Morality, Courage & SSI Membership

SSI recently received this email from someone who identified himself as a physician and wants to refer SPR victims to Semmelweis:

Please post this to everyone involved in this running feud. I used SSI when I was having my career ruined. Now I don’t know where to send fellow health care providers to when they are getting their lives ruined in a sham peer review. All the clinics and hospitals will use your fued (SIC) against you in court and discerdit (SIC) SSI. Shame on all of you for what you are doing. Both sides of this SSI fued (SIC).

Dear Doctor:

SSI believes that your question is important. As requested, we have posted your email and this response on our website.

If you are mugged and you defend yourself, the casual observer might conclude that you and your mugger are equally and shamefully immoral. Reasonable people know, however, that your morality is not based upon the pedestrian’s casual observations. By raising the specter of shame, you are either profoundly misinformed or are practicing the intellectually lazy doctrine of Relativism. If either is the case, I encourage you to join Dr. Murtagh’s cohorts.

If you read my preliminary investigation and my ongoing investigation you’ll see that “the dispute” began in May 2008 when ex-SSI members James Murtagh and Kevin Kuritzky issued outrageous allegations against UC Professor Peter Duesberg and investigative journalist Celia Farber, with the intent to compel the SSI Board to summarily rescind their 2008 awards without review.

Their complaint called for a competent independent investigation because, if false, their libelous allegations could have professionally harmed both (per se libel) and would have unnecessarily subjected Semmelweis and its Board to unnecessary liability.

As a retired member of the LAPD and licensed investigator who had not heard of the issues, disputants or SSI before 2008, no one was better suited to examine the charges. As soon as I began my investigation however, Murtagh’s camp tried to pressure me into stopping it – going as far as criminal attacks and witness intimidation.

My continuing investigation eventually developed sufficient evidence for this New York Supreme Court lawsuit against and Murtagh and Kuritzky, who are still hiding from process servers. Their co-defendant receives, directly and indirectly, millions of dollars in funding from pharmaceutical and mining companies (and their investors) that avoid billions of dollars in liability by blaming their impoverished black African miners’ silicosis, asbestosis and tuberculosis on “irresponsible sex” (e.g. AIDS). Murtagh, his co-defendants, hedge fund operators, pharmaceutical companies, international mining companies and the UN promote the scam as a “human rights” issue in order to sack Africa’s rich mineral wealth while attacking individuals like Farber and Duesberg who question the arrangement.  Without AIDS, thousands of international mining operations in Africa would close – as they almost did in 1995.

So outrageous were Murtagh’s charges that even his collaborators recently distanced themselves – calling him morally repugnant.

If Murtagh’s allegations against Farber and Duesberg were true, he would enthusiastically respond to the civil charges against him - just as SSI did after Ralph Bard filed his frivolous lawsuit against SSI last December. Because of our fact-based response, Bard’s own neighborhood court will soon dismiss his complaints.

So as you can see, the two sides consist of 1) the current board and membership, and 2) “Murtagh’s camp” which libelously tried to rescind the 2008 awards to Duesberg and Farber without evidence – in what anathematically resembles “sham peer review.”

If you read my bio and investigation you’ll see that I have better things to do than keep the peace between SSI and a tiny group of socially dysfunctional ex-doctors.  But as a victim of retaliation myself, I never targeted others for personal gain. Murtagh’s camp demonstrates that not all peer review are shams: Their behavior only serves to corroborate whatever allegations were once made against them.

My year-long examination concludes that SSI, its membership, mission and goals are too important to turn over to alleged men who attacked SSI on behalf of individuals like Murtagh and Kuritzky.

What also appears to animate Murtagh’s camp is SSI’s refusal to advertise legal services by ex-doctors. The SSI Board stopped this practice last year when they sensed that SSI’s former ex-doctor-lawyer board members were exploited SSI’s website, name and members for personal gain.

Since those lawyers were removed from Board influence last year, SSI has assisted more than a dozen physicians and nurses with free legal consultation and affirmative defense that has saved their careers at a minimum cost.

Because of the complications of HCQIA and peer review, SSI no longer promotes the use of career doctors who become lawyers for the same reason that we would not encourage surgery by a career lawyer who becomes a surgeon. When it comes to peer review cases, experience matters.

If you’re still confused about what you’ve called our shameful dispute, SSI probably isn’t for you. Our mission and goals are too important to waste time with Murtagh cohorts or those who are easily confused by them: Nor do we waste much time thinking about them. Like other benign pathologies, they will eventually slough off or find softer targets.

As a former US Marine and LA cop, I am proud that the SSI Board stood strong in the face of Murtagh and his enablers. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis knew that courage often exacts a terrible price.  Of courage, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote:

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression that the loss of courage extends to the entire society.

SSI membership is not for the morally confused or ambivalent. While it takes courage and endurance to fight corrupt multi-billion dollar healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, it would take comparatively little effort to accept the material benefits that would come by surrendering to them in the name of patient safety and Semmelweis.

As long as there are some healthcare professionals who take their Hippocratic Oath seriously, I am proud to remain in that fight.

Clark Baker
Semmelweis Society International

1 Response to “Morality, Courage & SSI Membership”

  1. 1 Celia Farber says

    I want to thank the leadership of SSI for not doing what virtually every person, organization, media outlet, colleague, and even “friends” have done when faced with the Maoist Inquisition of the HIV/AIDS Party, namely throw the “denialist” to the wolves. There are many ways of doing that–many of them simply involve creative uses of silence. Pretending not to know somebody anymore.

    I was in Kenya, speaking on HIV/AIDS, when word reached me of the drive from within a small cadre of SSI, to rescind these awards. This came after the predictable attacks from TAG, Housing Works, and all the other luminaries who would are intent upon domination of the under-classes (especially in Africa) with ARVs, microbicides, and worse. This was the very topic I was asked to address in Kenya, by WESTERN AIDS groups! At the very same time, a few individuals were warning SSI that if these rewards were not rescinded SSI’s good name would be destroyed.

    I sent urgent emails to the SSI leadership, and offered to have my award suspended, while the matter was investigated. I wanted nothing more than for SSI to get to the “bottom” of this. I can recall a feeling that is hard to describe–when you can see how the only logical thing is for YOU to be sacrificed, and yet you prevail upon people’s instincts for justice and decency. I asked for cooler minds to prevail. I asked SSI to simply buy time. And investigate–on its own. And I said if I come up short, in SSI’s estimate, rescind the award. The opposition, as Clark Baker has said, wanted the awards rescinded with NO investigation.

    SSI has thanked me, but I have yet to thank SSI, publicly. With these developments, a new standard has been set, which grasps that personal attacks, reputational assaults, retaliation, and so forth, are ALWAYS the hallmarks of terrorism. I use the word in its broadest sense. SSI stood by, not me, or Duesberg, but its own internal standard.

    Lesser men and women would have found a justification to avoid trouble and take the goodie bag–the way it is done is by disassociating with those under attack.

    Sound familiar?

    We are all inside the same funhouse. And now we will fight, together, against the very same forces of superstition, fear, and corruption that Ignaz Semmelweis faced.

    Thank you Clark, Gil, Roland, Terry, Shirley, Sharon, Saundra, Tim, and all the others who held steady and did not betray standards. I expect SSI to grow stronger than ever in the immediate future. Many people around the world are watching closely, and applauding you from afar.

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