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SafeMinds Steals The Show, Literally...

Opinion by Jake Crosby 

Not yet dated.

 

I hate to write about dishonesty from people on our side. In four years, out of all the articles I’ve written, I am pleased to say that not one article has been a critique of any organization that presents itself as raising awareness for vaccines’ role in causing the autism epidemic. I am saddened, however, to say that as of this article, that is no longer the case. One organization and certain members in particular have, through deceptive tactics, systematically prevented
Dr. Brian Hooker, a Ph.D. scientist and biochemical engineer who’s made 100 FOIA requests, from giving strong evidence to Congress of the ethylmercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal’s role in causing autism, and the government’s role in trying to cover it up. The group’s actions effectively caused the congressional hearings - originally agreed by Congressional Committee Chair Darrell Issa to be specifically about autism causation and the vaccine program - to devolve into the “federal response” – paving the way for epidemic denialist groups to be invited and give testimony.

 Vaccines/Thimerosal Cut From Oral Testimony

 Dr. Hooker’s testimony was replaced with a speech that invoked the “environmental” causes of autism and described the discovery of autism, but gave no mention of thimerosal and hardly any mention of vaccines at all. This was particularly egregious in light of the legacy of Dan Burton’s autism hearings, which were specifically about vaccines and autism, and inspired by his grandson who developed normally before regressing into autism after a round of vaccinations.

 Dr. Brian Hooker – biochemical engineer, university professor and autism parent – worked tirelessly for six months to resume the Dan Burton autism hearings, and was the key person from the autism community to set up the recent Congressional Autism Hearing. And yet, at some point prior to the hearing, his work was pushed aside by an organization pretending to represent him to Congressional Staffer Mark Marin. That organization is the Coalition for SafeMinds (Sensible action for ending Mercury-induced neurological disorders), on which I served as a member of its Government Affairs Committee. When SafeMinds’ executive director Eric Uram invited me onto the committee, he stated one of two major objectives for the organization’s presence in Washington, D.C. was, “seeking to elevate the issues related to vaccines and vaccine injury.” So I joined.

 For several months, I was under the impression that SafeMinds led preparation for the hearing. However, I later learned that SafeMinds' involvement actually began when one of Dr. Hooker's co-organizers revealed the news about the upcoming hearing to SafeMinds’ Government Affairs Committee Chair Mark Blaxill at AutismOne. From there, SafeMinds hired external consultant Beth Clay – former Burton Staffer and experienced Washington-based lobbyist (who now also happens to be International Ambassador to the Scientology Front “Citizens Commission on Human Rights”) to lobby on SafeMinds' behalf. Neither Clay nor Uram has a familial connection to autism, to my knowledge.

According to Marin, the congressional staffer who worked closely with committee chair Darrell Issa, Clay introduced herself as a representative of Dr. Brian Hooker when in fact that was not the case. Nevertheless, Clay succeeded in replacing Dr. Hooker’s testimony with that of Mark Blaxill. Dr. Hooker had prepared five solid minutes summarizing in devastating detail the government cover-up of thimerosal-containing vaccines’ causal role in the autism epidemic (please read it here), in contrast to Mark Blaxill’s testimony.

 SafeMinds Argues Against Thorsen's Role In Cover-up

 Until the week before the hearing, I was hardly aware of the significance of Dr. Hooker’s involvement, despite my being on SafeMinds’ email list and taking part in the online discussions about what should be said in front of Congress. News that indicted fraudster Dr. Poul Thorsen just made the DHHS Office of the Inspector General’s list of most wanted fugitives was still fresh, and Dr. Thorsen was a hot-topic in our online conversations. I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to reveal some of those and other conversations here without permission and have decided to do so because of the serious implications that I believe they have.

SafeMinds Communications Committee Chair Kate Weisman, who was also recently hired by Mark Blaxill as Canary Party’s new Executive Director, initially played down Dr. Thorsen’s role in the corrupted science that sought to exonerate the role of vaccines in causing autism. In fact, several people in SafeMinds minimized his role, in stark contrast to Dr. Hooker’s position and knowledge of Dr. Thorsen.

