Friday, July 13, 2007

White House sacrifices science for politics

Former Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, reported in sworn testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform earlier this week that top officials in the Bush administration repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports for political considerations.

It’s not the first time that the Bush administration has been caught suppressing science to promote its political agenda. Bush political appointees have watered down or suppressed reports on global warming and the ineffectiveness of abstinence and charter schools.

Dr. Carmona, who served as surgeon general, the nation’s public health educator and advocate, from 2002 to 2006, said White House officials would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues because of political concerns.

Bush administration officials also delayed for years and attempted to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand tobacco smoke.

Dr. Carmona also testified that he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of every speech he gave. Those must have been real barn burners!

He was also asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings, at least one of which included Karl Rove, the president’s senior political adviser. Administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to the Kennedy family.

As blogger Jim Rowen wrote:

"It's a little like finding out that White House operatives made NASA deny astronomy, or told the CIA to shelve electronic espionage in favor of Tarot cards.

There is a clear Wisconsin connection to this story, and to presidential campaigning, because Carmona worked under then-Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson"

The New York Times suggested in an editorial that Congress should ban "...any effort to censor or delay the surgeon general's reports and speeches."

We've come a long way from founders like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin who believed that America's democratic promise was integrally connected to its study and application of science. This White House gang respects neither science nor democracy.

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