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Monday, August 08, 2005

NY Times Article Misrepresents Facts In Autism Mercury Link Cover-up

For Immediate Release
Please freely disseminate with copyright intact
UnInformed Consent

August 8 , 2005 12:00AM

UNINFORMED CONSENT, SEATTLE. WA – May of 2003 was a tremulous time for the internationally known NEW YORK TIMES when Jayson Blair's plagiarism debacle threatened to erode the paper’s credibility. Blair’s fictional reporting propelled the 1.6 million readership paper into the headlines, an uncomfortable place for any news outlet. For months afterward, the Times exercised damage control while numerous editors resigned. Still the Times exercises damage control.

Currently they are continuing their in-house design to be publicly proactive.

June 25th, 2005, two seasoned NY Times reporters ran what was represented as objective coverage on recent allegations of a government cover-up of a link between epidemic levels of mercury exposure in vaccines, medications and dental amalgam that cause ADD, autism and neurological disease.

Their article was picked up all over the nation by other respectable newspapers and featured prominently. The information has since been quoted throughout the journalistic chasm as ammunition supporting government authorities’ cries that there is a witch hunt a foot against thimerosal (mercury) and for some individuals personally for a “cover-up.”

This coverage was replete with errors, omissions, obfuscation, marginalizing and outright misstatement of fact. One of these reporters has already written another piece on the same issue with similar traits.

If the allegations of a systematic cover-up of mercury exposure through government mandated vaccines, medications and mercury dental fillings affecting millions - possibly over 90% of the American public are true, then the authors of this article are willing accomplices.

Equally troubling, in order to spin their tale of distortion, spin and marginalizing and omissions, these reporters had to have been in possession of the truth.

Why seasoned reporters, Gardiner Harris and Anahad O’Connor, would go to such lengths to twist a story so important is hard to imagine.

Why they would jeopardize their careers with misinformation that just a few clicks of a mouse could easily disprove is equally hard to fathom.

Their piece ran June 25, 2005: NYTimes "On Autism's Cause, It's Parents vs. Research"

The following comprises a list of the misrepresentations within the article along with corrections and comments:

1. The NYT article states:
“In a series of House hearings held from 2000 through 2004, Mr. Burton called the leading experts who assert that vaccines cause autism to testify. They included a chemistry professor at the University of Kentucky who says that dental fillings cause or exacerbate autism and other diseases and a doctor from Baton Rouge, La., who says that God spoke to her through an 87-year-old priest and told her that vaccines caused autism.”

a) The obfuscation of the“chemistry professor”

One has to question the motivation behind omitting names of scientific experts who have such solid credentials. Experts who can support, with scientific evidence, claims that vaccines and dental fillings “cause or exacerbate autism.”

The omitted mystery professor is no doubt the well-respected and outspoken Dr. Boyd Haley PhD., a professor and Chair of the University of Kentucky’s Chemistry Department, with a joint appointment in the College of Pharmacy.

Haley’s credentials are impressive. He received his MA in Chemistry from the University of Idaho, PhD from Washington State University and did his postdoctoral work at Yale. HaleyCV

Dr. Haley is well published in over 150 peer-reviewed publications. He is an internationally known and respected scientist and is one of the most knowledgeable scientists on mercury on the face of the earth. Haley’s studies on the effects of mercury on humans are cutting edge science based on well-established scientific standards.

b) An unnamed witness “who says that God spoke to her through an 87-year-old priest and told her that vaccines caused autism.”

In reviewing over transcripts of the investigation hearings that the House (Congressional) committee held regarding the issue of Mercury in childhood vaccines, no witness fits the description of “a doctor from Baton Rouge, LA., who says that God spoke to her through an 87-year-old priest and told her that vaccines caused autism.”

c) Pairing an un-named professor with an un-named marginalized witness

It is clear this marginalized un-named witness paired with the obfuscated mystery professor testifying during the investigation by the “House committee” was designed to marginalize Representative Dan Burton (R-Indiana), the Chair of the US Congressional Committee On Government Reform.

d) Clarification of the “House committee”

The “House committee” is the Committee on Government Reform is the same “House committee” that drafted and designed the Department of Homeland Security and the Vaccine Compensation Program.

2. In describing experts Dr. Mark Geier and his son David Geier the article states:

“He and his son live and work in a two-story house in suburban Maryland. Past the kitchen and down the stairs is a room with cast-off, unplugged laboratory equipment, wall-to-wall carpeting and faux wood paneling that Dr. Geier calls "a world-class lab - every bit as good as anything at N.I.H."

a) Public Property Records

According to publicly available property records, this “two-story house” is a 6222 square foot, luxury brick home with a basement on 1.6 acres located in a wealthy suburb in Maryland.

