The explosive true story of fraud, embezzlement, and government betrayal.
In 2000, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) carried out a secret mission to bury, skew, and manipulate data in six vaccine safety studies, in a coordinated effort to control the message that “vaccines do not cause autism.” They did so via secret meetings and backtesting health-care data. The CDC invested tens of millions of dollars in a foreign health-care data analytics startup run by Danish scientist Poul Thorsen, a move to ensure that no link ever surfaced. But fate had other ideas. The agency soon learned it couldn’t control Thorsen. In 2011, the US Justice Department indicted him for the theft of more than $1 million of CDC grant money.
Master Manipulator exposes the CDC’s hidden agenda for the cover-up. Influenced by Big Pharma money, future high-paying jobs, and political lobbyists, CDC executives charted a course different than what the findings of earlier vaccine safety studies revealed. The CDC needed an outsider to “flatten” the results of the data, while building an exit strategy: a fall guy in case the secret plan was exposed. Thorsen fit the bill nicely, conducting studies overseas. But the CDC’s plan backfired, as Thorsen took the money to the bank and the power went to his head. It would take years for his fraud schemefunneling CDC grant money to a Danish university and then back to a CDC bank account he controlledto play out.
Master Manipulator is a true story of fraud and betrayal, and an insider’s view of what takes place behind the closed doors of agencies and drug companies, and with the people tasked to protect the health of American children. It’s a cautionary tale of the dangers of blind trust in the government and the health-care industry.
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About the Author
James Ottar Grundvig is an investigative journalist who has been published in the Huffington Post, the Financial Times Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) magazine, Law.com, and the Epoch Times, among other media outlets. He has written extensively about technology, autism, and the CDC’s failure to contain the runaway epidemic all of which comprise the foundation for Master Manipulator. He resides in New York City.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, and president of Waterkeeper Alliance. He was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success in helping restore the Hudson River, and he continues to fight for environmental issues across the Americas. He is the bestselling author of Crimes Against Nature.
Read an Excerpt
THE BONE DEPOT OF ALUMINUM
Dr. John Clements suppressed the urge to sleep off the jetlag as he peered through the plate glass at the aquamarine inlet of El Borquerón — "wide opening" — watching the waves break against the rocks.
He had come a long way from Geneva, Switzerland, and longer still from the rolling green hills of his homeland in New South Wales, New Zealand, to attend the U.S. National Vaccine Program Office-sponsored workshop on aluminum in vaccines. The Caribe Hilton International Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a major upgrade from the thimerosal workshop held the previous year in the sterile, 176-seat, Lister Hill Auditorium at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. And for that he was thankful. Beyond being serene, the so-called 51st state of the United States was also far removed from the ravenous U.S. media and the prying eyes of the parents of autism spectrum disorder children. He knew the press blackout was only temporary, due to new freedom of information laws; one day the transcript on the aluminum workshop would get out. He understood that. But temporary would do for the success of the two-day conference since the August 1999 workshop on thimerosal had bordered on disaster. That summit drove a wedge of doubt into the U.S. vaccine program, suggesting more than a casual link that the mercury preservative in vaccines was the driving force behind the skyrocketing rates of autism in the United States. And solid scientists, like Dr. Clements, weren't fans of doubt.
The outdoorsman looked at the reflection of his hand in the window and gripped a fist, imagining he was holding his trusty walking cane. He saw himself on a ledge overlooking a Swiss valley and grasped the importance of the moment. Clements adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses and eyed the waves receding over the rocks before heading to the ballroom for the start of the "Workshop on Aluminum in Vaccines."
As the third speaker that morning, Dr. Clements, a 14-year medical officer of the Expanded Immunization Program with the World Health Organization in Geneva and previously New Zealand's Minister of Health, wouldn't be the one to inject doubt into the day's proceedings. He wondered if any of the leading experts on aluminum and immunizations would play the skeptic role and overturn a half-century of its use as an adjuvant in vaccines. Changing course on how vaccines were manufactured at the dawn of the new millennium would be akin to moving an alp to make room for a water park.
