Scientists left unprotected by Whistleblower Act.

New scientist 29th of March 2008

Whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing by the US government will have much to cheer about when a bill protecting them from retribution is made law in the coming weeks – unless they happen to be scientists.

Last year, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act sailed through the House of Representatives and the Senate. Now lawmakers must meet to determine the final wording of the Bill before it signed into law. This should be a formality, but there’s a snag. The house version included a clause specifically protecting scientists who expose government abuse of scientific information. The Senate bill did not.

In recent years, climatologists, drug safety experts and wildlife biologists working for the government have reported concerns about officials suppressing or spinning their findings. Some groups are worried that the scientists will remain vulnerable if the Senate’s wording is adopted. “ What the house bill would do is make it fully understood that when a scientist says’. The research is wrong, and this is political’, they have a legal standing to point that out” says Francesca Grifo and of the union of concerned scientists.

Now I wonder how the politicians managed to overlook the particular paragraph that protects scientists from the pressure and bullying, applied by – the politicians.

2 Responses

  1. If the wording of the Act would already cover scientists under the blanket provisions, there’s no need to give them “special” mention. Politicians should always be very cautious about singling out any group for special explicit protections, statuses, or benefits.

  2. I think the fear is because of their inside knowledge regarding the various government projects they are involved with and the specialist insights they have. As a group they are more likely to be put under pressure and therefor deem they need special protection. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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