Ethics Dunce: “Streiff”

William B. Crews, an official at the National Institutes of Health, announced his retirement  this week after he was outed as surreptitiously attacking the NIH and particularly Dr. Anthony Fauci  in  posts on Twitter and on the right-wing website RedState using the screen name “Streiff.”

Crews worked for and promoted the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases while simultaneously undermining  the agency’s work with his posts since March. His deception and betrayal was exposed by The Daily Beast.

A representative comment Crews wrote on RedState in June read, “We’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed.”

This is a perfect Ethics Dunce performance, because what Crews did was both unethical and dumb. Screen names tend to get discovered, and something like this is a career-breaker. It’s also a cowardly and ineffective way to make an impact, if the objective is to actually accomplish something. Secret whistle blowing only works these days if your objective is to take down the President.

The ethical way to have an effect on policy and public opinion is to make objections like “Streiff’s” public and under one’s real name. It also helps if you can prove your claims.

The New York Times reported that a spokeswoman for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases declined to say whether any investigation was pending on whether  Crews had violated federal ethics regulations, which prohibit federal employees from using government property in unofficial capacities or engaging in outside activities while on the job. The Times did not point out, however, that what Crews did would be unethical whether it violated written regulations or not. Given a rare opportunity to help clarify a point that most of the public doesn’t comprehend, which is that assessing ethics is  based on the nature of conduct and its consistency with ethical principles and not the existence of official regulations, naturally the Times whiffed. Attacking your employer and sabotaging the work you are paid to do using a fake name is unethical, whether the manner in which it is done gets around regulations or not.

Meanwhile, Crews’ conduct continued a recent theme.The head of communications at the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael R. Caputo, had accused federal scientists of manipulating their recommendations  to bring down the Trump administration.  He went on medical leave this week, and his science adviser, Dr. Paul Alexander, left the government. Quoth the Times:

“But the revelation on Monday that another public affairs officer in the Health and Human Services Department was surreptitiously engaging in similar attacks raised questions about how far the effort to undermine coronavirus science could extend.”

Hilarious. What “science”? At the same time Crews’ perfidy was being exposed, the CDC again demonstrated that the “experts” the President is supposed to slavishly obey regarding the pandemic are not merely fallible and confused, but also feckless. Days after publishing significant new guidance regarding  airborne transmission of the Wuhan virus, the CDC this week took it off its website, explaining that it had been “posted in error.”

“The rapid reversal prompted consternation among scientists and again called into question the credibility of the world’s premier health agency,” wrote the Times, “even as President Trump and his senior health officials have sought to undermine C.D.C. scientists.”

Gee, why would they do that, when the CDC is doing such a great job undermining itself?

20 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: “Streiff”

  1. I agree with the ethics dimensions of this post. Hiding behind a pseudonym or simply being an anonymous source is a chickenshit behavior.

    These events do raise some questions.

    “The rapid reversal prompted consternation among scientists and again called into question the credibility of the world’s premier health agency,” wrote the Times, “even as President Trump and his senior health officials have sought to undermine C.D.C. scientists.”

    This paragraph makes me ask the question is there significant differences of opinion among scientists at the CDC on this subject? The second part of of the sentence is questionable.

    I have followed Fauci’s comments on the matter since Covid -19 first became news. It was Fauci that said it was no big deal and then later changed his mind. It was Fauci who said masks were ineffective until he admitted he lied so as to preserve supplies of PPE for health care personnel. Then we had a series of stories on how long the virus remained viable of this surface or that surface only to have that information change.

    I find it difficult to lay blame for undermining the CDC at Trump and his officials doorstep. The administration relies on opinions from experts who interpret data it can trust. When the interpretation of the data opinions change dramatically from day to day the trust in the people offering such opinions diminishes. It is the CDC that is undermining itself and much of that blame falls on Fauci. It was not Trump that caused the “consternation among scientists and again calling into question into question the credibility of the world’s premier health agency”. Note the operative word of “again”.

    I think it is reasonable that we expect the President to follow the science but whose science should he follow when there are so many opinions on the matter. Some will say that he should follow the ones offering the most dire mortality predictions and close down the country while others say we should be cautious but not panic and issue house arrest orders as what happened in Michigan. What exactly other than tenure at the CDC makes Dr. Fauci the leading expert on infectious diseases. What studies has he conducted recently? What peer reviewed papers has he authored? When other infectious disease experts weighed in positively on hydroxychloroquine Fauci vacillated on it’s efficacy. That alone did not engender confidence in Fauci. The fact is we are not hearing all perspectives on the subject we are only getting Fauci’s take. That is not necessarily following the science as so many claim to want.

