Summary of January 2023 Advisory Council Meeting
Funding News Edition: February 15, 2023
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The 203rd meeting of NIAID’s Advisory Council took place virtually on January 30, 2023. If you couldn’t catch it live, check out the archived Video Recording of the NIAID Advisory Council Meeting.
NIAID Acting Director Dr. Hugh Auchincloss introduced the open meeting with a synopsis of key staffing changes, budget news, and scientific research updates. Council’s guest speaker was Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, the first Director of the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). Council also approved concepts for new funding initiatives.
Key Staffing Changes
Dr. Auchincloss welcomed new NIAID Council Members Emily Brown and Drs. Mary Estes, James Gern, Guy Palmer, Laurence Morel, and new ex officio member Dr. Daniel Jernigan.
Next, Dr. Auchincloss highlighted the recent retirement of Dr. Anthony Fauci after 38 years as NIAID Director and 54 as an NIAID physician-scientist. The Acting Director read a note of thanks from President Biden for Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health. The vacancy announcement for a new NIAID Director closed on January 17, 2023, but NIH will continue to accept applications and interview candidates until the position is filled.
He described several other high-level NIH position changes since the September Council meeting:
President Biden selected Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the first Director of ARPA-H.
Dr. Joni Rutter was named Director of NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
Dr. Nina Schor was appointed as NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) in the NIH Office of the Director after Dr. Michael Gottesman stepped down.
Dr. Roger Glass has stepped down from his positions as Director of the Fogarty International Center (FIC) and NIH Associate Director for International Research. FIC Deputy Director Dr. Peter Kilmarx is serving as FIC Acting Director while FIC searches for a new Director.
Andrea Norris retired from her positions as NIH’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of the Center for Information Technology (CIT).
As for NIAID staff, Dr. Auchincloss offered thanks and best wishes to the following:
Gray Handley retired from his position as NIAID Associate Director for International Research Affairs. Since 2006, his work greatly expanded and improved NIAID’s international portfolio.
Greg Folkers and Laurie Doepel both stepped down after more than 25 and 30 years of NIAID service, respectively, in leadership and communications roles under the NIAID Director.
Dr. Matthew Fenton retired after 11 years as the Director of the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA). DEA Deputy Director Dr. Kelly Poe is serving as the Acting DEA Director until a permanent DEA Director is selected.
George Kennedy is the new Director of the NIAID Office of Acquisitions within DEA. He replaces Charles Grewe, who retired after 44 years of federal service at the NIH.
Dr. Michael Ison is the new Chief of the Respiratory Disease Branch in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID).
Dr. Andrew Vernon joined the Division of AIDS (DAIDS) as the Chief of the Tuberculosis Clinical Research Branch in the Therapeutics Research Program.
Dr. Jim McNamara stepped down as Chief of the Autoimmunity and Mucosal Immunology Branch (AMIB) in the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation (DAIT). Dr. Ellen Goldmuntz is acting in his stead.
Mary Smolskis is the new Director of the Office of Planning and Operations Support in the Division of Clinical Research.
Dr. Auchincloss congratulated Dr. Cliff Lane, who received the 2022 Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Medal, and Alex Rosenthal, who was honored with a Presidential Rank Award.
As an organization, NIAID was honored with the 2022 Patents for Humanity award in the COVID-19 category. Science magazine’s list of top 10 2022 Breakthroughs included NIAID research. Dr. Auchincloss also briefly covered NIAID staff meetings with international visitors and participation in the Ninth Global Health Workshop with the Gates Foundation.
Dr. Auchincloss shared NIH and NIAID budget news with Council starting at the 18-minute mark of the video linked above. He covered the fiscal year (FY) 2024 President’s budget request and a Budget Data Comparisons by Institute and Center slide to illustrate the distribution of NIH’s $47.7 billion FY 2023 budget.
He discussed NIAID’s Financial Management Plan and the interim R01 Paylines posted on January 23, 2023. Dr. Auchincloss predicted no adjustments to noncompeting and competing grants, cuts of up to 20 percent for competing research initiatives, and application success rates around 18 to 22 percent.
His slides also detailed Congressional funding directives (earmarks) for AIDS, antimicrobial resistance, food allergy research, universal influenza vaccine, and the distribution of COVID-19 funds.
Dr. Auchincloss covered recent NIAID participation in Congressional hearings and the HIV/AIDS Caucus on World AIDS Day. NIAID staff also provided many other briefings to staff in Congress on COVID-19, mpox (formerly monkeypox), the Sudan Ebolavirus outbreak, Paxlovid rebound, and other topics. Dr. Auchincloss also briefly discussed changes in Senate and Congress leadership.
Starting at the video’s 28-minute mark, Dr. Auchincloss listed examples of infectious disease outbreaks inside and outside of the United States in 2022.
To summarize the past 3 years of COVID-19, he presented slides on case and hospitalization graphs, strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, key therapeutics, NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines, the four U.S. COVID-19 vaccines and updated booster, hospitalizations by vaccination status, variants of concern, next generation vaccines, and NIAID awards to support pan-coronavirus vaccine development.
Dr. Auchincloss also provided updates on developments in other research areas: HIV/AIDS, malaria, Ebola, a promising Marburg vaccine, universal flu vaccine efforts, non-viral asthma attacks, monoclonal antibodies to target Epstein-Barr virus, and human antibody response to vaccinations.
Council members then discussed his presentation, pandemic preparedness, bipartisan support for HIV/AIDS research, and other topics.
Guest speaker Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, Director of ARPA-H, covered the new organization’s mission and current status. Find her presentation at the 50-minute mark of the video.
She shared how her experiences at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Ginkgo Bioworks related to infectious diseases, then described the ARPA-H Mission, remarks from President Biden, the Agency’s organizational structure, and approach to spurring health breakthroughs. ARPA-H Program Managers will identify challenges, define problems, and launch programs. The ARPA-H Model addresses four initial focus areas: health science futures, scalable solutions, proactive health, and resilient systems.
Dr. Wegrzyn closed her presentation with a summary of recent ARPA-H milestones, then answered Council members’ questions on hiring program managers, how mature ideas move forward, and project funding decisions.
Approved Concepts for Upcoming Funding Opportunities
Check the Council-approved Concepts for Potential Opportunities from the January 2023 meeting:
Division of AIDS (DAIDS) Concepts
Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation (DAIT) Concepts
Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) Concepts
Learn how the concepts can help you gain support at Understand NIAID Research Priorities.
— Read on www.niaid.nih.gov/grants-contracts/summary-january-2023-advisory-council-meeting
Day: February 15, 2023
React19 Research: VAERS Audit – React19
React19, a patient advocacy organization representing more than 20,000 Covid vaccine-injured individuals, reviewed 126 VAERS report numbers filed by 103 independent Covid vaccine-injured individuals. We conducted this audit due to concerns raised by members that they never received permanent VAERS report Identification Numbers, they could not find their VAERS reports after published on the website, and/or their reports had been altered, combined with previous reports, or removed. The scope of the audit was to understand how CDC and FDA are following up with VAERS reports filed by those who continually suffer after their Covid vaccine injury.
We recruited React19 members to the audit between October 17 and November 7, 2022. We advertised this through a support group. React19 individuals who agreed to the audit provided their name and report number(s). The audit (conducted by Alberto Benavides, Brianne Dressen, Joel Wallskog, MD, Linda Wastila, PhD) captured the following information: Temporary ID, Link to the live VAERS report, VAERS permanent ID, State, Age, Gender, Vaccination Date, Symptom on-set date, Date entered, date published, date deleted, and any commentary by injured who filed the report.
