if their liberty for lying is threatened .
Posted by: gavrillo | February 26, 2013 at 03:00 AM
I consider the efforts of Jake, SafeMinds, AoA, Mark Blaxill, and Brian Hooker to be heroic on behalf of our kids. I have no idea why the airing of all these details ultimately benefits children w autism. FWIW, I have zero confidence that our Congress will lead us out of this mess, so I don't really know why some think a big opportunity was blown. Congress has more than enough facts, many sourced and organized by the heroes above, to reach the proper conclusions, don't hold your breath that they will. Speaking in public is only one way Congress is educated about what has been done to our kids. I'm certain that they have all seen the dirty details and, yet, nothing is being done. I hope we can re-convene our focus on the actual bad guys in this mess: Pharma, CDC, AAP, and, sadly, Autism Speaks.
Posted by: JB Handley | February 26, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Jake, it's an absolute travesty that Safeminds appeared in the first place, and Dr Brian Hooker was unheard.
To the person who was more worried what Jake "outing" Safeminds ... looked like to the 'other side'..., why does listening to truth make you squirm a bit?
Squashing dissent, and victimising those who tell the truth, is the premier hall-mark of pharma greasing, vaccine-defending turf. Does it do them any good? Their united voice is only by virtue of ring-barking the many outliers.
What is actually needed is for double-talk to stop, people to admit their own failings - or is that asking too much of people now bound by their own need to justify themselves?
And as to "collaboration"... if collaboration means that Sally Bernhard president and co-founder of Safeminds , sits on the board of Autism Speaks, then I for one, am very unhappy.
There is a point where collaboration isn't collaboration at all.
Posted by: Hilary Butler | February 26, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Vorpal sword, the air speed velocity of the unladed European Swallow is estimated at 24 miles per hour. Thank you for not asking.
Posted by: Jim Thompson | February 25, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I agree with Jonathan Rose and Ottoschnaut.
Posted by: Twyla | February 25, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Perhaps your eager investigation will motivate Safe Minds to start asking harder questions- demanding more action, and validating with legal action- that Vaccines are a culprit in the autism epidemic. I definetly think that they do not need to shy away- and I do think that they need to be blunt, bold, and dead-on when it comes to discussing the vulnerability of kids when it comes to vaccines, and autism. Perhaps this public torching will show them that there are people out there that hold them accountable for telling the truth- or at least trying very hard to do so!
Posted by: tara mcmillan | February 25, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that a contributor to this website would get his facts wrong.
Posted by: Vorpal Sword | February 25, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Team Jake. I have always felt that is is a mistake to overemphasize mercury and thimerosol, when all vaccines destroy the immune system and can cause neurological damage.
Posted by: Julie | February 25, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Jake- you write- "The organization claimed to have developed a “professional relationship” with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (COGR). Who knows what they mean by that?"
Well- wasn't Safeminds involved (with others) in organizing the Congressional Briefing on VICP, back in May 2012? If Safeminds was involved in that effort, is it possible that they have been politicking and liaising with Congressional offices for some time prior to the Prevalence hearings? Of course it is. Safeminds presented some very compelling fact sheets to Congressional staffers at the VICP briefing. Isn't being present and presenting data at a Congressional briefing part of the process of developing a professional working relationship with Congress?
I think you are giving Safeminds credit and blame for actions well beyond it's ability. If it is that easy to manipulate a witness list- just hire a lobbyist and kiss a few asses- then why are we still involved in this fight? It could have been ended by stacking govt hearing witness lists years ago, yet here we still are.
If this were easy, Andy Wakefield would be a medical hero and the ACIP members would be in jail. But it isn't easy. Dr Hooker Goes to Washington and gets jerked around. So what? Do you think the pharma criminals are going to sit back and let him give his testimony, or are they going to try every dirty underhanded trick, most of which we don't know about, to stop him? Why did Issa apologize to Dr Hooker at the opening of the hearings? Because big, bad Safeminds bullied Issa into removing Dr Hooker from the witness list? Really? Doesn't pass the stink, laugh, or duck test. Issa, I surmise, is bankrolled by folks who told him to exclude Dr Hooker.
When will Dr Hooker give his version of events in his own words? Not filtered through a reporter- a statement on his own signature. He could point the finger right at Safeminds and say, "they did it!" and I have faith that Dan Olmstead would make it public. Note- Dr Hooker has not done that yet, has he?
Jake- you know I respect you and have great admiration for your tenacity and truth seeking. I am willing to consider the possibility that I am wrong, that Safeminds are the scumbags you make them out to be. I am not there yet.
Posted by: Ottoschnaut | February 25, 2013 at 04:40 PM
I think it is healthy to question people's motives, especially when there has been a demonstrable lack of action over time. The parsing of words in SafeMinds' statement is certainly interesting.
