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Stewart Simonson

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Stewart Simonson was appointed Assistant Secretary in the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness (OPHEP) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and sworn in April 8, 2004. Simonson replaced Jerry Hauer, who resigned from the position in November 2003. [1][2][3]

Is Simonson Qualified to Lead a Pandemic Response?
In April 2004, HHS Director Tommy G. Thompson said:

"Stewart has focused on public health preparedness issues and been a key member of the HHS team since before the September 11, 2001 attacks and the anthrax attacks a month later. His understanding of the HHS role in homeland security and familiarity with the challenges we face make him an ideal choice to lead our Public Health Emergency Preparedness Office at this important time."

Simonson worked for the year prior to his swearing in as "special counsel to Thompson, serving as the secretary's liaison to the White House and Department of Homeland Security." "He also supervised policy development for Project BioShield and other countermeasure research and development programs." [4][5]

However, based on his resume, a Lone Wacko blogger commented October 6, 2005:

"He's obviously qualified if we have an outbreak of litigation. But, other than the supposed coordination of 'public safety agencies', he doesn't sound like a medically-focused wonk to me."

After the post-9/11 anthrax scare, a similar remark was made about HHS Secretary Thompson (USA Today, October 26, 2001):

"Complaints have centered on his lack of science expertise and some problems in communication — imparting information that is premature, misleading or wrong."

Another "Brownie"?

"Like Michael Brown at FEMA, Brown is a lawyer who was close to a political benefactor. Simonson graduated from the University of Wisconsin law school in 1994 and served as legal counsel to Tommy Thompson while he was governor of Wisconsin from 1995 to 1999. Simonson then followed Thompson to Washington when the governor was appointed as head of HHS. Simonson’s bio at HHS states that 'from 2001-2003, he was the HHS Deputy General Counsel and provided legal advice and counsel to the Secretary on public health preparedness matters. Prior to joining HHS, Simonson served as corporate secretary and counsel for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK).'" [6]

Unprepared

Terrorism

Simonson replaced Jerome Hauer, who "was also the director of the Response to Emergencies and Disasters Institute at The George Washington University. Prior to being appointed as assistant secretary, Hauer served as Director of Emergency Management for New York City. Hauer is a gradaute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and has served on the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine’s Committee to Evaluate R&D Needs for Improved Civilian Medical Response to Chemical and Biological Terrorism." [7]

Hauer, who had taken part in a biodefense panel in Washington, DC, on December 15, 2004, was cited in the December 20, 2004, Washington Drug Letter (page 12): "HHS' Biodefense Efforts Slammed by Former Official." Hauer "insinuated poor policymaking has left the country vulnerable to terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction" and "faulted the current management at the ASPHEP Office, including acting secretary Stewart Simonson, for not being better prepared to handle its duties."

In April 2005, a Senate panel also questioned the nation's preparedness to deal with a bioterrorist threat.

Avian Flu Pandemic

Milk Poisoning "Road Map"

The Associated Press reported June 29, 2005, that a "scientific article that says terrorists could poison thousands of people through the milk supply – withheld at first at the government’s request – is being published despite continuing objections after the National Academy of Sciences concluded it wouldn’t help attackers."

"The paper and editorial were published [June 28th] on the Academy Internet site and will appear in the July 12 print edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper was originally planned for publication May 30, but was withheld at the request of Stewart Simonson, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, who contended it was a 'road map for terrorists'," the AP wrote.

"The paper gives 'very detailed information on vulnerability nodes' in the milk supply chain and 'includes ... very precise information on the dosage of botulinum toxin needed to contaminate the milk supply to kill or injure large numbers of people'," Simonson said.

The paper, he said, "provided too much detail on potentially vulnerable areas of the milk supply, processing and distribution systems and argued that its publication 'could have very serious health and national security consequences.'"

The study, conducted by Lawrence M. Wein and Yifan Liu of Stanford University, "discusses such questions as how terrorists could release botulinum toxin into the U.S. milk supply and what effective amounts might be." [8]

Wein said June 28, 2005, that "he was surprised when Simonson raised objections. He said he had met with officials of HHS, the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the dairy industry last fall to discuss the paper."

Related Links

Political Contributions

"In addition to being very close to Thompson, Simonson has given generously to the Bush political machine. The website, Political Money Line’s contribution database shows that he contributed $3,000 to various Bush-Cheney committees in the 2004 election cycle and gave $250 to the RNC. (Which for a $134,000 a year job is more than chump change.)" [9]

SourceWatch Resources

External links

Websites

Documents & Reports

  • Statement by Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Regarding the Appointment of Stewart Simonson To Be Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness, April 8, 2004.

Articles