Monday, April 17, 2006

Following Embarrassment, NASA Changes Policy To Allow Free Speech Among Its Scientists

NASA is touting a more accessible public information policy after acknowledging that a political appointee in its public information department attempted to silence one of the agency's experts on climate change.

The new policy clarifies the right of NASA experts and others to express their own opinions on policies without political vetting. It follows an embarrassment at NASA, when in January physicist and climate expert James Hansen was blocked from being interviewed by National Public Radio by Bush appointee George Deutsch. The reason: Hansen believes the Bush Administration has not acted aggressively enough to address global warming.


Of course, you have to question why Deutsch was ever put in a position to have any control.

Deutsch, just 24, was offered a job as a writer and editor in NASA's public affairs office last year after working on President Bush's re-election campaign and inaugural committee. After being accused by NASA scientists of trying to limit discussion of "topics uncomfortable to the Bush administration, particularly global warming," it was learned that Deutsch lied on his resume about graduating from Texas A&M. He resigned immediately thereafter.

Upon Deutsch's resignation, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin ordered a review of NASA's policies for communicating science to the public.


Will NASA's new policy work? Griffin says it will ensure that "(s)cientific and technical information concerning agency programs and projects will be accurate and unfiltered."

But watchdog OMBWatch doesn't agree. It said the new policy "remains too vague and contains too many loopholes to fully function as a vehicle for public disclosure."


Blogger thewaronterrible said...

"NASA is touting a more accessible public information policy after acknowledging that a political appointee in its public information department attempted to silence one of the agency's experts on climate change."

This strikes me as yet another example of the Bush Administration being forced to correct itself after being caught showing favortism, biased, or incompetence detrimental to the public interest.
Why does all America have to suffer at the hands of this learn-as-you-go corrupt administration?
We expect and deserve much more from our leadership.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

We continue to suffer because of the morons who "voted" him in to office (of course we all know by now that both elections where illegitimate). They applaud this kind of "thinking" (by which they mean rubber-stamp, knee-jerk approval of everything our president says WITHOUT QUESTION), and harass anyone who disagrees into silence. So, once again, we reap what we've sown. Now that Bush's approval numbers are so low, we see a change coming, slowly, but surely.

11:59 AM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Sorry to go off topic a bit, well it still pertains to freedom of information anyway.
I couldn't resist. I just read today about this awarding to New York Times reporters of a Pulitzer Prize.
The report states:
"James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the Times won the national reporting prize for their stories on the administration's domestic surveillance program, which was controversial in part because the paper held it for a year."
I think Pulitzer Prize by its very definition rewards reporting IN THE GREATER PUBLIC GOOD.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

thewaronterrible said...
"The report states:
"James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the Times won the national reporting prize for their stories on the administration's domestic surveillance program, which was controversial in part because the paper held it for a year."

I'm still waiting to see how this entire NSA foreign surveillance leak issue will play out. IMO, Risen's unauthorized leak of this secret terrorist surveillance program is a crime that should definitely be prosecuted.

In the meantime, however, I'm glad to see that you put so much stock in the fact that James Risen won a Pulitzer for his work. I'm sure you will find him at least equally credible therefore, when you read what he wrote in his book, "State of War." Here are some of the highlights:

"Upon taking power in 1993, Risen reports, the Clinton administration "began slashing the intelligence budget in search of a peace dividend, and Bill Clinton showed almost no interest in intelligence matters."

The agency cutbacks combined with presidential disinterest took their toll almost immediately.

"Over a three-or-four-year period in the early-to-mid 1990s," reports Risen, "virtually an entire generation of CIA officers - the people who had won the Cold War - quit or retired. One CIA veteran compared the agency to an airline that had lost all of is senior pilots . . . "
After Clinton CIA Director John Deutch cashiered several senior officers over a scandal in Guatamala, the situation got even worse.

"Morale [at the CIA] plunged to new lows, and the agency became paralyzed by an aversion to high-risk espionage operations for fear they would lead to political flaps. Less willing to take big risks, the CIA was less able to recruit spies in dangerous places such as Iraq."

