|Scientists Accuse White
House of Distorting Facts
By JAMES GLANZ
Published: February 18,
The Bush administration has
deliberately and systematically distorted scientific fact in the service
of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear
weaponry at home and abroad, a group of about 60 influential scientists,
including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement issued today.
charges were later discussed in a conference call with some of the scientists
that was organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent
organization that focuses on technical issues and has often taken stands
at odds with administration policy. The organization also issued a 37-page
report today that it said detailed the accusations.
the two documents accuse the administration of repeatedly censoring and
suppressing reports by its own scientists, stacking advisory committees
with unqualified political appointees, disbanding government panels that
provide unwanted advice, and refusing to seek any independent scientific
expertise in some cases.
administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so
systematically nor on so wide a front,” the statement from the scientists
said, adding that they believed the administration had “misrepresented
scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its
A White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said today he had not seen the
text of the scientists’ accusations. “But I can assure you that this is
an administration that makes decisions based on the best available science,”
Dr. Kurt Gottfried,
an emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University who signed the statement
and spoke in the conference call, said the administration
had “engaged in practices that are in conflict with the spirit of science
and the scientific method.” Dr. Gottfried asserted that what
he called “the cavalier attitude toward science” could place at risk the
basis for the nation’s long-term prosperity, health and military prowess.
denied that they had political motives in releasing the documents as the
2004 presidential race began to take shape, with Howard Dean dropping out
a day after Senator John Kerry narrowly defeated Senator John Edwards on
the Wisconsin Democratic primary. The organization’s report, Dr. Gottfried
said, had taken a year to prepare much longer than originally planned
and had been released as soon as it was ready.
see it as a partisan issue at all,” said Russell Train, who served as administrator
of the Environmental Protection Agency under Presidents Richard M. Nixon
and Gerald R. Ford, and who spoke in the conference call in support of
the statement. “If it becomes that way I think it’s because the White House
chooses to make it a partisan issue,” Mr. Train said.