Monday, June 13, 2011
The Press-Democrat, California/June 3, 2011
By Martin Espinoza
Francisco Xavier Ochoa, the fugitive ex-priest from Sonoma wanted on 10 felony child sex abuse counts since 2006, has died in Mexico.
A copy of his death certificate, obtained by The Press Democrat Friday, shows that Ochoa died Nov. 30, 2009 of lung cancer in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico, at age 71. Ochoa fled the United States in May 2006.
The Diocese of Santa Rosa confirmed Friday that it has known about Ochoa's death since April and has closed the case. A church official said the diocese decided not to make the information public and relied instead on local law enforcement officials to inform Ochoa's victims.
Although the Sonoma County District Attorney's office has received a certified copy of the death certificate, the office is working with the Mexican Consulate to confirm that the person in the death certificate is Ochoa.
"We want to be absolutely sure that this is the same individual," said District Attorney Jill Ravitch, adding that once confirmation is made, the arrest warrant will be withdrawn and the case closed.
Ravitch said the Sheriff's Office has notified family of Ochoa's alleged victims about the death certificate.
Ochoa fled to Mexico several days after an April 28, 2006, meeting with Bishop Daniel Walsh of the Santa Rosa Diocese and other church officials. He admitted that he offered a boy $100 to strip dance in front of him and that he had kissed other boys on the lips.
After the meeting, Walsh removed Ochoa from his duties, but the diocese delayed in reporting the allegations to authorities. A subsequent police investigation revealed that Ochoa, who had ministered to Latino Catholics in the Sonoma Valley since the late 1980s, had allegedly molested multiple children from different families.
It was three days before Walsh, through diocesan attorney Dan Galvin, reported Ochoa to Sonoma County Child Protective Services and four days before the Sheriff's Department was notified. State law requires such reporting be done immediately by phone.
In July 2006, a federal arrest warrant was issued against Ochoa for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. The federal warrant allowed U.S. marshals to work with Mexican authorities to locate and apprehend Ochoa.
For his failure to report Ochoa immediately, Walsh was assigned to a five-month counseling diversion program in late 2006.
Walsh, who is expected to retire later this year, will be replaced by Bishop Robert Vasa, formerly of the Baker Diocese in eastern Oregon.
The Santa Rosa Diocese was sued by families of Ochoa's victims and in September 2007 the diocese settled the case for $5 million, including $20,000 of Walsh's own funds.
Ochoa's case then seemed to drop off the radar. For years, the only public reminder was his mug shot on the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office website listing the county's most-wanted criminal suspects.
Ochoa, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, has relatives in Santa Rosa and talk of his death began floating around Sonoma County last year, apparently reaching the Santa Rosa Diocese two months ago.
"We found out about his death on April 11," said Deirdre Frontczak, a diocese spokeswoman. "Apparently there had been some rumors floating around in the Hispanic community that he had died."
She said that Monsignor Daniel Whelton decided that no action would be taken until the diocese received "verifiable information." Frontczak said that Ochoa's sister in Mexico sent a letter to Whelton on April 11, informing him of Ochoa's death. Attached was a copy of the death certificate from Mexico.
Two days later the diocese contacted attorney Galvin, who then contacted the District Attorney's Office on April 26. Ochoa's death certificate has made its way to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Mexican Conference of Catholic Bishops and Cardinal William Levada in the Vatican.
"We're informed that the case was closed," said Frontczak.
The death certificate, in Spanish, provides details about where he died and the cause of death. Under cause of death, the document lists pulmonary thromboembolism (four days), pulmonary cancer (six months) and metastatic bronchial carcinoma (one year).
Frontczak said that Ochoa was removed from the clergy "years ago" and that local church officials have had no communication with Ochoa since he left five years ago.
"The case is closed as far as the church is concerned," she said.
More on CLERGY ABUSE
Friday, March 18, 2011
Click here for an Update to our Message. It will answer a lot of your questions.
Welcome to RadiationNetwork.com, home of the National Radiation Map, depicting environmental radiation levels across the USA, updated in real time every minute. This is the first web site where the average citizen (or anyone in the world) can see what radiation levels are anywhere in the USA at any time (see Disclaimer below).
