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Editor’s note: Eilhys England contributed to this column.

The presidential commission looking into the cluelessness of U.S. intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq recently issued its report to banner headlines that should cause every member of the American military to take a long second look at the need for – not to mention the safety of – the big-bucks “emergency” anthrax vaccination program still being pushed by the Department Of Defense. Because the acknowledgment of this disastrous intelligence failure rips the guts right out of DOD’s rationale for a controversial vaccination effort that was changed late last year – by a court order now being appealed by the Pentagon – from mandatory to voluntary.

Meanwhile, since 9-11 and the start of the Global War on Terror, the only American deaths that have occurred from any anthrax attack have been five civilians in the USA during the fall of 2001 from exposure to a strain of anthrax widely believed to have been domestically produced. But while zero service personnel have been killed in action from Saddam Hussein’s alleged stockpile of anthrax and other Iraqi WMD that have mysteriously gone walkabout – or anthrax from any other source – six Americans have died after receiving DOD’s anthrax vaccine!

The product manufacturer’s insert that – at least in theory – accompanies every dose distributed for shooting up the troops lists the causes of these six unnecessary deaths as “adverse events without regard to causality” and include: “sudden cardiac arrest (2), myocardial infarction … (1), aplastic anemia (1), suicide (1), and central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma (1).” Other “frequently reported serious adverse events include … leukemia, systemic lupus … multiple sclerosis … inflammatory arthritis … immune deficiency … renal failure, spontaneous abortion and liver abscess.” (The document is posted in all its gory glory at www.sftt.org.)

Gary Matsumoto, whose superb tell-all book “Vaccine A: The Covert Government Experiment That’s Killing Our Soldiers and Why GI’s Are Only the First Victims” is a must-read for those facing the potentially fatal shots – as well as for future care-providers for any vet survivors who unfortunately end up suffering from the long-term effects and debilitating diseases associated with the vaccine – calls the DOD’s program “a betrayal of the thousands of young men and women who signed up for military service, willing to risk their lives in battle only to be secretly used in medical research as guinea pigs.”

While, according to Matsumoto, “Key people involved in the program declined to give any interviews,” DOD later tried to torpedo his meticulously researched work by claiming that the chemical compound squalene, which he identifies as hazardous to animals and the probable cause of many of the adverse human reactions to the vaccination, was not part of the mix. And when finally forced to admit that the unlicensed experimental booster added to enhance the effectiveness of the formula was in fact present, DOD lamely claimed it was there due to unavoidable contamination in the production process – albeit in such low levels that it could and should be ignored.

Right! One wonders how many DOD weenies ignored the “unavoidable contamination” and signed up for the shots. Not many, I reckon, given the lousy effects of squalene on other critters, and considering that there were never any credible human trials to prove its safety.

So where does all this leave GI Joe and Jane, who might at any moment once again be ordered rather than strongly encouraged to roll up their sleeves and submit to the series of injections?

One option would be to trust the same DOD types who promised it was a slam-dunk that our troops would find masses of WMD in Iraq and play the medical version of Russian roulette by taking the six scary shots.

A second option might come down to refusing to take the vaccination and facing charges – as thousands did before them – at a time when our country needs all the troops it can muster.

The whole stinking scandal reminds me of the treatment of malaria in the early days in Vietnam, when we were unknowingly experimented upon and too many soldiers died from meds that were worse than the malaria itself.

Let’s hope that this time around a gutsy senator or congressional representative moves out sharply to stop this abominable undercover medical experiment and prevent the murders of any more of our brave sons and daughters.

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