Hagmann P.I.
April 14, 2019

© by Peter Barry Chowka. With the arrest in London on April 11, 2019 of WikiLeaks co-founder and director Julian Assange, the issue of the Pentagon Papers case from almost a half century ago has been given new attention.

Assange, as most people know, had sought sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 rather than face trumped up accusations of rape in Sweden which he believed would have resulted in him being extradited for trial to the United States. His “crime” according to many in the U.S. is that he conspired with Bradley (a.k.a. Chelsea) Manning in 2010 to steal and publish sensitive documents relating to U.S. conduct in the Iraq War and the occupation of the country.

Without going into the details of all of that here, suffice it to say that the incarceration of Assange in London, and his possible extradition to the U.S. for trial, stands to open a Pandora’s Box of issues relating to freedom of the press and freedom, in general, vis-a-vis the public’s right to know what their government is doing in their name. The existence and machinations of players who have come to be identified as the Deep State may also come into play.

The issues and questions concerning Assange (hero or villain?), freedom of the press, etc., are complex and they are dividing both the left and the right. Many conservatives, for example, see what Assange is alleged to have done in publishing the purloined U.S. military documents as treasonous and deserving of severe punishment. Others point to WikiLeaks’ sustained release of Hillary Clinton’s top advisor John Podesta’s embarrassing emails in 2016 as having shed important light on the machinations of Clinton and the Democrats – which it is commonly believed helped to get Donald J. Trump elected president.

If WikiLeaks is seen as a journalistic entity and Assange as a journalist, how is what they and he did in bringing important information to light different than what the press did in publishing the Pentagon Papers in 1971?

Following Assange’s arrest, talking heads on TV and many journalists dredged up the Pentagon Papers case (1971-1973) for comparison purposes. This piqued my interest. As a young journalist in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s, I reported on the Pentagon Papers case. A decade later, I met and became friends with one of the two individuals who conspired to obtain, photocopy, and release the Pentagon Papers to the press – Anthony J. (Tony) Russo, Jr. His fellow conspirator – who, like Russo was indicted and went on trial for their actions – was the much better known Daniel Ellsberg.

I thought it appropriate – to help us gain a better understanding of the issues of the Pentagon Papers from Russo, one of the two most primary sources – to publish here my obituary of Tony Russo originally published online on September 1, 2008. That 5,600 word article – reproduced below – includes most of the transcript of a mid-2001 interview that I did with Russo on the 30th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

Russo, by the way, with several masters degrees from Princeton University, was an expert on evaluating issues relating to conventional medicine and its successes and failures. He was also a proponent of alternative medicine. Over the years after I met him, I frequently mined his expertise in those areas in a series of articles and interviews that I wrote.

The obit and the 2001 interview explain the context of all of this – and hopefully will shed some light on the Pentagon Papers and one of its principal protagonists – Tony Russo – in light of the media’s comparing the Pentagon Papers, and Daniel Ellsberg, mostly, to the situation going forward now involving Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

I have updated some non-working links in the article.

Originally published online September 1, 2008:

Tony Russo of the Pentagon Papers (1936-2008) 

He Spoke Truth to Power From the Military to the Medical-Industrial Complex

© By Peter Barry Chowka 

(September 1, 2008) On August 6, 2008, Anthony J. (Tony) Russo died at age 71 in Suffolk, VA. The news of his death was first reported in a feature obituary in the Los Angeles Times on August 8 and soon afterwards in features by AP, the New York Times, CNN, and most other mainstream media (see end of article for links).

Russo merited this level of attention because of his important role in leaking the Pentagon Papers, the government’s secret study of the Vietnam War, to the press in 1971. His fellow co-conspirator in that action, Daniel Ellsberg, is generally given near-exclusive credit for making the Pentagon Papers public but both Ellsberg and Russo were involved in the action – in fact, both of them were indicted by the government for their actions and were tried in federal court in Los Angeles in 1972-1973.

Co-defendants Daniel Ellsberg (left) and Tony Russo in 1971

I was introduced to Russo in Los Angeles by the late Leon Shelley in July, 1981. Shelley was a retired pioneering Canadian film producer who devoted the last several decades of his life to networking throughout North America and in the UK in the field of alternative medicine.

