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White House Clamps Down On USGS Publishing

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the need-to-know-basis dept.

Censorship 417

An anonymous reader writes "The White House has begun implementing a new policy toward the U.S. Geological Survey, in which all scientific papers and other public documents by USGS scientists must be screened for content. The USGS communications office must now be 'alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature.' Subjects fitting this description might include global warming, or research on the effects of oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve."

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417 comments

Riiight (-1, Troll)

lionheart1327 (841404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269610)

Riiight, I'm sure the giant government conspiracy to hide global warming is the main reason that this is being set up.
Nice spin there, poster.

Lets try leaving the stupid comments to the rest of us, please.1

Re:Riiight (5, Insightful)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269686)

Riiight, I'm sure the giant government conspiracy to hide global warming is the main reason that this is being set up. Nice spin there, poster.

I'm sure you can come up with an equally valid reason to have USGS information screened for "politically-sensitive" reasons?

Translation: either they want to be alerted in advance of stuff they can take credit for, or they want to tweak press releases of embarassing info. It's a classic CYA move.

It may be.... (2, Informative)

wasted (94866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269824)

Riiight, I'm sure the giant government conspiracy to hide global warming is the main reason that this is being set up. Nice spin there, poster.


I'm sure you can come up with an equally valid reason to have USGS information screened for "politically-sensitive" reasons?

Translation: either they want to be alerted in advance of stuff they can take credit for, or they want to tweak press releases of embarassing info. It's a classic CYA move.


It may be that the government doesn't want to be caught unaware when the media gets a hold of a report with newsworthy or politically sensitive information. Other parts of the government already have similar practices in place.

Re:It may be.... (4, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270034)

You are certainly correct about that. Which is why no federal agency will ever release a report that even hints at the dangers of marijuana being previously overstated. If such evidence were ever discovered it would be promptly destroyed in order to keep from undermining the highly lucrative drug war. This kind of information control for political purposes is nothing new and has either officially or unofficially been part of pretty much every large bureaucratic organization, as the organization must sustain itself in as large of a form as possible.

Re:It may be.... (3, Interesting)

j35ter (895427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270344)

Sad to see that all of the west's criticism towards the Soviet Union, Iraq, North Korea, etc. is hypocritical considering this form of censorship.
At least in the SSSR you had some kind of social justice...

Re:Riiight (2, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270142)

While I find the idea of political interference with scientific processes reprehensible, the fact remains that the USGS is an organ of the USG, United States Government, and what you can or can't say is limited just like it would for any other employer. The general public and media doesn't understand that honest and reputable scientists can interperate a given data set in different and opposing ways and it seems that when that happens it's a repudiation of the very basis of science. People want the government to have THE answer, the government looks to science to give it THE answer, but the reality is there is no THE answer, there is only an optimum solution bases on our limited knowlege.

It might be nice to know beforehand so you can call your wife and tell her your going to be late for dinner because somebody at USG just published something and the press is going crazy over it!

Re:Riiight (5, Insightful)

residieu (577863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270416)

The USGS is an organ of the United States government. You're right that it should be answerable to its employer. Its employer is the people of the United States, not Mr Bush.

Re:Riiight (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269702)

Riiight, I'm sure the giant government conspiracy to hide global warming is the main reason that this is being set up.

Things of a "policy-sensitive nature"? Is this the new codespeak for "think of the terrorists!" or are they actually serious about restricting the flow of information regarding stuff that is not a national security issue?

Until someone says otherwise, it's clear that this is specifically referring to things like global warming, which has always been a "policy-sensitive" issue for Bush.

Re:Riiight (5, Informative)

grendel's mom (550034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269766)

Try reading the article:. Since you're obviously too lazy, I'll post some of the essential points:

"The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who study everything from caribou mating to global warming, subjecting them to controls on research that might go against official policy."

The communications office must be notified "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.' and finally.... "In 2002, the USGS was forced to reverse course after warning that oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would harm the Porcupine caribou herd. One week later a new report followed, this time saying the caribou would not be affected."

Re:Riiight (1, Troll)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270298)

This isn't strictly a reply to this post, but an observation arising from several in this thread. I work for a Fortune 500 company. I am not allowed to post any information anywhere that would be related to the company or its policy. Period. End of Story. So for the Head of the Executive Branch to take the same position for any of his employees does not seem all that earth shattering. Congress or the Press can all expose these policies so that we can consider this when we evaluate what the agency says in their "findings". Actually that is why most members of the Public really don't know what to believe. You have government agencies issuing findings that support the government's policies. You have Universities and Research Centers reaching the findings that the people paying them were hoping for or findings that will bring in more donations and grants.

Re:Riiight (3, Insightful)

chgros (690878) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270358)

Are you seriously comparing the government to a company?
You work for the company. It owes you your salary, but not much more.
The government is supposed to represent you. It is, by definition, public. It is accountable to you. It shouldn't keep (too many...) secrets.

