Climate Change FOIA Hypocrisy: Information About Climate Change Research Wants to Be Free


Information about climate change research wants to be free

One hestitates again to dive into the noxious pool of science politics that surrounds the issue of climate change, but here goes. At the center of the latest contretemps is a fight over Freedom on Information Act requests involving research done by climate scientists. Specifically, Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and lawyers for the American Tradition Institute have made FOIA requests for information on the grants, emails and other information about the research done by climatologist Michael Mann when he was at the University of Virginia. For the record, I came out a while back against misusing FOIA requests as a tool for prosecuting scientific "witch hunts."

More recently, the Washington Post editors high-mindedly opined,

FREEDOM OF information laws are critical tools that allow Americans to see what their leaders do on their behalf. But some global warming skeptics in Virginia are showing that even the best tools can be misused.

Lawyers from the Environmental Law Center at the American Tradition Institute (ATI) have asked the University of Virginia to turn over thousands of e-mails and other documents written by Michael E. Mann, a former U-Va. professor and a prominent climate scientist. Another warming skeptic, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), recently demanded many of the same documents to determine whether Mr. Mann somehow defrauded taxpayers when he obtained research grants to study global temperatures. …

Going after Mr. Mann only discourages the sort of scientific inquiry that, over time, sorts out fact from speculation, good science from bad. Academics must feel comfortable sharing research, disagreeing with colleagues and proposing conclusions — not all of which will be correct — without fear that those who dislike their findings will conduct invasive fishing expeditions in search of a pretext to discredit them. That give-and-take should be unhindered by how popular a professor's ideas are or whose ideological convictions might be hurt.

Teresa A. Sullivan, U-Va.'s president, said that the university will use "all available exemptions" from the state's public records law to shield Mr. Mann. And a university spokesperson said that U-Va. anticipates that most of the documents at issue will be exempt under a statute that "excludes from disclosure unpublished proprietary information produced or collected by faculty in the conduct of, or as a result of, study or research on scientific or scholarly issues." The university is right to make full use of such exemptions.

So there. In today's Post, the lawyer for ATI Christopher Horner responded, calling the Post's editorial "hypocritical." You be the judge:

…we take issue with the editorial's failure to acknowledge a critical point: It is customary among commonwealth universities to provide such records of academics, even the specific class of records we are seeking. For example, U-Va. began providing to Greenpeace records of former research professor Patrick Michaels, before Greenpeace suspended its request. And just this year George Mason University released correspondence of professor Edward Wegman regarding an already published paper, just as we seek former U-Va. assistant professor Michael Mann's correspondence relating to his publications. 

For the uninitiated, Mr. Michaels is a "skeptic." Mr. Wegman was involved in exposing Mr. Mann's statistical methods and problems with climate science's version of peer-review. So their records are somehow different. For The Post to acknowledge this disparate treatment would be to acknowledge that the law is on our side, that the exception sought here is unique to a favored individual, and that this expression of outrage in response to our request is therefore selective and hypocritical. 

Looking into the matter, one finds that U.Va. was indeed responsive to Greenpeace's FOIA requests for access to Michaels' correspondence. In a letter dated January 27, 2010, the academic bureaucrat in charge of FOIA requests did inform Greenpeace that U.Va. could not give "unfiltered" records, but for a fee the University would be willing to check through Michaels'

"'letters, … faxes, reports, meeting and teleconference agendas, minutes, notes, transcripts, tape recordings and phone logs' relating to global climate change…."

Greenpeace apparently dropped the request when it discovered how much it would cost (more than $4,000). However, the University did send "a list of grants in support research, which we can provide free of charge," along with Michaels' CV. The University appears to be much less willing to shield a climate change "denier" from FOIA requests than it is to protect a climate change "alarmist" from similar requests. (The terms are what each side calls the other.)

