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GISS's James Hansen is among the scientists whose research were supressed due to political motivations, according to the newly released internal NASA investigation.  (Source: NASA)
A new investigation finds a consistent pattern of suppression of data by political appointees, though it fails to implicate higher ups

Those following the global warming debate here at DailyTech can likely agree on two things -- first a lot of research remains to be done before definitive conclusions can be drawn.  And secondly, many people hold very strong opinions on the topic. 

Critics of the prevalent view among the scientific community -- that anthropogenic effects have at least a mild effect on warming -- tend to take two bents in their criticism.  Sometimes they point to dissenting opinions on underlying theory presented in various studies or to studies that indicate that perhaps global warming would have beneficial effects in addition to negative ones.

Another common form of criticism is to claim that scientists critical to global warming are actively being suppressed.  These criticisms allege that a conspiratorial pattern is keeping the truth from coming out.  Somewhat ironically, a new report indicates quite the opposite.  The released results of an analysis from NASA's internal investigative office found that between 2004 and 2006 there was a concerted effort by political appointees at the NASA press office to silence the opinions and exposure of scientists who publicly supported anthropogenic global warming theory.

The report concludes that such interference may border on illegality as it is "inconsistent" with the laws that established the space program here in the U.S.  The findings were presented in a 48-page report initially requested by the U.S. Senate in 2006.   The efforts to suppress the researchers were only linked to the NASA press office.  There was no evidence found that NASA or higher Bush administration officials were involved in trying to silence the global warming supporters.

The report lauded Michael Griffin, the agency administrator for making a series of rapid and effective policy changes to put to end the problems.  Griffin acted quickly after the story first broke in the New York Times early in 2006.

Kevin H. Winters, assistant inspector general for investigations, signed off on the finished investigation.  It found that political appointees withheld or delayed news releases on global warming on what it characterizes as "sustained pattern".  Further, it found that the appointees silenced oft-maligned James E. Hansen, the leading climate scientist at NASA by limiting his contact with the press.

NASA rules and regulations state that it has a statutory responsibility to widely communicate findings "especially on a topic that has worldwide scientific interest."  The report found that instead political special interests were "inextricably interwoven" into the activities of the press office and the result was supporters of anthropogenic theory were silenced.

NASA spokesman, Michael Cabbage released a statement, commenting, "The issues mentioned in the inspector general's report are more than two years old, and after learning of those issues, NASA revised the agency's policy for disseminating science information."

The former deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the agency, Dean Acosta attacked the report which he called inaccurate.  Acosta was in charge of many of the activities mentioned in the report and thus is significantly implicated by it.  Acosta had been appointed by Bush in 2003 and resigned in 2007, not long after the reforms were put in place.

Acosta angrily remarks, "My entire career has been dedicated to open and honest communications.  The inspector general's assertions are patently false. The report itself does nothing but raise questions about a three-year investigation that has yielded nothing but flimsy allegations aimed at hard-working public servants."

Since his departure with NASA, Acosta has enjoyed a relatively successful private sector career, working as the director of communications for the Boeing space-exploration business.

Despite Acosta's claims of innocence, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D, NJ) who initially requested the report was not convinced.  He stated, "Global warming is the most serious environmental threat we face, but this report is more evidence that the Bush administration's appointees have put political ideology ahead of science.  Our government's response to global warming must be based on science, and the Bush administration's manipulation of that information violates the public trust."

While supporters of anthropogenic global warming theory will likely be outraged by the indictments of conspiracy in the new report, global warming critics should be equally outraged.  By using bully tactics and suppression, the NASA press office cast a cloud of doubt which will significantly hamper global warming critics' legitimate attempts to mount facts-based attacks on Dr. Hansen's and other global warming scientists' theories. 

As most would agree, when it comes to global warming or other matters of science, it is best just collect as much information as possible, come up with a variety of possible theories and explanations and let the facts and data speak for themselves.





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