NASA official in controversy resigns position

February 09, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

NASA public affairs official George Deutsch, who had been accused of exerting political pressure on agency scientists, resigned his position late Tuesday, according to the space agency.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration press secretary Dean Acosta declined to say yesterday why Deutsch left his job. But he said Deutsch claimed to be a journalism graduate from Texas A&M University, something the university denied.

University spokesman Lane Stephenson said: "Our registrar's office tells us he attended Texas A&M, but he did not receive a degree."

Acosta denied that Deutsch's resignation was prompted by recent allegations that Bush administration political appointees were trying to censor agency scientists. Acosta said NASA is in the process of "revising our public affairs policies across the agency."

On Friday, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin issued a memo stating that NASA must not hinder the free flow of scientific information to the public. One NASA official, who did not want to be identified for fear of repercussions, said Deutsch, 24, was a political appointee who had worked for the Bush campaign in Texas before being sent to NASA headquarters in Washington.

Deutsch became a controversial figure in recent days after one of NASA's top climate scientists, James Hansen, told The New York Times that Bush administration officials had tried to get him to tone down his claims about the dangers of global warming.

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