No one will ever call Chimpy the “Science President”.
Q Scott, the Government Accountability Project, a private group, has obtained internal White House documents that show that a White House official that was formerly a lobbyist for the oil industry has doctored and edited administration scientific reports in ways that consistently emphasize supposed uncertainties about global warming — uncertainties that the vast consensus of science doesn’t think are that severe. And I wonder, does the President think that helps the credibility of the administration on scientific issues?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, first, I disagree with the characterization. I think that your characterization is contradicted by the scientific community. The National Academies of Science came out with a report in 2001 that was requested by the President; it took a look at science of climate change, and in that very report it talked about how there are considerable uncertainties. So some of the language that you referenced was based on the very report from the scientific community that the President had requested.
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, there are policy people and scientists who are involved in this process, in the interagency review process. And he’s one of the policy people involved in that process, and someone who’s very familiar with the issues relating to climate change and the environment.
Q Because of his work lobbying for the oil industry?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll be glad to get you his background, Terry.
Q But administration scientists, Mr. Hansen at the Goddard Center in New York, a NASA scientist for 25 years, and others have come forward saying that the politicization of science in this administration — these are not democratic activists; this is a scientist who works for the government — has reached an extreme. And they point to instances like Mr. Cooney’s editing and doctoring of these summaries, scientific summaries as proof of that.
MR. McCLELLAN: I encourage you to go look at the reports, because one of the reports that you highlighted was widely praised by the scientific community, including the National Academies of Science. These reports should always be based on our scientific knowledge and what is the best available science. And that’s what we expect. And that’s what those reports are based on.
Q In every example that we have seen, and Mr. Cooney’s emendations and deletions from these reports have been to the effect of making them less critical, less stringent, less apparently in need of immediate action. In other words, he’s done everything in the examples we’ve seen to pull back from worst-case scenario. He is not a scientist.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s your opinion, and I think your opinion is wrong.
Q No, no, no, it’s evident in the reading of it.
Q Well, right here, for example, in the October 2002 draft of Our Changing Planet. He says, “Many scientific observations indicate the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change.” He made that, “may be.” He cut out a section of another document on — I can read that to you if you want, but you get the idea.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you’re selectively quoting things. I think you ought to go and look at some of the things he pointed out in his —
Q But, Scott, you’re clearly — I mean, the United States is — and I’m not making a judgment about this — is out of step with other countries in the world, in terms of the existence of climate change and the causes of it. That debate is clear. I mean, the President, just yesterday, when asked about this, said, the United States is spending millions of dollars —
MR. McCLELLAN: Billions.
Q — billions of dollars to research this issue, which is to say that he has not reached a conclusion yet. Fine. But —
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no, let me just correct you on that one point. It’s to say that there are still — there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the science of climate change, and that’s pointed out in the National Academy of Science report that the President requested when he came into office.
Q Right, but there is other — there’s the body of opinion here that still works against that. The point is, if you go back to June of 2003, an EPA report on climate change had a whole section on climate change simply deleted out of it, and critics charged the very same thing, which is that — it’s not that the view — it’s not a judgment about the view, it’s that the process here, the science here is being overwhelmed by the politics. Is that not a fair criticism?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it has been contradicted by the scientific community, itself, when they look at these reports and they widely praise the report that I referenced.
Next, Scottie to Jimmy Carter: Go Build a House!
Q Scott, former President Jimmy Carter is calling for the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo to — the U.S. commitment to human rights. Will the President do so?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple things. First of all, as I talked about at the beginning, we are a nation that is at war. The individuals that we are talking about when it comes to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, they are dangerous individuals. They are enemy combatants for a reason, because they seek to do harm to the American people. And these are individuals that were picked up on the battlefield in the war on terrorism. This is part of winning the war on terrorism, going after and capturing or bringing to justice those who seek to do us harm.
And in terms of Guantanamo Bay and the detainees there, we’re always looking at all our alternatives when it comes to dealing with these detainees. If you’ll recall, we have worked with other countries to release a number of these detainees after we have concluded that we do not believe that they posed a threat to us anymore, or that we had assurances from those countries that they would look after these individuals. And so we always are looking at our alternatives when it comes to dealing with these detainees.
“They are enemy combatants…” Hmmm. Now they’re “enemy combatants”, not “illegal enemy combatants” as the assministration labeled them previously (not even “enemy non-combatants” as Chimpy feeblemindedly refers to them). Leave aside for a moment that that these individuals were never offered due process before they were labeled as “enemy combatants”, Scottie’s statement implies that they are prisoners of war, no?
Tell me again why the Geneva Convention does not apply to the conditions of their incarceration?