Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Anatomy of a Scandal - Chronology

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Dec 29, 1998

Posted to NewsTrolls December 30, 1998

In mid-1998, an Arkansas doctor named Michael Galster put the finishing touches on his new novel, Blood Trail, and sent it off to the publisher to be printed under the pseudonym 'Michael Sullivan'. The novel was a heady tale of scandal and corruption in the Arkansas prison system, an intrigue which resulted in the contamination of Canada's blood supply.

Now to publicize the work. Where better but on the internet's most popular conservative forum, Free Republic ( So in late August - despite that site's ban on advertising - a friend of his, known to the forum only as T'wit - posted a plug and an 800 number).

But the story needed legitimacy. So in September he contacted Ottawa Citizen reporter Mark Kennedy, already well known for his coverage of the Canadian tainted blood scandal. Kennedy and Galston sat down, Galston pitched his book, and Kennedy thought enough of it to publish an article, HIV blood came from Arkansas jail, based on Galston's allegations.

Despite Kennedy's proddings - he interviewed the RCMP and various Arkansas officials - the story remained largely dormant until late November. This time - with Galston's book now in print - Kennedy tried again with another series of articles. This time, the American media took the bait, quoting Kennedy's story at length and adding tidbits of their own. By the time Salon's Suzi Parker latched onto the story, it had grown into a scandal which almost toppled the Canadian government.

Not bad publicity for a work of fiction. Don't believe it? Here is the chronology:

August 27
Blockbuster! New book offers clues that Canada's Hepatitis C and AIDS epidemic was caused.
Posted on Free Republic by a person known only as T'wit: Right from the beginning, the suggestion is that the Canadian tainted blood scandal was caused by blood collected from infected Arkansas prisoners. Freepers react sceptically. T'wit is given a vote of support from an anonymous poster, M2, which seems to turn the tide. (Opinion: we now know that the author of the book, Michael Galston, used the pseudonym, Michael Sullivan. This leads me to suspect that M2 is Galston himself).

September 11

HIV blood came from Arkansas jail. Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen. Kennedy writes, "A U.S. firm with links to U.S. President Bill Clinton collected HIV-tainted blood from Arkansas prison inmates in the 1980s and shipped it to Canada, newly uncovered documents reveal." What were the links? The company, Health Management Associates (HMA), was hired by the Clinton administration to provide health care to prisoners. They also sold prisoners' blood to various agencies. HMA president Leonard Dunn was a friend and political ally of Clinton's. Kennedy also describes a new book, Blood Trail, which is to be published under the pseudonym of 'Michael Sullivan'.

September 12

RCMP tracks HIV-tainted prison blood. Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen. Although the subhead reads, "Criminal probe traces trail of plasma from Arkansas inmates", the actual story is that the RCMP "will" investigate, not that it had found a link. As Kennedy writes, "'The RCMP is looking at all aspects of the blood distribution system,' Cpl. Gilles Moreau said yesterday. 'It's one of the many aspects.'" Kennedy also re-describes the 'links' between the firm HMA and Clinton. The article is also published in the September 12 Montreal Gazette.

September 14

Clinton linked to tainted Canada blood. Kennedy's September 12 article is posted to Free Republic.

September 17

HIV blood came from Arkansas jail. Kennedy's September 11 article is posted to Free Republic. T'wit posts another advertisement for the book and an 800 number. Freepers barely nibble.

September 18

HIV blood came from Arkansas jail: U.S. firm linked to Clinton bought from Kennedy's September 11 article is posted to Free Republic for a second time, again by T'wit, again with an advertisement for the book. Note the change in title; that seems to have done the trick; Freepers respond in droves.

