SafeMinds & the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
February 12, 2013 – A few bloggers from inside and outside the autism community recently took potshots at efforts by SafeMinds to increase awareness in Congress of the causes of the autism epidemic including the role of vaccines. SafeMinds offers the following response to these divisive comments. We are proud of our record and accomplishments working with Congress in the past 12 years and our refusal to back off from uncomfortable topics like vaccines.
Over the years, SafeMinds has established a professional relationship with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (COGR) due to its ongoing interest in autism. Since 2000, six SafeMinds board members have testified before COGR, its precursors or subcommittees, in hearings regarding mercury, vaccines and the autism epidemic. The most recent hearing took place on November 29, 2012. SafeMinds was asked to testify and Mark Blaxill represented us. We consider this hearing to be a positive step forward. The feedback on the hearing that we received both publicly and privately was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Due to the efforts of parents who brought their injured children to the hearing room, Committee members got a firsthand look at the devastation impacting hundreds of thousands. Several Representatives commented on how many constituent families had been in touch with them about the hearing – many of them mentioning vaccine injury specifically. Members were able to see for themselves how ineffectual Federal agencies have been. Vaccines and autism were linked repeatedly in the congressional record.
Still, critical comments have surfaced about SafeMinds and this hearing. Those which deserve a response have come from Dr. Brian Hooker and Jake Cosby, two members of the autism community whose long-standing contributions to critiquing the government's response to autism's causes have been valued and important. When SafeMinds became aware of their allegations that our organization inappropriately represented ourselves and used undue influence with congressional staff at the COGR to create desired outcomes for this hearing, we immediately began an investigation.
Brian spoke to us directly and expressed his concern that we maneuvered to block him from testifying, which we did not do. SafeMinds spoke directly with the Congressional staff responsible for organizing the recent autism hearing to ensure that there had been no misunderstanding. Our contact there assured us that nothing undue or untoward occurred in conversations between the Committee and SafeMinds. He concurred with our internal view of events that at no time did SafeMinds misrepresent our organizational affiliations to congressional staff, nor did we or any of our affiliates seek the recision of Brian Hooker’s invitation to testify before the COGR. We did make a request that SafeMinds be allowed to testify on the panel.
Jake has criticized us for going light on the vaccine issue. Mark covered vaccines in his written testimony hammered the government on its denial of the epidemic in his oral testimony and reintroduced these issues pointedly during the questioning by Committee members, calling them the “Great Unmentionables, vaccines and mercury, as causation factors”. Committee members had been briefed by many members of the community including SafeMinds and Brian, so they knew what to ask. Members did an incredible job and we thank them.
In addition, SafeMinds submitted extensive written testimony to the committee for those who wish to judge whether we ignored vaccines. These efforts included the distribution of Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted’s book Age of Autism to committee members.
SafeMinds also organized a Congressional briefing on May 18, 2012 to engage Congress and educate members on the problems with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This briefing highlighted the Unanswered Questions Reportwhich links government-compensated vaccine injuries and autism, and it called for Congressional Oversight hearings. For this briefing, we chose as presenters Clifford Shoemaker, the Chairman of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners’ Bar Association, Dr. Peter Meyer who has written an exhaustive review of the inherent flaws of the NVICP, several parents of victims and Louis Conte, a long-time criminal justice professional, co-author of the paper and a Board member of EBCALA. We did not invite Mark and David Geier to speak, which Jake finds fault with, and readers can feel free to disagree with our decision, but we think our choices were outstanding and do not apologize for them. Unfortunately in making his criticism of our choices, Mr. Crosby breached standards of confidentiality by including internal, private email segments from SafeMinds’ staff and board members in his blog article and likely shared their entire content further with others outside of SafeMinds. We apologize to the several non-SafeMinds colleagues who were included in those e-mails.
In addition to other misrepresentations in his allegations, Mr. Crosby has tried to diminish the past accomplishments of SafeMinds by alleging that -
“The American Academy of Pediatrics and Public Health Service put out a joint statement saying thimerosal should be removed from vaccines at a time when they were already suspected of causing autism and before SafeMinds even existed.”
Actually these organizations claimed the removal of thimerosal was a precaution and no evidence of harm existed. The AAP stated in their guidance report to pediatricians in July 1999 that "Infants who have received thimerosal-containing vaccines do not need to have blood, urine, or hair tested for mercury since the concentrations of mercury would be quite low and would not require treatment." Officials never admitted thimerosal causes autism.
It was a handful of parents who watched their children regress into autism after exposures to mercury from thimerosal products (vaccines and RhoD immune globulins) who banded together to form SafeMinds in 2000. They challenged the official line about thimerosal's safety by meeting with the NIH, CDC and FDA that year and sharing with them the first reported link between autism and mercury in the 2000 paper "Autism: A unique type of mercury poisoning" in an effort to raise awareness of the issue and protect other children from the same harm that their children experienced. Publication by SafeMinds members of shorter papers connecting autism and mercury in Medical Hypothesis (2001) and Molecular Psychiatry (2002) were made in order to reach the scientific and medical community.
We continue efforts into the present to shift the AAP, CDC, NIH and FDA on their positions regarding the use of thimerosal. Our current petition at www.change.org/organizations/safeminds seeks to reverse the AAP’s recent position modification removing their precautionary statement that the use of thimerosal in childhood vaccines should be avoided. SafeMinds also continues to fund studies by prominent researchers in the field. Studies we fund concentrate on cause, treatment and prevention and is research that NIH and others are less likely to fund due to its innovative nature.
