A Pattern of Politicization

Now that the legislative branch has evolved from an invertebrate species to something with a spine that walks upright, let’s hope that the members of Congress do more than hurl coconuts at the Justice Department and White House over the politicized firing of several U.S. attorneys. Let’s hope that they take a long, hard look at the full array of dangerous and unethical shenanigans that the Bush administration has perpetrated on this nation. For it is not just the criminal justice system that these neoconservative Neanderthals have sought to subvert and politicize. They have similarly sought to shape scientific research and environmental policy to fit their corrupt ideological agenda. Consider the egregious behavior of the deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, as reported here by the Washington Post:

Report Faults Interior Appointee

A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has repeatedly altered scientific field reports to minimize protections for imperiled species and disclosed confidential information to private groups seeking to affect policy decisions, the department’s inspector general concluded.

The investigator’s report on Julie A. MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks — which was triggered by an anonymous complaint from a Fish and Wildlife Service employee and expanded in October after a Washington Post article about MacDonald — said she frequently sought to reshape the agency’s scientific reports in an effort to ease the impact of agency decisions on private landowners.

Inspector General Earl E. Devaney referred the case to Interior’s top officials for “potential administrative action,” according to the document, which was reported yesterday in the New York Times.

The IG noted that MacDonald “admitted that her degree is in civil engineering and that she has no formal educational background in natural sciences” but repeatedly instructed Fish and Wildlife scientists to change their recommendations on identifying “critical habitats,” despite her lack of expertise.

At one point, according to Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall, MacDonald tangled with field personnel over designating habitat for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher, a bird whose range is from Arizona to New Mexico and Southern California. When scientists wrote that the bird had a “nesting range” of 2.1 miles, MacDonald told field personnel to change the number to 1.8 miles. Hall, a wildlife biologist who told the IG he had had a “running battle” with MacDonald, said she did not want the range to extend to California because her husband had a family ranch there. [full text]

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One response

  1. Here’s some good news. As reported in today’s Washington Post (link below), Julie MacDonald—the controversial deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks—has resigned her post, apparently in advance of a demotion. So that’s one less partisan hack passing off ideology as science in the Bush administration.

    Interior Dept. Official Facing Scrutiny Resigns

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