This news story originally provided by The LA Times
Researchers Accuse Bush of Manipulating Science
WASHINGTON More than 4,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel Prize winners
and 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences, accused the Bush
administration Thursday of distorting and suppressing science to suit its
"Across a broad range of policy areas, the administration has undermined
the quality and independence of the scientific advisory system and the morale of
the government's outstanding scientific personnel," the scientists said in
The administration has frequently been accused of misusing and ignoring science
to further its policy aims. The list of signatures collected by the Union of
Concerned Scientists suggests that the issue has become worrisome throughout the
Administration officials rejected the criticism Thursday, as they did when the
same letter was released in February bearing the names of 62 prominent
John Marburger, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, said
the letter and a report released simultaneously by the Union of Concerned
Scientists "reach conclusions that are wrong and misleading."
"This administration values and supports science, both as a vital necessity
for national security and economic strength and as an indispensable source of
guidance for national policy," Marburger said.
The scientists cited examples of colleagues denied seats on advisory panels,
allegedly because of their political beliefs.
Dr. Gerald T. Keusch, who left his post as associate director for international
research and director of the John E. Fogarty International Center at the
National Institutes of Health, said the Department of Health and Human Services
had rejected 19 of his 26 candidates for the center's board over three years.
Among the 19 was a Nobel laureate who, Keusch said he was told, was turned down
because his name had appeared in newspaper ads accusing the administration of
His nominations for the board which advises on which research should receive
federal grants were accepted during the Clinton administration. But once
President Bush took office, Keusch said, they "were rejected one after
"There are increasing bits of evidence at attempts at control over the
business of science," said Keusch, now the assistant provost for global
health at Boston University Medical Center.
He said he was motivated to speak out not by "political malice," but a
desire to protect the "integrity of science" at the NIH.
Among the Keusch nominees rejected by the HHS was Jane Menken, a population
expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder who had served on scientific
advisory boards under President Reagan and the first President Bush. "I was
being renominated and I was turned down," she said. "No official ever
gave me any reason."
Contrary to the Bush administration, Menken supports the availability of legal
abortions. She said that given her qualifications and those of two colleagues
rejected with her, one a Nobel laureate, "it's very hard not to reach a
conclusion that it was based on something different from scientific
Department spokesman Bill Pierce said the appointments to many National
Institutes of Health panels were made by Health and Human Services Secretary
Tommy G. Thompson, not NIH directors such as Keusch.
"I completely reject the notion" that the administration is
manipulating government science to bolster its policy aims, he said.
"There's no evidence."
But Janet Rowley, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, said she had
seen the misuse of science firsthand.
"This administration distorts scientific knowledge on stem cell research,
which makes it increasingly difficult to have an honest debate in a field that
holds promise for treatment of many serious diseases like Parkinson's and
juvenile diabetes," Rowley said. She added that the administration, which
opposes research with most embryonic stem cells, had exaggerated the usefulness
of adult stem cells.
Richard Myers, director of the Stanford Human Genome Center, said he was
rejected for a seat on the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research
after he told an administration official that it was inappropriate to ask him
his opinion of Bush, according to the report compiled by the Union of Concerned
Scientists. He later received the post after an NIH director interceded on his