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TOP NOTCH INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS TO CONTACT REGARDING CDC - IF NEEDED RE XMRV Stud

Discussion in 'Media, Interviews, Blogs, Talks, Events about XMRV' started by muffin, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Alison Young (“Watchdog journalist”) used to write for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was the major watchdog on the CDC and its doings. She chased after the CDC for every little thing they did and even the CDC’s own employees would contact her and provide her information when they were unable to get their issues listened to and dealt with within the CDC’s massive bureaucracy. For whatever reason, Alison Young has left the AJC for USA TODAY. There is now no real “Watchdog journalist” working the CDC beat, which is not good. Young kept the CDC on its toes and ensured that there was some sort of reporting on the deeds of the CDC.

    Ms. Young has her own website at: http://www.alisonyoungreports.com. She continues to watch the CDC from afar and can be contacted at : alisonyoungreports@hotmail.com .

    I think it would be in our best interests to keep Ms. Young updated on all CDC/CFS/XMRV Replication issues. Ms. Young has many contacts at the CDC and IF the CDC plays games with the XMRV Replication Study, Ms. Young would be one of the first people to contact. This top notch journalist has been a major burr in the side of the CDC from 2006 until her move to USA TODAY. So, if you know something I suggest posting it here on Cort’s site as well as notifying both Hillary Johnson (www.oslersweb.com) and Alison Young (www.alisonyoungreports.com). Below is just one of the articles Young wrote on the CDC. She really went after the CDC during her time at AJC. Let's make sure she is aware of the CDC's actions regarding CFS and XMRV Replication.

    SPOTLIGHT: WATCHING OUT FOR YOUR SAFETY AND POCKETBOOK
    CDC sits on documents
    By ALISON YOUNG http://www.alisonyoungreports.com

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2009/04/26/spotlight_cdc_documents.html

    Sunday, April 26, 2009
    Employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have generated about 4,000 pages of documents assessing risks to the agency’s reputation posed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s reporting.
    But the CDC is keeping those records secret, despite directives from the Obama administration that federal agencies presume government records are open to the public under the federal Freedom of Information Act.


    Release of the CDC records “would interfere with the agency’s deliberative process and have a chilling effect on employee discussions,” CDC freedom of information officer Lynn Armstrong said in a letter sent this month to the AJC.The AJC asked for the documents in January 2007, after the newspaper learned that the agency was conducting risk analyses of this reporter’s news-gathering rather than releasing information of interest to the public. At the time, the AJC was pursuing stories about morale problems and an exodus of key scientists from the Atlanta-based agency, CDC’s chaotic response to Hurricane Katrina, lab animal welfare violations and costly taxpayer-funded construction projects at the agency’s campus on Clifton Road.

    For complex document requests, the CDC reports that its median processing time is just 38 days (and just 11 days for simple requests). But several AJC requests have been pending for a year; some for more than two years.

    The newspaper learned CDC staff were performing risk assessments on my reporting after a copy of one of the SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — assessment memos was leaked in the fall of 2006. A few weeks earlier, the AJC requested documents about a $10 million no-bid contract; CDC officials directed an employee to analyze threats if the information became public. The firm that got the contract was associated with and recommended by a volunteer adviser to then-CDC Director Julie Gerberding.
    According to the leaked memo: “No assurance that CDC received the best value solution to its concerns because [of the] procurement process used.” It noted a “potential conflict of interest” and said “Negative publicity will further question top CDC management, as it was so involved in the early process.”

    After publishing an article about this memo, the AJC filed its January 2007 FOIA request for all other such memos and risk documents. CDC had released nothing until this month, when it sent a response by FedEx on April 1 that contained 46 pages of documents, most of which were copies of articles published in the AJC or other publications, and a letter denying access to about 4,000 other pages of records.

    On Jan. 21 — his first full day in office — President Barack Obama issued a memo to all federal agencies reinforcing the importance of the Freedom of Information Act. Government transparency is important to democracy, he said.

    “The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama said in the memo.

