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Internal affairs

A former US surgeon general's testimony reveals battles between science and politics

In a July hearing of the US Congress the immediate past US surgeon general, Richard Carmona, testified about the problem of political meddling in what he saw as the proper functions and activities of his office.
Carmona spoke generally about repeated interference by the Bush administration (which appointed him) in his attempts to speak out on controversial issues, such as stem cell research, abstinence only sex education, and the emergency contraceptive pill ( BMJ 2007;335:114 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39279.393345.BE ). His speeches were scrubbed of any mention of these matters, even when his comments were based on science.

The former surgeon general also said that he was told by an unnamed senior official that he didn't “get it” when it came to the political basis for scientific reports that he wanted to release and that the reports had to agree with the administration's political agenda or they would not be approved. Two other former surgeons general—C Everett Koop, from the Reagan years, and David Satcher, from the Clinton presidency—also testified and cited similar examples from their own tenures but …


Kamerow, D. (2007). Internal affairs. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 335, 327. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39307.438252.59