The Clinton era of risk aversion also hobbled CIA efforts to get Osama bin Laden. In early 1998, Risen says, the agency was prepared to launch a special operation to kidnap the al Qaeda chief in Afghanistan.

"To be sure the operation was high risk, and there was a strong possibility that it would be so messy that bin Laden would be killed rather than captured. [CIA Director George] Tenet and the CIA's lawyers worried deeply about that issue; they believed the covert action finding on al Qaeda that President Clinton had signed authorized only bin Laden's capture, not his death."

Frustrated by restrictions that made dealing with the big challenges too difficult, the agency turned its energy to lesser problems.

Reports Risen: "Thanks to Vice President Al Gore, for example, the CIA briefly made the global environment one of is priorities." "

I suspect that the NYT never quite got around to reporting anything about that part of Risen's book, but of course, I could be mistaken.

12:13 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Trinity, I have not read Risen's book so I don't know whether NewsMax is correctly positioning his comments about Clinton.
Nevertheless. I give NewsMax, a right-wing website, ZERO credibility when it comes to any matter regarding Clinton's stand on Osama Bin Laden with good reason.
In an Aug. 11, 2002 posting, Newsmax created that entirely bogus story which distorted comments Clinton had earlier made in a speech
in which we STILL! hear up to this day continually being repeated even recently by Tony Snow, Sean Hannity and other conservative drones that Clinton rejected an offer from the Sudanese government to take OBL in custody.
But the 9-11 Commission report had already debunked that entire claim. And I quote from the report:
"Former Sudanese officials claim that Sudan offered to expel Bin Ladin to the United States. Clinton administration officials deny ever receiving such an offer. We have not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim.
Sudan did offer to expel Bin Ladin to Saudi Arabia and asked the Saudis to pardon him. U.S. officials became aware of these secret discussions, certainly by March 1996. The evidence suggests that the Saudi government wanted Bin Ladin expelled from Sudan, but would not agree to pardon him. The Saudis did not want Bin Ladin back in their country at all."
Besides, you yourself also note that Risen had at least something good to say about Al Gore prioritizing the CIA.

Why do I bother. Go and stand by your man George Bush for all I care. Feeling lonely yet? There's only a third of America standing with you. (The latest Fox News! poll showing Bush's popularity dropping to a staggering Nixon-era 33%!). And that percentage will drop even lower after, for one, a top CIA agent goes on Sixty Minutes Sunday night to provide even more overwhelming evidence Bush fixed WMD intelligence and duped congress and the American public into going to war with Iraq.
And don't give me that conservative line that EVERYONE believe Sadaam had WMDs prior to the war. I was one of those very skeptical at the time even then because I read those intelligence experts buried in the back pages of the newspapers raising serious questions about the Bush Administration's WMD claims.
And I acknowledged what Editor and Publisher recently cited as about 40% of the editors of all major newspapers in America just prior to the war in March 2003 who advised that invading Iraq at that juncture was not a wise thing for America to do.
Anyway, Trinity, you must be pretty lonely as you gradually learn most every thing you have been led to believe by your conservative heroes is a flat-out lie.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

thewaronterrible said...
"Why do I bother."

You know, twot, I ask myself the very same question, over and over again. A short while back I even decided not to post here anymore because like you, I feel that there simply is no point to it, and it's virtually an exercise in futility trying to get through. And perhaps this will be my last post, I don't know.

But in any case, at least for now, I have to respond to your last post. See, the problem you have, my friend, is the way you promptly dismiss as untrue anything that isn't approved and accepted by the leftist viewpoint, truth and facts be damned.

You give Newsmax ZERO credibility?? You characterize Carl Limbacher's great reporting on the OBL/Sudan story, including obtaining a tape of Clinton's speech as a "bogus" story???
Right-wing websites = BAD
Left-wing websites = GOOD
Media Research Center = NOT CREDIBLE
Media Matters = CREDIBLE

The truth is, twot, that the Sudanese government DID offer us Osama bin Laden. I know you've most likely heard the audio tape of Bill Clinton from the February 15, 2002 speech to the Long Island Association in which he says, " I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him...."

