Maybe NASA and american politicians were not interesting in martian life? Water on Mars would be a strategic asset. Life on mars would be a drag.
Totally agree with this.
NASA also searched for water on the moon, and that has little to do with the search for life.
Water can be used to make rocket fuel (hydrogen and oxygen). It can be used to fill up buffers of water and oxygen in the spacecraft's recycles (humans need water and oxygen, and in practice there is no such thing as a 100% recycle... you always lose some).
Having a guaranteed source of water somewhere on Mars would make it a lot easier to go there and back.
Also, life on Mars would be the ultimate terraformers' nightmare. Sending Earth life to Mars could then mean that we don't kill a species... not even a biotope... but possibly all life on an entire planet. Then again, bacteria on those Viking Landers and Mars Rovers may have already started the slaughter.
it's one of my favourite opinions that we wouldn't recognise REAL alien life even if we found it because we would try and enforce an earth-bound definition on what we consider to be life - not at a casual inspection anyway
after all, the one thing crucial to scientific experiments was missing - independent verification of samples taken under similar conditions by another team