What about the case of Wegman and George Mason University? Statistician Edward Wegman did an analysis that was highly critical of Michael Mann's statistical methods for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce back in 2006. That report's findings were highly contested. Enter a FOIA request from USA Today journalist Dan Vergano to GMU for information relating to Wegman's research. This how GMU responded:

In accordance with the Virginia Freedom of lnformation Act (§2.2-3700, et seq.) and per your request on October 21, 2010, for "information and documentary materials, including electronic mail and other communication, made by Dr. Edward J. Wegman and his associates, Yasmin J. Said and Walid Sharabati, in connection with I or related to the following grants":

1. National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant 1 F32 AA015876-01Al
2. Army Research Office contract W911NF-04-1-0447
3. Army Research Laboratory under contract W911NF-07-1-0059

As well as in connection with I or related to the following reports created by some or all of these authors at George Mason University:

1. Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 52 (2008) 2177 – 2184, Said, Y. et al
2. COMPST AT 2008 -Proceedings in Computational Statistics: 18th Symposium Held in Porto, Portugal,
2008 Wegman, E. et al, pp. 173-189

Please find the requested information as electronically copied on the enclosed CD.

At Virginia universities, there does seem to be some difference in how researchers are treated when it comes to FOIA requests depending on which side they stand in the climate change controversy.

But now the Wegman case gets really interesting. Because of the FOIA request in part, Vergano was able to uncover and report plagiarism in the Wegman report and subsequent peer-reviewed articles based on that report. In this case, a FOIA request may have contributed to revealing some research hanky-panky, which was severe enough that the journal that published the article has now retracted it.

So, it can be argued that the Wegman case cuts in favor of releasing Mann's records through FOIA since the folks going after those records believe that they, too, might well uncover research abuse.

Instead of engaging in FOIA battles which fuel conspiracy theories, the real solution is for publicly funded researchers to embrace research transparency, putting all their data and methods online for everyone to see.

Disclosure: I was graduated from the University of Virginia in 1975.

NEXT: Planet Burma

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  1. Nice use of the transitive “was graduated from”, Ronald! Mrs. Kell (10th/11th Grade English) would be proud!

    Also, interesting. I’m all for the transparency on this stuff.

    1. Back in the 70s, though, most us of at U.Va. avoided the whole question of whether “graduate” was a transitive or intransitive verb and simply said that we “took our degrees.” (One thing we would never have tolerated, though, was saying that we “graduated U.Va.,” which makes “graduate” a transitive verb, but makes “U.Va.” the direct object of that verb. That construction still makes me shudder.)

      1. Er, most *of* us at U.Va.

      2. You “took” your degrees? I’m reading that another way.

  2. OT: I’m in DC this weekend, looking for something to do (looks at reason), and metromix says there’s going to be a huge flash mob of dancers (are there other kinds, I don’t know) at the Jefferson memorial. That could be interesting, but I don’t know if I’ll make it over there at the right time.

    1. Don’t forget your video camera and body armor.

  3. One hestitates again to dive into the noxious pool of science politics that surrounds the issue of climate change, but here goes.

    You do a post a week, minimum, on climate change, Ron. If you were hesitant at all to dive into this mess you’d cut way back on posting about it.

    1. T: In my defense, I would argue that this blogpost is specifically about the “politics” of climate change, not issues related to the policy and science of climate change.

      1. Parsing a little fine there, Ron. But for the record, I do agree with your conclusion.

        Being but a lowly engineer in private industry, I perhaps erroneously thought in academic scientific research, you were supposed to give out enough info on what you did to enable replication of your results. It seems I was mistaken in this belief.

        1. That is in fact the case.

          Michael Mann, James Hansen, etc. have *for years* given out enough information for others to replicate their results.

          I was able to replicate NASA’s global temperature results very closely with just a few days of “spare time” programming/data-crunching.

          Here is a plot of my results vs. NASA’s:…..osmoot.jpg

          Mind you, this was the result of a “winging-it, back of the envelope” spare-time programming project. The computer code that I wrote to generate the above plot is far less sophisticated than NASA’s, but I was still able to replicate their results surprisingly closely. And I was able to get those results without pestering anyone with so much as a single FOI request.

