Restoring Scientific Integrity

Author interview with Bruce Buckheit, March 2004. 2. Author interview with Richard Biondi, April 2004. 3. As quoted in Alina Tugend, EPA Air Wars, Government Executive, May 15, 2004 available at www.govexec.com. 5. As quoted in Joel A. Mintz, 'Treading Water' A Preliminary Assessment of EPA Enforcement during the Bush II Administration, Environmental Law Reporter 34 (October 2004) 10933-53. 6. See F.D.A. Aide Quits in Protest of Morning-After Pill Decision, Associated Press, August 31, 2005. 7....

Burying More Than Intelligence

For detailed biographies of the NNSA Advisory Committee members, see 2. The NNSA did not announce this decision instead it was reported by George Lobsenz in Energy Daily, July 30, 2003, and subsequently reported by Global Security Newswire, United States I NNSA Shuts Down Nuclear Weapons Advisory Committee, July 30, 2003 available at www.nti.org, website of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. See also Christine Kucia, NNSA Folds Advisory Council, Arms Control Today, September 2003, available at...

Meet David Hager

If there is a poster child for the Bush administration's policies on matters of sex and women's reproductive issues, it is Dr. W. David Hager, a Kentucky-based obstetrician and gynecologist who mixes a heavy dose of religious preaching into his medical practice. Hager's nomination to the FDA's Reproductive Health Advisory Committee sent a shockwave through political and scientific circles alike. Dr. Hager is the author of several books, including As Jesus Cared for Women Restoring Women Then...

Pattern Of Distortion

Were the case of Philip Cooney an isolated incident, it might be possible to dismiss it as an error or anomaly. But Cooney's work is just one episode in a saga that began shortly after George W. Bush took office. Despite promises by the president that my administration's climate change policy will be science-based,16 as he said after six months in office, the White House has repeatedly and consistently intervened to distort or suppress climate change research findings. The story begins in...

Toxic Mixture For Science Policy

Bush takes such an antagonistic stance toward the nonpartisan business of gathering and analyzing scientific and technical information. Despite all that has been written about the lack of scientific integrity in the Bush administration, the president's motivation remains open to speculation. After all, scientific and technical information informs political decisions, but never mandates them. The Bush administration could presumably justify its opposition to caps...

Abstaining from the Truth on Abstinence and AIDS

For the first time in history, the FDA is not acting as an independent agency but rather as a tool of the White House. It is a very sad day when politicians start making medical decisions. James Trussell, Princeton University scientist and FDA advisory committee member, May 2004 o set of issues better encapsulates the Bush administration's antipathy toward facts than its policymaking on matters of human sexuality. From the transmission of AIDS to the prevention of teen pregnancies, Bush...

An Affront To Science And Democracy

It is easy enough to understand why the politically motivated censorship and distortion of scientific and technical research would be of overriding concern even to apolitical scientists a doctrinaire allegiance to one set of conclusions violates the central premise of the scientific method. As the conservative philosopher Karl Popper famously explained in his classic work The Logic of Scientific Discovery, science achieves a deeper understanding of the world precisely by vigorously challenging...

Beyond Partisanship

Such dispiriting evidence about Americans' scientific illiteracy is thankfully counterbalanced by far more heartening survey data. According to a poll conducted for the Union of Concerned Scientists after the group's report was released in 2004, the overwhelming majority of Americans showed a keen appreciation of fairness and transparency in governmental processes. Some 83 percent of U.S. citizens questioned believed it was important for the nation's leaders to gather information and scientific...

Brave New Rules

The second report on federal litmus tests was issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in April 2004 and politely titled Federal Ad visory Committees Additional Guidance Could Help Agencies Better Ensure Independence and Balance. The GAO made twelve specific recommendations to help remove politics from the appointment process to scientific and technical advisory panels. Most of these suggestions call upon branches of the government such as the General Services Administration and the...

Clear Skies Healthy Forests

Understanding Bush's Real Environmental Policy Tinkering with scientific information, either striking it from reports or altering it, is becoming a pattern of behavior. It represents the politicizing of a scientific process, which at once manifests a disdain for professional scientists working for our government and a willingness to be less than candid with the American people. Roger G. Kennedy, former director of the National Park Service, To understand the environmental policies of the Bush...