Of 126 verified true VAERS reports of Covid-19 vaccine injury or death:
61% of the reports were logged and published in the VAERS system correctly (provided a permanent ID#);
22% of the reports do not have a permanent ID and, therefore, are not publicly visible;
12% of the reports have been outright deleted and, therefore, not publicly visible;
5% could not file a report or their report number remains unknown.
Medical status of the 15 deleted reports:
53% are Reports of Permanent Disability
27% are Reports of ER/Hospital
20% are “Other”
Medical status of the 79 reports currently visible in the VAERS system:
23% are Reports of Permanent Disability
38% are Reports of ER/Hospital Visits
39% are “Other”
Individuals who received only temporary IDs (their reports are not visible to the public) reported that they were not aware that their report was not officially in the system, nor were they aware VAERS would need to issue a 2nd permanent ID. During the audit, these individuals were encouraged to call the VAERS office to inquire about the status of their report. Examples of the responses follow. Individuals whose reports were deleted called the VAERS office as well.
Sample responses of calls to the VAERS system:
Call log from individuals asking VAERS about their temporary reports:
“Basically, she didn’t have an answer why some of us are stuck in temporary mode. She said when we filed originally, we should have gotten an email as an acknowledgment letter with a permanent ID. Seems it’s up to us to know that, look out for the email and if we don’t get one, we are to call them to figure it out. As of now she says two of my temp IDs will be merged into one and I should get an email from them in the next week that will have my permanent ID.”
“I called VAERS and they were cagey when I said I heard my report was deleted. After being placed on hold while she checked, I was told they had my info. Neither denied or confirmed my report was deleted. Told me they would contact me if they need anything. Basic response each time I dug for more details.”
Example of investigation of 2 reports, with one deleted:
Report 1 not updated: “I called, emailed, and faxed updates as they instructed when I repeatedly reached out to update the lot# and medical diagnostics. Nothing was ever updated. I tried every possible avenue even though my hands didn’t work. Months later I got the standard automated updated request from them which I always filled out and again, no update to anything. I called again and they said you cannot update any reports at all ever, I must put in a new report.”
“Report 2 deleted: They instructed me to file this report when refusing to do updates to report #1. My report #2 has my medical proof of SFN (small fiber neuropathy), bilateral ulnar neuropathy on EMG, brain spots on MRI, and the lot #. The second report is clearly more important and shows specific medical findings. Yet they silently deleted it, and never updated the misleading and weak first report which was too early for diagnostics.”
Example of death report NOT listed as a death report: (2 reports filed)
– 1st Report after HLH diagnosis classified as “life threatening”
– 2nd Report filed after his death classified as “hospitalized”
Family called to request a correction to the 2nd report to be fatality and was instructed to file another report, and was sent a form condolence letter from the CDC. (fatality was May 2021, form letter received December 2022.
After their initial complaint inquiring about why his report is not indicated as a death, they subsequently received the following email:
Thank you for contacting the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) program. Thank you for taking the time to file the report.
VAERS data available to the public include only the initial report data to VAERS. Updated data which contains data from medical records and corrections reported during follow up are used by the government for analysis. However, for numerous reasons including data consistency, these amended data are not available to the public.
You can find the above information on our website at https://vaers.hhs.gov/data.html. Should you require assistance in the future please visit our website or contact us.
Sincerely, VAERS Staff”
Example of death report not followed up on:
“My condolence letters from the cdc. Despite claims of safety monitoring they never contacted me, never asked for death certificate, autopsy report, medical records. They were not looking for any “signals”. I called several times to ask why no one had contacted me to investigate why a young healthy 34 year old passed 2 weeks after Pfizer vaccine and the only thing I got was those insulting letters.”
Our audit found that 1 in 3 reports are either not processed through the system for the public to review due to lack of assignment of a permanent ID and/or deletion after original publication. This lack of public visibility is psychologically hurtful and disrespectful to the injured and their families who filed the reports. A ratio of 1 in 3 reports not being visible to the public due to being deleted or incorrectly processed in the VAERS system is far above the margin of error anyone would expect. It also suggests problems of omission, data, and under-reporting of VAERS reports may be even greater than estimated.(1-3) In sum, our audit illustrates a wide-spread issue with reports not being processed by the CDC appropriately.
The VAERS system insists they have the information for each report, but when asked they do not provide the information, only stating that they can see it on the private side and that it is combined with the original report. This makes it impossible for submitters to verify and/or validate their reports. The original report in public-facing VAERS does not reflect any updates given. This also illustrates the lack of transparency of the VAERS system, co-managed by the FDA and CDC.
We are requesting the immediate release of the non-public VAERS reports that the CDC has combined, and a comprehensive audit of the VAERS system by external reviewers.
We also request answers to the following questions:
How many VAERS reports have been “combined” in the non-public facing VAERS system?
How many VAERS reports have been deleted?
What are the criteria for VAERS reports to be deleted?
Why are follow-up reports with more specific findings and specific diagnoses and more likely to show permanent disability NOT visible to the public, despite the CDC’s encouragement that individuals file these subsequent reports whenever possible?
How many of these follow-up reports with more specific findings and diagnoses are only visible internally and not to the public?
Why is there an existence of a public VAERS system and a non-public VAERS system?
What communication is provided to the individual who filed the report when their VAERS report is deleted or not given a permanent ID designation?
Rose J. Critical appraisal of VAERS pharmacovigilance: Is the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) a functioning pharmacovigilance system? Science, Public Health Policy, and the Law. October 2021;3:100-129.
Click to access Pharmacovigilance%20VAERS%20paper%20FINAL_OCT_1_2021.pdf
Kirsch S, Rose J, Crawford M. Estimating the number of COVID vaccine deaths in America. https://www.skirsch.com/covid/Deaths.pdf
OpenVaers Newsletter. How to calculate the URF in V-Safe and VAERS. November 15, 2022. https://openvaers.com/faq/how-to-calculate-the-urf-using-v-safe-and-vaers
Wondering what happened to your VAERS report?
Look up your report at the MedAlerts.org and comment below!
— Read on react19.org/vaers-audit/
See below for more instances where ICAN called out our health agencies for similar misconduct:
- ICAN DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM THE CDC ABOUT SPIKE IN RSV RATES
- ICAN DEMANDS ANSWERS ABOUT DEATH DISCREPANCIES IN PFIZER’S CLINICAL TRIAL
- ICAN DEMANDS VRBPAC DECLINE TO AUTHORIZE PFIZER VACCINE FOR BABIES
- ICAN DEMANDS CDC AUTHORS WITHDRAW RIGGED NATURAL IMMUNITY STUDY
- HEALTH DEPARTMENT TAKES DOWN FALSE AD AFTER ICAN LEGAL DEMAND
- ICAN SUES CDC TO STOP HIDING V-SAFE DATA FROM THE PUBLIC
- ICAN DEMANDS EVIDENCE SUPPORTING FAUCI AND WALENSKY STATEMENTS
To share this legal update, please use this link: https://icandecide.org/press-release/ican-confronts-cdc-and-fda-about-hiding-important-vaccine-adverse-event-reports-from-public-view/
Judicial Watch: Records Show U.S. and UK ‘Confidentiality Agreement’ Tied to Vaccine Adverse Events | Judicial Watch
Judicial Watch: Records Show U.S. and UK ‘Confidentiality Agreement’ Tied to Vaccine Adverse Events
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 57 pages of heavily redacted records from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that show, just two days prior to FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, a discussion between U.S. and UK health regulators regarding the COVID shot and “anaphylaxis,” with the regulators emphasizing their “mutual confidentiality agreement.”
