New Developments in 9-11
Biowar Legislation -- MEHPA
Draws Criticism, More Microbiologists Dying
Michael Davidson, FTW staff writer
April 4, 2002,
10:00 AM PST (FTW) -- Even as the epidemic of dying microbiologists
continues, the draconian Model Emergency Health Powers Act
(MEHPA) is making its way across the country. But MEHPA's
march is turning out to be much less of a walk in the park
than the Bush administration expected. All over America,
individuals and organizations are rising up to oppose what
many see as an astounding assault on civil liberties. The
legislation is being pushed on states by the Department
of Health and Human Services. Among other provisions, MEHPA
includes sections that:
any individual to be vaccinated. Refusal could constitute
a felony and will result in quarantine.
any individual to undergo specific medical treatment. Refusal
could constitute a felony and will result in quarantine.
state or local governments to seize any property, including
real estate, food, medicine, fuel or clothing, an official
thinks necessary to handle the emergency.
state or local governments to seize and destroy any property
alleged to be hazardous. There will be no compensation or
you or your business into state service in the event of
a declared emergency.
rationing, price controls, quotas and transportation controls.
any state law, regulation or rule that is thought to interfere
with handling the declared emergency.
In addition to
the medical, ethical, religious and constitutional problems
MEHPA poses, much of the opposition to MEHPA relates to
the amazing vagueness of the law's language -- any state
governor can use MEHPA to make him or herself an absolute
dictator by declaring an emergency. The proposed law defines
a "public health emergency" as "an occurrence
or imminent threat of an illness or health condition, caused
by bioterrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or novel
or highly fatal infectious agent or biological toxin that
poses a substantial risk of a significant number of human
fatalities or incidents of permanent or long-term disability."
Gostin, Georgetown University Law School professor and primary
author of MEHPA, uses incredibly vague language in his attempts
to defend his proposed law. In an Insight On The News magazine
article dated Jan. 7 Gostin, while discussing the checks
and balances on a governor's declaration of a state of emergency,
said, "The governor could do so only if there were
compelling grounds for believing that there is a strong
potential for mass casualties from bioterrorism or a novel
NGOs, AIDS/HIV COMMUNITY OPPOSES MEHPA
There is particular
concern about MEHPA in the AIDS/HIV community. The AIDS
problem has been repeatedly described as a "pandemic,"
a word specifically used in the legislation. In the Insight
On The News article Gostin states, "It is not intended
that long-term endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS would be
is being closely monitored by the American Legislative Exchange
Council (ALEC), a non-partisan association of state legislators.
As of March 29, ALEC points to 24 states where versions
of MEHPA have been introduced. So far, only South Dakota
has passed a watered-down MEHPA-type law. A Minnesota bill
close to passage is closer to the draft legislation. This
bill has many of the original model law's provisions. Only
one state, Mississippi, has actually defeated a MEHPA-type
Sandy Liddy Bourne, one of ALEC's MEHPA coordinators, "The
further we get from 9-11, the less enthusiasm there seems
to be for this type of legislation. State legislators are
realizing they have other pressing issues to attend to."
Organizations and citizen groups throughout the country,
including the Libertarian Party and the Association of American
Physicians and Surgeons, are pressing forward with concerted
efforts to stop MEHPA-type legislation.
FANS FLAMES OF BIOTERRORISM
to which Bourne referred can be rekindled at any moment,
and it is quite apparent that some interests -- especially
the U.S. government -- are extremely interested in keeping
bioterrorism fears inflamed. News stories attempting to
link Al Qaeda and the Taliban to bioterrorism pop up on
a regular basis.
a New York Times article published March 23 was headlined,
"U.S. Says It Found Qaeda Lab Being Built to Produce
Anthrax," and restated that claim by "officials"
in the first sentence. However, in the 13th paragraph the
Times reports, "American officials did not describe
the evidence in detail but said that it included medical
equipment and supplies that would be useful for legitimate
research but could also be used to produce biological agents."
Press story on March 22 began, "U.S. forces have recently
found what appears to be another rudimentary al-Qaida biological
weapons research site." The very next sentence was,
"Officials found no evidence the terrorist organization
could make weapons out of diseases or poisons, the official
said. Instead, searchers found medical supplies and commonly
available chemistry equipment."
John Ashcroft is part of this "terrifyism" game.
In a March 6 interview with USA Today, Ashcroft was quoted
as saying authorities are "not on the verge" of
any significant breakthrough in searching for the source
of last fall's anthrax mailings that killed five. Ashcroft
should be aware that prior to this interview, the FBI publicly
acknowledged that the anthrax came from the U.S. military.
