Security: Blank It
In the name of keeping sensitive information out of the hands of terrorists, the Bush administration has restricted access to a broad range of scientific research — removing Internet links, deleting information from websites, and even requiring federal librarians to destroy a CD-ROM about public water supplies. The information lockdown is making it tough for scientists to get their work done and for the public to keep an eye on government goings-on; for example, researchers at the University of Michigan lost access to a U.S. EPA database that was crucial to their three-year study of hazardous-waste facilities. Environmental organizations are dismayed by the limited, expensive, or nonexistent access — as are the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Institute of Medicine. The heads of the three independent academies sent a letter to President Bush Friday criticizing his administration’s creation of an ill-defined category of “sensitive but unclassified” research that has been used to withdraw thousands of reports and papers from the public eye.