This week, in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), former White House official Jason Burnett revealed that Vice President Cheney’s office deleted portions of the testimony of Center for Disease Control Director Julie Gerberding, who testified last year about the consequences of climate change on public health. In a press conference yesterday, Boxer charged that White House spokesperson Dana Perino had “lied” about the rationale behind the editing of the testimony:
BOXER: As I understand it, she said, the draft information did not comport with that, the science that was in the IPCC report. This was a lie. And we proved it before. We had in the last press conference we did on this.
Talking to reporters today, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino shot back, demanding an apology from Boxer for accusing her of lying:
PERINO: I have never said such a thing about a fellow public servant, and I wouldn’t if I didn’t have all the facts. I think I deserve an apology.
In reality, however, Boxer is right that the White House did not tell the truth about the evisceration of Gerberding’s testimony. Initially, Perino denied accusations that the testimony was edited, claiming it was not “watered down” — a blatant distortion given Burnett’s revelations. As Boxer noted, in October 2007, Perino claimed:
PERINO: But when you take a very complicated issue, like climate change science, and you have the International Panel on Climate Change, which reported last spring — this is a study that the United States largely funded, and that we embraced in its conclusions — as I understand it, in the draft there was broad characterizations about climate change science that didn’t align with the IPCC.
But Burnett explained to Boxer that the reason for the cuts was to “keep options open” for the EPA to avoid triggering immediate consequences for polluters emitting greenhouse gases — not because of White House concerns over the “accuracy of the science.”
Nevertheless, the White House spin continues. Today, spokesperson Tony Fratto claimed, “There’s absolutely nothing unusual here in terms of the inter-agency review process.” But as a CDC official said in October, the changes made to Gerberding’s testimony were particularly “heavy-handed.”
Unlike her former boss Scott McClellan, it seems that Perino simply hasn’t realized that the White House Press Secretary is sent out to cover up for Dick Cheney’s lies.