Former intelligence analyst says White House tried to delete "basic science" from climate change report

Intelligence analyst on blocked climate report

Last Updated Sep 20, 2019 8:01 PM EDT

An intelligence analyst for the State Department resigned in protest in July after the White House blocked his report on the national security implications of climate change from being delivered to Congress. In his first interview, Dr. Rod Schoonover told CBS News why he believes the threat to America's national security is being silenced by politics.

Scientist Rod Schoonover used to work at the State Department as an intelligence analyst, identifying the national security risks of climate change. This past June, Congress called on him to testify.

"The stated reason was that it did not comport with the position of the administration," Schoonover said.

The Trump administration argues it's unclear whether humans play a role in climate change. But as Schoonover wrote in his 10-page testimony, the scientific consensus is that human activity is driving climate change. He warned of the risks, but the White House crossed out that testimony.

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Rod Schoonover CBS News

"There was a request to delete five pages of basic science," he said. "Their argument was that you should not focus on the science of climate change."

He was specifically told to delete warnings about climate-linked stress to humans, including drought, flooding, disease, food shortages, mass displacement and migration. A Trump administration official called the analysis "junk science."

After his written testimony was blocked, Schoonover quit. In the past few months, several scientists have gone public about similar experiences.

"It's oftentimes the job of the intelligence community to tell senior policymakers things that they don't want to hear," Schoonover said. "That's what happened here."

CBS News reached out to the White House and State Department for comment but did not hear back.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Margaret Brennan is moderator of CBS News' "Face The Nation" and CBS News' senior foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C.