THAT obviously was the real problem. The Clinton Administration insisted on dealing with terrorism in our legal system, instead of by military tribunal or something more suited to that sort of thing. Clinton's policies had us tied up in legal knots and grand juries, and rendered our intelligence agencies virtually clueless in some instances because they could not share information with eachother. Thank you Jamie Gorelick for constructing such an effective wall/barrier to confound our abilities to protect ourselves. As I'm sure you know, Gorelick also "served" on the 9-11 Commission. I'll leave it to your imagination exactly what that "serving" entailed. HINT: It has something to do with making Clinton look good.

Clinton's speech, so it can be heard in context, can be found here, btw.
In case it's a little difficult to hear clearly, I'll post the relevant portion of the transcript as well:

CLINTON: So we tried to be quite aggressive with them [Al Qaeda]. We got -- well, Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan. And we'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start dealing with them again. They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America, so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America. So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn't and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan."

From Clinton's own words, it is obvious that had we wanted to take OBL from the Sudanese, we could have had him. In fact, I believe I read that it was Pakistani-American Mansoor Ijaz who was the go-between for the offer. Of course, I'm sure you will discredit Ijaz as well because he is a FOX News analyst. OOOOH!

But furthermore, just so you're aware, Clinton had even asked the FBI to consider whether bin Laden could be brought to the U.S., but the FBI said no, because he hadn't been indicted here. Again, because we were legally hamstrung because of policies of the Clinton Administration. Still, we couldn't have even considered taking OBL, unless he had been offered to us, which is undoubtedly the case, despite the best efforts of the Clinton apologists to dispute that fact and re-write history.

Neither did Clinton encourage Saudi Arabia to take bin Laden, which would have meant certain death for Osama. Too bad, too, because we could conceivably have changed history had Clinton done so. Instead, bin Laden fled to Afghanistan and had free reign to plan 9-11 from there.

Sadly, what's done is done, and cannot be undone. But I don't need to listen to your ignorant, uninformed and biased twaddle about how none of this is true. You talk about me blindly defending President Bush? When Bush is wrong, I admit it. He's wrong on the illegal immigration issue imo. I think he's wrong on energy, pushing ethanol regulations on us before enough of a supply is there to fulfill the demand. I think he's been bad on spending. But on fighting terrorism, I believe he's doing the right thing, and I'm grateful he's in the White House.

9-11 happened after President Bush was in office only 8 months, with many administration positions not yet even filled. Clinton had 8 years to take measures to protect us from terrorists' threats, but sadly, was pretty much ineffective in that regard, considering all of the terrorist attacks that were perpetrated on his watch.

As far as all of your very snide and obnoxious remarks about my being lonely, twot, as long as I have the courage of my convictions, and am not a hypocrite, I don't worry about being "lonely". I don't feel that I'm alone at all.

Furthermore, this president, thankfully, does not base his decision making on popularity polls. He simply does what he believes to be right for our country. It's called "leadership", a concept with which your side might be unfamiliar, especially after eight years of the polls-driven Clinton Administration.

And on that note, I will end my rant.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thewaronterrible said...
"Go and stand by your man George Bush for all I care. Feeling lonely yet?"

Do you have any clue as to how annoying you are? I mean, really?

"There's only a third of America standing with you."

And let me assure you, grasshopper, that third of America is comprised of the very people that I am most proud to stand with.

Also, what I came back for was to post this, for anyone who was open-minded enough to read more about the problems with legalities that were so common in the Clinton Administration when it came to dealing with terrorists.

Legal Disputes Over Hunt Paralyzed Clinton's Aides

By Steve Coll
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 22, 2004; Page A17

"Between 1998 and 2000, the CIA and President Bill Clinton's national security team were caught up in paralyzing policy disputes as they secretly debated the legal permissions for covert operations against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The debates left both White House counterterrorism analysts and CIA career operators frustrated and at times confused about what kinds of operations could be carried out, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials and lawyers who were directly involved...........

