Dick Cheney didn’t get memo on shifting from denial to delay

cheney-vader-small.jpgThe Center for American Progress Action Fund emails out a great daily report (sign up here). Today’s subject is Dick Cheney’s one Vader man war to use Jedi mind tricks censorship to keep the American public in the dark side on the dangers of climate change.

In this case, he censored the testimony on the “health threat posed by global warming” by Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last October. She had planned to say the “CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern.”

But who really cares what the CDC has to say on the subject anyway when we have White House Press Secretary Dana Perino to assure us “There are public health benefits to climate change“? After all, Perino is an expert on the subject thanks to here bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a masters in Public Affairs Reporting.

Here is the Progress Report in full:

Last October, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the “Human Impacts of Global Warming.” Gerberding told the committee that global warming “is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans,” but she gave few specifics, instead focusing on the CDC’s current preparation plans. Soon after Gerberding delivered her testimony, CDC officials revealed that the White House had “eviscerated” her testimony by editing it down from 14 pages to four. The White House initially claimed that Gerberding’s testimony had not been “watered down,” but White House Press Secretary Dana Perino later admitted that the Office of Management and Budget had removed testimony that contained “broad characterizations about climate change science that didn’t align with the IPCC.” In a letter responding to questions by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) yesterday, former EPA official Jason Burnett revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and the Council on Environmental Quality pushed to “remove from the testimony any discussion of the human health consequences of climate change.” During a news conference yesterday, Boxer chided Perino’s previous claim that the edits were made in order to align the testimony with the IPCC. “This was a lie,” said Boxer. The White House, however, refused to admit wrongdoing. “We stand 100 percent behind what Dana said,” White House spokesperson Tony Fratto told reporters.

WHAT’S MISSING: The White House’s deletions, which were overwhelmingly denounced” by scientists and environmental health experts, included details on how many people might be adversely affected because of increased warming and the scientific basis for some of the CDC’s analysis on what kinds of diseases might be spread in a warmer climate and rising sea levels.” The cuts made by the White House included “the only statements casting the health risks from climate change as a problem, describing it variously as posing ‘difficult challenges’ and as ‘a serious public health concern.'” At the time, Perino claimed that “the decision” was made “to focus that testimony on public health benefits” of climate change. “There are public health benefits to climate change,” asserted Perino. But in his letter to Boxer, Burnett said that the reason for the cuts was to “keep options open” for the EPA to avoid making an endangerment finding for global warming pollution, which was required by a recent Supreme Court ruling. In a statement yesterday, Boxer tied the editing of Gerberding’s testimony to the recently-revealed effort by the White House to keep a formal EPA endangerment finding “in limbo” by refusing to even open the e-mail from Burnett that contained the document. They’re “obviously related,” said Boxer.

WHITE HOUSE CLAIMS ‘NOTHING UNUSUAL’: Defending against accusations that the White House is “recklessly covering up a real threat to the people they are supposed to protect,” Fratto claimed that the Bush administration did nothing improper in editing the testimony. “There’s absolutely nothing unusual here in terms of the inter-agency review process, whether it’s testimony, rules or anything else,” Fratto told the Washington Post. He added that “the process exists so that other offices and departments have the opportunity to comment and offer their views.” But it’s apparent that the level of editing involved in Gerberding’s testimony was out of the ordinary. In October, a CDC official told the press that while it was normal for testimony to be changed in a White House review, the changes made to Gerberding’s testimony were particularly “heavy-handed.” In an interview with CNN yesterday, Gerberding said that she “wasn’t aware that there had been any edits” to her testimony until she “got to the hearing.” Gerberding maintained that she did “the very best” she could to “answer the senators’ questions honestly and openly.” Cheney’s spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, refused to comment on the allegations against Cheney’s office, simply saying, “We don’t comment on internal deliberations.”

CHENEY’S MALIGN ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE: In his letter to Boxer, Burnett revealed that Cheney’s office had also objected in January to congressional testimony by EPA administrator Stephen Johnson that “greenhouse gas emissions harm the environment.” According to Burnett, an official in Cheney’s office “called to tell me that his office wanted the language changed.” Such actions are not unusual for Cheney. Since taking office, he has taken “a decisive role to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business” while undermining any real action to combat climate change. In December, after Johnson “answered the pleas of industry executives” by announcing his decision to deny California the right to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles, it was revealed that executives from the auto industry had appealed directly to Cheney. EPA staffers told the Los Angeles Times that Johnson “made his decision” only after Cheney met with the executives. Since February 2007, Cheney has quietly maneuvered to exert increased control over environmental policy by federal agencies — particularly the regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

8 Responses to Dick Cheney didn’t get memo on shifting from denial to delay

  1. Ron says:

    Have you been missing me, Joe?,21985,23991257-25717,00.html

    Doomed to a fatal delusion over climate change

    July 09, 2008 12:00am
    PSYCHIATRISTS have detected the first case of “climate change delusion” – and they haven’t even yet got to Kevin Rudd and his global warming guru.

