FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1999-04-28

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
(202) 785-3801

U.S. MARINES FACING COURT-MARTIAL PROCEEDINGS FOR REFUSING THE ANTHRAX VACCINE REQUEST SAMPLES OF THE VACCINE

Discovery Request Seeks To Have Independent Examination Of Vaccine For The Presence Of Squalene

WASHINGTON, D.C. --

Five members of the U.S. Marine Corps facing court-martial proceedings at Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Base, California, for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine filed extensive discovery requests today against the government for all information concerning the vaccine. The defense, represented by The James Madison Project's Executive Director Mark S. Zaid, Esq., and military co-counsel, plans to challenge the lawfullness of the order as well as the safety, effectiveness and necessity of the vaccination program that was implemented by the Pentagon in 1998. Most importantly, the defense is seeking several doses of the anthrax vaccine in order to conduct independent testing of the contents. The May 1999 issue of Vanity Fair revealed the results of a study that found squalene, a highly toxic adjuvant that does not have FDA approval, in the blood of military personnel who have received the anthrax vaccine.

"If the squalene allegations are proven true, the Defense Department has committed conduct similar in nature to that which we condemned the Nazis from performing 50 years ago. It would mean our troops have been used as guinea pigs," said Zaid. He added that the presence of a non-FDA approved adjuvant in the anthrax vaccine would change the vaccine to being "experimental", thereby requiring the military to obtain voluntary consent before inoculation.

The Defense Department plans to inoculate all 2.4 million active duty personnel against anthrax at an estimated cost of $130 million. The immunization series calls for six injections of the "killed bacteria" vaccine over a period of 18 months, followed by annual booster shots. Vaccinations began in March 1998. The FDA first approved the vaccine for civilian use against incidental infection in 1970. However, concerns have been raised about the vaccine's effectiveness against massive doses of weaponized anthrax anticipated in an intentional biological warfare attack. In addition, the only FDA-approved manufacturer, the Michigan Biologic Products Institute (now BioPort), has been repeatedly cited for quality control problems.

In April 1998, Mr. Zaid was the first attorney to represent military personnel refusing the vaccine when several sailors onboard the U.S.S. Independence refused to submit to the vaccination. As General Counsel for the non-profit organization Veterans for Integrity in Government, Zaid also filed an action in June 1998, under the Freedom of Information Act that forced the Defense Department to disclose thousands of pages of documents. JMP also served as defense counsel in the first court-martial proceeding involving an anthrax refuser, at Travis Air Force Base. Zaid was also a witness at a hearing held before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations of the Committee on Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 24, 1999. JMP is actively exploring filing a class action injunction against the Department of Defense for an immediate cessation of the anthrax vaccination program.

The five Marines who have refused the vaccine are: Lance Corporal Jason Austin (Borger, Texas), Lance Corporal Michael McIntyre (Mt. Vernon, Washington), Lance Corporal Jared Johnston (Henrietta, Oklahoma), Lance Corporal Michael Metzig and Lance Corporal Jared Schwartz. They are scheduled to go to trial on charges that they disobeyed a direct order in violation of Article 90 of the Uniform Military Code of Justice beginning June 16, 1999. If these cases go to trial, it will represent the first time the vaccine has been challenged in a court of law. The discovery requests seek, among other items, all studies and adverse reaction reports involving the anthrax vaccine as well as information on anthrax provided to the Central Intelligence Agency by a Soviet defector.

"The evidence to be presented at the court-martials will unequivocally demonstrate that no information exists concerning the long-term effect of the vaccine on humans, and that the adverse reaction rates are up to seven times greater than approved by the manufacturer and the FDA," said Mr. Zaid. He added that internal documents revealed that the Pentagon had determined the current six shot series was "outdated" and "unnecessary", yet still implemented the vaccination program.

JMP is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization with the primary purpose of educating the public on issues relating to intelligence gathering and operations, secrecy policies, national security and government wrongdoing.