FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
FIRST ANTHRAX COURT-MARTIAL PROCEEDING SET TO BEGIN THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 1999 IN TWENTY-NINE PALMS, CALIFORNIA
Military Judge's Rulings Have Severely Limited Defendant's Planned Defense; Ruling On Theory That The Pentagon Illegally Modified Vaccine Expected Wednesday
TWENTY-NINE PALMS, CA --
The court-martial proceeding of Lance Corporal Jared Schwartz (Kentucky), for his refusing the anthrax vaccine is scheduled to begin Thursday, June 16, 1999, at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Air 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). In addition to LCPL Schwartz, four other Marines are facing court-martial charges for the same offense. In motion hearings held for all five Marines on June 10-11, 1999, following the testimony of several Government witnesses, the Military Judge, Lieutenant Colonel Martin, significantly limited the defense's ability to challenge the AVIP by ruling it was a policy decision that cannot be litigated in a judicial proceeding.
The defense yesterday filed a motion requesting that Dr. Robert Garry, Jr., a professor of Immunology at Tulane Medical School, be permitted 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 Court is expected to rule Wednesday on the defense request, which must be deemed relevant to be granted. In an earlier court session the Military Judge stated he did not believe that squalene was present in the vaccine, and that any vaccine samples provided by the Government would likely be switched were the defense's theory correct.
"Scientific evidence exists that could prove the Defense Department has once again conducted illegal medical experiments on its own personnel, but rather than permit these young men the opportunity to defend their position the Pentagon's attorneys are doing everything they can to ensure the evidence never sees the light of day," said Mark S. Zaid, the Executive Director for The James Madison Project and lead civilian defense counsel. Zaid added that although the Government has allegedly devoted considerable financial resources to disprove the squalene theory, it has refused to disclose relevant documentation and samples of the vaccine for independent study.
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.
"The Department of Defense's anthrax vaccination program was the dream of civilian leaders that has been turned into a nightmare for our service members and their families. Many of the public statements made in order to convince our military personnel that the program is safe and effective are outright false or intentionally misleading," said Zaid. He added that the Court's rulings will effectively prevent the introduction of Government documents that demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Pentagon's vaccination program.
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.