We welcome more
us your comments.
Former surgeon general says he was muzzled
Claims Bush administration kept him from speaking on controversial
U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona - a Bush
administration appointee - went public during Congressional testimory
on July 10 with exposure of how science, science policy and
scientific thinking is being attacked across the board from the
highest levels of government
His testimony revealed that his role as the "nation's doctor" was
undermined and compromised. As Carmona stated: "Anything that doesn't fit into the
political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is
ignored, marginalized or simply buried".
SideBar --read about
An Earlier Abuse of Science and
Women's Health...Susan Wood and the FDA...
Here is a link to a video of part of Carmona's testimony (as he is
by Henry Waxman):
General Richard Carmona testifies to Congress
And here is one
representative media account of his testimony from the LA Times
Ex-surgeon general says Bush officials kept information from public
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Times Staff Writer
12:28 PM PDT, July 10, 2007
WASHINGTON -- President Bush's first surgeon general charged today that
administration officials prevented him from providing the public with
accurate scientific and medical information on such issues as stem cell
research and teen pregnancy.
"The reality is that the 'nation's doctor' has been marginalized and
relegated to a position with no independent budget and with supervisors
who are political appointees with partisan agendas," Dr. Richard H.
Carmona told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological,
theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply
"The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a
democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science or
marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing
political winds," said Carmona, who served from 2002 to 2006. "The job
of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation - not the doctor
of a political party."
Carmona testified alongside former Surgeons General C. Everett Koop and
David Satcher, who served in the Reagan and Clinton administrations,
respectively. They also told the committee that they faced political
interference, particularly on morally charged issues such as sexuality
and drug use.
But Carmona said some fellow surgeons general told him interference
rose to new levels during his tenure.
"The surgeon general has to be independent if the surgeon general is
going to have any credibility," said committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman
(D-Los Angeles). The panel is considering reforms that would insulate
the surgeon general from political crosscurrents.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration gave Carmona
all the support he needed and expressed disappointment in his tenure.
"Dr. Carmona was given the authority and had the obligation to be the
leading voice for the health of all Americans," Fratto said. "It's
disappointing to us if he failed to use his position to the fullest
extent in advocating for policies he thought were in the best interests
of the nation. We believe Dr. Carmona received the support necessary to
carry out his mission."
Carmona served a four-year term and was not reappointed.
The House hearing comes two days before a Senate panel is to meet to
consider the nomination of Kentucky cardiologist James W. Holsinger Jr.
to succeed Carmona.
Holsinger has already drawn political fire from leading Democrats and
major gay and lesbian organizations. As a prominent lay member of the
United Methodist Church, Holsinger has strongly opposed liberalizing
church policies toward gays.
Surgeons general are viewed as public health advocates who serve, in
essence, as the nation's family doctor. Previous surgeons general have
played pivotal roles in debates about smoking, drunk driving, mental
health and disparities in medical treatment between whites and
Carmona said he expected that would be his role when he came to
Washington but that that was "politically naive."
When the issue of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research came
up early in Bush's first term, Carmona said, he felt he could play an
educational role for administration officials and the public by openly
discussing the latest scientific research on the subject.
Stem cells can be grown into any type of cell in the body, and some
scientists see in them the promise of a cure for Parkinson's and other
diseases. But producing embryonic stem cells has involved the
destruction of human embryos - raising moral issues that some,
including many religious conservatives, find profoundly disturbing.
In 2001, Bush limited federal funding for stem cell research and has
since blocked attempts by Congress to lift the restriction.
Carmona said he was told to "stand down" from playing any educational
role because a decision had already been made. He also said
administration appointees who reviewed his prepared speech texts
deleted from them references to stem cell research.
Likewise, on the issue of preventing teen pregnancy, Carmona said he
was not allowed to deviate from the administration's position that
abstinence was the best approach.
In fact, he said, he believes a variety of approaches are needed,
including contraception for sexually active teens. But the
administration "did not want to hear the science," he said, and instead
"wanted to preach."
An Earlier Example of
Governmental Abuse of Science and Health Policy - Susan Wood, Women's Health and the FDA
In August 2005, Susan Wood, then Assistant
Commissioner for Women’s Health and Director, Office of Women’s Health
at the Food and Drug Administration faced similar governmental
trampling of science by right wing ideological agendas and resigned in
protest. As Wood's press release at the time stated:
comes after the FDA ignored scientific and medical evidence – again
refusing to approve Plan B for over-the-counter use last week.
Despite saying that it completed its review of this application, as
amended, and concluding that the available scientific data are
sufficient to support the safe use of Plan B as an over-the-counter
product, the FDA said it would begin another regulatory process,
thereby delaying the decision indefinitely."
protest in the wake of her resignation led to the approval for limited
over-the-counter access to Plan B, but only a full year later - August,
read Susan Wood's letter of resignation...
We welcome more
us your comments.
You can sign the Statement on this
website. Just click here to add your name to
the growing list.
Join in the battle to defend
Scientists and Members of the Scientific Community:
• Sign and Circulate This Statement.
• Help Raise Funds to Have it Printed in Newspapers Across the Country,
• Get This Statement Adopted by Scientific, Educational and Other
Associations and Institutions.
Members of the General Public:
• Reprint and Circulate This
Statement, Help Spread the Word, Contribute Your Ideas About How to
Wage This Crucial Battle & Join With People in the Scientific
Community and Others to Wage This Battle.
• Help raise funds to print the Statement in as many newspapers and
journals as possible, in the U.S. and internationally.