Senior political appointees in NASA's public affairs office inhibited the release of scientific evidence of global warming, according to a NASA Inspector General report (pdf) released yesterday. The report confirms censorship claims made by top NASA climate scientist James E. Hansen in 2006.

As The Washington Post reported this morning, the report said that from 2004 to 2006, NASA's public affairs office "managed the topic of climate change in a manner that reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public."

The report goes on to say that "news releases in the areas of climate change suffered from inaccuracy, factual insufficiency, and scientific dilution. Some scientists claimed to have self-censored; others simply gave up. Worse, trust was lost, at least temporarily, between an Agency and some of its key employees and perhaps the public it serves."

A 2006 New York Times article revealed that political appointees directed public affairs officials at NASA to focus the Agency's public message on eventual trips to the Moon and Mars, stymieing efforts to release findings related to climate change.

According to yesterday's NASA IG report, Bush-appointed NASA public affairs officials deny any wrongdoing, "claiming that many of the proposed news releases were poorly written or too technical in nature for meaningful broad public dissemination." So they weren't censoring the public from information so much as saving the public from boring information.

Fourteen senators requested the IG report after Hansen and other NASA scientists received national attention for their complaints about censorship in 2006.