Gardasil Changed Our Dreams To Nightmares
Gardasil: The Journey No One Should Take…
Ed’s notes: I am not an anti-vaccine advocate, but the preponderance of evidence around the globe should indicate to any rational, thinking person that the HPV vaccines are being pushed like breakfast cereals and popular soft drinks and that inadequate testing and public disclosure has led to and continues to lead to deaths and horrible medical consequences.
The question remains: “Who should take this vaccine and who should not?”; if anyone at all.
It needs to be sent back into retesting and public needs to be aware of ALL of those results…no selective transparency.
It is obvious that young women and men with certain preexisting conditions, including but not limited to Diabetes, are at peril and those warnings do not exist.
The vaccine has been withdrawn in some countries and a growing number of American doctors will not administer the vaccine. That ought to tell anyone with an ounce of common sense that there is a real problem.
Read these two entries and ask yourself this question if you have a daughter : “How would you feel if your daughter’s life was destroyed by this vaccine just because you believe it can’t happen to her”. And do we have any idea of the possible long range consequences in say 10, 20 or 30 years from now?
Six years have passed since Alexis received three shots of Gardasil. Six years of suffering for no good reason. Now, I live in constant fear of what might happen during my daughter’s next seizure.
I wake up around 5am every morning in a panic. My heart is racing and I desperately try to stop my mind from thinking the worst, never knowing what to expect. Some nights she knocks on my door every hour because she is having so many seizures that she is totally confused.
Some days when she gets undressed for her bath she has dark bruises, with no knowledge of how they got there. Sometimes she has knots on her head and doesn’t remember hitting her head. If she doesn’t have her mouth piece in while having a seizure, then blood pours out of her mouth because of grinding her teeth and they get chipped and loose. Every morning I awake in fear, wondering if Alexis is still with us.
Alexis and her younger sister used to be so close, I asked Kimber to write down her feelings about what has happened to her sister. This is what she wrote:
“Being nine or ten years old and watching your older sister slowly dissolve and someone completely different taking her place is simply wrong. It is pretty much the exact same thing as watching a hit man kill her before your eyes. It is – just knowing the fact that you will never see your sister again. The only difference is, through my experience, it was slower, I didn’t understand what was happening, and I didn’t know I was never going to see the real her, or should I say old her, ever again.
Where is my best friend?
Today, six years later, I am used to it; her seizures, her way of life, just everything about her. It’s like I never knew her, like I’ve only heard about her. All I remember about her was a little bit of her personality. She was my only sister, my only sibling, my best friend. My sister lost all her friends. I held onto mine, but they never fully understood what I’ve been going through. So my friends do not come around here. I am actually embarrassed to have them come over because of how my sister acts.
You never know what will happen and so many people just do not understand.
I miss her dearly. Whenever I see a couple sisters hugging or just hangin’ like a couple regular siblings, I get sad and think of all this. It’s not like I can’t hang out with my sister, it’s just not the same. She is what my mom calls, “a toddler, a little old lady, and a teenager combined.”
If my sister was “destined” to be injured, then I would have rather it had been not mental, but maybe a bad scar or a small part of one of her limbs amputated. Just something – anything besides what she has now. Now she is a shell of the sister I once had.”
Alexis heard me asking her sister to “write a story” so Alexis decided to write a story for me. This is her version:
“Once upon a time there was a girl named Alexis Raley Wolf. She has been sick for 6 years, way too long, right?! Also she has not slept, function, behaved in 6 flippin years. Way too long right my wonderful peeps. So what the hell are we going to do, huh? I hope there is a flipping cure really, really soon, you know what I mean??? Also I love that it isn’t so bad as 6 years ago, you know my wonderful peeps that I love so ever much….the end, Love Alexis Raley Wolf.
Dear Lord of my life, please, please, please, please, please, please make me better. I beg of you. That is all I really flipping want SO PLEASE for the love of God! Love Alexis.”
