The resignation came as the agency was preparing to review its policies for communicating science to the public. The review was ordered Friday by Michael D. Griffin, the NASA administrator, after a week in which many NASA scientists and midlevel public affairs officials described to The New York Times various instances in which they said political pressure was applied to limit or flavor discussions of topics uncomfortable to the Bush administration, particularly global warming.
"As we have stated in the past, NASA is in the process of revising our public affairs policies across the agency to ensure our commitment to open and full communications," said the statement from Acosta. The statement said the resignation of Deutsch was "a separate matter."
Deutsch, who is 24, was offered a job as a writer and editor in NASA's public affairs office in Washington last year after working on President Bush's re-election campaign and inaugural committee, according to his resume. No one has disputed those portions of the document.
According to his resume, Deutsch received a "Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Class of 2003."
Tuesday, officials at the school said that was not the case.
"George Carlton Deutsch III did attend Texas A&M University but has not completed the requirements for a degree," said an e-mail message from Rita Presley, assistant to the registrar at the university, responding to a query from The Times.
Deutsch's educational record was first challenged on Monday by Nick Anthis, who graduated from Texas A&M last year with a biochemistry degree, is pursuing a doctoral degree at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and has been writing a Web log on science policy (scientificactivist.blogspot.com).
After Anthis read about the problems at NASA, he said in an interview: "It seemed like political figures had really overstepped the line. I was just going to write some commentary on this when somebody tipped me off that George Deutsch might not have graduated."
He posted a blog entry asserting this after he checked with the school's association of former students. He reported that the association said Deutsch received no degree.
A copy of Deutsch's resume was provided to The Times by someone working in NASA headquarters who, along with many other NASA employees, said that Deutsch played a small but significant role in an intensifying effort at the agency to exert political control over the flow of information to the public.
Such complaints came to the fore starting in late January, when Dr. James E. Hansen, the climate scientist, and several midlevel public affairs officers told The Times that political appointees, including Deutsch, were pressing to limit Hansen's speaking and interviews on the threats posed by global warming.
Tuesday, Hansen said that the questions about Deutsch's credentials were important, but were a distraction from the broader issue of political control of scientific information.
"He's only a bit player," Hansen said of Deutsch. " The problem is much broader and much deeper and it goes across agencies. That's what I'm really concerned about."
Oh, well. I guess we should all just be happy that he tripped over his own hubris before he had a chance to grow up to be another Brownie. Goodbye and good riddance.Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 08, 2006 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack