Bush Aide Blocked Report
Global Health Draft In 2006 Rejected for Not Being Political
By Christopher Lee and Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, July 29, 2007; Page A01
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.
The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post.
Three people directly involved in its preparation said its publication was blocked by William R. Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Since 2001, Steiger has run the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Richard H. Carmona, who commissioned the "Call to Action on Global Health" while serving as surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, recently cited its suppression as an example of the Bush administration's frequent efforts during his tenure to give scientific documents a political twist. At a July 10 House committee hearing, Carmona did not cite Steiger by name or detail the report's contents and its implications for American public health.
Carmona told lawmakers that, as he fought to release the document, he was "called in and again admonished . . . via a senior official who said, 'You don't get it.' " He said a senior official told him that "this will be a political document, or it will not be released."
After a long struggle that pitted top scientific and medical experts inside and outside the government against Steiger and his political bosses, Carmona refused to make the requested changes, according to the officials. Carmona engaged in similar fights over other public health reports, including an unpublished report on prison health. A few days before the end of his term as the nation's senior medical officer, he was abruptly told he would not be reappointed...
The original draft Henry Waxman had archived for posterity here.
Steiger's bullshit censored report is archived here.
Mr. Waxman did his best to tear the HHS Secretary a new one in the letter described here.
"...A comparison of the two drafts reveals striking differences. Dr. Carmona’s draft includes extended discussions of the impacts of women’s rights, poverty, climate change, tobacco, and obesity on global health. Mr. Steiger’s draft omits or barely mentions these topics. Dr. Carmona’s draft describes a U.N. declaration that establishes health as a human right. Mr. Steiger’s draft omits this language. Dr. Carmona’s draft contains references to condoms. Mr. Steiger’s draft does not mention condoms.
"Mr. Steiger’s draft is considerably shorter than Dr. Carmona’s draft: 11,400 words compared to 17,000. Despite the shorter length of Mr. Steiger’s draft, it contains many more references to President Bush (ten references) than does Dr. Carmona’s draft (two references). Mr. Steiger’s draft also contains extended discussions of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Carmona’s draft does not.
"In yesterday’s Washington Post, Mr. Steiger asserted that Surgeon General Carmona’s report was blocked because it was “often inaccurate or out-of-date” and contained “sloppy work, poor analysis, and lack of scientific rigor.” A comparison of the drafts does not support these assertions. Dr. Carmona’s draft thoughtfully covers a wide range of global health topics. Mr. Steiger’s draft ignores or glosses over serious global health problems and emphasizes the achievements and policies of the Bush Administration..."
Of course, that would assume the member of the Cabinet actually bothers to read letters from Congress. That is something I sincerely doubt. But, unless Steiger is as cozy with Bu$hie as Harriet Meiers, it does look like he will have to appear in front of Mr. Waxman personally and talk about his actions.
Of course, that's become a status symbol among the True Believers who get to demonstrate their unwavering Faith and support .