 Weisman said she was not aware of any direct proof of Dr. Poul Thorsen’s role in data manipulation. Beth Clay concurred with Weisman, but did say he was principal investigator. I responded however, with proof that he was directly involved in data manipulation when I posted Dr. Thorsen’s coauthor Dr. Marlene Lauritsen’s email to three recipients: Dr. Thorsen, CDC employee Dr. Diane Schendel and lead author Dr. Kreesten Madsen. Dr. Lauritsen’s email described how autism’s prevalence and incidence was decreasing after thimerosal’s removal in Denmark. The point of her email was to ask if this result should be included in the manuscript. Dr. Madsen wrote back “…I will contact you and Poul tomorrow to make up our minds.” The rest is history.

Ignoring my email, Mark Blaxill responded to Beth Clay that Dr. Thorsen was not a principal investigator. I replied by providing an exact quote by him from a Powerpoint presentation on Generation Rescue’s website www.putchildrenfirst.org:

 "I am and was Principal Investigator on CDC projects on Autism during those years."

Shockingly, Blaxill minimized Dr. Thorsen’s role in the study to an even greater extent than the vaccine lobby’s Seth Mnookin did. When I had brought up Dr. Thorsen’s quote to Mnookin in New York City in 2011, he dodged by saying that Dr. Thorsen’s place in the study’s author byline makes his role insignificant.

 Mark Blaxill dismissed Dr. Thorsen’s own quote, first by using the same argument as Mnookin, and then by questioning the very validity of what Dr. Thorsen said - something Seth Mnookin did not even do. Blaxill speculated:

 “Whatever Thorsen said about his role was probably a lie to inflate his importance.”

My jaw dropped when I read that. I then disproved Blaxill’s claim by quoting the old, archived web pages of Dr. Thorsen’s NANEA group directly, listing him as “Principle Investigator.”  

In contrast to Blaxill, Weisman was thrilled: 

“Great find, Jake! This is really helpful. If you have time, please keep digging.

We need as many references as we can find like this that explain the relationships over there and this is smack in the middle of the autism studies.

Thanks!

Katie”

 Autism Speaks Board Member Nixes SafeMinds Testifying on Thorsen and Cover-Up

Responding to my email revealing Dr. Thorsen’s role in data manipulation, SafeMinds’ Vice President, Co-Founder and Research Committee Co-Chair Lyn Redwood actually suggested consulting Dr. Hooker:

“And I have what they redacted and it did not meet the criteria to be redacted!  We should see if Brian Hooker would like for us to bring this issue up at the hearing too?” 

He was never contacted about this by SafeMinds. 

Kate Weisman and Eric Uram felt that Thorsen and the cover-up should be among five key points summarized at the hearing. I responded that the cover-up should be the main issue. I then responded to Redwood's suggestion about contacting Dr. Hooker:

 “Absolutely.”

Then SafeMinds’ President and Co-Founder Sallie Bernard – who also sits on the board of Autism Speaks that endorsed the IOM’s latest white-wash of a vaccine-autism link that heavily relied on one of Thorsen's studies – nixed the idea of testifying about Thorsen. She said that “lines of inquiry” such as those pertaining to Thorsen “aren't meant to be covered in this hearing.”

She then responded to my request that the cover-up be the main priority, by claiming that the best way to expose the cover-up was to keep it covered up:

I agree with you but the other asks (increase federal response etc) are much safer and easier for Issa. The cover up is sticky, because it is accusing officials of criminal or unethical behavior. Realistically, I would see this being tackled behind the scenes and ducks in a row before it is presented in a public hearing.”

When I replied that they have already been accused and that this should be disseminated far and wide, I received no response.  

SafeMinds' Communications Committee Chair to Me: “walk the halls”

Shortly thereafter, SafeMinds sent out its email alerting people about the Congressional Hearing; the alert made no mention of vaccines or the cover-up, and simply asked people if they thought the government was doing a good job with regard to autism. When I raised this concern with Kate Weisman, she explained that the action alert had already been sent out.