Nuclear Site Alert Level = 100 CPM
How the Map Works:
A growing number of Radiation Monitoring Stations across the country, using various models of Digital GeigerCounters, upload their Radiation Count data in real time to their computer using a Data Cable, and then over the Internet to this web site, all of this accomplished through GeigerGraph for Networks software.
How to Read the Map:
Referring to the Map Legend at the bottom left corner of the map, locate Monitoring Stations around the country that are contributing radiation data to this map as you read this, and watch the numbers on those monitoring stations update as frequently as every minute (your browser will automatically refresh). The numbers represent radiation Counts per Minute, abbreviated CPM, and under normal conditions, quantify the level of background radiation, i.e. environmental radiation from outer space as well as from the earth's crust and air. Depending on your location within the US, your elevation or altitude, and your model of Geiger counter, this background radiation level might average anywhere from 5 to 60 CPM, and while background radiation levels are random, it would be unusual for those levels to exceed 100 CPM. Thus, the "Alert Level" for the National Radiation Map is 100 CPM, so if you see any Monitoring Stations with CPM value above 100, further indicated by an Alert symbol over those stations, it probably means that some radioactive source above and beyond background radiation is responsible.
Notice the Time and Date Stamp at the bottom center of the Map. That is Arizona Time, from where we service the Network, and your indication of how recently the Radiation Levels have been updated to the Map.
(Please note: Any White circles on the map represent Monitoring Stations that are running Simulations, instead of using a real Geiger counter, so any Alert levels that may occur over those stations are to be ignored since they represent only momentary testing.)
How to Participate in the Nationwide Radiation Network:
If you want to join this nationwide grass roots effort to monitor the radiation in our environment, then this is all you need (click on the Software link):
|Digital Geiger Counter (See models below)|
|GeigerGraph Software and Data Cable|
|Computer with Windows Operating System|
|Internet Access (Direct connection preferred)|
In fact, if you become an active participant in this network (instead of just a passive viewer of this website), the GeigerGraph software that you use will incorporate the same Radiation Map as above, but your map will be fully interactive, with zoom capabilities, descriptions of Nuclear Sites and Monitoring Stations, additional Map Layers, including Counties, Airports, Roads, Railroads, Lakes and Rivers, and even the capability to download City Streets for your county. Plus, in keeping with the elements of a true Network, the GeigerGraph software has its own Chat forum.
Compatible Geiger Counter Models:
|Monitor 4 (yr 2008 redesign)|
|Radalert 50 and Radalert 100|
|Digilert 50 and Digilert 100|
Most of these models, as well as the GeigerGraph for Networks software, are available at GeigerCounters.com, a web site operated by Mineralab. Click on the text hyperlinks in the previous sentence to go there. You can also contact us here:
2860 W. Live Oak Drive
Prescott, AZ 86305 USA
Please read this Message first if you are considering contacting us.
Disclaimer: Mineralab, LLC, the operator of this web site, can not independently verify that the Radiation Levels, or any Radiation Alerts, that are displayed on this Radiation Map are correct and valid. Among other possibilities, Geiger counter malfunctions or proximity of the counters to certain medical procedures or to radioactive items can cause high readings at a Monitoring Station. If the Radiation Map appears to show elevated Radiation levels, contact Mineralab.
Click here for a Map of Japan
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Friday, March 4, 2011
Received this email today...
AN OPEN LETTER TO "PATRIOTS QUESTION 9/11.com"
Friday, March 4, 2011 12:55 PM
From: "Ralph Kermit Winterrowd 2nd"
To: "Alan Miller"
Cc: "Dr. Steven Jones"
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2011 15:38:01 -0500
To: Alan Miller
From: Eric Larsen email@example.com
Subject: AN OPEN LETTER TO "PATRIOTS QUESTION 9/11.com"
Cc: Dr. Steven Jones, Dr. James Fetzer, Richard Gage, Kevin Ryan
PREFATORY NOTE TO ALAN MILLER:
I composed this letter almost a year ago but held off sending it in the hopes that, by waiting, I could send it on the occasion of the publication of Dr. Wood's book, Where Did the Towers Go? (http://wheredidthetowersgo.com/) That occasion has now arrived at last. Dr. Wood's book has been published and is now available to readers the world around, making this the real moment of truth. The question now, for every person in any way associated with the 9/11 movement, is whether that person is in fact interested in exposing the truth or, on the other hand, in continuing to cover it up. The publication of Dr. Wood's book is a momentous event, an event of incalculable importance to the entire world. It is time, now, for me to send you this letter.
