Reed Irvine - Editor
|October B, 1994|
RIP: OBITUARIES BURY THE TRUTH
When the Communist dictator Mao Tse-tung died in September 1976, veteran foreign editor Lee Lescaze extolled his career in a three-page obituary which sprawled over three pages of The Washington Post under the headline "A God- Hero to 800 Million." The Post consigned Mao to history with these fawning passages:
"He sought not only to role, but to transform China's people through 'the beneficial effects of continuous struggle.' As he constantly reminded China: 'The conquest of power by the working class is only the beginning of the revolution, not its conclusion.'
"Mao believed that men's minds should be tempered by physical hardship and toil...Not all the vision was romantic. China lacked money and technology but in Mao's dream of a new nation, self sacrifice and hard work would make up for these shortages. In reality, many aspects of China's modernization, such as public health, police control, agriculture and some parts of industry are well suited to the labor-intensive methods Mao urged."
Many conservatives conversant with Mao's brutal career considered Lescaze's obituary, and an equally syrupy tribute in The New York Times, to be a perversion of reality. Now, in the space of four months, both the Post and the Times have published major articles which more or less admit that the man portrayed as a "god-hero" was in fact a lecherous brute whose policies killed millions of his own people.
The Mao instance is a striking illustration of how newspaper obituaries can do grave damage to the truth. The New York Times, for example, demonstrates an almost pathological aversion to identifying a deceased person as a former Communist, choosing instead the apologetic phrase "victim of McCarthyism." And its recent burial of Dr. Linus Pauling, a combination of genius and outright quack, was notable chiefly for what it did not reveal about the man's career.
On July 17 and 18, Peking correspondent Daniel Southerland wrote two extraordinary articles in The Washington Post
about the terrors of Mao's reign. Subheaded "Uncounted Millions: Mass Death in Mao's China," the articles said that the death toll from "more than a dozen repressive, often violent political campaigns between 1950 and 1976" were millions higher than previous estimates.
"According to some high estimates," Southerland wrote, "Mao's repression, radicalism and neglect may have been responsible for 80 million deaths." Millions of these deaths came through starvation because of Mao's ill-guided economic schemes.
Chinese and Westem scholars cited by Southerland insist that unlike Stalin and Hitler, Mao did not target individuals for assassination nor directly supervise the atrocities. Instead, "What Mao did was unleash mass movements against his rivals and the 'bad classes' of society." But the mass deaths resulted in a climate of fear that effectively suppressed any domestic opposition to Communist rule, and persists to the present.
Lescaze claimed that "...despite sometimes erratic policies, China under Mao launched the greatest social and economic experiment of our time and achieved considerable success. Famine ended, and in contrast to other overpopulated, developing countries, China brought decent clothing, housing and medical care to its people."
By contrast, the Southerland articles--citing current Chinese research--state that farm families resorted to cannibalism to stay alive during Mao's Great Leap Forward. Southerland quoted one Chinese research report, "In Damiao commune, Chen Zhangying and her husband Zhao Xizhen killed and boiled their 8-year- old son Xiao Qing and ate him....In Wudian commune, Wang Langying not only picked up dead people to eat, but also sold two jin [2.2 pounds] from their bodies as pork."
The broad outline of Mao's atrocities was known for years to objective Western analysts who did not accept the American left's depiction of the dictator as a benign "agrarian reformer" who made his country into a brave new society. Foremost among such apologists in the media had been The Washington Post. Hence the Southerland articles surprised such veteran China watchers as Bernard Yoh, a Shanghai native who is director of communications for Accuracy in Media. "Mao's record has been well-documented for years, in Congressional hearings and scholarly studies," Yoh said. "I am surprised that The Washington Post waited so long to report on the realities of Mao's reign."
Another seamy side of the "god-hero" was related in a long article in The New York Times on October 2 based on a memoir by Mao's longtime physician, Dr. Li Zhisui. As former China correspondent Richard Bernstein summarized Dr. Li's account: the man known to leftists as "The Great Helmsman" was "actually an irritable, manipulative egoist incapable of human feeling who surrounded himself with sycophants and refused even to be treated for a sexually transmitted disease, though he knew he was spreading it to the numerous young women who shared his bed."