Like Leon, Tony Russo also was a critic of the conventional medical system. His work in that area was one of the major focuses of our interactions. Over the years, he and I shared many discussions about his critiques of modern medicine, and I had the occasion to publish several articles about and interviews with him, the first one in the summer of 1983.

I last spoke by phone with Russo in the spring of 2007, and he said he had been unwell. Nonetheless, despite his unflagging, sarcastic, and amusing critiques of the Establishment, he still projected an ever upbeat, optimistic view of the world.

Following is a revised introduction and an interview that I did with Russo seven years ago (June 2001), on the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. I tried to focus on Russo’s thoughts on health and medicine, within the context, of course, of his noteworthy role in contemporary American political history – as Wikipedia’s entry for him is titled, “Anthony Russo (whistleblower).”

Tony Russo is a major, if not quite appropriately heralded, figure in the history of American politics and freedom of information. As the ultimate whistle-blower, he played a pivotal role in the copying, dissemination, and publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The Papers, prepared in the late 1960s, are the U.S. Defense Department’s incendiary, multi-volume secret history of the Vietnam War. They exposed the questionable decision-making by every U.S. administration from 1945-’68 that led to the escalation of the war in the mid-1960s, the decade-long quagmire that followed, and the ignominious end to the conflict.

The publication of the first chapters of the Pentagon Papers in The New York Times on June 13, 1971 resulted in the Nixon Administration obtaining a federal court order two days later that prevented further publication of the documents – the first instance of prior restraint of the U.S. press in American history. On June 30, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision (6-3) that allowed the publication of the Pentagon Papers to continue uncensored. The Papers subsequently saw the light of day as a number of other U.S. newspapers joined the Times in publishing them. A whole new degree of clarity was brought to the history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and Indo-China. According to national security archivists Thomas Blandon et al, “The epic legal battle that culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to lift the prior restraints [is] arguably the most important Supreme Court case ever on freedom of the press.”

For his part in leaking the Papers, Russo was indicted with his co-conspirator Daniel J. Ellsberg, who served in Vietnam as an official with the Defense Department and the State Department. (During the past three decades, Ellsberg has worked hard to achieve a prominent public profile and he is usually given undeserved exclusive credit for leaking the Papers. In a May 31, 2001 review of Tom Wells’ biography of Ellsberg Wild Man at amazon.com, Russo writes, “the Ellsberg personality is so inflated it needs to be brought to earth.”)

The federal government charged Russo and Ellsberg with thirteen counts of espionage, theft, and conspiracy for leaking the Papers. The resulting 89-day trial in 1972-‘73 in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, U.S. vs. Russo and Ellsberg, exposed the Nixon Administration’s illegal wiretapping of Ellsberg and actions by the Plumbers unit – an extra-legal covert operations spy team with links to the CIA and the FBI, organized at the highest levels of the Executive branch in the wake of the Papers’ publication.

The trial revealed that the Plumbers, among other things, had violated the constitutional rights of Ellsberg by breaking into his Beverly Hills psychiatrist’s office on September 3, 1971 and rifling confidential files in search of damaging information about Ellsberg. The same group of Plumbers was responsible for the infamous Watergate break-in in June 1972.

After the Plumbers’ actions were exposed and other prosecutorial irregularities came to light, the trial came to a halt on May 11, 1973 and all charges against Russo and Ellsberg were dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge William Matthew Byrne, Jr. In declaring a mistrial and granting the defense motion for dismissal, Byrne said the government’s actions “offended a sense of justice.” He added, “The conduct of the Government has placed the case in such a posture that it precludes the fair, dispassionate resolution of these issues by a jury.” Byrne ruled that the government’s conduct was so egregious that the defendants could not be retried. (According to The New York Times, May 12, 1973, “a quick poll [of the jury] this evening showed that at least half of them would have voted to acquit the defendants.”) The trial’s unsavory revelations ensured that the road to Nixon’s downfall and resignation (in August 1974) was set.

