This has been in the news for a couple of weeks now, and I am kind of surprised it hasn't come up yet, unless I just missed it.
There was a report recently by the OIG that the White house changed language, in public releases by the EPA, to claim that the air particle levels were safe to breathe. Other reports eliminated warnings about high asbetos levels, etc.
Here are some examples:
* On the morning of Sept. 12, according to the report, the office of then-Administrator of the EPA Christie Whitman issued a memo: "All statements to the media should be cleared through the NSC [National Security Council in the White House] before they are released."
* Language in an EPA draft stating that asbestos levels in some areas were three times higher than national standards was changed to "slightly above the 1 percent trigger for defining asbestos material."
* Discovery of asbestos higher than safe levels in dust samples from lower Manhattan was changed to state that "samples confirm previous reports that ambient air quality meets OSHA standards and consequently is not a cause for public concern."
* A warning on the importance of safely handling Ground Zero cleanup, due to lead and asbestos exposure, was changed to say that some contaminants had been noted downtown but "the general public should be very reassured by initial sampling."
* Another draft statement raising concerns about "sensitive populations" such as asthma patients, the elderly and people with underlying respiratory diseases was deleted.
* The report also notes examples when EPA officials claimed conditions were safe when no scientific support was available.
Links: NY NewsDay ...Cnn
Now, I know that accurate reports would not have made a difference to the rescue workers, but most of them were better prepared than the average citizen.
The question is, did our government deliberately mislead the employees and residents in the area, to bring them back in sooner than they would have on their own?
If so, do you think they should have done this, given the health risks involved?
Should they be held responsible for paying for the eventual health care costs of those that contract lung cancer, etc, because of misleading comments?