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UDPATE: Obama DID NOT "Charge" Bolden To Do Muslim Country Outreach

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
July 12, 2010
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White House denies NASA remark on Muslim outreach, AP
“The White House is contradicting the NASA administrator’s claim that President Barack Obama assigned him to reach out to Muslims on science matters. … White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that such activities are not among Bolden’s assigned tasks. He said administration officials have spoken with NASA about the matter.”
White House: No Muslim outreach for NASA, Washington Post
“Despite his sterling credentials as a former astronaut and military man, Bolden has been a bit of a headache for the White House: Some say he was nominated reluctantly for the post only after Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) (Bolden’s former space shuttle crewmate) insisted that Obama appoint him. Since then, he cried at his first meeting with agency workers and has upset lawmakers and NASA veterans with the administration’s new plans for space exploration.”
Muslim Outreach Not the Job of NASA, White House Says, Fox News
“But [White House Press Secretaty] Gibbs on Monday appeared to deny that Bolden was asked to focus on Muslim outreach at all. Asked whether Bolden misspoke, Gibbs said: “I think so.” He said he wasn’t aware of Obama speaking to Bolden about his comments.”
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 7/12/2010 – NASA Excerpts
“Q I wanted to ask you, there are some comments that the NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, made a couple weeks back that drew some interest, specifically from conservatives who are wondering why we he said that one of the charges that the President gave him when he got the job was that he had to focus on outreach to the Muslim world. Why is the NASA Administrator doing that?
MR. GIBBS: That’s an excellent question, and I don’t think — that was not his task, and that’s not the task of NASA.”

Keith’s update: It looks like Charlie Bolden did NOT get the direction to do outreach to Muslim countries from President Obama after all.

Charlie Bolden: Stealth Middle East Diplomat? (video) earlier post
“When I became the NASA Administrator – before I became the NASA Administrator – he charged me with three things: One was that he wanted me to re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, that he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”
White House, NASA, Defend Comments About NASA Outreach to Muslim World Criticized by Conservatives, ABC, ABC
“In response to criticism, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement that “The President has always said that he wants NASA to engage with the world’s best scientists and engineers as we work together to push the boundaries of exploration. Meeting that mandate requires NASA to partner with countries around the world like Russia and Japan, as well as collaboration with Israel and with many Muslim-majority countries. The space race began as a global competition, but, today, it is a global collaboration.”
Keith’s note: I cannot seem to find any statement on this topic at the White House website – or online at Nor have I seen a confirmation from the White House that specifically confirms what Bolden said on Al Jazeera i.e. that “[President Obama] wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”
Bolden was quite clear that there was specific direction from the President with regard to Muslim countries as one of the three things that President Obama charged him to do as NASA Administrator – with outreach to Muslim countries being “perhaps foremost” of the three.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.