I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The ongoing rape of science

It's good to see that the Bush Administration isn't allowing its political and ideological beliefs to influence scientific judgments concerning our country's health policies:

Senior Food and Drug Administration officials were told that the application to sell the "morning-after pill" without prescription was going to be rejected before the staff completed its scientific review and months before the decision was made public, government investigators reported yesterday.

A report by the independent Government Accountability Office also said senior FDA officials, including then-Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, were actively involved in the politically sensitive decision -- one of four aspects of the agency's actions that the investigators called "unusual" . . . .

The GAO report, requested by Congress more than 16 months ago, said the agency did not follow its normal procedures in making the scientific assessment of the Plan B proposal and in having a top official sign off on the eventual decision after lower-ranking scientists refused.

The same article reported this completely-unrelated fact:

The application was strongly opposed by some social and religious conservatives, including 49 members of Congress who wrote a letter to President Bush asking that the application be rejected.

Efforts to determine whether Bush appointee Mark B. McClellan, the highly ideological former FDA commissioner, forced the rejection of the Plan B proposal were thwarted by this fact:

The letter noted that Congressional investigators had been unable to uncover the role in the Plan B decision played by the former agency commissioner, Dr. Mark B. McClellan, because agency officials told investigators that all of his e-mail messages and written correspondence on the subject had been deleted or thrown out. The Democrats charged that these acts contravened federal records laws.

The larger issues -- Iraq, terrorism, Katrina, budgetary recklessness -- are obscuring the extent to which religious conservatism is shaping and molding almost every aspect of U.S. domestic policy. Agencies and sub-agencies which receive relatively little attention but which have great influence on domestic policies have, in many cases, been turned over to religious extremists, and the lack of light being shined on these bureaucratic crevices in Washington means that they are running wild, without any real restraint or opposition.

Americans are going to wake up one day and look at the results of these largely covert maneuverings and find that there is a whole panoply of intrusive, religion-driven restrictions embedded into federal law in almost every sector.

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