Watchdog Group Accuses Bush Administration of Suppressing Climate Change Research

Brian Ross of ABC News reports that a watchdog group will be releasing a report at a hearing of the House Science Committee accusing Bush administration officials of interfering with the release of reseach on climate change:

Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject.

Researchers for the non-profit watchdog Government Accountability Project reviewed thousands of e-mails, memos and other documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and from government whistle-blowers and conducted dozens of interviews with public affairs staff, scientists, reporters and others.

The group says it has identified hundreds of instances where White House-appointed officials interfered with government scientists’ efforts to convey their research findings to the public, at the behest of top administration officials.

The report is slated to be released tomorrow at a hearing before the House Science Committee, which is investigating the issue.

“The evidence suggests that incidents of interference are often top-down reactions to science that has negative policy or public relations implications for the administration,” the group says in its report.

Some of the alleged interference — including restricting scientists’ ability to talk with the press and Congress — may have violated federal laws protecting their right to speak, the group concludes.

“Directives and signals” from White House offices, like the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget, are handed down to political appointees and politically-aligned civil servants through off-the-record conversations, the report says. Frequently, those giving the direction have little or no scientific background, according to the report.

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