Climate scientist sees cover-up
By Eric Pfeiffer
The Washington Times
Posted: March 20, 2007
A NASA scientist who said the Bush administration muzzled him
because of his belief in global warming yesterday acknowledged
to Congress that he'd done more than 1,400 on-the-job interviews
in recent years.
James Hansen, director
of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who argues global
warming could be catastrophic, said NASA staffers denied his request
to do a National Public Radio interview because they didn't want
his message to get out.
But Republicans told him the hundreds
of other interviews he did belie his broad claim he was being
"We have over 1,400 opportunities that
you've availed yourself to, and yet you call it, you know, being
stifled," said Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican.
Mr. Hansen responded: "For the sake of
the taxpayers, they should be availed of my expertise. I shouldn't
be required to parrot some company line."
In a bitter hearing before the House Oversight
and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating whether
there was political interference into climate science, Republicans
and Democrats accused each other of "smearing" the other's witnesses.
High-profile global warming hearings this
week will include appearances by former Vice President Al Gore
before House and Senate committees.
Mr. Hansen yesterday said the Bush administration
threatened him and his office over his stance on global warming.
"It was an oral threat made to a public
affairs person in New York and relayed to me," said Mr. Hansen,
who is listed as a senior adviser to Mr. Gore and consulted on
Mr. Gore's global warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth."
Citing what he called a "growth of political
interference," Mr. Hansen said he was forced by NASA officials
to deny an interview request from NPR because press officials
believed the network to have a liberal bias.
But Mr. Issa noted that Mr. Hansen conducted
15 interviews in the month after accusing the Bush administration
During the hearing, former NASA spokesman
George Deutsch said he made an error in judgment by sending an
e-mail to his superiors suggesting that several of Mr. Hansen's
colleagues should grant the NPR interview instead of him.
Mr. Deutsch, who was 23 at the time, said
Mr. Hansen was prohibited from doing the interview because of
his prior refusal to notify NASA officials when he was granting
interviews, not for political reasons.
Citing what he called his "constitutional
right" to give interviews, Mr. Hansen admitted violating NASA's
press policy but defended his actions.
"It's a very rare case of where you got
it on paper," Mr. Hansen said of Mr. Deutsch's e-mail, claiming
the blocked interview was not an exception. "This thing was going
on all the time."
Mr. Hansen refused to denounce earlier
comments he made referring to the White House as a "propaganda
office," and saying, "It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet
Union than the United States."
"I was referring to the constraints of
speaking to the media," Mr. Hansen said, when asked about his
Mr. Hansen also claimed his department
was put on a "going out of business budget," by the White House
as payback from his global warming views and that press releases
were routinely sent to the White House for approval before going
Republicans questioned him about his ties
to prominent Democrats.
Mr. Hansen received a $250,000 grant from
the Heinz foundation, which is controlled by Teresa Heinz Kerry,
wife of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat. Mr. Hansen was
a vocal supporter of Mr. Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.
"As far as I know, there's no political
connection to this award," said Mr. Hansen, who has donated several
thousand dollars to past presidential campaigns for Mr. Kerry
and Mr. Gore. "It's an environmental award."
Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat,
accused Republicans of "smearing" the witness after Rep. Mark
Souder, Indiana Republican, asked Mr. Hansen about the Heinz foundation
In response, Republicans accused Democrats
on the committee of unfairly criticizing Philip Cooney, former
chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Mr. Cooney said he and several other administration
colleagues were responsible for editing documents that were produced
by scientists including Mr. Hansen.
Mr. Cooney, who was previously employed
by the Petroleum Institute, which lobbies on behalf of the gas
and oil industries, denied that any of his changes were designed
to conceal scientific research on global warming.
For his part, Mr. Hansen explained that
he has not always disagreed with the administration's environmental
positions, offering approval for increased research into nuclear
power and praising the White House's support for a methane gas
"It is a success story, and the administration
should be given credit for it," Mr. Hansen said.
Article at: washingtontimes.com