Along with her “story” she also drew a circle with “Gardasil” in the center and a bunch of lines through it. I have a large sack full of letters/stories that Alexis has written down on paper just like this over the years. They are always the same.
Our life before Gardasil:
Allow me take you back to 2007, when I was pressured into making the decision that changed our lives forever.
In 2007 Alexis was a very shy 7th grader. She worked so hard at school that she achieved honor roll status. She had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the year before, but took the diagnosis very well, choosing to use it as an opportunity help educate her classmates. She did many school projects on diabetes which not only helped her learn more, but also showed her classmates what it was like to live with diabetes. We were all so proud of her.
Alexis in Germany
Her grandfather wanted to reward her hard work by having her come spend 4 weeks with him in Germany during that summer off from school. I was a little apprehensive but she was in control of her health and knew how to give herself the appropriate amount of insulin when needed.
We visited her Endocrinologist and she gave us the “thumbs up” to go on the trip. Next we saw her pediatrician to get her “thumbs up.” During that visit, they recommended the Gardasil series. They said due to Alexis having diabetes it was very, very important to get her vaccinated for EVERYTHING that came up because of her weakened immune system. I agreed.
I wanted to protect my daughter, doesn’t everyone? She was given the first shot and we were told to come back after Alexis returned from Germany.
Alexis had a great time in Germany and returned home 4 weeks later. When she returned I started noticing strange things about her behaviour. She never experienced “jet lag” and actually slept very little. When she found out our dog had passed away while she was gone she tried very hard to cry. She had never had to TRY to cry before….usually she could cry very easily. We went back to the Dr and she got the 2nd shot in the series. That is when things really started to get crazy.
Alexis’ personality changed so much. At first, I thought she was just coming out of her “shy shell” since she had just travelled to Germany.
Gardasil begins to take control:
The day after her 2nd shot, her heart started pounding so hard and fast we thought it was going to jump out of her chest.
We went back to the doctor and they sent us to a cardiologist. Alexis had to wear a heart monitor for 24 hrs. Her heart rate was fast but they didn’t think it was an issue.
Then Alexis started throwing up A LOT and for no reason. Then she would say that things looked scary and sounded scary. Back to the doctor we went. The gastroenterologist told me to give her Zantak and come back in a month.
Where did my life go?
She started 8th grade but was unable to sit still and always felt like throwing up. The teachers started putting a trash can near her desk. Teachers were calling me and telling me that she was disturbing the whole class and I needed to do more. I was taking her to doctor’s appointments all the time it seemed and no one could figure out what was going on.
Alexis started seeing and hearing things that were not there. She would get very mean and violent with me. Yelling at me and telling me that she wanted a new family. She screamed at me to take her to an orphanage so someone would adopt her and take her away. I was so scared. Heart-broken does not begin to describe what I felt.
I got zero help from her father (my husband). He would only yell at me and tell me what to tell the doctors. I felt like I was losing my mind.
About that time, Alexis started running out of the house and knocking door to door telling everyone that she hated her family and wanted a new one. Obviously people called the police and we had to explain all of this to them when it didn’t even make sense to me.
The holidays came and went…it was the worst Halloween and Christmas ever.
A third Injection of Gardasil – the final straw for Alexis:
Then in January of 2008, I took Alexis back to the doctor and she got the 3rd shot in the series. I asked if Gardasil could have anything to do with all her crazy symptoms. I was told “No, but if she didn’t finish the series then it could cause more problems.” So Alexis got the 3rd shot.
For the first time in her’ life Alexis was telling me she hated me and didn’t want to be part of my family. It hurt so bad, it seemed I was crying all the time. I would cry and she would just look at me with such hate and then as if a switch was flipped on she would look at me and say “don’t cry mommy.”
The vomiting and hallucinations kept getting worse. We had seen so many doctors at this point I was finding it hard to keep up. No one ever gave us any answers.
Within 2 weeks of the 3rd shot Alexis was hospitalized. The doctor was concerned about her diabetes and weight loss. They ran tests and told me “There is nothing medically wrong with your daughter.” I told them they were wrong.
