GOP-Led House Science Committee Launches Benghazi-Like Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientists

Republicans may be licking their wounds after running full speed into the Benghazi committee trainwreck, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be wasting everyone’s time (and taxpayer money) on settling ideological scores again in the near future. In a baffling display of political abuse of power, the anti-science bloc of Republicans on the House Science Committee have launched a vicious inquisition of climate scientists for… well, no one really knows why, least of all the Republicans themselves.

Following Benghazi, Republican lawmakers handed themselves greater freedom in deciding when and how to subpoena government agencies without the cooperation of the minority party (read: Democrats). This has led to a feeding frenzy of harassment campaigns against people and groups that Republicans feel are too “liberal” or otherwise stand against conservative dogma. Unsurprisingly, scientists studying the climate are a frequent target. In March, the House Science Committee’s Republican chairman Lamar Smith demanded the head of the EPA hand over her personal text messages so he could read them — when he discovered most of the texts had nothing to do with the EPA, and certainly contained no vast conspiracy to fake global warming, he lost his mind. Tin foil hat firmly in place, Smith insisted that the lack of evidence for a conspiracy proved there was a conspiracy.

Recently, the House Science Committee took things a step further and asked climate scientists working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studying crucial data about the earth’s weather patterns to drop everything so they could hand in “all documents and communications” written in the last seven years for Republican scrutiny. They were given just two weeks or face sanctions including having their funding pulled.

Republicans, wielding their new omnipotent subpoena power, didn’t even bother giving a reason. In fact, they couldn’t. They had no legitimate concerns. Instead, they disagreed with the facts scientists were learning about the climate — things like the fact that the global ocean temperatures are the highest ever recorded or that hurricanes are becoming stronger — and wanted to bully them out of talking about them.

Observers watching in horror as a group of barely scientifically literate lawmakers hamfistedly attempt to crush scientific progress because it doesn’t align with their preconceived notions are calling it what it is: A witch hunt.

And while Republicans will likely learn nothing new about how the scientists conduct their research thanks to this subpoena, they will accomplish their actual goal: Hinder scientific inquiry, make the lives of scientists more difficult, and hopefully, prevent the voting public from ever learning about the overwhelming data supporting the existence of climate change.

History seems to be repeating itself yet again. The Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the shameful communism investigations of the 1950s; fanatical bullies have always sought to silence the other side by brute force and baseless accusations. And the desperate attempts to shut people up has always derived from one simple truth: The bullies were wrong, and they knew it.

Feature image via C-Span screengrab