Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday, April 9, 2007- Show's guest- Professor Garth Nicolson, co-author of Project Day Lily

The first guest on the new weekly radio show, Questioning War- Organizing Resistance, Mondays, 7-9 pm, Pacific Time on the We the People Radio Network (http://www.wtprn.com/), on April 9, 2007 will be Professor Garth Nicolson, co-author of Project Day Lily.

Project Day Lily Synopsis by Christian Taylor

Project Day Lily (http://http://www.projectdaylily.com/) chronicles the events and controversy surrounding Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

This is the true story of two American scientists’ search for the cause of GWS, and their subsequent discovery of a secret germ warfare testing program carried out by government and academic employees.

Garth Nicolson is a world-renowned cancer researcher, who until 1996 held the David Bruton Jr. Chair at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of the largest cancer research facilities in the world. His wife Nancy was previously on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine.

Their journey began in 1992, after Garth’s stepdaughter returned from the Persian Gulf and was subsequently exhibiting health problems। She had been a staff sergeant and crew chief on a Blackhawk helicopter in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, and was completing pilot training when she became ill। Her symptoms were typical of Gulf War illnesses: debilitating fatigue, intermittent fever, joint and muscle pain, and impairments in short term memory। Her health had slowly failed, and she was forced to leave behind what was once a promising military career।

Nancy Nicolson found the symptoms familiar. While working at Baylor in 1987 she had suffered from a similar illness that left her temporarily paralyzed on her left side and bedridden for over a year. Doctors at Baylor were unhelpful, but the Nicolsons experimented with long-term antibiotic therapy and two years later Nancy recovered. Curiously, her colleagues claimed her illness was “psychological” and she was stripped of her faculty position.

The Veteran’s Administration (VA) doctors claimed that the growing number of veterans of the first Gulf War were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but six months after the war, tens of thousands of Army, Air Force, and Marine veterans were ill, and their family members were reporting similar health problems.

If post-traumatic stress was to blame, then why were civilian family members afflicted with the same signs and symptoms as veterans? The Nicolsons sensed that the VA was ignoring what was quickly becoming an epidemic. As Gulf War illness spread, the Nicolsons began searching for a possible infectious cause, eventually focusing on a primitive bacteria called Mycoplasma.

After drawing blood samples from Sharron and a large number of Gulf War vets and their family members, the Nicolsons discovered that about one-half of the patients had contracted a curious microorganism called Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus, or Mfi.

What shocked the two scientists was that this particular strain of Mycoplasma included a gene from the HIV-1 virus, a virtual impossibility in naturally occurring Mycoplasmas. Their new discovery in a beautiful microorganism shaped like a day lily, appeared to be a genetically altered biological weapon capable of incapacitating infected victims.

Garth immediately instructed veterans’ physicians to prescribe the only known treatment: large doses of long-term courses of antibiotics. As the word spread, calls began coming in from military units and reporters all over the world.

More research led to a trail of experiments with Mycoplasma as far back as WWII. The I.G. Farban Co. had tested the germ at prisoner camps and death camps in Eastern Europe, and the Nicolsons believed it was brought to the U.S during “Operation Paperclip”, a recovery program of Nazi scientists & technicians right after WWII. It most likely ended up at one of the U.S Bio-warfare research centers like Fort Detrick or Plum Island, where it continued to be worked on and perfected as an incapacitating germ warfare agent.

Even more chilling was the discovery that Dr. Shyh-Ching Lo of the U.S Army had submitted a patent on Mfi in 1987. Dr. Lo was a top molecular biologist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. Like Nancy, Lo had also trained at Baylor, and later at Tanox, a Baylor biotech spin-off, working on antibody based tests against Anthrax and related microorganisms. Something sinister was happening at Baylor, and the Nicolsons had a sinking feeling it was related to the Veteran’s illnesses.

In 1994, three women from Huntsville, Texas contacted the Nicolsons. These women, known as “the three moms”, were married or related to Huntsville Prison employees. Huntsville prisoners were dying, and employees were getting sick with unusual illnesses. Garth and Nancy had just published their papers on the signs and symptoms of “GWI”, and Huntsville citizens were suffering from the same symptoms as the veterans. The disease also appeared to be contagious.

In fact, over 300 families in Huntsville (pop. 35,000) had some form of the illness. There were 26 cases of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) and 63 cases of MS in the small community, rates of incidence that were several times the expected rates.

The Nicolsons took blood samples from the Huntsville families and discovered Mfi in about half of the Wallsville patients. In the meantime, the ‘three moms’ formed a support group and passed out the Nicolsons’ diagnosis and treatment papers on “GWI” to other sick families and their doctors, who were getting no help from local health authorities. Garth and Nancy were suddenly bombarded with patient requests for physician referrals and tests. But what happened next would change the scientist’s lives forever.

The mom’s research into the Texas Department of Corrections uncovered records in Prison Board meetings of horrific biological experiments in conjunction with the Department of Defense and Nancy’s colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine and part of MD Anderson! Had Nancy’s illness been a coincidence, or was she also exposed to a Biological Warfare agent?

The Nicolsons turned their attention to Baylor and M.D Anderson and discovered that many of their colleagues had been working in cohorts with the D.O.D and major pharmaceuticals on germ warfare research experiments within Texas prison systems and nursing homes.

The small group of scientists headed by Dr. Charles A. LeMaistre, (Director of MD Anderson and Enron), developed secret clinical trials, exposing patients to MFI and other deadly biologicals in aerosols, to test vaccines and treatment approaches against the germs. In order to perform these experiments, special rooms and entire prison blocks were modified so that the air coming in could be contaminated. The patients were then watched carefully for the onset of illness, and treated in prison hospitals and nursing home facilities. The extreme cases were taken to Belford.

