In February, 2004, a group of more than 60 top U.S. scientists accused the Bush administration of manipulating and censoring science for political purposes. Its authors included 20 Nobel laureates, several science advisers to past Republican presidents, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In their report, scientists said the administration was “suppressing, distorting or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies” in several cases. On the subject of global warming, the administration ordered significant changes to the section on global warming in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2003 Report on the Environment. The entire section was later dropped.
In this “comprehensive” report, the administration opposed mention of research demonstrating sharp increases in global temperature over the past decade. They also objected to reference of a National Academy of Sciences report on the human contribution to global warming.
The administration sought to replace the statement that “Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment” with a statement about the “complexity of the Earth’s system and the interconnections among its components.”
Cases of distortions in other subjects include:
- Replacing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet on proper condom use with a warning emphasizing condom failure rates.
- Removing scientists from advisory boards when their political views didn’t match those of the administration.
- Suppressing a U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist’s finding that potentially harmful bacteria float in the air surrounding large hog farms.
Russell Train, former EPA Administrator to Presidents Nixon and Ford, wrote in a letter to the New York Times:
“I can state categorically that there never was such White House intrusion into the business of the E.P.A. during my tenure. The E.P.A. was established as an independent agency in the executive branch, and so it should remain. There appears today to be a steady erosion in its independent status. I can appreciate the president’s interest in not having discordant voices within his Administration. But the interest of the American people lies in having full disclosure of the facts, particularly when the issue is one with such potentially enormous damage to the long-term health and economic well-being of all of us.”