I replied:

“I understand, but how can we leave vaccines out when the government has been caught covering them up? Are we really that afraid of being labeled "anti-vaccine" - an Ad Hom attack the vaccine industry throws at anyone who threatens its bottom line?”

She responded:

 “I think Mark will talk about vaccines, but we won't be able to go into all the details in 5 minutes. Beth, Mark and Lyn are working on the SafeMinds written testimony. ...If you have any time to "walk the halls" and help with that, it is probably the best way to ensure that some tough questions get asked.”

I responded by urging that Blaxill talk about vaccines, and I asked if I could have the opportunity to testify as well.  I wrote:

“He really ought to talk about vaccines. Not only that, he should talk about the corrupt activities government is involved in. 5 minutes isn't that much time, but an awful lot can still be said within 5 minutes. I don't know what you mean by "walk the halls," but I would really appreciate it if I could have the opportunity to testify in front of Congress. How did Mark get the chance of testifying?”

Weisman responded with a long email, explaining in detail how I, a person on the autism spectrum, should go to congressional offices, talk to aides and drop off materials. Along with this insulting request, she claimed:

 “In- person testifying isn't something we control.  They invited SafeMinds and Mark was willing to do it, since Lyn couldn't.  Marin's office invited 4 organizations - we are lucky that we are one of the 4.  That's all the time they have allocated for the community - it's not like IACC where whoever signs up gets to make public comment - the committee has to invite you.  That is why we have to be careful not to piss them off too much.”

It is strange that SafeMinds was able to successfully lobby for Mark Blaxill’s position on the panel, but not for someone with autism. This left the opportunity wide open for others with autism who do not acknowledge vaccines’ role in the autism epidemic or even the epidemic itself to lobby to testify. The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) were not afraid to “piss them off too much” when both groups successfully lobbied Congress to include their leaders in the hearing as representatives on the autism spectrum. 

As a result, those “4 organizations” Weisman cited would become six after ASAN President/Founder Ari Ne’eman and GRASP Executive Director Michael John Carley received late invitations to speak as panelists, both representing similar views and both denying the autism epidemic to the committee. Carley would even conclude his testimony, after making a pitch for extra time, by claiming how dismayed he was that vaccines were even still being considered. But I was told to “walk the halls.” 

Seeing where Blaxill’s testimony was going by reading Weisman’s fear of pissing off Congress, and remembering that he never mentioned vaccines in his public comment to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee meeting in July, I contacted him directly. Expressing my deep concern, I emailed him: 

“…to not talk about Thorsen or Verstraeten, or NIH's attack on Wakefield by inviting Fiona Godlee to libel him at its campus - would be an awful start for these committee hearings.”

None of these issues would make their way into Mark Blaxill’s oral testimony. He wrote me back addressing none of my points, and asked that I give him “the respect and trust to say what I plan to say the way I choose to say it,” noting “it’s my speakin slot.”

Days after this exchange with Mark Blaxill, there was a SafeMinds conference call in which I again brought up my interest in testifying in front of Congress, as someone on the autism spectrum. This time, everybody seemed to agree with my idea, and there were no objections. However, no one from SafeMinds made any effort to follow up on my request or advocate for my inclusion on the committee to testify.

Dr. Brian Hooker Contacts Me

The next day, I received an email from Dr. Brian Hooker, who informed me of his role in organizing the hearing:

“…I'd love to hear from you regarding the House Oversight Committee Autism Hearing. I started working on this last Spring...  Please call me at your convenience…” 

During our phone conversations, Dr. Hooker told me that the hearing was originally conceived when he and another autism parent met with Darrell Issa, but that the parent revealed plans for a hearing to Mark Blaxill at AutismOne, after which Blaxill and SafeMinds hired Beth Clay to lobby on their behalf and effectively got the organization to testify. “I can’t compete with her,” Dr. Hooker told me, noting that Clay is an experienced, Washington-based lobbyist. He told me that after SafeMinds announced that Mark Blaxill would be testifying, the Congressional Staffer Mark Marin affirmed to Dr. Hooker that he would not be testifying. While trying to figure out why this happened, he sent me a timeline of all the preparation he did for the congressional autism hearing going back to its very beginning in March. It is clear from this chronology (a version of which can be seen in the Bolen Report article Huge Internal Fight in Autism Community...) that Dr. Hooker was the catalyst for the November autism hearing and that SafeMinds did not become involved until much later.  

