Thursday, June 7, 2012
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For Immediate Release April 26, 2012
AN INTIMATE LOOK AT THE LIFE AND CAREER OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH,
DEBUTS JUNE 14, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
A Film By Jeffrey Roth;
Executive Produced By Jerry Weintraub
The first documentary to tell George Herbert Walker Bush’s story in his own words, the exclusive HBO presentation 41 is a rare, intimate glimpse at the life and times of the 41st president of the United States. Featuring unprecedented access to Bush as he reflects on the highs and lows of his life from his beloved summer home in Kennebunkport, Me. and presidential library in Texas, 41 debuts THURSDAY, JUNE 14 (9:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT), commemorating the president’s 88th birthday on June 12.
Other HBO playdates: June 14 (3:50 a.m.), 17 (noon), 18 (9:00 a.m.), 20 (12:45 p.m. 12:30 a.m.), 23 (2:00 p.m.) and 29 (6:15 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: June 20 (9:15 p.m.), 25 (2:15 p.m., 11:15 p.m.) and 30 (noon)
One of the most experienced politicians ever to achieve the presidency, George H.W. Bush shares anecdotes from his childhood, family, service in World War II and political career, including his roles as U.S. envoy to China, director of the CIA and vice president of the United States in the Reagan administration, as well as his term as president.
Written and directed by Jeffrey Roth, 41 was filmed over a 17-month period, from Sept. 2009 to Feb. 2011. The film is executive produced by Jerry Weintraub, a long-time personal friend of the Bushes, and himself the focus of “His Way,” an acclaimed HBO documentary.
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“I am so proud to be a friend of George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush,” comments Weintraub. “And so proud that our friendship includes this wonderful film about two wonderful people.”
41 captures the personal side of a very public figure who cherishes his family life, in particular wife Barbara, his spouse for 67 years, a record among presidential marriages. President from 1989 to 1993 and father of the 43rd president, George W. Bush, the elder Bush continues to make public appearances today and spends much of his time on his boat or with children and grandchildren. An avid fisherman, Bush last parachuted on his 85th birthday and swears he will do it again on his 90th, which he says proves that “old guys can still do fun things.”
Born June 12, 1924, George H.W. Bush spent much of his childhood at his family’s summer home, built by his grandfather in 1902, at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, Me. His close-knit family was fortunate to avoid the hard times of the Great Depression, with George attending boarding schools, where he excelled in sports, serving as captain of the soccer and baseball teams and playing basketball. At 17, he met 16-year-old Barbara Pierce at a Christmas dance. “We fell in love. Old fashioned, falling in love,” he recalls.
After Pearl Harbor was bombed, the 18-year-old Bush became a naval aviator. He describes the events of Sept. 2, 1944, when his plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire; he ejected and parachuted into the sea, and was rescued by a sub. Bush went home and married Barbara, and when the war ended a short time later, like many G.I.s, he entered college – at Yale – where they had a son, George Walker.
Following the advice of a family friend, he went to work in the oil fields of West Texas. Their family continued to grow with the birth of daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age three. Robin’s death remains an emotional subject for Bush. Though they had three more sons and another daughter, he admits he couldn’t talk about losing her for years.
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In Texas, despite the fact that the state at the time was overwhelmingly Democratic, Bush decided to run for Senate. He lost, but rebounded by running for the House of Representatives and won, becoming a rising star in Washington. President Nixon subsequently appointed Bush ambassador to the U.N. and later, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Then came Watergate. “I wanted to believe Nixon as long as I possibly could,” he notes, but with evidence mounting that the White House lied, he wrote a memo suggesting the president resign. In hindsight, Bush has mixed emotions about Nixon, reflecting, “On the one hand you can never get over the lie. On the other, in many ways, he was a very good president.”
After serving as U.S. envoy to China and director of the CIA, Bush ran for president unsuccessfully, but became Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Ascending to the presidency in 1989, his years in office were marked by numerous historic events, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War and the protests in Tiananmen Square.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Bush says he knew America would have to act. He considered Iraq’s invasion an “overt, crystal-clear wrong,” and despite opposition, felt the war was just. Bush was heartened when Saddam Hussein was driven out of Kuwait.