Since they thought Alexis was just acting out and being a teenager they sent her to a children’s behavioural hospital. What a horrible place! They treated Alexis like an animal. I visited every day. She was there for 5 days, and on the 4th day they called me to tell me that she was eating her vomit out of the bucket they gave her to throw up in!!!!!
The next morning they called and told me that she was stable and I needed to come get her. She was far from stable! That day I called and begged her doctor to help – to do something! She was able to get her into another children’s hospital.
When we arrived, the staff told us, “I can see that her issues are not behavioural but we will try to get her to sleep over the weekend.” They gave her high amounts of Trazadone to help her sleep and it never worked.
The following Monday when the doctor came in, I told her everything that was going on. She said it sounded like Alexis was having seizures!!!
Test, after test, after test.
She ordered an EEG done and there it was!!!! Alexis was having tons of seizures in the frontal lobe of her brain. The next 6 months consisted of tests, tests, and more tests. Alexis remained in the hospital from March to July. All tests done (over and over) came back normal except for the EEG’s.
Finally, after her 2nd spinal tap, they determined that Alexis ‘must have been exposed to a virus’ that had caused encephalitis, TBI (traumatic brain injury), brain damage and a seizure disorder.
She underwent IV therapy, Plasmapheresis, surgery for a port to be put in her chest for the plasmapheresis, and then surgery for the port to be removed. She spent her 15th birthday hooked to a machine.
There were times when I went to visit my daughter and she was strapped to the bed because of something she had done to a nurse or sitter. Alexis had to have someone with her at all times. She would try to take and eat food from trash cans.
She would scream foul language, try to punch or kick people, spit on people, flash people, throw things…….my sweet, shy child had become someone I didn’t recognize. Do you have any idea how hard it is to visit your child in the hospital, go to their room and find them 4 point restrained to their bed???
She begged to come home and then would beg the nurse to take her home. She would tell me that I wasn’t her mother anymore because she found a better mom (usually a janitor or a sitter or someone who didn’t know how to respond to her).
When UNM Hospital didn’t know what else to do with her they made arrangements for Alexis to go to Austin Texas to their neuro rehab. She was only able to stay for 2 months because our insurance would not pay anymore.
I was told to contact Social Security and medicaid. I was told to get her signed up on this waiver and that waiver and things I had never even heard of before…..what did all of that mean?
Here we are 6 years later, what happened to my child????
Alexis will be turning 20 in June of 2013. Mentally she is at a 3rd grade level. She cannot be left alone because of her violent seizures. She has been on anti-seizure meds this whole time, many different kinds and nothing seems to work.
In 2010 she got a VNS implant in her chest. It is a device similar to a pacemaker. It is implanted under the skin in the chest area between her right breast and her shoulder and a lead is attached to her vagus nerve and sends off continuous impulses in hopes of stopping the seizures. It really doesn’t seem to work either. She gets it adjusted (strength of impulses) every month but have yet to see any big changes in seizure activity.
This is what Alexis thinks of Gardasil.
Alexis has to wear adult diapers because she cannot always control her bladder or bowels when she has a seizure. She has upwards of a hundred or more seizures a day, some very big and violent; some where she is stuck in a long stare with lots of facial twitching. She has lost one tooth due to a violent seizure and now has to wear a mouth guard at all times.
Several other teeth are chipped because of seizures. We have to keep all food locked up at all times. If things were not locked up especially at night she could eat herself into a diabetic coma. When a seizure has finished she thinks that she is starving, even if she had just finished eating a meal. All of her friends left her far behind. No one wants a friend that has seizures, throws up and has to wear diapers….at least not any of the friends she used to have.
Alexis had big plans of going to college and becoming a special needs elementary school teacher. Sadly that will never happen.
She and I had to go before a judge in court to grant me guardianship since she is now over 18 and cannot make any adult decisions for herself.
