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NASA criticized for censoring scientist

February 6, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 6

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) has written a letter to NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin sharply criticizing the agency for its apparent efforts to censor the views of one of its top scientists, James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The letter was in response to several newspaper articles reporting that Hansen was being muzzled for calling for prompt U.S. reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in a lecture before the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December 2005. Hansen told the New York Times, for example, that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his upcoming lectures, papers, and requests for interviews from journalists. He also said he was not allowed to do an interview with National Public Radio on the grounds that the network is too liberal. In his letter to Griffin, Boehlert said, "It ought to go without saying that government scientists must be free to describe their scientific conclusions and the implications of those conclusions to their fellow scientists, policymakers, and the general public." Boehlert's staff is setting up meetings with NASA officials but has planned no hearings on the topic.


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