After losing his bid for reelection to Bill Clinton, George returned with Barbara to a “normal” life in Houston and Kennebunkport. He calls his beloved summer home the “anchor” to his “windward.” It’s where the memories are, where his family comes to visit and where he’s been coming his whole life. “And where,” he says, “I will remain until my last days.”
The president, who to this day has not written a memoir telling his life story, agreed to participate in the documentary after meeting Roth and seeing his first film, “The Wonder of It All,” a documentary about the Apollo moon walkers. 41 is Roth’s second documentary film.
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41 is produced and directed by Jeffrey Roth; executive produced by Jerry Weintraub and Stephen Beck; written by Stephen Beck and Jeffrey Roth; edited by Janice Hampton.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
On: 06.06.12 23:09
A Truthout analysis of historical records concerning government research and nonmedical use of antimalarial medications has revealed that such drugs were the objects of experimental research under the CIA's MKULTRA program. Even more, one of these drugs, cinchonine, was illegally stockpiled by the CIA as an "incapacitating agent."
Antimalarial drugs were studied as part of the CIA's mind control program MKULTRA. Cinchonine, an antimalarial drug derived from chichona bark, was one of the drugs used by the operational components of MKULTRA, code-named MKNAOMI and MKDELTA. The CIA worked with researchers for the Army's Special Operations Division, a secret component of the US Army Chemical Corps based at Fort Detrick, to develop delivery systems for the drugs.
Revelations concerning CIA interest in use of antimalarial drugs would be of historical interest, as it has never been written about before. But such interest gains contemporary significance in the light of actions taken by the Department of Defense (DoD) in the "war on terror," and the fact that a key DoD expert on antimalarial drugs was a psychiatrist involved in training personnel for Guantanamo interrogations.
In January 2002, the DoD deliberately decided that all incoming detainees at Guantanamo would be given a full treatment dose of the controversial antimalarial drug mefloquine, also known as Lariam. The purpose was supposedly to control for a possible malaria outbreak, in deference to concerns from Cuban officials.
But specialists in malaria prevention have said they have never heard of such presumptive treatment for malaria by mefloquine in this type of situation. Furthermore, a summary of antimalarial measures at Guantanamo given to Army and Center for Disease Control (CDC) medical officials at a February 19, 2002, meeting of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board failed to describe the mefloquine procedure approved a month earlier.
Was mefloquine used at Guantanamo to help produce a state of "learned helplessness" in detainees? Were experiments conducted on adverse side effects of mefloquine on the prisoners held there?
Some years ago, this might have been considered a crazy scenario to even consider. While there is no smoking gun that can prove mefloquine was used for nefarious purposes, a strong case can be made that use of the drug at Guantanamo was not related to malaria control.
Antimalaria Drugs and MKULTRA
The revelation concerning cinchonine came from hearings the Senate's Church Committee held in September 1975 on CIA "Unauthorized Storage of Toxic Agents." The agency's illegal stockpile of chemicals and drugs, which included the antimalarial drug cinchonine, was supposed to have been destroyed by order of President Nixon in December 1969.
At the time of the president's order, the US had also signed an international agreement that such chemical and biological weapons would be destroyed, so the revelation of the CIA's stockpiling of such substances was highly embarrassing to the US government at the time.
At the behest of Congressional investigators, the CIA provided an inventory of all "lethal" and "incapacitating agents" they had kept contrary to presidential order. On this list, the CIA indicated it held two grams of cinchonine, stored as an incapacitating agent, that is, a substance meant to temporarily disable an individual. Temporary incapacitant or not, the CIA inventory listing for cinchonine states, "Overdose leads to severe cardiac convulsions, nausea and vomiting."
In separate testimony from another Senate investigation, a CIA-linked researcher, Dr. Charles F. Geschickter, told Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1977 hearings that the CIA was interested in antimalarial drugs that "had some, shall I say, disturbing effects on the nervous system of the patients." Geschickter's CIA researchers became interested in these antimalarial drugs as part of the work they were doing in the CIA's MKULTRA program. Dr. Geschickter ran the Geschickter Fund for Medical Research, and the Kennedy hearings also revealed how the fund laundered money for MKULTRA projects.
According to MKULTRA documents released as part of a related Senate investigation in 1977, research into quinolines, the class of drugs that include cinchonine, quinine and the modern antimalarial drug mefloquine (Lariam), was part of MKULTRA subprojects 43 and 45.
