FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
FIRST ANTHRAX COURT-MARTIAL PROCEEDING BEGINS TODAY IN TWENTY-NINE PALMS, CALIFORNIA
Military Judge Rules Doctor's Theory That The Anthrax Vaccine May Have Been Illegally Modified Is Not Necessary To Proceedings
TWENTY-NINE PALMS, CA --
The court-martial proceeding of Lance Corporal Jared Schwartz (Henderson, Kentucky), for his refusing the anthrax vaccine is scheduled to begin Thursday, June 16, 1999, at 0900 PST at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Air Ground Combat Center. This will be the first contested court-martial proceeding in the Armed Services in direct challenge to the Pentagon's Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (AVIP). Yesterday, the Military Judge, Lieutenant Colonel Ken Martin, caused another serious blow to the defendant's defense by excluding evidence that the anthrax vaccine has been illegally modified.
The Court ruled that Dr. Robert Garry, Jr., a professor of Immunology at Tulane Medical School, was not necessary to testify as a defense witness at the court-martial proceedings. Dr. Garry is the co-author of a study that found the presence of squalene antibodies in the blood of those military personnel who have received the anthrax vaccine. Squalene is a highly toxic adjuvant that does not have FDA approval. The presence of squalene in the anthrax vaccine would be in violation of U.S. domestic law and international laws that arose from the ashes of Nazi Germany at the Nuremberg trials.
"The defendants are shocked that scientific evidence that could prove the Defense Department has illegally modified the anthrax vaccine in violation of the Nuremberg Code cannot be presented at this time," said Mark S. Zaid, the Executive Director for The James Madison Project and lead civilian defense counsel. Zaid added that if the Government has nothing to hide, then it should not have so aggressively fought the defense's attempt to place the theory under legal scrutiny.
The Defense Department is forcibly inoculating all 2.5 million active duty personnel, regardless of duty station or responsibilities, against anthrax at an estimated cost of $130 million. The immunization series calls for six injections of the vaccine over a period of 18 months, followed by annual booster shots. Vaccinations began in March 1998. The FDA approved the vaccine 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.
The Pentagon's Anthrax Vaccination Immunization Program has been the subject of intense public criticism, particularly for the issuance of misleading and false statements concerning the vaccine. Hundreds of service-members have refused to accept the vaccine, and many have been dissuaded from filing reports with the FDA concerning possible adverse reactions. More importantly, dozens of reserve fighter and supply pilots are quitting rather than take the vaccine, thereby jeopardizing the Air Force's capabilities to conduct an air war. Several Congressional members have requested Secretary Cohen to cease the program or make it voluntary.
"Today's trial is only the beginning of the battle the Department of Defense's anthrax vaccination program. The deficiencies in the program will be brought to the attention of the American people so that all can see the hypocrisy that underlies the policy," said Zaid. He added that it is imperative that more members of the U.S. Congress challenge the Pentagon's implementation of the AVIP.
In April 1998, 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. In March 1999, JMP represented the first anthrax refuser at Travis Air Force Base in his court-martial. In addition to the Marines at Twenty-Nine Palms, JMP represents Marines facing court-martial proceedings at Camp Pendleton and Miramar Marine bases, both of which are located in California. Zaid testified at the first oversight hearing on the anthrax vaccine held by 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.
The other Marines at Twenty-Nine Palms 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), and Lance Corporal Michael Metzig.
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.
The Court-Martial Proceeding is open to the public and the media. Questions should be directed to the Public Affairs Office.