Judicial Watch obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against HHS (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:22-cv-00660)) after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is an agency of HHS, failed to respond to an August 30, 2021, FOIA request for:
All emails sent to and from members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee regarding adverse events, deaths and/or injuries caused by investigatory vaccines for the prevention or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 and/or COVID-19 currently produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and/or Johnson & Johnson.
The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) is the U.S. Government’s central advisory body, along with Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), advising whether to approve COVID vaccines.
A lengthy, heavily redacted December 2020 email exchange shows U.S. and UK health officials placing a heavy emphasis on their “mutual confidentiality agreement” in a discussion regarding “anaphylactoid reactions” to the COVID vaccine.
The exchange is initiated by Jonathan Mogford, policy director of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and is sent to Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock as well as Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). The subject line and body of the email are fully redacted under FOIA Exemption B3 (relating to statutory prohibitions).
As background, Mogford includes information on “two cases of anaphylactoid reactions in individuals with a strong past history of allergic reactions….” Marks replies to Mogford: “It would be very helpful if our Office of Vaccines could receive additional details [redacted] from MHRA [UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency] under the terms of our mutual confidentiality agreement.” Mogford later replies, “… attached are [redacted] hope that’s helpful in the meantime. If I can just remind – information shared under our confidentiality agreement.”
Marion Gruber, head of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review (OVRR), then replies to Mogford, “Thank you so much for this information. Our emails crossed. If possible, would be available for a t-con [teleconference] today?” The exchange concludes with OVRR Deputy Director Phil Krause advising UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency official Jamie Convisser, “Your summary is correct. I’m cc:ing Amanda Cohn at CDC who can provide the most up-to-date details about [redacted]. Obviously, [redacted], not all of this is public so please hold these details confidential.” Cohn then replies to Mogford, and includes an attachment titled “Anaphylaxis CLARK Dec 19 2020 Final”. She writes, “I am adding my colleagues Tom Clark and Stacey Martin, we are happy to share more information with you. Attached are slides that were presented at a public meeting on Saturday. [Redacted].”
The FDA issued its Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older on December 11, 2020.
On May 14, 2021, the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn emailed Office of Vaccines Research and Review Director Marion Gruber and Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Director Peter Marks with the subject line “Coadministration of COVID-19 Vaccines with Other Vaccines During Pregnancy.”
Gruber writes, “I am fine with this language.” Marks then responds to Cohn and her CDC colleague, Sarah Mbaeyi, “I can live with this too. Please let me know if you want to connect about the adverse event issue later today. Seems like work is still ongoing, but let me know. Thanks.” Cohn replies, “We have a meeting with Rochelle [presumably CDC Director Rochelle Walensky] at 3:30 about if we should say anything or wait until we have more definitive information. I will let you know where we land. I’m not sure there is a right answer.”
“It again took a lawsuit for the Biden administration to hand over, albeit heavily redacted, information regarding the safety of the COVID vaccines that the public has every right to know,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This disturbing batch of new documents have uncovered a secret confidentiality agreement tied to COVID vaccine safety issues and emails that raise new questions about the vaccines and pregnancy.”
Judicial Watch is pursuing challenges against the agency’s redactions under FOIA.
In a previous production from this FOIA lawsuit, Judicial Watch received 1,081 pages of records from HHS detailing internal discussions about myocarditis and the COVID vaccine. Other documents detailed adverse “events for which a contributory effect of the vaccine could not be excluded.”
Through FOIA, Judicial Watch has uncovered a substantial amount of information about COVID-19 issues:
HHS records regarding data Moderna submitted to the FDA on its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, indicated a “statistically significant” number of rats were born with skeletal deformations after their mothers were injected with the vaccine. The documents also reveal Moderna elected not to conduct a number of standard pharmacological studies on the laboratory test animals.
FDA records detailed pressure for COVID-19 vaccine booster approval and use.
NIH records revealed an FBI “inquiry” into the NIH’s controversial bat coronavirus grant tied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The records also show National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officials were concerned about “gain-of-function” research in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2016. The Fauci agency was also concerned about EcoHealth Alliance’s lack of compliance with reporting rules and use of gain-of-function research in the NIH-funded research involving bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.
HHS records revealed that from 2014 to 2019, $826,277 was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research by the NIAID.
NIAID records showed that it gave nine China-related grants to EcoHealth Alliance to research coronavirus emergence in bats and was the NIH’s top issuer of grants to the Wuhan lab itself. The records also included an email from the vice director of the Wuhan Lab asking an NIH official for help finding disinfectants for decontamination of airtight suits and indoor surfaces.
HHS records included an “urgent for Dr. Fauci ” email chain, citing ties between the Wuhan lab and the taxpayer-funded EcoHealth Alliance. The government emails also reported that the foundation of U.S. billionaire Bill Gates worked closely with the Chinese government to pave the way for Chinese-produced medications to be sold outside China and help “raise China’s voice of governance by placing representatives from China on important international counsels as high level commitment from China.”
HHS records included a grant application for research involving the coronavirus that appears to describe “gain-of-function” research involving RNA extractions from bats, experiments on viruses, attempts to develop a chimeric virus and efforts to genetically manipulate the full-length bat SARSr-CoV WIV1 strain molecular clone.
HHS records showed the State Department and NIAID knew immediately in January 2020 that China was withholding COVID data, which was hindering risk assessment and response by public health officials.
University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) records showed the former director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Dr. James W. Le Duc warned Chinese researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology of potential investigations into the COVID issue by Congress.
HHS records regarding biodistribution studies and related data for the COVID-19 vaccines showed a key component of the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), were found outside the injection site, mainly the liver, adrenal glands, spleen and ovaries of test animals, eight to 48 hours after injection.
Records from the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP) revealed safety lapses and violations at U.S. biosafety laboratories that conduct research on dangerous agents and toxins.
HHS records included emails between National Institutes of Health (NIH) then-Director Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), about hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19.
HHS records showed that NIH officials tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms and that the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020.
Fauci emails included his approval of a press release supportive of China’s response to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
— Read on www.judicialwatch.org/us-and-uk-agreement/
Here’s How the U.S. Government Is Tracking the Unvaccinated • Children’s Health Defense
Story at a glance:
The U.S. government has secretly been tracking those who didn’t get the COVID jab, or are only partially jabbed, through a previously unknown surveillance program designed by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The program was implemented on April 1, 2022, and adopted by most medical clinics and hospitals across the U.S. until January 2023.
Under this program, doctors at clinics and hospitals have been instructed to ask patients about their vaccination status, which is then added to their electronic medical records as a diagnostic code, known as the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) code, so that they can be tracked inside and outside of the medical system.
These new ICD-10 codes are part of the government’s plan to implement medical tyranny using vaccine passports and digital IDs.
They’re also tracking noncompliance with all other recommended vaccines using new ICD-10 codes, and have implemented codes to describe WHY you didn’t get a recommended vaccine. They’ve also added a billable ICD code for “vaccine safety counseling.”
As recently discovered and reported by Dr. Robert Malone, the U.S. government has secretly been tracking those who didn’t get the COVID jab, or are only partially jabbed, through a previously unknown surveillance program designed by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The program was implemented on April 1, 2022, but didn’t become universally adopted by most medical clinics and hospitals across the U.S. until January 2023.
Under this program, doctors at clinics and hospitals have been instructed to ask patients about their vaccination status, which is then added to their electronic medical records as a diagnostic code, known as the ICD-10 code, without their knowledge or consent so that they can be tracked — not just within the health care system but outside of it as well.
Secret tracking program revealed
The new ICD codes were introduced during the Sept. 14-15, 2021, ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee meeting. The ICD committee includes representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the NCHS.
Below is a screenshot of page 194 of the agenda distributed during that meeting.
