FDA spied on whistle-blowing scientists
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of San Francisco Chronicle/New York Times
Posted: July 17th, 2012
A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists utilized an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama, previously undisclosed records show. What began as a narrow investigation into the possible leaking of confidential agency information by five scientists quickly grew in mid-2010 into a much broader campaign to counter outside critics of the agency's medical review process, according to the cache of more than 80,000 pages of computer documents generated by the surveillance effort. Moving to quell what one memo called the "collaboration" of the FDA's opponents, the surveillance operation identified 21 agency employees, congressional officials, outside medical researchers and journalists thought to be working together to put out negative and "defamatory" information about the agency. The agency, using so-called spy software designed to help employers monitor workers, captured screen images from the government laptops of the five scientists as they were being used at work or at home. The extraordinary surveillance effort grew out of a bitter, years-long dispute between the scientists and their bosses at the FDA over the scientists' claims that faulty review procedures at the agency had led to the approval of medical imaging devices for mammograms and colonoscopies that exposed patients to dangerous levels of radiation.
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