NASA Administrator Looking Into Alleged Gag Order

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NASA Administrator Jim Griffin says NASA is all about providing information and if someone in the organization is keeping inconvenient truths under wraps, hell see what he can do to get them out in the open. On Monday, The Associated Press ran a story saying NASA brass had prevented the release of a survey of airline pilots on what really goes on up there, safety-wise. The AP has been trying for 14 months to get the data through a Freedom of Information request but NASA has stonewalled the effort, saying, according to the AP, that the information will upset too many people, "Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," Associate Administrator Thomas Luedtke wrote in a final letter of denial quoted by the AP. The news-gathering organization says its source claims that the survey shows that hazards like loss of legal separation and runway incursions are much more prevalent than get reported to the FAA and NTSB. It also said that NASA last week ordered the contractor that did the four-year survey (contacting 24,000 pilots) to wipe its hard drives of the data. Griffin says hes asked his staff to salvage what, if anything, is left, and legal to report. In a news release today, Griffin said he was made aware Monday of the Freedom of Information request and hes looking at whether the information sought should be out in the open. I am reviewing this Freedom of Information Act request to determine what, if any, of this information may legally be made public, he said in a brief statement. NASA should focus on how we can provide information to the public -- not on how we can withhold it. Griffin said hell let the public know what it can know about aviation safety as soon as possible.