February 17, 2011
March 1, 2010
Dear Alan Miller,
I’ve noticed that Dr. Judy Wood isn’t any longer listed or cited on “Patriots Question 9/11.” Why is this? I know that earlier she was on the list of professors as well as the list of engineers. What happened?
In my own view, Dr. Wood’s being omitted is like dropping Shakespeare from an anthology of Elizabethan literature. Alone among the most highly visible of 9/11 analysts, Dr. Wood is the one truth-seeker who sticks precisely and only with one thing, and that one thing is the truth about what physically happened on 9/11 insofar as it can be known through the scientific study of all—not some, but all—of the available empirical, observable evidence that pertains solely to the “what” of what happened on that day. Dr. Wood purposely stays clear of any forays into politics, innuendo, guesswork, or supposition. She will have nothing whatsoever to do with the question of “who ‘did’ it.” That question, in her view, is meaningless until the scientifically true “what” of what happened is known. This “what” is what she sets out—successfully—to show. That is, she does not say that “9/11 was an inside job” because that fact has not been scientifically established. Her focus is solely on the empirical, measurable, and observable study of evidence of any relevant kind—from analysis, measurement, and study of the “remains” of the WTC buildings through analysis of the seismic record of that day’s events, study of anomalies in the earth’s magnetic field at the times of the destructions, and even study of the field effects of the massive hurricane off the east coast of the U.S. on that day (and especially of that storm’s field effects in relation to the enormous high pressure cell that was simultaneously approaching NYC from the west).
Dr. Wood’s study, research, and analysis reveal, among many other things, that the WTC buildings did not collapse, explode, or implode, but that they DISAPPEARED into dust. Multitudes of evidence prove her case, but that hasn’t kept 9/11 pseudo-truth seekers from ridiculing her by smear, innuendo, name-calling, neglect, and disinformation in whatever ways they are able. With courage, strength, and a scientifically-based factuality, Dr. Wood has experienced more malicious contumely, more smears and fraudulent attacks than any other single member of the scientific, political, philosophical, or historical 9/11 truth-seeking community. Yet Dr. Wood has continued to stand up for the truth. Those who “choose” not to accept the evidence-based conclusions of Dr. Wood’s studies, or who, perhaps, are either afraid OR “afraid” to accept them, take the fool’s option of ridiculing them, or, equally often, of most, most blatantly ignoring both those results AND Dr. Wood’s efforts in determining them. The 9/11 truth community greeted Dr. Wood’s Request for Corrections (RFC) to NIST (March 16, 2007) with scorn, despite her being the first person to confront NIST formally about their fraudulent report of the demise of the WTC towers. It was as if the fraud of the NIST report, a report whose integrity was absolutely essential if the official story were to be undergirded, was of no real interest to the wider 9/11 community.
