05 August 2017

"Hype and hysteria" insisted VBA Agent Orange "expert," Mr. James Sampsel

In March 2017 VBA's Agent Orange point-person and "subject matter expert" James Sampsel flatly dismissed the hazards of Agent Orange exposure. 

Hoping to help block further expansion of disability benefits due veterans sickened by exposure to the toxin, Sampsel insisted to the VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation (ACDC) that Agent Orange is all "hype and hysteria." "Hardly anybody" disagrees with him, Sampsel told the committee.

Perhaps VBA "experts" like Sampsel should ground themselves better in the history of the issue. Not only had CDC, US Public Health Service, EPA, the National Toxicology Program. WHA, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and virtually every other authority already condemned Agent Orange, but so had DOD and the VA itself.

But Sampsel instead seeks counsel from his favorite consultant, Dr. Al Young. Also, from Young's clients Dow and Monsanto, and from Young's associates such as retired Professor Mike Newton at Oregon, who wanted to use "gifts" of many barrels of Agent Orange from Young, spraying Oregon's forests to aid in timber harvesting.* 

Speaking to the March ACDC, Sampsel summarized their contrary input as his "overwhelming preponderance of evidence" in dismissing all other experts, including CDC and USPHS. Using that phrase, he refused VA medical care for sickened veterans.

The Vietnam veterans' 1988 lawsuit against the herbicide manufacturers brought out this same push-back by the chemical industry years earlier and was quickly dismissed by VA's own leadership. Here, the issue referenced was the 1985 decision to include soft tissue sarcomas to the list of recognized AO ailments:

"The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs based its recent decision to compensate and treat military veterans for soft tissue sarcomas not on any scientific basis, they say, but only "to put the affair to rest by compensat­ing the veterans." The fact is, however, that the action by Veterans Secretary Derwinski was based on: (1). the recommendation of his specially-appointed science advisory panel that has been convened for more than a decade of study; (2). a investigative report by his special assistant, Retired Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., who had ordered much of the Agent Orange applica­tion during the Vietnam War and who reported to Secre­tary Derwinski that there had been widespread fraud perpetrated in government and industry human studies in order to avoid compensating veterans; and (3). the report of a blue ribbon panel of independent experts that exposure to TCDD could be plausibly linked to a cancer".

(Note: VA is now considering adding more illnesses to the list of recognized Agent Orange problems.)

*...from: Proving Grounds: Militarized Landscapes, Weapons Testing, and the Environmental Impact of U.S. Bases, about Dr. Al Young helping spray Agent Orange in Oregon:

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