Congressman: WH directive to NASA confirmed

Yesterday, after a week of uproar over NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s interview on Al-Jazeera, the White House denied that Bolden had been given objectives for outreach to Muslim countries for self-esteem projects that ignored actual space objectives.  That came as news to Rep. Pete Olson, the ranking Republican on the committee that oversees NASA.  A month ago, Bolden informed Olson of his new mission, and Olson accused the Obama administration of lying about it to escape criticism:

The White House is disavowing a plan to have NASA conduct outreach to Muslim countries, but a congressman who talked to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about that plan last month said the initiative was very real until somebody slammed the brakes on it.

Rep. Pete Olson, ranking Republican on the Space and Aeronautics House Subcommittee, told that Bolden described the outreach program as part of the administration’s space plan during a conversation they had in June.

“He confirmed it to me,” Olson said. The Texas Republican said he thinks the program existed until the “uproar” compelled the administration to rethink it.

At the time, Olson wasn’t as concerned over the politics of those objectives as he was over the misdirection it represented.  It also could have created a security risk if majority-Muslim countries with animosity towards the West exploited NASA’s missile technology — but as Olson notes, there really isn’t anything all that secret any more to exploit.  Olson wants a closer focus on space exploration and rightly saw Barack Obama’s new NASA mission objectives as wasteful and distracting:

“The last thing we need to be doing now is spending precious space dollars … on outreach to any religion,” he said. “We need to spend money on human space exploration.”

We’re back to where we were before yesterday.  This administration doesn’t want to spend money in space, but they do want to spend it on efforts best left to the State Department.  Except now, of course, we can also factor into the equation a healthy dose of dishonesty.  Instead of admitting that Obama had made a mistake, they dumped the entire blame on Bolden, who wouldn’t be appearing on Al-Jazeera in the first place without getting approval up the chain of command first.   As Jules Crittenden says, Obama and his team threw Bolden under the Space Shuttle.