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December 15 2011


Signs of Action On Climategate Hacker Investigation: DOJ and UK Police Probe Denier Bloggers

Fantastic news for a change - the Guardian reports that the UK police are finally making some concerted attempts to identify the hacker behind the criminal invasion of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.

The Guardian reports:

On Wednesday, detectives from Norfolk Constabulary entered the home of Roger Tattersall, who writes a climate sceptic blog under the pseudonym TallBloke, and took away two laptops and a broadband router. A police spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Norfolk Constabulary had "executed a search warrant in West Yorkshire and seized computers". She added: "No one was arrested. Investigations into the [UEA] data breach and publication [online of emails] continues. This is one line of enquiry in a Norfolk constabulary investigation which started in 2009."

Tattersall posted on his own TallBloke's Talkshop blog that:

"I got the feeling something was on the go last night when WordPress [the internet host for his blog] forwarded a notice from the US Department of Justice."

What excellent news to hear that the Justice Department is getting involved with this investigation, it's about time. Perhaps this came in response to the remarks by Rep Ed Markey (D-MA) last month?

Either way, it is reassuring to know that the investigation into the criminal hacking of climate scientists' emails is, in fact, ongoing.  Last month, we reported about troubling indications that the UK police effort seemed inadequate given the tiny expense reports divulged after a Freedom of Information request by a UK journalist. 

It will be interesting to learn what the investigation uncovers, if anything, from this week's actions. Since TallBloke's blog was one of the first that the hacker "FOIA" commented on when revealing the stolen goods, there may well be something of interest to investigators.

It's also interesting that Tattersall's first move after welcoming the police into his flat was to log out of his email. He writes on his blog:

"I managed to log out of my email on the big lappy as they sat down, to the annoyance of the Computer expert.

(Funny statement coming from a guy who has trumpeted the criminal hacking of the email accounts of climate scientists?) 

Only time will tell what investigators might learn from reviewing Tattersall's computers. Has he been in direct contact with the hacker? If not, has he communicated with any middlemen who might have relayed information that could lead to the hacker's identity? Perhaps they'll find an unlocked copy of the 220,245 encrypted emails that "FOIA" has teased the existence of, but so far have not been published online?

DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore has previously written about TallBloke's seemingly cozy relationship with the hacker FOIA. In his announcement about the release of the Climategate 2 batch, TallBloke refers to "our old friend FOIA". But later in the same post, he suggests he doesn't know the hacker's identity:

Message to ‘FOIA

Thank you, whoever you are, freedom of information is a principle worth upholding.

Tattersall is not the only target of the investigation by the UK Metropolitan Police, Norfolk Constabulary, Computer Crime Division and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division. There are other denier bloggers whom the investigation is focusing on as well.

More from the Guardian:

"Both Tattersall and a US-based climate sceptic blogger known as Jeff Id said they had received a "formal request" via the blogging platform WordPress from the US Department of Justice's criminal division, dated 9 December, to preserve "all stored communications, records, and other evidence in your possession" related to their own blogs as well as to Climate Audit, a climate sceptic blog run by a Canadian mining consultant called Steve McIntyre. All three blogs had received messages from "FOIA" last month pointing to the link hosting a second tranche of emails first taken from the UEA in 2009.

During an interview with the Guardian last week before the seizing of his computers, Tattersall said that he had been questioned by Norfolk police "some two months" after the initial breach in 2009, but had heard nothing since. A number of climate scientists and bloggers are known to have been questioned by the police."

Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress points out that "Jeff Id" is the online name of climate denier blogger Patrick Condon who runs "No Consensus" a.k.a. the Air Vent.

Peter Sinclair caught wind of the DOJ action first, see his post: Has Denier Karma finally Run over its Dogma?

If you're interested in following the real-time reaction to this news, check out this Twitter action on hash tag #climategate

The right-wing and climate-denier echo chambers seem to be freaking out that the police are actually doing their job to identify the criminal hacker. 