SafeMinds takes pride in our long-standing record of working to establish the scientific basis of the environmental contributions to autism, for pressing for policy changes which reflect the science and parent/patient experiences, and for promoting the proper treatments/outcomes for those affected. We will continue to work tirelessly for those adversely affected by toxic exposures including those from mercury, vaccines, and other toxicants – and for their loved ones. We are grateful for the support we continue to receive from the autism community and recognize that the autism epidemic will only be resolved through teamwork and collaborative effort on the part of many organizations and individuals.
For more information please visit www.SafeMinds.org.
 see the entire public panel segment for Mark's words during testimony and Q&A here: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/AutismRa time segment 3:11:55
In terms of the question “Where are we now?” look at estimates for 2012-2013 of the total flu shots and the "thimerosal free" flu shots available in this country.
Based on those estimates approximately 83 million doses of Thimerosal preserved flu vaccine will be distributed in the United States. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaxsupply.htm .
Each Thimerosal preserved flu shot has the same mercury by weight as one half cup of D009 mercury hazardous waste. And 83 million doses have the same mercury by weight as 2.5 million gallons of mercury hazardous waste.
These are the 2012-2013 doses available for injection into children and pregnant women.
Posted by: Jim Thompson | February 17, 2013 at 08:10 PM
FYI, on "Orac's" site now there is an article on "shills" and a Sadie Burke showed up as a first time poster who actually claims to be a former ghost writer for pharma. Of course the posters there are doing their best to just ignore her and hope she goes away. It's pretty funny!
Posted by: Jen | February 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM
@ Cassandra and Garbo
As I see it .. while "compromise" is the recognized art of "politics and politicians" .. too often the fine line between "reasonable compromise" and "unconditional surrender" is indistinguishable to otherwise well intentioned individuals. Such as ..
Remember the Combat Autism Act?
The CAA was introduced in the Senate by Rick Santorum and Christopher Dodd .. it was passed unanimously by the Senate in August 2006. The House version was introduced by Rep. Mary Bono and Diana DeGette .. it was passed by the lower chamber in December 2006.
According to Wikipedia .. "The House version differed slightly from the Senate version, directing funds for research to the Sec of HHS, rather than directly by the NIH". Ultimately, the "slightly revised" House bill subsequently approved by the Senate, was stripped of specific language that would have provided funding for investigating possible environmental (vaccines?) causes of autism.
At that time .. removing this language from the Senate bill seemed a "reasonable compromise" to many well respected and heavily invested autism organizations .. because .. the "revised" CAA provided nearly 1 BILLION dollars in expenditures, over the years beginning in 2007, to combat the autism spectrum disorders, Asperger's syndrome, Rett Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and PDD-NOS through screening, education, early intervention, prompt referrals for treatment and services .. and .. research.
Heavy criticism .. including that of the courageous Dr. Bernard Rimland .. .founder of ARI .. who characterized the "revised" CAA as the "Pretend Combat Autism Act" .. was met by the reasonable refrain of respected autism organizations that "half a loaf" was far better than "no loaf at all".
I will leave it to others to determine for themselves if that particular compromise was worth it .. but .. in the six years since the "revised" CAA passed .. we are still hearing public health officials claim .. "we don't know the cause of autism .. but .. we know it is not vaccines".
As the years slowly slip by .. how they KNOW it is "not the vaccines" .. remains a mystery to me .. because .. they have resisted all efforts to conduct critical research .. such as .. an independent study of "vaccinated v. unvaccinated" populations .. that would PROVE it is not the vaccines causing autism.
Don't know if Santorum's original language would have spurred this type of research over the years .. but .. I do know the "revised" language surely DID NOT.
Posted by: Bob Moffitt | February 16, 2013 at 09:11 AM
I am sure there are complexities I do not grasp, and I know that SafeMinds did not have a true seat at the negotiating table. But this is why IMO it was even more important for them to speak the truth and urgently call for elimination rather than phaseout. I think the fear of being labeled anti-vaccine and thereby marginalized is a legitimate one given all the community has experienced, but this meeting only comes around once every five years. If they hadn't the wherewithal to affect the negotiation, they at least ought to have stood boldly for their primary mission. They made the choice to pull their punch and live to fight another day. Maybe they are working behind the scenes with individual countries to get elimination enacted on a nation-by-nation basis. I hope so. But at this point, rhetorical incrementalism is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Splitting hairs only gives the weak an excuse to do nothing.
Posted by: Garbo | February 15, 2013 at 06:02 PM
I re-read Jake's post on Bolen. I then noodled over to Safeminds website. Among the other tidbits I discovered, this is of some interest to this discussion:
42 pages summarizing and discussing peer reviewed science about the toxicity of thimerosal, including several citations involving vaccines.
To suggest that Safeminds is not a welcome and helpful advocate in the battle to stop the iatrogenic disaster that is "autism" is false. Safeminds is right out front with the vaccine/brain damage connection, a simple review of their very comprehensive and easily accessible website makes that amply clear.