Dr. Li attended Mao from 1955 until his death in 1976 at age 82. His memoir is being published later this fall by Random House. Li's portrait is not attractive. Mao "never bathed or even washed his hands or face." He never brushed his teeth, simply "washing" them in the morning with tea and then eating the tea leaves. His teeth became "covered with a green patina."
Despite his personal filth, Mao demanded the sexual services of young women from the Communist secretariat and cultural troops, feeling that frequent sex would "extend his life." When one woman became infected with a sexually-transmitted vaginal disorder, Mao refused to take an antibiotic to protect other partners. "if it's not hurting me, then it doesn't matter," Li says Mao told him. So the physician had to treat several young women. They were "proud to be infected," Li wrote. "The illness, transmitted by Mao, was a badge of honor..."
Jon Franklin, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for the Baltimore Sun, recently spoke bitingly of reporters who spread what he called the "myth" that Agent Orange, the defoliant used in the Vietnam War, caused cancers, birth defects and other medical calamities. Many of these reporters had the attitude, "Now we're going to hang the bastards," he told media writer David Shaw of the Los Angeles Times. "A lot of them were advocates. This sickened me. It really shook me as a journalist."
Although Franklin named no names, perhaps one man he had in mind was Richard Severo, who ballyhooed the Agent Orange myth in The New York Times in the 1970s when he covered the environment. Severo's zest for advocacy journal- ism, among other problems, eventually caused editors to relegate him to less controversial assignments, including writing obituaries. The same fate befell Alden Whitman in the 1950s after it was revealed that he had long been a member of the Communist Party. Whitman converted Times obituaries into a potent propaganda weapon, glorifying villains such as Mao, as long as they were on the left. Severo recently proved himself to be as adept as Whitman in polishing the images of departed leftist scoundrels.
Severo's subject was Dr. Linus Pauling, who died of cancer on August 19 at age 93. His hero's sendoff in The New York Times covered almost a full page. Severo called him a "brilliant chemist and an untiring political activist," who received Nobel Prizes both for chemistry and peace. (Bart Barnes, in The Washington Post, gave somewhat more stinting praise, calling Pauling both "brilliant and controversial.")
But in polite deference to Pauling's prominence as a far-leftist.
This article was based on research provided by Dr. Thomas H. Jukes, a member of AIM's National Advisory Board.
Severo's lengthy obituary skirted around kookier details of his career. In his own field of chemistry, Pauling was frequently criticized as grabbing credit for research done by colleagues. When he ventured into medicine, as a windy advocate of Vitamin C as a cure-all panacea for everything from the common cold to AIDS and drug addiction, Pauling defended such quacks as a California physician who treated cervical cancer with coffee and buttermilk enemas. He was tantamount to a food faddist poster boy during his last decades.
In political affairs, Pauling was the epitome of the useful idiot so skillfully exploited by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He lent his name---and prestige as a Nobel laureate---to a nuclear ban campaign orchestrated by the Kremlin. That the campaign put his own nation at risk did not concern Pauling, a chronic publicity hound. Wearing his trademark black beret, Pauling pranced on picket lines from Washington to San Francisco, a puppet of Soviet operatives working to weaken America's defense and internal security agencies.
Dr. Thomas Jukes, professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley, and a member of AIM's national advisory board, was a Pauling watcher for years. He questioned whether Pauling's celebrity was due to original work or a knack for self-promotion. Jukes wrote, "Was Pauling mentally superior to practically all other human beings? Did his mind work faster and better than any others? He alleged that his meditations produced insight that revealed the answer to scientific problems. Did he have unique mental powers in this regard? Was he a real scientific super-giant? Or was he unusually skilled at using the ideas of other people and publicizing them as his own?"
As an example of Pauling's glory-grabbing, Jukes cited his claim to the discovery of the alpha helix in protein structure, a landmark event. James Watson, in his book The Double Helix, described how Pauling had presented his claim during a lecture: "The words came out as if he had been in show business all his life. A curtain kept his model hidden until near the end of his lecture, when he proudly unveiled his latest creation. Then, with his eyes twinkling, Linus explained the specific characteristics that made his model--the alpha helix-uniquely beautiful."
But as Jukes noted, "The alpha helix was not his discovery. It was that of a black colleague, Dr. Herman Branson." Branson later became president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Branson gave his account of the discovery in a 1984 letter to persons writing a Pauling biography.