    Writing in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Joshua Wolf and Robert Salo of our Royal Children’s Hospital say this delusion was a “previously unreported phenomenon”.

    “A 17-year-old man was referred to the inpatient psychiatric unit at Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne with an eight-month history of depressed mood . . . He also . . . had visions of apocalyptic events.”

    (So have Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery, Profit of Doom Al Gore and Sir Richard Brazen, but I digress.)

    “The patient had also developed the belief that, due to climate change, his own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of millions of people through exhaustion of water supplies.”

    But never mind the poor boy, who became too terrified even to drink. What’s scarier is that people in charge of our Government seem to suffer from this “climate change delusion”, too.

    Here is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday, with his own apocalyptic vision: “If we do not begin reducing the nation’s levels of carbon pollution, Australia’s economy will face more frequent and severe droughts, less water, reduced food production and devastation of areas such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu wetlands.”

    And here is a senior Sydney Morning Herald journalist aghast at the horrors described in the report on global warming released on Friday by Rudd’s guru, Professor Ross Garnaut: “Australians must pay more for petrol, food and energy or ultimately face a rising death toll . . .”

    Wow. Pay more for food or die. Is that Rudd’s next campaign slogan?

    Of course, we can laugh at this — and must — but the price for such folly may soon be your job, or at least your cash.

    Rudd and Garnaut want to scare you into backing their plan to force people who produce everything from petrol to coal-fired electricity, from steel to soft drinks, to pay for licences to emit carbon dioxide — the gas they think is heating the world to hell.

    The cost of those licences, totalling in the billions, will then be passed on to you through higher bills for petrol, power, food, housing, air travel and anything else that uses lots of gassy power. In some countries they’re even planning to tax farting cows, so there’s no end to the ways you can be stung.

    Rudd hopes this pain will make you switch to expensive but less gassy alternatives, and — hey presto — the world’s temperature will then fall, just like it’s actually done since the day Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth.

    But you’ll have spotted already the big flaw in Rudd’s mad plan — one that confirms he and Garnaut really do have delusions.

    The truth is Australia on its own emits less than 1.5 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide. Any savings we make will make no real difference, given that China (now the biggest emitter) and India (the fourth) are booming so fast that they alone will pump out 42 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases by 2030.

    Indeed, so fast are the world’s emissions growing — by 3.1 per cent a year thanks mostly to these two giants — that the 20 per cent cuts Rudd demands of Australians by 2020 would be swallowed up in just 28 days. That’s how little our multi-billions of dollars in sacrifices will matter.

    And that’s why Rudd’s claim that we’ll be ruined if we don’t cut Australia’s gases is a lie. To be blunt.

    Ask Rudd’s guru. Garnaut on Friday admitted any cuts we make will be useless unless they inspire other countries to do the same — especially China and India: “Only a global agreement has any prospect of reducing risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels.”

    So almost everything depends on China and India copying us. But the chances of that? A big, round zero.

    A year ago China released its own global warming strategy — its own Garnaut report — which bluntly refused to cut its total emissions.

    Said Ma Kai, head of China’s powerful State Council: “China does not commit to any quantified emissions-reduction commitments . . . our efforts to fight climate change must not come at the expense of economic growth.”

    In fact, we had to get used to more gas from China, not less: “It is quite inevitable that during this (industrialisation) stage, China’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions will be quite high.”

    Last month, India likewise issued its National Action Plan on Climate Change, and also rejected Rudd-style cuts.

    The plan’s authors, the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, said India would rather save its people from poverty than global warming, and would not cut growth to cut gases.

    “It is obvious that India needs to substantially increase its per capita energy consumption to provide a minimally acceptable level of wellbeing to its people.”

    The plan’s only real promise was in fact a threat: “India is determined that its per capita greenhouse gas emissions will at no point exceed that of developed countries.”

    Gee, thanks. That, of course, means India won’t stop its per capita emissions (now at 1.02 tonnes) from growing until they match those of countries such as the US (now 20 tonnes). Given it has one billion people, that’s a promise to gas the world like it’s never been gassed before.

    So is this our death warrant? Should this news have you seeing apocalyptic visions, too?

    Well, no. What makes the Indian report so interesting is that unlike our Ross Garnaut, who just accepted the word of those scientists wailing we faced doom, the Indian experts went to the trouble to check what the climate was actually doing and why.

    Their conclusion? They couldn’t actually find anything bad in India that was caused by man-made warming: “No firm link between the documented (climate) changes described below and warming due to anthropogenic climate change has yet been established.”

    In fact, they couldn’t find much change in the climate at all.