    The President is not a scientist and when he calls out what he believes as flawed information why do we assume he is doing so to undermine one group for political reasons? Questioning, verifying, and then identifying problems in need of correction among subordinates is not undermining those subordinates it is called management. The only difference between the presidents of private sector organizations and the President of the U.S is that the former do it quietly and privately while the latter is forced to do it under a microscope of an antagonistic press.

  2. Well, Jack and Chris, “Screen names tend to get discovered” and “Hiding behind a pseudonym…is a chickensshit behavior” put the fear of luckyesteeyoreman in me. I’ll have to speed-out with learning how to change my legal name at least once daily. Yeah, that’ll fix that. A nice, long audit trail…

    • Lucky
      I want to retract that statement or at least clarify it.

      I do not object to pseudonyms in all cases.
      Personal handles such as those used here are fine because they are simply objects upon which we can organize categorize and track opinions of others. We can reject an opinion with little impact on our lives.

      I do object to those who hide behind a veil to attack another but whose opinion is cloaked in some form of authority.

      For example: anonymous pentagon officials say Trump called soldiers losers.

      If some form of authority is attached to a claim against another a pseudonym is unethical because the veracity of the claim cannot be verified.

      I apologize by lumping all users of pseudonyms into the same basket

      • Last paragraph should read I apologize for lumping all persons using psuedonyms into the same basket. I should have considered how pseudonyms are used to protect privacy and for that my apologies go to you and others here and elsewhere who choose to use such devices in any manner other than the one I described above.

      • Chris, seriously, no offense was taken. I appreciate your follow-up comment and agree completely with your point in your next-to-last sentence above.

  3. “A representative comment Crews wrote on RedState in June read, “We’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed.”

    “This is a perfect Ethics Dunce performance, because what Crews did was both unethical and dumb. Screen names tend to get discovered, and something like this is a career-breaker. It’s also a cowardly and ineffective way to make an impact, if the objective is to actually accomplish something. Secret whistle blowing only works these days if your objective is to take down the President.

    “The ethical way to have an effect on policy and public opinion is to make objections like “Streiff’s” public and under one’s real name. It also helps if you can prove your claims.”

    But his assertion: “We’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed” is a sort of statement that cannot be expressed except in alternative media.

    Though I think I agree that the most upright thing to have done would have been to quit his job and make a statement to the press (or write articles in his own name) I am more interested in knowing if what he says is true.

    James Corbett places the Covid-crisis and 9/11 is the same category: the use of a crisis to achieve political and geo-political goals through tactics of social and information-manipulation. Yet the entire *structure* of media and government cannot and will not see 9/11 in any other way except as has been portrayed by the so-called ‘official version’. Many hundreds and even thousands of serious people, with degrees and with social standing, have contradiction the official story and their findings and their ideas are there, yet they are suppressed. They are given no play. Therefore, the fiction is allowed to stand. And an Event that radically altered the circumstances of life simply cannot be examined. The ramifications of this are large indeed. What is the correct *ethical attitude* to take?

    Similarly, the Covid-crisis has whole arrays and dimensions of unclarity. Yet it shares similar features in the sense that it has led to mass hysterical fear and then to the easy use of draconian ‘edicts’ that allow governments to control their populations in never-before-possible ways. So, those who investigate these things (inclining toward conspiracy-thinking and deeply suspicious of our governing elites) point out these elements and, obviously, are shunned.

    The way that I deal with this is fairly typical to my general procedure. I know for example that you Jack ‘believe’ the official version of 9/11. I also know that you except the ‘official narrative’ of the Kennedy assassination. I cal these ‘pillars of belief’ insofar as they hold up a larger structure of belief about many things. What are those things? It is hard to name them. I might say ‘faith in government’ or belief in the ‘goodness’, at some essential level, of governing officials or governing systems. But it is larger than just that. It extends to many other *things* (and things is in quotes because they are intangibles).

    But the point I would make is What happens when this ‘belief in’ — which is to say fundamental faith — begins to crumble? Is this a ‘choice’? Has one simply chosen to become a paranoid? Or is it possible that a whole different *view-structure* is needed? Another interpretation? (Which obviously means another hermeneutical base).

