Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And the war of words goes on...

Updating yesterday's post on testimony before a Senate committee by CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding, on the health effects of climate change:

There have been a few developments in this controversy.

First of all, according to AP reports White House press secretary Dana Perino said that the CDC testimony was "not watered down" but that in an interagency review "a number of agencies" had "some concerns" about the contents of the written version of Dr. Gerberding's testimony and that some reviewers did not think the testimony matched up with a report on the same subject by the UN's Ingergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The White House also said that Dr. Gerberding doesn't think her testimony was censored. And, indeed, Dr. Gerberding is quoted as saying today that she is "absolutely happy" with her testimony and that she could and did depart from the written version of the testimony.

Despite this, California Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee (the committee in front of which Dr. Gerberding testified on Tuesday); Tennessee Representative Bart Gordon, chair of the House Science and Technlology Committee; and North Carolina Representative Brad Miller, chair of the House Science subcommittee on investigations and oversight, have all expressed concern over the changes in the written testimony and have requested copies of all versions along with all comments made on the drafts. All also asked for an explanation from the White House chief science advisor, John Marburger, concerning how the drafts of the testimony were handled.

In addition, Senator Boxer's staff evidently questioned the characterization that some parts of the written testimony did not match the IPCC report, and Representative Gordon claimed that some of the deleted sections of the testimony were similar to the IPCC report.

And so it continues. Of course, the climate change skeptics will call this a partisan attack on the White House because all three members of Congress who have called the administration to account on this are Democrats. As far as I'm concerned, that is pretty much beside the point. This concerns every person in the US, every person in the world, and we deserve to hear all sides of the question, not just the side that the Bush administration wants us to hear. If the White House really wants us to get a balanced view of the issue, then it wouldn't be going around changing testimony that doesn't match its own view.

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