The CIA prior to the Congressional investigations destroyed most records concerning MKULTRA and chemical, biological and bacteriological research. Moreover, according to Senate testimony by former CIA Director William Colby, many of the organizational directions concerning both research and operationalization of such weapons were never written down.
An Antimalarial "Incapacitant"
Cinchonine is a quinine-derived drug and similar in some ways to the artificial quinine derivative antimalarial drug mefloequine, also known as Lariam. Mefloquine, a product of Army research, has been the subject of numerous controversies over its side-effect profile, and as recently as 2009, the DoD significantly cut back on its use for the military.
The stockpiling of cinchonine as an "incapacitating" agent was directly contrary to Nixon's order that all such toxic and bacteriological stockpiles held by the DoD and the CIA be destroyed. Other incapacitating agents held by the CIA for years after the disposal order included the powerful hallucinogen BZ; the anticholinergic drug Cogentin; digitoxin; and Phencyclidine HCL, commonly known as "Angel Dust"; among other drugs.
The CIA's stockpile of dangerous substances also included numerous "lethal agents," including shellfish toxin; cobra venom; fish toxin; and numerous substances only known by their code names ("E-4640," "F-270" etc.). It is not known if any of the lethal or incapacitating agents were ever used, or if so, by whom or where. (The one exception the CIA admitted to was the use of an arsenic suicide pill provided to Francis Gary Powers, a U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960. Powers did not use the pill.)
According to Senate testimony, the stockpile was discovered after a review of secret programs ordered by Colby. Originally, the various drugs and weaponized biological substances were kept at the Army's Fort Detrick compound and were apparently moved later to a CIA storage facility.
The neurological side-effects of mefloquine are similar to the side effects of cinchonine. Cinchonism (or quinism) includes such side-effects as blurred vision, tinnitus, skin rashes, vertigo, nausea, headaches and other even life-threatening serious health problems. Mefloquine has been cited for neurological, but also psychological side-effects, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, bizarre dreams and suicidal and homicidal behavior. The effects can be long or short-term.
But even the "short-term" effects can be debilitating, as one military doctor, Captain Monica Parise, told a group of other physicians at a government meeting in May 2003. Parise told the meeting of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board (AFEB) that "there are a host of other more acute less severe neuropsychiatric issues that occur short-term [with mefloquine], such as insomnia, strange dreams, fatigue, lack of energy, inability to concentrate and some people have reported that those effects have lasted a very long time."
Parise noted that it takes "three, four, or five months to really wash the drug out of your system," and that she'd "heard that there might be some data in DoD ... that might shed light" on how the drug had "ruined people's lives." As we shall see, a psychiatrist present at this same meeting was also involved in training other psychiatrists to assist Guantanamo interrogators.
Administering Mefloquine to All the Guantanamo Detainees
In December 2010, Truthout and Seton Hall School of Law's Center for Policy and Research revealed that it was medical standard operating procedure (SOP) to give all arriving detainees full treatment doses of the antimalarial drug mefloquine upon arrival at the US prison camp. The military's own newspaper, Stars and Stripes, followed up with their own story a few weeks later.
A treatment dose of mefloquine is five times the amount taken weekly by those who use the drug for prophylactic purposes. Larger doses are associated with a higher percentage of side effects.
The Truthout investigation showed that at the time the SOP was put in place, internal discussions within the DoD and an Interagency Malaria Working Group were expressing strong doubts about the serious neuropsychiatric side effects of the drug. Despite this, the surgeon general of the JTF-160 Task Force at Guantanamo signed off on the unprecedented mefloquine protocol.
The chief surgeon, who also served as commander of the Navy Hospital at the base, was Capt. Albert Shimkus. Shimkus told Truthout in late 2010 that he had first sought consult regarding the use of malaria drugs from an assortment of agencies, including officials from the CDC, the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) and the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland. All three agencies have told Truthout they were not involved in this decision or had no documents related to such consultation.
Shimkus told Truthout in a phone interview last October that the US State Department "would have been involved" in discussions about malaria concerns at Guantanamo, though he maintained no State Department officials were directly involved in the "clinical decision making."
