BERMUDA TRIANGLE of science-research dollars

JWissmille jwissmille at aol.com
Sat Mar 4 17:33:55 EST 2000


[Note: Not only has CDC "misplaced" major funding for CFIDS/CFS research, but
admits to diverting funds from hanta virus--and now, in this segment, add Lyme
disease into the CDC, or BERMUDA TRIANGLE of science-research dollars.]

CDC SCANDAL:  Lively exchange at Senate hearing
                               by Roger Burns

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 -- In contrast to a U.S. House of Representatives
hearing held earlier this month, today's hearing before a U.S. Senate
committee was lively, and was difficult for the official being
questioned, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, Dircetor of the CDC.

Several questions were posed to Director Koplan about the CDC's
diversion of research funds and the adequacy of that agency's CFS
program, but Koplan's routine answers were not accepted by Senator
Herbert Reid (D-NV) and subcommittee chairman Senator Arlen Spector
(R-PA).  Sen. Reid expressed astonishment that a CDC employee had told
the Inspector-General that "It's a 'bigger crime' to follow Congress's
direction rather than spend money where science dictates", as reported
in the Washington Post and in other newspapers around the U.S. Reid said
that that was virtually spitting in the eye of Congress, and asked how
could the CDC keep such a person on its payroll.  Director Koplan said
he wasn't familiar with that employee and was unaware that such a
statement had been made, so he couldn't respond specifically, but the
quote given was antithetical to Koplan's own beliefs.  Sen. Reid also
said there were new reports that research funds for Lyme disease had
also been diverted.

Sen. Arlen Spector bore in to Dr. Koplan during his own question period.
Spector asked Koplan three times whether he had gotten more information
from the Inspector-General's office than just the official report. The
Senator further asked whether there were other diseases in addition to
hantavirus and CFS that were involved in the diversion of funds, to
which Koplan replied no. Spector also asked what disciplinary actions
the CDC had taken. At first Koplan responded that there had been a
re-assignment of one administrator. But under further questioning by
Spector, Koplan later said that the re-assignment had nothing to do with
a disciplinary action but was done only because that individual's
talents were more useful elsewhere.

At the end of the hearing, Spector asked Koplan whether he had
determined that false statements had ever been made about the CFS
program. At that point, HHS Secretary Shalala intervened and said that
the privacy laws which protect government employees prevent Director
Koplan from answering that question. After consulting with Secy. Shalala
in private, an apparently frustrated Senator Spector said he would defer
his question for the moment, but that it would ultimately be answered in
public, and if need be there would be an additional Senate hearing.

During today's hearing, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) said that he felt this
entire issue was likely due to a misunderstanding and that no
misstatements were made intentionally by CDC staff. Sen. Stevens
outlined the need for improved coordination between the CDC and
Congress.





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