A Feb. 25 story in The Washington Times began, "The
FBI's search for the person who mailed anthrax-laced letters
that killed five persons has focused on a former U.S. scientist
who worked at a government laboratory where he learned to
make a weapons-grade strain of the deadly bacteria."
Rosenberg is Chair of the Bioweapons Verification Working
Group at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). She
is an acknowledged authority in the field, was a senior
advisor to President Clinton, and has extensive connections
in the biowarfare, law enforcement and intelligence communities.
Rosenberg posted an article on the FAS website Feb. 5 beginning,
"For more than three months now the FBI has known that
the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is an American."
Both the White
House and the FBI have ridiculed Rosenberg's statements.
"good" news can serve the needs of some to keep
the public on the edge of its bioterrorism seat. America
was strongly reminded of the biowarfare threat when, on
March 28, the Washington Post reported that a pharmaceutical
company had "discovered" between 70- and 90 million
frozen, long-forgotten smallpox vaccine doses. How the company,
Aventis Pasteur (now owned by Bayer, AG), could have forgotten
70- to 90 million units of its stock-in-trade was a temporary
mystery. Until the next day, when an AP story by Lauran
Neergaard reported that the federal government knew about
the stockpile for years, and that Aventis had formally offered
the vaccine to the government at no charge after Sept. 11.
FTW reported that British vaccine maker, Acambis, had received
a $428 million federal contract last November to produce
155 million doses of smallpox vaccine. This was in addition
to the contract Acambis already had to produce 54 million
doses. The government has 15.4 million doses of smallpox
vaccine warehoused, and planned to dilute them five to one.
This would bring the total U.S. stockpile to 286 million
doses. Is Aventis getting a free $150 million tax write
off at taxpayer expense?
CONTINUE TO DIE
Also in February,
FTW reported on the extremely suspicious deaths of as many
as 14 world-class microbiologists. Since that report, three
more microbiologists have died.
At about 8:45
p.m. on Feb. 27, Tanya Holzmayer answered the door of her
Mountain View, Calif. home to find a Domino's Pizza deliveryman.
While explaining that she had not ordered a pizza, a man
jumped out of the shadows firing several point-black shots
at Holzmayer, killing her instantly. The shooter ran down
the street, jumped into a Ford Explorer, and sped away.
Holzmayer's work was centered on using genomics to develop
drugs for HIV/AIDS and cancer.
At about 10 o'clock
that night, the body of Guyang "Matthew" Huang
was found on a jogging path in a Foster City, Calif. park.
He had been shot once in the head, and a .380 semi-automatic
pistol was near his body. Quoted about Huang in the San
Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 28, Mountain View police Capt.
Craig Courtin said, "[Huang] did make a phone call
to his wife and told her he was on the bay, told her he
had shot his boss [Holzmayer,] and...he threatened suicide."
While the pistol
found beside Huang was immediately found to have been registered
to him, a month after the incident Mountain View police
have not confirmed any ballistic evidence that links Huang's
gun to Holzmayer's murder.
and Huang, like the other dead microbiologists FTW reported
on in February, were experts at DNA sequencing. Holzmayer
had been Huang's superior at PPD, a Menlo Park, Calif. biotech
firm. Holzmayer fired Huang in June, eight months before
the shootings. Holzmayer herself left PPD in recent months,
possibly to start her own biotech firm. PPD will not comment,
other than to say Holzmayer and Huang both worked there.
Quoted in the
Sacramento Bee on March 2, Maurille Fournier, Huang's doctoral
advisor, said Huang was fired because PPD believed he was
doing work for another firm on the side, but that Huang
insisted PPD knew about this other work. It is clear from
several sources that Holzmayer did not initiate Huang's
firing, and did not want to fire him, but was ordered to
do so by senior management.
not have been worried about finding employment. His resume
included the fact that he was a senior research fellow at
the University of Washington's Department of Molecular Biology
and a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
He was also a founder of the Southern China National Human
Genome Research Center.
In another bizarre
incident, British microbiologist David Wynn-Williams was
killed while jogging near his home in Cambridge, England.
Wynn-Williams was an acknowledged expert on the microbiology
of the Antarctic ecosystem, and how it could serve as a
model for life on other planets. And like the others, Wynn-Williams
was involved in DNA sequencing.
a March 27 report in England's The Telegraph, Wynn-Williams
was caught between two cars that apparently collided. Neither
driver was hurt, yet the impact was sufficient enough to
In our previous story on MEHPA, FTW relied in part upon
data provided by ALEC, some of which the group has since
corrected. The current story reflects ALEC's corrected tracking
information of MEHPA status in various states.--MCR]