          FYI, I am also a “lowly engineer”. But unlike many other “plug and chug” engineers, I won’t accuse others of incompetence/dishonesty/whatever unless I roll up my sleeves and analyze the data myself.

          There are lots of “plug and chug” engineers out there who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are. Many engineers are “rote memorization” operators who don’t possess any real analytical talents of their own. I know lots of folks like that — they are a dime a dozen.

    2. I don’t think it is one a week. I like to read them and it seems like I’m always waiting for one to be posted.

  4. might well uncover research abuse.

    Might? You think? If there wasn’t any abuse going on and Mann was anything but a fraud, they would turn the stuff over.

  5. Even better… Keep it all privately funded and then this issue would go away.

  6. I’m not debating if the current FOIA request by AG Cuccinelli is a misuse of power. That said, it seems that a precedent has been set, by the Universities themselves, that these types of requests are acceptable.

    They need to quit their bitching, and turn over ze paperz.

    1. Ag Cuccinelli did not put in a FOIA request – he presented the University with a Civil Investigative Demand based upon violation of a state law. FOIA and and CID a two differet animals and requesting the same thing via either will produce differet results as FOIA mandates that information protected by law (HIPAA, FERPA, and state law) be redacted or removed. CID (similar to a legal hold or subpeona) requires that all information be turned over. The CID was found to be lacking in court because all but one grant was federal funded (not applicable under the law the AG used to subpeona the records) and the remaining grant was award before the law was passed and therefore is not subject to the law cited.

  7. WTF. FOIA shouldn’t apply to climate change “scientist” because they’re work is too important?

    1. No. Because the science is settled.

    2. Yeah, what a bunch of bullcrap, especially when you’re talking about a public university.

      There are no national security implications involved here, and they have no right whatsoever to keep this research or anything related to it hidden from the public.

      1. I haven’t paid much attention to this, but, except for matters of establishing priority, why wouldn’t they make this information public in the first place? I mean, from the science perspective.

        I worked for a university, and I’m pretty sure they told me that all of my e-mails and other materials were generally subject to public scrutiny. And that was a while back.

          1. Fucking squirrels and my goddam iPhone.

            Anyway, in FL, any public university may be exposed to sunshine laws concerning information not party to a confidentiality agreement or FERPA.

            1. There are, of course, legitimate defenses to FOIA and FOIA-type requests, which allow for denying the request altogether or, more commonly, allowing for redaction.

        1. It’s drilled into your head in the corporate world — don’t write anything in an email that you don’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper or have to testify about in court.

        2. It’s not even about scrutiny, it’s about ownership: to the degree that you choose to be funded by the people, you choose to work for the people, and the information you handle in that capacity is not your own to keep private in the first place. Should you attempt to do so, I do not see why you should not expect be brought up on charges of outright theft (whether a court would hear such a case is another thing). If you don’t like that, you ought to seek employment in the private sector, where you can either take the question up with your employer, or avoid it completely by securing funding for your research by your own means.

  8. The climate science community brought this on itself. There is a tool to bring the heretofore lacking transparency to their work, and it should be used.

  9. No, it’s not a good thing for political hacks to engage in witchhunts against academics and scientists for political purposes.

    This is exactly like a creationist governor digging through biologists’ work looking for some small measure of controversy in order to promote creationism.

    1. the issue isn’t whether or not it is or isn’t a good thing. the issue is that it is a right, under FOIA (and open govt. principles) to do so.

      1. Political witchhunts contradict the spirit of such laws.

        1. so what? again, i believe in rule of law. you don’t get to disregard a law such as FOIA because you think the requestors might have bad intentions.

          it’s called rule of law. deal with it.

          fwiw, LOTS of people conduct FOIA requests against those in my profession in order to conduct a “witch hunt”. and they are entirely within their legal rights to do so.