Tainted Blood Scandal Investigators' ask Free Republic Help T'wit also posts a request from 'investigators' for help: "The investigators want info on donations made to Clinton's gubernatorial and presidential campaigns by drug companies." The supposed 'investigators' are not named. Freepers take the bait, and responses come pouring in. In response to one poster, T'wit comes clean: "'Michael Sullivan' is a pen name, but I know him and he made an appearance at the Epicenter Freep Meet in Little Rock"

On Trail of Bad Blood: Author links evidence of tainted blood shipped to Canada with Arkansas convicts. Dave Rutherford, Calgary Sun.
Posted in the Free Republic: (I could not find a Calgary Sun archive). Rutherford interviews Galston (still known only by his Sullivan pseudonym). Galston claims to be able to prove Clinton connection: "Sullivan says he now has evidence Clinton organized a payoff plan to various officials, including a judge, to make sure the plan continued." Rutherford also pursues the RCMP connection: "RCMP Cpl. Gilles Moreau told me from Ottawa that Sullivan's information will be checked further." September 25
The Tainted Blood Mystery . Maggie Galligher, New York Post. Quotes Kennedy's article and adds a connection to Vince Foster's suicide. Kennedy's information is treated as fact; the Foster connection appears to be a fabrication (see October 5, below).
Why is Canada a dumping ground for bad blood?. Michael McBane, Canada NewsWire.
Printed in Free Republic: Refers to Kennedy's Citizen articles and gets a reaction comment from Kathleen Connors, Chairperson of the Canadian Health Coalition (, an advocacy group supporting Canada's health care system.
Galster is interviewed by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio host Michael Enright.

September 27

Tainted Blood scandal -- post comments here; also, info requested T'wit again posts a request on Free Republic for additonal information, this time at least admitting that it is a "private investigation". T'wit also asks, If someone can repost the Maggie Gallagher article below, please do." T'wit also writes, "Meanwhile, the story is really blasting around Canada." - which, on the face of it, seems to be a bit of an exaggeration, to say the least.

September 29

Clinton's Arkansas Blood Scandal. Joseph Farah, World Net Daily. Quoted in Free Republic: Farah cites Rutherford's Calgary Sun article, repeating Galster's assertion that he can prove the Clinton connection - the proof, as yet, is still not stated. The RCMP investigation is mentioned again.

October 1

Advertisement appears in the Democrat Gazette ( asking former inmates to call, stating "We are forming a support group for all of the victims" and announces a proposed lawsuit. The number provided - 1-877-BAD-BLOOD - is the same number 'investigators' - mentioned above - posted.

October 2

Due diligence. Craig S. Karpel, Strategic Weekly Briefings.
Quoted in free Republic: Subtitled: Blood Money. Refers to Blood trail. Also, "It has now been revealed that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is conducting a criminal investigation of trafficking in AIDS-virus-contaminated plasma from blood drawn from prisoners at the Arkansas Department of Correction's Cummins Unit in Grady, Ark. during the 1980s." The article doesn't say who revealed it, but one suspects that the source is the Kennedy story, above, or one of the follow-ups. Also quotes an interview from an unnamed Canadian daily - probably Rutherford's. Also quotes Gallagher's column. This is the most comprehensive article thus far.

October 3

Tainted Blood Scandal: President Clinton Faces Class-Action Lawsuit.
Text of a posting to an Alta Vista newsgroup. Posted to Free Republic by T'wit. (scroll down, it's buried). This post also mentions an interview given by Michael McCarthy of the Canadian Hemopheliac Association. It further mentions a proposed lawsuit by Arkansas victims.

October 4

Clinton pal tied to blood scandal. Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen. Kennedy links Vince Foster's suicide to the blood scandal. But this story is composed completely of speculation: "There are signs that Mr. Foster tried to protect the company called Health Management Associates", and "Foster may have been worried about the tainted-blood scandal". Kennedy also cites New York Post author Maggie Gallagher. But who was Kennedy's primary source for this article? Michael Galster, aka Michael Sullivan.