According to the NCHS, “there is interest in being able to track people who are not immunized or only partially immunized,” and they figured out a way to do just that, by adding new ICD-10 codes.
As you can see below, ICD-10 code Z28.310 identifies those who have not received a COVID jab and Z28.311 identifies those who are not up-to-date on their shots.
As noted by Malone:
“Code Number Z28.310 listed above is not a code for an illness or diagnosis, but rather for non-compliance of a medical procedure … Once a person’s vaccination status is coded and uploaded into large data base, it can be accessed by government and private health insurers alike.
“The administrative state officers at the CDC have not made immunization status a reportable disease (yet) but immunization status is listed as one of the reasons for mandatory reporting. They are just one step away from being able to collect this information without your permission. Ergo: vaccine passports made easy. In this country, not having your vaccine records ‘up-to-date’ might mean:
- The government will not restrict your travel, airlines will.
- The government will not restrict your travel, other nations will.
- The government will not restrict your travel, auto rental companies will.
- The government will not restrict your travel, public transport will.
- The government will not restrict your travel, private companies will.”
World Health Organization signed off on tracking codes
The ICD codes were created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and doctors — with the exception of those in private practice who don’t accept insurance — are required to use these codes to describe a patient’s condition and the care they received during their visit.
As noted by Malone, the fact that the ICD system is run by the WHO is an important detail, as this means the WHO had to authorize the CDC to add these new codes. The implication is that these codes may be in use internationally; we just don’t know it yet.
The codes are entered into your electronic health record and used by insurance companies for billing purposes. They’re also used by statisticians who track and analyze national and global disease trends such as cancer and heart disease rates over time.
Over the past decade, these statistical analyses have gotten easier to do, thanks to the transition into electronic record keeping. In the U.S., the ICD coding system has been fully integrated into the electronic health record system since 2012.
Within the ICD-10 codes, there’s a category called ICD-10-CM, and this is the category the CDC is now using to track the unvaccinatedwith specific codes for “Unvaccinated for COVID-19” and “Partially Vaccinated For COVID-19.”
Gross violation of medical privacy rights
Since there’s no billing or payment involved with being unvaccinated, and since being unvaccinated is extremely unlikely to be part of your disease profile, there’s no valid reason to record anyone’s vaccine refusal. It’s also a violation of medical privacy, as the records can be accessed by a variety of individuals and not just your personal doctors.
As noted by Malone, a person’s decision to get a vaccine or not is a private matter, and your privacy rights are enshrined in the Privacy Act of 1974. However, during the COVID pandemic, medical privacy rights have been repeatedly violated and broken.
Children’s vaccination statuses were shared with schools and employers were granted the “right” to know the jab status of their employees. Private venues were even permitted to demand proof of vaccination status — all this without a single word of the law having been revoked or amended.
They’re tracking reasons for jab refusal too
If you need proof that these codes will be used for reasons unrelated to your health, consider this: They’re also using codes to describe WHY you didn’t get the primary series or stopped getting boosters.
Those codes are listed in the screenshot below, under Z28.3 Underimmunization Status.
The use of “delinquent immunization status” under code Z28.39 also tells us something about where this is all headed. “Delinquent” means being “neglectful of a duty” or being “guilty of an offense.” Is refusing boosters a criminal offense? Perhaps not today, but someday, it probably will be.
All missed vaccinations will be tracked
Another tipoff that these codes are part and parcel of the biosecurity control grid is the fact that code Z28.39 — “Other underimmunization status” — is to be used “when a patient is not current on other, non-COVID vaccines.”
As detailed on the American Academy of Family Physicians website:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have announced three new diagnosis codes, including two for COVID-19 immunization status …
“According to ICD-10-CM guidelines, clinicians may assign code Z28.310, ‘Unvaccinated for COVID-19,’ when the patient has not received a dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.
“Clinicians may assign code Z28.311, ‘Partially vaccinated for COVID-19,’ when the patient has received at least one dose of a multi-dose COVID-19 vaccine regimen, but has not received the doses necessary to meet the CDC definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ at the time of the encounter … New code Z28.39 is for reporting when a patient is not current on other, non-COVID vaccines.”
In other words, they have already begun tracking ALL of your vaccinations, not just the COVID shot, and they can use the Z28.3 sub-codes to identify why you refused a given vaccine.
Vaccine passports are a fait accompli — unless we act now
As noted by Malone:
“The administrative state is busy building a vaccine passport system that will be active before most Americans are aware of what is being done to them. No one is going to knock on your door asking for your vaccine status because they already know …
“They don’t need approval from Congress or the courts because we have given them the information through our health care providers. The CDC is the governmental organization tasked with tracking vaccine status on individuals.
“They already have the records, as well as updated booster information. They just need to tweak a definition here and there, or get President Biden to keep the COVID-19 public health emergency in place indefinitely and the vaccine passports will be a fait accompli.”
You can now be billed for immunization safety counseling
As if all of that weren’t tyrannical enough, they’ve also added a billable ICD-10 code for “immunization safety counseling.” That’s right. If you’ve decided you’re not willing to partake in the mRNA experiment, or you just don’t think you need some other vaccine that’s recommended, your doctor can bill your insurance for regurgitating the WHO’s vaccine propaganda.
This may become more or less automatic because, again, they have codes identifying whether you declined the COVID jab and/or any other vaccine, and for each vaccine refusal, there’s a code detailing why you declined it. “Belief or group pressure” is one of those, and you can bet that code, Z.28.1, will automatically qualify you for immunization safety counseling, whether you want it or not.
They also intend to indoctrinate your children and make you pay for it. The immunization safety counseling code, Z71.85, was described in the September 2021 issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Coding Newsletter.
You have to be a member to read the entire article, but here’s the publicly available preview:
“Reporting Encounters for Immunization Safety Counseling.
“As physicians and other qualified health care professionals field increasing numbers of concerns about immunization safety, International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification(ICD-10-CM) offers a new code, Z71.85, for identifying immunization safety counseling as a reason for an encounter provided on or after October 1, 2021.
“Use this code when reporting counseling provided to patients and caregivers who are vaccine hesitant, wish to follow an alternative immunization schedule, or otherwise require time spent in counseling at lengths beyond that typical of routine immunization counseling.
“Code Z71.85 may be reported to indicate the principal or first-listed reason for an encounter or as a secondary reason.
“Documentation of time spent in preventive medicine counseling and separate time spent in immunization administration counseling should be explicit in the encounter note to support that the preventive medicine counseling was significant and separately identifiable.”
Unjabbed teachers flagged
In related news, in early February it was revealed that New York City teachers who did not get the jab were “flagged” with a “problem code” in their personnel files, triggering their fingerprints to be sent to the FBI and the New York Criminal Justice Services.
The purpose of this is unclear, but former public school teacher Michael Kane, founder of Teachers for Choice, believes “that unvaccinated NYC educators were being set up to be viewed as ‘right-wing extremists’ or even ‘terrorists.’”
Kane was among those who got fired for refusing the COVID jab. The revelation that teachers’ fingerprints were illegally entered into not just one, but two, criminal databases “are certain to open up a new round of lawsuits,” Kane writes.
Unvaccinated New York City teachers were reportedly “flagged” with “problem codes” and their fingerprints sent to the FBI, according to an affidavit filed in federal court last week.https://t.co/FwuUC4TL96
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) February 15, 2023
Call to action
Knowing all of this, what can you do about it? How do we stop this madness? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Demand Congress finish what the Senate started by declaring the public health emergency over and done with. Jan. 17, 2023, HR 382, a bill “To terminate the public health emergency declared with respect to COVID-19” was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. This bill must be passed.