I have a very high regard for Jake and for AoA. I am not convinced by Jake's article that Safeminds co-opted the agenda of the Issa hearings. From my experiences in Washington, DC, I am not even sure that such a thing is possible, but I am open to possibility that I am mistaken on this point. The agenda is driven by the Reps and the staffers, pure and simple. The poster who mentioned Waxman in my view is more likely approaching the truth of the matter. Having Safeminds at the Issa hearings means that the vaccine/brain damage connection was in the room, at the hearings.
I regard Jake's willingness to investigate the back story of why Dr. Hooker was removed as a presenter as helpful. I applaud Dan Olmstead for responding to Jake's critique, and for linking to Jake's article so readers can evaluate on their own. Regarding The Bolen Report- much if not most of what I read there eventually turns out to be false- for example- the "vaccine construction" has not been "brought to it's knees," nor is it "moaning and whimpering" due to CoMed's presentations at UN hearings. Quite the contrary. Reading the e-mail in which Bolen threatens and attempts to coerce AoA is revealing of the character and motives of Bolen. I think he wants to sell a bunch of newsletters, and the more purple the prose he uses, the better for his objective.
I do not see a conflict between Jake's article and the mission of AoA, Safeminds, and other organizations and individuals outraged by the continuing collusion between govt and pharma to hide the obvious, documented casual association between vaccines and permanent brain damage. Jake raised concerns about the topic, agenda, and title of the Issa hearings, which in my opinion is a fair subject to discuss. AoA and Safeminds have responded in a reasonable and credible rebuttal. If Jake has more concerns or evidence of underhanded dealings, he has earned the right to make his opinions known. I look forward to reading many more columns by Jake and other contributors to AoA as the situation develops.
Posted by: ottoschnaut | February 15, 2013 at 09:15 AM
SafeMinds and especially Eric Uram worked very, very hard to try to get mercury out of vaccines. The charge that they asked for too little is ridiculous. Phase down was the only remote possibility that the parties were even willing to entertain due to WHO's insistence on the need for thimerosal in multi-dose vaccines.
What you have to know is that only countries are parties to the treaty, SafemInds had no negotiating power; as an NGO it served only as an observer. Developing countries should have been the ones asking for a ban but they were strong armed by WHO.
Posted by: Cassandra | February 14, 2013 at 06:13 PM
I used to be a lot more inclined to be pro 'Democratic' in my views (this based largely on my belief that universal healthcare is important and good). I really have come around to see things differently in the last few months- now I think personal freedom trumps anything else. I know both parties have been completely hijacked by lobbyists, but the Republicans seem to be more inclined to be questioning things.
Posted by: Jen | February 14, 2013 at 04:32 PM
In terms of the question "Where did we come from?" look at:
"Henry Waxman's Letter to Colleagues about Autism and Vaccines"
"Congressman Henry Waxman: Father of the Autism Epidemic"
Posted by: Jim Thompson | February 14, 2013 at 03:46 PM
My comments weren't any type of personal attack on you bayareamom, I was answering your question about vaccine rights in California. I am, and have been awake for quite a while now. I have researched extensively. I have no doubt whatsoever that both Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt. They both are teaming with special interests - nothing new there.
BUT, in regards to your question as to WHY AB 2109 was passed, WHY our vaccine rights are greatly reduced - it is public record: ALL Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate voted NO, and all but two Democrats voted YES. And we fought hard as hell to get those two Democrats to vote No. We had hoped to convince more, but no one else would oppose their party's support of this terrible bill. It was signed into law by our Democrat Governor. If there had been more Republicans voting, we would have defeated AB 2109. That is fact. If we still had a Republican Governor, it would have been vetoed.
I knew my post would get some people angry. If you are a Democrat, and are angry about the loss of your vaccine rights - tell your representatives at your State Capitol. ESPECIALLY the Democrats. Vaccine laws are state by state. Most people do not call, write or visit their elected officials to tell them their views. This is a huge mistake. They need to hear from every single one of us. I made over two dozen personal, face to face visits with state reps in regards to AB 2109. I, along with other parents fought very hard to hold on to vaccine rights in California. These are the facts: The Republicans supported us, the Democrats didn't. We tried to win them over. We would have loved to have had their support. But they were strongly opposed to any type of vaccine rights. Sure both Dems and Repubs have their own special interests, but we are talking about vaccine rights here. And here the Dems are against that.
Posted by: Sylvia | February 14, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Much more concerned about how SafeMinds failed at the International level than the backbiting about what happened in front of yet another do-nothing congressional committee. Their position re: UNEP treaty undercut the very purpose of the organization. That alone calls their overall intentions into question. Jake's airing might have been inappropriate, and even misguided, but any above-board organization with nothing to hide should be able to handle scrutiny without getting defensive.
Posted by: Garbo | February 14, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I never said I felt that what I was doing was great - far from it. What I've said IS THAT I'VE LEARNED how the game is played in politics, both as an activist with the vaccine issues (I used to run a support group) and on the advocacy level when our son's school district wasn't providing him with a FAPE. So I learned on just about every level just how this system is REALLY run and believe me, it isn't the way that I once thought.
You learn, you grow, and you alter your thinking processes when you start to realize that this world isn't what you think it is.
What's that saying - something like "If you keep doing the same things over and over again and expect a different outcome, that's the definition of insanity."
Something like that.
I get that I am ruffling some feathers out there, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are awakenings at various layers on the onion - you've all awakened to a certain level, but there's always more to learn.
