Washington – Yesterday, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office told the Riverside (California) Press-Enterprise that it never asked the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to withhold an undercover slaughterhouse video from the public or from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This refutes sworn Congressional testimony offered on Tuesday by HSUS Public Health Director Dr. Michael Greger.

The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), a food-issues watchdog group, said today that HSUS’s decision to withhold its video from federal authorities and the public increased the possible public-health risk from potentially contaminated beef used in federal school lunch programs. This morning CCF asked the U.S. House Energy and

Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to review Dr. Greger’s testimony and investigate whether he committed perjury.

In a February 26 hearing before that Subcommittee, two Members asked HSUS’s Dr. Greger why his organization delayed sharing the video, shot in October and November, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture until the end of January.

Replying to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Greger testified:

“We gave this evidence over to the local District Attorney’s office, the San Bernardino County District Attorney, and they asked us not to publicly release this information, to hold off so they could carry out their own criminal investigation into the animal cruelty that was witnessed. We complied with that request.” [emphasis is Dr. Greger’s]

When Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) asked Greger: “So the District Attorney of San Bernardino County told you ‘Don’t tell USDA there’s a food problem here’?” Greger testified:

“They told us to wait on any kind of public release of this information … They asked us to hold on to the information while they completed their investigation.”

Greger’s apparent perjury was uncovered by Press-Enterprise Washington bureau reporter Ben Goad, who reported in Thursday’s edition:

“San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Deborah Ploghaus, the lead investigator on the case, said she never made such a request. On Wednesday, Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle backed off Greger’s statement, saying he was uncertain if the prosecutors specifically asked to keep the footage out of public view.”

“The Humane Society of the United States shares responsibility for letting American kids eat meat that shouldn’t have been in the food supply,” said CCF Director of Research David Martosko. “HSUS was clearly more interested in maximizing the political impact of its slaughterhouse video than in protecting ordinary people. And lying to Congress to cover up its apathy toward public health is truly despicable.”

Reached by telephone on Thursday afternoon, San Bernardino County Assistant District Attorney Dennis Christy told CCF: “We recommended to the Humane Society of the U.S. that their information be provided to the USDA. The HSUS told us they were reluctant … I can say unequivocally that we never suggested in any way – in fact, we encouraged the HSUS to cooperate with, provide information to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.”

Christy also added that his office’s criminal investigation was hampered, in part, by HSUS’s desire to keep the USDA out of the loop: “We had some difficulty in preparing criminal charges, because of delays in setting up any interview with the Humane Society investigator at which USDA officers would be present.”

Links:

Partial transcript of Tuesday’s hearing:
http://www.consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/headline/3571

Press-Enterprise story:
http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_rift28.3b9fe62.html

Letter to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: http://consumerfreedom.com/downloads/reference/docs/080229_HSUS_perjury_letter.pdf