Contents

2 Icing the Data on Climate Change 16 3 Doctoring Evidence about Your Health 31 4 Abstaining from the Truth on Abstinence and AIDS 46 5 Clear Skies Healthy Forests Understanding Bush's Real Environmental Policy 64 6 When Good Science Is the Endangered Species 81 7 Burying More Than Intelligence 94 9 Stem Cells and Monkey Trials 127 10 Restoring Scientific Integrity 145

Controlling Information

As the case studies presented in this book have shown, the Bush administration has been surprisingly successful at censoring and manipulating the work of scientists at federal agencies throughout the government by vesting unprecedented power in a small cadre of loyalists at the White House and requiring that work at federal agencies be funneled through and approved by these officials. As detailed in chapter 2, this strategy has been successfully employed to suppress and distort government...

Dead Wrong

The twisted story of the Bush administration's false claims about Iraq's interest in Niger's uranium has been treated at length in many other sources, including the 500-page review by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in July 2004, as well as the Robb-Silbermann Presidential Commission on Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. According to the Senate committee, the Niger uranium story was one of the key points on which the Bush...

Doctoring Evidence about Your Health

I expect the Bush administration will go down in history as the greatest disaster for public health and the environment in the history of the United States. Senator James M. Jeffords (Independent-VT), 2004 The old adage says, If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But what if it is broke and you still don't want to fix it For the Bush administration, the answer appears to be doctor the facts. Such was the case in December 2003 with the release of the National Healthcare Disparities Report, the first...

Evading Accountability

In addition to exerting a tight and centralized control of information, the Bush administration has systematically sought to bypass and evade many of the checks and balances built into federal procedures to keep the government accountable. In this regard, of course, the administration has been greatly aided by the Republican control of Congress and the extremely partisan climate that currently pervades Washington, DC. Historically, within the U.S. federal government, the two-party system has...

Exploiting Barriers

Nothing can alter the fundamental need for public accountability on issues of scientific integrity in policymaking. But it is also important to note how successfully the Bush administration has exploited technical and bureaucratic barriers to this kind of accountability. Many of the issues treated in this book are highly complex and technical as a result, they present high barriers to public understanding. The public is also often unfamiliar with the work of scientific advisory panels and the...

Icing the Data on Climate Change

In my 14 years in government I have never seen a situation like the present one involving climate science in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program in its relationship to the research community, to program managers, to policymakers, and to the public interest. Rick S. Piltz, former senior associate at the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, in his letter of resignation,...

Inconvenient Facts

In retrospect, there were ominous signs from the start that George W. Bush had little use for inconvenient factual information whether strictly scientific or otherwise. On the campaign trail Bush appeared notably disinterested in policy details and highly selective in the often misleading factual examples he offered. His numbers frequently didn't add up, and he didn't bother to correct them when the discrepancies were brought to his attention. Equally troubling, when the bitterly divisive 2000...

Manipulating The Scientific Process For The Timber Industry

As the EPA's top air pollution regulator, Jeffrey Holmstead used many of the same tactics to weaken environmental regulations for other industries besides the electric utilities. A good example can be seen in his intervention in setting EPA's safe levels of formaldehyde, a chemical used widely in the manufacture of building materials and household products. It is also released when wood, tobacco, and other organic substances burn. Formaldehyde is known to cause nausea and eye, throat, and skin...

Meet Jeffrey Holmstead

In the area of federal air pollution regulations, no appointment has been more important to the Bush administration than that of Jeffrey R. Holm-stead, EPA's assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. Holmstead, who left the post in August 2005, was a consummate insider. Throughout his career, he worked on behalf of corporate clients to scale back and minimize the effects of environmental regulation on business. He served as an associate White House counsel in the administration of George...

Meet Stephen Griles

As we have seen at EPA and elsewhere, the Bush administration has made a practice of installing industry advocates in key regulatory and enforcement positions in the federal government. Perhaps nowhere has the practice had such a devastating impact on the environment as at the U.S. Department of the Interior. In one such tale of the manipulation of scientific data, J. Stephen Griles, a deputy secretary at the Department of the Interior, authorized the distortion of the government's...