Chris Horner seems particularly verklempt over this, bizarrely expressing sympathy for the criminal hacker in his op-ed today, as Media Matters For America points out:

"It speaks to the twisted pathology of climate science deniers that they'll condone, even defend, this sort of behavior."

Of course, we've seen this behavior repeatedly in our five years covering climate denial on DeSmogBlog, but it's absolutely still shocking to see the lows that they'll go to, and Chris Horner provided another example today.


Image credit: Elnur/Shutterstock

November 22 2011


Climategate Hackers Slither Again in the Night

Steal More; Reveal Less

The Climagegate hackers appear to be at it again, spraying the internet with dozens of out-of-context quotes from a new batch of stolen emails - in a transparent attempt to disrupt the climate talks starting next week in Durban, South Africa.

The emails, from a source that denierblogger Tallbloke identifies as "Our old friend 'FOIA'," appeared with the same serendipitous timing - and in the same devious way - as last year's more-devastating tranche: accordig to the Guardian, they were "leaked" on a Russian server and then sprinkled into the denieresphere through the usual suspects: Wattsupwiththat, ClimateAudit, AirVent and the already mentioned Tallbloke. We can undoubtedly expect a fresh round of breathless "mainstream media" coverage from the Murdoch empire.

These emails are even more ridiculous than the batch released last year. First, the hackers didn't have the decency to release the emails in context - rather they just pulled the quotes they thought would be effective in casting doubt. Second, the thieves mined only 5,000 of more than 220,000 emails they say they have in hand. This strains credulity: if there was anything in the remaining emails that was even vaguely incriminating, you can bet they would have found and released it. Third, the "best stuff" that they actually released is worse than trivial:

Take this for example: "<0813> Fox/Environment Agency: If we lose the chance to make climate change a reality to people in the regions we will have missed a major trick in REGIS."

This is apparently a reference to the Regional Climate Change Impact and Response Studies being conducted out of East Anglia University in the U.K. And the apparent intent of the quote is to say that scientists believe that their work will be wasted if they don't find a way to get people's attention with the considerable evidence that they have discovered that climate change is, in fact, a devastating threat.

It's clear enough that governments like Canada's own are committed to ignoring the climate threat - at least as long as their oily buddies can continue to cash in by making matters worse. It's also clear that Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre are desperate to portray themselves as clever contrarians, and they will make whatever allies are necessary to keep up the facade.

But really, is this all there is? They have 220,000 stolen emails and they can't find a single out-of-context quote that would overtake the so-successfully misused "hide the decline" line from 2009?

Mike Mann, quoted in the Guardian story above, is right. This is pathetic.

July 24 2010


Desperate days for the warmists

Warmists may be winning the big grants, but they're not winning the argument, says Christopher Booker

June 04 2010


Putting Conspiracy Theories to Rest: Scholars and Rogues puts 'Climategate' in Context

As the stolen emails non-scandal from November retreats slowly in the rear-view mirror, it's worth a quick re-cap of why it was so exciting in the first place.  Emails without context can be made to fit any story that someone wants to tell, which is one of the reasons we don't like to release email correspondence that is inherently out of context.  Brian Angliss at Scholars and Rogues gives us an elegant run-through of how the stolen CRU emails are taken hopelessly out of context and cannot, in and of themselves, contribute to our understanding of climate science.

Given the demonstrated unreliability of electronic records that have been sorted or analyzed using automated tools, it’s unreasonable to make firm claims either of scientific misconduct, ethical lapses, or illegality based on only the published CRU emails. It takes full inquiries and investigations where the investigators talk with the involved parties to truly understand the details and the context surrounding claims like those made against the climate scientists mentioned in the published CRU emails. To date, three such inquires have been completed, and while there may be some areas where the inquiries can be fairly criticized, the fact that the results of all three agree with each other strongly suggests that Tim Osborn’s claim, rather than Geoff Sherrington’s, is closer to correct in this case – “It is impossible to draw firm conclusions from the hacked documents and emails.”

