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In a major blow to the forced Anthrax inoculation program, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has called upon Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to END the controversial and "illegal" vaccinations of America's armed forces.

Over a thousand members of all branches of the military have refused the risky shots and been punished with fines, jail terms and dishonorable discharges. Many veteran pilots have quit rather than submit to the inoculations.

In a letter to both Rumsfeld and Acting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Dr. Bernard Schwartz, Blumenthal blasted the use of an "investigational drug" on service members without their informed consent.

He cited the case of two outstanding Connecticut Air National Guard pilots, MAJ Russell Dingle and MAJ Thomas "Buzz" Rempfer. Both resigned in 1999 rather than take the shots.

"Why should these officers put either their health or their careers at risk?" Blumenthal asked.

"The United States Government so far has refused to recognize or appreciate the DANGER and the personal dilemma it is imposing on its military personnel, despite repeated concerns expressed about administering an UNLICENSED drug NEVER PROVEN SAFE OR EFFECTIVE FOR HUMANS.

"Unfortunately, and DIRECTLY CONTRARY TO LAW, the shots are being administered to military personnel UNDER THREAT OF IMPRISONMENT, LOSS OF PAY AND DISCHARGE," Blumenthal wrote.

"In effect, the military is FORCING its personnel to SERVE AS HUMAN GUINEA PIGS for an UNLICENSED DRUG that has NOT BEEN PROVEN TO BE SAFE OR EFFECTIVE."

Citing testimony given before the House Subcommittee on Government Reforms, the Connecticut attorney general said "for years the FDA and the military KNEW that the Anthrax shots could not be used in this manner. Suddenly in 1997, DOD and the FDA, with no change in the facts or the law, reversed themselves and with the stroke of a pen, wiped out the protections afforded our members of the Armed Services by clearing the way for DOD's mandatory mass inoculations."

Documenting his charges, Blumenthal said the only license for the manufacture of Anthrax vaccine- granted in 1970 to Bioport Corporation of Lansing, Mich. - was to be EXCLUSIVELY used for agricultural and veterinary purposes. The attorney general said FDA regulations PROHIBIT use on humans WITHOUT THEIR SPECIFIC AND INFORMED CONSENT.

"I call upon the DOD and FDA to CEASE AND DESIST from their ILLEGAL CONDUCT and to abandon plans for Anthrax Vaccine inoculation of the Armed Forces," Blumenthal wrote. "Additionally, the FDA should block the manufacture and sale of this vaccine by Bioport and renounce the 1997 action which illegally cleared the way for the DOD's mass inoculations."

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