I'm still learning, too! At this time in my life, I have other things going on that simply preclude me from being able to stay as active with this issue as I once was. But I can still try to share what I've learned with others that are still in the fold and hopefully, SOMEONE WILL LEARN TO LISTEN.
I know all of you have worked enormously hard with this issue; we all have. But clearly things are not moving in the direction they need to be, so perhaps its time to think about a different strategy.
I always say - learn from your enemies. What's their camp doing that our isn't? Frankly, they're doing a pretty damn straight good job with their pro vaccine agenda. Sure, it's true - we've pushed them into these rather draconian efforts to quell our voices.
But if you think for one moment that that last hearing is going to suddenly turn things around for all of us on this vaccine issue - think again.
Bottom line: It would be great to see HUGE NUMBERS of parents, healthcare providers from around the globe, to truly interact with one another and get this issue to the forefront. The problem is with NUMBERS - you just don't have enough numbers in the U.S. to make much of a difference. But if you can connect on a global basis - reach out to all those that have a dog in this race, that just might help get the job done. Reach across those borders; I used to do that when I ran my support group.
Right now, more and more Americans are losing their rights to the use of their exemptions; more parents are getting bullied and booted out of pediatric offices. Healthcare providers are losing their jobs if they don't get a flu vaccine...
So keep thinking that our political process is really going to help. So far, from where I'm sitting, it's been doing just the opposite.
Posted by: Bayareamom | February 14, 2013 at 02:23 PM
There is no true difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. MOST ALL of our political leaders are bought and paid for. Do a little research - wake up and find out what is really happening in our political circles. Most of these political leaders, even at the county level, are beholden to special interests - NOT TO US!
Further, Sylvia, my husband and I have been extremely active on the local level, just with our school district issues. We saw for ourselves that even at this lower level, the political hacks are beholden to those that FUND THEM - NOT TO US OR OUR CHILDREN.
This autism issue is HUGE and it is a global issue. I would suggest to all of you activists to start reaching out ON A GLOBAL EFFORT; REALLY connect with those on the other side of the globe and start figuring out a differing strategy.
How many years need to go by before you realize that our political process has been co-opted and NOT just by one side or the other?
Dr. O'Shea saw this when he was in Sacramento; didn't take him long to figure out what was really going on. HE GOT IT.
You want to swim with the sharks and expect they'll help you, keep thinking that. Eventually, they're going to bite you.
Posted by: Bayareamom | February 14, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Agree absolutely with Arthur. And, those of you who think you can do better...there is plenty of room to show us your stuff. Good luck
Posted by: itainteasy | February 14, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Do you know this as a fact or guessing?
It was a minority staff committee?
Is there anyway we the people can find out thier names or is this a secret?
Jenny Allan said it was probably because Dr. Brian Hooker was going to bring forth evidence of crimes and they had yet to be indited first and since most Congressmen are lawyers they figure this out and then did not have Dr. Brian Hooker to testify.
Either way; I don't see SafeMind having any influence on stuff like this. I wish they did.
Posted by: Benedetta | February 14, 2013 at 01:46 PM
"But these big pharma guys are moving faster to cut off our ability to just say NO to vaccines faster than a mouse runs to cheese."
When tyranny has seized your country you have to ask yourself 'Where do I draw the line?' What will I REFUSE to do no matter what "law" is passed?
It is hard to accept that our beloved country has been subverted and is being ruled by those seeking to destroy the USA. But we deny the truth to our demise.
The issue of "vaccination" can be the issue that turns this country around.
NO means NO.
NO means NO. I will stop taking my child to a class of doctor created to stick needles into "well children" until they are no longer well.
NO means NO. You CANNOT stick a needle in my children. OK they will not attend your government shooting gallery schools; I will home school them. The internet makes this so EASY.
NO means NO. You CANNOT stick a needle in me. You want to "vaccinate" me for some childhood disease? Are you crazy?
NO means NO. You CANNOT come in my home and "vaccinate" all of us for the H5N1 bio-weapon that you have created and can only be spread by NEEDLE; I still have my guns.
NO means NO. I will get the message out, NO VACCINATION. I will do my part to inform all I am able of the "tyranny of the NEEDLE" that is killing and maiming our children and we the people.
Posted by: Lou | February 14, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Brian Hooker's testimony would have been awesome, but was blocked by the Minority Staff of the Committee, many of whom subscribe to Henry Waxman's deep belief that you all are loony tunes.
So if you don't like what happened, complain to the Democrats, who have the power to make these decisions, not the people at SafeMinds, who do not.
Read a book on lawmaking, learn more about how Congress really works, get real, and grow up. If SafeMinds truly could dictate panel members at one of the most powerful committees in the House, the autism crisis would be over by now.
What kind of secret powers do you think these parents have?
Posted by: Arthur James | February 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Not to change the subject, but to answer Bayareamom's question: I was on the committee that worked night and day to fight the loss of exemption rights in California. And the reason why things are worse then they used to be is that now the Demcorats hold so much power. The Republicans supported our cause on the basis of Parental Rights. But they hold the minority. The Democrats are supported by the California Medical Association, who co-sponosored the bill. Big Pharma can't do jack-diddly unless Big Government holds open the barn door. As soon as our Republican Governor (who would have vetoed such a bill) left office, AB 2109 was drafted. I am not bashing Democrats. It is what it is. They are currently NOT supporting vaccine rights in California. If anyone who is reading this is getting mad and thinking I am simplyfing the issue, then I challange them to reach out to their Democrat Assemblypersons and Senators. Tell them how much you value vaccine rights. Then listen to their answer. They will most likely tell you that they think the "greater good" trumps YOUR most BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. Then it will become your job to change their minds. A handful of us can't do this alone. Each and every person reading this who cares about vaccine rights have to make themselves known to their state legistlators. Call, write, visit. Do what you can. But do it.