Here are some other things that Alexis will never get to do, thanks to Gardasil:
§ graduate from high school with her class
§ get married and have a family of her own
§ get her driver’s license
§ go to prom or homecoming
§ go on a real date
§ have a job
§ take a shower without someone else being in the room
§ hang out at the mall with friends
§ move out and get her own place
§ wear normal panties……and the list goes on and on…
Gardasil changed everything! Our perfectly normal lives have been forever transformed into a living nightmare.
Please, learn from our story. Do not let your child become “One More Girl” like Alexis because of Gardasil.
I write this story hoping it helps save at least one girl; then our journey will not have been in vain.
I will barely touch the tip of the iceberg; so much has happened over these past 4-5 years. It has been a whirlwind and like a whirlwind – an unwelcome event.
Stephanie was 23 years old at the time of her 1st Gardasil injection. As most young adults, she was working, had her own health insurance and took responsibility for her health and medical decisions. She had been a Type I diabetic since age 10 and knew the importance of taking care of herself.
At her regular check up, the doctor said she needed to get this “NEW” vaccine for humanpapilloma virus (HPV). So our journey began.
Steph received her first shot in June 2008; the second in October 2008. The night of her second vaccine, Stephanie was admitted to the intensive care unit with an acute respiratory problem and sky rocketing blood sugars.
The 3rd injection was in December 2008. Early in 2009, Stephanie took a trip to Mexico. On the way back she experienced uncontrollable vomiting, headaches and body aches. Once again she was hospitalized.
Thinking she may have picked up something while in Mexico, we pressed the hospital and doctors to check for parasites and pathogens. All tests came back negative.
She was hospitalized over and over again with the same symptoms. Test after test revealed nothing. Finally she received a diagnosis of gastro paresis, thought to be a result of her diabetes. Her body was also full of yeast. One gastric empting test came back inconclusive, another came back slow.
Here is the clincher; we did not give any thought to the vaccine because we did not know she had the vaccine. It was not until we started realizing that her symptoms were not exclusive to gastro paresis, that I pressed Stephanie asking what she may have done differently or been exposed to.
This is when she said, “Well, I had a vaccine.” Keep in mind she was an adult who trusted the doctors. She did not think this was relevant – they would not give her something to hurt her.
It would be close to 2 years before realizing what could have caused Steph’s “mystery illness.”
While on my Facebook page, a large flashing ad on the left of my screen shouting ‘One more girl’ got my attention.
I clicked on it and found that several girls had the same symptoms. I had so many questions! How was this vaccine tested? What did the package insert say? Did any other of these girls have compromised immune systems like Steph with her type I diabetes? Was it tested on this group of girls? Why do some get sick but not all? Why so many?
Why Had Other Countries Already Taken The Vaccine Off The Market? We Felt Like We Had Played Russian Roulette And Lost.
This was just the beginning of the long, long journey into our Gardasil nightmare. Since this time, Stephanie has been hospitalized over 80 times. She was in for 3 weeks in southern California. This time on a purely liquid diet, hooked up to IVs, gaining weight and still vomiting.
She had headaches, a disrupted menstrual cycle, large weight gain, itching, hair loss, body aches, depression, and extreme mood changes. She has had EVERY test in the book – over and over again.
Not one doctor that we encountered has yet to look at, or even consider the vaccine as a possible cause. They have blamed everything from diabetes to being psychologically sick. Some doctors have gone so far as to say they think we are crazy.
Her last doctor in southern California finally looked at some other girls’ stories and the website SaneVax. He threw his hands up and said, “If this were my mother, daughter, sister or aunt, I would go and get a second opinion.”
Keep in mind by this time; Steph has had every blood test, scope, scan and lab test available. All pretty much inconclusive or if it came back positive once, it was not positive again. They pumped her full of anti-nausea meds, antibiotics, fluids, painkillers, and anti-fungal over and over again. Each and every hospital visit we would have to go over the same thing. Each and every time we would get the same treatment.
