When he ran for president, Barack Obama attacked the George W. Bush administration for putting political concerns ahead of science on such issues as climate change and public health. And during his first weeks in the White House, President Obama ordered his advisors to develop rules to “guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch.”
Many government scientists hailed the president’s pronouncement. But a year and a half later, no such rules have been issued. Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.
“We are getting complaints from government scientists now at the same rate we were during the Bush administration,” said Jeffrey Ruch, an activist lawyer who heads an organization representing scientific whistle-blowers.
There are a couple of lessons to draw from this. The first, is to never trust the integrity of a staff that has John Holdren as a part of it. The second, is that the claims of Democratic partisans to the contrary notwithstanding, Republicans aren’t the only ones who play politics with science. Indeed, the Obama Administration is showing that it plays politics on the issue of science with the best of them.