Posted by: Sylvia | February 14, 2013 at 11:18 AM
@ Bayeramom- I share your frustration, and your concerns. However, it would not serve any of us well, most certainly not our children, if SafeMinds were to share any behind the scenes observations, or conversations they may have had with elected officials, at that hearing, or even their game plan going forward. To reveal all would be like shoving important information into the faces of vaccine manufacturers and their well paid lobbyists. It would give Pharma an additional edge they do not deserve. Transparency in any organization is important, but it is also a double edged sword. Sometimes, less is more. I believe that is the case here.
All of us need to find the time to meet with our legislators, taking with us our neighbors, and friends, and other like-minded constituents -- to lobby them on behalf of our children and grandchildren -- and see just what is within the hearts and minds of our elected officials on the issues of vaccination choice, religious exemptions, philosophical exemptions, broadening medical exemptions that are too narrow, and on protecting heath care workers facing annual flu vaccine mandates in order to keep their jobs. If we (each and every one of us-- and I am not pointing a finger at you) do not do that, we have no right to criticize the work done by those who do. We must all try our hardest to make an impact, if we are to make any headway at all. United, we will succeed.
Posted by: Not an MD | February 14, 2013 at 10:09 AM
To Bayareamom's points, I do think the one thing the other side is trying to do is to scare us into feeling that we need to align ourselves with only certain "types" of people. MIstake! We need Trump, Tim Bolen etc. When you really look at all the ground that has been lost you can see this.
Posted by: Jen | February 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM
Monsignor Francis L. Sampson, a priest from South Dakota, http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/99999999/FAMOUSIOWANS/712160326/Sampson-Francis-L- , once told this story at a funeral homily for a fellow resident. From memory it goes: “While I was a POW I went through five questions each day to help me survive: Where did I come from? Where am I now? How did I get here? Where am I going? How am I going to get there?”
We all have something to give here. Safeminds did a great job. Let’s figure out where we are going and how we are going to get there. For the one minute spent reading this comment there is on average 160 flu shots given in the U.S. with Thimerosal preservative (each with the same mercury by weight as a half cup of D009 mercury hazardous waste).
Posted by: Jim Thompson | February 14, 2013 at 08:52 AM
Gaggle of geese
Cawl of a crow
They both are social animals, and like to be with the flock.
Untill Age of Autism there was not permanent flock, no information.
Posted by: Benedetta | February 14, 2013 at 07:45 AM
"I've got to tell you, I'm not seeing one reply from anyone which would help confirm for me that that hearing was nothing more than a dog and pony show."
In the UK we are all well accustomed to Government 'Dog and Pony' shows. The latest political talking shop is ongoing, and particularly concerns the 'pony', in a strictly LITERAL as averse to metaphorical sense.
It turns out that we have all been eating 'pony', almost certainly for years and years, in processed 'beef'burgers and minced 'beef' processed products. The well paid members of the Food Standards Agency seem to been completely unaware of this scam; they were far too 'busy' bringing in regulations to prevent Womens Guild members from using recycled jam jars, when selling home made jam at their fund raising bring and buy sales. This seems to be the way that government departments function these days.
Perhaps it was ever thus; they say ‘Nero fiddled while Rome burned’.
Apparently some of this horsemeat was unfit for human consumption, containing banned animal drugs. In many cases the 'beef' products also contained pork DNA. I am not sure about 'dog', but they have now extended their testing to other meats.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | February 14, 2013 at 05:18 AM
Wow, good points, Bayareamom. So, why don't you start an advocacy group and do it better?
What are you doing that is so great?
Mark Blaxill and Lyn Redwood et al have been working so hard for so long. It's extremely frustrating that more has not changed. But I don't think the solution is to malign them. They're not gods with power that they choose not to use. They are just some human beings trying to make a difference.
We probably will never know how those choices of panelists were made, why, and by whom. But SafeMinds says they did not ask to replace Brian Hooker. I don't think we have reason to believe they are lying.
Who knows whether this hearing will have an effect. But it was totally amazing to me to see this group of congresspeople asking the questions they asked. They had clearly been educated on these topics by a number of parents and others. Compared to the usual blank wall of denialism this was a breakthrough.
No one thing is going to change anything. But a lot of things do add up to something. At least now when a child has a vaccine reaction the parents will be more likely to see that it is a vaccine reaction, instead of just a Mystery with no explanation and keep vaxing on the standard schedule.
Posted by: Twyla | February 14, 2013 at 01:55 AM
I agree with Maurine. And I think Safeminds owes Brian Hooker an apology.
Posted by: Jenna | February 13, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Ok, this is my last post on the matter. Maureen, imagine that Dr. Hooker did testify, what difference do you think this would have made? Do you think CNN, Fox News, and the other major newspapers would have dropped what they were doing and 'bite the hand that feeds them' to report the shocking scandal of a Government thimerosal cover-up! On the contrary, the more damning stuff we throw at the them the more skillfully they twist it back on us. Folks, we are going up against elite forces, with the latest state of the art weaponry. They are fighting for their life, or lucrative livelihood --which for them is pretty much the same thing. Expect the war to be long, hard, and bloody. The Hearing was a victory for us in that real seeds of doubt were sowed. Can we at least celebrate this while we prepare for the many more battles to come?
