By Janet Phelan
The CDC has refused to release the contact information for its chief FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) officer after two of its FOIA analysts were caught giving out false information on one FOIA and declining to fulfill another.
The initial FOIA, filed in February of 2020, asked for a racial breakdown of Covid deaths. After some online hemming and hawing, the CDC analyst told this reporter that the CDC had not accumulated this data at that time.
As it eventuated, the CDC had in fact published the data the week prior to this communication. Both CDC analyst Paula Thomas and her workstream leader, Carolyn Opkewho, promoted the false response.
After being informed that the CDC had indeed published the data, the CDC subsequently released it to this reporter.
This reporter has a longevity of contact with the CDC and its parent agency, HHS, which has resulted in articles revealing that these agencies have a history of putting out false information. In 2011, this reporter interviewed Lori Bane, Associate Director for Policy with the CDC Division of Select Agents and Toxins and Von Roebuck, CDC Public Affairs officer regarding the numbers of BSL-4s up and running in the US. BSLs—Biosafety labs—are enumerated as running from level one to level four. BSL-4s handle the most dangerous of all germs, for which there is generally no known countermeasure or cure.
In the interview, Bane and Roebuck attempted to persuade this reporter that there were only six BSL-4 labs in the United States. In fact (quoting from the article),
…a number of other BSL-4’s appear to be now operational. Biosecurity.org lists eleven. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has counted thirteen, with some questions as to whether all the labs are operational at this point in time. The University of North Carolina has counted fifteen.”
The CDC was again caught making false statements at the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva in 2011. Following a presentation by Dr. George Korch of HHS and Dr. Scott Dowell of CDC, this reporter queried them as to triage plans, discussed in an article in CHEST, which revealed that decisions had been made, in a pandemic scenario, to let certain people die should there be a scarcity of equipment, such as ventilators.
The triage plans explicitly named the elderly and disabled as those who should be denied life-saving measures.
Covid-19 has claimed the lives of the elderly far more than those in other age groups, as it has transpired. This seems to be partially due to the policies in numerous locations of placing Covid patients into nursing homes, where the disease was reported to have spread like “wildfire.”
Korch and Dowell denied any knowledge of these triage plans, which were developed by HHS, DHS, CDC and other organizations and agencies. Following the Q and A period, Dr. Dowell demanded this reporter tell him who she was and whom she worked for, in a private encounter which reeked of intimidation. This reporter supplied him the requested personal information.
Given this history, supplemented by the initial failure of FOIA analysts Thomas and Opkewho to produce the records requested as to a racial breakdown, this reporter pondered if there were blacklisting in place and filed a second FOIA in June of 2020, asking for whatever internal documents bore her name. Thomas’s reply indicated that there is indeed a file at the CDC on this reporter, as Thomas inquired if it was sufficient to supply internal correspondence without the attached articles by this reporter.
It has been nine months since that FOIA was tendered. CDC FOIA analyst Paula Thomas has repeatedly promised the records and has failed to deliver them. Thomas initially promised the records by October 30. A retired attorney also contacted the CDC via Thomas and Opkewho asking if he could facilitate the fulfillment of this request. According to the attorney, Ken Ditkowsky of Illinois, Thomas telephoned him a week ago and said the records were on their way, via email. No records have been received.
In pursuit of resolving this issue, this reporter requested of Thomas and Opkewho the contact information of their supervisor and/or the Chief FOIA officer for the CDC. This same request was entered with the press office at the CDC. At the time of going to press, no response to these requests has been received.
In light of the fact that the CDC is now the pivotal domestic agency in charge of analyzing and purveying information as to this world-shaking pandemic, which has locked down countries, destroyed economies and – we are told – resulted in 490,000 deaths in the US alone – in light of the fact that transparency and reliable public information are absolutely critical at this point in time and in light of the fact that conflicting information – to mask or not to mask, for one – has become regular fare for news reports and public recommendations, it would be hoped that the CDC could respond accurately to information requests. As it turns out, it never really has.
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