Spy Games

Move over CIA. It looks like the FDA has taken up the spy game.

According to a front page story in The New York Times on July 15, the FDA is carrying out a wide-ranging surveillance operation. But not against drug companies. Or even against the supplement industry. No, this espionage is against a group of its own scientists.

Even worse—against some of the rare few who have been trying to fulfill their public mission to protect consumers.

This secret operation is being carried out against key FDA scientists who were attempting to expose potential risks associated with faulty medical devices. Devices that were approved for use by the FDA.

The scientists claimed that the FDA’s lackluster review process led to the approval of colonoscopy and mammography equipment that exposes patients to potentially dangerous levels of radiation.

And an internal review by the Office of the Special Counsel concluded that these concerns are valid. Enough to warrant a full investigation into what it calls “a substantial and specific danger to public safety.”   

And as it turns out, the danger is so substantial and specific that the permanent science bureaucrats who run the show were apparently desperate to it cover up. Why else would they submit a request to the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate “leaks” by these scientists?

Fortunately, the inspector general turned them down. And went on to remind the FDA that it’s perfectly legal for their employees to release information related to public safety to the media.

Then, the FDA proceeded on its own to launch this outrageous surveillance against its employees. And it also involved an “enemies” list of independent medical researchers, members of Congress, legal professionals, and journalists.

According to various sources, the FDA has secretly captured 80,000 pages from thousands of emails with members of Congress—and even the President!

But being the amateur spies that they are, the FDA botched the job. And ended up inadvertently publicly posting all this “secret” information on the Internet!

This whole mess prompted the White House Budget Office to send a government-wide memo on the subject just last month. The memo emphasized that internal monitoring can not be used against “whistle-blower” actions, like those of these scientists at the FDA, in an attempt to cover-up government wrong-doing. 

Yet it remains unclear whether or not the FDA has even ceased its inappropriate surveillance.

Either way, this stunt has caused an uncharacteristic bipartisan outrage in Congress.

From our friend Chris van Hollen (D-MD), in whose district most of the FDA resides, to Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) whose office was also targeted. On CNN on Monday evening, Sen. Grassley forcefully expounded, “It’s not their agency! It belongs to the American people!” 

We need more Grassleys and fewer science bureaucrats trying to protect their careers instead of the public. Before more good junior scientists who are actually trying to do their jobs and “follow the science” are driven out of government. Leaving behind the permanent bureaucrats who serve and protect only themselves.

And who pays for the amateur espionage, the inappropriate surveillance, the cover-ups, and the investigations? You and I do! Instead of getting the consumer protection our tax dollars are supposed to be going towards. 

The FDA best give up the spy game. They are no more competent at that than they are at doing their real jobs.


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