The costs, he calculated, would be staggering. It would require not only the search for a new adjuvant to replace the salts of aluminum hydroxide, aluminum sulfates, and aluminum phosphates, but years of clinical trials to prove that the new adjuvants would be safe, meeting both stringent U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Good luck with that, he thought as he ran the slides of his presentation, "Adjuvants in Vaccines — A Global Perspective," through his head for a final review.
To Clements's surprise, Dr. Martin Myers, the acting director of the National Vaccine Program Office, kicked off the proceedings by stating he would stand in for Dr. George Peter, the chairman of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, because Peter couldn't get a plane out of Boston or Providence to fly to Puerto Rico on time.
Sans any humor, Marty Myers opened by saying, "Last summer we started a series of what we hope will be a series of symposia on the attitudes of vaccines. We talked about thimerosal last summer. We are talking about aluminum today and we plan to talk sequentially about each of the additives within vaccines."
As the first speaker, an immunogenic expert from the University of Texas named Dr. Robert Hunter, discussed the use of adjuvants in vaccines, John Clements felt perspiration build up between his fingers. He wasn't nervous to speak, he just wasn't used to the humidity of the Caribbean.
Dr. Hunter held up a copy of the Scientist, and said, "I have here a copy of the Scientist newspaper that came out two weeks ago and the headline here is 'New Era in Vaccine Development.' The first sentence says, 'When all else fails, try something new.'"
The audience laughed. But Dr. Clements knew that a new era in vaccines had begun, one in which it would become imperative for healthcare agencies and the pharmaceutical manufacturers to get out ahead of the story or risk losing the chance to immunize a 100 million children in the world from some of mankind's deadliest diseases. Add AIDS, Ebola, and Lyme disease to the dirty dozen that included TB, polio, and diphtheria toxoid, pertussis, and he knew the science of vaccines was locked in an arms race with mutating viruses and bacteria.
Perhaps that was what made Clements' hands sweat.
After an informal question and answer discussion with Dr. Hunter, Dr. Norman Baylor, the acting deputy director of the Office of Vaccine Research and Review and associate director for Regulatory Policy at Center for Biological Evaluation of Research at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), took the podium.
Dr. Baylor presented "Aluminum Salts in Vaccines — A U.S. Perspective." He went on to list in a dry delivery the types of aluminum salts used as vaccine adjuvants. He was all business. Clements would expose that when he would speak next in a more natural, relaxed manner. Dr. Baylor then put his regulator's hat on and talked about U.S. Title 21, "Food and Drugs." Referring to part 610, "General Biological Products Standards," he said, "Now in the United States in the Code of Federal Regulations under 610.15, our 'Constituent Materials,' including preservatives and adjuvants, the amount of aluminum in the recommended individual dose of a biology product shall not exceed .85 milligrams of elemental aluminum."
What Dr. Baylor left out from 610.15 was the main reason why the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly sponsored the symposium with the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, a non-profit organization to improve the health of children worldwide — the safety of "biological" ingredients in vaccine products:
All ingredients used in a licensed product, and any diluent provided as an aid in the administration of the product, shall meet generally accepted standards of purity and quality. Any preservative used shall be sufficiently nontoxic so that the amount present in the recommended dose of the product will not be toxic to the recipient.
"Purity and quality" of aluminum as a biological substance would be hard to come by, Dr. John Clements knew. As he watched Dr. Baylor fail to explain how the U.S. arrived at the "0.85 milligrams of aluminum per dose" standard and couldn't answer his question on why, during the late 1950s, the U.S. recommended using aluminum in vaccine adjuvants when the United Kingdom "backed away," Clements realized he needed his walking cane to lead the group in a new direction in a new age of immunizations. A message on safety would become just as critical as the effectiveness of and global reach for the childhood vaccine program.
On stage, Dr. Clements gave a broad smile and used his hiker's commanding view on the history of vaccines and adjuvants, leading up to the advancements made against other diseases, before touching upon the spotty "coverage" of vaccines with pregnant women. He noted the negative press on thimerosal. To allay the fears of new parents on vaccine safety, he said, "It is the mothers we are targeting and not infants."
The WHO medical officer ran through the estimates on the number of neonatal (200,000) and maternal (30,000) deaths per year from tetanus alone and qualified those figures as being much higher. He went on to state the obvious — "There is no question that new vaccines equals the need for new adjuvants" — before ascending to the heart of the matter of why there was the HHS second annual symposium on ingredients in vaccines for his next point.