I can't wait, (5, Insightful)

rednip (186217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269612)

I can't wait, for the congressional hearings to start. Actions like this scream for the congressional oversight which has been sorely lacking over the last 6 years. Polowski has insisted that she won't press for impeachment, but I'm guessing that she is waiting for the evidence to come to light. The real question is where to start, the Energy policy dictated by energy companies, Halliburton corruption and it's 'loyalty tests' to get government work, or torpedoing the careers of military men who are unwilling to tow the party line. However, the squashing of 'liberal' scientific opinion is as good as any place to start, I suspect that hundreds of them would be willing to come forth.

Re:I can't wait, (1)

rmoehring (949487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269830)

Polowski? Pelosi?

Nuts! Damn you Google! (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270024)

Polowski? Pelosi?

That's what I get for doing a Google search on my best guess, I ended up getting someone else's mispelling. However, I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi [house.gov] has seen many misspellings of her name.

Re:I can't wait, (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269972)

You overrate the weight of the scientific community. Scientists have been second rate citizens in the USA for a long time as far as I can see.
But I agree, there are so many reasons to impeach Bush it is hard to know where to start. And when you think that Clinton was ousted for getting his
cock sucked... For me impeachment isn't where it's at. And Bush is the least of the targets. It's like Pokemon, you gotta get them all.
I want to see the whole cabal go on trial at the ICC for war crimes. Then I'd like to see America apologise, in unreserved, unabmiguous terms to the rest of the world for its disgraceful actions. I'd like to see a point by point reaffirmation of every word in the American Constitution and the introduction of new measures to make sure this never happen again. Perhaps you should even abolish the office of El Presidente and move towards a more civilised and modern form of government. Then ( I realise the USA is broke ) reparations be paid to the countries that have been attacked and destroyed.

Yeah riiiiight! Within another 5 years anybody advocating justice or even suggesting that the government isn't beyond criticism
will be shot in the USA.

Who the heck is (1)

retrosteve (77918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269994)

Polowski?

Re:Who the heck is (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270284)

Yeah, you know... the Doctor who served on the Enterprise while Beverly Crusher was off having kids... er... I mean teaching at Starfleet Academy.

Re:I can't wait, (3, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270096)

Pelosi was politically cunning when she said that impeachment was off the table. If she had been calling for impeachment, it would have looked very bad for her, since she was in line for the presidency, if the president and vice-president were convicted. The right-wing smear machine would have gone into overdrive. Instead, she chose to say that impeachment was "off the table", which has no meaning or binding power. Congress can move to impeach the president at any time they want. They are not bound by something Pelosi said on a talk show when she wasn't even speaker of the house. If it is "off the table", they are free to put it back on at any time.

Re:I can't wait, (3, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270316)

Come to think of it threat of impeachment may be a more useful tool than actual impeachment. Besides, if Bush were booted out who would take over? Cheney, and no one wants that.

Re:I can't wait, (2, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270138)

If she (Pelosi) is waiting for evidence to justify impeachment, this isn't going to be it. The public outrage over this move will be muted at best -- it's too easy to explain it away (as they do) as simply giving the PR department a chance to prepare for the news release before it gets out. That may even be the truth. Still, as a scientist, a policy like this gives me chills if only for the appearance of bias.

Re:I can't wait, (2, Informative)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270220)

"Toe the party line" not "Tow the party line"...

Re:I can't wait, (1)

Khabok (940349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270262)

So who wants to lead the charge? ...Bueller?

it's "toe the line" (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270396)

not tow

Brought to you by... (2, Insightful)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269624)

... your unfriendly neighbourhood big brother.

In all seriousness, does this actually surprise anyone?

Re:Brought to you by... (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270074)

In all seriousness, does this actually surprise anyone?

      No. And that's the scary part. About 15 years ago we used to laugh at "government conspiracy" theorists and call them crackpots. Now I am not so sure anymore. Perhaps they were just foresighted.

Re:Brought to you by... (4, Informative)

rednip (186217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270422)

About 15 years ago we used to laugh at "government conspiracy" theorists and call them crackpots. Now I am not so sure anymore. Perhaps they were just foresighted.

Well, the vast majority of them are funny, but the one that says 'the Republican Party will attempt to control science to meet political needs' deserves a prize. How about a 'Medal of Freedom', I hear they are going pretty cheap [washingtonpost.com] these days [medaloffreedom.com] .

Message to all scientists: (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270106)

Make an escape plan before walls are built.

Peak Oil & Natural Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269626)

Uncle Sam doesn't want the natives in a tizzy prematurely.