          FOIA is like free speech. it applies EVEN TO THOSE whose speech (or requests) you don’t agree with

          that’s why the ACLU supported the right of nazis to march in skokie. it wasn’t an endorsement of their speech. it was an endorsement of their right to express their (abhorrent) speech

          it’s perfectly fine to oppose these peoples’ REASON for their requests as well. but it’s not ok to prevent their requests from going through. it is the same as trying to prevent (through legal means) the right of the nazis to march

          and no, this is not godwinning. it’s making the point that even people with nefarious motives have the same rights as those with good motives

          the right to make such requests is why FOIA was passed

          deal with it

          1. Tony if you hide information you’re just fueling the conspiracy theorists. And frankly it comes off a little paranoid in itself.

            Taking your line of thinking to its logical conclusion, why shouldn’t public libraries discriminate against providing climate change books to “climate change deniers” or anyone else who the government the library claims holds “controversial” or “incorrect” views? Why, they might actually read the book and find a few things wrong with it. We can’t have that!

            And think of the flip side, even if someone’s views and bias is misguided, it doesn’t follow that it’s wrong or bad to deny them access to something that contradicts their views. Quite the contrary — people’s views change all the time. The free flow of information can change minds, even the minds of the biased and hard headed. I’m willing to wager a former radical liberal like David Horowitz (who I completely disagree with in his current state but who I’m using as an example) picked up some conservative books with the intention of discrediting them, and maybe walked away with a completely changed outlook? Or the revers for a guy who started out conservative, read a few things in the “enemy camp” with the intention of discrediting them, and actually came away a changed person.

    2. And any biologist worth his salt will gladly give over his work to a creationist or anyone else because they have nothing to hide. If your work is legit, they wont’ find any holes in it, you fascist dipshit.

        1. this ^ 2

          (mine has EXPONENTS!)

    3. Like was done for opponents of the Technocracy?

    4. One man’s witch hunt is another man’s skeptical inquiry. Science that is not done in the open (or at least opened after the research is complete) is not science.

      1. correct. it’s like eating on a table, when one has a perfectly good belly!


  10. But since most people here are the climate change equivalent of creationists, I’m sure you’ll be able to point out how it’s different in this case, and that political hacks should be allowed to engage in witchhunts against scientists. Because you’re not political hacks, you’re just interested in truth.

    1. So Tony, you’re arguing that the universities shouldn’t have set a bad precedent by turning over the equivalent records of climate change skeptics?

      But “I’m sure you’ll be able to point out how it’s different in this case, and that political hacks should be allowed to engage in witchhunts against scientists,” at least when it’s scientists you disagree with.

      1. I don’t think any academic or scientist should be subject to political witchhunts. The number of climate change deniers in the scientific community are negligible anyway.

        1. So, then, they’re much more likely to be attacked in proportion to their numbers.

        2. A records request for official emails and other official documents is not a witch hunt. If they were going to Michael Mann’s first grade teacher and grilling her about how often he threw up in class, then that would be a different story.

          1. As long as we’re clear that the Republican ideological hacks who are interested in this stuff are not scientists and have no real basic understanding of science.

            1. Sure, but neither are or do Greenpeace.

            2. it doesn’t matter. one does not need to pass some sort of ideological purity test, nor does one need to establish a minimum IQ or that one is an expert in a field to do a FOIA request.

              yes, even mouthbreathing morons have rights. shocking, i know

            3. “Republican ideological hacks” — and who gets to judge exactly who is one of those people and who isn’t? Is a student who once attended CPAC a “Republican ideological hack?” If I check out a book in the university library by a climate skeptic, am I now an “ideological hack” who has no right to a FOIA request?

        3. ah, so if a person is in a minority, their rights don’t matter

          yup, sounds like a typical liberal rationalization to me

    2. Ah, so you’re opposed to witch-hunts to find out who is funded by petroleum interests, right? Nothing to do with the science after all.

