White House denies distorting scientific data
President Bush's top science adviser on Friday rebutted an advocacy group's accusations that the Administration's policy on global warming, air quality, forest management, and other matters of science, including condom use and abstinence education programs, suppressed or distorted scientific data to support a conservative agenda. John H. Marburger III, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, sent a 17-page letter to members of Congress to serve as a point-by-point rebuttal of the group's claims. "In this administration, science strongly informs policy," he wrote.
"The accusations in the document are inaccurate," he went on. Marburger dismissed as "preposterous" allegations that members of scientific advisory panels are appointed only if they will support the Administration's political positions. He also defended a decision to replace a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet on the effectiveness of condom use with one that stressed the failure rates of condoms, calling it part of regular updating of scientific information based on the newest research available.
The Union of Concerned Scientists in February released a 38-page report titled "Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation Into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science" that accuses the White House of suppressing or distorting scientific data from federal agencies when the data contradicts Bush's political positions. Kurt Gottfried, chairman of UCS and an emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University, said the group would reexamine the issues raised by Marburger but believes its conclusions are sound. "It's possible there are things we got wrong," he told The New York Times. "We're not infallible, like the Vatican or the White House. But I don't think there's any reason to think we got the big picture wrong. In fact, our case is stronger now than when we produced that report."