There is little that can dissuade someone who is convinced of a certain narrative, but fresh angles and a fresh perspective, such as Angliss offers, are an excellent part of the solution.  Check out the full article for interviews with both skeptics and scientists, and a fascinating look at how a study of computer bug fixes can be used to illustrate the incompleteness of the electronic trail.  See the full post at Scholars and Rogues.  <!--break-->

See DeSmogBlog's ongoing coverage of how the denialosphere has tried to make a mountain out of a molehill for the past 6 months.

May 19 2010


McIntyre Disappoints Denier Conference; doesn't call for jailing of scientists

Mining Executive and blogger Steve McIntyre, the darling of so many climate change deniers, surely disapointed the assembled ICCC crowd in Chicago with his dry and relatively reasonable keynote address.  The applause after McIntyre's keynote address was significantly less than when he started because he didn't call for Michael Mann and Phil Jones to go to jail.

Astronaut Harrison Schmidt (why is a former astronaut speaking at a climate conference?), who followed McIntyre, helped to steer the crowd back to the witch-hunt it was promised by conference organizers. Mark Sheppard, writing in the American Thinker, gave this account of Schmidt's remark after McIntyre finished:

This is science, [Schmidt] retorted to a now cheering crowd, and if you want to play that game (tricks, non-disclosure, etc) then you can go somewhere else.  To which more than a few in attendance added:  “To Jail!”

I can think of no better analogy than the hilarious logic used by Monty Python's King Arthur to impress an even more idiotic group of villagers, and magnificently prove that 'she's a witch!'.<!--break-->

McIntyre's hour long keynote on the first night of the conference discussed the history of some rather dry tree ring data discussed in the East Anglia stolen email.  He was welcomed with huge applause, but the crowd cooled over the course of this talk.  As Sheppard said, "Steve stopped quite a bit short of passing judgment". While McIntyre still perpetuated the myth that there is a scandal wrapped up in the emails stolen from East Anglia, this episode shows how the ravings of climate deniers hold no basis in reality.

Sheppard wasn't too happy to hear McIntyre's opinion on the recent attempts by VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to leverage himself into Michael Mann's private email exchanges.

McIntyre even slammed Virginia Attorney General Ken Ken Cuccinelli's investigation into Hockey Stick creator Michael Mann, describing Mann’s work as “diligently published” and Cussinelli’s as “abuse of administrative prerogative.”  Not exactly what the crowd was hoping to hear from one its undeniable heroes.

Thank you, Steve McIntyre for this valuable insight into the level of discourse at the 4th annual denial-palooza, sponsored by all the oil companies' favorite think tanks.

April 23 2010


Deep Climate exposes more cheating by team Wegman

Plagiarism and poor scholarship rife in statistician's tight circle

The blogger Deep Climate has released another devastating analysis of the shoddy scholarship and obvious cheating that characterized the work of the statistician Edward Wegman and his team, authors of a report to Congress that Deep Climate calls "nothing more than a politically motivated attack on climate science and scientists from the start."

DeepC, surely on of the most careful, thorough and tireless researchers currently working the climate blogosphere, has been here before, collecting evidence that demonstrated massive plagiarism by Wegman and his proteges when they were preparing their Republican-commissioned attack on Michael Mann's oft-vindicated, but still controversial hockey stick graph.

As on the last occasion, DeepC has prepared a side-by-side analysis showing the work of Wegman and his principal assistant Yasmin Said juxtaposed with the documents from which they mined a shocking amount of their material. It's shocking because they didn't attribute any of it and, on many occasions, the few efforts they made to change the text merely obscured or rendered insensisble the original meaning. It's not just that they were cheating, they were doing it in a way that invites applications of the term "incompetent."<!--break-->DeepC calls at the end of his excellent post for an investigation by George Mason University, whence this substandard work originated. It seems relevant, though, to also call for Congressional attention. Some of this material was prepared using government funding and even if the specific intent was NOT to mislead Congress, there is certainly a compelling argument to be made that Congress was, indeed, misled.

