Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

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Skyline - Houston, Texas

Wednesday, December 21, 2005



Is there no end to the Bush administration's sneaky, secretive tricks? Bush has done it again. Under the guise of doing good for the American people, he has created an agency answerable only to him, run by an appointee no doubt loyal only to him, and to further enrich his favorite people - mega businesses.

In Tuesday's Houston Chronicle, Dec. 20, 2005, page B8, an editorial reports this most recent outrage. I quote, "WRONG PRESCRIPTION>>Vaccine bill would block media scrutiny and exempt drug companies from legal challenges.

"Bush administration ...budget billions to purchase the Tamiflu antiviral drug and to push Congress to authorize the creation of an unusual agency to oversee the developement of vaccines.

"Pushed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the proposed Biomedical Advanced Research and Developement Agency (BARDA) comes wrapped in secrecy provisions that would exempt it from the Freedom of Information Act as well as congressional disclosure requirements. That would make BARDA more impervious to public scutiny than the Central Intelligence Agency or the Defense Department, which are subject to FOIA requests.

"BARDA would be headed by a presidential appointee who would have the power to grant immunity to drug companies from most lawsuits by people harmed by vaccines the companies manufacture for the agency. ...Plaintiffs would be barred from suing manufacturers who exhibited gross negligence or failure to maintain industry safety standards. ...The BARDA legislation leaves consumers effectively stripped of legal redress....

"With Congress rushing to adjourn for the holidays, Frist attached his bill to the defense spending authorization to prevent colleagues from voting against it. Manipulating such a controversial measure to avoid debate on its merits reinforces the appearance that this is a sweetheart deal for a powerful industry lobby at the expense of the American people.

"The new agency would assume responsibilities now invested in the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute for Health, and other federal agencies that have performed well in the past. Creating an unnecessary arm of the federal bureaucracy, one cloaked in secrecy with the ability to shield drug manufacturers from legal accountability, is a cure that could prove a bigger threat to the nation's health than a flu virus.

Does anyone else find this as odious as I do? Why would an agency designed to oversee biomedical manufacturers require more secrecy than the CIA, et al., especially if all they were doing was making flu vaccine? Could it be that the extreme secrecy is needed because they may have other products to manufacture for our government. Our government would never, never make biological or chemical weapons, would it? I cannot vouch for the veracity of the following link but click on it for allegations our government has done just that, and caused our own troops to be poisoned as a result. I have heard unfounded rumors about this sort of thing, but none so detailed as Riley relates.

And how nice that our President would appoint the man to head this agency, to ascertain the right man was for the right job. And who chooses and hires the employees to staff this agency?
No doubt those who would be completely loyal to their head man and to the President, and whose discretion could be relied on without question. And just as an aside, how much is the office space, equipment, salaries, etc.. going to cost the taxpayers for this new agency?

Supporters of the bill claim the manufacturers need immunity from legal actions in order to encourage them to make the expenditures to create the vaccine. Are other drug manufacturers also immune from lawsuits if they do harm? Not at all, several are under fire at this time, notably the makers of Vioxx and Celebrex, yet the drug companies keep right on churning out medicines and other types of vaccines. So the supporters' arguments appear to be specious.

The administration was well aware that this grand scheme was a scam on the people and that Congress would debate against it. Why else would Frist wait until the last days of session and tack it on to a bill he knew had to be passed? And a sweetheart deal for the big drug industries. Bush's favorite people - big business.

And why a new agency, when there is already in place several efficient agencies to do the job?
Could it be because Bush cannot control them? One would think that Bush would have learned his lesson from the Katrina fiasco. He had yanked powers from one agency and given to another, with one of his pets heading it up. And remember what happened? Big mess and total chaos.

It appears our present administration doesn't learn from mistakes and bears an unshakable belief in their own omnipotence.


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