The New York Times May 12, 1973 Page 1A

The leaking of the Pentagon Papers was a monumentally defiant act on behalf of freedom of information and an event of lasting influence, not only in terms of the unraveling of the hidden history of the Vietnam War and the power of the Pentagon but of central authority systems in general. As it might be said today, the Papers, photocopied by Ellsberg and Russo one page at a time in the middle of the night on a Xerox machine in a small shop on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles that Russo had access to, “spoke truth to power.” Along with the protracted exposure of the Watergate scandal, the Pentagon Papers ushered in a more critical, questioning role on the part of the mainstream media and heightened the skepticism of the American public towards central authority.

Interestingly, Tony Russo, trained as a scientist, had an ongoing interest and worked periodically in the field of medicine. I first met and interviewed him twenty years ago when he worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on issues relating to alcoholism and health.

In June 2001, the thirtieth anniversary of the Pentagon Papers was widely covered in the media and served as the occasion for a number of leading editors and newspaper executives to participate in commemorative panels, congratulating each other for their roles in helping to ensure publication of the Papers. I had the opportunity to speak with Russo at length on June 14, 2001, thirty years and one day after their publication began on the front page of Sunday editions of The New York Times. We followed up our conversation with several e-mail questions and answers. As before when we have had a chance to talk, I was especially interested in how Russo’s work helped to shed light on complex medical issues that typically manage to avoid the proving light of day.

Tony Russo C-SPAN 2 BookTV Washington, D.C. April 19, 2001 – eight weeks before my lengthy interview with him

Tony Russo had two advanced degrees from Princeton University (Master of Science in Engineering and Master of Public Affairs), both awarded in 1964. In the mid-1960s he worked for the Rand Corporation, the quasi-government think tank, and spent a total of two years in South Vietnam at the height of the massive U.S. troop buildup. While in Vietnam, one of his main tasks was to prepare a report on attitudes of the Communist Viet Cong (a.k.a. National Liberation Front or NLF), based on extensive field interviews that he conducted with NLF prisoners and refugees. Significantly, during the same period (1967), Russo also wrote a seminal report, “A Statistical Analysis of the U.S. Chemical Crop Spraying Program in South Vietnam,” which explored the mix of chemical defoliants that, as he describes it today, were used against the Vietnamese people’s food supply.

I began our conversation by asking Russo about that 1967 report.

Peter Barry Chowka: So it can be said that the thirty-plus-year-long attention to issues like the health and environmental effects of Agent Orange and so forth essentially began with your report on chemical crop spraying back in 1966-‘67.

Tony Russo: That was the first one [report] I knew of that really questioned it. There were actually two Rand reports of the period that questioned the crop spray program: mine and the one by Frank Denton and Russell Betts. We worked as a team; Joan Roberts was also part of the team. We split up the work among us. My name alone went on one report, “A Statistical Analysis of the U.S. Crop Spraying Program in Vietnam.” The other report [“An Evaluation of Chemical Crop Destruction in Vietnam”] carried the names of Betts and Denton. Roberts got no credit because she was a research assistant. Their study was an analysis of interviews with refugees concerning the observed effects of the spray. My study was an econometric analysis of the variation in the size of combatant rice rations across the geography of the country. I ended with a recommendation that the chemical spray program be discontinued because it affected the whole economy which included civilians. It was clear from the [field] interviews that the peasants supported the “liberation gentlemen” [Viet Cong] and that the latter did not grow their own rice off in the hills somewhere. Victor Yannacone, the Agent Orange lawyer and the “granddaddy” of environmental lawyers, said the latter distinction was an important one.

I think that there were probably others at the time who were cautioning against use of the spray because of the toxicity. Betts and Denton found toxicity ratings for 2,4D in library books on toxicity that indicated spray in the concentrations used [in Vietnam] could kill an infant. Frank Denton was the spark plug behind our efforts. The research design of my econometric model was forged in dialog with Frank, the person at Rand from whom I learned the most about research.

PBC: What has been the long-term legacy of the chemical spraying?

