By David L. Brown
There is a mounting body of evidence that members of the Bush administration and civil servants in our government have routinely and systematically controlled the flow of information from scientific sources in order to suppress knowledge that might be “inconvenient truths,” as Al Gore might put it.
This has been especially noticeable in regard to facts about climate change. One top expert on the subject, James Hanssen of NASA’s Goddard Institute, refused to be muzzled and spoke out on global warming in defiance of his would-be political handlers. He was able to get away with it because of the strength of his reputation. Many lesser lights have been effectively silenced, in some cases forced out of their jobs.
Now a Reuters story that appeared this morning on the web site of the newspaper The Australian (read it here) relates how the Surgeon General of the United States — our nation’s top doctor — was also muzzled by the Bushies, particularly in regard to information concerning stem cell research. Here is an excerpt:
WASHINGTON: The first surgeon-general appointed by George W. Bush has accused the White House of political interference and muzzling him on key issues such as embryonic stem cell research.
Richard Carmona, who served as the senior US doctor from 2002 until 2006, said the President’s appointees controlled medical politics.
“Anything that does not fit the ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalised or simply buried,” Dr Carmona told a Congress committee.
“The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalising the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon-general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party.”
Dr Carmona said Bush political appointees censored his speeches and kept him from talking publicly about issues including embryonic stem cell research, the use of contraception and his misgivings about the White House’s push for “abstinence-only” sex education.
Dr Carmona’s comments came two days before a US Senate committee is due to hold a hearing on Mr Bush’s nomination of James Holsinger as his successor. Rights activists and leading Democrats have criticised Dr Holsinger for what they see as his anti-gay writings, but the White House has defended him as well qualified.
What a travesty! And how did the White House respond:
White House spokesman Tony Fratto rejected Dr Carmona’s criticism, and said he was given authority to be the leading voice for the health of all Americans. “It’s disappointing to us if he failed to use his position to the fullest extent in advocating for policies he thought were in the best interests of the nation,” Mr Fratto said.
Talk about attacking the messenger. This statement is bizarre in its implications that Dr. Carmona failed in his duties to inform the American people, while dismissing entirely the charge that his public statements were edited.
According to the Reuters story, “Dr Carmona said he was astounded at the partisanship and manipulation he had experienced as the Bush appointees hemmed him in.” He told the news agency that the White House “prevented him from voicing views on stem cell research,” which the article said “Many scientists see as a promising avenue for curing disease,” but opponents call it immoral on the basis of right-to-life issues because it involves destroying embryos. The article also attributed to Dr Carmona the statement “that he was prevented from talking publicly even about the science underpinning the research”.
With input from wacko Creationists and religious conservatives influencing our government’s policies on medical research, and the likes of Exxon/Mobil controlling issues relating to climate change and our looming energy crisis, there is no doubt that our nation is in deep trouble.