Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Bob Roehr
The Bush administration manipulated numbers and suppressed reports from the office of the US Surgeon General, according to testimony by the former head of that office Richard Carmona. His revelations came in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on July 10.
“Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological or political agenda” of his superiors at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the White House “is often ignored, marginalized, or simply buried,” Carmona said.
“The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds.”
“Much of the discussion was being driven by theology, ideology, and preconceived beliefs that were scientifically incorrect.” Carmona said this applied to a wide range of issues, from stem cell research to abstinence only programs to prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, to global health issues.
HHS spokesman Bill Hall said the administration disagreed with Carmona’s assessment. He said, “It has always been this administration’s position that public health policy should be rooted in sound science.”
The Bush presidency has faced extensive criticism for suppressing data dealing with global warming and environmental issues as well as health concerns. Some have gone so far as to call it a “war on science.”
The office of Surgeon General has a history of being a lightening rod for controversy. For decades the tobacco industry has challenged its reports on smoking and health risks associated with tobacco use. C. Everett Coop said that Ronald Reagan was pressured by many to fire Koop for his statements on AIDS, but did not.
The Clinton administration tried to suppress politically inconvenient data showing the effectiveness of needle exchange programs in curbing the spread of HIV among injections drug users. And it forced out Jocelyn Elders in 1994 for her candid remarks that perhaps the teaching of masturbation should be a part of HIV prevention programs.
Oversight committee chairman Henry Waxman said, “The Surgeon General has to be independent if he is going to have any credibility” as the nation’s physician.