What a disillusioning week it was for anyone who believed the Obama Administration was truly a different breed of politics. The latest headline-grabbing revelations involve White House editing of scientific findings to increase credibility for a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. It appears the Interior Department’s inspector general has busted the White House for over-stating a case that anyone should have been able to prove with basic facts.
Explains the Associated Press: “The inspector general said the editing changes by the White House resulted ‘in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed.'”
That’s pretty unethical, but it doesn’t stop there. The AP and others are noting – but not stressing – that “… the inspector general also says that President Barack Obama’s energy adviser, Carol Browner, mischaracterized on national TV a government analysis about where the oil went, saying it showed most of the oil was ‘gone.’ The report said it could still be there. It also said that Browner and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenco contributed to the public’s perception the report was more exact than it was by emphasizing peer review.”
It’s interesting that the scientists involved are not only experts in oil, but apparently, in economics as well. How telling that they chose to send a letter to BP-friendlies Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and point out that “… the moratorium as changed will not contribute measurably to increased safety and will have immediate and long-term economic effects.” So much for not taking the economic impacts into the scientific process.
They have their apology and their headlines. But let’s connect a few dots: Even those of us who support the common-sense moratorium see this as the same nonsense we got with the NOAA “Mission Accomplished” statement, and a string of lesser examples of government manipulation of research that continues to this day.
How do we collectively give this process any credibility when it comes to testing seafood or assessing long-term health effects of the spill? If they “spun” us on the “vast majority of oil” being gone and edited more credibility into their moratorium document, have they not forfeited any claim to credibility?
And now, almost daily, we see independent scientists clashing with the “official line.” The AP included this: “Their [White House] estimates always seemed to be biased to the best case,” said Joseph Montoya, a biology professor at Georgia Tech. “A number of scientists have experienced a strong push back.”
This is not healthy for us – figuratively or literally.
The AP story is viral, but here’s a good link to the Yahoo version: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101111/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gulf_oil_spill
© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved