Add one more to the list.
Yesterday, former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona testified before congress that he was subjected to extensive and systematic political interference in his work by the Bush Administration. From Gardiner Harris of The New York Times:
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.
The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.
The article goes through these instances of suppression in detail, and I’d encourage you to give it a thorough read.
According to Carmona, some pretty high level people are implicated in this:
In response to lawmakers’ questions, Dr. Carmona refused to name specific people in the administration who had instructed him to put political considerations over scientific ones. He said, however, that they included assistant secretaries of health and human services as well as top political appointees outside the department of health.
Dr. Carmona did offer to provide the names to the committee in a private meeting.
These names need to be released immediately, and pressure must be put on these officials to force their resignations. This type of political interference in science should not be allowed to continue.
But, wait. It gets even better. This part is beyond ludicrous:
Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.
And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.
“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.
The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.
When asked after the hearing if that “prominent family” was the Kennedys, Dr. Carmona responded, “You said it. I didn’t.”
There’s no reason why we should be particularly surprised about all of this, but Carmona’s testimony is particularly shocking. Without a doubt, this administration has been the most hostile to science (and anything else that counters its narrow, extreme, short-sighted, and destructive right-wing agenda) of any that I know about. This will be the Bush legacy, and thank God (for the sake of scientific progress) it’s almost over.
By the time the dust has settled, though, how much damage will have been done?