What will the Obama transition do about Centers for Disease Control director Julie Gerberding?


A Washington Post report on November 27 suggested that it’s unlikely the Obama administration will keep CDC Director Julie Gerberding in place.  We showed in October 2007 how her Senate testimony on climate change and public health had been censored by the White House.  At that time she was a good Bush-Cheney team player in trying to sweep the problem under the rug – like too many senior officials during the past 8 years.

Post by Rick Piltz

The Washington Post’s “In the Loop” column reported on November 27 that, as the Obama administration starts taking shape:

It’s unlikely physician Julie Gerberding will stay on as head of the government’s premier public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The Obama-ites are not enamored of her work on climate change or abstinence, to name two issues.)

I don’t know how much significance to attach to this item, amidst all the news and rumors about Obama appointments.  I’ll just note that, when the White House in October 2007 censored Dr. Gerberding’s testimony before the Senate Environment Committee on the impacts of climate change on public health, by deleting all the pages that said anything substantive on the subject, Dr. Gerberding’s immediate reaction was to dismiss the significance of the censorship. She said something to the effect, who pays attention to written testimony anyway? 

I thought her response was pretty cavalier – one might even say Orwellian, since this was a matter of the U.S. Senate asking the nation’s leading public health official to submit written testimony for the public record.  Of course, Dr. Gerberding was being a good soldier for the White House in trying to sweep the censorship problem under the rug.  Subsequent statements by a former EPA official suggest that the testimony was censored at the behest of Vice-President Cheney’s office. 

Others will have to speak about the rest of Dr. Gerberding’s record on management of the agency, on climate change, and on abstinence and other relevant issues.  But I will say that there has been too much complicity among senior officials and failure to push back on political interference with science in general and with climate change communication in particular during the past 8 years.  There are a number of such officials that the “Obama-ites” might be justified in being “not enamored” with.

See our earlier posts: 

October 28, 2007:  Censored Testimony from Centers for Disease Control: Update
October 30, 2007:  CSW director ABC News Now interview on CDC climate testimony censorship
July 8, 2008:  Jason Burnett confirms that Cheney’s office and CEQ censored CDC director Gerberding’s testimony

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