Mercury Pollution Trading In The Nations Health

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause brain damage and harm reproduction in women and wildlife. It is retained in body tissue and accumulates in the food chain. Coal-fired power plants are the nation's largest source of mercury air emissions, emitting about 48 tons annually.22 Under the Clinton administration a set of rules the so-called Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT), required under the Clean Air Act mandated reducing these emissions by as...

Open Season On Trumpeter Swans

Bull trout are hardly the only species whose protection is threatened by Bush administration policies. According to documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Steven A. Williams, decided not to list the rare trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) as endangered based on two documents a scientifically flawed non-peer-reviewed report and a seriously...

Panther Charade

According to a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who also serves on an FWS advisory panel, agency officials also knowingly used flawed science in assessing whether the Florida panther is endangered. The reason to facilitate proposed economic development in southwestern florida. Andrew Eller Jr., who has worked at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for seventeen years, charges that his superiors knowingly inflated data about panther population viability and minimized assessments of the...

Playing Politics With Public Health

The manipulation of scientific evidence around Plan B tells a sorry tale, but the bigger picture is even more troubling. Since his tenure as governor of Texas, George W. Bush has made no secret of his view that, with regard to sex, teenagers should be taught abstinence only. Many Bush supporters like the sound of the president's strong pronouncements on these issues, viewing the administration's abstinence-only policies as welcome in a society awash in sexually provocative advertising and...

Political Litmus Tests On Workplace Safety Panel

In one well-documented case, mentioned in chapter 1, Tommy Thompson, as secretary of Health and Human Services, dismissed three well-qualified experts on ergonomics from a narrowly focused peer review panel at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The three nominees in question had been selected to join a study section of the Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health that evaluates research grants on workplace injuries.9 Based on their credentials and...

Preface

On February 18, 2004, more than sixty of the most eminent scientists in the United States gave an unprecedented vote of no confidence to the administration of George W. Bush. The scientists who came forward, including Nobel laureates, National Medal of Science recipients, and members of the National Academy of Sciences, had all signed a statement, entitled Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policy Making, which charged the administration with a widespread pattern of suppression and distortion...

Science

Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley Los Angeles London University of California Press, one of the most distinguished university presses in the United States, enriches lives around the world by advancing scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Its activities are supported by the UC Press Foundation and by philanthropic contributions from individuals and institutions. For more information, visit...

Spin Doctors

Historically, the federal government, recognizing its vital role as a regulator and protector of public health, has worked hard to establish a climate that protects government scientists from outside influence peddlers. These protections have eroded in the Bush administration. On public health issues, the administration has allowed industry concerns to trump those of public health and independent scientific analysis. It did so when it allowed the lead-paint industry to skew the scientific...

Stacking The Deck

For these and many other brief profiles of Bush administration appointees, see the Center for American Progress and OMB Watch, Special Interest Takeover, May 2004 available at ombwatch.org. 2. For a full accounting, including a listing of members and other pertinent information, see the online database of the Federal Advisory Committee Act at www.faca database.gov. 3. See Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, 5 U.S.C. Appendix 2, Section 5(b) 2 and 3. 4. Ken Lasaius, White House Press Office,...

Stem Cell Decree

Bush's strained relationship with the scientific community began long before the Blackburn saga. Things began to sour, in fact, with Bush's first major policy announcement in 2001 an edict limiting federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. It is worth looking closely at this stem cell decision, not just because of its vital importance to the scientific community and human health in the future, but for what it shows about Bush's decision-making process on such a...

Stem Cells and Monkey Trials

When prominent scientists must fear that descriptions of their research will be misrepresented and misused by their government to advance political ends, something is deeply wrong. Elizabeth BLackburn, microbiologist, University of California, San Francisco, Medical School, April 2004 George W. Bush campaigned as someone who would work well with people of different perspectives and political persuasions. I showed the people of Texas that I'm a uniter, not a divider, Bush famously told the...

Trout Bull

Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) officials censored an analysis of the economics of protecting the bull trout, a species in the Pacific Northwest that has been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 1998. FWS published only an inflated assessment of the costs associated with protecting the species and deleted the report's section analyzing the economic benefits.8 This story begins with a 2003 court settlement in which the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to develop a plan...

When Even A Nobel Laureate Wont Do

Perhaps one of the most complete pictures of the Bush administration's politicization of the appointment process for scientific and technical ad visers comes from a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called the Fogarty International Center. As its name suggests, the Fogarty Center develops international research and training programs to address global health issues, such as efforts to augment nutrition, vaccination, or AIDS prevention. Gerald T. Keusch, who served from October...

