IN OTHER WORDS: Censorship

The Bush administration has a special place for manipulating science to suit its political ends. But it set a new standard when it allowed NASA’s leading authority on global warming to be mugged by a presidential appointee who had inflated his résumé.

In December, Dr James Hansen, the space agency’s climate specialist, called for accelerated efforts to reduce industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases. He talked about being threatened if he continued to call for aggressive action. The administration has sought to influence the policy debate by muzzling those who disagree with it or — as was the case with two reports from the Environmental Protection Agency — editing out inconvenient truths or censoring them.

In this case, the censor was George Deutsch, a functionary in NASA’s public affairs office whose chief credential has been his service with Bush’s re-election campaign. Deutsch claimed a 2003 bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M, but the university denied this. The shocker was not NASA’s failure to vet Deutsch’s credentials, but that this politico with no qualifications was able to impose his ideology on other employees.

Dr Hansen said Deutsch was a “bit player” in the dishonest game of politicising science on issues like warming, birth control, and clean air.