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The Homeland Security Act - The Aftermath

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What just happened?  What are the problems with the Homeland Security Bill?  Can they be fixed?

For those of you who were visiting Mars during the past couple of weeks, Congress just passed a last minute version of the Homeland Security Bill, one which contained many provisions never before included,  some which had either failed to go anywhere (e.g., the "Frist Bill"), and others that had been thought to be under the jurisdiction of each individual state. 

Some of these provisions are simply wrong.  They may well violate our most basic right to the "pursuit of health".  (It is not obvious yet, just what they mean).  And one of them clearly violates our basic right to seek redress for wrongs committed against us. 

I came into this issue because I believe in taking charge of my own and my children's health.  So when my children were born  in the early to mid 1980s, and the question of vaccinations came up, armed with my background in research (I was in a Ph.D. program in experimental social psychology, choosing to get my masters only, and then went on to set up and direct a market research program until my children were born), I read.  I read some books.  But most of all I read journal articles - many hundreds at this point.  And the more I read, the more concerned I got. 

I am one of the lucky ones.  My children have escaped any obvious vaccine damage.  But the more I learned about what was happening to our children, and how all evidence of damage was at best being ignored, and at worst being covered up, the more troubled I became.

In the beginning I tried to get a philosophical exemption bill passed in my state (Alaska).  Foolishly I believed that the facts would speak for themselves, that anyone who took the time to even cursorily read what was available would have to conclude that "reasonable people can disagree" about vaccinations, and that every parent should obviously have the right to choose what is best for their children. 

When it became apparent that without political support for this idea few elected officials would go against the medical profession, and that the public wasn't going to care about having a choice until and unless they believed there was a problem, I decided to go after the "informed" part of "informed choice". 

A few Alaska legislators had said that although they could not support philosophical exemptions at this time, they would support research.  I got a legislator to sponsor a bill which would require vaccination records as part of death certificates of children under 7.  (At that time there were few vaccinations given to children after that age.)  Doctors Archie Kalokerinos (Australian author of the classic "Every Second Child") and Arthur Zahalsky (an American immunologist) flew to Alaska to help me. 

But Public Health in Alaska fought this effort to get information "tooth and nail".  It eventually became obvious that I was not going to win that battle, at least not then. 

During all this I continued to argue for better research, for properly designed studies, especially ones with an actual "control group", i.e., never vaccinated children, not the fake "unvaccinated" ones that were being offered up for our consumption.  But after getting my proof that Public Health didn't want information, and that my legislature was going to allow them to get away with it, I was so discouraged that I dropped out for awhile.

I had learned the hard way that fairness and facts don't always matter to our elected officials, but that votes and/or money (to get votes) do.  I had learned that change would only occur by educating and organizing the voting public and that I was wasting my time without such support. 

I also realized, though, that while there was no point in bemoaning this fact, it was apparent that before I got involved politically again, I had to find a practical way to implement what I had learned.

Then along came the Internet.  Now the playing field, previously in the hands of the rich and powerful, had been somewhat leveled.  Now there was a both a vehicle and a chance.  Now it was worth it to re-enter the fray.

Although this recent battle with Congress was not "won", those many of us who fought the riders and the bill did have an impact.  There have been some serious promises made to revisit the issue (due to some serious threats), but the pressure must be kept up. 

This issue also got what had heretofore been only dreamed of publicity.

Things may not be as bad as they seem.

Although it is harder to fix than prevent something, anything passed by one Congress can be revoked or amended in the next, unless the Constitution itself is amended (which requires passage in 3/4 of the state legislatures).  It is our responsibility in a democracy to make it clear what is important to us.  If enough voters do so, they are more powerful than all the vaccine manufacturers, all the drug companies in the world, combined, no matter how much money is thrown around. 

The drug companies simply cannot be allowed to continue getting away with controlling the agenda and our elected officials.  Congress must come to understand that this state of affairs will  no longer be tolerated.

There is much that needs to be done, starting with supporting Congressman Burton in his call for a White House conference on autism and pressuring Congress to revisit the riders and otherwise amend the Homeland Security Bill. 

Let your elected officials know that while you support Homeland Security, you do not support unwarranted assaults on your individual security, and that the bill as currently written unjustifiably violates it.

President Bush has said no child will be left behind.  Yet many of our children were just placed squarely behind - the vaccine manufacturers.  Tell the President in no uncertain terms what you think of that. 

The price of liberty, indeed, is eternal vigilance. 

Sandy Gottstein

Date: 11-29-2002

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." - John Philpot Curran (1808)