    Until recently, federal agencies operated under a 2001 directive issued by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. His memo directed agencies to emphasize protecting institutional, commercial and privacy interests over public disclosure.

    Obama’s memo and additional guidelines issued in March by Attorney General Eric Holder instructed federal agencies to focus on releasing information.
    Based on anecdotal reports of documents being released, the openness directives seem to be working, said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is based in Washington.

    In recent weeks, other federal agencies have released or agreed to release controversial records about terrorism interrogation tactics and bird-airplane collisions. So why did the CDC withhold in their entirety 4,000 pages of documents about the AJC’s reporting?

    Armstrong and CDC risk communication specialist Barbara Reynolds declined to be interviewed. Reynolds works in the CDC Office of Enterprise Communication, which has a stated mission that includes “environmental scanning to determine emerging threats to the agency’s reputation.”

    The Freedom of Information Act presumes that government records belong to the people and only allows information to be withheld for a few, limited reasons, such as national security or to protect trade secrets or medical privacy.

    The law allows agencies — at their discretion — to withhold certain internal agency records involving advice, recommendations or opinions that are part of the decision-making process. This is the exemption CDC cites.

    “This is the area where there is the greatest potential for increased disclosure,” said Melanie Ann Pustay, director of the office of information policy at the U.S. Department of Justice. Her office has been conducting training sessions on the new policy.

    Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC’s parent agency, said employees who handle FOIA requests have been briefed on the new policies.
    “HHS is committed to honoring FOIA requests in a manner that ensures our department is open, transparent and respects the FOIA,” spokesman Nick Papas said. “If The Atlanta Journal-Constitution decides to appeal the CDC decision on the case in question, that appeal will be reviewed at the department level.”

    The AJC has appealed.
     
  2. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    From above article: "Armstrong and CDC risk communication specialist Barbara Reynolds declined to be interviewed. Reynolds works in the CDC Office of Enterprise Communication, which has a stated mission that includes “environmental scanning to determine emerging threats to the agency’s reputation.”

    NOW do we see why it would take more than a week to release the XMRV study to the public? The CDC is covering their butts. They know that all hell will break out regardless of the results of the XMRV replication study. It does NOT help that WPI and VIPDX have an antibody test in addition to the hard-to-culture test for XMRV. The CDC is running scared and KNOWS this is going to blow up in their faces however the XMRV wind blows. They KNOW that regardless, they have been caught and heads will roll at the top levels and the CDC's reputation and budget will be terribly damaged. I would think that Congress would stick their noses into the knickers of the CDC for some time to come...
     
  3. usedtobeperkytina

    usedtobeperkytina Senior Member

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    Politicians are accustomed to public scrutiny and accountability. They are elected and often worked their way up starting with municipal elections, on to state and then federal.

    But, scientists, well, they are not accustomed to someone looking over their shoulder saying, "Why are you doing that? Why did this cost so much?" etc.

    Tina
     
  4. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    The CDC is a part of the Federal Government

    The CDC reports to DHHS and both are Federal organizations. As such, those scientists are employees of the Federal government and subject to all the laws, rules, and regulations that the rest of the employees of the Federal government are subject to. CDC employees are no different from any other scientific organization that works within the Federal government including the likes of HHS, NIH, DARPA, NSA, CIA, secret military organizations like the Special Ops guys (even these guys must report to Congress, albeit not publicly), etc.


    The CDC is owned and operated by the US people and will be held accountable for all their actions. You may not like or agree with the Obama Admin but, transparency of the US government is critical to all of us. We are not a Soviet Union, we are the United States of America and our government organizations - local to Federal - must be open and transparent.

    It certainly helps to have journatlists helping those organizations to stay in line though.

    And you Tina, have done your fair share of exposing wrong doings as a journalist - and we thank you for that too...
     
  5. Rrrr

    Rrrr Senior Member

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    as per the original post on this thread, i contacted alison to tell her more about xmrv. she expressed at least initial interest. we'll see where it goes.

    rrrr
     
  6. Ecoclimber

    Ecoclimber Senior Member

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    The AJC also had the opportunity if they wanted to and I don't know why they didn't do it, to file a legal suit in Federal Court for the release of the documents under the FIA so why didn't they do it? The ACLU does it all the time?
     