    The *debate* that is allowed in the Legacy Media, and this means of course within the system-media of the nation, with international and global connections and reach (the most vast communications system ever devised), is that criticism of what I have described here, and a critical view that seeks to go behind the screen and the veil to *see* and *understand* what is going on (what really is going on), the debate allowed, but only to a degree, is how *conspiratorial* any aspect is or isn’t. The new symbol is ‘Q-Anon’. Who ‘believes’ such nonsense? Only lunatics of course.

    But then when it comes to Jeffrey Epstein and his connections to the Israeli state and Israel’s intelligence services, and the entire issue of ‘blackmail’ — none of this can be seriously discussed. It is pushed to the fringes. But that is true of a great deal of troubling information. You can’t see the ‘full picture’ and the same forces that distribute what you can see and consider, they are simultaneously involved in obfuscation. They do not *make clear* and they do not *reveal* — they shroud.

    It’s also a cowardly and ineffective way to make an impact…

    How can one ‘make an impact’ if the audience is incapable of receiving a) information that runs counter to its ‘cherished notions’? and b) that it actually refuses to see, that it rejects, because *seeing* will involve considering another paradigm for the organization of perception?

    • I agree in general with this perspective. At some point in time however one has to decide between competing interpretations of data points. I have to leave it to the philosophers to establish the absolute truths.6

      One could posit that the vast number of Covid deaths in blue states was directly attributable to directives given to nursing homes to accept Covid positive patients. An extension of that thought is that the blue state governors did so because that vulnerable group tends to be far less progressive ideoligically and might cast votes for the opposition.

      The first has quantifiable merit the extension does not. Nonetheless, the lack of quantification does not prove it false. The lack of convictions for voter fraud does not mean it is not happening on a broad scale it simply means that few have been caught and prosecuted. Why few are caught is a different issue as is why are so few prosecuted. Much of this depends heavily on other facts.

      You often say others – and me- look at the issues superficially and fail to consider other perspectives. Statements like that are unquantifiable. It cannot be assessed without an undersyanding of how the data available is presented and interpreted. You could be right and you could be dead wrong.

      • I understand what you are saying but I wish to suggest that the model you present: Statements like that are unquantifiable. It cannot be assessed without an understanding of how the data available is presented and interpreted is, of course, based on the seeming fact that we live within systems that do not and are not operating in good-faith.

        But let’s take an example: 9/11. I researched this, to the degree that one can by reading information and viewing video presentations, and I conclude that there is ‘little doubt’ that the events are far more complex than the ‘official story’. If I was the only one who had come to this conclusion you might be justified in rejecting whatever ‘data points’ I had accessed. But there are (literally) thousands of engineers and other professionals. There is a very strong body of evidence-of-a-sort that can be, and I would suggest must be, examined (it will not be evidence until it is presented as such to the adjudicating body and so now it is anecdotal).

        So the issue here is not so much strange or outrageous ‘data points’ but rather that there is obstruction in undertaking the analysis. While I do not (personally) have ‘certainty’ about any of what I say that I conclude, the fact is that I have to rely on what I have been presented as ‘fact’ or ‘truth’ and I have to believe what I am presented as being true (that they actually went to the moon, etc., but there are thousands of examples).

        The issues here are very different. They have to do essentially with obfuscation and the interest of power in obscuring.

        At some point in time however one has to decide between competing interpretations of data points.

        At every point in time in fact. But while you and I may have to *interpret* truth-claims from false-narratives we have trained ourselves to do this because of something like ‘essential distrust’. Simply put: we know that certain groups, certain corporate boards, and certain sectors of government have lied to us. Therefore we know that they will (likely) do it again.

        But the fact that we must *interpret* is because we cannot rely on the people and the groups around us to tell us the truth. Because their interest is served through their lies.

        But what I suggest is that if there was a *will to understand and to reveal the truth* that it would be very easy to get to the truth of what happened with 9/11. It is that there are specific, and for them *good* reasons, not to allow such an inquiry to occur.

        Is Corona Virus a real thing? Indeed it is. But that is less of an issue in comparison to how it has become expedient for Power (how else shall I say this, what other term shall I use?) to employ the crisis as a convenient means and as a tool for other, different ends.

        That seems to be the gist of the issue. Now, what I often suggest is that we live in an obscuring world, not a revealing world. And that is why I refer to the Allegory of the Cave as a necessary metaphor. Specifically Heidegger’s essay on the same.

