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Has the Current US Administration Distorted and/or Censored Scientific Results? PowerPoint Presentation
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Has the Current US Administration Distorted and/or Censored Scientific Results?

Has the Current US Administration Distorted and/or Censored Scientific Results?

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Has the Current US Administration Distorted and/or Censored Scientific Results?

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  1. Has the Current US Administration Distorted and/or Censored Scientific Results? Crispin H. Pierce, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

  2. Content • Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Report • Response to the Allegations Made in the UCS Report by the Office of Science and Technology Policy • Removal of Data Regarding Climate Change • Plagiarism of Industry Text for Government Policy • Effectiveness of “Abstinence-Only” Sex Education • Mr. Bush and Evolution

  3. Abortion and Breast Cancer • Regulation of Publication of USDA “Sensitive Issues” • Aluminum Tubes and the War in Iraq • Nuclear Weapons and Iraq • Forest Management

  4. Peer Review of Scientific Information • Changes in the Advisory Committee to Establish Lead Exposure Standards • NIOSH Workplace Injury Study Section • Appointment to the FDA Advisory Committee • Reproductive Health Appointments

  5. Drug Abuse Committee Appointment • Army Science Board Appointment • National Nuclear Security Administration • Response From the Bush Administration

  6. Union of Concerned Scientists Report • In February of 2004, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a report entitled Scientific Integrity: An Investigation into the Bush Administration’s Misuse of Science • This statement was endorsed by 62 prominent scientists, including 19 National Medal of Science signatories, 20 Nobel Laureates, and 3 Crafoord Prize winners.

  7. The following discussion is an evaluation of the claims made in the UCS report using multiple peer-reviewed sources of information.

  8. OSTP Responses • On April 2, 2004, Dr. John Marburger, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the Bush Administration, provided responses to some of the allegations raised in the UCS report: • These responses are italicized.

  9. Removal of Data Regarding Climate Change • The New York Times: “Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish draft report on state of environment, but long section describing risks of global warming have been edited by Bush administration down to few noncommital paragraphs.”

  10. The Union of Concerned Scientist’s February 2004 Report: “The following document is an internal EPA decision paper that addresses staff concerns about White House edits to the Report on the Environment [ROE]… The paper is dated April 29, 2003.”

  11. OSTP Response: “...the Administrator of the EPA decided not to include a short summary on climate change. Instead, the final EPA report referred readers to the far more expansive and complete exposition of climate change knowledge, the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Strategic Plan.”

  12. Plagiarism of Industry Text for Government Policy • A January 31, 2004 story in the Washington Post stated that, “A side-by-side comparison of one of the [Bush Administration’s] three proposed rules [for mercury emissions] and the memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins -- one of Washington's premier corporate environmental law firms -- shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions.”

  13. OSTP Response: “The reference here is to a preamble of a proposed EPA rule to control (for the first time) mercury emissions from power plants. The text in question is in the preamble, not the proposed rule itself. … Such direct use of submitted memoranda should not have occurred.”

  14. Effectiveness of “Abstinence-Only” Sex Education • UCS Report: “…the Bush administration went further by distorting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) science-based performance measures to test whether abstinence-only programs were proving effective, such as charting the birth rate of female program participants. In place of such established measures, the Bush administration has required the CDC to track only participants’ program attendance and attitudes, measures designed to obscure the lack of efficacy of abstinence-only programs.”

  15. OSTP Response: “Currently, the Federal government funds abstinence-only education programs through the Health Resources and Services Administration, not CDC. The program was never designed as a scientific study, and so even if the original performance measures had been kept, little or no scientifically useable data would be obtained.”

  16. Mr. Bush and Evolution • The Acumen Journal: “Just days before he was elected president, George W. Bush was asked for his opinion about evolution by The New York Times and he said that the ‘jury is still out.’”

  17. No OSTP Response.

  18. Abortion and Breast Cancer UCS Report: “…in a case the New York Times labeled ‘an egregious distortion of the evidence,’ information suggesting a link between abortion and breast cancer was posted on the National Cancer Institute website despite objections from CDC staff, who noted that substantial scientific study has long refuted the connection. After public outcry on the matter, the information has since been revised and no longer implies a connection.”

  19. OSTP Response: “The NCI fact sheet “Abortion and Breast Cancer” has been revised several times since it was first written in 1994. NCI temporarily removed the fact sheet from the website when it became clear that there was conflicting information in the published literature.”

  20. “In order to clarify the issue, in February 2003 a workshop of over 100 of the world's leading experts...concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman's subsequent risk of developing breast cancer. … A revised fact sheet was posted on the NCI website shortly after the workshop reflecting the findings.”

  21. Regulation of Publication of USDA “Sensitive Issues” • UCS Report: “Dr. James Zahn, a research microbiologist at the USDA who asserts that he was prohibited on no fewer than 11 occasions from publicizing his research on the potential hazards to human health posed by airborne bacteria resulting from farm wastes.”

  22. OSTP Response: “In February 2002, Dr. Zahn was invited to speak at the Adair (Iowa) County Board of Health meeting in Greenfield, Iowa. Permission was initially granted by ARS management for Dr. Zahn to speak because it was thought that he was being invited to speak on his primary area of scientific expertise and government work, management of odors from hog operations. Permission for Dr. Zahn to speak representing the ARS at the meeting was withdrawn when it was learned that Dr. Zahn was expected to speak on health risks of hog confinement operations, an area in which Dr. Zahn did not have any scientific data or expertise.”

  23. “… on five occasions he was not authorized to discuss the public health ramifications of his observations on the spread of resistant bacteria, because he had no data or expertise with respect to public health.”