October 5

We always get our man. Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily. Farah plays up the Gallagher column, quoting from it extensively. T'wit reacts against Farah's take: " So what is Mr. Farah doing for us except retreading others' work, bringing in nonsense, and claiming false credit for being first? If he wants to help -- and I believe he does -- he should roll up his sleeves and start digging on his own.... What does that bother me? Because I've watched Michael wear himself out, going the extra mile -- thousands of extra miles -- to get the truth out. And I've seen others first-hand, including several in this forum, giving above and beyond the call. When Mr. Farah does a knock-off piece and tries to claim credit for the whole story, he's just promoting himself and not helping the cause at all."

Bad blood: A new novel probes Bill Clinton's possible role in Canada's Red Cross scandal Michele Mandel, The Sunday Sun. Interview with Michael Galster. Repeats the same story published by Kennedy September 11. Also contains a reaction to Maggie Gallagher's article: "In his novel, the governor and his aides do their best to cover up their trafficking in tainted blood. When his longtime lawyer, a thinly veiled Vince Foster -- panics and appears ready to divulge their role, the Clintonesque character has him killed. Galster admits he made that part up because it fit the the thriller he was weaving. So he was "flabbergasted" by a New York Post writer who last week said it fits a snippet of information a source told her years ago, but that until now made no sense."
Bloodgate Thicker Than Watergate. Joseph Farah's Between the Lines, World Net Daily.
Posted on Free Republic: Quotes from Blood Trail. Also states "That tainted blood (from Arkansas), Canadian officials believe, was later responsible for a nationwide outbreak of AIDS and other diseases." No officials are cited, probably because no officials made such a comment. Yet this little snippet becomes a part of the 'story'.

October 6

If 'Bloodgate' is Real, Clinton Deserves Prison. John Dougherty, USA Journal Online.
Quoted on Free RepublicL (but I can't find it in the USA Journal Online archives - odd) Picks up and restates Farah's October 5 article. T'wit complains. Doughtery responds. October 16
Clinton's Arkansas blood scandal. Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily. Repeat of Farah's September 29 column.

October 18

Clinton had blood connections, some claim. Joe Stumpe, Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Interviews Dave Mitchell, a hemophiliac from Hamilton, Ontario. Raises doubts about the Clinton connection ("Mitchell is fuzzy on the details of this particular allegation, which is difficult to square with what's known about the prison plasma program here. The federal government, not the state, licenses plasma centers.") Quotes Canadian coverage, including Kennedy's article in the Citizen and Rutherford's Calgary Sun article. Interviews Galster - critically - forcing him to withdraw on some major points: "But even Galster concedes that exaggerations and distortions are surfacing. Asking about one of the more serious allegations that have seen print - that Clinton benefitted financially from the sale of tainted prison plasma - Galster replied, 'I certainly never said that. I said we've got documents that point to a bribe. They drew their own conclusions about it.'" This is easily the best article on the 'scandal' thus far. Opinion - now what I wonder is: is T'wit really Dave Mitchell?

Prison Donors Inelligble. Did Blood Spread Ills?. Joe Stumpe, Arkansas Democrat Gazette. A solid, investigative piece of journalism. Many interviews (including the Canadian RCMP's Gilles Moreau). Documents the number of contaminated units (38) received from Arkansas. Also reports on other potential sources of contamination. Also reports on HMA and Connaught's attempts to recall the blood. Also states the income - $167,000 at most - the prison would have received. In a related thread T'wit calls the article a "brief for the defense" and posts a heavily anotated version in yet another (

November 4

Written in Blood (An Interview with Michael Sullivan). Linda richards, January Magazine. Posted by T'wit on Free Republic Our best account of the plan so far: "(Galston says)I naively thought, I'll write this book and then some real smart reporter will grab it and go, 'Oh, my god! Some of this must be true. I need to investigate this.' And then he would do all the work. And I could just sit back and be Mike Sullivan. So, that didn't happen. And we were forced into either dropping the story or coming out and pushing and gathering our own information. I have one investigator working with me." And an attack on Gallagher: "Maggie Gallagher, the woman who's a writer for the New York Post -- she hadn't even read the book. She read a story about the book in the Ottawa Citizen and all of a sudden she remembers an incident that happened two days after Vincent Foster was killed that ties perfectly to the book. And all of a sudden she's off on this tangent. Well, I made all that up. We were just trying to be inventive. I thought, 'Well, this will be great. I'll tie this character in and kind of relate to this Foster story.' And now she says it's true."

