Why the United States Government should share in the liability for the damages caused to former Straight clients
The involvement of the government of the state of Florida in the violation of civil liberties and human rights for as many as 50,000 American kids at Straight, Inc. is well documented at Straight, Inc., the Judges and Cops. The following special report describes the role that the United States government played in aiding and abetting Straight in its nefarious activities which have resulted in harm to countless children in violation of state health codes and laws, and in violation of national and international laws. The report explains why the United States government, as a result of the actions of its high level administrators, should be required to share in the liability that their actions have caused.
In a front-page article titled "A Study in Ethics" in Sunday's The Virginian-Pilot (Aug. 3, 2003) a story is told about medical experimentation on one and two year old day care children without the consent or knowledge of the children's parents. In 1996, 2000 and 2001 medical scientists conducted an experiment at 14 day-care centers in the Tidewater, Virginia area using CMV or Cauliflower Mosaic Virus. CMV is a virus that attacks cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, but is known to be harmless to humans. The medical team sprayed fragments of DNA from the virus at various locations in the day care centers. They then tried to track the spread of the virus within the school and amongst the children in order to determine how viruses are spread amongst kids. Of course what the team was looking for is how more potent, destructive human viruses are spread amongst children. No doubt this is a worthy scientific endeavor and hopefully will one day help in our understanding of the spread of diseases amongst our children. But is the Mosaic Virus completely safe? And who are these doctors who decide that they can experiment on our children without our knowledge and consent? And, finally, what, if anything, does the Mosaic Virus, have to do with Straight, Inc. and the United States government?
The fact is that the Mosaic Virus is a genetically engineered virus about which critics fear that its DNA could recombine with other viruses to form new, potentially more infectious diseases. The scientists were from the Center for Pediatric Research (a research team put together by Eastern Virginia Medical School and The Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters--both located in Norfolk, Virginia). Corporate sponsors for the effort were Reckitt & Colemen (now Reckitt Benckiser) manufacturers of Lysol and the Research Foundation for Health and Environmental Effects (a nonprofit created by the chlorine industry).
But now the cat is out of the bag and some parents are worried. "Informed consent is a requirement, not a courtesy," says Yvette Pearson, a visiting professor for philosophy who teaches bioethics at Old Dominion University in Norfolk about the secret experiment. "Even if it was completely undebatable, even if we know it is perfectly safe, it's still the case that you ask people for their consent. You ask parents for consent to do things to their children." The idea of "informed consent" for human experimentation dates back to the The Nuremberg Code of 1947 which forbids medical experimentation on humans without their explicit consent. It was formulated as a direct result of the notorious medical experiments conducted by Nazi's such as Dr. Josef Mengeles on Jews, gypsies, the mentally ill--and on their children.
From time-to-time the United States government has legally participated in human experimentation through government agencies such as the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and its subsidiaries like the National Institute on Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The legal basis for this is that these agencies have policies and regulations which include standard "human consent forms" to be filled out by participants to acknowledge that they are participating in human experimentation, thus keeping the United States government in compliance with the Nuremberg Code of International Law and other international law codes.
Shamefully, the United States government has also participated in illegal medical experiments through agencies such as the CIA in its MK Ultra Project. In the late 1960s and early 1970's the CIA was, perhaps illegally, experimenting on prisoners at the federal lockup hospital/prison in Lexington, Kentucky by giving prisoners massive dosages of LSD while at that same facility the NIH was running its own experimental synanon (therapeutic community) which it called The Matrix.
Straight, Inc., the United States government and medical experimentation. Straight, Inc. can not deny that it was involved in medical research. In 1982 Donald Ian Macdonald, MD was appointed Director of Medical Research for Straight-national, and in 1986 Richard H. Schwartz, MD was Director of Research for Straight-Springfield. The Oakton Institute has previously carried the 1991 report by author Richard Lawrence Miller titled TEENS AND MARIJUANA: ETHICS OF RESEARCH in which he accuses Straight's Doctor Richard Schwartz of performing medical experiments on Straight clients without their informed consent. In his report Mr. Miller only touches tangentially on the brainwashing of American children at all Straights which itself is one vast medical experiment. Nor does Mr. Miller discuss the federal government's role in this vast medical experiment. This current report focuses on those two aspects.
