By Dawn Loughborough
“What’s past is prologue.”
Autism prevalence is 1 in 50 in the U.S. How is the Agent Orange health compensation fiasco for Veterans the same as Vaccine Safety and Autism? Thousands of Viet Nam Veterans exposed to the chemical Agent Orange were denied compensation, there was an obstruction of justice, and it took a directive from Congress to fix it over the course of 30 years.
Congress issued a directive for federal agency vaccine safety studies including baseline studies to show exposure and health outcomes (VICA Section 27). In a rising autism epidemic, unfettered science and detailed analysis hold promise for answers, but data is far from available and the process for collection and access to de-identified data remains stymied.
And according to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, obstructions of justice that may have denied thousands of vaccine injured children with Autism compensation in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program appears to have been revealed through malfeasance in CDC science studies, possible destruction of early 1990’s government studies showing mercury issues, alleged removal of unvaccinated children from the data sources making it harder to perform vaccinated v unvaccinated studies, and barred transparency to the Vaccine Safety Datalink for independent research.
Chairman Issa of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, currently conducting the complex Benghazi investigation, says that when a plane crashes, investigators produce crash reports that record the tiniest details and put together the pieces to explain what happened. The public desires that same “crash report” approach for children’s health epidemics.
But Coleen Boyle, a director of the CDC department involved in childhood developmental disabilities and autism prevalence studies has down played Autism as an epidemic and the science-related vaccine concerns in her congressional testimonies. Autism prevalence has not been reported in terms of categories of autisms. It is unknown, for example, how many children developed normally and then regressed into Autism and following what exposures.
In reviewing prevalence counting and exposure concerns, the Viet Nam Veteran presents a historical context for the living history families are experiencing as part of the Autism Epidemic. How is Autism like Agent Orange? Here is the story.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 1983 became responsible for the prevalence counting for Viet Nam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a jungle defoliant chemical, made by Monsanto and Dow chemical companies, associated with causing complex multi-system diseases.
Viet Nam Veterans were denied acknowledgment of and compensation for debilitating illnesses after they were exposed to Agent Orange in the jungles of Viet Nam. In fact, it was not until an Admiral Zumwalt testified via classified hearings in Congress in 1990 that Veterans started to see scientific studies confirming their illnesses and compensation relief from the health outcome atrocities they experienced through exposure to this chemical.
Agent Orange exposure was considered harmless by the government, and the burden lay with veterans who had to prove that there were chemical exposure health related illnesses. And then, after proving relationship in causation, the government produced studies that further denied claims of injured Veterans, thereby protecting the chemical companies. Denial was based upon coincidence, but it turns out there were those who knew about the dangers of Agent Orange as early as 1964:
“DA NANG, Vietnam — James R. Clary was a young Air Force officer and scientist who designed the spray tank for the C-123 cargo planes that dispensed Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War.
Thirteen years after the conflict ended, with serious concerns being raised in Congress about the effects of defoliants on veterans’ health, Clary dropped a startling bombshell: Military scientists had known that herbicides shipped to Vietnam were contaminated with dioxin and had “the potential for damage” to human health.
“However, because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy,’ none of us were overly concerned,” Clary wrote to then-Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. “We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide.”
Full story here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/07/22/197316/makers-of-agent-orange-followed.html#.Ue4MRY0sm0c
Similar to what parents are told after they witness their children’s regression into Autism following vaccine exposure, Viet Nam Veterans were denied answers. Having mystery around potential causes has obstructed medical treatment innovation, compensation, and justice to both soldiers and now children who are victims of the war on infectious disease.
The CDC was asked to report on prevalence numbers. The process the CDC went through was to determine who had been exposed and when. Later these studies were used to determine those who would be compensated for health related issues caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
According to Admiral Zumwalt’s 1990 testimony, which is now unclassified, the studies were abysmal. Admiral Zumwalt’s testimony stated that the CDC diluted results to deny claims of veterans and the Agent Orange prevalence method was manipulative against Viet Nam Veterans seeking justice. He stated:
“After reviewing the scientific literature related to the health effects of Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange … I conclude that there is adequate evidence for the Secretary to reasonably conclude that … there is a relationship between exposure to Agent Orange and the following health problems: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, … bone cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects, skin cancer, porphyria cutanea tarda and other liver disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, hematopoietic diseases, multiple myeloma, neurological defects, auto-immune diseases and disorders, leukemia, lung cancer, kidney cancer, malignant melanoma, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, nasal/pharyngeal/esophageal cancers, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, psychosocial effects and gastrointestinal diseases.
I further conclude that the Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards has not acted with impartiality in its review and assessment of the scientific evidence related to the association of adverse health effects and exposure to Agent Orange.”
This is similar to the concerns raised by parents of children with regressive Autism who have witnessed the cascading effects of vaccine injury and multi-system damage. Thousands of families were involved in an Autism Omnibus class action suit that would have been one of the largest government compensation programs mounting potential pay outs in the trillion dollar amounts.
One family alone had received compensation ordered for $20 million dollars for vaccine damage that led to the child’s symptoms of Autism. Imagine the incentive to deny vaccine compensation for Autism and hide the fact that there were problems with vaccines, such as mercury in Thimerosal, from the public to protect the National Vaccine Program.
The admiral continued:
“Unfortunately, as hearings before the Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee on July 11, 1989 revealed, the design, implementation and conclusions of the CDC study were so ill conceived as to suggest that political pressures once again interfered with the kind of professional, unbiased review Congress had sought to obtain.”
He went on to describe how the prevalence counting methods were changed and re-issued, how veterans were re-grouped creating further delays and confusion around identifying prevalence and how the numbers were manipulated to describe specific outcomes. The CDC said the company-specific records were unreliable, however, military records and peer reviewed data by the American Legion showed a reliable exposure classification system essential to epidemiologic studies of Vietnam Veterans.
The CDC studies protected the industry over the veterans and up until Admiral Zumwalt’s testimony negated compensation and health justice for our veterans. In an article written in the Chicago Tribune Watchdog here is what was stated about veteran Jack Cooley:
"The government has been slow to recognize the connection between wartime service and debilitating diseases that strike Vietnam veterans decades later. Even when they suffer from conditions officially linked to Agent Orange, veterans can wait years for their requests for disability compensation to run through the VA system.”
So what was Coleen Boyle’s role in Agent Orange? In 1984 she joined the CDC as part of the prevalence reporting team for Agent Orange on the VES Mortality Study Staff. In 1987, this study staff said that there was not a causal connection between Agent Orange exposure and health outcomes of veterans.
“As part of the Agent Orange staff, Dr. Boyle served as the principal investigator for the Vietnam Experience mortality studies and as senior epidemiologist for a large, multi-centered cancer case-control study.”
After the date of the congressional hearing with Admiral Zumwalt, Coleen Boyle was listed as part of a study that looked at the prevalence of Viet Nam veterans who had children with spina bifida called “The Embryo Study”. The study showed that those men who had reported a higher exposure to Agent Orange had a higher than normal likelihood of fathering children with spina bifida.
In 2001, Dr. Boyle transferred from Viet Nam Veterans to Children. She was named the Associate Director for Science and Public Health for the then newly created National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at CDC. In October 2004, Dr. Boyle was appointed the Director of the Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, NCBDDD. Dr. Jose Cordero, director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disability, announced that Dr. Coleen Boyle had accepted the position of director. Dr. Boyle joined the Interagency Autism Coordinating Council (IACC) as a Federal member in 2010.