When Good Science Is the Endangered Species

The members of our panel were told to either strip out our recommendations or see our report end up in a drawer. Rqbert Paine, ecologist at the University of Washington, April 2004 By this point, a few things should be clear about the Bush administration it is driven by ideology and political payback to its core constituencies. Top administration officials often appear to place little value on science as a tool to inform policymaking. And at the explicit direction of the White House, Bush...

When Public Health Is A Sensitive Issue

The Bush administration's strategy to politicize the scientific advisory process is so pervasive and problematic that I will review it more fully in chapter 8. There are however, more overt ways to exercise control over the government's agenda on science and health issues. Take, for example, the case of Dr. James Zahn, a research microbiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Shortly after joining USDA in 2000, before the start of the Bush administration, Zahn discovered...

Wheres The Beef

The administration suppressed James Zahn's research. But it is important to note that the politicization of scientific information can also involve the concerted effort to make the science fit a desired policy. Consider the situation recounted by a high-ranking source at USDA about the manipulation of science in policymaking after a case of mad cow disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Canada. In May 2003, Canadian officials announced the discovery of a case of BSE in...

Stovepiping Iraq Intelligence

The Bush administration has spent tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to deploy an utterly unproven and dubious missile defense system, but this pales in comparison to the cost of the war in Iraq. The Iraq war and the mishandling of technical information and intelligence that led to it will undoubtedly go down in history as the most egregious of the Bush administration's failings. The picture will surely become clearer in time as more of the administration's now-classified deliberations...

Public Health Malpractice

These actions of the Bush administration, which would be dishonest in almost any context, must be specifically considered in the context of the AIDS epidemic. Put simply, people are dying in greater numbers because of Bush administration policies. Worldwide, some forty million people are living with AIDS. Millions die annually, and some five million are newly infected with the virus each year. In the face of what we know to be largely a preventable epidemic, surely the first priority of the...

Lead Poisoning Millions Of Children Left Behind

The saga surrounding the National Healthcare Disparities Report involved a blatant example of distorting the facts. Just as troubling is the Bush administration's calculated strategy to distort the collection of scientific and health information within the government. This begins with the manipulation of the scientific advisory process inside the federal government's network of nearly one thousand scientific advisory panels where new policies often originate and are evaluated on their technical...

Eyes Wide Shut

Ironically, many studies show that comprehensive sex education that both encourages abstinence and teaches about the effective use of contraceptives delays the occurrence of teen sex, reduces the frequency of sex, and increases the use of condoms and other contraceptives. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all support comprehensive sex education programs that...

Misrepresenting Evidence On Iraqs Aluminum Tubes

In the story of the Bush administration's handling of prewar intelligence about Iraq, it is instructive to look closely at one particular technical as pect the way key officials selectively interpreted information about Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase aluminum tubes. The case shows how the administration appears to have knowingly disregarded scientific analysis of intelligence data that challenged its case.52 In the weeks leading up to the war, senior administration officials bolstered their...

Meet Craig Manson

As we have seen, a favored Bush administration tactic is to put loyal enforcers in key midlevel positions well placed to control scientific work on particular topics or at a given agency. Philip Cooney played such a role in censoring government research on global warming. Jeffrey Holmstead stifled and distorted scientific research on air pollution. Stephen Griles undermined the environmental assessment process to aid his former colleagues in the coal industry. When it comes to endangered...

Meet Philip Cooney

To appreciate the campaign to distort climate change science, let us consider the case of Philip Cooney. From 2001 until 2005, Cooney was chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality CEQ . A major part of his job, the evidence shows, was to censor and distort government reports so as to raise doubts about climate change even when U.S. government scientists had none. Cooney, a lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, had no scientific credentials that might qualify...

Bushs New Monkey Trial

We have reviewed the Bush administration's repeated denials of fact on a wide array of topics from national security to public health. We have seen an administration that stubbornly insisted that Iraq's aluminum tubes were for the enrichment of uranium when technical analysis indicated otherwise that global warming remains in doubt when plainly it doesn't that abstinence-only programs will reduce the prevalence of sex ually transmitted diseases when, by themselves, they will almost surely do...