John McCain and Peter Likins (president of the University of Arizona) write an op-ed for the Chronicle on efforts by Republicans in Congress to intimidate scientists doing research on global warming.
the government cannot craft sound policy unless it can count on scientists to provide accurate data on which to base its actions. (The consequences of spinning or withholding facts can be seen in the lives lost to disease because tobacco companies withheld evidence from Congress and the Food and Drug Administration.) When members of Congress recently began pressuring scientists who have offered evidence of global warming, they broke that crucial covenant. The chairman and another member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in an apparent effort to discredit the findings reported by three distinguished scientists from respected universities, demanded that the scientists send Congress all of the scientific data they have gathered in their entire careers, even data on studies unrelated to their publications on global warming. … The message sent by the Congressional committee to the three scientists was not subtle: Publish politically unpalatable scientific results and brace yourself for political retribution, which might include denial of the opportunity to compete for federal funds. Statements that such requests are routine ring hollow: Asking for scientific information may be routine, but asking for all of the data produced in a scientist’s career is highly irregular. It represents a kind of intimidation, which threatens the relationship between science and public policy. That behavior must not be tolerated.
I know that McCain has disappointed on a variety of fronts, but I’m still very happy to see him issuing a vigorous and unambiguous denunciation of his colleagues in the House. I’ll have more to say about these issues in my review of Chris Mooney’s book.