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Following on the heals of yesterday’s Politico piece documenting Political Interference in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), today ProPublica released a story “Inside the Fall of the CDC” which tells the more complete tale of how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long the gold standard in the world on public health, could crumble in the face of “unprecedented political interference in public health policy, and the capitulations of some of the world’s top public health leaders.” This is a sad story made all the more disturbing as this same playbook is being followed across many executive branch agencies. The Trump administration is “appropriating a public enterprise and making it into an agent of propaganda for a political regime,” one CDC scientist said in an interview as events unfolded. “It’s mind-boggling in the totality of ambition to so deeply undermine what’s so vitally important to the public.”
When the next history of the CDC is written, 2020 will emerge as perhaps the darkest chapter in its 74 years, rivaled only by its involvement in the infamous Tuskegee experiment, in which federal doctors withheld medicine from poor Black men with syphilis, then tracked their descent into blindness, insanity and death.
With more than 216,000 people dead this year, most Americans know the low points of the current chapter already. A vaunted agency that was once the global gold standard of public health has, with breathtaking speed, become a target of anger, scorn and even pity.
How could an agency that eradicated smallpox globally and wiped out polio in the United States have fallen so far?
ProPublica obtained hundreds of emails and other internal government documents and interviewed more than 30 CDC employees, contractors and Trump administration officials who witnessed or were involved in key moments of the crisis. Although news organizations around the world have chronicled the CDC’s stumbles in real time, ProPublica’s reporting affords the most comprehensive inside look at the escalating tensions, paranoia and pained discussions that unfolded behind the walls of CDC’s Atlanta headquarters. And it sheds new light on the botched COVID-19 tests, the unprecedented political interference in public health policy, and the capitulations of some of the world’s top public health leaders.
Lately the President and Secretary Pompeo are arguing in the media that China purposely created the COVID19 as a weapon. There are no formal statements at the Whitehouse or State Department websites. The DNI has issued a statement at its website, and GPO has agreed to catalog the news release for its historical value. Times’ journalists reported that the Administration’s strategy is to blame China as a political strategy to divert the public’s attention from its handling of COVID19 outbreak in the U.S.
Recently the Trump Says China May Be ‘Knowingly Responsible’ for Virus By Mario Parker April 18, 2020, 4:10 PM PDT Updated on April 20, 2020, 1:15 AM PDT
‘President Donald Trump raised the prospect that China deliberately caused the Covid-19 outbreak that’s killed over 39,000 Americans and said there should be consequences if the country is found to be “knowingly responsible.”‘
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, ODNI News Release No. 11-20, April 30, 2020 Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of the Director of National Intelligence today issued the following Intelligence Community (IC) statement:
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified. As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
G.O.P. Aiming To Make China The Scapegoat: [Foreign Desk] Martin, Jonathan; Haberman, Maggie. New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]19 Apr 2020: A.1.
“The strategy could not be clearer: From the Republican lawmakers blanketing Fox News to new ads from President Trump’s super PAC to the biting criticism on Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter feed, the G.O.P. is attempting to divert attention from the administration’s heavily criticized response to the coronavirus by pinning the blame on China. With the death toll from the pandemic already surpassing 34,000 Americans and unemployment soaring to levels not seen since the Great Depression, Republicans increasingly believe that elevating China as an archenemy culpable for the spread of the virus, and harnessing America’s growing animosity toward Beijing, may be the best way to salvage a difficult election” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/us/politics/trump-china-virus.html
Trump to replace Health Inspector General who criticized coronavirus response, BY GRACE SEGERS, MAY 2, 2020 / 4:47 PM / CBS NEWS
‘President Trump announced his intent to nominate a new inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), weeks after acting inspector general Christi Grimm released a report detailing shortages of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals responding to the coronavirus pandemic… Mr. Trump criticized Grimm in early April, calling the findings in her report “wrong.”‘
Hospital Experiences Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results of a National Pulse Survey March 23-27, 2020 WHAT WE FOUND Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with COVID-19 and keeping staff safe. Hospitals said that severe shortages of testing supplies and extended waits for test results limited hospitals’ ability to monitor the health of patients and staff. They also reported that widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) put staff and patients at risk. In addition, hospitals said that they were not always able to maintain adequate staffing levels or to offer staff adequate support.
The U.S Government Offices has cataloged and made available to the public. https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo135372/oei-06-20-00300.pdf
co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.
One of the things that most scares me about the current administration is the terrible — and possibly long-term — erosive effect it is having on the entire executive branch. One of the best books to document this systemic tragedy is Michael Lewis’ Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy (many libraries have access to it via Overdrive so check your local public library. They’re still working hard even during the pandemic!)
If you can’t get your hands on Lewis’ book, then check out the American Prospect, which has done a massive investigation into the Trump administration’s dodgy practices.
In three years as president, he has transformed the executive branch into a giant favor factory, populated with the agents or willing partners of virtually every special interest. Add up all the routine, daily outrages—the quasi-bribery and quasi-extortion, the private raids on public funds, the handouts to the undeserving, the massive flow of cash, jobs, and freebies back in return—and Trump’s attempt to squeeze a little re-election help out of the fragile government of a desperate Eastern European country does not loom particularly large in the reckoning … The Trump administration has brought its brand of corruption and self-dealing to every agency in the federal government, and it’s hard for anyone to keep on top of it all. We’ve mapped it out for you. Click on any agency building below, and unlock an extensive dossier of the activities happening inside.
via Mapping Corruption.
President Donald J. Trump Is Demanding Accountability From the World Health Organization. April 15, 2020. Whitehouse Factsheet “I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the well-being of America first. President Donald J. Trump.”
Trump Administration Officials Warned Against Halting Funding to WHO, Leaked Memo Shows. By Yeganeh Torbati, ProPublica. 16 April 20 “A draft State Department memo says the move would “cede ground” to China and hobble the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. ”
‘An internal memorandum written by U.S. officials and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that cutting funding to the World Health Organization, as President Donald Trump said he would do Tuesday, would erode America’s global standing, threaten U.S. lives and hobble global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The memo, which was prepared before Trump’s Rose Garden announcement, was written by officials within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and includes a detailed list of how U.S. funding to the WHO helps countries in the Middle East control the pandemic. A draft version of the memo, which was labeled “Sensitive But Unclassified” and was titled “Information Memo for the Secretary,” was seen by ProPublica.’
co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.