Administration Censorship and Manipulation of Science Ongoing

April 20, 2004

Scientists Rebut Administration Response to Report on Its Abuse of Scientific Integrity

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) http://www.ucsusa.org released a point-by-point rebuttal yesterday to an April 2 White House statement defending the Bush Administration against claims of widespread manipulation of science and egregious conflicts of interest in policymaking.

The White House statement, issued by John H. Marburger, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, came in response to a February 18 UCS report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking, signed by 62 of the nation's preeminent scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates. But the Marburger statement, according to UCS, lacked any substantive arguments, included inaccurate statements, and sidestepped several important issues.

"The White House document fails to refute the serious allegations that the Bush Administration has engaged in activities that undermine scientific integrity in policy making," concludes the 13-page UCS analysis. "It is unfortunate that the administration is not taking the concerns of the scientific community seriously, as these issues have significant consequences for the public's health and well-being."[1]

The UCS document analyzes the White House defense of charges that it is manipulating science in areas such as climate change; mercury emissions; air pollution; abstinence-only education; breast cancer; HIV/AIDS; airborne bacteria; Iraq's aluminum tubes; endangered species; forest management; peer review; workplace safety and childhood lead exposure. A full copy of the report can be seen at http://www.ucsusa.org .

"UCS stands by the findings and conclusions of its report," the analysis states, repeating the scientists' initial conclusion that the White House "frequently attempted to undermine scientific integrity" when "scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals."

For example, the White House document simply dismisses as "false" a UCS allegation that the Bush Administration tried to "force revisions to the climate change section of the Environmental Protection Agency's draft Report on the Environment," a document designed to explain government decision-making to the American public.

But the UCS has ample evidence of the administration's efforts to do so, including a leaked EPA memo, published statements by then-EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman (who opted to remove the climate change section entirely rather than print the distorted version), and a front-page story that ran in the New York Times.

The Bush Administration has repeatedly tried to introduce uncertainty into the area of climate change science, the UCS analysis found, even though the world's leading scientists long ago agreed that human activities -- notably those that produce greenhouse gas emissions -- are largely responsible for the recent warming of Earth's surface temperature. In fact, the analysis points out, President Bush himself explained the process of human-caused climate change in great detail during a June 11, 2001 Rose Garden speech -- but has repeatedly backed away from those statements since then.

"In the absence of a constructive, and candid response from this administration, it is left to scientific associations and scientists, members of Congress, the media, and others to further pursue these allegations of abuse of scientific input to policymaking, and to press for institutional and legislative reforms aimed at preventing such abuses by future administrations," the analysis concludes.

[1] "Analysis of White House Claims," Union of Concerned Scientists, Apr. 19, 2004.


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