Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Only a Prick 

We can't afford to armor their vehicles, but Dandy Don Rumsfeld plans to make damn sure our men and women in uniform are protected from Saddam's nonexistent bioweapons:
The Defense Department has sent a letter, possibly to hundreds of service personnel, apologizing for wrongly inoculating them with a controversial anthrax vaccine after a federal judge ordered the program stopped.

The timing of the letter, however, appears to forestall additional requirements directed by that judge, Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, and could create even more friction between him and the Pentagon.

Sullivan is expected to rule in the next couple of days on whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in contempt of court for failing to promptly halt inoculations of defense personnel with the controversial medication, called Anthrax Vaccine Absorbed or AVA.

The Pentagon vaccinated about 500 people after Sullivan issued his order last Oct. 27, with some of the shots being given as late as March 7 of this year . . . .

During the March 21 hearing, the Defense Department's attorneys said military readiness is being damaged by the halt in the program. In January, the department obtained from the Food and Drug Administration -- in another highly controversial move -- an Emergency Use Authorization, allowing the inoculations to proceed. The lawyers asserted Sullivan should recognize the emergency authorization as a legal way for the department to continue giving the shots despite the injunction.
Why is AVA "controversial"?
Many veterans advocates believe a certain anthrax vaccine to be a major cause of Gulf War sickness. The company manufacturing it has launched a massive lobbying campaign to persuade the Bush administration to stockpile the controversial drug so it can be administered to civilians . . . .

Mindful of evidence purportedly linking the anthrax drug to unusually high rates of brain tumors and other cancers, unremitting headaches, chronic insomnia and drug-side-effect-related deaths among Gulf War veterans and other military personnel who had received the vaccine, some Defense Department doctors refused to administer the drug, and numerous service personnel refused to take the shots . . . .

[T]he "total-force" [vaccination] program finally faded away after a congressional investigation of Gulf War sickness revealed that the Pentagon had lied about the use of squalene, an enzyme thought to improve vaccine effectiveness but not approved by the FDA, in MDPH-PA.

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