Bush Administration ‘Manipulated’ Scientific Process for Political Goals, House Panel Says
The Bush administration has "manipulated the scientific process and distorted or suppressed scientific findings" in order to support its political aims on issues ranging from sex education to the environment, according to a report released yesterday by the minority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform, the New York Times reports (Marquis, New York Times, 8/8). The 40-page report, titled "Politics and Science in the Bush Administration," was prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) by the committee's minority staff special investigations division (Weiss, Washington Post, 8/8). The report covers more than 20 subject areas, which "span a broad range" but "share a common attribute: the beneficiaries of the scientific distortions are important supporters of the president, including social conservatives and powerful industry groups," according to the report (House Committee on Government Reform Minority Staff, "Politics and Science in the Bush Administration," August 2003).
The report says that the administration altered "performance measures" used to establish the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education programs to make it easier to claim that the programs are effective, according to the Washington Post. In addition, the administration removed from the CDC Web site information about condom use, as well as data showing that comprehensive sex education does not lead to increased sexual activity among teenagers. The report also says that the administration changed a National Cancer Institute Web site to suggest that scientific evidence supported a link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. In addition, the report says that Bush has appointed "numerous people with political, rather than scientific credentials" to important scientific advisory committees, the Post reports. According to a Waxman spokesperson, the report will be updated on the Web site as new examples arise, the Post reports (Washington Post, 8/8).
The report concludes that the administration's "political interference with science has led to misleading statements by the president, inaccurate responses to Congress, altered Web sites, suppressed agency reports, erroneous international communications and the gagging of scientists" ("Politics and Science in the Bush Administration," August 2003). White House spokesperson Scott McClellan "dismissed" the report, according to the Times. He said, "This administration looks at the facts and reviews the best available science based on what's right for the American people. The only one who is playing politics about science is Congressman Waxman. His report is riddled with distortion, inaccuracies and omissions" (New York Times, 8/8). The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.