Scientist Blows Whistle: Breaks Silence on Trump/Putin/GOP War on Science

July 19, 2017


Mr. Putin, we do not have Gulags here.

Stand by. A wave is coming that will be larger than you can understand.

Video at link.

Washington Post:

Joel Clement was director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Interior Department until last week. He is now a senior adviser at the department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.

Nearly seven years ago, I came to work for the Interior Department, where, among other things, I’ve helped endangered communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. But on June 15, I was one of about 50 senior department employees who received letters informing us of involuntary reassignments. Citing a need to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,” the letter informed me that I was reassigned to an unrelated job in the accounting office that collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.

I am not an accountant — but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up. A few days after my reassignment, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testifiedbefore Congress that the department would use reassignments as part of its effort to eliminate employees; the only reasonable inference from that testimony is that he expects people to quit in response to undesirable transfers. Some of my colleagues are being relocated across the country, at taxpayer expense, to serve in equally ill-fitting jobs.

I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities. During the months preceding my reassignment, I raised the issue with White House officials, senior Interior officials and the international community, most recently at a U.N. conference in June. It is clear to me that the administration was so uncomfortable with this work, and my disclosures, that I was reassigned with the intent to coerce me into leaving the federal government.

On Wednesday, I filed two forms — a complaint and a disclosure of information — with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. I filed the disclosure because eliminating my role coordinating federal engagement and leaving my former position empty exacerbate the already significant threat to the health and the safety of certain Alaska Native communities. I filed the complaint because the Trump administration clearly retaliated against me for raising awareness of this danger. Our country values the safety of our citizens, and federal employees who disclose threats to health and safety are protected from reprisal by the Whistleblower Protection Act and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

Removing a civil servant from his area of expertise and putting him in a job where he’s not needed and his experience is not relevant is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. Much more distressing, though, is what this charade means for American livelihoods. The Alaska Native villages of Kivalina, Shishmaref and Shaktoolik are perilously close to melting into the Arctic Ocean. In a region that is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the land upon which citizens’ homes and schools stand is newly vulnerable to storms, floods and waves. As permafrost melts and protective sea ice recedes, these Alaska Native villages are one superstorm from being washed away, displacing hundreds of Americans and potentially costing lives. The members of these communities could soon become refugees in their own country.

Alaska’s elected officials know climate change presents a real risk to these communities. Gov. Bill Walker (I) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) have been sounding the alarm and scrambling for resources to help these villages. But to stave off a life-threatening situation, Alaska needs the help of a fully engaged federal government. Washington cannot turn its back.

While I have given small amounts to Democratic candidates in the past, I have no problem whatsoever working for a Republican administration. I believe that every president, regardless of party, has the right and responsibility to implement his policies. But that is not what is happening here. Putting citizens in harm’s way isn’t the president’s right. Silencing civil servants, stifling science, squandering taxpayer money and spurning communities in the face of imminent danger have never made America great.

Now that I have filed with the Office of Special Counsel, it is my hope that it will do a thorough investigation into the Interior Department’s actions. Our country protects those who seek to inform others about dangers to American lives. The threat to these Alaska Native communities is not theoretical. This is not a policy debate. Retaliation against me for those disclosures is unlawful.

Let’s be honest: The Trump administration didn’t think my years of science and policy experience were better suited to accounts receivable. It sidelined me in the hope that I would be quiet or quit. Born and raised in Maine, I was taught to work hard and speak truth to power. Trump and Zinke might kick me out of my office, but they can’t keep me from speaking out. They might refuse to respond to the reality of climate change, but their abuse of power cannot go unanswered.


27 Responses to “Scientist Blows Whistle: Breaks Silence on Trump/Putin/GOP War on Science”

  1. redskylite Says:

    Well done for speaking out Joel Clement, reminds me of work practices back in the 1960’s, my father (an ex Major who saw action in WW2), worked for a company that distributed U.S comics, including the Mad Magazine in the U.K. They decided to trim staff numbers, instead of adhering to Britain’s fair redundancy laws, gave senior staff brooms (or similar) and told them they had been reassigned to toilet cleaning duties. Thus the senior staff left on their own accord, no need to pay compensation. So Trump brings these old age practices to the 21st century. Enlightened not. Evolved not.

    So what do the poor folks in Alaska think ? running government like a business, a lousy 20th century unethical business at that. Excuse me I feel sick.

    • webej Says:

      Yeah, that’s the lip service we give to employee rights in our “modern” neo-Liberal transparent/governance society. Welcome to 1984 double speak.

  2. vierotchka Says:

    There are no gulags in Russia, either, so what was your point?

    • philip6464 Says:

      Putin’s prisons are just as bad, and many of its occupants just as innocent.

      • vierotchka Says:

        They are nowhere as bad as American prisons in which vast amounts of prisoners are innocent.

