Joe Conason's Journal

Rove's fingerprints are all over a spiked report on global warming. Plus: The real story of the looting of Baghdad's national museum.

By Salon Staff
Published June 19, 2003 2:15PM (EDT)

Dr. Rove's junk science
Although this front-page New York Times exposé of White House "editing" of an important EPA report doesn't mention Karl Rove, he is known to control every aspect of domestic policy. Some courageous agency officials, presumably disgusted with the Bush administration's subservience to its financiers in the energy industry, leaked drafts of the report to the Times. The White House manipulation of the EPA report "eliminated references to many studies concluding that warming is at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe emissions and could threaten health and ecosystems," according to the Times. Those deleted studies included the findings of a National Research Council report commissioned by the president in 2001, and a 1999 study that measured the alarming increase in global temperatures during the 1990s when compared with the prior millennium.

Instead, "administration officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion."

Rove's minions applied similar editing techniques to an EPA report on air pollution last September, when they ordered the deletion of a section on climate change. The president's political guru is pursuing a scientific methodology derived from the behavior of the ostrich: If we never read about global warming, maybe it isn't really happening.

The true dimensions of looting (and idiocy)
Remember Andrew Sullivan's demand for a "correction" from me, Frank Rich and others who criticized the Pentagon over the looting of museums and libraries in Iraq? Sucking up to "Rummy" (who according to Andrew is "almost always right"), he confidently proclaimed that the "lamentable outbreak of looting" had caused a loss "mainly of up to 3,000 objects of limited value." From a Washington Post story, Sullivan pulled a happy quote from Iraq antiquities expert John Russell to the effect that "almost everything was saved." Yesterday, British archaeologist Eleanor Robson corrected Sullivan's philistine "idiocy" with an informative Guardian essay about the true dimensions of the looting and burning of Iraq's cultural treasures. As she wrote, catastrophe is the only appropriate description of what has happened to Iraq's heritage: "Two months ago, I compared the demolition of Iraq's cultural heritage with the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, and the 5th-century destruction of the library of Alexandria. On reflection, that wasn't a bad assessment of the present state of Iraq's cultural infrastructure. Millions of books have been burned, thousands of manuscripts and archaeological artifacts stolen or destroyed, ancient cities ransacked, universities trashed.

"Inventories of the badly vandalised storerooms [at the National Museum in Baghdad] finally began after the catalogues were pieced together from the debris of the ransacked offices. Dr John Russell, an expert in looted Iraqi antiquities, made a room-by-room report for UNESCO late in May. He noted that most of the objects that had been returned since the looting 'were forgeries and reproductions'. Other losses, he reported, included some 2,000 finds from last season's excavations at sites in central Iraq. His summary tallied well with [museum director Dony] George's. 'Some 30 major pieces from exhibition galleries. Unknown thousands of excavated objects from storage. Major works from galleries smashed or damaged.' The unknown thousands are beginning to be quantified. Expert assessors in Vienna last week estimated the losses from the museum storerooms at between 6,000 and 10,000. 'Outside the Iraq Museum, the picture is equally grim ... The National Library was burned to the ground and most of its 12 million books are assumed to have been incinerated.'"

[8:52 a.m. PDT, June 19, 2003]

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