"Secondly, just as thimerosal emerged its — can I call it — its ugly head last year and we were all thrown into a situation of siege momentarily until we got the facts out to the public, the public is very much interested in what is in vaccines and what their children are getting, and I believe this is something that we need to discuss in the next two days," Dr. Clements said, and added, "The public is very much concerned with mercury and it is not so surprising that thimerosal with its mercury generated so much interest. Aluminum is not perceived, I believe, by the public as a dangerous metal and, therefore, we are in a much more comfortable wicket in terms of defending its presence in vaccines."
While not being a master orator, like most politicians, John Clements was a master tactician, and concluded by saying, "I think the public does have a right to know what is going on. I think the days of hidden administration are over and I do not think we should have any problem in disclosing what is in vaccines and what the risks are."
The cold water on aluminum in vaccines came in the afternoon session. Pouring that water would be Sam Keith, PhD, an environmental health scientist with the Division of Toxicology at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). His presentation, "Toxicokinetics," discussed the harmful affects of skin penetrators, such as depleted uranium, the element used to harden military-grade shell casings in the Gulf War.
On adjuvants, he said,
With aluminum, with it being injected by a syringe the situation is a bit more subtle. Be that as it may, aluminum, as uranium, is very prominent.
Aluminum is the third most abundant element behind oxygen and silicon, which means it just happens to be in every media that humans enjoy in taking into their body. It is in the air we breathe. It is in the water we drink. It is in the food we eat.
Dr. Keith worked his way through the presentation, laying out facts while not mincing words or minimizing the dangers aluminum can cause to the human body.
"But here is a critical one right here: 96 percent had been excreted through 1,178 days. And what does that mean? It means that there in the body is a depot or 'that' is likely bone. But it also tells us that perhaps aluminum never reaches a steady state in the body, but accumulates over a number of years. That seems to be what we find as the human body tends to accumulate aluminum in the lung from almost nothing at birth to perhaps 20 to 30 milligrams at a ripe old age," he said, referring to a study done on the excretion of aluminum in rabbits and rats.
The first day's sessions concluded with a cocktail reception and dinner with an icy overhang ready to collapse on top of the U.S. vaccine program. And yet the tone had been set that messaging would be paramount to managing the growing public distrust in and the dampening of any backlash against metals used in vaccines. The resolve of getting that message out was made all the more urgent by Dr. Sam Keith's speech on aluminum as a toxic substance, a pole apart from the FDA's regulation ensuring that only ingredients with "purity and quality" make it into vaccines.
Prepared for such fallout, HHS lined up Dr. Max Lum, the director of Health Communications at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, to wrap up the scientific session on day two, with his discussion "Communication Health Messages."
After highlighting his expertise as a "risk communicator" and the work he had done with the U.S. Surgeon General on the Gulf War, Dr. Lum embraced the message John Clements delivered, saying, "This is a new era. People are concerned. There is a high level of interest in health problems. The public acceptance in many cases depends on their participation and understanding and your personal credibility. Often, you are the message if you are delivering the particular message you have to deliver."
Dr. Max Lum covered a lot of ground — from social media challenges and keeping the message positive to quoting old epidemiology studies to show a long track record on safety and calling a media-coined adverse reporting system at the CDC for what it was: a "secret database."
Max Lum concluded his motivational speech, asking, "How do we shape that message of hundreds of millions kids being protected against diseases?"
Without a crystal ball showing the events that would transform the start of the 21st century — the 9/11 terrorist attacks, followed by two fronts on the war on terror, secret U.S. government doctrines, and the even more secretive "security state" of NSA sweeps of personal information of U.S. citizens — the need for transparency that John Clements espoused, and Dr. Max Lum alluded to, would all but disappear from the CDC.
The CDC would take control by setting a new course of shaping the message that thimerosal in vaccines was safe. It would start in three weeks in a secret meeting at the Simpsonwood retreat in Norcross, Georgia, where U.S. government agencies would comingle with big pharma industry leaders.