In 1948-49, while working under Pauling at the California Institute of Techology, Branson was asked to do research on how amino acids might be arranged in a protein molecule. To summarize a very technical scientific matter, Branson proposed a single helix. Pauling disagreed with Branson, telling him that it was "too tight" to fit a protein molecule. But Branson went ahead and constructed a model showing the alpha helix. A Pauling associate named Corey saw it and said, "Well, I'll be damned." Branson wrote up his findings in the summer of 1949 and went on to other work.
A year later Pauling wrote up the discovery listing Corey and Branson as co-authors. In 1988 he published a book in which he took all the credit for the discovery, saying that he found it by folding paper. Branson was not mentioned. Branson wrote that he "resented" how Pauling had handled the matter.
Pauling's biographers, Ted G. Goertzel and his parents Victor and Mildred, wrote, "In the case of DNA, Pauling rushed into print with a paper that incorporated errors so basic that they should have been caught by any student who has mastered Pauling's introductory chemistry text....Apparently Pauling was willing to risk making errors in the hope that he would be given credit for publishing the first, even if partly incorrect, model of DNA."
Jukes showed that Pauling took credit (along with colleagues) for findings concerning molecular disease that actually had been documented by a British scientist, Dr. A.E. Garrod, in 1908---when Pauling was seven years old.
Pauling's most publicized legacy, his advocacy of mega-doses of Vitamin C to counter cancer and' the common cold, well could be a legacy of harm to human health. Pauling's zealotry persuaded millions of Americans to put their faith in Vitamin C. Unfortunately, few of these persons realized the dangers they incur by following Pauling's advice.
Pauling commenced his Vitamin C crusade in 1966, when (at age 65) he casually remarked at a banquet that he would like to live 15 or 20 years longer. A man named Irwin Stone suggested taking massive doses of Vitamin C. Rather than doing any scientific research on whether the substance actually helped human health, Pauling eagerly signed on as a Vitamin C advocate. His book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, published in 1970, was a national best-seller for weeks. He claimed that one gram daily would cut the incidence of common colds by 45 percent for most persons, and that others might need larger amounts. A second edition, issued in 1976 as Vitamin C, The Common Cold and the Flu, recommended even higher dosages.
No less than 16 clinical studies concluded that Pauling was preaching nonsense. One of the stronger dismissals came from the American Psychiatric Association, in contesting Pauling's claim that vitamin therapy might alleviate schizophrenia. The APA wrote, "The credibility of the megavitamin proponents is low. Their credibility is further diminished by a consistent refusal over the past decade to perform controlled experiments and to report their results in a scientifically acceptable fashion. Under these circumstances, [the APA] considers the massive publicity which they promulgate via radio, the lay press and popular books...to be deplorable."
Severo's obituary did mention that researchers at the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere had challenged Pauling's claim about the efficacy of Vitamin C as a cancer preventative. But he gave surprisingly short shrift to a tumultous episode involving Dr. Arthur B. Robinson, a onetime Pauling student who later worked at the Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. In the 1970s Robinson did clinical tests on mice to evaluate the physical effects of high dosages of Vitamin C. To the dismay of his mentor, Robinson discovered that the quantities of Vitamin C recommended by Pauling doubled the incidence of skin cancer.
Pauling responded by firing Robinson and destroying his laboratory data and killing the experimental mice. He also accused Robinson of "amateurish" science. Robinson sued Pauling and his institute for libel and slander and collected an out-of-court settlement of $575,000--of which $425,000 was for damages, the remainder for legal fees. (An exhaustive account of the Robinson affair ran in Barron's on June 11, 1979.)
The Robinson case was important because it showed that Pauling wittingly suppressed the scientific record in order to protect his unproven Vitamin C theories. Why was he so vigorous in defending a medical theory that in fact could harm persons?
Columnist Colman McCarthy, a Pauling chum, offered an interesting theory in The Washington Post (Aug. 27) for the disdain with which the medical community held his idol. "Such conventional treaters of colds as physicians beholden to drug companies and their high-priced pills tried to dismiss Pauling as a dabbler in quackery," McCarthy wrote. Perhaps. But as Dr. James Lowell wrote in Nutrition Forum in May 1985, 'The largest corporate donor (over $500,000) to Pauling's institute has been Hoffman- La Roche, the pharmaceutical giant which is the dominant factor
in world-wide production of Vitamin C. Many of the institute's individual donors have been solicited with the help of Rodale Press (publishers of Prevention magazine) and related organizations which have publicized the institute and allowed the use of their mailing lists."