Furthermore, the hearing would no longer be about the CDC cover-up of vaccines causing autism as Congressman Issa had originally agreed to. Instead, it devolved into a hearing about autism and the federal response in general, and included groups such as Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America (ASA), the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) – groups that are a part of the problem and could not be counted on to find a solution.  

However, my hopes for Dr. Brian Hooker testifying were momentarily raised when he emailed me two days before the hearing, telling me he was testifying. I was very happy for him and for all of us. Unfortunately, he texted me the next day that he would not be testifying after all, that the minority side of the committee could prevent someone from testifying who is added to the list within three days of the hearing and that that is exactly what one of the democratic representatives did.  

The Hearing Begins

At the hearing, I received a copy of Mark Blaxill’s written testimony, which included CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer Dr. Thomas Verstraeten’s remarkable finding that early exposure to the mercury-based preservative thimerosal multiplies an infant’s risk for autism by an order of magnitude compared to children of the same age who received no thimerosal, and Dr. Verstraeten’s email comment to his colleagues that the risk “just won’t go away” despite his efforts. This gave me hope for Blaxill’s oral testimony. However, I was mostly disappointed by the fact that his written testimony was largely watered down with unnecessary details about child psychiatrist Dr. Leo Kanner and his patient Donald Triplett – the first person diagnosed with autism. Blaxill’s written testimony argued that autism must be environmental, and the word “vaccines” was only mentioned twice. Nonetheless, I was relieved that Blaxill would bring up the data manipulation committed by Dr. Verstraeten and his colleagues, or so I thought. 

Mark Blaxill never talked about Verstraeten in his spoken testimony. He edited out that portion of his speech, but left in all the extraneous details about Dr. Kanner and Donald Triplett, and repeatedly invoked the “environmental” etiology of autism, non-specific to vaccines, which went virtually unmentioned.  

Ironically, the testimony where vaccines' role in autism onset was most clearly stated came from none other than Autism Speaks’ Co-Founder Bob Wright. He began his speech by describing how his daughter Katie Wright witnessed her son deteriorate into autism after his vaccinations. Nonetheless, I was disappointed in all the testimonies, including Mark Blaxill’s. 

When I went up to talk to him after the hearing, he said: 

“Did I kick ass enough? Probably not as much as you wanted.” 

 I responded: 

“Honestly…no” 

Our exchange ended with Mark saying, regarding the outcome of future hearings: 

“I don’t have a whole lot of hope.” 

The day after the hearing, the written version of Dr. Hooker’s censored testimony became available on Age of Autism. It included Dr. Verstraeten’s data manipulation, the amount of mercury in childhood vaccines far exceeding EPA safety limits, Dr. Thorsen’s indictment and data manipulation and the IOM’s preconceived conclusion to dismiss any vaccine-autism link outright at CDC’s behest. Dr. Hooker’s testimony even began with his own personal experience of his son’s regression after his 15-month vaccinations. No evidence of the cover-up, however, was in Mark Blaxill’s oral testimony. 

Although Dr. Hooker was complimentary of Mark Blaxill in his interview with Age of Autism’s media editor Anne Dachel, Dr. Hooker was clearly dissatisfied with Blaxill’s minimal mention of vaccines and his omission of thimerosal:                                         

“…I'm not happy with MB at all...” Dr. Hooker stated bluntly in an e-mail to me. 

In Blaxill’s presentation, the increased mercury exposure that elevated the autism risk was labeled in small print on the bottom of the slide and would be virtually unnoticed by almost everyone in the room as well as those watching the hearing on television. With the relevant portion of Blaxill’s testimony removed, this graph was just a random visual with absolutely no context.

