[Male voice]: A U.S. Congressman tonight is calling for criminal penalties
for any government agency that knew about the dangers of thimerosal in vaccines
and did nothing to protect American children.
Last month a news ___(?) investigation disclosed allegations that some
government officials may have suppressed documentation about these risks. And
today some of those officials testified at a congressional hearing .
Channel 8's(?) Valerie Williams joins us now LIVE from the nation's capital
with more. Valerie---------
[Valerie]: Well, obviously, the BIG concern is that thimerosal is linked to
just a GROWING rate of autism among children in this country. We know from our
own research that by 1972 the FDA had begun asking questions about the dangers
of thimerosal. By 1992, it had been pulled out of dog vaccines and contact lens
solution because of the risk, but it was not until last year that FINALLY it was
removed from childhood vaccines.
Today, government health officials squirmed uncomfortably in their seats as
more evidence emerged suggesting that they had mis-led the public.
[Congressman Burton]: "You mean to tell me since 1929 we've been using
thimerosal and the only test that you know of is the one that was done in ' 29
and every one of those people had meningitis and they all died?"
[Valerie]: For nearly an hour, Burton repeatedly asked FDA and CDC officials
what they knew, and when they knew it, and when memories seemed to be a bit
fuzzy, the Congressman produced old memos as a refresher. This one from 1999
states that the FDA had an interim plan already in place for many years to get
rid of thimerosal. The same e-mail also addresses the FDA's fear that it would
(will?) be accused by the public of being asleep at the switch for decades by
allowing a dangerous compound to remain in childhood vaccines.
Burton proposes bringing criminal charges if it's proven the government
agencies were involved in a cover-up.
[Female voice (Valerie?) asking Burton]: "You're (we're?) talking about a
government agency ---"
[Congressman Burton]: "Oh yes, I don't ---look --- I don't think it makes any
difference whether it's a private company or a government agency; if they know
they're harming somebody and they continue to let it happen then they should be
[Valerie]: Government accountability is something that parents of autistic
children have been asking for for years. Cooper Irp (sp.?) is seven. Before
Cooper was three, he'd lost his ability to talk, and his mercury levels were off
the charts. His parents say Cooper's only exposure to mercury was through his
Today he has all the classic signs of autism, such as repeatedly hitting
himself and fixating on things, like this spinning chair. His mother has one
dream --- that one day Cooper will call her "Mommy", in a sentence. "I probably
have that dream once a week, that he's speaking to me and . it would be
What parents like Christy Irp (sp?) would like to ask this panel of
government officials is, Why in eighty years, they have never ordered one
clinical test on the effects of thimerosal in vaccines.
Congressman Burton asked the question several times today, but never got a
direct answer. After the hearing, we tried ----
[Female voice (Valerie?)]: "Dr. Eagan (sp?), I'm curious. Why were studies
never done on thimerosal?"
[Garbled response - female voice - possibly saying "the press"]
"Dr. Eagan ... Dr. Eagan. Can you please tell us why studies were never
Congressman Burton has a personal stake in this growing scandal. He says his
grandson became autistic a few days after receiving nine inoculations. Thus far
within the government, he has been a minority voice, but he has subpoena power
and he keeps threatening to use it.
[Burton]: "So what you do, is you just keep making the case and you keep
trying to get the message out to a broader and broader audience, so that people
start saying 'Why?' And when enough people say 'Why?', then change starts to
[Valerie]: Now, researchers say since the 1990s, autism rates in children
have surpassed epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and mental retardation in this country.
However, an FDA official today again insisted that he saw no problems with
thimerosal in vaccines. Well, that's become kind of a two-edged sword because
they have no studies to back that assertion up.
I'm Valerie Williams. Back to you, Missy (?) and John.
[Male voice]: Okay, Valerie, thank you .....