A little over a year ago, the White House tried to block the testimony of a respected professional, Dr. Rod Schoonover – senior analyst and senior scientist in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State, and former Director of Environment and Natural Resources at the National Intelligence Council (and, full disclosure, a current member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board). The reason? The White House thought the written testimony, which included widely-accepted descriptions of the state of climate change science, didn’t sit well with the President’s political take on the subject. And so National Security Council staff tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress it. In response, I told the Washington Post:
“This is an intentional failure of the White House to perform a core duty: inform the American public of the threats we face. It’s dangerous and unacceptable. Any attempt to suppress information on the security risks of climate change threatens to leave the American public vulnerable and unsafe.”
Last Friday, the White House once again attempted to suppress science. This time by blocking the testimony of the CDC Director, Robert Redfield, on how to reopen schools safely, from the CDC’s scientifically-driven public health perspective. Without any exaggeration, my words from last June on the suppression of climate science in intelligence analysis are wholly relevant today, by simply replacing “climate change” with “COVID-19.” The pattern is alarmingly consistent, and threatens many Americans with sickness and death – including members of my own family. And so I offer the following words in response to the blocking of the CDC Director’s testimony by the White House:
“This is an intentional failure of the White House to perform a core duty: inform the American public of the threats we face. It’s dangerous and unacceptable. Any attempt to suppress information on the risks of COVID-19 threatens to leave the American public vulnerable and unsafe.”
The suppression of science, particularly on the scale we’re seeing today, is – simply put – a security threat. Anyone who cares about the security of the American public, and the nation as a whole, should be deeply concerned. My colleagues and I at the Council on Strategic Risks certainly are, and will be raising a red flag anytime it occurs in the future.
Francesco Femia is the Co-Founder, Research Director and former CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks and the Center for Climate and Security.