Sitting in the back, Dr. Robert Chen, chief of Vaccine Safety and Development for the CDC, took copious notes. He liked what Lum and Clements had to say but knew Simpsonwood would focus on the minutia of details and numbers-crunching of at least one major thimerosal study.
Although Dr. Clements was one of the fifty-two attendees invited to the Simpsonwood meeting, the CDC would begin its search to find someone to lead research studies that would disprove any links between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders.
That industry expert would need to play ball, be a foreigner, be known within the CDC circle of power, and work from a script a valley apart from the one Clements delivered on transparency. Masking data would be the key.CHAPTER 2
DISOWNING THE FALLING STAR
On a cold, gray Friday morning on January 22, 2010, Jørgen Jørgensen, director of Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, wondered what he had gotten himself into when he accepted the new position after having spent thirteen years as director at the exceedingly more sane and staid National Hospital. Stoic and not amused, the gray-haired fifty-three-year-old economist sat in his office reviewing the statement he had dictated, which had been reviewed internally by the university's board of directors and signed off by its lawyers and externally by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI).
Soon the two pages in Jørgensen's hand would be sent out as a press release. In effect, the statement would disown one of Aarhus's once rising stars in Dr. Poul Thorsen, a magnet and moneymaker for the university. All Jørgensen had to do was sign it and hand it to his assistant for distribution. Then all hell would break loose in the Danish newspapers, magazines, and social media channels, because a public flogging by a venerable institution of that kind was extremely rare in Denmark.
Tall, handsome, with a square jaw framed by wire-rimmed glasses and graying hair combed to the side, Poul Thorsen had shot out of the shadow of research obscurity in his late thirties, just two years after earning his PhD. That trajectory won him the ire and jealousy of other doctors at AU — as Aarhus University is also known — who had far more expertise, experience, and a better network. Or so they believed. But Dr. Thorsen had one thing on his labcoat-wearing rivals. He had a vision that would match the trend at the start of the 21st century — mine vast pools of government health information for big data analytics — to the need of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He would leverage troves of primary care data to fast-track studies.
Poul Thorsen was the one who saw the opportunity to exploit the Danish Health Registries — more than 200 national healthcare databases that store virtually all diseases, disorders, and ailments of Danish citizens born after 1968. It was what he had done during the 1990s in the Danish university hospital system and as a visiting research scientist at the CDC by the end of the decade in Atlanta, Georgia. He, with his colleagues, researched and backtested data for dozens of studies on everything from cerebral palsy and preterm delivery issues to autism and alcoholism.
Research studies, he knew, were faster, cheaper, and had less complications than running clinical trials, which were time- and labor-intensive in recruiting, interviewing, and babysitting patients. Poul Thorsen could fast-track studies that often took years at the clinical trial level, do it in a third of the time at a reduced cost, and produce better, if not more accurate, results. It "tied the economy of both healthcare authorities and providers to confer the final register with a high degree of completeness."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Master Manipulator"
Copyright © 2016 James Ottar Grundvig.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Sharyl Attkisson,
Introduction by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.,
Erecting the Monolith,
1. The Bone Depot of Aluminum,
2. Disowning the Falling Star,
3. In Scandinavia Less is More,
4. Doctors of the Human Environment,
5. Agent Orange Is the New Black,
6. The Boyle-ing Point of Data,
7. Recruiting a Political Animal,
8. 2001: A Data Odyssey,
The Cult of Vainglory,
9. Sleeping with the "Frenemy",
10. The Golden Girl of Bioterrorism,
11. NANEA No Panacea,
12. The Dane and the Dictator,
13. Safety in Numbers,
14. Rise of the Mercury Gods,
15. Other People's Money,
16. Cash and Burn,
Cracks in the Monolith,
17. "The Fish Head Is Rotting Head to Toe",
18. Postpartum NANEA (aka, Shell Shock at NANEA),
19. High Times in Hotlanta,
20. Fast-Acting Dane,
21. Tripping the Fault Line,
22. Overcooking the Danish,
23. The Great Unravel,
24. Liquid Metal Indictment,
25. Mercenary Scientist,
Epilogue: The Data Dam Breaks,
26. The Flower of Evil,
27. Weaponization of Government,
28. The Vaccine Deep State,
About the Author,