The General Accounting Office reported last week that 16 percent of our National Guard and reserve pilots and aircrew have transferred out of their combat positions. An additional 18 percent of those surveyed have stated their intent to transfer or leave.
Did they suddenly lose their zeal for flying? Are they fatigued after years of service? Are they avoiding possible deployment for an invasion of Iraq? None of the above; the pilots' departure has nothing to do with flying or with war. The GAO discovered that those pilots departed because the Clinton administration ordered them to receive the anthrax vaccine, and 86 percent of those who did take the shots reported adverse side effects.
Now, after scores of resignations and hundreds of careers destroyed by court-martial, we discover that our brave servicemen and women were right to resist the anthrax orders, and the government was fatally and corruptly wrong. A lawsuit filed by two Connecticut Air Force Reserve pilots asserted that the vaccine used on the military was never properly tested, and the Food and Drug Administration's recent response was to halt use of existing stocks of the vaccine.
Several months earlier, the FDA had ordered that a warning be included on the vaccine's package insert stating that the vaccine can harm people with immunity disorders, can cause a host of serious long-term adverse reactions, and could already be responsible for six deaths and a number of birth defects. These warnings were based on complaints by military vaccine users since 1998 and show an injury rate that far exceeds casualty rates in combat.
The FDA warning also states that adverse reactions are expected in 5 percent to 35 percent of people who get the injection. That is an absolutely shocking danger difference from the advertised 0.2 percent rate when Clinton ordered everyone in the military to be given the vaccine.
Clinton saw in the anthrax vaccine a way to stick it to the military he "loathed," literally, while handing a pot of gold to an important political ally. It was win-win for the Clintonistas, but lose-lose for our finest servicemen and women.
The biggest beneficiary of the order to force the anthrax vaccine on the military was Adm. William Crowe, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had provided political "cover" for Clinton at a key moment during his bid for the presidency in 1992. Crowe personally vouched for Clinton against charges that he was a draft dodger.
A grateful President Clinton rewarded Crowe with the plum appointment as Ambassador to England. But even that was not enough; Clinton handed BioPort, a corporation where Crowe was a director and a stockholder, an exclusive multimillion-dollar contract to supply 2.4 million servicemen with the anthrax vaccine. Crowe reportedly received substantial stock in BioPort's parent company without paying for it. A Pentagon audit in April 2000 revealed that BioPort wasted funds on "excessive travel costs, excessive severance pay and unsubstantiated consulting costs," including $1.28 million in "unreasonable" bonuses for senior management.
About a year after BioPort contractually obligated itself to supply the anthrax for $25.7 million, the Clinton administration nearly doubled its promised payments to $49.8 million, even though the FDA repeatedly cited BioPort for quality deficiencies and BioPort failed federal inspections again and again. BioPort was even indemnified against all liability from adverse reactions to the vaccine, which Army Secretary Louis Caldera admitted was "unusually hazardous" for certain recipients.
An emergency medicine physician at Keesler Air Force base in Mississippi, Capt. John Buck, chose to face a court-martial rather than be injected with the vaccine.
"A red lump on the arm is not something that scares me," Buck said, "but an autoimmune disorder for the rest of my life is."
The Clinton administration cruelly court-martialed hundreds of servicemen for declining the unsafe, untested vaccine.
The anthrax vaccine, which was imposed on servicemen and women alike, was never tested for harm to unborn children. Clinton's feminist advisors would never permit treating women differently from men, even for the sake of avoiding birth defects.
The number of deaths that the FDA now concedes could have been caused by the anthrax vaccine exceeds the casualties from the anthrax itself when the mails and office buildings were contaminated last year. The postal workers showed good common sense when 98 percent of them rejected the government's hard sell to be voluntarily injected with the vaccine.
We are waiting for the Department of Defense to do the right thing: restore the careers, with rank and pay, of the hundreds of servicemen and women who were punished for refusing a corrupt order to be injected with the unsafe, untested and unnecessary vaccine. One reason we elected George W. Bush was to remedy Bill Clinton's mistakes, and this is a good place to start.