As I See It
The Bush administration has found secrecy and stealth to be very effective in concealing its activities from the general public. But sooner or later the truth will come out. Until someone blows the whistle on all of these clandestine operations, we won’t know their full extent. But here are a few that have come to light.The best known, of course, is Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy committee, made up exclusively of his oil and gas industry buddies, who met behind closed doors to draft the nation’s energy policy the way they wanted it. So far he has been successful in keeping the public from knowing what went on in those meetings.A key element of their plan was to drill everywhere possible for more gas and oil, with very little attention paid to conservation measures like increased efficiency, and alternate energy sources. They didn’t hesitate for a moment to sacrifice the Western mountain states, principally Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, to drilling, but in Florida, where President Bush’s brother Jeb is governor, the federal government quietly bought back the leases to make Florida’s beaches and wetlands off limits for drilling.Actuarial Specialist Richard Frost’s job was threatened to make him conceal the fact that Bush had underestimated the cost of his Medicare Drug Bill by $154 billion. U.S. Rep. Nick Smith was coerced by threats of holding back funds for his re-election campaign, or conversely receiving a more generous amount, to ensure his voting in favor of the bill.Legislation to penalize corporations and wealthy individuals for setting up off-shore tax havens worth $75 billion per year was killed by the administration in a closed conference. Whom do you suppose the beneficiaries of this favor would be likely to reward with generous campaign contributions? And whose taxes are going to have to make up for the $75 billion tax giveaway?A review of the effects of pesticides on the environment and endangered species by the Fish and Wildlife Service was eliminated by the administration in closed meetings, easing the sales of these products for Dow, DuPont and Monsanto.The Bush administration has regularly censored, edited out, or reversed the conclusions of scientific studies which did not agree with what Bush wanted them to say. All mention of global warming was deleted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual report on the environment. An industry-dominated board studying the impact of mercury contamination in tuna, simply ignored the recommendation of the sole toxicologist in the group, who warned that permissible mercury levels could not be raised without harm to the developing brains of children. The report was pigeonholed, and the board was ultimately disbanded. The administration has fired scientists from federal agencies, and farmed out studies to private contractors who are often dominated by industries which have a direct interest in the outcome. These kinds of actions have become so commonplace that a group of 60 scientists, including a dozen Nobel laureates has spoken out accusing the Bush administration of systematic manipulation of scientific evidence.The White House has adopted the cynical strategy of timing press releases on actions which will be unpopular with a majority of the public (particularly rollbacks of environmental protection regulations) in the wee hours of the morning just before a weekend or a holiday, when they are least likely to get prominent press coverage and be noticed by the public. Examples: easing of air pollution regulations, reduction of wetlands protection, and the Norton/Leavitt agreement opening potential BLM wilderness lands to exploitation.I am not taking the position that such abuses have not taken place in previous administrations. But that does not mean that they should be condoned or overlooked in this administration.Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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