ANTHRAX: Court-Martialed Major Used as an ‘Example’
Air Force Major Sonnie Bates, court-martialed for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine, said he believes the "Pentagon intends to make an example of him." He said, "Lower-ranking soldiers concerned about getting sick from the anthrax vaccine won't be as likely to resist the shots after a major has been court-martialed." Although others have been court-martialed, Bates, a decorated pilot, is believed to be the Air Force's highest ranking officer charged for refusing to be inoculated. If convicted, he could lose his rank, pension, home and face up to five years in prison. Expecting to be court-martialed in the next six weeks, Bates predicts that he'll lose the case. But he is determined, saying, "I thank God every day of my life for my health and I'll be dadgummed if I'm going to give it up for anybody. If I give up my health, not only can I not defend this country, but I can't protect and provide for my family." Although the military ensures its enlistees of the its safety, Defense Secretary William Cohen halted the vaccine's production after a Michigan factory failed to pass a FDA inspection (Thorne, AP/Daily Oklahoman, 1/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.