2. Contact your Congressional representative and let them know you:
- Support the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government’s investigation.
- Want Congress to reject all attempts by the administrative state, the U.N., the WHO, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Biden administration to require a vaccine passport or a digital ID.
- Expect them to work to ensure the freedom of travel for all citizens.
- Expect them to protect Constitutional rights.
- Expect them to protect all rights to privacy, including and especially medical privacy, and since these new ICD-10 codes are in violation of your right to privacy, you want them to take immediate action to ensure the codes are revoked.
With respect to what you can do to protect your medical privacy on a personal level, keep in mind that independent doctors are not required to use ICD codes unless they accept insurance. So, by choosing a doctor who is in private practice, you can avoid getting tagged and trapped in the system.
Originally published by Mercola.
— Read on childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/government-tracking-unvaccinated-icd-codes-cola/
How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline
The New York Times called it a “mystery,” but the United States executed a covert sea operation that was kept secret—until now
— Read on seymourhersh.substack.com/p/how-america-took-out-the-nord-stream
How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline
The New York Times called it a “mystery,” but the United States executed a covert sea operation that was kept secret—until now
The U.S. Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center can be found in a location as obscure as its name—down what was once a country lane in rural Panama City, a now-booming resort city in the southwestern panhandle of Florida, 70 miles south of the Alabama border. The center’s complex is as nondescript as its location—a drab concrete post-World War II structure that has the look of a vocational high school on the west side of Chicago. A coin-operated laundromat and a dance school are across what is now a four-lane road.
The center has been training highly skilled deep-water divers for decades who, once assigned to American military units worldwide, are capable of technical diving to do the good—using C4 explosives to clear harbors and beaches of debris and unexploded ordinance—as well as the bad, like blowing up foreign oil rigs, fouling intake valves for undersea power plants, destroying locks on crucial shipping canals. The Panama City center, which boasts the second largest indoor pool in America, was the perfect place to recruit the best, and most taciturn, graduates of the diving school who successfully did last summer what they had been authorized to do 260 feet under the surface of the Baltic Sea.
Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.
Two of the pipelines, which were known collectively as Nord Stream 1, had been providing Germany and much of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas for more than a decade. A second pair of pipelines, called Nord Stream 2, had been built but were not yet operational. Now, with Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border and the bloodiest war in Europe since 1945 looming, President Joseph Biden saw the pipelines as a vehicle for Vladimir Putin to weaponize natural gas for his political and territorial ambitions.
Asked for comment, Adrienne Watson, a White House spokesperson, said in an email, “This is false and complete fiction.” Tammy Thorp, a spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency, similarly wrote: “This claim is completely and utterly false.”
Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.
There was a vital bureaucratic reason for relying on the graduates of the center’s hardcore diving school in Panama City. The divers were Navy only, and not members of America’s Special Operations Command, whose covert operations must be reported to Congress and briefed in advance to the Senate and House leadership—the so-called Gang of Eight. The Biden Administration was doing everything possible to avoid leaks as the planning took place late in 2021 and into the first months of 2022.
President Biden and his foreign policy team—National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State for Policy—had been vocal and consistent in their hostility to the two pipelines, which ran side by side for 750 miles under the Baltic Sea from two different ports in northeastern Russia near the Estonian border, passing close to the Danish island of Bornholm before ending in northern Germany.
The direct route, which bypassed any need to transit Ukraine, had been a boon for the German economy, which enjoyed an abundance of cheap Russian natural gas—enough to run its factories and heat its homes while enabling German distributors to sell excess gas, at a profit, throughout Western Europe. Action that could be traced to the administration would violate US promises to minimize direct conflict with Russia. Secrecy was essential.
From its earliest days, Nord Stream 1 was seen by Washington and its anti-Russian NATO partners as a threat to western dominance. The holding company behind it, Nord Stream AG, was incorporated in Switzerland in 2005 in partnership with Gazprom, a publicly traded Russian company producing enormous profits for shareholders which is dominated by oligarchs known to be in the thrall of Putin. Gazprom controlled 51 percent of the company, with four European energy firms—one in France, one in the Netherlands and two in Germany—sharing the remaining 49 percent of stock, and having the right to control downstream sales of the inexpensive natural gas to local distributors in Germany and Western Europe. Gazprom’s profits were shared with the Russian government, and state gas and oil revenues were estimated in some years to amount to as much as 45 percent of Russia’s annual budget.
America’s political fears were real: Putin would now have an additional and much-needed major source of income, and Germany and the rest of Western Europe would become addicted to low-cost natural gas supplied by Russia—while diminishing European reliance on America. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. Many Germans saw Nord Stream 1 as part of the deliverance of former Chancellor Willy Brandt’s famed Ostpolitik theory, which would enable postwar Germany to rehabilitate itself and other European nations destroyed in World War II by, among other initiatives, utilizing cheap Russian gas to fuel a prosperous Western European market and trading economy.
Nord Stream 1 was dangerous enough, in the view of NATO and Washington, but Nord Stream 2, whose construction was completed in September of 2021, would, if approved by German regulators, double the amount of cheap gas that would be available to Germany and Western Europe. The second pipeline also would provide enough gas for more than 50 percent of Germany’s annual consumption. Tensions were constantly escalating between Russia and NATO, backed by the aggressive foreign policy of the Biden Administration.
Opposition to Nord Stream 2 flared on the eve of the Biden inauguration in January 2021, when Senate Republicans, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, repeatedly raised the political threat of cheap Russian natural gas during the confirmation hearing of Blinken as Secretary of State. By then a unified Senate had successfully passed a law that, as Cruz told Blinken, “halted [the pipeline] in its tracks.” There would be enormous political and economic pressure from the German government, then headed by Angela Merkel, to get the second pipeline online.
Would Biden stand up to the Germans? Blinken said yes, but added that he had not discussed the specifics of the incoming President’s views. “I know his strong conviction that this is a bad idea, the Nord Stream 2,” he said. “I know that he would have us use every persuasive tool that we have to convince our friends and partners, including Germany, not to move forward with it.”
A few months later, as the construction of the second pipeline neared completion, Biden blinked. That May, in a stunning turnaround, the administration waived sanctions against Nord Stream AG, with a State Department official conceding that trying to stop the pipeline through sanctions and diplomacy had “always been a long shot.” Behind the scenes, administration officials reportedly urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, by then facing a threat of Russian invasion, not to criticize the move.
There were immediate consequences. Senate Republicans, led by Cruz, announced an immediate blockade of all of Biden’s foreign policy nominees and delayed passage of the annual defense bill for months, deep into the fall. Politico later depicted Biden’s turnabout on the second Russian pipeline as “the one decision, arguably more than the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan, that has imperiled Biden’s agenda.”
The administration was floundering, despite getting a reprieve on the crisis in mid-November, when Germany’s energy regulators suspended approval of the second Nord Stream pipeline. Natural gas prices surged 8% within days, amid growing fears in Germany and Europe that the pipeline suspension and the growing possibility of a war between Russia and Ukraine would lead to a very much unwanted cold winter. It was not clear to Washington just where Olaf Scholz, Germany’s newly appointed chancellor, stood. Months earlier, after the fall of Afghanistan, Scholtz had publicly endorsed French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a more autonomous European foreign policy in a speech in Prague—clearly suggesting less reliance on Washington and its mercurial actions.
Throughout all of this, Russian troops had been steadily and ominously building up on the borders of Ukraine, and by the end of December more than 100,000 soldiers were in position to strike from Belarus and Crimea. Alarm was growing in Washington, including an assessment from Blinken that those troop numbers could be “doubled in short order.”
