Secrecy, complicity, and resistance: Political control of climate science communication under the Bush–Cheney administration

Government Secrecy

ISBN: 978-0-85724-389-8, eISBN: 978-0-85724-390-4

ISSN: 0196-1152

Publication date: 26 January 2011


The collision between climate science and climate policy was strikingly manifested during the Bush–Cheney Administration. Based on both the documentary record and direct observation, this chapter reviews multiple means by which the Administration controlled the flow of climate science communication from federal scientists and research programs when Administration officials saw a need to conform science communication with Administration politics. Government secrecy imposed via information control was evident, for example, in the editing of climate program reports; the suppression of official reference to an existing major climate impacts assessment; selective application of control over contacts between government scientists and the media; alteration of congressional testimony; shutting down of government Web sites; “stealth” release of reports to minimize public attention; and concealing a Supreme Court-mandated scientifically based draft document that would have triggered regulation of greenhouse gases to protect public welfare. With these political interventions, the response from the ranks of federal career science managers and research scientists varied, ranging from open criticism, anonymous leaks, and whistleblowing to silence, self-censorship, and active complicity.



Piltz, R. (2011), "Secrecy, complicity, and resistance: Political control of climate science communication under the Bush–Cheney administration", Maret, S. (Ed.) Government Secrecy (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 219-246.



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