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We got a lot of email in response to yesterday's story that the Bush administration is proposing that in the case of any national emergency - such as a release of anthrax, a nuclear plant accident or an outbreak of mad cow disease - the decision of what information to release and when will be left up to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The White House says that by centralizing peer review, evaluations will be more consistent. OMB was created as a tool for the White House to evaluate agency budget, policy, legislative, regulatory and management issues.

The move by the White House already has come in for criticism from what is described as a non-partisan group of former officials from various federal agencies objecting to the change because it could place political and partisan concerns above scientific issues.

MNB user David Brewster wrote:

Who defines an emergency? When does a local problem become a national emergency?

Is big brother paying attention to everything in our lives -- just in case my horseshoe's nail looses us a kingdom?

Utterly silly and very dangerous. Not only would this place scientific issues at the disposal of politicians, but it also would place privacy issues in those same hands even more firmly.

Another MNB user wrote:

I remember when I was in elementary school learning to duck and cover in case an atom bomb was dropped in our area. As a kid, I found this very scary and, having seen pictures of atom bombs exploding, did not really think that it would protect me. However, this has to be the scariest thing that I have heard in my lifetime. Again, I do not think that it will protect me. Kill me maybe, but not protect me.

Another member of the MNB community wrote:

Sounds like the beginnings of a police state.

MNB user Sue DeRemer chimed in:

I wonder how long it will be until this administration creates a bureau to start re-writing history?

To be honest, as many emails as we received on this subject, we did not receive a single one that endorsed the proposed change as a good idea.

Not one.
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