    3. you could argue that using FOIA against ANY govt. employees “allows” people to engage in witch hunts

      so fucking what?

      the point is it is information that the govt. is not allowed to hide from scrutiny.

      that’s what matters

      plenty of stuff people get via FOIA or in other ways can be skewed, misrepresented, or outright lied about

      i’m a public employee. my emails are discoverable under FOIA (and not particularly interesting i might add). so are theirs.

      we don’t make special exceptions for climate scientists because they are like all special and shit

      sorry, they are subject to public disclosure laws. yes, even the almighty priests of (insert pause and then celestial horns…) SCIENCE!!!

  11. one finds that U.Va. was indeed responsive

    Oh baby give me that FOIA.

  12. I don’t see any difference between how UVA responded to Greenpeace and how UVA responded to ATI. The only real difference is that Greenpeace dropped the matter when they got the bill.

    As for Wegman, your claim that “Because of the FOIA request in part, Vergano was able to uncover and report plagiarism in the Wegman report and subsequent peer-reviewed articles based on that report. ” is incorrect. The plagiarism was noted and reported to George Mason before this request was made. In fact, George Mason was already conducting an investigation into this plagiarism when the FOIA request was sent. This is rather important, because in the Wegman case, there is a clear public interest (information about an ongoing investigation into wrongdoing) that is absent in the case of UVA and Michael Mann or Patrick Micheals.

  13. Going after Mr. Mann only discourages the sort of scientific inquiry that, over time, sorts out fact from speculation, good science from bad.

    I know, right? It’s not like he’s spending money extracted from other people under penalty of law. It’s not as if the people the money was confiscated from have any right to know how it was spent, regardless of whether or not they personally agree with the expenditure.

    1. right. and again (to the other poster), so what? if FOIA “discourages X”, then CONSIDER changing FOIA. but FOIA is the … wait for it… LAW… OF … THE … LAND

      y’know, that pesky rule o’ law thang.

      doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. we live under rule of law, not man, and that matters.

    2. Mann’s data and code have been available on the web for years. Competent analysts are able to scrutinize his work to their hearts’ content, *without filing a single FOI request*.

      Ditto for the work of other harassed climate scientists. NASA/Hansen have been hit with all sorts of silly FOI requests regarding their global-temperature computation work. This in spite of the fact that they have made all of their data and code available to the public *for years*.

      Anyone who has doubts about the NASA/Hansen global-temperature computations is perfectly free to download the temperature data him/herself and code up his/her own gridding/averaging routine to compute global average temperatures. That’s something that a competent programmer can do in a couple of days.

      And before you ask, I’ve done this myself; my results matched NASA’s results very closely (using public-domain *raw* temperature data and my own hand-rolled program).

      No FOI requests needed (if you are competent, that is).

      1. love the terminology

        so doing a foia request is now “harassment”?

        love it

      2. Mann’s data and code have been available on the web for years. Competent analysts are able to scrutinize his work to their hearts’ content, *without filing a single FOI request*.

        “Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data.

        -CRU Data Availability

        1. If you are competent, you can reproduce the CRU’s results very closely from currently-available public-domain raw temperature data.

          It’s just not that hard. The temperature record is so spatially oversampled in many places that the tiny amount of data that the CRU supposedly “lost” makes almost no difference for global-average temperature computations.

          That should be no surprise to anyone with a basic understanding of math/statistics/Earth-science.

          I was able to reproduce the NASA/CRU/NOAA temperature results quite closely in just a few days in “spare time” side project of my own.

          1. O that all the world was made of people just like you. The rest of us aren’t worthy. I saw you walk on water just last week. I’ll bet you did that in your spare time as well.

            1. Replicating the NASA/CRU results is something that science/engineering/compsci major should be able to do by the end of his/her freshman year. It’s really no great shakes…

              But as far as the incompetent hacks in the global-warming denier community are concerned, that may as well be like walking on water…

          2. Thought I’d follow up with a sample comparison of my results vs. NASA’s, linky here:…..asares.jpg

            Note: My results were computed from a very crude implementation of the standard gridding/averaging procedure used to compute global average temperatures. The close match between my results and NASA’s results (NASA uses a much more sophisticated data processing algorithm than I did) shows how robust the global temperature data record is.