Or translated into "Reality" instead of "Spin" (5, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269638)

"The White House has begun implementing a new policy toward the U.S. Geological Survey, in which all scientific papers and other public documents by USGS scientists must be screened for content. The USGS communications office must now be 'alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature.' Subjects fitting this description might include global warming, or research on the effects of oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. Anything that might have a negative impact on the economy or the current Administration's plans for despoiling our environment must be inaccessible to those of us who live on this planet and will be adversely affected by changes allowed through keeping our population uneducated about the environmental impacts. Any scientific/geological information that will allow anyone to question current Administration's energy or (lack of) environmentally friendly plans must remain inaccessible to the general public."

Re:Or translated into "Reality" instead of "Spin" (4, Informative)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270048)

Also interesting about Mark Myers the new head of the USGS (from Nature 441, 266 (18 May 2006))

"Who is Mark Myers? That's what many US geologists are asking in the wake of an announcement that President George W. Bush will nominate Myers to head the US Geological Survey (USGS). ...Myers has a PhD in geology and has spent much of his career in Alaska, working for oil companies and for the state -- sometimes alone in remote locations, armed with a shotgun in case of grizzly bears...If confirmed by the Senate, Myers would be the first USGS director in decades to come neither from academia nor from within the agency....Myers worked most recently as head of Alaska's Division of Oil and Gas. In the past he has supported drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- a protected region of Alaska. And this has spooked some environmentalists. But if he gets the USGS job, Myers says, he would stay out of any decision making: "My job is strictly to provide the data, to help people understand the data and its limitations."

Re:Or translated into "Reality" instead of "Spin" (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270194)

Myers the new head of the USGS

      Mike Myers is the head of the USGS? Smashing, baby! That's so unbelievably shagadelic...uhh, ohhh MARK Myers...oops.

What is this!? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269652)

The Executive branch has forgotten it can't make laws.

Re:What is this!? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269776)

The Executive branch has forgotten it can't make laws.

The USGS, the FCC, the DOE, and countless other government "agencies" derive their power directly from the president. If he tells them they need to wear only bright purple clothing every Thursday, they'd damned well better do so.


Now, I will agree 100% with those suggesting the purely political motives behind this decree. But at least on this one, the asshat-in-chief does have the authority (if not the intellect or scientific understanding) to singlehandedly tell the USGS how to do their jobs.

Re:What is this!? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269934)

If Congress cared enough, they could pass a law instructing the president to stop doing that. Of course, the executive branch could also just fire all the scientists and stop doing controversial research. Congress could respond by shutting down funding for the president's pet projects. Checks and balances can get ugly when they're no longer just threats -- of course political reality usually gets in the way.

Re:What is this!? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270136)

Hasn't seemed to stop them for the past 6 years.

Gotta clamp down on that truth stuff (3, Funny)

wschalle (790478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269660)

Who knows what could happen if enough truth got out. Gives me nightmares just thinkin about it.

They're doing wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269662)

I have no proof, but I know they're doing wrong. They don't want people to see what is going on even though they're officially serving the people. They're doing wrong.

Republican War on Science. (5, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269664)

Republican War on Science [amazon.com] by Chris Mooney

From the article: "This is not about stifling or suppressing our science, or politicizing our science in any way,'' Barbara Wainman, the agency's director of communications, said Wednesday. "I don't have approval authority. What it was designed to do is to improve our product flow.''

They aren't even trying to justify their actions anymore. They're just filtering science from public view, and insisting that it is improvement.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Republican War on Science. (5, Insightful)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269718)

Classic 1984'ish stuff. You take away, then proclaim the reduction as an "improvement". I believe in the book they were using chocolate rations, but hey, information can be rationed too...

Re:Republican War on Science. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269978)

Classic 1984'ish stuff. You take away, then proclaim the reduction as an "improvement". I believe in the book they were using chocolate rations, but hey, information can be rationed too...

I wish they would start with the chocolate. Considering the size of the average american waist, rationing chocolate would be an improvement, probably save billions in health-care costs.

Re:Republican War on Science. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270330)

Man that was "below the belt" :)

chocolate (2, Interesting)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270374)

I wish they would start with the chocolate. Considering the size of the average american waist, rationing chocolate would be an improvement, probably save billions in health-care costs.

Ah but dark chocolate is good for the heart [forbes.com] . It also contains antioxidants which may help fight cancer. you've gotta love chocolate.

Falcon

Re:Republican War on Science. (2, Insightful)

Thomas the Doubter (1016806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270156)

This is truely a big deal - censorship of public information about our environment, paid for by tax dollars.

I hereby pledge never to vote Republican again.
Thomas

who needs science? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269678)

... when you have god on your side?

Hate world... (1)

rmoehring (949487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269682)

Hate world, revenge soon, take out on everyone...oh wait, is that policy-sensitive too? I'm not supposed to talk about that...

Da, tovarisch! (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269684)

We must ensure that our scientists are entirely in accord with the Marxist-Leninist principles of eternal socialist brotherhood underlying the glorious people's revolution!

Same shit, different century. And it worked out sooo well the last time.