The administration’s attention once again was focused on Nord Stream. As long as Europe remained dependent on the pipelines for cheap natural gas, Washington was afraid that countries like Germany would be reluctant to supply Ukraine with the money and weapons it needed to defeat Russia.
It was at this unsettled moment that Biden authorized Jake Sullivan to bring together an interagency group to come up with a plan.
All options were to be on the table. But only one would emerge.
In December of 2021, two months before the first Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Jake Sullivan convened a meeting of a newly formed task force—men and women from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the State and Treasury Departments—and asked for recommendations about how to respond to Putin’s impending invasion.
It would be the first of a series of top-secret meetings, in a secure room on a top floor of the Old Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House, that was also the home of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). There was the usual back and forth chatter that eventually led to a crucial preliminary question: Would the recommendation forwarded by the group to the President be reversible—such as another layer of sanctions and currency restrictions—or irreversible—that is, kinetic actions, which could not be undone?
What became clear to participants, according to the source with direct knowledge of the process, is that Sullivan intended for the group to come up with a plan for the destruction of the two Nord Stream pipelines—and that he was delivering on the desires of the President.
Over the next several meetings, the participants debated options for an attack. The Navy proposed using a newly commissioned submarine to assault the pipeline directly. The Air Force discussed dropping bombs with delayed fuses that could be set off remotely. The CIA argued that whatever was done, it would have to be covert. Everyone involved understood the stakes. “This is not kiddie stuff,” the source said. If the attack were traceable to the United States, “It’s an act of war.”
At the time, the CIA was directed by William Burns, a mild-mannered former ambassador to Russia who had served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama Administration. Burns quickly authorized an Agency working group whose ad hoc members included—by chance—someone who was familiar with the capabilities of the Navy’s deep-sea divers in Panama City. Over the next few weeks, members of the CIA’s working group began to craft a plan for a covert operation that would use deep-sea divers to trigger an explosion along the pipeline.
Something like this had been done before. In 1971, the American intelligence community learned from still undisclosed sources that two important units of the Russian Navy were communicating via an undersea cable buried in the Sea of Okhotsk, on Russia’s Far East Coast. The cable linked a regional Navy command to the mainland headquarters at Vladivostok.
A hand-picked team of Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency operatives was assembled somewhere in the Washington area, under deep cover, and worked out a plan, using Navy divers, modified submarines and a deep-submarine rescue vehicle, that succeeded, after much trial and error, in locating the Russian cable. The divers planted a sophisticated listening device on the cable that successfully intercepted the Russian traffic and recorded it on a taping system.
The NSA learned that senior Russian navy officers, convinced of the security of their communication link, chatted away with their peers without encryption. The recording device and its tape had to be replaced monthly and the project rolled on merrily for a decade until it was compromised by a forty-four-year-old civilian NSA technician named Ronald Pelton who was fluent in Russian. Pelton was betrayed by a Russian defector in 1985 and sentenced to prison. He was paid just $5,000 by the Russians for his revelations about the operation, along with $35,000 for other Russian operational data he provided that was never made public.
That underwater success, codenamed Ivy Bells, was innovative and risky, and produced invaluable intelligence about the Russian Navy’s intentions and planning.
Still, the interagency group was initially skeptical of the CIA’s enthusiasm for a covert deep-sea attack. There were too many unanswered questions. The waters of the Baltic Sea were heavily patrolled by the Russian navy, and there were no oil rigs that could be used as cover for a diving operation. Would the divers have to go to Estonia, right across the border from Russia’s natural gas loading docks, to train for the mission? “It would be a goat fuck,” the Agency was told.
Throughout “all of this scheming,” the source said, “some working guys in the CIA and the State Department were saying, ‘Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare if it comes out.’”
Nevertheless, in early 2022, the CIA working group reported back to Sullivan’s interagency group: “We have a way to blow up the pipelines.”
What came next was stunning. On February 7, less than three weeks before the seemingly inevitable Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden met in his White House office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, after some wobbling, was now firmly on the American team. At the press briefing that followed, Biden defiantly said, “If Russia invades . . . there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
Twenty days earlier, Undersecretary Nuland had delivered essentially the same message at a State Department briefing, with little press coverage. “I want to be very clear to you today,” she said in response to a question. “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”
Several of those involved in planning the pipeline mission were dismayed by what they viewed as indirect references to the attack.
“It was like putting an atomic bomb on the ground in Tokyo and telling the Japanese that we are going to detonate it,” the source said. “The plan was for the options to be executed post invasion and not advertised publicly. Biden simply didn’t get it or ignored it.”
Biden’s and Nuland’s indiscretion, if that is what it was, might have frustrated some of the planners. But it also created an opportunity. According to the source, some of the senior officials of the CIA determined that blowing up the pipeline “no longer could be considered a covert option because the President just announced that we knew how to do it.”
The plan to blow up Nord Stream 1 and 2 was suddenly downgraded from a covert operation requiring that Congress be informed to one that was deemed as a highly classified intelligence operation with U.S. military support. Under the law, the source explained, “There was no longer a legal requirement to report the operation to Congress. All they had to do now is just do it—but it still had to be secret. The Russians have superlative surveillance of the Baltic Sea.”
The Agency working group members had no direct contact with the White House, and were eager to find out if the President meant what he’d said—that is, if the mission was now a go. The source recalled, “Bill Burns comes back and says, ‘Do it.’”
Norway was the perfect place to base the mission.
In the past few years of East-West crisis, the U.S. military has vastly expanded its presence inside Norway, whose western border runs 1,400 miles along the north Atlantic Ocean and merges above the Arctic Circle with Russia. The Pentagon has created high paying jobs and contracts, amid some local controversy, by investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade and expand American Navy and Air Force facilities in Norway. The new works included, most importantly, an advanced synthetic aperture radar far up north that was capable of penetrating deep into Russia and came online just as the American intelligence community lost access to a series of long-range listening sites inside China.
A newly refurbished American submarine base, which had been under construction for years, had become operational and more American submarines were now able to work closelywith their Norwegian colleagues to monitor and spy on a major Russian nuclear redoubt 250 miles to the east, on the Kola Peninsula. America also has vastly expanded a Norwegian air base in the north and delivered to the Norwegian air force a fleet of Boeing-built P8 Poseidon patrol planes to bolster its long-range spying on all things Russia.
In return, the Norwegian government angered liberals and some moderates in its parliament last November by passing the Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (SDCA). Under the new deal, the U.S. legal system would have jurisdiction in certain “agreed areas” in the North over American soldiers accused of crimes off base, as well as over those Norwegian citizens accused or suspected of interfering with the work at the base.
Norway was one of the original signatories of the NATO Treaty in 1949, in the early days of the Cold War. Today, the supreme commander of NATO is Jens Stoltenberg, a committed anti-communist, who served as Norway’s prime minister for eight years before moving to his high NATO post, with American backing, in 2014. He was a hardliner on all things Putin and Russia who had cooperated with the American intelligence community since the Vietnam War. He has been trusted completely since. “He is the glove that fits the American hand,” the source said.
Back in Washington, planners knew they had to go to Norway. “They hated the Russians, and the Norwegian navy was full of superb sailors and divers who had generations of experience in highly profitable deep-sea oil and gas exploration,” the source said. They also could be trusted to keep the mission secret. (The Norwegians may have had other interests as well. The destruction of Nord Stream—if the Americans could pull it off—would allow Norway to sell vastly more of its own natural gas to Europe.)
Sometime in March, a few members of the team flew to Norway to meet with the Norwegian Secret Service and Navy. One of the key questions was where exactly in the Baltic Sea was the best place to plant the explosives. Nord Stream 1 and 2, each with two sets of pipelines, were separated much of the way by little more than a mile as they made their run to the port of Greifswald in the far northeast of Germany.