  24. UCS Report: “The following is an internal USDA document issued in February 2002 that accompanied a directive to USDA staff scientists to seek prior approval before publishing any research or speaking publicly on ‘sensitive issues.’ The document was supplied by Dr. James Zahn, then on staff at USDA.”

  25. “List of Sensitive Issues for ARS Manuscript Review and Approval by National Program Staff - February 2002 (Revised) 1. Creation of transgenic food or feed organisms by genetic engineering. 2. Studies of genetically engineered organisms in the field. 3. Cloning of animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer. 4. Somatic cell fusion to recombine DNA in ways that cannot be achieved through sexual crossing. 5. Dioxin research. …”

  26. “7. Agricultural practices with negative health and environmental consequences, eg., global climate change; contamination of water by hazardous materials (nutrients, pesticides, and pathogens); animal feeding operations or crop production practices that negatively impact soil, water, or air quality. ... 10. Research findings and recommendations that are contrary to current dietary guidelines or may be used in food labeling. … 13. Harmful microorganisms and their products (e.g., aflatoxin, mycotoxin, fumonisin, Salmonella, E. Coli) in agricultural commodities. 14. Pesticides or animal drugs in foods above approved tolerance levels. 15. All transmissible encephalopathy (TSE) research including BSE research. 16. Herbicide-resistant crop plant research. 17. Animal well-being/animal use. …”

  27. “USDA-ARS headquarters has had a long-standing, routine practice (at least 20 years) that has spanned several Administrations to require review of research reports of high visibility topics (called the “List of Sensitive Issues”). ARS headquarters review, when required, do not censor, or otherwise deny publication of, the research findings, but may aid in the interpretation and communication of the results, including providing advance alert to others.”

  28. Aluminum Tubes and the War in Iraq • Isis Online: “The September 12, 2002 White House White Paper, A Decade of Deception and Defiance states: ‘Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes which officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.’”

  29. “Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor, said on CNN Late Edition on September 8, 2002 that the aluminum tubes ‘are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.’”

  30. “The Vice President reinforced this point on NBC's Meet the Press, stating that Saddam Hussein ‘now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium-specifically aluminum tubes.’”

  31. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “‘…Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries…’ (Secretary Powell, Address to United Nations Security Council, February 5, 2003)”

  32. “‘DOE (US Department of Energy) agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the [aluminum] tubes probably are not part of the program.’ ‘Iraq’s efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR [U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research] is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors . . . The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq’s nuclear weapon program.’”

  33. “The administration also conveyed a deep-seated distrust of the inspectors’ findings and conclusions. For example, the administration dismissed the IAEA’s (International Atomic Energy Agency’s) conclusion that Iraq’s aluminum tubes were not destined for Iraq’s nuclear enrichment program.”

  34. OSTP Response, quoting CIA Director George Tenet: “We have additional data to collect and more sources to question. Moreover, none of the tubes found in Iraq so far match the high-specification tubes Baghdad sought and may never have received the amounts needed [sic].”

  35. Nuclear Weapons and Iraq • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “[W]e do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.” (Vice President Cheney, NBC ‘Meet the Press,’ September 8, 2002)”

  36. “‘Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.’ (President Bush, Address to the Nation on War with Iraq, March 17, 2003)”

  37. “IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei reported to the UN Security Council on March 7, 2003, that: There is ‘no indication of resumed nuclear activities…nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.’”

  38. “‘There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.” The documents that indicated Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Niger were declared ‘in fact not authentic.’”

  39. “David Kay said on October 2, ‘to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.’”

  40. OSTP Response, quoting George Tenet: “… Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon; he still wanted one; and Iraq intended to reconstitute a nuclear program at some point. … We do not yet know if any reconstitution efforts had begun, but we may have overestimated the progress Saddam was making.”

  41. Forest Management • UCS Report: “In an incident involving the management of national forests, the Bush administration created a five-person ‘review team’ made up of predominantly nonscientists who proceeded to overrule a $12 million science-based plan for managing old-growth forest habitat and reducing the risk of fire in 11 national forests. This so-called Sierra Nevada Framework, which was adopted by the Clinton administration in 2001 after nine years of research by more than 100 scientists from the Forest Service and academia, had been viewed by the experts who reviewed it as an exemplary use of credible science in forest policy.”

  42. OSTP Response: “...the Forest Service received over 200 appeals of the [Sierra Nevada Framework] and had to review and respond to them. To address these appeals, the Regional Forester (Region Five – California) established the five-person Review Team to evaluate any needed changes to the [Framework] Record of Decision. One scientist provided scientific support to this team.”

  43. Peer Review of Scientific Information UCS Report: “The administration’s Office of Management and Budget [OMB] is creating a new way in which the federal government gathers and reviews scientific and technical information. “This rule would centralize information review and use, even though OMB has not identified any inherent deficiencies with the current distributed system.”

  44. “The proposed rule would prohibit most scientists who receive funding from a government agency from serving as peer reviewers, but would permit scientists employed or funded by industry to serve as reviewers (unless they had a direct financial interest in the issue under review).”

  45. OSTP Response: “While the draft Bulletin cites government research funds as one factor that agencies should consider when determining which scientists should be selected, the listed factors are those ‘relevant to’ the decision, not criteria that automatically exclude participation.”

  46. Changes in the Advisory Committee to Establish Lead Exposure Standards Report by the staff of Representative Ed Markey: “This report reveals recent changes to the membership of the Advisory Committee that indicate that the nominations of renowned scientists with a long record in determining the health effects associated with childhood lead poisoning are being rejected, and that instead the vacancies are being filled by individuals who have direct ties to the lead industry, which has a financial interest in the policies adopted by the Advisory Committee.”