TR: It has been horrendous as I have read about and seen on subsequent visits to Vietnam, one in 1980 and one in 1986. The land has been poisoned to a great degree as dioxin [one component of the spraying] has a long half-life in the soil. Fruit such as bananas grown in that soil is grotesquely misshapen. Birth defects are a result, birth defects that are passed to succeeding generations. At the hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, I saw a display of greatly misshapen fetuses preserved in jars in large number.

Professor Ed Cooperman had a large UN grant in 1984 for the purpose of doing extensive soil sampling in Vietnam in order to develop a contour map for the entire country but he was assassinated before he could carry out the project. I had worked very closely with him but the people who succeeded him gave me the cold shoulder. One of the highlights of my career was the month long trip to Vietnam in 1980 in which I worked closely with [the late] Dr. Ton That Tung in analyzing his data on birth defects and exposure to dioxin. I was fortunate in being able to make a contribution. Dioxin is still a problem in Vietnam as it is here in the U.S. The person leading scientific efforts today is Dr. [Arnold] Schecter from New York [editor of Dioxins and Health].

PBC: What kind of impact did the publication of the Pentagon Papers and all of the aftermath, and its long-standing legacy since 1971, have? Did its influence spread to opening up a new perspective on other Establishments, including for example the medical Establishment?

TR: I would say that the most important thing was the fact that truth – truth itself and the free flow of information – was an issue during that time, during what I call the Pentagon Papers action which was the publication of the Papers and the subsequent [United States vs. Anthony Joseph Russo & Daniel Ellsberg] trial. If you look at the publication alone, the most important thing was that it resulted in a trial. And that trial itself resulted from my having gone to jail in the summer of 1971, a non-cooperation civil disobedience strategy because I would not testify against Ellsberg before a grand jury.

PBC: Which was a different strategy than your co-defendant advocated?

TR: Right. First of all, it was a time when I was advocating solidarity with the Vietnamese and saying that the so-called enemy was not really the enemy – that we could be friends with them and we could negotiate peace with them – that they were the legitimate party. Now, at that very same time, [Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger was in Paris trying to lie his way out of Paris. And mind you, Kissinger was Dan Ellsberg’s boss. So whenever I would talk to the press about the legitimacy of the independence movement, Ellsberg would go up the wall because he was bargaining tacitly with Kissinger for his freedom. You gotta understand that those guys [Ellsberg, Kissinger] all come from Harvard where the sacred doctrine is tacit bargaining and negotiating and game theory. What it amounts to is a kind of communication that is very similar to the behavior of criminals on the street, for example, prostitutes and dope peddlers. A dope peddler doesn’t walk up to you and say, “I have here some heroin and I have a price I could give it to you for” [laughs]. Instead, you know, he goes through a lot of winks and nods –

PBC: He’s got a shtick.

TR: Yeah. And it’s the kind that’s ambiguous. My contribution [to the Pentagon Papers] was advising [Ellsberg] to do it [release them to the press], organizing the photocopying, the grand jury struggle – it’s all complicated but you can look at it and say that’s [my actions are] what caused the trial [U.S. vs. Russo & Ellsberg]. I had two choices: I could have testified against Ellsberg and the U.S. would have gone to trial against him with the simple two-count indictment and they would have got him, especially with my testimony. So I could have testified, or not. And I did not. Without testifying, I went to jail for 47 days for contempt – a non-cooperation strategy that resulted in the second indictment, the trial. . .and our ultimately winning the case.

PBC: As you know, my work over the years has focused a lot on attempting to bring clarity to the medical business. In the 1970s, I started calling it the “medical-industrial complex” because it reminded me, in many respects, of the military-industrial complex. And in the same decade you were responsible for the Pentagon Papers action that struck at the heart of the secrecy and the foibles of the military-industrial complex. A lot of your focus over the years has involved examining medicine with a statistically-based approach and exposing some fallacies there, too. Do you agree that there are similarities between these two huge Establishments? Are there similar modi operandi in the way the medical business conducts itself and what you saw in the heart of the military, the Pentagon?

TR: There’s a great deal of similarity. In fact, you find that many people who retire from the military defense department area or intelligence area – many of them go into the health field.