The New York Times's distortion of the validity of Pauling' s work continued after the glowing Severo obituary. On August 28 the Times published a letter from Stephen Lawson, chief executive officer of the Linus Pauling Institute, continuing the argument that Vitamin C helped reduce the incidence of cancer, and dismissing debunking by scientists at the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere.
Dr. Victor Herbert, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, rebutted Lawson in a letter which the Times did not publish. He wrote, "Vitamin C is not only worthless against heart disease and cancer, but harmful..."
Another facet of Pauling's career ignored by the Times was his record of defending fellow faddists, including some accused of highly questionable medical practices. In 1984 he appeared before the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance on behalf of a Mill Valley physician who attended a 56-year-old woman diagnosed as having treatable cervical cancer. The physician chose to treat her with no less than 99 remedies, including coffee and buttermilk enemas, herbs and enzymes. She died.
Twin boys aged four years, who complained of earache, were treated with coffee enemas twice daily and 70,000 units of Vitamin A. Pauling's testimony was that coffee enemas might have had value because they clean out the lower bowel. Despite Pauling's efforts, the physician lost his license.
In another case, Pauling defended a vitamin promoter who sold by mail a paper test to measure Vitamin C levels in the urine. He claimed that keeping a constant flow "probably offers 100 percent protection against bladder cancer." He also asserted that Vita- min C could cure drug addiction. The postal inspectors put the man out of business.
"I am not a Communist. I have never been a Communist. I may say I have never been a concealed Communist," Pauling assured the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 15, 1955. Nonetheless, his major political activity was on behalf of what Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1951 called "the most concentrated and farflung propaganda effort of the international Communist movement in the postwar period."
The movement, commenced in Paris in 1949 by several Communist front groups, sought to collect 400 million signatures world-wide on the "Stockholm Peace Petition," which endorsed a Soviet plan for regulating nuclear energy which a majority of the United Nations had repeatedly rejected. As Dean Acheson stated, "What the appeal in effect called for was the banning of any use of the atomic bomb, without any admission of the desirability of banning the tremendous armies and armament the USSR and its satellites have maintained since 1945...."
Pauling entered the campaign in the 1950s, soliciting fellow scientists throughout the world to sign petitions endorsing the ill- concealed Soviet plan. His petition drive got thousands of signatures and was praised by the Moscow press.
Hailed before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1960, Pauling claimed that the numerous Communist front groups with which he associated himself were independent of Moscow. He could not explain why he turned to a Communist publishing house, New Century Publishers, Inc., to reprint a broadside he wrote against nuclear warfare.
Nor did Pauling see anything amiss about participating in a "World Conference Against Atomic and Nuclear Bombs" in Tokyo in 1959 which concluded that "U.S. imperialism is the most vicious enemy of all the people of the world." He maintained he opposed nuclear war for fears about the biological effects of radioactivity.
But Pauling hustled maximum publicity from his bomb-banning work, and he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1962. When President Kennedy invited Nobel laureates to a White House dinner, Pauling spent the afternoon picketing his host with a sign, "We Have No Right to Test." The New York Herald Tribune decried the "extravagant posturings of a placarding peacenik." President Kennedy, to his credit, ignored Pauling and followers and negotiated a tolerably workable test ban treaty with the USSR, rather than committing the U.S. to a unilateral halt.
Oxford University scientist R.J.P. Williams summarized Pauling's career in Nature Magazine on November 1, 1989: "From being a public figure of high stature with an idealistic philosophy, to being viewed as a lonely crank, is indeed a fall as great as in any classical tragedy."
One conclusion that can be drawn from all this is that it proves that advocating leftist, pro-Communist positions is an effective way of blinding obituary writers at The New York Times to serious character flaws and crazy conduct.
Send the enclosed cards or your own cards or letters to Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of The New York Times, urging him to halt the kid-glove treatment of leftist radicals in Times obituaries, and to Donald E. Graham, publisher of The Washington Post, commending him for publishing Dan Southerland's series telling the truth about Mao Tse-tung.