What's Beth Clay's stake, who does she represent besides SafeMinds, and whose interests come first? Would she really undermine the hearings, her former boss Burton's swan song on his key issue? Would she unilaterally elbow aside people like Dr. Hooker and the Geiers, or curate Mark Blaxill's testimony, without express permission from SafeMinds? Why? To preserve her relationships with the House staffers, NIH, HHS, or her lobbying firm's other clients? To prevent testimony that in her opinion would undermine a cause she so deeply believes in that she is paid to lobby on its behalf? Is she Machiavellian, or is she simply an experienced control-freak functionary used to working within a world of oblique incrementalism where one is not supposed to speak the truth too loudly for fear of being labelled impolitic? Did she trip on her own feet trying to get her clients into a hearing and accidentally knock over the whole buffet? Whatever happened, the most interesting part of the hearing was the fact that the House members themselves seemed much more loaded for bear than one would expect, as if they had been prepped for the hearing that was supposed to happen, rather than the one that evolved before them. Hopefully that bodes well for future hearings. Because as we all know, the issue isn't going away EVER.
Clay, Sarah Elizabeth (covered positions: NIH Employee, House of Representatives Staff; NIH Staff, House Professional Staff; US House of Reps Committee Staff; House Government Reform Staff 5 years - NIH Staff 7 years )
Posted by: Garbo | February 25, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Well said Jake..and great to bring these points up ..
If anyone is under any doubt conccerning vaccines and Autism visit here ...http://www.followingvaccinations.com/
Pharma is still trying very hard to produce the totally un-vaccinated child with autism ..recently by injecting mothers to-be with flu vaccine..shame on them
Posted by: Angus Files | February 25, 2013 at 03:03 PM
"It's the development of growing consensus amongst large groups of investigators supported by increasing volumes of credible data collected over time by well designed and controlled study. This kind of thing is not well understood by politicos."
Those large groups of investigators are funded by those of whom want to obfuscate the results (read Big Pharma), leaving the 'desired' results to then be deemed 'credible' by the purveying scientific community. Hence, just as Mr. Stone suggests, above, the watered down Verstraeten Study, the Thorsen issue, the scapegoating of Wakefield, and all the other nonsense.
And make no mistake, SOME 'politicos' know EXACTLY what is going on.
Posted by: Bayareamom | February 25, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Jake, I've admired your work exposing the incestuous relationships between Big Phrama and the media. But (and here I speak as someone who desperately wants you to succeed) I think attacking SafeMinds in public is a serious tactical error, potentially self-destructive. It's certainly something that our enemies are gloating over.
I know some of the people in SafeMinds, and I sat in on one of their meetings. We're talking about a dozen amateurs and one underpaid full-time staffer -- and they're taking on nearly the whole medical profession, the public health establishment, the pharmaceutical industry, the mass media, and Bill Gates. Given what they're up against, it's absolutely astonishing that they've accomplished as much as they have. And given that you have limited time and energy, Jake, would you prefer to spend it fighting your enemies, or your friends?
Consider the impression this makes. Imagine you're a young mother who dutifully gets her kids vaccinated, until one of them comes down with autism after a series of shots. Her doctor dismisses it as coincidence, compares Andrew Wakefield to the Antichrist, and sternly warns her not to read "those antivaccination kooks on the internet." She Googles anyway, and discovers AoA. Do you want her to read about moms in the same predicament, cures and treatments, and published research that supports our position -- or about an internecine squabble that is incomprehensible to her?
The fact that we have a vast and growing array of autism activist groups involves some division of effort, of course, but I see it as a strength. It certainly makes our movement more difficult to squelch, as we independently launch our guerrilla offensives against the powers that be. We differ somewhat in our priorities and tactics and degrees of militancy, but every movement has its Martin Luther Kings and Malcolm Xs: that enables the former to say, "If you don't deal with me, you'll have to deal with them." So I say we should coexist and collaborate as much as we can. Can we really afford to fight among ourselves?
Posted by: Jonathan Rose | February 25, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Unfortunately, the alleged "truth" has largely be decided by bent research conducted on behalf of the CDC at the IOM, or just through the CDC: the watered down Verstraeten study, the 20plus studies commisioned in Denmark via Thorsen, the Andrews study, the dirty campaign against Wakefield. That in the modern world is how you create scientific consensus. It is very, very political and it stinks.
Posted by: John Stone | February 25, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Perhaps the "Truth" in these matters should not sought in the political arena. The veracity of scientific and medical research is never about attaining absolute truths. It's the development of growing consensus amongst large groups of investigators supported by increasing volumes of credible data collected over time by well designed and controlled study. This kind of thing is not well understood by politicos.
Posted by: Karin | February 25, 2013 at 01:28 PM
A link on the AoA site / with E's to those on the Congressional Autism committee would be very handy.
These members need to have a constant in-flo of information in regards to this issue. The information is far more than could ever be presented at one hearing.
