Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THE NATION

NASA Chided for Putting 5 on Columbia Panel on Its Payroll

May 13, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Civilian members of the board investigating the Columbia disaster have been put on NASA's payroll so the panel can use government secrecy rules to withhold testimony about the accident.

Members of the House Space subcommittee, which oversees NASA, said making federal workers of the five civilian members undermines the board's independence and credibility.

"It baffles me why they are doing this," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.). "This is inconsistent with the history of these types of investigations."

The action permits the board to guarantee confidentiality for witnesses, such as NASA engineers, who testify before the board in closed sessions.

Board Chairman Harold Gehman Jr., who insisted on putting the civilians on the payroll, said it was the only way engineers would testify. Transcripts of the testimony, he told the Orlando Sentinel, "are never going to see the light of day."

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said that he was disappointed to hear that the civilians had been put on the government payroll and that he would "look to see what might be done."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|