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WE REPORTED IN THE NOTES OF OUR OCTOBER-A REPORT THAT THE SENATE ETHICS Committee had opened an investigation of charges of sexual harassment and drug use against Senator Ted Kennedy. This was based on information we had obtained from Richard Burke, author of The Senator, My Ten Years With Ted Kennedy. Burke, responding to a Committee subpoena dated Sept. 28, 1993, had testified for two days about his personal knowledge of Kennedy's drug habit and his use of cocaine to seduce women, including some who worked for him. He told us that he had provided the Committee with tapes of corroborating conversations with some of the women and with notebooks, letters, telephone logs, photos and other documents to back up his charges. He also told us that Committee staffers had informed him that the investigation had been opened because the Committee had received complaints from other people (not specifically women complaining of sexual harassment as I wrote in the Notes). He told us that when his lawyer asked the Committee to return his tapes and papers last summer he was told the Committee wanted to keep them because the investigation would be resumed after the elections in November. It had been put on hold until then because of pressure from Kennedy and other Democrats.
THIS WAS BROUGHT TO THE ATYENTION OF SEVERAL JOURNALISTS. RAY KERRISON, A New York Post columnist, pursued it vigorously and succeeded in getting a statement from the Ethics Committee, which he reported in his column on Oct. 24. The statement was dated Oct. 13, a week after the staff director of the Committee had refused to acknowledge to me that there was or had ever been any investigation of Kennedy. The statement, issued in the name of the chairman and vice-chairman was headed "Regarding Allegations of Richard Burke Concerning Senator Kennedy." It said: "The Committee interviewed Mr. Burke and others and found no basis for Mr. Burke's allegations nor anyone who could substantiate those allegations. On that basis, the Committee in June 1994 unanimously voted to take no further action. Contrary to statements attributed to Mr. Burke, the Committee did not receive complaints by women who claimed to have been sexually harassed by Senator Kennedy." That was all. There was no mention of what the charges were or what evidence Burke presented to support them. Who were the others who filed complaints or testified? Burke says that he provided the names of individuals described in his book as having done drags with Kennedy and some who had been pressured into having sex with him. Were they subpoenaed to testify under oath? If not, why not? If they were, did they repudiate Burke' s account? Did the women whose statements Burke tape recorded testify? Did they retract their recorded statements? Was there any check of DEA or other law enforcement agency records for evidence of Kennedy's use of drags?
KERRISON DESCRIBED THE COMMITTEE'S TERSE DISMISSAL OF BURKE'S EYEWITNESS description of Kennedy's drag use and his sexual harassment of women as one of the biggest breaks of Kennedy's career. Burke himself learned of this turn of events from Kerrison, who quoted his reaction: "The Committee's findings are nonsense. They listened to tapes of women saying they had done cocaine with Kennedy. The Ethics Committee is like the fox watching the chicken cage....I have tape recordings of the women, letters and pictures supporting everything I wrote in my book. The Kennedy people have a very strong control factor, a lot of influence." Kerrison added that the inquiry was conducted "with iron- clad secrecy, a far cry from the probe of sexual-harassment allegations against Judge Clarence Thomas and Oregon Republican Sen. Robert Packwood."
IF THE RULES WERE FOLLOWED, ETHICS COMMITFEE CHAIRMAN RICHARD BRYAN (D, NV) and Vice Chairman Mitch McConnell (R, KY) were in charge of the preliminary inquiry and recommended that the probe not be continued. They didn't hear Burke's testimony, which was taken by the staff, and we don't know how much they and the other four members knew about the evidence presented. When Burke's book appeared in 1992, Kennedy released a statement denouncing it as a "collection of bizarre and untrue stories...an outrageous example of say anything, sell anything, publish anything for a buck." The Ethics Committee has, in effect, endorsed that denunciation of Burke, without providing one iota of sup- porting evidence. Burke and the public have a right to know whether the Committee's defamation of Burke is based on refutation of his charges by the witnesses he named.
THIS AIM REPORT IS ABOUT SOME BAD OBITUARIES, A SUBJECT THAT HAS BEEN OF great interest to me ever since I saw how the "obits" in The New York Times were used to rewrite history through Marxist eyes. I called attention to this in the AIM Report in September 1976, after being nauseated by the glowing obits of Chairman Mao. I pointed out that while our great "newspapers of record" were portraying Mao as the personification of Plato's philosopher-king, the Daily Reporter of Martinsville, Indiana headlined the story on Mao's death: "World's Greatest Mass Killer Dies." Bob Kendall, a crusty publisher, used a wire service story, but he inserted a paragraph to point out that Mao was responsible for the death of possibly 60 million Chinese. (Kendall was then and still is an AIM supporter.)
