White House Muzzled Surgeon General; Three References to Bush Per Page

Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona alleged yesterday in testimony before the House Government Reform Committee that the White House censored his speeches and activities. Laura Mackler of the Wall Street Journal reports:

The most recent U.S. surgeon general told Congress the Bush administration routinely blocked him from speaking out on controversial issues, including stem-cell research, emergency contraception and sexual abstinence, and pressured him to support an “ideological, theological” agenda.

Dr. Richard Carmona, surgeon general from 2002 until 2006, said that his speeches were edited to remove material about controversial issues and that he was encouraged to attend internal “political pep rallies.” He said he was prevented from releasing a report on global health because he wouldn’t make it a “political document” touting actions by the U.S. The report has yet to be released.


Dr. Carmona told the committee that, as surgeon general, he hadn’t been permitted to talk about the importance of comprehensive sex education or emergency contraception. He said he wasn’t permitted to discuss the science of embryonic-stem-cell research. Under the Bush administration, there are strict limits on federal funding for such research. “I was blocked at every turn,” he said. “I was told the decision had already been made — stand down, don’t talk about it,” he said.

He also said he was prevented from attending a Special Olympics event to talk about health and disabilities. “I was told I would be helping a politically prominent family, [and] why would I want to help those people?” Dr. Carmona said. The Special Olympics were founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.).

He said his speeches were regularly vetted to ensure they weren’t controversial. Speeches were edited to add references to Mr. Bush — he was told there should be at least three per page. “The vetting was done by political appointees who were specifically there to spin my words to ideologically preconceived notions,” he said.