In 1971 the United States Senate's Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights under the directorship of Senator Sam Ervin began an investigation of the US government's role in behavior modification. Ervin's 650 page report was published in November 1974 under the title "Individual Rights and the Federal Role in Behavior Modification." Other members of the subcommittee included: Senators John McClellan, Arkansas, Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts, Birch Bayh, Indiana, Robert Byrd, West Virginia, John Tunney, California, Edward Gurney, Florida, Roman Hruska, Nebraska, Hiram Fong, Hawaii, Strom Thurmond, South Carolina, and Lawrence Baskir, Chief Counsel, Dorothy Glancy, Counsel, Joseph Klutz, Research Assistant, Alfred Pollard, Research Assistant, and George Downs, Sr, Chief Printing Clerk, and Anita Kinlaw, a legal intern. The report includes a study of Straight's predecessor program, The Seed, and concludes that The Seed used methods similar to the "brainwashing" methods employed by North Koreans against American servicemen during the Korean War.
Since The Seed was then being funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), under NIH, and since NIDA was then directed by Dr. Robert L. DuPont, Jr., the White House's Second Drug Czar, Senator Ervin directed Dr. DuPont and NIDA to require The Seed to issue NIDA human consent forms to Seed participants and to their parents acknowledging that they were participating in human experimentation as required by NIDA's own regulations.
It was because of this stipulation to require clients to sign human consent forms, in large part, that Seed expansion programs like the one in Saint Petersburg, Florida shut down in the first place. Mel and Betty Sembler had a son in that Seed. When it closed Mel, Betty and some other Seed parents formed their own Seed-like program which they called Straight, Inc. A half dozen directors left the new Seed in the first 18 months with board member Art Bauknight writing in his letter of resignation that no "basic safety rules" had been developed by the corporation "to protect others from unreasonable risk of bodily harm, loss or damage."
In August 1977 three board members resigned in mass issuing a joint statement declaring that neither Hartz nor Peterman "have the necessary qualifications to rehabilitate preteens or teens who have a drug or alcohol problem ... "furthermore," they wrote, "we feel we cannot recommend Straight Inc. to our friends or citizens of our community." In his letter of resignation director Theodore Anderson wrote "It (Straight) has many of the poor points of the Seed and few of the good points . . . If I had to recommend one (program) I'd recommend The Seed." So former director Anderson had publicly stated that Straight was worse than The Seed.
Right off the bat Straight was accused of criminal child abuse but political pressure was put on Florida's licensing and investigating agency the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS). Bob Marshall, the principal investigator for HRS was fired. There is sound evidence that the HRS report was covered up. Jerry Vancil, one of the 30 cases being investigated, had managed to get to the local newspaper and report that he had been beaten by a host of kids. But Jerry Vancil disappeared and has never been seen or heard from since--dead or alive. To remedy the situation Melvin Sembler replaced Straight's clinical director with Miller Newton who was immensely worse than Jim Hartz, the man he replaced.
NIDA was not the only federal agency to have funded The Seed. The Law Enforcement Assistance Agency (LEAA) had also made grants. In January 1974 Senator Ervin wrote to LEAA administrator Santarelli and asked for detailed information about LEAA funding for behavioral research and the agency's review procedures. "I believe," wrote the Senator, "that LEAA ought to consider a moratorium on the further use of its funds for these purposes until it develops guidelines at least as comprehensive as those now under consideration by the Congress and HEW." To which LEAA Administrator Santarelli replied in a press news release four weeks later in February, 1974 by announcing the cancellation of all LEAA funding for medical research, psycho surgery, and behavior modification because, in his words, there "are no technical skills on the staff to screen, evaluate, or monitor such projects."
So the US Senate had looked at The Seed and found that it was brainwashing kids. Findings of the report were published in the local newspapers so Seed parents who later became Straight board members knew that The Seed used brainwashing and that their own Straight used many of the same techniques. Between reading the report, reading newspaper accounts, and talking to Dr. Robert DuPont, Straight board members knew, or should have known, of the Senate's findings. Straight knew that brainwashing of children (even if Straight thought it was for their own good) was a medical experiment.
Straight was founded in 1976 and needed startup money but it was still too risky to approach NIDA for funds as much had been made in the newspapers about NIDA's relationship to The Seed. It was a certainty that NIDA would have to ask Straight parents and their children to sign human consent forms acknowledging that their kids were participating in a medical experiment. But LEAA had not been setup to fund programs involved in human experimentation. True, LEAA Administrator Santarelli had held a news conference one year before announcing the cancellation of all LEAA funding for medical research, psycho surgery, and behavior modification because, in his words, there "are no technical skills on the staff to screen, evaluate, or monitor such projects."
