State Dept. Intelligence Analyst Quits to Protest Blocked House Testimony
WASHINGTON — A State Department intelligence analyst has resigned in protest after the White House blocked his discussion of climate science in Congressional testimony, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Rod Schoonover, an analyst with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, testified last month before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the effects of climate change on national security. But, in a highly unusual move, the White House refused to approve Dr. Schoonover’s written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional record.
The reasoning, according to a June 4 email reviewed by The New York Times, was that the science cited in Dr. Schoonover’s testimony did not correspond with White House views. Ultimately, Dr. Schoonover did deliver the oral testimony before the committee, but his accompanying written statement was not included in the official record of the hearing.
Dr. Schoonover did not respond to text message requesting comment. A policy expert familiar with his case confirmed that his resignation came as a direct result of the episode. His last day is expected to be Friday.
Experts said that the exclusion of Dr. Schoonover’s testimony from the written Congressional record, which is archived as the historical account of the hearing, amounted to a significant suppression of factual analysis by a government intelligence agency.
“Intelligence analysts, as a rule, are very committed to objective truth,” said Francesco Femia, the head of the Center for Climate and Security, a research organization in Washington. “And when something extraordinary happens to try to politicize their or suppress their analysis, as happened in this case, that flies in the face of their professional integrity. It’s a matter of someone standing up for principle.”
A White House spokesman declined to comment on the matter and referred questions to the State Department. A State Department representative also declined to comment.
The State Department agency where Dr. Schoonover worked, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, has long been regarded as one of the most scrupulous and accurate in the federal government. In the prelude to the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq, the agency stood almost alone in asserting — correctly, but contrary to the positions of the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency — that Iraq was not reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.
For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.