Posted by: Greg | February 13, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Whatever. Why didn't Dr. Hooker testify?
Posted by: Heidi | February 13, 2013 at 10:52 PM
..."I know, we have lots of people working hard, but can we move faster than than a car in 3 feet of snow?"
That's what I'm sayin'. I certainly understand the good/bad with this issue and I definitely 'get' that 'they' are pushing back harder than ever because there are so many folks that have concerns about vaccines. But these big pharma guys are moving faster to cut off our ability to just say NO to vaccines faster than a mouse runs to cheese.
I'd still like to see that bullet point memo from SafeMinds (or anyone else who participated in that hearing) and simply inform us just what - exactly - is being hammered out about all of the issues that were raised.
It would be LOVELY to see that pediatricians are being asked to change their attitude about bullying parents into vaccinating; it'd be lovely to see legislation enacted in each and every state which would allow parents the option to opt out of vaccinating IF THAT WAS THEIR CHOICE (I still think most parents would opt to vaccinate).
But that noose is tightening faster and harder on American's abilities to personal choice/freedom when it comes to vaccination and THAT is what is concerning to me.
I feel for the somewhat newbie parents here in our state who will no longer have the option as my husband and I have had, in simply signing off on that blue card inserted in with our son's school packet, declining vaccines. There was no hassle whatsoever.
As I've stated, it is really getting rough out there, in spite of all our efforts.
Posted by: Bayareamom | February 13, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Dr. Hooker suggested that redacted email messages showed that the prevalence of ASD in Denmark decreased soon after thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines there. I'm still not clear on this: What was the prevalence of ASD in Denmark just before thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines there, and what is it now?
Posted by: nd | February 13, 2013 at 10:21 PM
While we may never know why certain witnesses were chosen it is clear who chose them.
Rule 2— Meetings
"The regular meetings of the full committee shall be held on the second Thursday of each month at 10 a.m., when the House is in session. The chairman is authorized to dispense with a regular meeting or to change the date thereof, and to call and convene additional meetings, when circumstances warrant. A special meeting of the committee may be requested by members of the committee pursuant to the provisions of House Rule XI, clause 2(c)(2). Subcommittees shall meet at the call of the subcommittee chairs. Every member of the committee, unless prevented by unusual circumstances, shall be provided with a memorandum at least three calendar days before each meeting or hearing explaining: (1) the purpose of the meeting or hearing; and (2) the names, titles, background and reasons for appearance of any witnesses. The ranking minority member shall be responsible for providing the same information on witnesses whom the minority may request."
Rule 7 — Subcommittee Scheduling
"(d) Each subcommittee chair shall notify the chairman of any hearing plans at least two weeks before the date of commencement of the hearings, including the date, place, subject matter, and the names of witnesses, willing and unwilling, who would be called to testify, including, to the extent the chair is advised thereof, witnesses whom the minority members may request."
You have heard both sides of the disagreement. If anyone is still questioning whether or not Safeminds had any control over who testified one only needs to contact the Committee Chair and the Ranking Minority Member.
Posted by: Tim Kasemodel | February 13, 2013 at 10:13 PM
I don't want to be a crow in a gaggle of geese, but I still have no explanation as to why Brian Hooker didn't testify. If Safe Minds also wanted to do this, why couldn't both of them have done it? And why was Ari allowed to air his views when the Hearing was supposed to be on vaccines and autism. I still feel like I'm standing at that fork in the road that leads in 10 directions and has no sign where they might take me. I know, we have lots of people working hard, but can we move faster than than a car in 3 feet of snow?
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | February 13, 2013 at 07:44 PM
What needs to be understood is exactly how the brain is affected by mercury. This is known. See:
 OYANAGI K et al. The auditory system in methyl mercurial intoxication: a neuropathological investigation on 14 autopsy cases in Niigata, Japan. Acta Neuropathol. 1989;77(6):561-8.
The auditory system is most vulnerable to any toxic substance, and it is most vulnerable to a brief lapse in respiration at birth. I will continue to try to point out a seminal paper by Seymour Kety, former director of the NIMH. See:
 KETY SS. Regional neurochemistry and its application to brain function. Bull N Y Acad Med. 1962 Dec;38:799-812, free online at:
Kety used a radioactive tracer to measure blood-flow in the brain, and was surprised to find that it is highest in nuclei of the auditory pathway.
My son with autism is now 50 years old. I have been trying to be heard since 1975. See:
 SIMON N. Echolalic speech in childhood autism. Consideration of possible underlying loci of brain damage. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975 Nov;32(11):1439-46.
I submitted testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and I will continue to try to be included in the conversation. The brain impairment underlying the language handicap in autism, and deficits in social awareness, should have been understood decades ago.
Posted by: Eileen Nicole Simon | February 13, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Bay Area Mom;
You seem a tad frustrated.
I know the feeling.
Posted by: Benedetta | February 13, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Lawyer up! Then its a single choice for congress.
Much gratitude to SafeMinds! Thank you.