Another right bites the dust (5, Insightful)

pbailey (225135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269696)

I don't understand why you Americans are so agreeable when it comes to having your civil liberties squashed. Why don't you all speak up and remind your representative that you used to live in a free country and would like to once again. Enough of the government spin masters controlling everything.

 

Re:Another right bites the dust (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269892)

I don't understand why you Americans are so agreeable when it comes to having your civil liberties squashed. Why don't you all speak up and remind your representative that you used to live in a free country and would like to once again. Enough of the government spin masters controlling everything.

Why don't you come over here and scream with us? You no longer have to worry about being invaded and you sure don't have to worry about being deported.

Re:Another right bites the dust (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269952)

Oh I'll take that one.

We watch TV. We pay our bills. We often work more than one job. We vote on American Idol and watch "reality TV." We have been conditioned to think in terms of 30-minute episodes (including entertaining commercial messages).

WE ARE BRAIN-DEAD. That's just one step beyond brain-washed and not nearly as reversible.

Re:Another right bites the dust (4, Insightful)

ClassMyAss (976281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270020)

The problem in America right now is that just as in any democracy, a bit more than half of the country agrees with the current government (at least regarding personal freedom - no question about it, the Dems only won because of Iraq) and subscribes to the notion that if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide. And hey, we're a democracy, so if 51% of the people agree, that means the rest of us should all just bend over, right? That's what it means to be free! Combine that sentiment with the hideous educational system and attitude in this country, and it becomes a very hostile place to free scientific inquiry - people don't care whether things are true, because belief is much easier than research (especially when you're too stupid to understand the research even if you did look into it, and trust me, I've taught way too many American high school students to believe that more than a fraction are even minimally educated, let alone intelligent).

I finally realized how bad things were going to get when I first started hearing people advance the argument that it was unconstitutional and - worse! - unpatriotic to limit their democratic "right" to vote away my freedoms. Here's a hint, America: if someone is pissed about "judicial activism" it usually means they are trying to take away a minority's right to not be punished for being a minority (and I don't mean this in the strictly racial sense). Cover your ass or you know what you get...

Re:Another right bites the dust (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270080)

No. The problem is that we don't know how to take action any longer.

Have you noticed that there are no longer any classes in things like "citizenship" or "social studies" or anything to do with participating in government? We aren't told the basic truths such as the REAL power of the jury which is to determine if a law itself is bad and get rid of it.

For example, if someone were to be prosecuted under the DMCA and the defendant wanted a trial by jury and the jury decided the DMCA wasn't good law, something could actually be done!

Re:Another right bites the dust (3, Informative)

ClassMyAss (976281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270244)

For example, if someone were to be prosecuted under the DMCA and the defendant wanted a trial by jury and the jury decided the DMCA wasn't good law, something could actually be done!
Very true - alas, most people have never even heard of jury nullification [wikipedia.org] , although I suspect if they did, many would feel they had no right to apply it in most cases. Wikipedia claims that "Jurors are likely to be struck from the panel during voir dire if they reveal awareness of the concept of jury nullification.", although this is without a citation.

Re:Another right bites the dust (2, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270276)

The problem in America right now is that just as in any democracy, a bit more than half of the country agrees with the current government

I don't know if I'd go that far. Yes, many are taken in by the Machiavelli/Goebbel PR spin machine. But, I fear, many more just aren't bothered to give a shit. You see, our "leaders" have learned that when the people are starving don't say "Let them eat cake". Instead, join forces with corporations and placate them with McDonalds hamburgers and DVD's to take their minds off the fact that they will never have a slice of the pie.

Re:Another right bites the dust (5, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270070)

do you memeber video of bush's second election night? the streets where filled with protesters.. in fact it was the first time in history that the pres couldn't walk in because they where afraid he would be shot - no one saw this in the us.. except for the people there. the news didn't cover it - sure they had people covering it but it never ever got to the air. 90% or more of the US doesn't know and doesn't give a shit what happens.. and that is how they want it.. it saddens me..

Re:Another right bites the dust (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270392)

do you memeber video of bush's second election night? the streets where filled with protesters.. in fact it was the first time in history that the pres couldn't walk in because they where afraid he would be shot - no one saw this in the us.. except for the people there. the news didn't cover it

It's gotta be floating around on youtube or francetube or something, got a link?

Re:Another right bites the dust (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270308)

And what country are you from that is so free and enlightened? I just love how foreigners feel free to take cheap shots at the US but never talk about where they're from.

As for civil liberties? Both sides of popular American politics are a threat to my civil rights.

Re:Another right bites the dust (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270426)

Because that requires actual work.

Re:Another right bites the dust (4, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270506)

1) Most Americans don't vote.
2) When they do vote it is often meaningless due to gerrymandered districts. If you're a Brit the analogy would be the 'rotten burroughs' of the 18th and 19th century in Britian.
3) When congress does pass laws against a president's wishes he simply issues a signing statement saying he will not enforce them. This is blatent nonfeasence, something that should get the pres. removed from office. But niether the courts or the congress have the backbone to challenge him on it.
4) The courts are being packed with activist judges who toe the right wing agenda. Judge Alito on the Supreme Court for example is a huge suppporter of the concept of the 'unitary executive'. Meaning the president gets to do whatever the president pleases.