The history of using American prisoners for medical experiments (i.e. the Tuskegee syphilis experiments) was more extensive than the general public knew. In fact, during the Cold War, Congress passed a law in the Federal Annotated Code called Title 50, section 1520. This section allowed experimentation on the American public without their specific knowledge or consent, all in the interests of “National Security”. Such laws only required notification of an official in local government before experiments were conducted by government agencies on the general public. Prisoners and elderly patients were ideal because they could be closely monitored and rarely asked questions. In return they were given small amounts of money or special privileges and complete medical care.

Few employees at MD Anderson or Baylor knew of these atrocities, but in reality MD had been supplying immunological expertise for the Baylor experiments since the 1970’s.The D.O. Madison administration suddenly became very interested in the Nicolsons’ research. Certain government officials and various nefarious organizations were putting pressure on the administration to “correct the problem”. To keep an eye on the two scientists, Dr. LeMaistre recruited certain faculty members who were willing to spy on them in exchange for future promotions, salary increases and corporate perks. Following their discoveries, the Nicolsons survived numerous attempts on their lives and viscous attacks by their colleagues to discredit their findings.

Rogue agents hired by LeMaistre attempted to poison Garth and Nancy numerous times at international conferences with “Russian doll cocktails”, a lethal combination of biologicals and immune suppressants. Nancy was hit especially hard and suffered a miscarriage after she was poisoned with cyanide while attending a symposium in Russia with her husband. Their house and lab were broken into, and their phones were tapped. Operatives in SUV’s shot at them and forced them off the road numerous times. Phone calls, mail, emails and faxes were interrupted, and they had endless problems with identity theft and lost mortgage payments, crippling them financially.

Worst of all, their academic careers were irreversibly damaged. Despite being a fully endowed department head for sixteen years and a world renowned scientist with over 550 articles in peer reviewed medical journals, Dr. Nicolson was eventually forced to leave MD Anderson in fear for his life. By giving up his chair and tenured professorship Garth lost millions in salary, pensions and health benefits.

Six of the Nicolsons' scientific colleagues were murdered, including Dr. Fred Conrad (Colonel, USAF, retired), Dr. Nicolson's boss at MD Anderson. Conrad was shot in the back of the head six times just minutes after he told Dr. Nicolson he was preparing to blow the whistle on illegal biological warfare testing at MD Anderson. The murder was never solved.

Little has changed since the Nicolsons’ discoveries. These illnesses are still slowly spreading into the US population and continue to cause chronic debilitating disease.

Evidence produced by the Nicolsons points to deliberately contaminated military vaccines, exposure to chemicals and biologicals in the Gulf, and illegal clinical trials in prisons and nursing homes. Contaminants like Mycoplasma were found in vaccines given to recruits before they were dispatched to the Gulf, and many soldiers who became ill were never dispatched. More than 225,000 Gulf War Veterans have become permanently disabled, and tens of thousands of soldiers, prisoners and nursing home patients have fallen victim to this careless experimentation.

MFI and other pathogens causing Gulf War illness can be transmitted through sexual and casual contact, crippling spouses, children and healthcare workers. An alarming number of veterans’ children are currently being diagnosed with autism, ADD, CFIDS, Fibromyalgia and a wide range of autoimmune and nervous system disorders. According to the CFIDS Association of America, “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunctional Syndrome alone affects more Americans than MS, AIDS, or Lung Cancer. 90% are not diagnosed and are not receiving proper medical care for their illness.”

The Pentagon and the Department of Defense have remained silent about GWI, and have stated that there is no scientific or medical evidence that either chemical or biological agents were deployed in the Gulf. The two agencies only recently admitted to “possible low level chemical exposures”.

Although a U.S Senate Committee reported to Congress in 1994 that approximately 77% of spouses and 65% of children of GWI patients exhibited symptoms of the illness, both the VA and the DOD hotly deny that GWI is communicable.

The Nicolsons have testified on the veterans’ behalf to Congress and the House of Representatives Government Reform and Oversight Committee, and to the President’s Commission on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses in Washington, D.C. In 1996 Garth and Nancy formed the nonprofit Institute for Molecular Medicine, where they continue to research and develop new treatments for chronic diseases like GWI, CFIDS, cancer, and other autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders. Their website for the institute is the number one visited site in the world for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses. (http://http://www.immed.org/)

Sharron, the soldiers of the 101st. Airborne Division, and the citizens of Huntsville eventually made a full recovery. The Nicolsons were made honorary Colonels of the U.S. Army Special Forces and honorary Navy Seals (a first for both organizations) for their research on GWI, which has saved countless veterans, families, and victims of chronic diseases all over the world.

Project Day Lily is a fictionalized version of the Nicolson's personal experiences that casts light on the science and politics behind the bioweapons program. It raises larger questions about who is funding the research, and for what purpose? After innumerable attempts on their lives, Professor Nicolson is still bravely speaking out, but is his story reaching the country or having any effect upon the policies of the Veteran's Administration or the medical profession or the people suffering directly from being exposed to the bioweapons created and tested upon American soldiers, prisoners, and ordinary citizens? What can we do to raise awareness on this issue and stop the development and testing of bioweapons upon more people? Recent legislation which removes liability from the pharmaceutical companies for their vaccines, does not bode well for the health of the public. Who is benefiting from this war on human health? And who is paying the price? These are some of the issues we will be discussing on April 9, 2007.