Posted by: s | February 13, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Bayareamom, you made some very keen observations that on the surface it doesn't seem we are making very good headway with our fight against vaccines. Yet, I think an important distinction needs to be made. With Government they seem to be digging their heels in and it doesn't appear we are winning. With the general public, however, we are seeing more success with a quarter of the population believing vaccination is responsible for autism, and nearly half delaying or skipping vaccines. I say we continue to take our case to average parent 'Joe' and 'Joeanne' who may be debating the issue of vaccinating their child. Anne Dachel, I especially commend you in this area with your blogs. The more distrust we create with vaccines, the harder it will be for Government, Big Pharma, and their friends to defend them. In fact, perhaps its because they sense we are starting to win the hearts and minds of the public why they are resorting to draconian laws and policies.
Posted by: Greg | February 13, 2013 at 05:05 PM
I am a "senior" citizen .. and .. I seem to recall reading about a high official in former President Lyndon Johnson's staff .. increduously asking the President .. why on earth he appointed someone he knew was hostile to his views .. to serve on a particular committee he had formed. Here is Johnson's crude response:
"Because I would rather have him inside the tent pissing out .. than outside the tent pissing in".
Remember .. Johnson .. a master politician .. knew "compromise" is the art of politics .. and .. he also knew .. if someone wants to remain inside the tent .. they would .. on occasion .. have to "compromise" their basic principles to do so.
Please do not misunderstand my comments .. they are not meant to suggest or imply that SafeMinds has "compromised" anything .. becasue .. this organization is beyond reproach as far as I am concerned. However, I do offer these comments as constructive ..
Perhaps the time has come .. after ten years .. for SafeMinds to conduct a critical evaluation of the "benefits gained" from being invited ... and .. then remaining .. "inside Johnson's tent"?
Posted by: Bob Moffitt | February 13, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Why was Dr. Hooker not allowed to testify? Who was responsible (I gather from what I have read that he expected to testify and had made extensive preparations to do so)?
Posted by: Theodore Van Oosbree | February 13, 2013 at 03:00 PM
I applaud the post by Bayareamom
Posted by: gavrillo | February 13, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Well said, Bayareamom.
Posted by: Linda | February 13, 2013 at 01:06 PM
In reading the newsletters that I receive on a continuous basis, I have a few questions or one in particular, but here's a short review as to what is happening in 'vaccine world." Example: the following from a recent NVIC newsletter:
Vaccine Tracking & Registry Bills
"Legislators in Idaho, Texas and North Dakota have introduced bills either expanding electronic vaccine tracking registries or removing informed consent protections from them in violation of medical privacy. NVIC is actively monitoring vaccine tracking bills and electronically notifying NVIC Advocacy Portal users so they can be put in immediate contact with their own state legislators and voice opposition to the tagging and tracking citizen's vaccination status by government officials without advance voluntary consent."
And the following statements from an article re: forced flu vaccines for nurses:
..."The mandates aren't ironclad. Hospitals typically offer exemptions for anyone who can demonstrate a religious objection or a legitimate health-related reason to avoid vaccination. (Serious reactions to the flu shot are extremely rare — fewer than 5 in a million, CDC says.)
But some health workers have refused the vaccination on the grounds that they have a personal objection to putting any foreign substance in their bodies. That flimsy objection hardly outweighs patients' rights not to be unnecessarily exposed to a virus that could kill them.
Hospitals, health officials and state legislators are right to draw the line in favor of protecting patients, not health care workers' jobs. If the employees disagree, they're free to go into another line of work."
"Too many hospitals, whose mantra is profits, not patient safety, favor forced vaccinations while cutting nursing or housekeeping staff, and denying paid sick leave, as most industrialized nations ensure. Lack of sick time helped spread 5 million cases of flu-like illnesses during the swine flu outbreak, the American Journal of Public Health reported.
Threatening caregivers only creates a more hostile, less therapeutic environment, and is counter to the mission of healing, recovery and public safety."
Additionally, I live in California and have just witnessed the very effectual pro big pharma efforts to essentially strip Californians of their right to the use of our long held philosophical exemption.
..."Over the years, SafeMinds has established a professional relationship with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (COGR) due to its ongoing interest in autism. Since 2000, six SafeMinds board members have testified before COGR, its precursors or subcommittees, in hearings regarding mercury, vaccines and the autism epidemic. The most recent hearing took place on November 29, 2012. SafeMinds was asked to testify and Mark Blaxill represented us."
From the above, I can assume that much has been done by various members of SafeMinds to help in this cause. But yet, despite the ongoing professional relationship SafeMinds has established with the House Committee on Government Oversight, what has REALLY TRULY CHANGED with this issue?
Are we seeing a DECREASE in the rate of autism? No. Are we seeing the implementation of exemptions in all states which would allow parents who have concerns with vaccines the ability to opt out or the ability to implement an alternative vaccine schedule? No.
Are we seeing an increase in the numbers of vaccines being added to an already overly burdened vaccine schedule here in the United States? Yes.
Are we seeing additional steps within which to track every single American citizen into these vaccine tracking systems, as is being reported in an NVIC recent newsletter, here:
..."As the federal goverment moves to expand adult and child use of vaccines through achievement of Healthy People 2020 goals,  including forcing adults as well as children into electronic vaccine tracking systems, NVIC is working with citizens in every state to defend medical records privacy and voluntary vaccine choices..."
