William J. Butler

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

William Butler was a biostatistician who ran an operation for the tobacco companies through a company called Failure Analysis Inc. He was also trusted enough by Philip Morris to receive an invitation to attend the closed conference called the McGill University ETS Symposium which was held in Canada in November 1989.


William J. Butler "completed his studies at Harvard University in 1946, and received his law degree three years later from New York University. He has served as Staff Counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union, where he worked closely with the organization’s founder Roger Baldwin. Butler twice argued and won landmark civil rights cases before the Supreme Court (Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Kent v. Dulles (1958), and represented Sarah Lawrence University before the Senate’s Jenner Committee, formed to conduct an inquiry into governmental loyalty.

"From 1977 to 1999, Mr. Butler convened annual meetings of the principal human rights officials of Western governments to discuss issues of common concern. As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he is best known for his long association with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), where he has served as Chairman of the Executive Committee, and as President of the American Association of the International Commission of Jurists. On behalf of the ICJ, he led human rights missions to Iran, the Philippines, Guatemala, Palau, South Africa, and Uruguay, and he represented the ICJ at the United Nations Social Summit in Copenhagen and the Rome Conference establishing a permanent International Criminal Court. Recently, Mr. Butler served as an ICJ Observer at the Pinochet hearings before the House of Lords and represented the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the trial of Kurdish leader Ocalan in Turkey. In 2000, Mr. Butler was named as the High Commissioner’s Special Regional Adviser on Human Rights for North America.

"William Butler has served on many other distinguished boards and committees, among them the Urban Affairs Commission of the American Jewish Congress, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the International League for Human Rights, the League to Abolish Capital Punishment, and the human rights committee of the World Peace through Law Center in Geneva. He is the founder of the Center for the Independence of Lawyers and Judges. Mr. Butler’s impact on the academic world includes co-founding the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program at New York University Law School, and founding the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Throughout his career, William J. Butler has epitomized the traits of the quintessential human rights lawyer – courage, creativity, and tenacity. It was in recognition of these traits that the Urban Morgan Institute established the William J. Butler Human Rights Medal." [1]

Documents & Timeline

1989 Nov 19 [Wrong date on document] The Environmenal Protection Agency (EPA) was in the process of publicly asserting that second-hand smoke (ETS) was a known carcinogen ("risk assessment").

This is a draft speech script prepared for a media briefing by Dr Don de Bethizy, sentior toxicologist at RJ Reynolds. They have lined up all the industry's favourite scientific touts who are being paid to attack

..."the scientific merit of two EPA draft documents -- the ETS risk assessment and the workplace smoking guide" [which he says] contain many major scientific shortcomings. The time we have today only permits us to scratch the surface.

[In fact they dug out the deepest slime in the pit. Every scientist mentioned here is a long-term tobacco industry science-for-sale entrepreneur or witness for hire.]

Today, you'll hear why

  • Gray Robertson, an internationally regarded expert on indoor air quality, believes the Workplace Smoking Guide is poorly conceived, with conclusions that are ill-considered.
    [Robertson was the owner of ACVA/HBI -- the most corrupt of all the indoor air testing company employed by the tobacco industry. He was one of the industry's main contract lobbyists.]
  • After Gray Robertson, you'll hear from Dr Phil Witorsch, pulmonary physician and a clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Center. He will detail the specific reasons he believes the EPA has drawn invalid from evidence concerning the relationship between ETS and respiratory diseases in children.
    [He spent most of his time as a tobacco consultant lobbyist, travelling around the world to provide witness services for the tobacco industry in court cases. He was a founding member of the notorious IAPAG (Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group) which was a 'WhiteCoats' organisation run by tobacco lawyers Covington & Burling.]
  • Dr. John Wesley Clayton, professor emeritus of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arizona, and former president of the International Congress of Toxicologists, will discuss the available toxicological data on ETS. None of these data appears in the Risk Assessment. And -- more important -- none supports the contention that ETS is a human carcinogen.
    [Clayon had then been receiving CTR grants for 15 years, and in return, on his retirement, he had become a professional witness who worked extensively for the Tobacco Institute (and probably any other industry with the funds). He was handled by lawyers Shook Hardy & Bacon.]
  • Dr Maurice E LeVois, a highly experienced epidemiologist who has designed large studies for the US government will detail some important omissions in the Risk Assessment. As Dr LeVois will point out,the draft arbitrarily omits important epidemiological, dosimetric, medical and statistical evidence that conflicts with the conclusions reached by the EPA.
    [LeVois was, at various times, the partner of Max Layard and also George Carlo -- both notorious science-for-sale entrepreneurs (Carlo also for the cellphone industry). During the 1990s they worked almost full-time for two industries -- tobacco and dioxin/herbicides -- mainly through infiltrating organisations like Veterams Affairs and conducting their fake studies]
  • Dr. Richard L Tweedie, the dean of information and computing sciences at Bond University in Australia, will present the findings of his own analysis of the epidemiologic studies conducted on ETS. And he will discuss some major differences between his conclusions and those reached by the EPA.
    [Tweedie and his girlfriend (also a long-term tobacco tout) Kerry Mengerson were rewarded with an endowed chair at the University of Colorado]
  • Peter N. Lee, a British statistician whose work is frequently cited by the EPA in the Risk Assessment, will explain why the misclassification adjustment made by the EPA is mathematically incorrect.
    [Lee spent his life as a full-time contractor in statistics to the Tobacco Advisory Committee (TAC) of the UK. He was retained to try to find holes in any adverse scientific finding.]
    Dr William J. Butler, a biostatistician, will focus on the EPA's failure to identify or discuss several important confounding factors that could account for most -- if not all -- of the increased risk noted by the EPA.
    [Butler was a contract scientific lobbyist from the company Failure Anaiysis, Inc. Butler and this company worked extensively for the tobacco industry: he was one of their regular witnesses used with State Assembly hearings. He also spoke at Philip Morris's closed McGill Uni. ETS symposium -- which only enrolled paid industry touts.]
  • Dr Joseph L Fleiss, the head of the division of biostatistics at the Columbia University School of Public Health, will discuss a number of considerations that make meta-analyis an invalid basis for drawing conclusions about ETS.
    [A regular Tobacco Institute consultant and speaker used at fake/closed conferences. (McGill Uni.)]
  • Dr. Paul Switzer, a professor of statistics at Stanford University, will focus on a number of statistical uncertainties, inconsistencies and biases that seriously undermine the scientific credibility of the Risk Assessment.
    [Another regular scientific witness who also played a key role in the loaded McGill University ETS Symposium,]
  • Finally, Dr W Gary Flamm, the president of the International Society for Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology, will talk about serious violations of scientific objectivity contained within the .document. [
    The Society was a front for a group of science-for-sale toxicologist who worked for a range of industries with poisoning and polluting problems. Flamm also lectured at McGill.]



Related Sourcewatch resources


  1. William J. Butler, American Association for the International Commission of Jurists,accessed March 22, 2010.
  2. United Nations Items-in-Secretary-General's Statements, organizational web page, accessed May 4, 2012.