The Norwegian navy was quick to find the right spot, in the shallow waters of the Baltic sea a few miles off Denmark’s Bornholm Island. The pipelines ran more than a mile apart along a seafloor that was only 260 feet deep. That would be well within the range of the divers, who, operating from a Norwegian Alta class mine hunter, would dive with a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and helium streaming from their tanks, and plant shaped C4 charges on the four pipelines with concrete protective covers. It would be tedious, time consuming and dangerous work, but the waters off Bornholm had another advantage: there were no major tidal currents, which would have made the task of diving much more difficult.
After a bit of research, the Americans were all in.
At this point, the Navy’s obscure deep-diving group in Panama City once again came into play. The deep-sea schools at Panama City, whose trainees participated in Ivy Bells, are seen as an unwanted backwater by the elite graduates of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, who typically seek the glory of being assigned as a Seal, fighter pilot, or submariner. If one must become a “Black Shoe”—that is, a member of the less desirable surface ship command—there is always at least duty on a destroyer, cruiser or amphibious ship. The least glamorous of all is mine warfare. Its divers never appear in Hollywood movies, or on the cover of popular magazines.
“The best divers with deep diving qualifications are a tight community, and only the very best are recruited for the operation and told to be prepared to be summoned to the CIA in Washington,” the source said.
The Norwegians and Americans had a location and the operatives, but there was another concern: any unusual underwater activity in the waters off Bornholm might draw the attention of the Swedish or Danish navies, which could report it.
Denmark had also been one of the original NATO signatories and was known in the intelligence community for its special ties to the United Kingdom. Sweden had applied for membership into NATO, and had demonstrated its great skill in managing its underwater sound and magnetic sensor systems that successfully tracked Russian submarines that would occasionally show up in remote waters of the Swedish archipelago and be forced to the surface.
The Norwegians joined the Americans in insisting that some senior officials in Denmark and Sweden had to be briefed in general terms about possible diving activity in the area. In that way, someone higher up could intervene and keep a report out of the chain of command, thus insulating the pipeline operation. “What they were told and what they knew were purposely different,” the source told me. (The Norwegian embassy, asked to comment on this story, did not respond.)
The Norwegians were key to solving other hurdles. The Russian navy was known to possess surveillance technology capable of spotting, and triggering, underwater mines. The American explosive devices needed to be camouflaged in a way that would make them appear to the Russian system as part of the natural background—something that required adapting to the specific salinity of the water. The Norwegians had a fix.
The Norwegians also had a solution to the crucial question of when the operation should take place. Every June, for the past 21 years, the American Sixth Fleet, whose flagship is based in Gaeta, Italy, south of Rome, has sponsored a major NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea involving scores of allied ships throughout the region. The current exercise, held in June, would be known as Baltic Operations 22, or BALTOPS 22. The Norwegians proposed this would be the ideal cover to plant the mines.
The Americans provided one vital element: they convinced the Sixth Fleet planners to add a research and development exercise to the program. The exercise, as made public by the Navy, involved the Sixth Fleet in collaboration with the Navy’s “research and warfare centers.” The at-sea event would be held off the coast of Bornholm Island and involve NATO teams of divers planting mines, with competing teams using the latest underwater technology to find and destroy them.
It was both a useful exercise and ingenious cover. The Panama City boys would do their thing and the C4 explosives would be in place by the end of BALTOPS22, with a 48-hour timer attached. All of the Americans and Norwegians would be long gone by the first explosion.
The days were counting down. “The clock was ticking, and we were nearing mission accomplished,” the source said.
And then: Washington had second thoughts. The bombs would still be planted during BALTOPS, but the White House worried that a two-day window for their detonation would be too close to the end of the exercise, and it would be obvious that America had been involved.
Instead, the White House had a new request: “Can the guys in the field come up with some way to blow the pipelines later on command?”
Some members of the planning team were angered and frustrated by the President’s seeming indecision. The Panama City divers had repeatedly practiced planting the C4 on pipelines, as they would during BALTOPS, but now the team in Norway had to come up with a way to give Biden what he wanted—the ability to issue a successful execution order at a time of his choosing.
Being tasked with an arbitrary, last-minute change was something the CIA was accustomed to managing. But it also renewed the concerns some shared over the necessity, and legality, of the entire operation.
The President’s secret orders also evoked the CIA’s dilemma in the Vietnam War days, when President Johnson, confronted by growing anti-Vietnam War sentiment, ordered the Agency to violate its charter—which specifically barred it from operating inside America—by spying on antiwar leaders to determine whether they were being controlled by Communist Russia.
The agency ultimately acquiesced, and throughout the 1970s it became clear just how far it had been willing to go. There were subsequent newspaper revelations in the aftermath of the Watergate scandals about the Agency’s spying on American citizens, its involvement in the assassination of foreign leaders and its undermining of the socialist government of Salvador Allende.
Those revelations led to a dramatic series of hearings in the mid-1970s in the Senate, led by Frank Church of Idaho, that made it clear that Richard Helms, the Agency director at the time, accepted that he had an obligation to do what the President wanted, even if it meant violating the law.
In unpublished, closed-door testimony, Helms ruefully explained that “you almost have an Immaculate Conception when you do something” under secret orders from a President. “Whether it’s right that you should have it, or wrong that you shall have it, [the CIA] works under different rules and ground rules than any other part of the government.” He was essentially telling the Senators that he, as head of the CIA, understood that he had been working for the Crown, and not the Constitution.
The Americans at work in Norway operated under the same dynamic, and dutifully began working on the new problem—how to remotely detonate the C4 explosives on Biden’s order. It was a much more demanding assignment than those in Washington understood. There was no way for the team in Norway to know when the President might push the button. Would it be in a few weeks, in many months or in half a year or longer?
The C4 attached to the pipelines would be triggered by a sonar buoy dropped by a plane on short notice, but the procedure involved the most advanced signal processing technology. Once in place, the delayed timing devices attached to any of the four pipelines could be accidentally triggered by the complex mix of ocean background noises throughout the heavily trafficked Baltic Sea—from near and distant ships, underwater drilling, seismic events, waves and even sea creatures. To avoid this, the sonar buoy, once in place, would emit a sequence of unique low frequency tonal sounds—much like those emitted by a flute or a piano—that would be recognized by the timing device and, after a pre-set hours of delay, trigger the explosives. (“You want a signal that is robust enough so that no other signal could accidentally send a pulse that detonated the explosives,” I was told by Dr. Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology and national security policy at MIT. Postol, who has served as the science adviser to the Pentagon’s Chief of Naval Operations, said the issue facing the group in Norway because of Biden’s delay was one of chance: “The longer the explosives are in the water the greater risk there would be of a random signal that would launch the bombs.”)
On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-powered C4 explosives were triggered and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water’s surface and the world learned that something irreversible had taken place.
In the immediate aftermath of the pipeline bombing, the American media treated it like an unsolved mystery. Russia was repeatedly cited as a likely culprit, spurred on by calculated leaks from the White House—but without ever establishing a clear motive for such an act of self-sabotage, beyond simple retribution. A few months later, when it emerged that Russian authorities had been quietly getting estimates for the cost to repair the pipelines, the New York Times described the news as “complicating theories about who was behind” the attack. No major American newspaper dug into the earlier threats to the pipelines made by Biden and Undersecretary of State Nuland.
While it was never clear why Russia would seek to destroy its own lucrative pipeline, a more telling rationale for the President’s action came from Secretary of State Blinken.