But that had been a year ago and Senator Ervin had retired just after the his report was published. So Straight went to LEAA in 1976 and again in 1977 and got two startup grants for $50,000 each. And that is how the US government continued to be involved in financing a program that uses brainwashing on American children. And that is how the US government funded Straight in such a high-handed way as to avoid the use of human consent forms; namely since LEAA was not chartered to do medical research, it had no policy for human consent forms anyway!
Thus unless or until some external party could put two and two together, there was really no one around who could expose the duplicity except for LEAA and perhaps NIDA or the Office of the White House Drug Czar. LEAA was not about to expose the deal because it was in violation of director Santarelli's moratorium. That leaves NIDA and the Office of White House Drug Czar. Around 1978 NIDA's director Robert DuPont left NIDA and became a paid Straight consultant. For four years Art Barker had tried to make his Seed program a national program. But he had failed because he had been exposed for conducting human experimentation. His expansion programs in Florida were in shambles. And out of the shambles came Straight, Inc. Dr. DuPont has stated in deposition that it was he who had suggested to Straight that it go national. Straight went national and became the largest juvenile drug rehabilitation program in the world--and one of the most destructive.
Straight and the White House Drug Czars. Besides being director of NIDA Robert DuPont was also the second White House Drug Czar. Drug Czar Carlton Turner accompanied Nancy Reagan on her first visit to Straight and endorses the front page of Miller Newton's book Not My Kid with these words: "Not My Kid should be required reading for any parent concerned about their children's future." Turner spoke at a Straight fund raising dinner in May 1982. Donald Ian Macdonald, Straight's national medical research director, became another Reagan Drug Czar.
Bill Bennett was George Bush I's first Drug Czar. In 1989 Bennett assembled together prominent Americans from all over to help him develop the President's drug budget. Included on that team was Straight founder Mel Sembler, Robert DuPont, Carlton Turner, Joyce Tobias, Mac Vines and a host of others sympathetic to Straight. Bush I made former Florida governor Bob Martinez his second Drug Czar. In 1992, Tampa's Channel 13 Eye Witness News handed Martinez the minutes from a Straight board of director's meeting which recorded that "John Martinez, former governor of Florida, will work with Straight on our licensing issues." When asked by Channel 13 News whether John Martinez was he, Martinez would make no comment. [Today James MacDonough, drug czar for the state of Florida, sits on the advisory board for Straight (under its third and current name DFAF) along with Jeb Bush, the President's brother, his wife Columba, and Toni Jennings, his lieutenant governor. Governor Jeb Bush has publicly endorsed SAFE, an Orlando treatment program that grew out of Straight-Orlando.] George Bush I himself made a TV commercial for Straight right out of the Oval Office in return for contributions to his war chest by key Straight officials.
Straight picked up where The Seed left off, except Straight was immensely more destructive than The Seed. The US government found a way to fund Straight without requiring Straight to tell its young clients and their parents that their kids were participating in a medical experiment. The White House drug czars, through their office, helped perpetuate the myth that Straight was a great program helping kids. Even the President of the United States helped spread the big lie.
For 17 years Straight and some of its medical doctors were in violation of international law by being in violation of both the Helsinki Declaration and the Nuremberg Code. In 1983 Reverend Doctor Miller Newton, Straight's national clinical director, left Straight in Florida to setup his own second-generation Straight in New Jersey. In 1989 California health authorities closed down his expansion program in that state for reasons of criminal child abuse. Straight moved into the facility and took over Newton's clients. In just over a year later state authorities closed the California Straight too citing: "Documentation on file indicates that there have been incidents where children have been subjected [to] unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threat, mental abuse or other actions of a punitive nature, including . . . interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping or toileting, or withholding of medication." [Letter dated June 27, 1990 from Fred Dumont, Santa Ana, California District Manager for Dept. of Social Services to Straight, National Headquarters explaining why state authorities ordered the program closed.]
Straight simply transferred its clients across state lines to other treatment camps where they would continue to be in violation of international law, where the kids would continued to be abused, and where confessions would continued to be extorted (in the criminal sense).
Many former Straight clients have been permanently damaged either physically or emotionally or both by Straight, Inc. Many are now dead by suicide.
The United States government conspired to help Straight operate in spite of its reputation for abuse, unproved methods, and its known roots in Communist brainwashing. Furthermore, Lawrence Miller asserts that in such an environment Straight's Dr. Richard Schwartz performed medical experiments on kids without their consent. Therefore the United States government should be required to share in the damage done to countless American citizens by a quack medical program that uses brainwashing on teenagers in order to save them from the ravages of drug addiction. An addiction that too many kids were treated for even though they were not and are not drug addicts!