We were always told by the hospitals, “We don’t fix people here; we just get them well enough to follow up with their primary physician.” I could not get them to understand that she is hospitalized so much that by the time she gets out and gets an appointment with her primary doc, she is sick again and admitted to the hospital. We have had 2nd 3rd and 4th opinions.
These symptoms are brutal. The vomiting is not something that stops on its own and is accompanied by brutal stomachaches as well. Now you tell me, how does a person who is vomiting more days out of their life than not gain weight?
It is almost like she has gone into menopause with the hair loss, mood swings, night sweats, and hot flashes. This vaccine disrupts the entire neurological and endocrine system.
Stephanie’s Cobra insurance ran out, so she is now uninsured and unable to work, with hospital bills over 2 million dollars. I decided to move her to Northern California so she would be closer and maybe get fresh start with new doctors. She had already been hospitalized numerous times in Southern California in 5 different hospitals.
The move north proved to us that the medical field is not willing to take responsibility or go against “Big Pharmaceutical” companies.
To date, Steph spent most of April 2013 in the hospital. We went so far as to have her gall bladder removed hoping this would stop her uncontrollable vomiting. Wrong again. The doctor actually told us, “So what if it is the vaccine, what are we going to do about it?”
Today, Steph is 27 and on disability and Medicare. Still, not one doctor is willing to look further into the possibility the vaccine may have caused her symptoms.
Her visits to the hospital are coming farther apart. There is a series of things that happen before she gets sick. She becomes extremely tired, will “swell up,” get extremely bad migraines and body aches, then the vomiting will start. She will vomit with no food in her system, multiple times a day – for days. This seems to occur about every 3 months.
Stephanie is not alone, there have been over 130 deaths and 29,000 adverse reactions reported. Keep in mind; these are only reported reactions. How many other families have sick adult daughters that have not put two and two together?
Why in the world would anyone want 12 year olds to get this vaccine without having to tell their parents? A 12 year old that became sick from this vaccine without parental knowledge would never be able to connect the two! And their horrible journey into Gardasil prison could begin just that easily.
I just hope that all of our girl’s stories help to get the word out that this vaccine is a killer! One way or another it destroys lives.
Please understand – all 3 of my children had their childhood vaccines. I was not anti- vaccine until this. We feel the medical community has abandoned us.
HPV Vaccines Were “Fast Tracked” To The Main Stream Medical Community Without Sufficient Testing To Deem Them Safe For Anyone.
Please do not even consider this vaccine, it has damaged and killed more girls throughout the U.S. and other countries than the disease it was meant to protect against!
If you take one thing away from my daughter’s story, it should be clear as a bell – DO NOT AGREE TO PLAY GARDASIL ROULETTE!
By LESLIE MANOOKIAN
The health column “Why worry about HPV?” (May 3, 2013) widely missed the mark. The article lacked scientific rigor while adding to Merck’s fear-mongering advertising campaign that girls “Be One Less.” Indeed, Merck’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil received an advertising award for creating a “market out of thin air.”
HPV is a virus that infects most within a few years of becoming sexually active. Importantly, 90 percent of women infected with HPV will clear the virus on their own within two years of infection. Of the 10 percent that don’t clear the infection, it takes another three years for 5 percent to progress to pre-cancerous lesions and a further five years for those to progress to invasive cancer. Cervical cancer development is a lengthy process with ample time and safe treatment when necessary.
Annual Pap smears have been routine for most women for decades. Pap smears have reduced cervical cancer in the developed world by 70 percent in the past few decades to such an extent that there are as many pedestrian deaths in the U.S. annually as there are cervical cancer deaths, with half of those occurring in women who have never had a Pap smear.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has stated that “this HPV vaccine costs hundreds of dollars for something that most of the recipients do not even need protection against.” Equally important, Pap smears carry zero risk to the recipient.
While Coe Smith writes that HPV vaccine “is very well-tolerated,” there have been over 23,000 adverse reactions reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, including 10,000 emergency-room visits and 85 deaths in the U.S. after HPV vaccines.