In June 2004, the CDC announced, "'presumptive treatment' without the benefit of laboratory confirmation should be reserved for extreme circumstances (strong clinical suspicion, severe disease, impossibility of obtaining prompt laboratory confirmation)." Hence, "presumptive treatment" - the mass administration of a drug without knowing whether or not it is actually necessary - is reserved for situations when there is no possibility of laboratory confirmation of malaria, but that was not the case at Guantanamo.
Yet, even a year later, the mefloquine SOP was renewed at Guantanamo.
DoD spokeswoman Maj. Tanya Bradsher told Truthout, "A decision was made to presumptively treat each arriving Guantanamo detainee for malaria to prevent the possibility of having mosquito-borne [sic] spread from an infected individual to uninfected individuals in the Guantanamo population, the guard force, the population at the Naval base, or the broader Cuban population."
According to Bradsher, "The mefloquine dosage was entirely for public health purposes to prevent the introduction of malaria to the Guantanamo area and not for any other purpose." Nevertheless, when hundreds of contract workers from malaria-endemic countries such as India and the Philippines were brought by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) to build the new Guantanamo Delta Block in 2002, there was no DoD scrutiny of any exposure by these workers to malaria.
According to Bradsher, KBR alone was responsible for its own workers, belying a concern over possible reintroduction of malaria to Cuba, which, according to Captain Shimkus, had produced State Department concerns when it came to the arriving detainees.
In his October 2011 interview, Shimkus also said he sent "pretty detailed reports" regarding the mefloquine decision to JTF-160's Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert. He had nothing further to say about a statement made to Truthout a year earlier in which he stated that he had been told not to talk about the mefloquine decision.
When Shimkus was asked if he was aware of any detainees who had suffered psychiatric problems because of drugs administered to them, he said, "Maybe. That's confidential," adding a moment later, "No for that."
He also rejected the opinions of two medical researchers who wrote in PLoS Medicine in April 2011 that "medical doctors and mental health personnel assigned to the DoD neglected and/or concealed medical evidence of intentional harm" to detainees. "They have an opinion and it should be out there," Shimkus said.
Army Mefloquine "Specialist" Trained Psychiatrists for Interrogations
A top psychiatrist working for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (OASD-HA), Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, traveled to Guantanamo in October 2002, purportedly to investigate a spurt of suicide attempts among the detainees. Within weeks, according to the AFEB minutes cited earlier, she attended an "experts" meeting on "Malaria Chemoprophylaxis" at the CDC in January 2003 that considered problems with the "neuropsychiatric adverse drug reactions" of mefloquine. Indeed, according to the AFEB speaker, Captain Parise, they specifically included a psychiatrist - presumably Ritchie - in their discussions.
Did Colonel Ritchie bring knowledge of the effects of mass mefloquine administration at Guantanamo to this meeting? We don't know and Colonel Ritchie, now retired from the military and chief clinical officer for the District of Columbia's Department of Mental Health, would not return a request for comment. A public spokesperson for OASD-HA told Truthout it had no connection with any decision to use mefloquine at Guantanamo.
It would be strange, if not highly unlikely that, given the widespread interest in mefloquine adverse reactions at the DoD and contemporaneous statements that the DoD was conducting research on this, that the effects of the Guantanamo mefloquine SOP were never examined.
Ritchie's involvement in mefloquine issues can also be ascertained by the fact that, in 2004, Ritchie, by then "Psychiatry Consultant" to Army Surgeon General Kevin Kiley, gave a presentation to the DoD's Deployment Health Clinical Center on the "Neuropsychiatric Side-Effects of Mefloquine."
Of convergent interest is the fact that, according to Dr. Ritchie, she taught psychiatrists slotted for assignment to the military's Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs) working at Guantanamo and possibly elsewhere. She is, at this point, the only known person potentially linking military activities surrounding both mefloquine and interrogations or torture.
According to an Army surgeon general description of BSCT training during the period Colonel Ritchie was involved, such training included instruction in methods of inducing "learned helplessness."
"Learned helplessness" is a condition of near-total psychological breakdown produced by inability to escape an extreme set of stressors. Its study is associated with the work of psychologist Martin Seligman, who did research on the subject as far back as the 1960s. In the 1990s, all the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape schools except the Navy school discontinued the use of the waterboard in their training program precisely because it tended to produce "learned helplessness" in its students, the opposite of the kind of effect they were seeking.