Dr. Wood’s federal qui tam case, filed 4/25/2007 against the contractors of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for science fraud also received virtually no notice or indication of interest other than ridicule from the 9/11 truth community. Again, it was as if the federal case being brought by Dr. Wood against the NIST contractors for science fraud (in its Congressionally-mandated task that it determine how and why the WTC buildings were destroyed)—as if this entire and absolutely central question was of no real interest to the wider 9/11 truth community. That case, further, was itself improperly dismissed as those hearing it treated the case—incorrectly—as if it paralleled the views of the general 9/11 truth movement. Those determining whether the case would be allowed to go forward incorrectly assumed, for example, that Dr. Wood (a) blamed the US military (which she does not); (b) they incorrectly assumed that Dr. Wood held the view that there was “substantial evidence that all three buildings collapsed from explosive devices” and that this view was “at the heart of the Wood. . . litigation.” (entirely incorrect); and (c) they incorrectly assumed that Dr. Wood claimed “that the towers were struck by high powered energy beams [from space]” (things that are not in any way her position). All of these issues were addressed, although to no avail, in the Motion for Reconsideration: http://www.drjudywood.com/articles/NIST/Wood_motion_reconsider.shtml
And now the case—due who knows how much to the ridicule and lack of support from the truth community—has been denied a Writ of a Certiorari by the United States Supreme Court, meaning that the Court will not hear it or allow the factual evidence to be presented in a courtroom, and therefore that the case is dead. How can it be that this is not seen by the 9/11 truth community as an exceedingly enormous defeat? Yet virtually no mention whatsoever of the Supreme Court’s rejection of the case has been forthcoming. It causes me to question the entire purpose of the “9/11 truth movement” (as well as the purpose of your Patriots Question 9/11 website). Anyone who read the document submitted to the United States Supreme Court (available on Dr. Wood’s website) should be appalled by what has taken place. The Court of Appeals essentially stated in a footnote of its written decision that it knew that the law applied to Dr. Wood’s case, but that the court was ignoring the law in order to dismiss her case.
In fact, the evidence of science fraud submitted by Dr. Wood is irrefutable. NIST itself admitted to Dr. Wood that its report was a fraud. And not one of the contractors hired by NIST denied her allegations. Then the Court of Appeals ignored the law in order to dismiss the case. What could conceivably explain the lack of interest or response by the 9/11 community? This travesty of justice, the unfounded and prejudicial derailing of Dr. Wood’s case, should be of significant concern to the entire constitutional republic. If laws are ignored for ease of dismissing cases, then we are no longer living in a constitutional republic. We are living no longer in a republic of laws, but in a state where factions of any kind can usurp power through ignoring or pre-empting laws, however ancient they may be, or however firmly embedded in the nation’s founding documents.
Dr. Wood filed her federal qui tam case in April 2007. Since that time the “9/11 truth movement” has grown, with your own Patriots Question 9/11 website now reporting “1,060+ Engineers and Architects.” Especially in light of the collection of so many engineers and architects, I find it troubling that, to this day, Dr. Wood is the only engineer, architect, or person of any profession to have filed a federal qui tam case challenging the science fraud in NIST’s report of what destroyed the WTC towers. Those who truly wanted “a new and independent investigation” into what caused the destruction of the WTC should have enthusiastically supported what she did. Such as federal case as she attempted to bring WOULD ITSELF HAVE RESULTED IN a new investigation. There it was, a genuine opportunity for achieving what so many people have been claiming all along to want above all. But now the opportunity has been destroyed by the essentially unaccountable court system as well as the lack of interest in accountability by the so called “truth movement.” All those who scorned Dr. Wood’s work and failed so notably to support her qui tam case may have done so at the expense of this nation.
Wood sacrificed her career when she spoke out about 9/11. But instead of praising her heroism, many in the “official-truth movement” have accused her of being an agent or “COINTELPRO” or disinformation agent. Such accusations can easily be dispelled by noting that it is a crime to defraud the government and it is treason if done so by a government agent (see the Smith-Mundt Act). A government agent submitting disinformation to another government agency would amount to the government attacking itself in a psychological operation. Perhaps this explains why no one has submitted “thermite evidence” to NIST. Perhaps this explains why no one has submitted “thermite evidence” in a federal qui tam case.
Along these same lines, it is powerfully notable that only after the Supreme Court denied the case in which Dr. Wood included as evidence the aerial photographs of the towers being destroyed on 9/11 were these photographs “newly released” with the claim that they had never before been seen. In truth, not only were they a part both of Dr. Wood’s RFC and her qui tam case, and not only had they already been posted on her web site for FOUR YEARS, but when she prepared the legal documents in early 2007, she gave the images to Jim Fetzer to be used for a photo section in his book—only to have him give credit for them not to Dr. Wood herself but to someone else. An even worse example of the distortion the “truth movement” is capable of, Dr. Fetzer, with the “new” release of the aerial images, treated them publically as images being seen by him for the first time.
