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It's a shame that Americans can't trust their own government

By Charley Reese Copyright 1998 The Orlando Sentinel July 30, 1998

The federal court's ruling against the Environmental Protection Agency on the subject of secondhand tobacco smoke being a cause of cancer is devastating. It says what should be obvious: The EPA under its current administration is as dishonest as a bank robber.

The EPA's assertion that secondhand smoke was a significant cause of lung cancer was exposed as flawed by a number of journalists at the time it was issued. Now, a federal judge, after considering expert testimony and reviewing the records, has confirmed its phoniness.

Here is what the EPA did:

1. It started with a conclusion.

2. It cherry-picked the studies it would include in its analysis.

3. When even the cherry-picked studies failed to show a statistically significant correlation, it changed its methodology from the standard 95 percent to 90 percent.

4. Even by the bogus 90 percent standard, the cherry-picked studies showed only a very small risk.

5. It hid from the public the information that it was supposed to make available.

6. It lied about why it changed the standard.

Now, regardless of how you feel about smoking (and feel, not think, is the correct word on this subject), you should be concerned at the politicization of science and what amounts to public fraud.

Why don't people trust the government? Because it lies to them. It lies to them. And when its lies are exposed, it lies some more. This has been the standard procedure of the Clinton administration: lies, exposed lies, more lies.

It used to be said that politics should stop at the water's edge, meaning that foreign policy should not be distorted by partisan infighting. Well, that long ago has gone by the boards.

And it certainly ought to be said that politics stops at the scientists' door. Well, forget that. Science is as politicized in America as it was in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. And this EPA is a prime example.

EPA Administrator Carol Browner ought to be fired over this fraud about secondhand smoke. She won't be, of course. Expecting the Clinton administration to care about honesty is like expecting Al Capone to care about people drinking too much.

I don't trust any information that comes out of the Clinton administration, no matter what department originates it. I don't trust labor statistics, economic statistics, promises, assertions about the environment, nothing. If ever an administration has earned the distrust of the American people, it's this one.

And that's the real political crisis in America today. We Americans ought to be able to trust our own government. We can easily live with policy differences so long as they are debated on the basis that everyone is honestly seeking the truth.

But when government resorts to lies and propaganda rather than facts and persuasion, then you really enter onto dangerous ground. A free society presupposes that everyone is seeking the common good, even if by different paths. It presupposes that, although they may be mistaken, people will not lie. But when government shows, by resorting to lies and propaganda, that the only recourse left is obedience, then you really no longer have a free society.

The question was tobacco, but the principle is much more important: honest government, respect for and desire to find the truth. Carol Browner's EPA flunks on both points.

Copyright 1998 Steven J. Milloy. All rights reserved on original material. Material copyrighted by others is used either with permission or under a claim of "fair use." Site developed and hosted by WestLake Solutions, Inc.

Found at the following Web address March 2005:

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