In November 2013, in the days after devastating FDA Form 483s (investigation notes) that illustrated decades of incompetence at the Burzynski Clinic were released on the web, and just days before the damning USA Today investigation into the Clinic was due to be released, the reporter investigating the Clinic told me about an allegation that I had threatened the Clinic and that it was being reported to the FBI. Apparently, the Clinic was anticipating my appearance in the upcoming article and was trying to get ahead of the coverage. If you can’t fight the message, I imagine, attack the messenger. And, if you are about to be ripped apart on the front page of the paper with the highest circulation in the country, make sure that the FBI has launched a criminal investigation into your critics to make it seem like you are being threatened by dangerous people, and not merely by curious writers with time to muckrake and a colossal amount of damning evidence.
The only problem with the little scheme is that I was not in the USA Today article. I did not know what was going to be in the article. Skeptics had no means (other than the quality of our own research) to anticipate what the journalist would report. When the article came out, I didn’t recognize the names of any of the experts cited in it. Every point in that investigation was made and verified by people who were not associated with the skeptic movement.
Bob:1. DON’T PANIC.2. DON’T PANIC. Again.3. DON’T TALK TO ANYONE.4. Let’s talk.Can you talk by phone this afternoon?
1. Don’t panic.2. Realize it’s not as bad as you fear.3. Stop doing any bad things you are doing. [For the record, I wasn’t doing anything bad.]4. Do any good things you can do, as approved by your legal adviser.5. Don’t panic.6. Don’t talk to people about it.7. Don’t panic.
Cool.Should I continue to write about the Clinic and its various shenanigans? Do I do a report on the [USA Today article, which was out by this time] for Virtual Skeptics tomorrow night, which I’m sure people are expecting? Does that count as good?
Yes. Absolutely. […]
I got a call from a number in Atlanta that I did not recognize, picked it up, and a recorded voice said, “The FBI reports [my heart stops] that a house is broken into every 6 minutes. We will be happy to put a free sign in your yard indicating that you have a home security system. Just provide your address… [heart starts up again]. *click*” Not cool, telemarketers, not cool. […]
Sorry, but I lol’ed. That’s why you can’t panic.
OK. Talked to him. He was friendly. He was asked by another office – he didn’t specify which one – to contact you. Probably Texas. I explained I represent you and would coordinate any response, and invited him to give the other office my name and phone number. He didn’t seem familiar with why he was asked to reach out to you. Though one cannot be certain, that strongly suggests they aren’t gunning for you. So: for now I will wait for a call. If anyone contacts you, politely say “I’m represented by an attorney, Ken White at [phone number] and I’d like to talk to him, or you are free to call him. I’m not going to speak without him.”
Update. Got a call from an FBI agent in Texas. He was very casual. The phrase “looks like a First Amendment issue, but we just have to check things out” was used. That’s encouraging.
It turned out that the Burzynski Clinic had complained to the FBI about my web show, The Virtual Skeptics. As I described the relevant clip to Ken:
I was reporting on the FDA’s 483s […], which revealed a host of violations including overdoses, destroying tumor measurements, all sorts of horrible stuff. I was conveying the idea that the revelations were devastating to the clinic and that Eric Merola had to re-cut the ending of his new movie, and I used an iPad special effects app to show a missile strike on the clinic.
To Whom It May Concern:Please allow Mrs. Carolyn Powers to file the complaint with the FBI while I am away in San Francisco at a conference. It was extremely disturbing to find out the latest of what Mr. Robert Blaskiewicz would like to do to us. He seems like a psychopath that will not stop until we are dead and the Burzynski Clinic is destroyed. He has harassed me and my clinic for years.Thank you for your help,Stanislaw R. Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D.
If you want to see why we are so appalled by the Burzynski Clinic in the first place, read the story of Burzynski patient Amelia S.