I have never met Dr. Wood, but I have been aware of her work and have corresponded with her for many years. For the past six of those years, she has been working on a book, due out this year, that will present her work and its results in totality. I know the book very well, since—in consideration of my qualifications as essayist, writer, novelist and author, retired professor of writing, publisher, editor, and 9/11 truth-seeker myself—I have edited it in its entirety two times, once chapter by chapter and then again when the book was pulled together into its entirety. In my own view, Dr. Wood’s book will prove, in a great number of ways, to be very possibly the most important book yet to have been published in the 21st century.
So strongly do I feel about the extraordinary importance of Dr. Wood’s research, and about its incalculable superiority to the research—and the “conclusions”—of any and all others in the 9/11 truth movement, that if she isn’t reinstated on the “Patriots for 9/11 Truth” site in acknowledgment of what she has done for this country, I will ask you—and in fact ask you here and now, should Dr. Wood not be reinstated—also to remove me, my picture, my biography, and my 9/11-related comments from the site entirely. Those who do not support Dr. Wood’s work are not patriots. It may be concluded that those who do not support Dr. Wood’s work have an unpatriotic agenda that I do not want to be associated with.
My best to you, and my gratitude for your attention,
Monday, February 28, 2011
Army doctors expose patients to malaria
FILE - In this June 25, 1945 picture, army doctors expose patients to malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the malaria ward at Stateville Penitentiary in Crest Hill, Ill. Around the time of World War II, prisoners were enlisted to help the war effort by participating in studies that could help the troops. A series of malaria studies at Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois and two other penitentiaries were designed to test antimalarial drugs that could help soldiers fighting in the Pacific. Shocking as it may seem, government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates.(AP Photo/File)
Past medical testing on humans revealed
Sun Feb 27, 6:46 pm ET
ATLANTA – Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.
Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission. The meeting was triggered by the government's apology last fall for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago. U.S. officials also acknowledged there had been dozens of similar experiments in the United States — studies that often involved making healthy people sick.
An exhaustive review by The Associated Press of medical journal reports and decades-old press clippings found more than 40 such studies. At best, these were a search for lifesaving treatments; at worst, some amounted to curiosity-satisfying experiments that hurt people but provided no useful results. Inevitably, they will be compared to the well-known Tuskegee syphilis study. In that episode, U.S health officials tracked 600 black men in Alabama who already had syphilis but didn't give them adequate treatment even after penicillin became available.
These studies were worse in at least one respect — they violated the concept of "first do no harm," a fundamental medical principle that stretches back centuries. "When you give somebody a disease — even by the standards of their time — you really cross the key ethical norm of the profession," said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics.
Some of these studies, mostly from the 1940s to the '60s, apparently were never covered by news media. Others were reported at the time, but the focus was on the promise of enduring new cures, while glossing over how test subjects were treated. Attitudes about medical research were different then. Infectious diseases killed many more people years ago, and doctors worked urgently to invent and test cures. Many prominent researchers felt it was legitimate to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society — people like prisoners, mental patients, poor blacks. It was an attitude in some ways similar to that of Nazi doctors experimenting on Jews.
"There was definitely a sense — that we don't have today — that sacrifice for the nation was important," said Laura Stark, a Wesleyan University assistant professor of science in society, who is writing a book about past federal medical experiments. The AP review of past research found:
_A federally funded study begun in 1942 injected experimental flu vaccine in male patients at a state insane asylum in Ypsilanti, Mich., then exposed them to flu several months later. It was co-authored by Dr. Jonas Salk, who a decade later would become famous as inventor of the polio vaccine. Some of the men weren't able to describe their symptoms, raising serious questions about how well they understood what was being done to them. One newspaper account mentioned the test subjects were "senile and debilitated." Then it quickly moved on to the promising results.
_In federally funded studies in the 1940s, noted researcher Dr. W. Paul Havens Jr. exposed men to hepatitis in a series of experiments, including one using patients from mental institutions in Middletown and Norwich, Conn. Havens, a World Health Organization expert on viral diseases, was one of the first scientists to differentiate types of hepatitis and their causes. A search of various news archives found no mention of the mental patients study, which made eight healthy men ill but broke no new ground in understanding the disease.