SafeMinds' After-the-Fact Invitation to Dr. Brian Hooker to Join Its Calls

The week after Dr. Hooker’s interview with Dachel ran on Age of Autism, I received an email from SafeMinds. After Dr. Hooker had been severed from the hearing and complained about this to Beth Clay, SafeMinds’ executive director Eric Uram suddenly agreed to bring him into the conversation (two weeks after the hearing): 

“It has been suggested and preliminarily approved that we add Brian Hooker to our conversations to ensure we are all pulling together on these issues. Please respond to me privately if there are any objections to this action.” 

I forwarded the above email to Dr. Hooker; he replied about Mark Blaxill: 

“Mark stated on several occasions that my position was NVICP-centric, given the fact that my son was (and still is) a part of the OAP in the NVICP.  His statement was apparently a suggestion that I was most interested in my personal financial reward, if I could "win" in the vaccine compensation program” 

Such an argument is identical to what the vaccine lobby has said of vaccine injury claimants. In fact, the director of a federal agency resigned from IACC over having made a similar statement, following its disclosure on Age of Autism and Katie Wright's request that she resign. 

In addition, Dr. Hooker submitted the following comment to an Age of Autism post: 

“From the standpoint of the witness panel and Mr. Blaxill's woefully inadequate and poorly planned testimony, this hearing was an abysmal failure. It is just too bad that SafeMinds co-opted the hearing from the other individuals and organizations that were making excellent progress with Rep. Issa. If this hadn't happened, the result would have been much different.” 

It was published, but Dr. Hooker then asked Age of Autism to remove it. 

SafeMinds Misrepresents Dr. Brian Hooker to Congressional Staffer

This whole issue really came to a head on December 15th, when I received the following texts from Dr. Hooker. That was when I realized that what SafeMinds had done was worse than I imagined: 

“Mark Marin indicated to me yesterday that Beth clay misrepresented that she was working with me” 

And:  

“Prior to the hearing, Marin believed that Blaxill was speaking on my behalf”  

Beth Clay had pretended to represent Dr. Brian Hooker to a Congressional Staffer, even though she was lobbying for SafeMinds. 

After bringing this to the attention of Eric Uram, Dr. Hooker told me: 

“I tried to explain this to Eric Uram, but he used a lot of double-speak on the phone to deny it.”  

Eventually, however, Eric agreed to include Dr. Hooker in the SafeMinds conference calls on the condition that none of Dr. Hooker’s work be shared with Beth Clay per his request. Clay was apparently not just misrepresenting Dr. Hooker to congressional staffer Mark Marin, but also to crisis management consultant Tim Bolen - who writes the Bolen Report – and who said in an email to Clay: 

“However, when I called Brian Hooker, who you told me you were working with closely, for more information on the Thorsen inquiry, I found that he knew nothing about what you were talking about to me. When you said “We are getting a Congressman” who is the “we” you are referring to?” 

Clay replied: 

“We refers to me and others in the community that are in constant contact with a variety of legislators.” 

So Dr. Hooker, who was copied on the correspondence, responded to her: 

“It might be helpful for you and your colleagues at Safeminds to collaborate directly with me on this whole project…Unsavory as it might seem to you and other to actually collaborate with me (rather than asking me for my work product and then hiding your activities from me), this might be to your employer's benefit.” 

She responded with a very lengthy email that began: 

“I am not sure why there is a feeling expressed below that it would be 'unsavory' to collaborate with you. It is my understanding that there is an ongoing collaboration.

To be very clear, no one, to my knowledge, and not me especially is trying to exclude you from any activity.” 

Dr. Hooker pointed out: 

“Despite your very long message below, you did not answer any of my questions posed to you in previous emails.  We never collaborated, period.” 

Dr. Brian Hooker: Not The First Scientist SafeMinds Has Shut Out

SafeMinds’ exclusion of others from activities is not just aimed at Dr. Brian Hooker. In May of this year, SafeMinds co-sponsored a Congressional Briefing with the Vaccine Injured Petitioners’ Bar Association. Lyn Redwood notified medical geneticist Dr. Mark Geier – also a founder of the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs – to inform him of the briefing. 

Dr. Geier responded by graciously offering to participate: 

“Dear Lyn,

We are glad you are trying to take action to fix the Vaccine Compensation Act. It is terribly dysfunctional. I would suggest that you invite members of our group to appear. We know the Act intimately having appeared before it on over 100 occasions. 