All this points to a drift toward right wing authoritarian rule. The president as emporer or god-king. Lately I read some posts on the net about the only solution to this being to amend the constitution to dissolve the executive branch, go toward a bi-cameral parlimentary system. I am starting to agree with that POV.

Rock and a hard place (2, Funny)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269710)

I guess that puts the USGS between a rock and a hard place.

How To Clamp a President (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269712)

The only way to stop Bush from using "politics" to subvert our government to his destructive corporate agenda is to impeach him. He doesn't care about "accountability moments" [google.com] anymore, because he's a "lame duck" [wikipedia.org] , no reelection carrot to discipline his manners. And losing his Republican Congress means he's extremely dangerous, because he has nothing left to lose except his Executive privileges. Which are huge, especially since Bush has spent his 6 years remaking the government according to the Unitary Executive [wikipedia.org] "theory" that is his only real ideology other than unlimited money and power. He's spending OVER $3 TRILLION of your money [gao.gov] (paid over the rest of your life) every year, on his priorities, not yours.

Stop him now. Impeach him now. [wikipedia.org] It's the only way to stop the damage before he starts "upgrading" the impeachment process itself.

Re:How To Clamp a President (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269760)

Sorry, but what would that achieve?

I mean, didn't Clinton get impeached? It didn't seem to have any effect on him, did it?

(BTW, I'm a Canadian, and I don't have an in-depth understanding of the U.S. political system.)

Re:How To Clamp a President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269878)

(BTW, I'm a Canadian, and I don't have an in-depth understanding of the U.S. political system.)

Neither do we.

- US Citizens

My CAPTCHA is "Doomsday" - How fitting!

Re:How To Clamp a President (4, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270014)

I mean, didn't Clinton get impeached? It didn't seem to have any effect on him, did it?

I'm pretty sure he stopped getting blowjobs for a while.

Re:How To Clamp a President (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270046)

He got impeached by Congress, but acquitted by Senate. See here. [wikipedia.org]

I guess the sense of the word "impeachment" usually implied is removal from office, not some intermediate step. In that case, Clinton didn't get impeached.

For what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269858)

What charges? Your rant didn't mention what "high crimes and misdemeanors" he's committed to justify impeachment.

For what you ask? (4, Insightful)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270036)

What charges? Your rant didn't mention what "high crimes and misdemeanors" he's committed to justify impeachment.

Geeze, it's so hard to choose. For starters, how about picking on a few of his more egregious violations of the law:

  • Title 50 United States Code, Section 1805, the FISA law, for authorizing the unconstitutional wiretaps.
  • Title 18 United States Code, Section 113C, the Federal Torture Act, for authorizing the extraordinary rendition program
  • Title 18 United States Code, Section 371, conspiracy to defraud the United States Congress, for lying about Iraq

And those of you who've been paying attention will realize that we're just scratching the surface here. These are only a few of the more obvious crimes for which there is publicly available evidence, despite complete lack of congressional oversight for the last six years.

If the Dems have any balls at all we should be swimming in viable charges by this time next year.

--MarkusQ

Re:For what you ask? (1)

Luthair (847766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270246)

I've heard pundits say that Democrats are wary of impeaching Bush as it didn't turn out well politically for the republicans when they tried it.

The Dems haven't shown balls up to now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270256)

Possibly the electorate's attempt to sew some on may have bolstered them, but I don't have much hope. I suspect in their attempts not to rile the heartland up to the 2008 elections, we'll merely get a lefty-flavored version of big-government theocracy.

I hope to be proven wrong, but I see little evidence of balls or spinal cord in either side.

Re:For what you ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270428)

Title 18 United States Code, Section 371, conspiracy to defraud the United States Congress, for lying about Iraq

I'm not so sure that one's a morally acceptable reason to impeach. After all, do you really believe that Congress wasn't in on it? They knew Iraq wasn't a threat to us, but went along with Bush's war because it was politically expedient.

Look, IANAL, but if you can somehow nail him for lying to the public, then great. If not, get him for the renditions, for the wiretapping program, hell, charge him with war crimes for aggression against Iraq, but lying to Congress? Democratic and Republican congressmen alike participated in the deception; lets get Bush for what he really did, not on some technicality.

Re:How To Clamp a President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270478)

The only way to stop Bush from using "politics" to subvert our government to his destructive corporate agenda is to impeach him.
I would have thought it would have been to stop electing him, but I guess most Americans disagree with you.

Who study everything from caribou mating (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269720)

I happen to know this policy came from the Whitehouse and was specifically triggered by the caribou research. Someone from Georgia complained, and the administration wants the chance to add the appropriate black bars to any future caribou video.

