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US climate expert says NASA bids to muzzle him
Updated: 2006-01-29 13:44

NASA's top climate scientist said the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture in December calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, The New York Times said on Saturday.

In an interview with the newspaper, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said that officials at the space agency's headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

"They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," the Times quoted Hansen as saying, adding that the scientist planned to ignore the new restrictions.

A NASA spokesman denied any effort to silence Hansen, the Times said. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," said Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

Rather, the spokesman said the restrictions applied to any and all NASA personnel who could be seen by the public as speaking for the agency. Acosta added, however, that while government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen, the Times said.

The story was posted on its Web site and will be published in Sunday's editions.

Hansen, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, is an authority on climate who directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at Manhattan's Goddard Institute.
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