Wednesday, May 26, 2004
America deserves better # 8A
This is an unplanned letter because I just received this opinion piece that is well written and reenforces letter # 8. I don't know who F. Sweet is, or what his political leanings are, but I share the concerns expressed herein.
The Bush Administration's dangerous misuse and suppression of
government supported science is threatening the security of the
By Frederick Sweet
A group of leading American scientists, including over a dozen Nobel
Prize laureates, have made public their 46-page report, "Scientific
Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation into the Bush
Administration's Misuse of Science." The highly detailed report gives
alarming examples of the Bush Administration's misuse of science that
have already cost American lives, and foretells of soon-to-arrive
national disasters directly caused by the Administration's wholesale
ideological distortion of science.
The scathing report opens with Part I: Suppression and Distortion of
Research Findings at Federal Agencies. The section headings
are: "Distorting and Suppressing Climate Change Research; Censoring
Information on Air Quality; Distorting Scientific Knowledge on
Reproductive Health Issues [Abstinence-only Education, HIV/AIDS,
Breast Cancer]; Suppressing Analysis on Airborne Bacteria;
Misrepresenting Evidence on Iraq's Aluminum Tubes; Manipulation of
Science Regarding the Endangered Species Act; Manipulating the
Scientific Process on Forest Management; OMB Rulemaking on 'Peer
Review'." This only takes the reader to page 16 of the report.
The report criticizes Bush's subversion of American science,
continuing with, Part II: Undermining the Quality and Integrity of
the Appointment Process. Here we are told the frightening details
of "Dismissal of Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Panels;
Underqualified Candidates in Health Advisory Roles; and Political
Litmus Tests on Workplace Safety Panel" to cite just a few examples.
This takes us only half way through the report.
Part II, begins with a quote: "The real issue here is that we are
allowing scientific advisory committees to be contaminated by people
who have clear bias, clear financial conflicts that will not allow
them to make unbiased scientific decisions." This was written by Dr.
Bruce Lanphear, Director of the Children's Environmental Health
Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. The highly
qualified Lanphear's nomination to an advisory committee had been
scuttled by the Bush administration. His replacement was an
unqualified industrial "scientist" who was not concerned about the
dangers to children of high levels of lead and mercury.
In the report's conclusion, Part III: An Unprecedented Pattern of
Behavior, it begins, "No administration has been above inserting
politics into science from time to time. However, a considerable
number of individuals who have served in positions directly involved
in the federal government's use of scientific knowledge and expertise
have asserted that the Bush administration is, to an unprecedented
degree [emphasis added], distorting and manipulating the science
meant to assist the formation and implementation of policy.
In Part III, Dr. Marvin Goldberger -- and expert on nuclear
technology -- is quoted, poignantly. Goldberger is former president
of the California Institute of Technology who had advised both
Republican and Democratic administrations on nuclear weapons. He
compares the attitude of the Bush administration to those he has
served by stating, "Politics plays no role in scientists' search for
understanding and applications of the laws of nature. To ignore or
marginalize scientific input to policy decisions, where relevant, on
the basis of politics is to endanger our national economic and
The federal government increasingly relies on impartial researchers
for the critical role they play in gathering and analyzing
specialized data. But Bush has been working hard to make the opposite
to occur. Growing numbers of scientists, policy makers, and technical
specialists both inside and outside the government are reporting that
the Bush administration has suppressed or distorted the scientific
analyses of federal agencies to bring these results in line with
administration policy. Moreover, the experts complain that
irregularities in the appointment of scientific advisors and advisory
panels are threatening to upset the legally mandated balance of these
bodies. "Scientific Integrity in Policymaking. An Investigation into
the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science," provides the scary
Our national security and public safety relies very heavily on
superior science and technology. By Bush subverting the nation's
science as a tool for corporate lobbyists and a narrow political agenda
he has created the potential to do as much harm as the terrorists we
are being trained to fear.
To read the report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An
Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science.
(Posted Friday, March 4, 2004)