A Guantanamo Autopsy Tests for Mefloquine
The months-long period of time it takes for mefloquine to leave the system may have been involved with a decision to test a detainee at Guantanamo who had committed suicide for the presence of mefloquine in his bloodstream. But the detainee, whose autopsy report included toxicology results that show he was tested specially for mefloquine, had been at Guantanamo for five years at the time of his death.
Abdul Rahman Al Amri entered Guantanamo in February 2002 and would have been given a treatment dose of mefloquine at that time. We do not know why he would have been tested for its presence over five years later. All but one of the other detainees for whom we have autopsy reports due to purported suicides were not tested for mefloquine, showing such testing was not standard procedure.
Al Amri was also found dead with his hands bound behind his back, and his death as well as that of 2009 suicide Mohamed Salih Al Hanashi are under investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Executions, primarily because of Truthout's coverage of these events.
A Plausible Hypothesis
The discovery that the CIA researched antimalarial drugs as part of its mind control program and, moreover, operationalized at least one of these drugs as an "incapacitating agent" means that the hypothesis that mefloquine was used for similar purposes at Guantanamo is not inconsistent with a known pattern of governmental behavior.
There are many reasons to question the supposed use of mefloquine at Guantanamo for purely public health purposes. Consider the following:
The mass use of treatment levels of mefloquine at Guantanamo was unprecedented.
The drug was limited to only one group of potential malaria carriers.
Use of mefloquine for presumptive treatment continued for years past the point when the DoD was already manifestly aware of the drug's dangers.
The mefloquine SOP was hidden from medical authorities at the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board.
Finally, there is the fact no government agency will admit to advising use of the drug, even when a Guantanamo medical officer states they were involved.
As a result of all the above, it appears highly possible that the motive for the drug's use was to psychologically disorient and physically debilitate all or some portion of incoming prisoners.
sad to see some of the past may be showing it's ugliness again. I had hoped that MKULTRA and everything related to Edgewood Arsenal and the illegal experiments were a closed door.
LITTLE ROCK - In less than three months three top ranked administrators have left the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, and they each have left scandals behind them.
On Friday, Deputy Director Lawrence Pickard was fired because the VA says he collected almost $600,000 in illegal maintenance fees from veterans at the Little Rock Veterans Home.
Newly-appointed Director Cissy Rucker fired Pickard after he admitted to knowing he was collecting excess fees since December 2010.
"Because he did not take immediate action he was terminated," said VA spokesperson Kendall Thornton.
Former Director David Fletcher resigned last month after an audit revealed $200,000 in funds that were improperly logged. Janet Levine, a former VA Home administrator, was fired in April for misappropriating nearly $600,000 at the Little Rock Veterans Home, according to the Arkansas VA.
"We're going through transitions and we have a new state director that's been in place to correct these issues and to make sure that it does not happen again," said Thornton.
At the center of it all is the Little Rock Veterans Home, where the VA claims Levine and Pickard have collected a combined $1.1 million in illegal fees to veterans living there.
"The Little Rock Veterans Home was collecting fees from residents who had a disability rating of 70 percent or above after a federal rule change ended that practice in 2009," said Thornton.
She says the affected veterans will receive their money back over a period of time that has not yet been determined.
Still, one advocacy group isn't satisfied and they're letting the department know.
They recently created a YouTube video entitled "Swindling Arkansas Veterans" that blasts the troubled the state Department of Veterans Affairs for its recent money mismanagement.
"Our goal was to create a higher level of accountability and transparency," said Teresa Oelke, State Director of Americans for Prosperity - Arkansas Chapter. "Hard-working Arkansas taxpayers and especially our v eterans deserve better," said Teresa Oelke
The VA believes its new director will restore credibility to the department.
"We are working every single day hard to make sure that this does not happen again and that we are going to rebuild the trust of the veterans of Arkansas," said Thornton.
Criminal charges against Pickard are unlikely, according to the VA.
Why are charges unlikely? Where is the Attorney General or the States Attorney General, if veterans were stealing the money they would be prosecuted, so why are not officials who used their position to steal money not being prosecuted? Send them to jail and demand restitution, the same that would happen to a veteran or their spouse or child who stole from the government, in this case these were government employees stealing from disabled veterans, by the power of their position, there is nothing lower in my opinion. Then to tell us the veterans community that they won't even be charged is a double whammy, hold them accountable.