From Sunlen Miller
The White House said today for the first time that National Aeronautic Space Administration administrator Charles Bolden was not tasked with reaching out to the Muslim world, as Bolden himself had claimed last week.
“That was not his task, and that’s not the task of NASA,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at today’s White House briefing.
In an interview last week Bolden told Al Jazeera that when he became the NASA administrator, President Obama charged him with three things: "One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; 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 dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering — science, math and engineering."
Bolden’s comments were widely criticized by conservatives as undermining NASA’s mission.
Gibbs comments today – that Bolden was not tasked with this charge from the president — came after the White House first defended the NASA administrator’s claim.
White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement last week 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.”