These numbers likely understate true adverse reactions, as only a fraction of adverse reactions to all medications are reported, in some cases as few as 1 percent. While the CDC claims that all these reactions are a coincidence, one has to wonder what exactly caused 10,000 emergency-room visits and 85 deaths in otherwise healthy young women.
This point is driven home by the fact that HPV vaccine fragments have been found in the brains of two young women who died months after HPV vaccination with inflammatory symptoms indicative of a fatal autoimmune response. Serious adverse reactions related to HPV vaccination include death, convulsions, paralysis, Guillain–Barré syndrome, transverse myelitis, facial palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms and cervical cancers.
Amazingly, federal law assures vaccine makers bear zero liability when their vaccines cause harm. Merck used an aluminum-containing placebo in its clinical trials, thereby masking the true side-effect profile. Aluminum on its own is known to cause neurological and inflammatory reactions, so it is no surprise that the vaccine and placebo shared the same side effects.
Interestingly, in Merck’s clinical trials the number of girls between ages 9 and 26 who reported serious adverse reactions to Gardasil indicative of an autoimmune disorder during pre-licensure trials was 245, compared with 218 girls in the “control” group. According to the authors of one study, “at best, Gardasil was shown to be as safe as its potentially neuro-immunotoxic constituent aluminum.”
HPV vaccines are recommended for girls (and boys) 9 to 26, despite being studied on fewer than 1,200 girls under age 16. HPV-vaccine-induced “immunity” is not permanent and wanes within five years, meaning children will have been exposed to adverse effects from the vaccine with zero benefit before becoming sexually active.
Cervical cancer is a rare disease in the developed world with mortality rates several times lower than reported serious adverse reactions to the vaccines. It is no wonder most parents have rejected HPV vaccinations.
Leslie Manookian is one of the creators of the documentary film “The Greater Good.” She lives in Ketchum.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
SCANDALS AT IRS AND DOJ OUGHT TO LEAVE THEM GUN SHY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE…THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS.
Scandal Could Leave IRS 'Gun Shy' With Political Groups
A growing controversy in Washington involving the Internal Revenue Service could mean big changes in the way the agency regulates the political activity of tax-exempt organizations, according to election law experts.
At the White House and on Capitol Hill, President Obama and members of both political parties expressed outrage Monday at reports that the IRS had used political criteria to target conservative groups for extra scrutiny on 501(c)4 applications.
Robert Kelner, chairman of Covington and Burling's election and political law practice, said the IRS is going to be "gun shy" as a result of the scandal. And it's likely the agency would back away from close scrutiny of political activities for some time.
Less likely, but also possible, is that Congress might take away the IRS's oversight of political activity of tax-exempt organizations, he said.
"I think there is a growing body of thought that suggests it was a mistake to ever let the IRS regulate the political activity of tax-exempt organizations," Kelner said. "The IRS has trouble doing that well in the best of times, and in the worst of times there is a temptation for IRS personnel to put their thumb on the scale."
Trevor Potter, who heads Caplin & Drysdale's political law practice in Washington, said there are still a lot of unknowns, but it is clear the IRS has a mess on its hands. "They're saying they have thousands of applications that are unprocessed, and a broken method of determining which groups to select" for review, Potter said. "It is clear they are overwhelmed and underorganized."
The situation will prompt review of the IRS's subjective, multipart test of what is too much political activity for a 501(c)4 group, he continued, which might have contributed to the agency looking at the name of a group and trying to divine what political activity that group might be up to.
Portions of an Inspector General for Tax Administration report containing the findings have been leaked to the news media, and the full report is due this week. A top IRS official apologized and said on Friday that dozens of organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications, the Associated Press reported.
The category of tax-exempt groups has been at the center of debate about regulating political speech and "social welfare organizations" since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. In 2010, for example, congressional Democrats called on the IRS to crack down on activists' use of tax-exempt groups as cover for political advocacy.