    Yes, India’s surface temperature over a century had inched up by 0.4 degrees, but there had been no change in trends for large-scale droughts and floods, or rain: “The observed monsoon rainfall at the all-India level does not show any significant trend . . .”

    It even dismissed the panic Al Gore helped to whip up about melting Himalayan glaciers: “While recession of some glaciers has occurred in some Himalayan regions in recent years, the trend is not consistent across the entire mountain chain. It is, accordingly, too early to establish long-term trends, or their causation, in respect of which there are several hypotheses.”

    Nor was that the only sign that India’s Council on Climate Change had kept its cool while our Rudd and Garnaut lost theirs.

    For example, the Indians rightly insisted nuclear power had to be part of any real plan to cut emissions. Rudd and Garnaut won’t even discuss it.

    The Indians also pointed out that no feasible technology to trap and bury the gasses of coal-fired power stations had yet been developed “and there are serious questions about the cost as well (as) permanence of the CO2 storage repositories”.

    Rudd and Garnaut, however, keep offering this dream to make us think our power stations can survive their emissions trading scheme, when state governments warn they may not.

    In every case the Indians are pragmatic where Rudd and Garnaut are having delusions — delusions about an apocalypse, about cutting gases without going nuclear, about saving power stations they’ll instead drive broke.

    And there’s that delusion on which their whole plan is built — that India and China will follow our sacrifice by cutting their throats, too.

    So psychiatrists are treating a 17-year-old tipped over the edge by global warming fearmongers?

    Pray that their next patients will be two men whose own delusions threaten to drive our whole economy over the edge as well.

  2. Rick says:


    There are these things called url links which you, in all fairness, have used yet you felt compelled, perhaps obsessed, with placing the full text of the article in the post. Try using only the link next time and if you need to include the text try paraphrasing it. We are all adults here and we can click on the links.

  3. John Hollenberg says:

    > We are all adults here and we can click on the links.

    Assuming we would want to read such drivel, when the real “meat” is here at climateprogress and over at

  4. The article that Ron quotes from above is by Andrew Bolt a well-known Australian denialist who has been successfully sued for defamation of character. See:

    Bolt simply lies about what the Indian National Plan on Climate Change says. For example, regarding water policy, the Plan calls for:

    National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.

    National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.

    Read a summary of the Indian National Plan on Climate Change at the Pew Center. You can also download a PDF of the entire plan at the Pew site. Here’s the link.

    [Blogging for the future at Climaticide Chronicles]

  5. paulm says:

    ron might be getting desperate – maybe he has become a patient also…..

    There is no doubt that the stress and pressure building in our society over the ever more apparent effects of current Climate Change is and will drive more and more individuals to their own tipping points. I guess another destructive characteristic of Global Warming which hasn’t been recognized much yet.

  6. John Hollenberg says:

    The only delusions I see in the article Ron quoted above (besides the poor soul who is mentally ill, and has a biological illness that explains his state of mind) are those of the author. A delusion is defined in psychiatry as “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact”. It would seem that the author is perilously close to meeting this definition, since his views are apparently not modifiable by scientific fact. You will have to decide for yourself whether he crosses the line between denial and delusion.

  7. Ronald says:

    Oh, somebody is stressed about global warming. We’d shouldn’t mention it again and then it will go away. The most important thing is to not mention bad things because that stresses people. Higher food costs? Darfur having trouble with mass killings? $4.00 a gallon gasoline and fuel oil? Some college students are binge drinking and dying because of it? Oh, that’s so stressful I don’t want to hear another word.

    If we just don’t talk about bad things, life will be so much easier. At least don’t talk about what might happen with the next 50 generations.

    But its important to deal with important problems and before you can deal with important problems, you have to be able to talk about them. Are there solutions to Darfur? I don’t know. But I have read that to lower the number of college students who die from binge drinking, colleges are notifiying students of the dangers. Hopefully that will help. And solutions to the other problems will need to be found but we have to at least talk about them before they can be solved.

    Is life stressful? sure. And in our modern 24/7 electronic news and entertainment age we can get overwhelmed with what is going on. There are things we can do to lower the stresses like keeping things in perspective for our own lives, but not talking about the problems is not a very good solution and is no solution at all.

    definition of problems is what successful politicians and political campaigns do. Everything that you feel is important whether national defense or with the economy is important and what the opposition wants to do is not. Which is why such a thing as global warming which is slow moving and affects us and the people who will be alive in the future and distant future is hard to keep in public focus, but that’s why it’s important that we do. It’s so easy to let slip.

  8. erotik says:

    But its important to deal with important problems and before you can deal with important problems, you have to be able to talk about them. Are there solutions to Darfur? I don’t know. But I have read that to lower the number of college students who die from binge drinking, colleges are notifiying students of the dangers. Hopefully that will help. And solutions to the other problems will need to be found but we have to at least talk about them before they can be solved.