You Have to Be Kidding (1)

SueAnnSueAnn (998877) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269770)

So now, his Royal High-Ness is going to censor the USGS!
Next Bush is going to be calling the Magnitude of the nest California Earthquake.
Will somebody please send that "man" of questionable parentage back to Main.
Keep the whole clan out of Texas

Sue

When it's time it's time,
And it may be sooner then you think
For some of us change is a welcome thing,
In spite of the pain we must endure and
The choices we must make,

Nature of Democracy vs Democracy of Nature (4, Insightful)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269784)

What part of Democracy does this administration not understand?

It's not that this administration doesn't have a coherent position, it's that that position is nearly impossible to audit because most individuals who might wish to don't command the resources that the government has, and it becomes a war of wills with the money (and hence the odds) stacked against the common citizen.

There are things in the world that require actual secrecy. It's useful to have the codes to launch the missiles be secret. But that doesn't mean it has to be secret that you have nuclear missiles. In fact, it's the kind of thing one might want to know in order to decide if one likes the government that they elect in a supposedly informed way. How can one be informed on a matter without information?

Democracy is a grand experiment. It seems an open question as to whether it works. But weirdly, though Bush and his cohorts speak about bringing Democracy to the world, they don't seem to believe in it. I'd think their position a lot more coherent and believable if they said "We're the party of 'Democracy has failed.'" They could be about political self-determination rather than democracy and they wouldn't sound like hypocrites. They could then say "You, the American people, decided democratically that "you can't handle the truth." [imdb.com] ". But I think they worry people might not be able to handle that truth.

And hiding one truth soon begets hiding another, until soon it seems like it should be S.O.P. [wikipedia.org] , where we just don't let the people have access to any facts, not even political facts, because they might misinterpret them.

And that's like a cancer. Because every fact you withhold becomes political by virtue of withholding it. So it feeds itself.

The whole reason science uses something called "peer review" and not just "review" is to distinguish it from other kind of "review". Like, say, "government review". Blurring the two is to give take meaning from the word "peer". Which sounds quite a peery-loss endeavor to me.

Now that is really annoying. (3, Insightful)

Pinkfud (781828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269822)

The USGS is one of very few federal agencies that is actually useful to the people. Their research is valuable to all of us, and it should not be tampered with. I regularly check their seismic network web pages and read the Oat Mountain drum recorder [usgs.gov] . Why does the administration think it's bad for people to see this stuff?

Re:Now that is really annoying. (2, Informative)

Hits_B (711969) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269974)

I just finished a project with the U.S.G.S. It was on a potentially environmentally sensitive topic relating to mineral resources in areas with threatened and endangered species. At no time during the internal review process were we encouraged to change anything or alter our findings. Thankfully this report came out before this "directive" was handed down. I wish the U.S.G.S. the best of luck trying to implement this. I'm sure the guys at Menlo Park aren't very happy with this.

I am outraged! (2, Insightful)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269836)

The people VOTED for CHANGE. And dammit they deserve a change for course.

So much for transparency, (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269856)

and good luck with that.

I used to love going to the official MS terraserver site and seeing a big black blob over the PAVE PAWS defense radar installation on Cape Cod.

I guess MS thought they needed to do the gummint's bidding and protect us from seeing a classified thing.

Then you moused over to jef poskanzer's acme mapper and get everything in it's full glory anyway.

You can't handle the truth!! (3, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269882)

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.''

Yeah. They have to be sure that the public isn't unneccessarily exposed to things like "facts". What kind of "communication strategies" need to be developed to communicate a new finding? What's wrong with just reporting the science? I guess that some facts have too much "truthiness" behind them:

In 2002, the USGS was forced to reverse course after warning that oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would harm the Porcupine caribou herd. One week later a new report followed, this time saying the caribou would not be affected.

Damn facts... always getting in the way of MONEY.

Re:You can't handle the truth!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270000)

I didn't realize that "reporting the science" involved calling news conferences with CNN, CBS, et al. I guess scientific findings aren't useful without sound bites, drama, and pundits. Wow, how could the American public possibly make informed decisions without media frenzy?

Anyone that requires a broad media-driven audience for their scientific findings is not a scientist. Period. They might be a drama queen, but that's a separate discussion.

Additionally, why should the policy makers have to be surprised by media hounding prompted unelected and unconfirmed employees of the federal government?

Re:You can't handle the truth!! (2, Informative)

Surlyboi (96917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270254)

I didn't realize that "reporting the science" involved calling news conferences with CNN, CBS, et al. I guess scientific findings aren't useful without sound bites, drama, and pundits. Wow, how could the American public possibly make informed decisions without media frenzy?
Then obviously, you seem to have missed out on how our society now functions. In the absence of true transparency, what you call "drama" is the best alternative. And most of the "media frenzy" you seem to be worried about is reserved for missing white girls and celebrities adopting brown kids in the third world.