Members of SafeMinds were not happy. Kate Weisman wrote of him and his son, David Geier:  

“I am inclined not to do this because the Geiers (in my experience) tend to take over the show.” 

Lyn Redwood responded: 

“Let them know we are working with the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Assoc and that they have already lined up attorneys who have tried cases in the program to present and thank them for their offer to help out. 

Then Beth Clay added: 

“the other point on this - is that this is a briefing on the management of the program and not the science.” 

Research Committee Co-Chair Laura Bono then chimed in, saying of Dr. Mark and David Geier: 

“Their knowledge of the program is vast but yes, they steal the show and usually not in a good way.” 

I couldn’t imagine what she meant by that. 

SafeMinds’ Director of Government Affairs and Public Relations, Rebecca Estepp, wrote of them: 

“Having the Geiers at this briefing would be problematic. They are suing several of the attorneys in the Petitioner's Steering Committee for millions. A couple of the attorneys are not only being sued professionally, but personally as well. The suits from the Geiers stem from not being paid as expert witnesses from the VICP. The Special Masters refused to pay for most of the work the Geiers did for the Omnibus. Because of that, the Geiers are going after the attorneys saying that they did not lobby hard enough for reimbursement and also for damage to their professional reputation. It is ugly.

I urge you all to somehow get them away from this briefing.”

 She wants to exclude two of the most knowledgeable people about the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program just because they want to be paid for work they've already done as expert witnesses? 

Weisman responded to Estepp: 

“So do we ask them to come but very politely ask them to let us handle the proceedings, or should we discourage them from coming? My guess is that they will come regardless so maybe the best we can do is to try to make them understand that this will be done in babysteps. 

Becky, do you know if they have any gripe with Cliff Shoemaker?  I would not want them to turn this into an opportunity to come yell at our speakers...” 

Then Eric Uram stepped in: 

“I would indicate the time is tight and we have scheduled the participants for the briefing.  

Then thank them for any information they wish to share ahead of time or their attendance in the room if they choose to have a presence at the briefing....” 

Then Eric Uram sent another email, setting up a security trap for Dr. Mark and David Geier at the very briefing that SafeMinds initially informed them of: 

“I don't think we can keep them out, but we can minimize opportunities for them to have a role in the briefing.  

I would alert security ahead of time that there may be people looking to disrupt the proceedings and ask they have extra staff on hand to escort any hecklers out of the room....” 

Such are the machinations of SafeMinds.  

A final example of the organization’s weak advocacy for the autism community against the vaccine lobby: In response to the United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) proposed ban of mercury from all products, including vaccines, which is spearheaded by Dr. Mark and David Geier, SafeMinds sent out a press release that would have allowed children worldwide to continue to be injected with harmful levels of mercury in vaccines for a number of years to come, by calling for not a ban, but a “phasedown.” Since then, the UNEP exempted thimerosal from its resolution against mercury exposure. The vaccine lobby applauded the exemption and congratulated itself for its united defense of injecting mercury into infants. 

SafeMinds Gutted The Congressional Hearings

SafeMinds’ behavior of co-opting other peoples’ projects and replacing them with their own less effective projects is nothing new for the organization. In the case of the congressional hearing, however, SafeMinds deliberately deceived in order to replace a testimony that could have been very damning of the CDC and others implicated in its cover-up of vaccine injury, with a testimony that left all of that out. Meanwhile, SafeMinds’ changing the topic of the hearing from the vaccine-autism cover-up to the “federal response” to the increased prevalence of autism allowed epidemic deniers to testify as people with autism.  

If anything should come of this, it should be that Dr. Brian Hooker testifies at the next congressional hearing on autism and that steps be taken within the autism community to ensure that the vaccine/autism link and the government’s role in the cover-up are a priority in every major autism initiative. 

Luckily, the hearing was still a partial success thanks to the dogged cross-examination by a number of the congressional committee members, as a direct result of their early meetings with Dr. Brian Hooker.  