The political fallout from the new revelation has been swift in Washington. During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Obama said that while he is waiting for the full report, "I can tell you that if you've got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral and non-partisan way, then that is outrageous, it is contrary to our traditions."
On Capitol Hill, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said he would hold hearings about the report. He asked the inspector general to look into the matter last June after receiving complaints from conservative groups that they were undergoing closer scrutiny than were liberal groups.
The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable," Issa said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for more clarity in the law regarding the activities of tax exempt organizations, along with greater disclosure and transparency. "We must overturn Citizens United, which has exacerbated the challenges posed by some of these so-called 'social welfare' organizations," Pelosi said in a written statement.
Perkins Coie partner Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel and Obama's presidential campaign lawyer, posted a blog on Monday offering a detailed analysis of possible reforms to avoid this kind of "indefensible" selective enforcement, such as requiring 501(c)4 organizations to conduct no campaign activity.
The government now must decide an unresolved issue: when does an organization pass from a social welfare function into out-and-out electioneering as its "major purpose," he wrote.
"There seems no disagreement that the IRS must stay out of politics — eschewing political judgments and giving no cause to suspect political favoritism," Bauer wrote. "Yet the law and rules as they now stand generate pressures the other way."
Neil Reiff, a founding member of the firm of Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb in Washington, expressed skepticism that Congress will change the law. It will be important to watch how the IRS reacts, he said. "I think it's a huge deal. Has the IRS been wounded to the point they have to pull back?" Republicans will be howling for fairness, Reiff said, and liberal groups could be girding for backlash and added scrutiny.
Jan Baran, a partner at Wiley Rein who has handled tax-exempt matters for clients for 30 years, expects that there will be heightened sensitivity to applying the tax laws evenly. And that likely will mean a delay for everybody applying for the tax-exempt status.
While surprised at the reports, Baran said they explains what he had been seeing for the past few years: applications have taken much longer and with more interference by the IRS with respect to groups that seem to be conservative.
Baran said he was in law school when President Nixon used the IRS to scrutinize his political opponents.
"It led to a long period of great sensitivity at the IRS of making sure they are not behaving in a way that is politically improper," Baran said. "My reaction was: This is the IRS, they learned their lesson with Nixon, surely."
he Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than a hundred journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.
The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."
Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual.
In the letter notifying the AP, which was received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt's letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.
Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012, story.
The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of providing classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.
The White House on Monday said that other than press reports it had no knowledge of Justice Department attempts to seek AP phone records.
"We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department," spokesman Jay Carney said.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the investigative House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on CNN, "They had an obligation to look for every other way to get it before they intruded on the freedom of the press."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an emailed statement: "The burden is always on the government when they go after private information, especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources. ... On the face of it, I am concerned that the government may not have met that burden. I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government's explanation."
The American Civil Liberties Union said the use of subpoenas for a broad swath of records has a chilling effect both on journalists and whistleblowers who want to reveal government wrongdoing. "The attorney general must explain the Justice Department's actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again," said Laura Murphy, the director of ACLU's Washington legislative office.
Rules published by the Justice Department require that subpoenas of records of news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general, but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained through subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.
William Miller, a spokesman for Machen, said Monday that in general the U.S. attorney follows "all applicable laws, federal regulations and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations." But he would not address questions about the specifics of the AP records. "We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations," Miller said in an email.
The Justice Department lays out strict rules for efforts to get phone records from news organizations. A subpoena can be considered only after "all reasonable attempts" have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say. It was unclear what other steps, in total, the Justice Department might have taken to get information in the case.
A subpoena to the media must be "as narrowly drawn as possible" and "should be directed at relevant information regarding a limited subject matter and should cover a reasonably limited time period," according to the rules.
The reason for these constraints, the department says, is to avoid actions that "might impair the news gathering function" because the government recognizes that "freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news."
News organizations normally are notified in advance that the government wants phone records and then they enter into negotiations over the desired information. In this case, however, the government, in its letter to the AP, cited an exemption to those rules that holds that prior notification can be waived if such notice, in the exemption's wording, might "pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation."