Asked at a press conference last September about the consequences of the worsening energy crisis in Western Europe, Blinken described the moment as a potentially good one:
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come, but meanwhile we’re determined to do everything we possibly can to make sure the consequences of all of this are not borne by citizens in our countries or, for that matter, around the world.”
More recently, Victoria Nuland expressed satisfaction at the demise of the newest of the pipelines. Testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in late January she told Senator Ted Cruz, “Like you, I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”
The source had a much more streetwise view of Biden’s decision to sabotage more than 1500 miles of Gazprom pipeline as winter approached. “Well,” he said, speaking of the President, “I gotta admit the guy has a pair of balls. He said he was going to do it, and he did.”
Asked why he thought the Russians failed to respond, he said cynically, “Maybe they want the capability to do the same things the U.S. did.
“It was a beautiful cover story,” he went on. “Behind it was a covert operation that placed experts in the field and equipment that operated on a covert signal.
“The only flaw was the decision to do it.”
After Congress imposes rail contract, BNSF announces plans to contract out locomotive maintenance – World Socialist Web Site
After Congress imposes rail contract, BNSF announces plans to contract out locomotive maintenance
31 January 2023
Are you a railroad worker? Send us your statement opposing the move to outsource engine maintenance by filling out the form below. All submissions will be kept anonymous.
BNSF locomotives in Barstow, California [Photo: WSWS]
BNSF Railway plans to outsource a significant amount of its locomotive maintenance to nonunion contractors, the company announced in a letter last month. The move, which was announced on January 5, came barely more than a month after Congress intervened to impose a bipartisan anti-strike law against 120,000 railroaders across all seven major railroads, imposing a contract which several crafts had voted to reject.
The railroads have been pressing their advantage in the aftermath by carrying out significant attacks on workers. Only days after the law was passed, BNSF, Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern announced pilot programs to reduce crew sizes from two to one. That move was in flagrant violation of promises made earlier last year that the long-sought-after reduction in crew sizes, which would create significant safety issues, would be shelved for the life of the new contract, which the rail unions had earlier hailed as a huge victory.
The latest move by BNSF to contract work out of the bargaining units covering locomotive maintenance workers is not only a flagrant contract violation, but also of the basic principles of collective bargaining. Even by the letter of the undemocratic Railway Labor Act, this clearly qualifies as a “major dispute” which workers would be entitled to strike over. As far as management, together with both Congress and the corrupt union apparatus which helped to block strike action last year are concerned, the contract is only “binding” upon workers, while the railroads are free to flout it whenever convenient.
BNSF justified the move by citing the entirely predictable arrival of “winter weather,” as well as the railroad’s substantial backlog of scheduled maintenance. This backlog, however, is due to years of job cuts which have fueled rising profits.
One railroad worker, who asked not to be named, said that the railroad has relied on Federal Items Only (FIO) exemptions from the federal government, which allows the company to reduce maintenance to a federally required minimum. “A federal inspection item only locomotive (FIO) really is a 368 inspection mandated by the FRA [Federal Railroad Authority]; however, the way they work them is by not doing them. They load them up, make sure it makes 4500 horsepower, and off it goes,” the rail worker stated.
“Some crews would do two FIOs in one day, which is ridiculous. The management was desperate for power and didn’t want to work on its own equipment, so they started the FIO thing last year. Now all this equipment is breaking down worse than ever, and they can’t skimp it anymore given that the Federal Railroad Authority (FRA) mandates by the law that every locomotive get a full inspection. Now they are over their heads in required maintenance with not enough personnel to do it, so scab shops are the solution.”
“Typically management would get angry or play dumb when you would actually do a FIO the right way. They just wanted you to ignore all issues, as much as possible, and send it off. Management is evaluated based on its number of releases per day, not upon its quality of repairs,” he concludes.
A railroad electrician explained these issues in further detail.
“The problem is that BNSF is reporting to the STB, the Surface Transportation Board, that they have hired four hundred and fifty (450) some odd people across the system, but what they are not saying is what group of people have been hired,” he said. “We have lost a hundred and eleven electricians across BNSF’s properties, and that’s just on the electricians side. That has nothing to do with the machinists or the laborers that are there. The only people they’re able to hire right now are laborers, even at our new pay rate.”
“The problem is, that still with their increase in wages we can’t hire anybody as an electrician that has an electrical background. We’re the only industry that deals with DC and AC every single day. The only industry and yet we’re still so far behind in pay even with our entrance pay.
“They’re trying to take our units and contract them out because of our rate of pay. It’s cheaper for them just to send it to a contractor. Well, the problem with that is, none of these people are electricians. None of them.
“They [BNSF] went to Lincoln, Nebraska, which is one of our shops, they shut all their overtime down and they sent all of their parts to the contractors, so all the stuff that’s needed to do this job they sent to the contractors instead of allowing our people to do the job.
“They’re asking for us to do as minimal work as possible on this equipment to get it out of here, but there’s things wrong with them. We need to do this service, we need to do these things and they are not wanting to do it. We have projects that are open on almost every single unit that’s on our system and we haven’t done projects since mid-year last year. We’ve turned off projects completely.”
Responsibility for this situation lies with the trade union bureaucracy, which ignored an overwhelming strike vote and kept workers on the job past the expiration of the legal restrictions on striking last September. Instead, using lies, intimidation and outright fraud, they sought to ram through a contract brokered by the Biden administration that was widely hated by workers. If BNSF is willing to openly flaunt even the terms of this contract, it is because they know the union apparatus will work to hold workers back.
Jeff Allred, System Council 16 chairman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), announced that the union would be holding a strike authorization vote over the issues in a letter dated January 24. But the IBEW already ignored support for strike action and pushed through the contract for electricians in a ballot marked by widespread irregularities, including significant numbers of workers who never received ballots (Congress later intervened because the contract was rejected by workers in several other unions).
International Association of Machinists (IAM) members were the first to vote down the contract last fall, but the bureaucracy simply forced them to vote again on a nearly identical deal. On January 27, IAM District 19 president Kyle Loos issued his own letter, which carefully avoided the question of strike action. Instead, Loos said that the IAM was “going to pursue the best legal action available.” He added, “Although this might not be popular, we are recommending that overtime be utilized to perform this work if necessary.” In other words, Loos proposes as a “solution” offering up understaffed machinists for forced overtime, ramping up exploitation of IAM members to render contract work unnecessary.
The offensive by BNSF proves that, though Congress illegitimately voted itself the “right” to impose the contract, nothing has been settled as far as workers are concerned. The move to contract locomotive maintenance is only the tip of the spear. If this is allowed to go forward, the railroads will try to unilaterally impose many other concessions in the coming months and years.
The way forward for railroaders is to organize themselves independently of both management and the bureaucracy, building up the alternative structures necessary to give them effective control over their own fight. This means continuing the development of the Railroad Workers Rank-and-File Committee, which was founded last fall and played a leading role in mobilizing opposition to the contract.
A statement issued by a joint meeting of the RWRFC and workers in other industries, held as the anti-strike law was making its way through Congress, declared:
“As representatives of rank-and-file rail workers, we declare that, as far as we are concerned, there is no contract, whether Congress passes legislation or not. Congress, one of the most hated institutions in America, has no right to override the democratic rights of workers. If the apparatus of the unions signs these agreements, they do so in violation of the express will of the rank and file. Therefore, railroad workers reserve the right to organize and prepare collective action.”
It continued: “The representatives of rank-and-file workers outside the rail industry pledge to use all means available to us to mobilize our coworkers to defend railroaders. Experience has proven that this is a battle that can only be won through the independent organization of workers themselves, outside of the control of the corrupt union apparatus. We cannot let railroaders fight Congress and corporate America on their own.”
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— Read on www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/02/01/bnsf-f01.html