Monday, June 02, 2008

NASA’s Political Suppression of Science Laid at the Feet of . . .

Today the Associated Press is reporting that NASA’s Office of the Inspector General has issued its final report on the suppression of scientific evidence regarding global warming. In its brief statement the AP says that NASA had inappropriately interfered with the dissemination of NASA studies of global warming, and that it was political in nature.

Oh my. What a surprise.

Actually there is more to it. Examination of the Inspector General’s report, found here, reveals that, apparently, there were political appointees in NASA’s Office of Public Affairs, headquartered in Washington, D.C. who were responsible for the suppression of the works of several NASA scientists, but notably, the office moved to prevent Dr. James E. Hanson, a NASA global warming investigator, from participating in a radio interview in December 2005.

The report reveals that “NASA’s decision was based, in part, on concern that Dr. Hansen would not limit his responses to scientific information but would instead entertain a discussion on policy issues.”

That is, the press office decided that Dr. Hansen would not limit his discussion to scientific fact, but would extend toward the forbidden turf of public policy. Bush knows that only political hacks can synthesize all of this science into a cogent public policy. Heaven forbid that a scientist would want to draw a conclusion based on the data.

But now comes the question that comes when the government is caught with its censorship markers in inappropriate areas: how high did it go? Who gave the order?

Well, according to the OIG, it was a lowly junior grade political appointee, acting alone, but in general concert with the overall management policy of this kind of information.

“NASA maintains that the decision to deny media access to Dr. Hansen was unilaterally made by a junior Schedule C political appointee in the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs. The evidence, however, reflects that this appointee acted in accord with the overall management of climate change information at that time within the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs.”
Who sets the tone then? Who made sure that the Office of Public Affairs wielded a heavy mallet whenever information supporting the notion of global warming poked its head out of the ground?

Well, they looked and they looked but they just couldn’t find the connection between NASA’s information suppressing press office and anywhere else. They laid blame on a seeming contradictory structure at the headquarters, wherein political appointees were placed in charge of “the seemingly contradictory position of ensuring the “widest practicable” dissemination of NASA research results that were arguably inconsistent with the Administration’s policies, such as the ‘Vision for Space Exploration.’”

In other words, they placed the foxes in charge of the hen house.

And surprise, surprise, senior management at NASA’s Office of Public Affairs were completely in the dark:
“…the alleged improper political interference with dissemination of climate science research and dysfunction between the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs and a group of Agency scientists had apparently occurred unbeknownst to senior NASA leadership over a sustained period of time.”
This is the absolutely oldest game in the history of science, and here we have top leaders in the government’s premier scientific endeavor claiming absolute ignorance that such a thing has occurred – or for that matter could occur.

It boggles the mind, and I’ll bet that if Galileo Galileii, Nicholas Copernicus, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin could hear the plaintive whines of NASA senior management, they would be spinning in their graves.

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