Posted by: cmo | February 25, 2013 at 01:15 PM
You call a 'spade a spade,' Jake. Well said.
Posted by: Bayareamom | February 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM
Thank you Jake-I trust you 100 percent. I have never trusted Safeminds and never will. Keep telling it like it is - the TRUTH - something Safeminds has never been comfortable with.
Posted by: autmamma | February 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM
These are my main thoughts at this stage.
Safeminds obviously exists to lobby but it is not a fortunate result for anyone that - however inadvertently - they got to testify instead of Brian Hooker, and one would hope that lessons have been learnt.
Mark gave a good speech (I think Brian said so too at one point) and it was just the kind of speech that you would expect the co-author of the book 'The Age of Autism' to give, not because as someone suggested he was trying to sell the book but because that is his inevitable perspective. I, personally, was never in any doubt that he was talking about vaccines and mercury. I agree it was a great missed opportunity not to raise the Thorsen affair, given that Colleen Boyle was being grilled (and duly screwed up anyway).
I have worked with Mark and Dan since November 2008 and I don't believe we've ever had an editorial disagreement over any of my contributions (I am not known for pulling my punches). Nor have I ever had any cause to doubt their commitment: you only have to consider their continuous intellectual energy and engagement to realise that it would be almost impossible to fake. Very easy to spout platitudes, manufacture flakey reports which can easily be denied by the other side, but my overwhelming impression is that these guys are serious.
Posted by: John Stone | February 25, 2013 at 10:43 AM
Jake, I adore you. Mark, I adore you, too. Does that mean I adore every person in every autism organization, ---ahem-- "NO!"
Bob M. all I can say regarding your post is this: Ditto! Ditto! -- and Ditto!
Where different groups have different areas of focus, different strategies to implement to achieve their goals, and different ideas, there is no collaboration. However, everyone is important in our community, and everyone should be afforded their moment to comment-- especially the scientists who have documented what heavy metals like mercury and aluminum can do to a primate or human brain, and the parents of children harmed by those injected heavy metals, and the affected children themselves--our living proof of the harms caused. No one should be denied their voice. All voices are relevant, and all can potentially touch a chord within our representatives and resonate a shift in thought regarding the vaccine-induced epidemic called autism.
Posted by: Not an MD | February 25, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Perhaps there can be some closure to this if Brian Hooker is the one who testifies at the next hearing and the subject is autism and vaccines.
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | February 25, 2013 at 08:39 AM
I agree with your stance on this matter Jake. after all the years gathering information from people as Dr.Hooker, and the Geiers did all our side had to do is come out and say the truth, and point out the facts which would have hit the CDC, NIH in the head essentially delivering a knockout punch, yet all our representatives there did was tiptoe around the vaccine subject. I know if it was me there they would have got the full dose after waiting all this time to speak. If Safeminds wasn't going to say what was necessary then they should have got out of the way, I expected a lot more from them!
Posted by: Victor Pavlovic | February 25, 2013 at 08:11 AM
Admittedly, I have no reason to suspect or question the dedication and committment of anyone involved in this dispute .. however .. it would be less than honest of me if I did not admit cringing when I read Beth Clay's email wherein she stated:
“In many meetings over the last year I have explained to others including Congressional staff that the community works in a collaboratory fashion, different groups and individuals taking on specific issues and developing areas of focus...."
With all due respect .. can someone explain what is meant by "collaboratory fashion"? After all .. in my humble opinion .. there is a very fine line between "collaborating" .. and .. "compromising" core beliefs. Such as ..
WHO are the "different groups and individuals" being "collaborated" with? WHAT are the "specific issues and developing areas of focus" being "collaborated" on?
Please understand that I am trying very hard not to offend anyone involved by "taking sides" in this ongoing.. worthwhile discussion .. between people I have the utmost respect and admiration for. My only intent on commenting is to offer these cautionary words as we move beyond to battles ahead:
Perhaps the time for "collaborating" with "different groups" developing "areas to focus on" should be re-evaluated as a strategy worth pursuing into the future.
Posted by: Bob Moffitt | February 25, 2013 at 08:05 AM
It would be enlightening (and, indeed, essential) that we avid readers and participants here on AoA read the transcript of Mark Blaxill's testimony Nov. 29 at the COGR hearing, ideally here on the Comments.
Thanks in advance, david burd
Posted by: david burd | February 25, 2013 at 08:02 AM
Not sure I understood all the nuances in this affair, but one thing I know:
The congressional hearings not dealing with Brian Hooker's findings WAS a great missed opportunity.
However contributed to this did a great disservice to our community and the truth.
Posted by: Vaccine.Explorer | February 25, 2013 at 07:43 AM
Thank you Dan for publishing.
Our community has had rifts before (those who opposed vs those who supported original Combating Autism Act comes to mind) and we'll survive this one too and be wiser for it.
Posted by: Charlie Hoover | February 25, 2013 at 07:32 AM