Congress, NASA

Is Mike Griffin in trouble? Probably not.

A couple of developments last week certainly were not helpful to the image of NASA and administrator Mike Griffin. On Friday the Washington Post reported that Congressman Brad Miller claimed that NASA destroyed evidence when it reportedly destroyed a videotape of a meeting between Griffin and embattled inspector general Robert Cobb. This development came a day after a front-page story in the Post reported that officials with NASA and many other federal agencies attended “political briefings” with White House officials prior to the midterm election. One person went so far as to forward me an email from a mailing list with the subject line “Mike Griffin in trouble?”

The answer is probably not, at least not over this. As both the Post story and one Saturday in Florida Today reported, the meeting was not a one-on-one affair between Griffin and Cobb but one that involved “something approaching” 200 people that was not planned to be taped in the first place to allow a freer flow of discussion, so the general counsel advised that the tape be destroyed. As for the political briefings, the results of the November election proved just how useful they were to the White House.

The IG issue, though, won’t be going away any time soon: a hearing on the investigation into Cobb and his work is planned for next week. The danger is that it will be a distraction to members of Congress who should focus instead on appropriate levels of funding for the space agency, both overall and among its various programs, and the state of its work carrying out the Vision for Space Exploration.

4 comments to Is Mike Griffin in trouble? Probably not.

  • Tom

    The ones who are in trouble are Marshall Space Flight Center management. Word has it that Griffin wasn’t in the best of moods during his trip to MSFC last Thursday. I’m sure that the latest spat with Sen. Shelby and the reinstatement of the lunar projects office is weighing heavily on his mind.

    I bet you’ll be seeing some changes in MSFC over the next few weeks.

  • D. Messier

    I don’t know why Congress can’t investigate the IG issue and also focus on larger budget issues at the same time. It seems like the bigger problem with the budget is that the WH isn’t requesting the proper level of funding. At least with space, it seems difficult for Congress to force this (or any) administration to spend a lot more money than it wants to on NASA. Is Bush properly supporting his own initiative?

    As for the political briefings, I don’t think the results of the November elections are very important in trying to figure out whether they were proper or not. They either followed the law or they didn’t. And how do you know whether these sorts of political activities didn’t help stem repub losses in the elections? Seems like you need to do a little more research to determine how these actions may have affected the election.

  • The ones who are in trouble are Marshall Space Flight Center management.

    So the whole ‘safe simple soon’ thing is off, eh?

    Brought to you by Michael Griffin, Scott Horowitz and ATK.

    The data contained in, Inc.’s Whois database,


    ATK Thiokol Propulsion
    9160 N. Hwy 83
    M/S N30
    Corinne, Utah 84307
    United States

    The IG thing is just the tip of the iceberg here. Perchlorate contamination is pervasive, we’re looking at a guaranteed climate catastrophe, and these are the guys in charge of our space program, possibly our only hope at coming to grips with the reality of planet Earth. Why do the vast majority of educated American scientists and engineers continue to remain silent on this?

  • D. Messier

    Just another thought: I’d be interested in what Griffith actually talked about when he met with the IG staff. The Washington Post’s story has Congressmen claiming that Griffith was telling the IG staff what he considered to be proper and improper areas they should be investigating. If true (and I don’t know), then that is questionable.

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