I can't believe that so many otherwise-dedicated public servants and scientists dissolve into spineless goo at any conflict with this (Bush2) administration merely because they are told to do so. Surely we are better than that? Surely some of them have a firm grasp of ethics?
It seems to me much more likely than spinelessness, that such behavior is induced by a combination of pressures too great to resist. By offers they can't afford to refuse. Threat of loss of livelihood, threat of punishment to themselves and their family, threat of exposure of whatever personal secret they might wish to hide, and threat of a campaign of invented rumor and ad hominem insinuation (swiftboating).
Threat and intimidation, especially after a few well-chosen examples, works so very well.
The Bushies have exercised a take-no-prisoners and scorched-earth approach to leadership. The message is "follow our wishes or we will make life so not worth living that you will pray for death." Those whom they cannot intimidate, they destroy (e.g., Plame). And for future purges by future presidents, they have (with the aid of the majority party) approved torture and rendition, and repealed the fourth Ammendment.
As all tyrants discover, to rule by blackmail and fear you must create a nation of the fearful and make all others vulnerable. A few examples and you no longer need to enforce your wishes in every instance: the fearful and vulnerable will be eager to accommodate you, unasked. And who is not vulnerable in these days? God help anyone gay, adulterous, addicted, or not independently wealthy who serves in this administration.
And if they can't find someone fearful or vulnerable enough to bend to their wishes, they appoint someone too incompetent, stupid, or already corrupt to understand why, e.g., torture is not a good thing.
Such a plan cannot have become so thoroughly and universally applied by accident. Somewhere, someone must have written it up or discussed it by e-mail. Anything less than an obviously smoking-gun e-mail will correctly be dismissed as the paranoid ravings of conspiracy fetishists, or as in the case of Conyers, Waxman, and Kucinich, be dismissed as "unrealistic."
And the administration's response when the truth is pointed out? Bush, like all other tyrants knows the drill very well: deny and suppress.
Where are all the heroes?
I can't believe we're all of us that stupid or spineless, or all of us that afraid.