Bush Administration Uses ‘Misleading Statements’ To Support Ideology, Report by House Committee Democrats Says
The Bush administration has "manipulated the scientific process and distorted or suppressed scientific findings" in order to support its ideology 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 "impl[y]" that scientific evidence supported a link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer, according to the Post. In addition, the report says that Bush appointed "numerous people with political, rather than scientific credentials" to important scientific advisory committees, including the appointment of Jerry Thacker to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, the Post reports (Washington Post, 8/8). Thacker, a Pennsylvania marketing consultant who has called AIDS a "gay plague" and homosexuality a "deathstyle," withdrew his name on Jan. 23 after the White House, Democratic lawmakers and AIDS and gay-rights advocates criticized his appointment (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/5). According to a Waxman spokesperson, the report will be updated on the Web site as new examples of the Bush administration's "purported abuses" 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" (House Committee on Government Reform Minority Staff, "Politics and Science in the Bush Administration," August 2003). White House spokesperson Scott McClellan "dismissed" the report, according to the Times. He added, "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).