Picture: Two-story Geier residence in Maryland

The property sports an Olympic sized tennis court, a lap pool, a green house, a hot tub, and granite countertops throughout along with “wall-to-wall carpeting,” granite floors and expensive “faux wood paneling.”

A quick peek at sales in the neighborhood shows comparable properties to be selling at around $1.8 million. This is hardly the portrayal that the NYT authors described.

This property also has a “world-class lab” with first class lab equipment installed by Dr. Geier himself at some considerable expense.

3. The article goes on to describe the Geiers:

“Dr. Geier has been examining issues of vaccine safety since at least 1971, when he was a lab assistant at the National Institutes of Health, or N.I.H. His résumé lists scores of publications, many of which suggest that vaccines cause injury or disease."

It is apparent these authors have Dr. Geier’s résumé in hand. In reviewing Dr. Geier’s résumé, it clearly states that in 1971 he was a “Graduate Student in the Department of Human Genetics and Development, Columbia University, New York, NY.”

In addition it states Dr. Geier enjoyed over a ten year tenure at the NIH as a researcher (not a lab assistant) and was one of the leading researchers who discovered how to move bacterial/human genes (splitting genes). For this Geier has enjoyed international acclaim in his field being written up in the NY Times, Time, Science, Newsweek, and many other respected publications.

Dr. Geier continues his vocation as a well respected board-certified PhD in genetics, published research scientist and practicing MD. Dr. Geier’s research has been published in over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Mark Geier CV

Geier’s research and his son David, who is an accomplished biochemist and graduate student at George Washington University in his own right, have together been published in over 30 peer-reviewed publications something unheard of in graduate work and coveted by any ethical medical school. David Geier CV

We were unable to locate where Geier ever worked as a “lab assistant”. Perhaps the authors could be kind enough to share that piece of information.

4. The article goes on to describe Geier’s testimony:

“He (Geier) has also testified in more than 90 vaccine cases, he said, although a judge in a vaccine case in 2003 ruled that Dr. Geier was "a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise and experience."

The intimation is that Geier has personally derived revenue from his expert testimony in more than 90 vaccine cases. None of these cases have reached conclusion nor have we been able to locate any case where Geier has received revenue for his testimony.

“In other cases, judges have called Dr. Geier's testimony "intellectually dishonest," "not reliable" and "wholly unqualified."

This attention cast on comments out of context that, no doubt, came from an interview with Geier himself - quotes that were made in a short minority of cases in which he appeared.

The NYT authors did not mention ANY of the cases representing the majority where Geier received significant praise for his expertise in vaccines. Some of the omissions even included passing a Daubert challenge*- a prestigious compliment not handed out to just any expert witness:

US District Court (Federal Court), Jeffries v. Centre Life Insurance Company, et al., Civil Action Full Quote

“According to Dr. Geier, he relied on the following combination of factor which leads him to the conclusion that plaintiff had an adverse reaction to the hepatitis B vaccine:

Medical plausibility;

Studies in peer-reviewed literature documenting a connection between hepatitis B vaccine and adverse reactions;
Case studies reporting similar reactions;
Plaintiff’s reaction occurred in an acceptable time period following the vaccination;
All of this in conjunction with the VAERS [Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System] database association…(sic)
That the hepatitis B vaccine contains mercury and aluminum compounds, and
That these substances in vaccines have been shown to cause cognitive defects.

The combination of factors provides a reasonably reliable basis for Dr. Geier to conclude that Plaintiff’s cognitive impairments were caused by an adverse reaction to hepatitis B vaccine, and that opinion is, of course relevant to the issues in this case. Therefore, the motion to exclude Dr. Geier’s testimony is not well-taken and is denied. His opinion could be helpful to the jury.”

*The Daubert Decision was a precedent setting case where criteria of expert witnesses were set. In the Daubert case the court decided that juries were not sophisticated enough to decide what was real science and what was junk science so the court now makes that decision. Courts sometimes will create a Daubert Challenge through a mini hearing to determine whether the credentials of the expert are worthy.

United States Court of Federal Claims, (McClendon v. HHS**), the judge referred to Dr. Geier expertise: Full Quote

“Dr. Geier’s expertise and professional credibility clearly transcends that of Dr. Lockhart. Given the totality of the circumstances, therefore it is crystal clear that Dr. Geier’s testimony is entitled to substantially more weight than that of Dr. Lockhart… Moreover, the record persuasively shows that Dr. Geier has had extensive experience in the area of DPT vaccine, and the case that the special master makes for rejecting his opinion is, we believe, built on a false premise.”

