The secrecy and the lack of accountability which have marked the Bush Administration are producing some comical but telling problems for Obama transition teams. NASA’s dictatorial Adminstrator Michael Griffin said that Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator, was unqualified to judge his pet project the Constellation program to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. He directed NASA employees to stay on message with the transition team. Interviews were monitored by NASA officials, and employees were told to report conversations back to their managers. Griffin also directly contacted contractors and told them to sell the program and not discuss any alternatives to it. He demanded that they pre-clear their presentations with him. Some contractors were also supplied with talkingpoints saying that if Constellation were cancelled it would make NASA look bad and damage public confidence in it. As a result, some contractors declined to participate in interviews fearing retribution from Griffin.
Griffin’s actions culminated in the following overheard exchange with Garver:
“Mike, I don’t understand what the problem is. We are just trying to look under the hood,” Garver said.
“If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar,” Griffin replied. “Because it means you don’t trust what I say is under the hood.”
It would be hard to find a more eloquent expression of the Bush mindset of “Trust me and don’t believe your lying eyes” or a better example of the view that facts are not to be addressed but managed.