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Thursday, December 14

Scientists must now have APPROVAL to release data

You knew it was only a matter of time, right? Apparently the Bush Administration feels they need to keep a closer track on US Geological Survey (you know, those folks who, amongst other things, study global warming).

And I quote:
New rules require screening of all facts and interpretations by agency scientists who study everything from caribou mating to global warming. The rules apply to all scientific papers and other public documents, even minor reports or prepared talks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Now maybe I'm just being a little touchy on this, but I think I should be allowed to get my science and my facts straight from the source without the administration deciding what is 'appropriate' for me to hear. And wouldn't this infringe upon the scientists free speech if even prepared talks must be screened and approved?

How do the researchers and scientists feel? Again, I quote:
"I feel as though we've got someone looking over our shoulder at every damn thing we do. And to me that's a very scary thing. I worry that it borders on censorship," said Jim Estes, an internationally recognized marine biologist in the USGS field station at Santa Cruz, Calif.

"The explanation was that this was intended to ensure the highest possible quality research," said Estes, a researcher at the agency for more than 30 years. "But to me it feels like they're doing this to keep us under their thumbs. It seems like they're afraid of science. Our findings could be embarrassing to the administration."

The new requirements state that the USGS's communications office must be "alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature."

The agency's director, Mark Myers, and its communications office also must be told — prior to any submission for publication — "of findings or data that may be especially newsworthy, have an impact on government policy, or contradict previous public understanding to ensure that proper officials are notified and that communication strategies are developed."

Sounds a bit too Rovian for my tastes.

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