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White House Cut China Reference from NASA Talk

POSTED: 05:24 PM ET, 09/15/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The heavy editing of a NASA administrator's prepared comments before Congress is evidence of the latest dispute between government scientists and White House policy makers.

The White House Office of Management and Budget deleted a passage from Michael Griffin's prepared testimony about China's space ambitions that read: "A Chinese landing on the moon prior to our own return will create a stark perception that the U.S. lags behind not only Russia, but also China, in space."

The Orlando Sentinel broke the story about Griffin's censored testimony after obtaining an internal e-mail in which he said the White House called a "jihad" to shut down space shuttle plans and expressed frustration about a lack of funding for his agency.

"The tone of the note depicts a man watching as his finely crafted plans for a revitalized space-faring NASA appear to be melting before his eyes," The Sentinel reported.

Asked for comment, OMB spokeswoman Jane Lee said that the editing involved "internal deliberative and pre-decisional" documents that she could not discuss. She also said it was unclear whether the editing was done by the OMB or another agency.

In another case in July, a former administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency told congressional leaders that members of Vice President Dick Cheney's staff censored prepared testimony about the impact of global warming by Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gerberding had planned to say that the "CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern."

In a survey of EPA scientists last year, the Union of Concerned Scientists found that 60 of the respondents said they had personally experienced at least one type of political interference during the past five years.

By Derek Kravitz |  September 15, 2008; 5:24 PM ET Other Investigations
Previous: Ex-White House Aide: 'Surge' Wasn't Just About More Troops | Next: Second Official Pleads Guilty In Oil Office Scandal

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