  7. justinreilly

    justinreilly Stop the IoM & P2P! Adopt CCC!

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    Does "XMRV Stud" refer to Dr. Peterson? :)
     
  8. justinreilly

    justinreilly Stop the IoM & P2P! Adopt CCC!

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    You almost always have to exhaust administrative remedies before filing a suit. The HHS administrative appeal is part of that process. But it seems to me at first glance they probably should have filed one earlier to get the ball rolling.

    I didn't know about this reporter. hats off to her! too bad they have noone covering this beat anymore.
     
  9. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Rrrr: You take the bull's by the horns and really throw that bad boy!!!! Thank you for contacting Alison and spelling it out for her. My brain is now so damaged that I almost can NOT write anymore. Thank you Rrrr!! Very MUCH. Alison watched the CDC and really went after them. She may well be aware of what they are up to, BUT, she may not know the really nitty-gritty of the lower end of the CDC (the CFS program of all of $3M). Again, thanks for alerting her. I prayed someone who could write and tell OUR story well, with all the dirt on the CDC, would contact her to get her interest. BIG HUGS TO YOU Rrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  10. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Does "XMRV Stud" refer to Dr. Peterson? :) From JustinReilly

    I do THINK Dr. Peterson IS a darn good looking man and one with the ethics and concern that I wish so many more people had for the sick (all sick, not just us). I meant STUDY!
    But Peterson is a STUD in that quiet, decent way and he is good looking!!! May be horribly sick but NOT DEAD!!!!!!
     
  11. Kati

    Kati Patient in training

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    What muffin said ;)
     
  12. usedtobeperkytina

    usedtobeperkytina Senior Member

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    muffin, thanks. Yes, I had three First Amendment battles. Seems they are all finally over now. (Lawsuit was dismissed two weeks ago.) After these battle scars, which contributed to my illness, I do not have the strength to go head to head with a governmental agency.

    But, I will pass on another tip. If there are reporters now trying to get info on CDC about XMRV, then other reporters being tipped off to it will cause the first reporters to call more, since they know someone else might scoop them. This will put more demand on CDC to come out with info since they know info is being leaked.

    I have had that happen. In fact, in the story that led to my lawsuit, I had already printed three stories and was trying to monitor for more developments. I heard another newspaper was going to get the bigger story the next day, which wasn't fair, because I had been working the story for six months .... and another newspaper gets the scoop on me that government is taking action on what I have been writing about, put my neck out in duty to my readers, took the risk of being sued. Nope, not fair. So I called government official and said, "Come on, give me something I can put on my Web site tonight." He gave me something. I wouldn't have pressed to get something right then had I not found out my competition had a story coming out the next day.

    So, if reporters know other reporters have been tipped off, some competition of them hounding CDC for information might help.

    Tina
     
  13. Kelly

    Kelly

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    Alison Young no longer with AJC

    Ms. Young is no longer with the AJC and has not been in well over a year. She works for Gannett now.

    Her former boss at the AJC is the owner of Atlanta Unfiltered which has run a few CFS CDC stories. However the premise of the site is the use of official documents rather than interviews to reveal wrong doing. If researchers don't raise questions at meetings such as the CFSAC meetings then it isn't on the official transcripts and a site such as Atlanta Unfiltered is unable to report on it.

    Sunshine laws are like all laws, they are only as good as the enforcement. The CDC is well aware that the longer they stall, the less likely a paper is to pursue the issue as protracted legal battles are costly. I'm sure you have read that the news industry is in a financial crisis along with everyone else.

    Read Hillary Johnson's saga of FOIA requests if you want to have a better idea of what is involved. And she had the help of a top notch FOIA attorney.
     
  14. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Sadly, what Super Smart Kelly said...
     
  15. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Again, emailing Dr. Frieden about this breach may be helpful. I go to the top since I lived/worked in DC for years and think of these agency heads as regular Federal Pukes and nothing more than that. Assume my attitude and email them.
     

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