          • Mike Male Says:

            Oooooh….Are they crickets I hear? Troll says “no gulags in Russia” and goes quiet at a single word “Karelia” For those who care, Karelia Colony no. 7 in the town of Segezha in Russia is what can only be described as a gulag where torture and other human rights abuses occur daily.

          • vierotchka Says:

            I knew nothing about that colony in Karelia, hence my non-reaction as I had (and still have) no idea what you were on about. Why don’t you give us a link, so that we know what you were talking about?

            However, I do know that my family had lands there.

            So your imaginary crickets can shut up now!

          • vierotchka Says:

            This program shows that as documented abuses at Abu Ghraib are common in overcrowded prisons and staff of the U.S.. The prisoners are shackled and hooded for your own protection, pepper spray is used as an alternative to physical force, but in sufficient quantities to cause second degree burns, beatings are common and sometimes fatal. The program suggests that the cause is a few bad apples, but a pervasive culture of dehumanisation and brutality.

            Originally aired in the UK Channel 4, Torture: America’s Brutal Prisons is a convincing argument to say that Abu Ghraib was not just an outlying aberration on foreign soil. Rather the Abu Ghraib abuses were the logically outcome of carceral philosophies grown here in the U.S. Two of the senior guards at Abu Ghraib, Ivan L. (Chip) Frederick II and Charles Graner, had careers in Utah as correctional officers.


          • vierotchka Says:

            The Empire holds by far the most prisoners than any other country on earth, in both absolute numbers and per capita. Abby Martin explores the dark reality of America’s prisons: their conditions, who is warehoused in them, and the roots of mass incarceration.

          • vierotchka Says:

            The worst Torture Female Male Brutal Prisons in America

          • vierotchka Says:

            The Hardest Life Inside Arizona’s Prison

            Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western United States and of the Mountain West states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona is one of the Four Corners states. It has borders with New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California, and Mexico, and one point in common with the southwestern corner of Colorado. Arizona’s border with Mexico is 389 miles (626 km) long, on the northern border of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California.

            Arizona is the 48th state and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, achieving statehood on February 14, 1912. Historically part of the territory of Alta California in New Spain, it became part of independent Mexico in 1821. After being defeated in the Mexican–American War, Mexico ceded much of this territory to the United States in 1848. The southernmost portion of the state was acquired in 1853 through the Gadsden Purchase.

            Southern Arizona is known for its desert climate, with very hot summers and mild winters. Northern Arizona features forests of pine, Douglas fir, and spruce trees; the Colorado Plateau; some mountain ranges (such as the San Francisco Mountains); as well as large, deep canyons, with much more moderate summer temperatures and significant winter snowfalls. There are ski resorts in the areas of Flagstaff, Alpine, and Tucson. In addition to the Grand Canyon National Park, there are several national forests, national parks, and national monuments.

            About one-quarter of the state is made up of Indian reservations that serve as the home of 27 federally recognized Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation, the largest in the state and the United States, with more than 300,000 citizens. Although federal law gave all Native Americans the right to vote in 1924, Arizona excluded those living on reservations from voting until its state Supreme Court ruled in 1948 in favor of Native American plaintiffs.

          • Mike Male Says:

            lol…a Gish Gallup of irrelevant talking points to deflect from your statement that “there are no gulags in Russia.” I’m actually not interested in Russian or American prisons as I’m in Australia but when someone makes an easily debunked absolute statement like “There are no gulags in Russia”, I expect them to at least admit they are wrong and we can move on, but you can’t even do that. Too much false pride? Oh well. I’ve always wanted to do the old “do your own research” thing and here it is. Do your own research. That you know so little (or choose to know so little) about your own country’s failings speaks volumes. Oh, and to save you the trouble of further deflection, I am well aware of MY country’s human rights abuses regarding our first Australians and the asylum seekers imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru and I actively protest and advocate for them….in case you were thinking of Googling MY country’s human rights abuses as a means of further deflecting from your personal weaknesses.

          • vierotchka Says:

            Except, drongo, that I am not wrong.

          • vierotchka Says:

            The Gulag (Russian: ГУЛАГ, tr. GULAG; IPA: [ɡʊˈlak] (About this sound listen); acronym of Главное управление лагерей, Glavnoye Upravleniye LAGerej, lit. “Main Camp’s Administration”) was the government agency that administered and controlled the Soviet forced-labor camp system during Joseph Stalin’s rule from the 1930s up until the 1950s. The term is also commonly used to reference any forced-labor camp in the Soviet Union.[1][2] The camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners. Large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas (secret police) and other instruments of extrajudicial punishment. The Gulag is recognized as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union.


            The Gulag institution was closed by the MVD order No 020 of January 25, 1960[36] but forced labor colonies for political and criminal prisoners continued to exist. Political prisoners continued to be kept in one of the most famous camps Perm-36[72] until 1987 when it was closed.[73]


            Therefore there are no gulags left in Russia, there haven’t been since 1987.