Postscript I: Mark Blaxill Learns of My Article 

After writing this piece, I was contacted via email by Mark Blaxill who had not read my article, but was aware that it was critical of SafeMinds and him. He did not deny SafeMinds' misrepresentation of Dr. Brian Hooker to the congressional staffer after I shared this issue with him, but claimed: 

“Brian and I have debriefed at some length about the associated events, resolved any issues between the two of us and are in a good place going forward.”  

Blaxill repeatedly requested a copy of my article, but I refused; I have never shared an article in advance with anyone whom I have criticized in the piece. At the end of the email exchange, I told Blaxill I would no longer take part in SafeMinds’ Government Affairs discussions.  

More than a week later, Dr. Hooker and I received an email from Lyn Redwood  who had somehow received a copy of my piece. She did not address Clay’s misrepresentation of Dr. Hooker either and said she was “sad” Thorsen was left out of SafeMinds’ testimony. She also said she would work towards helping Dr. Hooker and I testify before Congress.  

Redwood also claimed she met with Congressman Issa along with Beth Clay and Scott Bono, a SafeMinds member, in May 2011, saying the meeting “predates” Dr. Hooker’s involvement with the congressional committee. However, on May 18, 2012, Issa committed to holding hearings on autism causation and the vaccine program with Dr. Hooker, other congressmen and their staffers present, but with no one from SafeMinds.  

When I wrote Lyn Redwood to remind her of these facts along with Clay’s misrepresentation of Dr. Hooker and the ill-advised  change of topic to the “federal response,”  I received no reply.  

Dr. Hooker wrote her  as well, verifying everything I said while stating that the hearing Issa committed to holding on May 18th, 2012 was nothing like the hearing that took place on November 29th, 2012. He then wrote her a second email, calling SafeMinds’ co-opting of the hearing  and misrepresentation of him “the worst thing that ever happened to me, since I started advocating for my son in 2001.”  

Postscript II: Mark Blaxill Says I Lack Courage

I shared my piece with several people, and it ended up in the hands of  SafeMinds' VP who presumably sent some or all of it to Mark Blaxill.  I then received an email from Blaxill responding to one paragraph.  He copied seven  people on that e-mail including Dr. Hooker, Lyn Redwood and Kate Weisman. 

In response to my accusation of how he heard of the hearing, he claimed he heard “rumors” and “discussions” about hearings at AutismOne, and even verified that  he heard about the hearing from the autism parent Dr. Hooker was working with.  

Blaxill also claimed that he had little knowledge of Beth Clay’s work “through November” and that his preparation for the hearing was primarily with Canary Party members, even though Kate Weisman wrote me in November saying that he was working on his congressional testimony with Beth Clay and Lyn Redwood. He concluded by calling SafeMinds' co-opting of the hearing  “disagreements among people with good intentions.” He also promised to include Dr. Hooker in all of SafeMinds’ future activities.  

I wrote Blaxill back, stated every major point in my piece and corrected the false statements he made. I then wrote that SafeMinds’ inclusion of Dr. Hooker is not a remedy given what they did to him and that they should therefore be disqualified from any future congressional activities. 

He responded, with all seven people still copied : 

Jake, you’ve never had the courage to share your draft with my directly, I don’t have the draft and haven’t read it. I would only read it if you sent it to me. I only responded to the brief excerpt I saw. 

Your interpretation of events is so radically wrong and the key facts you use to support your interpretation are incorrect in so many key respects, it’s not worth arguing with you anymore. So I won’t. It’s low quality work, that’s all I’ll say, and you should set a higher standard for yourself. 

Dr. Hooker responded to Blaxill: 

“Mark,

 Jake has plenty of courage - more than you. Rather than suggesting that he is some type of coward and to criticize his piece as "low quality work" based on a small excerpt that you read, you should be lauding him as the future of our movement. He should have testified at the hearing on behalf of Safeminds, not you!” 

Of course, SafeMinds had no right testifying in the first place. Considering what the organization did to Dr. Hooker and to the entire vaccine-injured/autism community, SafeMinds does not even deserve to “walk the halls.”

Jake Crosby

 

------------------------------

Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.