Anyone that requires a broad media-driven audience for their scientific findings is not a scientist. Period. They might be a drama queen, but that's a separate discussion.
See my above response about drama

Additionally, why should the policy makers have to be surprised by media hounding prompted unelected and unconfirmed employees of the federal government?
Because the policy makers are not qualified scientifically to make some of the decisions they make and those "unelected and uncofirmed" employees are. They are "confirmed" by their advanced degrees. They don't need to be elected. Political policy should be dictated by facts and study and the good of the nation and its future generations, not by what's going to make a policy maker look good to his or her constituency.

Bush is not the first to do it (4, Interesting)

Marcos Eliziario (969923) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269904)

Some years ago, President Lula, from Brasil, got a little upset with some data published by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Statistics and Geographics). The published data was relative to poverty reduction and kind of contradicted what government was saying. After that, it was officially ordered that the IBGE should submit every publication to the presidency, 48 hours before public delivery.
Here in Brasil we have a joke about Bush and Lula that goes along the line that both of them don't know English (well, Lula also is not very good with portuguese, our official language). It seems to me, that being authoritarian is another common trace between the presidents of the US and Brasil.

Re:Bush is not the first to do it (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269950)

That pretty much sums it up. Bush seems to make up for his lack of ability to be articulate through bluster and impulsivity. Sensor your critics and you no longer have to worry about your lack of intellect.

Re:Bush is not the first to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270260)

It seems to me, that being authoritarian is another common trace between the presidents of the US and Brasil.


As much as I hate your guts, I'd have to agree.

Re:Bush is not the first to do it (2, Funny)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270366)

Dad Gumit, If I was president I'd want to see the things I wouldn't understand before the public who wouldn't understand sees it too! Shouldn't the boss have the right of first confusion?

Fascism (2, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269930)

The rule of the state, in importance ranked above the people that make up society.

Scientific facts don't stop being scientific facts, just because the administration demonstrates the political need to ignore/bend/distort and supress such facts. Thus, the scientific governmental organization founded for the good of society is overruled by the good of the current administration of the state. That is a fascist method of operation.

My dream is that both republicans and democrats will condemn these attempts. My sense of reality says that will never happen.

Re:Fascism (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269980)

I think Bush has stated in none too many words that being a dictator would be easier. This slip of the tongue seemed to hint at a fascist agenda. I think a lot of our freedoms are riding on the control of the senate. I certainly hope for the speedy recovery of the democratic senator. Bush needs to experience checks and balances again.

Re:Fascism (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270218)

My dream is that both republicans and democrats will condemn these attempts

My dream is that the American public wakes up so that we don't have to wait for Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb to do anything. With the two parties in control there is no real competition in politics and it's killing us from all sides.

Don't think that either the Democrats or Republicans have the market cornered on common sense. They'll both prove you dead wrong.

Re:Fascism (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270328)

I ment voters and not parties. And I agree with you.

Re:Fascism (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270404)

I ment voters and not parties.

I meant both.

What the USGS has to say about this: (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269984)

For what it's worth:

"Recent news reports suggesting the Bush administration is trying to muzzle scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) by placing new controls on approval and release of research plans and products are off base and misinformed about the intent of the changes being formalized at the agency. Speaking as the senior biologist at the USGS, I am deeply concerned that longstanding legitimate scientific peer review processes that have been the basis of scientific practices at the USGS and other scientific agencies and organizations have been mischaracterized as inappropriate political controls on research. Peer review is the bedrock of processes in any credible science organization that ensures scientific conclusions or findings are robust, independent and objective.

The USGS has had such processes in place for many years. As with any science enterprise, policies are periodically reviewed and updated to keep pace with changes in the organization. Our recently revised policy is an effort to do just that and has been developed by scientists and science managers (not political appointees) in an effort to coordinate existing review processes.

Research supervisors in the review chain are simply charged with ensuring all USGS information products have addressed peer comments and are in compliance with USGS procedures with regard to the review and release of scientific information. Furthermore, the notion that senior leadership in an organization should not be alerted to significant findings that will directly impact policy development and decision-making is disturbing. Under current policy this information is transferred to policy makers as it is released to the public.

Characterizing these reviews as an attempt by the Bush administration to control and censor scientific findings is inaccurate, is a disservice to those scientists who developed those processes in the spirit of continually improving our commitment to excellent science and undermines the bedrock of the peer review process as an arbiter of the credibility of individual science products and facilitator of science progress and discussion.
"

slow down on the tinfoil hats, OK? (0)

reemul (1554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269986)

Whatever evil conspiracy theory you want to believe about restricting the data that comes out of the USGS, you have to acknowledge that anything even a little bit controversial will be leaked by some of the career staffers on the project. The entire employee pool doesn't get changed out between administrations so that absolutely everyone is a total unthinking tool of the prez. There is always going to be someone who strongly disagrees and dumps the story into the press as a way of sticking it to the man.