PBC: High level management.

TR: Right. For example, Alain Enthoven of Stanford.

PBC: [Laughs] I’ve mentioned him in more than a few articles. He has been involved in high level national health care planning and contributed to the Clinton health care reform task force in 1993-’94. He was one of Robert McNamara’s [U.S. Secretary of Defense 1961-1968 and Vietnam War architect] “whiz kids.”

TR: Yes. The two systems have a lot of the same people. Retired military people, government intelligence people, et al go into the health industry when they retire or get “blown out” like me. Methodologies, policies, and practices used in large systems that often depend upon science and technology are interchangeable. The econometrics methodology I utilized in Vietnam to analyze the relationships between rice rations and rice production was the same that I used in Los Angeles County years later to analyze the relationship between liquor store concentration and alcohol problems.

PBC: You feel that the trial of yourself and Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers was more significant than it has been given credit for.

TR: The cat came out of the bag there. The main crimes of Nixon were exposed there [at the trial]. The trial was the most important factor in his downfall, more so than Watergate, which itself had been stimulated by the organizing of the Pentagon Papers investigators.

PBC: A.K.A. the Plumbers.

TR: Right – which is a real deleterious euphemism. When you call them “Pentagon Papers investigators,” it puts a new cast on everything. And it has parallels with not only medicine.

You see, I have gone forward with looking at disease as a system and have had a lot of success in treating it that way and have developed a new theory of disease which I call “systems epidemiology.” It takes the whole thing from the host, catalyst, and environment past the latest developments in epidemiology, which they call modern epidemiology, that includes the health care system. Well, I take it to the economy where you have classic epidemiology, developed into modern epidemiology, expanded to systems epidemiology, where you include the economy. And I use examples from work that has been done like [sociologist M. Harvey] Brenner‘s work at Johns Hopkins way back during the time of the Humphrey-Hawkins legislation [mid-1970s]. But it all goes to show that you can make connections between, say, unemployment and social stress as measured by the complex of the whole morbidity-mortality complex. And when it gets down to it, it’s also got a psycho-pathological analogy to it because war, lying, violence – don’t even call it “war” because people get mixed up behind that term, call it “violence” – violence, deception, lying, that all certainly has a psychological-psychiatric analog.

What you have is a lot of psychopathology in the medical authority.

PBC: I think you also have a lot of mythomania and monomania there, too.

TR: You do, you do. You have a situation where people have such a self-inflated view of themselves – that’s why opinion is given such stress. The word “opinion” [feigns a medical doctor’s voice]: “Well, I’m the most divine, and I’m really God, and so my opinion is extremely important!”

PBC: The medical powers-that-be tend to attribute all of the effects they see to their causes. Like “The one percent decline in the cancer death rate in the 1990s is directly accountable to our actions Therefore, we’re winning the war on cancer because of the drugs and the treatments.” When the reality is that they lie about and manipulate the statistics to begin with. An equally good argument could be made that their treatments are killing more people than they are helping.

TR: Yeah. I read the book by Walene James (Immunization: The Reality Behind the MythShe attacks vaccination and gets off into the problems with the Pasteur theory of disease –

PBC: As opposed to Antoine Béchamp [1816-1908]. The vaccination issue is getting more critical scrutiny among the mainstream and the media now. So you still follow developments in medicine?

TR: I do. I frequently see Bill Grant [Ph.D.] and Phil Murray [M.D.]. Phil is 80 years old now but he’s going strong. He’s quite a remarkable guy – an M.D., a dermatologist. He retired at 65 and after retiring he started reading alternative stuff and his daughter – I think she got a Ph.D. in nutrition – had a great deal of influence on him. When you ask him to recommend a doctor, he says he doesn’t know a good doctor [laughs]. He says that the naturopath, the N.D., will replace the M.D. in the 21st century. He’s quite a progressive guy. I see him about once every three or four days. Phil always has new photocopied material that he gives us, a group of four or five of us. He takes something like 25 newsletters, you know, expensive newsletters that doctors put out. He has turned us onto some really important people like [Robert] Cathcart, [M.D.] and vitamin C. Phil travels a lot, he goes to conferences. We bugged him for a long time – finally he got a computer and he’s getting online now. The poor guy – at 80 years old to adjust to something like that takes a lot of get up and go.