I don't mean to come off as some sort of a Negative Nancy (as a friend once accused me of), but one has got to ask the hard question: If everyone has been doing such a fantastic job, then WHY are things getting far more abysmal out there because the fact of the matter is, IT'S MUCH WORSE NOW than it used to be.
So how is this professionalism associated with these government/political entities HELPING our cause? How is that actually working for us? Because I'm not seeing it. I've been involved with this activism a lot longer than some of you folks and believe me when I tell you that it was NOT this bad when our son was born back in 1993.
So instead of patting ourselves on the backs as to what a great job we've all been doing, I think the bottom line should BE the bottom line - it's not getting better for our kids. This situation we are now faced with, is far from tenable.
So it seems to me that whatever we've all been doing in our collective efforts to STEM this rotten stinking mess isn't working too awfully well.
Again, I must ask: What ACCOMPLISHMENTS were actually made after this last hearing? How about a bullet point memorandum from SafeMinds as to the actual steps being implemented to assure the rest of us that weren't exactly 'in the loop and behind the scenes' with this last hearing, that something is actually being DONE to ensure the utmost safety of our kids (and adults) with this vaccine issue?
Because so far, I've got to tell you, I'm not seeing one reply from anyone which would help confirm for me that that hearing was nothing more than a dog and pony show.
Posted by: Bayareamom | February 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM
"Committee members got a firsthand look at the devastation impacting hundreds of thousands"
Millions of vaccine destroyed you mean .
We'll have the mercury criminals begging for mercy by 2095 at this speed .
Posted by: gavrillo | February 13, 2013 at 09:43 AM
Jenny Allen's comment on a previous article on this topic was as always excellent, and she sums it up for me.
Both Dr. Brian Hooker's spirit and influence were there in that House of Congress. Jenny points out a very good reason of why he was going to testify, and then did not, in front of a room full of basically-- lawyers. Thank God for good lawyers!
Jenny Allen thinks there have actually been crimes by several federal agencies!
Well, it sure seems like that to me too.
I don't think I was the only person watching what went on when Barbara Fisher went to Washington back in the early 80s.
Barbara Fisher, like I, did not know we were dealing with criminals! I thought we were dealing with a rare event, not enough awareness, untrained, clueless - yet caring professionals!
I was barely 20 years old when I took a communicable disease class in 1977 and heard a older student who was out in the real world of nursing; bring up vaccine injuries, and that parents were complaining. I had no idea why the professor of the class spent a good 10 minutes of every lecture to tell us how safe vaccines were, all I knew - I did not have to bother to take notes during that time, and give my hand a rest. .
That was the same year that a bunch of my nursing friends, and I piled in an old clunker of a car, and ended up getting one of a series of three; swine flu shots. It would have been far better if we had gone down to the local tattoo parlor, instead. Maybe; we should have all loosened up, and gone to the "horrors of horrors" a drinking establishment! Especially, when a few months later they withdrew the swine flu vaccine because it was causing paralysis.
None of us understood that the people behind the swine flu vaccine fiasco were criminals who were experimenting on the public just like the Nazis. It was lawsuits that caused that vaccine to be withdrawn!
In 1989, after Barbara Fisher/vaccine compensation court ordeal, I finally was able to receive by mail from our beloved, trusted government; a copy of the vaccine
table injuries! The table was so precise that a child having an immediate vaccine reaction, and encephalopathy; could not have a temperature over 102, and be compensated; and that temperature had to be documented by a doctor.----- And why could I not find a lawyer other than one way off in Boston?
What do you call that kind of trick when an organization pretends they are doing something, but throws in a little something that eliminates everyone. It is an old trick - surely it has a name? What ever it is - it has to be a crime too.
Ahhh, 1989 that was when I started seeing where this was going - a new vaccine or a booster for a vaccine given out like those cheap little dumb-dumb suckers after getting rid of all those "JUNK Lawsuits"!
I don't want this to be a rift in what is now an autism family that believes vaccines are the cause in the rise of autism, and other autoimmune diseases that will bring our world to it's knees (most have knee replacment because of the vaccines - just thought I would mention that).
Tim Bolen I noticed sent a cordial email to Dan Olmstead.
Jake, I am glad you wrote this article -it brought out a discussion, and helped clear the air. I was upset at first - but it was the right thing to do. Tim Bolen printed it, and it was the right thing to do.
Dan Olmstead lead the readers to the article and again it was the right thing to do.
The whole community looked at it, argued about it, discussed it, and it was the right thing to do. This will only make our leaders stronger and more ready for what is to come.
I thank you all for your openness in this matter.
Posted by: Benedetta | February 13, 2013 at 08:25 AM
Yes, let's get going and focus on more important issues related to House Committee work. The time, energy and resources devoted to issues Mr. Crosby should have brought to our attention for INTERNAL review is appalling. The fact the Bolen Report only sought to publicize this issue is troubling as well. Our investigation, easily substantiated, should now put this to rest. Sunshine is a disinfectant, but what we had here was overkill...
Posted by: Eric Uram - Executive Director SafeMinds | February 13, 2013 at 08:23 AM
Yes, stay focused and move on.
Posted by: Jill | February 13, 2013 at 07:34 AM
Ok, now we have an official response. Let's put the issue behind us and move ahead. We have truth on our side -- vaccines cause autism. Our purpose is best served by working together.
Posted by: Greg | February 13, 2013 at 06:43 AM