            1. I am curious at what size you ran your grid over time-resolution of that series.

              You could program it in couple days, but to run it with anything more granular than a soccer ball earth-per-month needs some pretty mean silicon over that whole series. They currently run a 4000 processor i7 at Goddard to get kilomter-day resolutions for that same time series.

  14. I’d like to hear more about Wegman’s plagiarism. Does it negate the conclusions of his paper?

  15. Cytotoxic|6.3.11 @ 2:48PM|#

    I’d like to hear more about Wegman’s plagiarism. Does it negate the conclusions of his paper?

    The paper itself was junk — one of the major reasons for the plagiarism is that none of the authors knew enough about the subject (SNA) to conduct their own independent research. So they cribbed from others.

    Deep Climate (a scientist/blogger) was onto this well over a year ago.

    Deep Climate and John Mashey (not a pseudonym) are the ones largely responsible for uncovering this and other instances of plagiarism, and they did it without filing a single FOI request.

    Dig around and you will find a gold-mine of incriminating evidence.

    Here’s a sample: http://deepclimate.files.wordp…..-rings.pdf

    1. Damn right. Bailey may have come around to truth on the science (but little he does to defend it!) but he still has enough of a bias against science and scientists (“Eco-scam”, anyone?) that his narratives surrounding events like this still show a profound disregard for truth.

      “FOI requests weren’t *really* what showed Wegman to be a plagiarist, but if I pretend they were, I can better smear academic scientists as hypocrites!” Truth loses, and Bailey collects the same spin-meister’s paycheck he’s drawn for years.

  16. Additional notes:

    The primary criticism of Mann’s hockey-stick methodology is basically bunk.

    Although Mann did use a non-standard (and suboptimal) data centering method, it turned out to have no effect on the results. Reprocessing the tree-ring data via full-centered-SVD produces the same results that Mann’s original (short-centered) approach did, **if you do it properly**. You must use a consistent and sensible eigenvalue thresholding algorithm, which Mann did do. If you threshold the eigenvalues properly, short-centered and full-centered SVD processing produces the same results.

    The claim that Mann’s method produces hockey-sticks from random noise is just plain silly. Anyone familiar with the SVD method would be able to tell the difference between random noise and genuine tree-ring data in about 5 seconds by looking at the eigenvalue magnitudes.

    The “trick” that skeptics use to generate hockey sticks from random noise fails on multiple counts. First, half of the “hockey-sticks” generated from random noise are upside-down. Second, only a fraction of the noise-runs produce “hockey sticks”, and third, the eigenvalues associated with those “random noise hockey sticks” are so small that any competent analyst would realize that they were just small noise artifacts.

    No competent analyst would confuse a (big) Mann tree-ring hockey-stick with a (tiny) random-noise hockey-stick. This is all very basic stuff that anyone who uses the SVD should know.

    You can test this yourself with Scilab (a free matlab clone). Generate a matrix of red noise and compute the SVD, repeating as necessary (in a loop) until you get a leading eigenvector that looks like a “hockey-stick”. Save off the eigenvalue magnitudes. Compare with Mann’s “hockey-stick” eigenvalues (available at via a bit of searching). You will see a big difference in the eigenvalue spectra for the two cases

    1. Interesting, but I hope you’re not talking about this (Wiki): In May the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research advised media about a detailed analysis by Eugene Wahl and Caspar Ammann, first presented at the American Geophysical Union’s December 2004 meeting in San Francisco, which used their own code to replicate the MBH results, and found the MBH method to be robust even with modifications. Their work contradicted the claims by McIntyre and McKitrick about high 15th century global temperatures and allegations of methodological bias towards a hockey stick outcomes, and they concluded that the criticisms of the hockey stick graph were groundless.

      If they’re denying the MWP, then they are full of bunk. I’m totally open to criticism of skeptics but not denying MWP. Any others?

      1. I’m not talking about anything but my own professional experience with the SVD algorithm that Mann used (and that M&M abused in their attacks on Mann).