PBC: In layman’s language, what has your work shown about how medicine is practiced in this country and ultimately how successful it is? Have we been sold a bill of goods about how well we’e supposedly doing health-wise in the U.S.? Are we asking the right questions about medical care?

TR: My work has been in the area of epidemiology and program evaluation. There is far too little emphasis on epidemiology, nor is there enough emphasis on scientific program evaluation. When we do epidemiology in a comprehensive way, we ask, What about the public’s health? Do we know enough about the overall disease system to try to maximize health? Unfortunately, the decision makers, the policy makers, don’t ask these questions. They are more concerned about turf and profits. I found that research in epidemiology was not encouraged because findings might lead to political demands by the community. Medical research on the human organism on the other hand might lead to expensive new treatments from which high profits can be made. The public is not being represented but, rather, exploited. Research is not being done that could save many lives. Overall, we need to set up a research organization that would examine every link between disease, health care, the environment, and the economy. Every community should have a committee on public health that would ask the series of detailed questions that follow from the overall question, What about the public’s health? Health of communities should be monitored and the information should be available to the public.

PBC: Our country spends $1.5 trillion on medicine [note: In 2017 that figure had ballooned to almost $4 trillion]. It seems to me that centralizing or nationalizing it further will not get to the roots of the problem – including lack of primary prevention, under-utilization of cost-effective natural treatments, lack of medical freedom of choice and autonomy, people not taking personal responsibility for their lifestyle and treatment choices, etc.

TR: We need local committees of public health, as I said earlier. There should be a health section in the newspaper, or a Web site accessible to the public, that will carry the same data that the health planner sees. Data on diseases, care delivery, and care accessibility can be shown to the public in as detailed a fashion as desired. We see great detail in the sports page; why don’t we see an epidemiology page? Aren’t women, for example, interested in the patterns of breast cancer in their community at all levels, i.e., local, state, national, and global? And for men, aren’t they interested as well in prostate cancer? In both cases aren’t they in need of help when they are victims of denial? Information in as detailed a fashion as desired is the key, along with organizing the public and the public finding its voice.

We have definitely been sold a bill of goods about health. We are given slick advertising and commercials for expensive new drugs. We are in the hands of the pharmaceutical mega-corporations who are sapping our strength. In truth, disaster lurks around every corner because we do not ask the appropriate questions. We need to form committees of public health and encourage the appropriate kinds of research. We can begin by posing the right kinds of questions to our local health departments. For instance, Where in our community are health indicators the worst? Where, for example, is the worst census tract? Where is health the best? What are the indicators for all of the census tracts in our community? What are the socio-economic correlates of those health indicators? What are the industrial correlates of those indicators? What measures of pollution do we have for the census tracts? Where data are missing, what are we doing to fill that gap? If there are no data, we are playing Russian roulette with the lives of those people in our community. When are we going to make these issues the subject of public dialog?

To get back to what we were talking about earlier, Peter – the authoritarian personality. In medicine, you find the authoritarian personality in spades – in fact, you know, they even have a term for it, which is related to it: the physician ego problem. Now, you have that authoritarian personality and the system is very authoritarian. That’s very much like the Pentagon. Underlying that whole thing for me, when I look at the Pentagon Papers and the political problem of intervening in Third World countries and the American war in Vietnam, I just draw back to the scientific method. And I look at a definition I have which I got from the econometrics literature – a definition of the scientific method which has three steps: identify the system; measure the parameters of the system; and diagnose your measurements. That’s the cycle of the scientific method. Actually, preferably, when you attack a problem, you go through a whole bunch of those cycles. When you diagnose your measurements, you inevitably find error and that defines your next approach to the system and its measurement. I look at the Pentagon Papers as measuring the system. Step one would be kind of a philosophical problem or political-philosophical problem of your ideas about authority and leadership. And then you go out and measure it. Now we certainly had some ideas about leadership. And going out and getting the Pentagon Papers is a measure of that. Or, the Pentagon Papers study is a measure. And to make that public, to draw back the curtain, is to let the population in on it and of course that is what democracy is supposed to be about.

