Naked City

Don't like the facts? Then change them!

Question: When is racial profiling not racial profiling? Answer: When the Bush administration says it isn't.

Forgetting that axiom has cost longtime government statistician Lawrence Greenfeld his job as the director of the Department of Justice's supposedly nonpartisan research arm, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, after Greenfeld decided that the BJS should highlight the disparate treatment of blacks and Hispanics by police in a press release accompanying the bureau's April report on racial profiling. According to the report (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cpp02.htm), blacks and Hispanics stopped by police are far more likely to be searched, handcuffed, arrested, and subjected to police force than are their white counterparts. Greenfeld, reports The New York Times, wanted to mention that finding in the press release that accompanied the study, but his political supervisors disagreed and posted the release without mentioning the disparities. Greenfeld, a 23-year employee of the BJS whom Bush appointed as agency director in 2001, complained and is now being demoted and shuffled off to another agency, the daily reported.

The demotion did not sit well with U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., who is asking that the Government Accountability Office investigate the Greenfeld affair. "It is totally unacceptable for the Justice Department to politicize statistical releases and demote individuals merely because they were seeking to provide accurate summaries of statistical information regarding racial profiling," Conyers said.

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