_Researchers in the mid-1940s studied the transmission of a deadly stomach bug by having young men swallow unfiltered stool suspension. The study was conducted at the New York State Vocational Institution, a reformatory prison in West Coxsackie. The point was to see how well the disease spread that way as compared to spraying the germs and having test subjects breathe it. Swallowing it was a more effective way to spread the disease, the researchers concluded. The study doesn't explain if the men were rewarded for this awful task.
_A University of Minnesota study in the late 1940s injected 11 public service employee volunteers with malaria, then starved them for five days. Some were also subjected to hard labor, and those men lost an average of 14 pounds. They were treated for malarial fevers with quinine sulfate. One of the authors was Ancel Keys, a noted dietary scientist who developed K-rations for the military and the Mediterranean diet for the public. But a search of various news archives found no mention of the study.
_For a study in 1957, when the Asian flu pandemic was spreading, federal researchers sprayed the virus in the noses of 23 inmates at Patuxent prison in Jessup, Md., to compare their reactions to those of 32 virus-exposed inmates who had been given a new vaccine.
_Government researchers in the 1950s tried to infect about two dozen volunteering prison inmates with gonorrhea using two different methods in an experiment at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta. The bacteria was pumped directly into the urinary tract through the penis, according to their paper.The men quickly developed the disease, but the researchers noted this method wasn't comparable to how men normally got infected — by having sex with an infected partner. The men were later treated with antibiotics. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association but there was no mention of it in various news archives.
Though people in the studies were usually described as volunteers, historians and ethicists have questioned how well these people understood what was to be done to them and why, or whether they were coerced. Prisoners have long been victimized for the sake of science. In 1915, the U.S. government's Dr. Joseph Goldberger — today remembered as a public health hero — recruited Mississippi inmates to go on special rations to prove his theory that the painful illness pellagra was caused by a dietary deficiency. (The men were offered pardons for their participation.)
But studies using prisoners were uncommon in the first few decades of the 20th century, and usually performed by researchers considered eccentric even by the standards of the day. One was Dr. L.L. Stanley, resident physician at San Quentin prison in California, who around 1920 attempted to treat older, "devitalized men" by implanting in them testicles from livestock and from recently executed convicts.Newspapers wrote about Stanley's experiments, but the lack of outrage is striking.
"Enter San Quentin penitentiary in the role of the Fountain of Youth — an institution where the years are made to roll back for men of failing mentality and vitality and where the spring is restored to the step, wit to the brain, vigor to the muscles and ambition to the spirit. All this has been done, is being done ... by a surgeon with a scalpel," began one rosy report published in November 1919 in The Washington Post.
Around the time of World War II, prisoners were enlisted to help the war effort by taking part in studies that could help the troops. For example, a series of malaria studies at Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois and two other prisons was designed to test antimalarial drugs that could help soldiers fighting in the Pacific.It was at about this time that prosecution of Nazi doctors in 1947 led to the "Nuremberg Code," a set of international rules to protect human test subjects. Many U.S. doctors essentially ignored them, arguing that they applied to Nazi atrocities — not to American medicine.
The late 1940s and 1950s saw huge growth in the U.S. pharmaceutical and health care industries, accompanied by a boom in prisoner experiments funded by both the government and corporations. By the 1960s, at least half the states allowed prisoners to be used as medical guinea pigs. But two studies in the 1960s proved to be turning points in the public's attitude toward the way test subjects were treated. The first came to light in 1963. Researchers injected cancer cells into 19 old and debilitated patients at a Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in the New York borough of Brooklyn to see if their bodies would reject them.
The hospital director said the patients were not told they were being injected with cancer cells because there was no need — the cells were deemed harmless. But the experiment upset a lawyer named William Hyman who sat on the hospital's board of directors. The state investigated, and the hospital ultimately said any such experiments would require the patient's written consent.
At nearby Staten Island, from 1963 to 1966, a controversial medical study was conducted at the Willowbrook State School for children with mental retardation. The children were intentionally given hepatitis orally and by injection to see if they could then be cured with gamma globulin. Those two studies — along with the Tuskegee experiment revealed in 1972 — proved to be a "holy trinity" that sparked extensive and critical media coverage and public disgust, said Susan Reverby, the Wellesley College historian who first discovered records of the syphilis study in Guatemala.
