Dec 29, 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 ( http://www.freerepublic.com). 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:
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: http://126.96.36.199/forum/a562649.htm. 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).
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/980911/1996882.html. 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'.
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/980912/1999532.html. 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.
http://188.8.131.52/forum/a658012.htm. Kennedy's September 12 article is posted to Free Republic.
http://184.108.40.206/forum/a3601a68274fb.htm. 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.
http://220.127.116.11/forum/a36028bf102cf.htm 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.
http://18.104.22.168/forum/a3602941e1073.htm. 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"
Posted in the Free Republic: http://22.214.171.124/forum/a3609c7da2172.htm (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
http://members.tripod.com/~taintedbloodscandal/blood3.html 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).
Printed in Free Republic: http://126.96.36.199/forum/a3611adc9614e.htm. Refers to Kennedy's Citizen articles and gets a reaction comment from Kathleen Connors, Chairperson of the Canadian Health Coalition ( http://www.healthcoalition.ca/), an advocacy group supporting Canada's health care system.
http://188.8.131.52/forum/a360ef7610356.htm. 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.
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_btl/19980929_xcbtl_clintons_a.shtml. Quoted in Free Republic: http://184.108.40.206/forum/a3610d3166353.htm. 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.
Quoted in free Republic: http://220.127.116.11/forum/a3615bfe509b3.htm. 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.
Text of a posting to an Alta Vista newsgroup. Posted to Free Republic by T'wit. http://18.104.22.168/forum/a3616cbba6d28.htm (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.
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/981004/1912498.html 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.
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_btl/19981005_xcbtl_we_always_.shtml. 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."
http://www.canoe.ca/CNEWSPolitics/981005_blood.html 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."
Posted on Free Republic: http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a367b6698089e.htm. 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'.
Quoted on Free RepublicL http://22.214.171.124/forum/a3619c6b65ba0.htm (but I can't find it in the USA Journal Online archives http://www.patriottrading.com/jon_dougherty_archives.html - odd) Picks up and restates Farah's October 5 article. T'wit complains. Doughtery responds. October 16
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?
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/981129/2060755.html. 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.
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/981129/2060255.html. 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.
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/981130/2063182.html 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."
http://www.nationalpost.com/news.asp?f=981201/2065641&s2=national Remember the 'RCMP Investigation' of September 12? Nothing yet, but they established a help line.
Posted on Free Republic: http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a36658146110f.htm. 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."
Posted in the Free Republic: http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3675d9bc4b83.htm. 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'.
http://www2.thestar.com/thestar/back_issues/ED19981219/news/ 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).
http://www.salon1999.com/news/1998/12/cov_23news.html. 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.