While virtually all the establishment-media attention surrounding nurse Kaci Hickox (shown) in recent days has focused on her defiant attitude toward efforts to quarantine her over potential exposure to Ebola, one important detail in the saga has gone almost completely unnoticed by the press: Hickox was trained as an “intelligence officer” by the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The revelation has sparked widespread speculation, especially considering White House intervention on her behalf and the fact that most of the press entirely omitted such an important fact. So far, however, it is not clear whether her work for the federal government played a role in the ongoing story, or what that role might be.
Hickox, who returned from Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone after treating Ebola patients with a medical organization, became a media sensation after she was first ordered to be quarantined in New Jersey upon her return from Africa. She was later under quarantine orders in Maine. That part of the story is well-known and has dominated U.S. news headlines in recent days. Less well known, though, is that the nurse graduated in 2012 from a two-year CDC program that trains what the federal agency describes as “Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers,” or EIS agents.
“What is a CDC intelligence officer? To understand the answer, you first have to realize that the CDC models itself after the U.S. military which is why CDC ‘officers’ wear military costumes when appearing before Congress, complete with shoulder stripes, stars and badges,” explained health analyst Mike Adams, editor of Natural News, adding that the outfits were meant to project the appearance of authority and were merely one sign of the militarization of federal health schemes. “Just as with the U.S. Army, the CDC also has ‘intelligence officers’ whose jobs include gathering intelligence, analyzing intelligence and conducting counterintelligence ops.”
Adams and other analysts questioned why a CDC-trained “intelligence” officer would be “screaming so loudly” about staying home for a few weeks to reduce the risk of transmitting Ebola to other Americans. The “Health Ranger,” as Adams is also known, went on to suggest that the antics in refusing to comply with a “sensible self-quarantine rule” showed a lack of concern for public health and safety — especially troubling considering her CDC employment and thus her status as an alleged public servant. Highlighting some of Hickox's public comments, Adams said they were not the words of a concerned and ethical epidemiologist, but rather the words of “a CDC intelligence operative who has been trained in the art of information warfare.”
Adams said Hickox’s comments and behavior reflect the CDC’s opposition to “all sensible pandemic protections for Americans” — for example, restrictions on travel to the United States from Ebola-plagued nations such as Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. “America's most important medical decisions, in other words, are right now being influenced by an intelligence operative trained by the CDC under a two-year program modeled after the military,” Adams concluded, suggesting that the revelations shed light on the motivations behind Hickox’s actions and words.
The Daily Caller appears to have been the first media outlet to pick up on Hickox’s shadowy federal background. The online news service also observed that the lawyer who helped secure the nurse’s release from quarantine in New Jersey, New York civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, was a well-connected recent guest at a White House state dinner. Under pressure from the administration, the United Nations, and her high-profile attorney, Governor Chris Christie eventually released Hickox to return to her home in Maine early last week.
There, state authorities also sought to isolate the nurse, who was not showing symptoms, by keeping her at home and away from the public until the incubation period for Ebola runs its course. However, a Maine judge nixed the state-issued quarantine order late last week. “The State has not met its burden at this time to prove by clear and convincing evidence that limiting [Hickox's] movements to the degree requested” is needed, District Court Chief Judge Charles LaVerdiere wrote in his decision relaxing the restrictions, adding that she should report any potential Ebola symptoms to health officials immediately and coordinate travel with authorities.
Hickox celebrated, saying she was “very satisfied” with the ruling and that it was a “good day.” Maine Governor Paul LePage had a different view, but vowed to abide by the judge’s ruling. “My duty to protect the health of the individual, as well as the health and safety of 1.3 million Mainers, is my highest priority,” he said in a statement released after the decision. “Despite our best effort to work collaboratively with this individual, she has refused to cooperate with us. As Governor, I have done everything I can to protect the health and safety of Mainers. The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling and I believe it is unfortunate. However, the State will abide by law.”
Like UN boss Ban Ki-moon in a recent statement blasting quarantines of health workers involved with Ebola patients, Hickox framed the battle over quarantine as one between “science” and “politics.” Speaking during an interview with Meet the Press, for example, the nurse attacked Christie’s decision as being politically motivated. “When Governor Christie stated that it was an abundance of caution, which is his reasoning for putting health care workers in a sort of quarantine for three weeks, it was really an abundance of politics,” she argued. “And I think all of the scientific and medical and public health community agrees with me on that statement.”
Separately, she also framed the issue as one about individual rights. “Sometimes we fight for our rights, but it doesn't mean we have to act on them,” Hickox was quoted as saying by the Maine Sunday Telegram, referring to her voluntary decision not to go into town or into crowded public places while she awaits the end of the Ebola incubation period — said by officials to be about 21 days. Additionally, the nurse told various media outlets that she hoped her efforts to fight the quarantine would benefit other aid workers returning from West Africa who may be stigmatized. “I know that won't happen today,” she added.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an eye doctor who has been seeking to portray himself as a liberty-minded conservative ahead of a widely anticipated 2016 run for president, also touched on individual-rights concerns surrounding Hickox’s case. “The libertarian in me is horrified at the idea of indefinitely detaining, or detaining anyone without a trial,” he told CNN in an interview that aired over the weekend. “One of the basic rights we inherited from the English and we got from common law was the right of habeas corpus, to present the body. If the king were detaining you in the Tower of London, or a governor or anybody who is detaining you, you have to have recourse to a lawyer.”
However, Paul acknowledged fears over the potential implications for public health. “I think there is a reasonable public concern, saying you shouldn't be going to the discotheque, you shouldn't be going to the local bar, you shouldn't be going to the local school cafeteria,” he added, saying that the federal government should have imposed travel and visa restrictions on travelers coming from West Africa. “I think there are reasonable precautions.… We have to be careful of people's civil liberties. But I'm also not saying that the government doesn't have a role in trying to prevent contagion. So there are exceptions to things.”
Ebola has killed over 5,000 people in West Africa thus far, and experts say the extraordinarily deadly virus is likely to continue spreading. The UN and the Obama administration have so far rejected quarantines as allegedly not being based on “science,” rather than over any concerns about individual rights or constitutional protections. However, both have come under criticism, with Obama now being lambasted by some critics as “President Obola.” Obama’s new “Ebola czar” is under fire, too, after a video surfaced of him claiming that “growing population” — especially in Africa — was the “top leadership challenge” facing the world.
The Obama administration and the UN both purport to have awesome powers if they claim to be battling an epidemic. So far, though, they have not invoked those usurped authorities outside of Africa — where entire villages have been quarantined at gunpoint and where U.S. troops unconstitutionally sent there under the guise of fighting Ebola must be isolated prior to returning home. The one bright spot in the fight against Ebola, meanwhile, came from a private company, which unlike the UN and governments, was extremely successful in containing the virus among the 80,000 people on its massive rubber-tree plantation in Liberia.
Photo of Kaci Hickox: AP Images