        And now I must look up that word ‘gist’!

        gist (dʒɪst)
        n
        1. the point or substance of an argument, speech, etc
        2. (Law) law the essential point of an action.
        [C18: from Anglo-French, as in cest action gist en this action consists in, literally: lies in, from Old French gésir to lie, from Latin jacēre, from jacere to throw]

  4. Some Ideas can’t be spoken out loud. If we hold people with those ideas to the standard that they should be publicly open about them and allow for them to be punished for holding them, then we’re consciously dedicated to a mechanism by which people with those ideas are removed from society. The march through the institutions occurred by the means of secret handshakes and ideological attrition. In the warfare of ideas, a guerrilla force attacked a clearly-labeled and fortified position. Now that the march is evidently complete, and opposing ideas are forbidden, we’ve also forbidden the use of the guerrilla warfare by which the labeled fortress was initially taken. It’s a smart move by the enemy, but it isn’t one we should take seriously ourselves if this is understood as a war per se which we want to win.

    If we’re honest, we all know Crews is going to be removed because of the ideas he expressed and not for the way he expressed them. When we play our hands openly in public, we get this treatment:

    When they come for me, I won’t expect anyone to lift a finger to help, because that’s really who we are now. I will remain personally dedicated to the ideal that any man present should intervene with violence when a hooligan in a policeman costume “tazes” and kidnaps a woman in broad daylight, and I can see that I am very nearly alone in that regard by the repeated inaction of pseudo-men at large. Knowing this, I can not fault a man for taking measures to avoid detection in a post-apocalyptic dystopia such as this while also trying to do some little good anonymously. The standard that he should preach the now-obvious truth openly at the expense of his livelihood pits the perfect against the good. The fact that his livelihood is at stake because of his ideas per se makes the standard quasi-suicidal and foolhardy, like charging into a known ambush in formation with raised banners and colored uniforms. I admire its spirit at least.

      • Manservant to Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the Sûreté.

        In all seriousness, if people want those in power to be more honest, they need to reward honesty, rather than rewarding people who validate their complacency regardless of what else they do.

      • I understand that the enemy will shoot our soldiers. That doesn’t mean the enemy isn’t wrong to oppose us or that our soldiers shouldn’t avoid being shot. Rather, we should make that enemy pay for everything he had no right to take. Once we shrug and accept that the territory he occupies is his to defend, we’ve given up the conflict and thereby encourage him to occupy even more.

    • Ben
      Everything we do imposes costs and benefits. Espousing an idea should not be met with ad hominem or worse physical or legal attacks.

      We espouse ideas to effect change. To do so we must incur risk. Risk implies potential costs. Incurring a cost is not a punishment but an essential element in any transaction.

      Cost avoidance at in the process of accruing benefits is normal but total avoidance of costs is theft or fraud.

      If this guy felt it necessary to spout off and undermine his boss at no cost to him he is essentially the equivalent of a thief.

      • But what did we get in exchange for those institutions they took away and transformed into tools of ideological coercion? What did they risk while we treated their ideas as strange but socially-permitted alternatives? I think there’s a debt they owe us, by this logic. It’s as though property was taken by sly means which are forbidden to be used in its reacquisition, and the notion of cost is levied against the ones seeking recompense — much as our modern circumstances see violence called ‘peaceful’ while self defense against it is scrutinized.

        But now you have me thinking about divine recompense and natural obligations. If what we handed over wasn’t ours to give, and the evils we tolerated were due our intolerance, then it would make sense that we should have to fight to restore what we’ve undone. Still, even if we accept the inevitability of loss, it doesn’t make sense to paint targets on our chests and walk unarmed into enemy fire. Minimizing casualties isn’t a cheat, it’s the secondary objective.

        • I have read this discussion between you, Chris, Jack and EC (“XF”), a couple of times now, with much interest. All I can say is “thanks” to each of you, while being stuck on the memory of the horrific fates of so many signers of the Declaration of Independence. Makes me fantasize about including “whistleblower protection” in the Constitution [I am chuckling at myself wryly.]

  5. Jack, I don’t know if you’re still having problems with Facebook limiting your posts, but it would probably help if you were more famous. They recently cut traffic to Tucker Carlson’s page because of Wuhan virus information, but it was a “mistake”, in his case. Same thing happened with his Twitter account over comments about mail-in voting. Just be big enough to cause a ruckus, and your problems with be taken care of.

    Twitter also recently suspended the Babylon Bee again, and wiped their followers, but that, too, turned out to be a “mistake”.

    Facebook is still planning to throttle certain content shortly before the election. Wonder how many (and in which political direction) “mistakes” will be made then.

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