Monday, April 23, 2007

Another Republican Goal Accomplished

Government officials now have the right to lie to us with impunity. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our government must be allowed to lie to us during a crisis, even though we might die as a result, because they might otherwise choose to stay silent on matters of national importance if they could be held accountable for their statements.

(NEW YORK)—An appeals court ruling could spell trouble for New Yorkers suing the Environmental Protection Agency and its former chief for saying that sooty Lower Manhattan air was safe to breathe after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

A three judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared this week that EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and other agency officials can't be held constitutionally liable for making rosy declarations about air quality after the World Trade Center's destruction.

The opinion, written by the court's chief judge, Dennis Jacobs, said opening EPA workers up to lawsuits for giving out bad information during a crisis could have a catastrophic side effect.

"Officials might default to silence in the face of the public's urgent need for information," Jacobs wrote.

You read that correctly. Judicial appointees of George Bush's "Party of Responsibility" just ruled that EPA officials (also appointed by George Bush) cannot be held responsible for their bullshit declaration following the collapse of the World Trade Center that the air in the vicinity of ground zero was safe to breathe. Would it surprise you to learn that the source of this analysis was none other than the White House? Here's the report from the EPA's own Office of Inspector General:

EPA’s early public statements following the collapse of the WTC towers reassured the public regarding the safety of the air outside the Ground Zero area. However, when EPA made a September 18 announcement that the air was “safe” to breathe, it did not have sufficient data and analyses to make such a blanket statement. At that time, air monitoring data was lacking for several pollutants of concern, including particulate matter and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Furthermore, The White House Council on Environmental Quality influenced, through the collaboration process, the information that EPA communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones.

Why are we even pretending that government agencies serve the public any more?

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