........Some CIA managers chafed at the White House instructions. The CIA received "no written word nor verbal order to conduct a lethal action" against bin Laden before Sept. 11, one official involved recalled. "The objective was to render this guy to law enforcement." In these operations, the CIA had to recruit agents "to grab [bin Laden] and bring him to a secure place where we can turn him over to the FBI. . . . If they had said 'lethal action' it would have been a whole different kettle of fish, and much easier."
Berger later recalled his frustration about this hidden debate. Referring to the military option in the two-track policy, he said at a 2002 congressional hearing: "It was no question, the cruise missiles were not trying to capture him. They were not law enforcement techniques."

The overriding trouble was, whether they arrested bin Laden or killed him, they first had to find him.

The complete article can be found here.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

That above post was mine, BTW, just in case you couldn't figure it out. ;)

thewaronterrible said... Besides, you yourself also note that Risen had at least something good to say about Al Gore prioritizing the CIA.

You may be somewhat obtuse at times twot, but I know, that you have to know, that Risen was being facetious there. You can't be that dense. lol

Oh, and just as an aside, don't you just love that recent news of the CIA agent getting fired on Friday, for leaking classified information to the Washington Post?

"The CIA officer fired Friday for leaking classified information to the Washington Post about U.S. counterterrorism efforts once served as a top intelligence aide to President Clinton.

Appointed in 1998 by then-National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Mary O'Neil McCarthy held the post of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs.

Prior to her appointment as President Clinton's Special Assistant, McCarthy served as the Clinton administration's National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1994-1996.

The loose-lipped spy was fired from her White House job in the first few months of the Bush adminsitration and returned to the CIA.

McCarthy allegedly leaked critical national security information to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who went on to report that the CIA maintained a secret network of prisons overseas for high-ranking terrorism suspects.
The former top Clinton advisor was cashiered after reportedly failing a polygraph test conducted as part of several CIA investigations into leaks. On Thursday she was escorted from the agency's Langley campus in McLean, Va., an agency official told the Los Angeles Times.

One U.S. official indicated that McCarthy had engaged in a "pattern of contacts" with more than one reporter, the Times said. McCarthy has not been indicted in the case, though the Justice Department began a criminal investigation into the CIA prison leak last December.

Finally, these irresponsible jerks are starting to be held responsible for their actions. That made my day!

5:56 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

You completely ignored my entire substantiated argument that Clinton's erred or was misquoted in his speech. AND the 9-11 COMMISSION REPORT COMPLETELY RESEARCHED THE ENTIRE MATTER AND CONCLUDED BY COMPLETELY DEBUNKING THE WHOLE ARGUMENT ANYWAY about this bogus allegation fabricated by NewsMax about Clinton blowing a chance with the Sudanese government with OBL. (See the link to the report above).
Who are you going to believe NewsMax bullshit or the bipartisan congressional group that actually painstakingly researched the entire matter?
This discussion is hardly relevant. You Rethuglicans only look at what Clinton allegedly did or did not do as a reason to avoid talking about the utter failures of Bush.
Who was the president in charge at the time of the 9-11 attacks? Who was the president who did not hold a single intelligence meeting on OBL after he got into office? Who is the president that did nothing upon receiving a memo: "Osama Bin Laden Determined to Strike America?
I'm glad you're happy with one-third of the ignorant, nieve Americans.
Maybe you haven't seen this new Rolling Stones report posted on any Republican blogs
84% of a large group of historians have already classified the Bush Administration a failure, and one major scholar contends Bush likely will more than likely go down as the worst president in history.
Funny, none of those scholars are looking at Clinton in that context.
I'm through here.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

thewaronterrible said...
"I'm through here."

Good! Hope you stick to that, too, because you're incredibly annoying.

thewaronterrible said...
"You completely ignored my entire substantiated argument that Clinton's erred or was misquoted in his speech."