Though I agree that all of the science on climate change should be available. All of it. Including the data and methods used to create the hockey stick model. I wonder what *that* guy is hiding.

It Goes Against the Word of God (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269990)

Plate tectonics? Fossils? When the USGS has reports that involve even basic science which goes against the literal word of God, will we see omissions and redaction? "Peer review" should not include a political pass.

Re:It Goes Against the Word of God (1)

DiracFeynman (655294) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270440)

I agree. This is policy sets a dangerous precedent.

Just another nail in the coffin (1)

russian_casey (954084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270072)

If science is going to be censored now (and that's what this amounts to) we may as well pack it in. The same sort of sad neocons that cling to the sinking cryptofascist ship that is this government (the Democrats are hardly blameless, we need to admit that) are the same sort of sad individuals who will try to either downplay or rationalize this criminal censoring of facts and truth...but then again, the manipulation of facts and truth has been the hallmark of probably the most criminal American administration of the modern era.

Improve our product flow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270082)

User-agent: whsearch
Disallow: /cgi-bin
Disallow: /search
Disallow: /query.html
Disallow: /help
Disallow: /sitemap.html
Disallow: /privacy.html
Disallow: /accessibility.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/robots.txt [whitehouse.gov]

I'm surprised so many people defend the USGS... (4, Insightful)

slew (2918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270162)

I guess people would rather just bushbash than take a critical look at the USGS in specific...

In case people don't remember, the USGS was the same agency that in 1998-2000 (under the clinton administration oversight) was accused of falsifying many research documents in support of the proposed nuclear waste processing facility in Yucca Mountain. I believe some of their scientists that were involved with this research falsification are under federal investigation for this today.

I'm not saying all of their scientists are bad apples (they do some good research there), but the agency as a whole untainted as unbiased scientific researchers (as they know who butters their bread) and all the stuff that comes out of the door there should be taken with a grain of salt.

In response to this and other problems, in 2004 (under the bush2 administration oversite), the USGS started a procedure of external peer review for their papers. This new "alert" of course goes beyond external peer review, so isn't all that great news, but I think the USGS has a long way to go to clean up their act before they cry idea censorship.

Just my 2-cents worth...

Scientists and Engineers for America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270264)

Support Scientists and Engineers for America [wikipedia.org] :

"1. Federal policy shall be made using the best available science and analysis both from within the government and from the rest of society.
2. The federal government shall never intentionally publish false or misleading scientific information nor post such material on federal websites.
3. Scientists conducting research or analysis with federal funding shall be free to discuss and publish the results of unclassified research after a reasonable period of review without fear of intimidation or adverse personnel action.
4. Federal employees reporting what they believe to be manipulation of federal research and analysis for political or ideological reasons should be free to bring this information to the attention of the public and shall be protected from intimidation, retribution or adverse personnel action by effective enforcement of Whistle Blower laws.
5. No scientists should fear reprisals or intimidation because of the results of their research.
6. Appointments to federal scientific advisory committees shall be based on the candidate's scientific qualifications, not political affiliation or ideology.
7. The federal government shall not support any science education program that includes instruction in concepts that are derived from ideology and not science.
8. While scientists may elect to withhold methods or studies that might be misused there shall be no federal prohibition on publication of basic research results. Decisions made about blocking the release of information about specific applied research and technologies for reasons of national security shall be the result of a transparent process. Classification decisions shall be made by trained professionals using a clear set of published criteria and there shall be a clear process for challenging decisions and a process for remedying mistakes and abuses of the classification system."

The dilemma of government research (4, Interesting)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270378)

I've done research in academia and industry, and I currently work for the US government.

Having works reviewed by my agency (NASA) is always interesting. In academia, there is usually very little interference from the parent university (one of the basic tenets of tenure). The researchers opinion is never considered that of the university proper.

It doesn't work that way in government, the distinction between the researcher and the parent agency doesn't exist (although if it did we would probably get better research). A paper put out by a government lab is sometimes construed as government policy, with the ensuing political or legal fallout.

The last thing any senior administrator wants to deal with is a call from legislative affairs complaining about the conclusion of what was seemingly an obscure paper, or the lawyers from a company that was badmouthed in an environmental paper. I don't think these rules are active efforts to stifle information, it's simply folks trying to keep their agencies below the political radar (or by extension, department managers trying to keep their name from being attached to some problem that is showing up at agency headquarters). It's a shame really, but it's the way the world works.

Government employees are in an odd gray area - if you worked for a private company, you most definitely would not have a "right" to expressing your opinion in a company paper - they are paying you, and would fire you. Government employees have a bit more freedom, and their management struggles to define what opinions do and do not belong in government works.

What's the big deal? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270468)

They just want to make sure the scientists only report goodfacts, for the sake of truthiness. Are you against truthiness?
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