**US Department of Health and Human Services (This is a cabinet directly under the White House.

5. The article goes on to state:

“The six published studies by Dr. Geier and David Geier on the relationship between autism and thimerosal are largely based on complaints sent to the disease control centers by people who suspect that their children were harmed by vaccines.”

The six published studies by Dr. Geier and David Geier on the relationship between autism and Thimerosal were based on statistical information gathered by several governmental agencies with a cohort base of over 100,000. They were:

a) The CDC through their Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System (VAERS).
b) The CDC through their Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD).
c) The third cohort was through the US Department of Education.

The CDC databases were gathered by participating medical doctors and health agencies that report any adverse vaccine reactions and contain thousands of cases.

The US Department of Education database is compiled from surveys done by the US Dept. of Education. It is publicly accessible and consists of tens of millions.

An interesting note – The Geiers were directed to investigate the CDC vaccine safety databases as qualified experts at the behest of certain members of the US Congress, many from the US Congressional Committee For Government Reform - a position that could be likened to inspectors for weapons of mass destruction, guardians ad litem of sorts.

6. There are then the following quotes:

"The problem with the Geiers' research is that they start with the answers and work backwards," said Dr. Steven Black, director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif. "They are doing voodoo science."

It would be interesting to know more of the background behind this quote. Since Kaiser Permanente is a fairly gargantuan player in the cohort used in the infamous Verstraeten Study* the obvious conflict of interest potential is interesting if not great. Using personnel from Kaiser Permanente for quotes without first disclosing this fact is as misleading as it is dishonest.

*The Verstraeten study is the same study referred to by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in his recently published piece in Rolling Stone Magazine where he alleged a link between mercury and vaccines was covered up and embargoed from the public at the secretly held CDC Simpsonwood Meeting in 2000. Go to Rolling Stone, Deadly Immunity

7. The CDC director, Julie Gerberding quoted:

“Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, the director of the disease control centers, said the agency was not withholding information about any potentially damaging effects of thimerosal."

"There's certainly not a conspiracy here," she said. "And we would never consider not acknowledging information or evidence that would have a bearing on children's health."

In 2003, spurred by parents' demands, the C.D.C. asked the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the nation's most prestigious medical advisory group, to review the evidence on thimerosal and autism.”

Apparently Gerberding forgot to mention the findings of the other National Academy of Sciences oversight committee convened to investigate the Institute of Medicine’s behavior in regards to vaccine safety and the CDC. The following press release is quoted directly from the National Academies of Sciences website:

"Concerns about access and transparency have accompanied the development and functioning of the Vaccine Safety Datalink data sharing program, and consequently some people's trust in the reliability of findings from VSD studies has eroded," explained John C. Bailar III, chair of the committee that wrote the report and emeritus professor of health studies at the University of Chicago. "Taking steps to improve the independence, transparency, and fairness of VSD procedures will help enhance confidence in the data sharing program and in research based on this important tool for evaluating vaccine safety."

For the complete text of the NAS review of the CDC: Independent Oversight of Vaccine Safety Data Program Needed To Ensure Greater Transparency and Enhance Public Trust.

These VSD databases, including the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reaction System (VAERS) are administered by the CDC. Critics claim (including the National Academies of Sciences) this CDC administration is in direct conflict with their duel purposes of promoting and administering the national vaccine program.

Sources claim Gerberding, shortly after the above findings in February 2005, was faced with immediate demands to separate the two purposes starting with getting rid of the personnel administering the safety databases.

8. The statement discrediting Geier’s work.

"In a report last year, a panel convened by the Institute dismissed the Geiers' work as having such serious flaws that their studies were "uninterpretable." Some of the Geiers' mathematical formulas, the committee found, "provided no information," and the Geiers used basic scientific terms like "attributable risk" incorrectly."

This is a misrepresentation by both the NYTimes and the IOM committee. The IOM report spent nine pages justifying their use of the debacled Verstraeten study and four pages explaining why they could not use Geier’s data complaining that Geier’s data was not published and uninterpretable. Never did the IOM report mention that Geier’s findings were only weeks old at the time of the February 2004 hearing due to CDC efforts to keep them from looking at it.

Nor does it mention that Geier’s findings were published a short time after the February IOM hearing in the peer reviewed Medical Science Monitor.

Withheld from the article is the fact that the Geiers are not the only scientists who have raised alarms. The IOM hearings were full of them. At least 200 studies were presented with similar concerns.

Out of 15 scientists who testified:

60% (9) felt there IS a link to Autism
26% (4)* felt there is no link and
14% (2) were noncommittal.

100% of those who were convinced there IS a problem were also the only ones without any obvious conflicts of interest.