Don't even go there. First of all, he was not "misquoted". I gave you the link for the audio. He was quoted verbatim.

Secondly, when first asked about his quote, he denied ever having said it. When confronted with the audio that he didn't know existed, he then changed his story and said that he had "misspoken". Give me a break!

So you ignore the fact that Clinton clearly referenced the offer on that tape, and you ignore the fact that former Sudanese officials claimed that Sudan did indeed offer OBL to the U.S., yet you have no problem whatsoever believing someone like Sandy Berger, who was caught red-handed stuffing classified documents down his pants and in his socks that belonged to our National Archives.

Furthermore, you find nothing suspicious that Berger then brings these documents home, and proceeds to shred some of them. I swear, your willful ignorance of what went on here is quite astounding! Berger sanitized files relevant to all of these matters, and you either cannot, or will not, connect the dots!!! And you call me naive??

And what do you think the leading Democrat on the panel, formerly of the Clinton Justice Dept., Jamie Gorelick and her staffers, were doing serving on the 9-11 Commission, if not to prevent certain information from ever being eyeballed by the rest of the panel? What an outrage that she was permitted to drill others, instead of being a witness herself, which would have been a lot more appropriate!

Btw, for your information, it was Gorelick's own aide, Dieter Snell, who blocked the 9-11 Commission from ever hearing about the vitally important and relevant testimony about the Able Danger findings. When Able Danger warned authorities that it was unsafe for the U.S.S. Cole to enter the harbor at Yeman because there existed a sense of impending danger there, their warnings went unheeded. Why, if the 9-11 Commission is all about discovering what we did wrong that resulted in the atrocity of 9-11, did Gorelick's staffer prevent that information from being reviewed by the others on the panel?

Come on, twot! You can't be that dumb! Wake up and smell the whitewash! You most definitely get an "F" in dot-connecting.

And just maybe, instead of Gen. Anthony Zinni calling for Rumsfeld to resign, perhaps he should be held responsible for permitting the U.S.S. Cole to enter the port at Yeman, when he was warned not to let that happen.

Zinni, who at one time spoke before Congress and said:

"Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains the scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months."

Zinni, who now seems to have flip-flopped and accuses President Bush of cherry-picking the pre-war Iraq weapons intelligence and misleading the country into war.

There are none so blind.......

3:21 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Talk about "cherry picking" evidences.
Your evidences are like a flea to a fly swatter. Why don't you look at all the evidences except only that given to you by right-wing talk radio comedians and right-wing websites, most of which has been debunked by more informed, credible and objective sources.
That Able Danger story has never gained traction I think for good reason.
As always, you ignore my overriding points such as why don't you stop blaming Clinton for the failures of Bush. It just reveals the desperation of Bush apologists these days.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

You still here?

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

There's been so many Bush and Republican scandals lately that this little one concerning NASA slipped my mind. I hope somebody out there is keeping a list and I hope I find it. Smith of Firedoglake listed 19 scandals, blunders and bamboozlements just for the last week alone.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David has not posted for awhile and we miss him. We also miss the "American Dissident" who used to post frequently here.
On top of all the Bush Administration scandals, we also have all the failures of Bush and the Republican controlled congress.
The American public has witnessed first hand the failure of the Conservative/Republican philosphy of running government. It doesn't work. It has failed the people monsterously.
And no one is going to tell me the economy is singing along when we have $3 plus gasoline prices, rising interest rates, and devastating cuts for student federal aid.
The Bush foreign policy is also a disaster.
When the Democrats take over Congress this fall, if they don't at the very least make sizeable gains, the nation will require a period of healing and repair.
Of course, the inability for the Dems to instantaneously fix all this Republican-created road wreck will surely cause the Republicans to once again resort to their desperate excuse: to shift blame. "See, the Democrats can't do any better." I can hear them already.
Hopefully, THIS TIME history will teach us a very valuable lesson.

11:15 AM  

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