NOW WE LEARN THAT KENDALL'S NOTE, WHICH WAS BASED ON A U.S. SENATE DOCUMENT, "The Human Cost of Communism," may have been 20 million short of the actual figure. On July 17, Daniel Southerland reported in The Washington Post that it is now believed that as many as 80 million unnatural deaths can be blamed on Mao and his misguided policies. Chen Yizi, a former Chinese official now at Princeton, claims to have seen the latter estimate in a Chinese government document prepared by the System Reform Institute in the 1980s. Hongda Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in the Chinese gulag, estimates that 50 million people have been sentenced to "labor reform" in China over the past 40 years, mil- lions of whom have died there. Wu, the author of Laogai, The Chinese Gulag (Westview Press, 1992), spoke at AIM's 25th Anniversary Conference about the extent to which the goods we import from China are the products of these slave laborers, who are subjected to incredible cruelties. We avert our eyes as we snap up those bargains from China. Mao Tse-tung is dead but his brutal system lives on.
WHILE THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE WASHINGTON POST ARE NOW WILLING TO TELL us truths about Mao, they still publish dishonest obituaries of Americans who supported Mao, Stalin, Castro and others like them. In this Report, we expose the Times obituary of Linus Pauling, the winner of two Nobel prizes, one for chemistry and one for peace. We show how far Pauling strayed from the boundaries of honest science and how his "peace" efforts were tied to his support of Soviet goals. Of course, none of that made its way into the Times obituary. Arthur B. Robinson, a former employee who exposed Pauling's dishonest research, is continuing his efforts to expose bad science. He now publishes Access to Energy, an excellent monthly newsletter that he took over from Petr Beckmann, its founder.
BECKMANN, A BRILLIANT SCIENTIST WHO DELIGHTED IN EXPOSING POLITICAL FRAUDS like Marxism and scientific frauds like Pauling, didn't rate an obituary in the Times when he died last year. He was born in Czechoslovakia, the son of ardent Communists. He became an ardent anti-Communist. He was an articulate advocate of nuclear power and a scourge of radical environmentalists. He was "politically incorrect." So is Tom Jukes, the distinguished University of California scientist who is largely responsible for our expose of Pauling. Dr. Jukes is still healthy and active at 88, but he may be a candidate for an obituary within the next dozen years. Will the Times praise him for his discoveries and for having been a courageous and articulate foe of anti-science Luddites who have sought to block or ban scientific advances that have saved millions of lives and improved the quality and lowered the costs of our food? Jukes and two other distinguished scientists were libeled by the Times in 1972. They sued and won, only to have the decision reversed on appeal. The appellate opinion was written by Judge Irving Kaufman, a friend of the publisher of the Times. Kaufman said newspapers could report false allegations without reporting known evidence of their falsity because the allegations by themselves were "newsworthy." I wouldn't be surprised to see the Times revive its old libel when Dr. Jukes dies, unless it reforms itself.
NO AMERICAN SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN KILLED IN HAITI, BUT THREE ARE REPORTED TO have committed suicide. The most recent was Pvt. Gerardo Luciano, a 22-year-old Puerto Rican from New York City, who reportedly shot himself in the mouth with his rifle while standing guard on the roof of a building in Port-au-Prince. According to the San Juan (Puerto Rico) Star, relatives and friends in Puerto Rico and New York doubted the suicide verdict. A brother in Puerto Rico said he had spoken with Gerardo by phone the previous day and said he sounded content. He had told of disarming a Haitian who had killed another Haitian, and seemed a little nervous about that. He was looking forward to returning to New York on leave in six weeks. He had passed the exam to become a New York policeman. A close friend in New York said the suicide story was "unbelievable," saying, "He had no problems, no difficulties. He had his whole life before him. He wanted badly to be a police officer." This friend suspected a cover-up, charging that the government wanted to say it had restored democracy in Haiti without any American soldiers being killed. Three suicides out of 19,000 troops in a single month is an astonishing statistic. It works out to a rate of 180 suicides per 100,000 for a year. In the Gulf War there were 8 suicides among the 650,000 deployed in eight months. In Somalia there was one suicide in 16 months among the 96,000 troops deployed there. Cong. Jose Serrano of New York has called for an explanation of what is going on in Haiti.