        The bottom line is, anyone with a working knowledge of the SVD algorithm should be able to see how the attack on Mann’s (admittedly imperfect) use of the algorithm is a complete non-issue.

        Give me the complete output of Mann’s SVD method used with legitimate tree-ring data vs. “red” noise, and I’d be able to tell them apart in about 2 seconds.

        The bottom line is, the entire basis of the attack on Mann’s methodology completely falls apart if you know how to interpret the output of the SVD algorithm.

        This has nothing to do with the existence or non-existence of the MWP, but with the knowledge of how to interpret the output of the SVD algorithm.

    2. Competent analysts are able to scrutinize his work…

      That’s something that a competent programmer can do…

      No FOI requests needed (if you are competent, that is).

      If you are competent

      …any competent analyst would realize…

      No competent analyst would confuse a (big) Mann tree-ring hockey-stick…


      1. This is probably the only “skeptic” post here that got it right.

        Competence matters — and for the most part, global-warming skeptics don’t have it.

      2. BTW, here’s an example that shows how dumb those “skeptics” really are. It’s a verbatim copy of a FOI request sent to the CRU by one of you genius “skeptics”.

        I hereby make a EIR/FOI request in respect to any
        confidentiality agreements)restricting transmission of
        CRUTEM data to non-academics involing the following
        countries: [insert 5 or so countries that are different
        from ones already requested1]
        1. the date of any applicable confidentiality agreements;
        2. the parties to such confidentiality agreement,
        including the full name of any organization;
        3. a copy of the section of the confidentiality agreement
        that “prevents further transmission to non-academics”.
        4. a copy of the entire confidentiality agreement,

        Kinda reminds me of that “I [state your name]…” scene in Animal House.

        1. GAWD, government tit is so tasty. If only I didn’t have to answer to those damn taxpayers. They should just shut up.

          1. That’s exactly the kind of response I’d expect to see from someone who isn’t bright enough to address the science…

        2. A skeptic made a mistake on a FOIA request, thus all skepticism is invalid.

          Typical alarmist warmer logic. The science is settled – hahaha. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

  17. Ron-

    Thanks for using the old-school “U.Va.” instead of the silly new “UVA”.

  18. Well, I guess if FOIA can be used for any bad purpose, it should just be repealed.

    Right? Isn’t that the logical conclusion here?

    1. this is how the UK deals with weapon bans. i think they are going to move on from knives, and banning pint glasses (they can be used as weapons you know) and will next consider soup ladles.

  19. Disclosure: I was graduated from the University of Virginia in 1975.


  20. Greenpeace was not, as far as I can tell, offered Michaels’s e-mail.

    Also, there is a history here of abuse–consider the mal fide “spin” and outright lies that were “supported” using the e-mails stolen from CRU.

    It doesn’t appear that Cuccinelli has any legitimate reason to seek these. Unlike the information obtained re: Wegman–when he was already under fire for plagiarism. Your post comes very close to implying that somebody made an FOI request for Wegman’s records just for the heck of it, then found evidence of plagiarism. That isn’t the way things played out.

    1. consider the mal fide “spin” and outright lies that were “supported” using the e-mails stolen from CRU.

      This is best understood when spin/lies = scientific hanky pamky we didn’t want you to see.

  21. Ronald,

    The Wegman paper was under scrutiny for serial issues of plagiarism and statistical quackery long before the FOIA. Deep Climate eviscerated the paper back in the summer of 2010, determining that 35 out of 91 pages were plagiarized. The paper was not subjected to peer review by the journal which chose to publish it, and was later withdrawn by that same journal.

    As for Patrick Michaels, I have no sympathy for him. The man is a hack at best, illuminated by his testimony in congress last year when he was called out by Ben Santer on misinformation he presented during his testimony. I’d strongly suggest watching it.

  22. Although I don’t like the reason why he requested the documents under FOIA, I do believe that motivation shouldn’t play a part in the judging of whether to release the documents.

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