PBC: We need a Pentagon Papers for the medical business, too – including for the National Institutes of Health.

TR: There is certainly no excuse for secrecy in the medical field, in the health field. Yet we are plagued by it because the major players, the drug companies, they’re awash in secrecy.

PBC: It’s also really galling to me that when you see reporting on medical and health issues, the vast majority of the time, the mainstream media have no distance between themselves and the people they’re reporting on or the story. There’s a mentality of “We’re all in this fight together. Therefore, we can’t question the objectives or the means.” And this plays itself out every day: If there’s a program or a story on AIDS, or on cancer, for example, Ted Koppel or whomever will uncritically interview the head of the American Cancer Society, or Anthony Fauci, the head of AIDS for the government, or somebody else with a direct vested interest in the outcome of everything they’re doing. But that conflict of interest is never brought out in the media appraisal. There’s no other field in which, when it’s reported on, there’s this kind of complete whitewashing or suspension of critical overview – an inability to even begin probing. Rather, the media cheer lead, they wind up doing the PR for the area they’re supposedly reporting on.

TR: It’s amazing how we think we’ve got democracy but we’ve got nothing but a plutocracy and everything is manipulated.

We’ve stopped thinking and instead we take cues. It’s the authoritarian society. People look for the authority and they say, “That’s who I’ll take my cues from. I’m comfortable with that.” And people take the cues. Then a lot of logical fallacy follows. It’s [supposed to be] like, A is related to B and B is related to C, therefore A and C are related. But that’s a logical fallacy. They’re not necessarily related at all.

PBC: And it works that way at both the highest levels and the lowest levels, right in one’s community.

TR: That’s right. Still, the public has now taken the lead over health professionals – a very telling and extraordinary fact – in leading us to more consideration of “alternative” medicine. Let’s hope this momentum will continue to the public becoming more involved and knowledgeable in the manner I have discussed. The problem is, Where do we find the resources for education about prevention, treatment, and lifestyle considerations? Our airwaves and other resources are usurped by drug companies and mega-corporations to exploit our needs and fears in an obviously unfair way. What it all gets down to is that we need a political movement that meets its potential and gets people to vote. And vote for what? A health empowerment program that goes to the truth about our health status and our best potential health status.

PBC: You quoted your friend Phil Murray, M.D. saying he doesn’t know a good doctor and that the doctor of the future will be an N.D. What kind of role should so-called alternative medicine play in people’s health care? What kind of medical future would you like to see?

TR: The public should have access to the full range of therapies. The full range of therapies should be evaluated utilizing a temporal approach: look at the subject’s change over time. It requires data on client characteristics, treatment, and outcomes. Double blind studies are not absolutely necessary and are too expensive! Data gathered in the course of routine practice are valuable and can be the basis of scientific conclusions.

I want to see a medical future in which the momentum now evident in the client-led move to alternative therapies continues in the direction I discussed earlier: committees for public health at the local level that pose questions to all levels – local, national, and global. A comprehensive epidemiology is central to this concept: emphasis on all the linkages between disease, treatment and evaluation, care delivery, and relevant aspects of politics and the economy.

For more information,

Daniel Ellsberg’s August 7, 2008 statement on Tony Russo’s life and death

Anthony J. Russo, 71, Pentagon Papers Figure, Dies
New York Times August 8, 2008

Anthony J. Russo, 71; Rand staffer helped leak Pentagon Papers
Los Angeles Times August 8, 2008

Pentagon Papers figure dies
Washington Post August 8, 2008

Tony Russo (archived site)

“Lying About Vietnam”
Daniel Ellsberg
New York Times Op-Ed June 29, 2001

Wild Man: The Life and Times of Daniel Ellsberg
Biography by Tom Wells

Agency of Fear – Opiates and Political Power in America
By Edward Jay Epstein
Chapter 25 – The Secret of Room 16
About the Plumbers

Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications.  Peter’s new website is http://peter.media.  Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka

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