By the early 1970s, even experiments involving prisoners were considered scandalous. In widely covered congressional hearings in 1973, pharmaceutical industry officials acknowledged they were using prisoners for testing because they were cheaper than chimpanzees.
Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia made extensive use of inmates for medical experiments. Some of the victims are still around to talk about it. Edward "Yusef" Anthony, featured in a book about the studies, says he agreed to have a layer of skin peeled off his back, which was coated with searing chemicals to test a drug. He did that for money to buy cigarettes in prison. "I said 'Oh my God, my back is on fire! Take this ... off me!'" Anthony said in an interview with The Associated Press, as he recalled the beginning of weeks of intense itching and agonizing pain.
The government responded with reforms. Among them: The U.S. Bureau of Prisons in the mid-1970s effectively excluded all research by drug companies and other outside agencies within federal prisons.
As the supply of prisoners and mental patients dried up, researchers looked to other countries.It made sense. Clinical trials could be done more cheaply and with fewer rules. And it was easy to find patients who were taking no medication, a factor that can complicate tests of other drugs. Additional sets of ethical guidelines have been enacted, and few believe that another Guatemala study could happen today. "It's not that we're out infecting anybody with things," Caplan said.
Still, in the last 15 years, two international studies sparked outrage.
One was likened to Tuskegee. U.S.-funded doctors failed to give the AIDS drug AZT to all the HIV-infected pregnant women in a study in Uganda even though it would have protected their newborns. U.S. health officials argued the study would answer questions about AZT's use in the developing world. The other study, by Pfizer Inc., gave an antibiotic named Trovan to children with meningitis in Nigeria, although there were doubts about its effectiveness for that disease. Critics blamed the experiment for the deaths of 11 children and the disabling of scores of others. Pfizer settled a lawsuit with Nigerian officials for $75 million but admitted no wrongdoing.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general reported that between 40 and 65 percent of clinical studies of federally regulated medical products were done in other countries in 2008, and that proportion probably has grown. The report also noted that U.S. regulators inspected fewer than 1 percent of foreign clinical trial sites.Monitoring research is complicated, and rules that are too rigid could slow new drug development. But it's often hard to get information on international trials, sometimes because of missing records and a paucity of audits, said Dr. Kevin Schulman, a Duke Universtity professor of medicine who has written on the ethics of international studies.
These issues were still being debated when, last October, the Guatemala study came to light. In the 1946-48 study, American scientists infected prisoners and patients in a mental hospital in Guatemala with syphilis, apparently to test whether penicillin could prevent some sexually transmitted disease. The study came up with no useful information and was hidden for decades.The Guatemala study nauseated ethicists on multiple levels. Beyond infecting patients with a terrible illness, it was clear that people in the study did not understand what was being done to them or were not able to give their consent. Indeed, though it happened at a time when scientists were quick to publish research that showed frank disinterest in the rights of study participants, this study was buried in file drawers."It was unusually unethical, even at the time," said Stark, the Wesleyan researcher."When the president was briefed on the details of the Guatemalan episode, one of his first questions was whether this sort of thing could still happen today," said Rick Weiss, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
That it occurred overseas was an opening for the Obama administration to have the bioethics panel seek a new evaluation of international medical studies. The president also asked the Institute of Medicine to further probe the Guatemala study, but the IOM relinquished the assignment in November, after reporting its own conflict of interest: In the 1940s, five members of one of the IOM's sister organizations played prominent roles in federal syphilis research and had links to the Guatemala study.
So the bioethics commission gets both tasks. To focus on federally funded international studies, the commission has formed an international panel of about a dozen experts in ethics, science and Clinical research. Regarding the look at the Guatemala study, the commission has hired 15 staff investigators and is working with additional historians and other consulting experts. The panel is to send a report to Obama by September. Any further steps would be up to the administration.Some experts say that given such a tight deadline, it would be a surprise if the commission produced substantive new information about past studies. "They face a really tough challenge," Caplan said.