It is unknown whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas.
Arnie Robbins, executive director of the American Society of News Editors, said, "On the face of it, this is really a disturbing affront to a free press. It's also troubling because it is consistent with perhaps the most aggressive administration ever against reporters doing their jobs — providing information that citizens need to know about our government."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said: "The Fourth Amendment is not just a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, it is a fundamental protection for the First Amendment and all other Constitutional rights. It sets a high bar — a warrant — for the government to take actions that could chill exercise of any of those rights. We must guard it with all the vigor that we guard other constitutional protections."
The May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of the CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot occurred around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.
The plot was significant both because of its seriousness and also because the White House previously had told the public it had "no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden's death."
The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot, though the Obama administration continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.
The May 7 story was written by reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman with contributions from reporters Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan and Alan Fram. They and their editor, Ted Bridis, were among the journalists whose April-May 2012 phone records were seized by the government.
Brennan talked about the AP story and investigation in written testimony to the Senate. "The irresponsible and damaging leak of classified information was made ... when someone informed The Associated Press that the U.S. government had intercepted an IED (improvised explosive device) that was supposed to be used in an attack and that the U.S. government currently had that IED in its possession and was analyzing it," he wrote.
He also defended the White House decision to discuss the plot afterward. "Once someone leaked information about interdiction of the IED and that the IED was actually in our possession, it was imperative to inform the American people consistent with government policy that there was never any danger to the American people associated with this al-Qaida plot," Brennan told senators.
Updated 11:20 p.m.
The U.S. Justice Department is defending its review of two months of phone records for a group of reporters and editors at the Associated Press, which called the government action "a massive and unprecedented intrusion" into newsgathering.
The news agency publicly disclosed the Justice Department's review of the phone records in a protest letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. "There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters," Gary Pruitt, president and chief executive officer of the AP, wrote.
"That the Department undertook this unprecedented step without providing any notice to the AP, and without taking any steps to narrow the scope of its subpoenas to matters actually relevant to an ongoing investigation, is particularly troubling," Pruitt said. Prosecutors collected records on 20 separate phone lines.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia did not reveal the nature of the investigation. The Justice Department, however, has previously disclosed that the Maryland and District of Columbia U.S. attorneys areinvestigating, among other national security matters, the leak of information that provided the substance of an Associated Press story, published in May 2012, about an alleged terrorist plot that was thwarted.
Members of Congress on Wednesday will get a chance to question Holder about the rare move to subpoena newspaper reporters' phone records. Holder is scheduled to testify at the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing.
"We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations," the DOJ statement read. "Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media."
The statement concluded with this: "Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws." (Click here to read the Justice Department's policy statement regarding the issuance of subpoenas to reporters.)
Civil liberties advocates urged the Justice Department to provide a fuller explanation.
"The media's purpose is to keep the public informed and it should be free to do so without the threat of unwarranted surveillance," Laura Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's legislative office in Washington, said in a formal statement. "The Attorney General must explain the Justice Department's actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again."
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called the revelation of the Justice Department's action "disturbing." Issa said he "will work with my fellow House Chairmen on an appropriate response."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that he is "very troubled by these allegations" and wants to hear from the Justice Department.
“The burden is always on the government when they go after private information--especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources," Leahy said. "I want to know more about this case, but on the face of it, I am concerned that the government may not have met that burden."
Pruitt, the AP executive, asked the Justice Department to return the telephone records and destroy any copies.
"At a minimum, we request that you take steps to segregate these records and prohibit any reference to them pending further discussion and, if it proves necessary, guidance from appropriate judicial authorities," Pruitt said.
Posted by Mike Scarcella on May 13, 2013 at 07:10 PM in Balancing Act,Crime and Punishment, Current Affairs, Justice Department , Legal Business, Politics and Government , Supreme Court , Travel, War on Terror, Web/Tech | Permalink