That, in lots of different ways, is a crime.

April 07 2010


Fox News’ Ed Barnes Tries to Re-Ignite Attacks on Climate Scientist Exonerated by Penn State

In his “exclusive” story, titled “Top Climate Scientist's Exoneration Won't Be the Last Word,” Fox News’ Ed Barnes suggests that the Penn State investigation that cleared Dr. Michael Mann of any wrong-doing was a “whitewash” designed to protect the “millions of dollars in grant money it gets by having Mann on the faculty.”

Barnes claims that Penn State’s decision to exonerate Mann generated “a storm of controversy” and “came under severe attack.”  Reading his inflammatory language, you might think that a whole lot of academics and scientists ridiculed the inquiry.  Who is this angry mob that generated such a “storm of controversy?” 

Actually, the Barnes storm is comprised of only three people - a mining executive, the wealthiest member of Congress, and a former FoxNews.com columnist.
The former FoxNews.com contributor, Steve “The Junkman” Milloy, is better known for his role as apologist and shill for the tobacco, chemical, mining and oil industries than for his expertise critiquing university review boards.  What are Milloy’s qualifications to serve as judge and jury in denouncing a highly-regarded university’s review process?  Milloy runs JunkScience.com, a website that defies all manner of scientific realities, arguing that everything from DDT to secondhand smoke to asbestos is perfectly healthy for you. 

The second is blogger Steve McIntyre, creator of ClimateAudit.org and 30-year veteran of the mining business.   Some may consider McIntyre qualified to attack Michael Mann, since he's gone to great lengths along with Ross McKitrick to attack Dr. Mann.  Both of their Mann-eater papers were re-published and distributed by the ExxonMobil-funded George C. Marshall Institute. McIntyre says he’s more interested in mining these days than climate science, unless it’s about Michael Mann of course.

The third is the wealthiest member of Congress, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), whose net worth is north of $250 million thanks to his success as CEO of Directed Electronics and its “Viper” car alarm. (That’s actually Issa’s voice barking ''please step away from the car.”)  But how exactly is this successful former CEO, Army veteran and holder of a bachelor’s degree in business administration qualified to question the work of a highly-regarded climate scientist? 

Though certainly known for stormy behavior and severe attacks, do these three men really constitute a “storm of controversy?”

I suppose when you throw in a dash of the right-wing Commonwealth Foundation (which released a 12-page policy brief ripping Penn State for exonerating Mann), and a sprinkle of the right-wing-on-training-wheels Young Americans for Freedom (which launched a petition to re-investigate Mann), then in Ed Barnes’ world you can safely forecast a raging storm with a 100% chance of severe attacks.

Barnes even slapped an “Exclusive” tag on his new piece, hoping to catch new readers, even though the content is largely rehashed from his article yesterday, featuring the same quote from Steve Milloy and same argument from Steve McIntyre.  That’s pretty exclusive, indeed.

Barnes and others at Fox News have played a central role in the “Climategate” echo chamber, providing a megaphone for skeptics trying to spin the stolen CRU emails into scandal every which way, and continuing the long smear campaign against Michael Mann.

Despite all their rants, the inquiries into Mann and the CRU scientists have found no evidence of the data tampering or interference with information requests that FOX and friends hoped would emerge from their “ClimateGate” dud.  They can’t tolerate the fact that Dr. Mann and Phil Jones and others have been largely vindicated.  So they resort back to spin. And when that doesn’t pan out, they spin again

It’s dizzying just trying to follow it, really.   

March 07 2010


Who are the people in your denial neighborhood?

Category: climate Posted on: March 2, 2010 9:51 AM, by James Hrynyshyn As regular readers will know, I prefer the term “pseudoskeptic” over “denier” when it comes to those who insist we needn’t be worried about climate change. This is because the common denominator among any set of such characters tends to be a misapplication of the [...]

December 05 2009


Climategate reveals 'the most influential tree in the world'

Leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit show how the world's weightiest climate data has been distorted, says Christopher Booker.
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