There are hundreds of studies showing compelling evidence of a correlation between the deadly neurotoxin mercury and neurological conditions like ADD and Autism. Hundreds were presented that fateful day in February 2004 to the IOM committee along with hundreds more contained in massive binders (at least 4 reams of paper worth each) and “double sided” as proclaimed by Committee Chair Marie McCormick at the beginning of the session.

Despite these avid presentations from some of some of the finest scientific pools in the world, a majority of those present - 100% of those with no ties to pharmaceutical revenues stating their belief that there is scientific evidence of a link, just three months later the IOM Committee concluded and reported that there was no link between mercury and autism.

9. The list of IOM studies NYT quoted.

“The six published studies by Dr. Geier and David Geier on the relationship between autism and thimerosal are largely based on complaints sent to the disease control centers by people who suspect that their children were harmed by vaccines.”

There were not just six studies sourced from the Geiers. There were hundreds of compelling studies from many other scientists showing compelling links compared to what the NYT states as “six studies.”

“In contrast, the committee found five studies that examined hundreds of thousands of health records of children in the United States, Britain, Denmark and Sweden to be persuasive.”

These “several well-designed” studies were represented by the same scientists who could not find a link (* the same four mentioned above). They were also among the six scientists who had disturbing appearances of conflicts of interest. The authors included the following:

1) The US Study alluded to by the NYT authors is surely the ill-fated Verstraeten Study*. Versions of this study were presented at the IOM by Robert Davis, a “coauthor” of the Verstraeten Study. At the IOM he changed the time line points from which autism (and inoculations periods) tend to appear thus attempting to validate findings of no causal link.

*The Verstraeten (lead author) Study is at the center of allegations of cover-up by government agencies and members of pharmaceutical companies who attended and embargoed the information for three years after the secret Simpsonwood meeting in 2000.

Frank DeStefano, the director of the CDC’s VAERS database – a position that was serendipitously missing among his many credentials in his IOM press packet bio, is another coauthor of the Verstreaten Study. DeStefano rejuvenated an old 1996 study and added autism to the cohort used in an attempt to show there is no correlation of autism to mercury.

2) The UK Study was presented by Elizabeth Miller whose ties with vaccine manufacturers can be easily found. She is best known for her unprovoked and continual attacks on Dr. Andrew Wakefield who raised concerns about the finding the live Measles virus in the intestinal tracts of 12 children with autism in the UK.

After being unable to consistently answer pertinent questions by others during her own presentation at the IOM, Miller spent much of her time during the day’s hearing contradicting herself in attempts to attack other scientists who believe there is a link.

3) The Denmark Study was presented by Anders Peter Hviid who worked for vaccine manufacturers who supply vaccine for his government, a fact he did not disclose during his presentation at the IOM hearing. The fatal flaws in this study became quite clear as several scientists questioned him during the question and answer period. As Hviid seemed to falter and stutter, Committee Chair McCormick rescued him from the podium and cut off any more questioning.

4) The other Danish Study - Madsen et al, showed Denmark’s incidence of autism was less than .4 per 10,000 before 1992 and it increased 7.5 times by 2000 seemingly supporting Hviid’s findings. Both studies support no link.

Both Danish studies also seem to imply removing thimerosal as a preventative for autism – a fairly absurd implication. The most likely hypothesis is that Denmark had very poor record keeping at the time combined with the issue that Denmark authorities, like US authorities, would have reason to cloud the issue from the public.

The Sweden Study uses data from the flawed Denmark Study.

Footage of each of the scientists who testified at the February 2004 Institute of Medicine hearing can be viewed at: www.uninformedconsent.org along with other documents relating to the allegations of governmental cover-up.

This NYTimes article is a profound violation to those who still attempt to honor the standards of journalism. But most of all it is a unfathomable breach of trust of the American people, our babies and loved ones.

When we contacted the NYTimes regarding this article we were told by their public editor, Al Siegal, that our small organization “took up valuable staff time with traffic.” He said we were “irresponsible and nasty” making the kind of “accusations” we made and we had made a “terrible mistake.” He went on to say we could quote him as saying the June 25th article was “thorough, careful and balanced.” He repeated the latter quote twice to be sure it was accurate.

Mr. Siegal also alleged during this call that we had refused to give his assistant our information but still we were unsuccessful in getting venue information (as we were with his assistant) before he abruptly hung up.

It is unfortunate that all Siegal ever saw was our email request for a chance to communicate with them about this issue prior to publication.

As far as sharing our article with the NYTimes prior to publication, we were never given the opportunity. We did try.

Information and Media contact:
Christy Diemond, Exec. Producer
UnInformed Consent – The Right To Know…
Website: www.uninformedconsent.org

Email: qci@oz.net

Copyright © 2005 UnInformed Consent. All rights reserved. Republication and redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without prior written consent.

Posted by Becca

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