            You couldn’t organise a fart in a curry house.

      • vierotchka Says:

        In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.

        Incarceration rate (Prisoners per 100,000 population):

        USA – 693

        Russia – 450

  3. Oh, this is RICH, when we had no less than the head of Mr Clement’s department proclaim, “I Hope There Are No Climate Change Deniers In The Department Of Interior”

    Can anyone imagine what Mr Clement’s reaction was to any one of his co-workers who dared to even question his use of the word “climate change” as applied to an issue that is all about global warming and devoid of any notion that we might be changing to a cooler climate?

    Psychological projection redux on the part of enviro-activists, friends. Keep on committing political suicide with it if you want.

    • ubrew12 Says:

      Mr Clement was an analyst figuring out how Inuit communities should respond to rising sea levels and failing sea ice near their coastlines (which used to buffer them from wave action). There’s actually nothing of ‘Climate Change’ in that activity: the ocean is rising, the ice is melting, the permafrost is melting, their houses, their whole villages, need to be moved, and so how should Dept Interior allocate its resources to help them?

      Since you know that none of this is happening, why don’t you head up there and tell the Inuit what you really think (‘Sink or swim, Indians! That’s what my Pappy told me!’) ?

  4. Sidestep, sidestep, sidestep, it’s what you fellows do. At Brand X Company, they can save you X percent on your car insurance. It’s what THEY do.

    Complaining about suppression of viewpoints within an agency whose former director instilled an atmosphere of suppression against an entire side of the glboal warming issue is rich, and there is no way you can put that toothpaste back into that tube.

    And when Clement was figuring out how Inuit communities could respond to rising sea levels and falling sea ice, he would never tell you it is a result of global cooling. So why introduce ‘middle man double speak’ into the situation by labeling it climate change when it is global warming? And think about how you yourself just undercut the guy’s message when you said “there’s actually nothing of ‘Climate Change’ in that activity.” Yes, exactly. Why does any of your lot use it then, when none of you believe we’re changing from ok to colder? Put some serious thought into this.

    Meanwhile, I am fully aware of the situation at hand, probably more so than you are since I read material from both sides of the issue instead of just one side. If I had the opportunity, I’d be more than happy to go up there and present both sides and suggest that they have a critical thinking decision about which side makes the more compelling argument. You’d never go up there in a million years to do that, out of a paralyzing fear that they would find the skeptic side more compelling, and that they would being yelling at your leaders over why viewpoints about land subsidence, beach erosion and the longevity of barrier islands was never presented to them, along with so many other ice, ocean, and atmospheric details from the skeptic side.

    In case you’ve never comprehended it yet, this issue boils down to basic confidence. Skeptics are glad to go out anywhere, anytime and make their case in fair, open, reasonable debate conditions. AGWers knock themselves out to bury or marginalize opposition by any means possible. Clement was likely reassigned to a job where he could at least contribute some value to the Interior Department. Had he been able to present the side he’s been doing the whole time along with objective summaries of the opposition side like a proper aggregator of information should do, he likely could have remained in his position with the approval of all the new people above him.

    • redskylite Says:

      One thing I am very sure of Russell, Inuits have a mind of their own and have made up their own minds on what is causing the dramatic changes to their homeland and what needs to be done to maintain their society. The last thing they would want is lecturing by Joel or by yourself.

      I would think they would need a supportive, sympathetic government who would listen to their problems and needs, isn’t that is what good governance is all about, be they left, right or center ?

      I hope and pray that Washington provides that support to the natives of the Arctic. They do have a responsibility to look after all citizens and Climate Change is not going away anytime soon. I find that National Geographic have some good information on the changes occurring to the Inuit communities. Also Al Jazeera and other media outlets have films of interviews with Inuit leaders & people. I don’t see any argument or sides in the situation. There may be alternatives, such as moving/migrating.

      “Now a culture that has evolved here over many centuries, adapting to the seasonal advance and retreat of sea ice, is facing the prospect that the ice will retreat for good.”

    • redskylite Says:

      I remember this report in the Christian Science Monitor, the U.S Corps of Engineers (an efficient army organisation that I’ve had the honor of working with in the Middle East) are doing work in Alaska. I sincerely hope the situation is progressing.

      “It would cost about $180 million to relocate the village, according to an Army Corps of Engineers study, and it’s unclear where this money would come from. The US Department of Interior has set aside $8 million for all tribes seeking relocation, and Shishmaref is among at least 12 Alaskan villages that have voted to pick up and move to safer sites.”

    • miffedmax Says:

      Russell, you may read material from both sides, but you utterly fail to critically analyze it, which is why you come in here an spout long-refuted nonsense.

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