November 21

Blood Trail leads to White House . Sam Knight, Calgary Herald. On the Blood Trail home page: Review of Blood Trail and interview with author Michael Galster.

November 29

Convicts infected Canadians' blood. Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen. Reports that an "(Ottawa) Citizen investigation, relying on interviews and previously undisclosed documents, has found the prison plasma centre experienced serious safety problems in the early '80s." Raises questions about a Clinton involvement, but does not show that Clinton is involved. Kennedy asks, "Why did Mr. Clinton's administration allow the prison to collect inmates' blood, even though it was commonly known they carried a greater risk of having AIDS?" This is really slimy - without showing in any way that Clinton is involved, by asking a leading question Kennedy connects the dots for readers.
Dollars drove blood program. Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen. Restates the information published September 11. Additionally, quotes prison officials who explain why the prisoners wanted to sell their blood. The article also recasts Michael Galster's allegations: "But another Arkansas resident, Mike Galster, doesn't believe the state was looking out for prisoner welfare." The RCMP investigation is mentioned again, and Krever's comments are now described as being "critical" of the prison connection.

November 30

'I'm no villain,' blood salesman says. Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen. Broker Thomas Hecht, who sold blood products to Connaught, has no regrets. Writes Kennedy, "He defended his actions when questioned on whether, in hindsight, he made a mistake in purchasing prison plasma, which he described as a 'very insignificant' part of his total imports."

December 2

RCMP call on public for evidence in tainted blood probe. Mark Kennedy and Jim Bronskil, National Post. Remember the 'RCMP Investigation' of September 12? Nothing yet, but they established a help line.

December 2

Is Clinton culpable for spreading AIDS?. Joseph and Elizabeth Farah, World Net Daily.
Posted on Free Republic: Farah tries the story again. Blames the entire tainted blood scandal on the Arkansas link: "As a result of the contamination, Canada experienced an AIDS epidemic."

December 12

Clinton Linked to Blood Scam. Paul Craig Roberts, Vero Beach (Florida) Press Journal.
Posted in the Free Republic: The story quotes Ottawa Citizen reporter Mark Kennedy and refers to Blood Trail. It adds the comment, "Canadian reporters are amazed that their U.S. counterparts have ignored this story." This comment - which is completely unsubstantiated - becomes a part of the 'story'.

December 19

Ottawa caps Hep-C cash at $220,000 per victim. Tim Harper, Toronto Star. 981219NEW03_NA-BLOOD19.html Ottawa's aid package is extended to pre-1986 Hepatitis C victims (this is probably the aid package mentioned by Suzi Parker in her Salon article - she was clearly unaware that it was a follow-up announcement).

December 23

Hepatitis C issue exploded in 1998, fallout still to come. Canadian Press. A survey article; no author listed (no exploding issue, either). The primary sources: a sick boy and his mother, Mike McCarthy of the Canadian Hemophilia Society, and Michael Glaster, who is in this story described only as "a U.S. physician who has begun a personal campaign to investigate what happened."

December 24

Blood Money. Suzi Parker, Salon. Avers that the scandal almost toppled the Canadian government. Mentions Blood Trail deep in the article; does not mention Mark Kennedy's reports in the Ottawa Citizen, though that source is clearly used.

December 29

Clinton allies tied to Arkansas Inmate scandal. Staff, Investor's Business Daily. Posted on Free Republic: The article quotes the Salon article, above.
Drudge's 'Big Story'. Drudge promises a big story to come. From a radio report documented at Free Republic. No details, but Freeper speculation is rampant.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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