Monday is D-Day — Delivery Day — for Richard Windsor’s Emails

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UPDATE: Unless DoJ delays the expected release today (possible, foot dragging is a common thing with these as they try to “sanitize”) we’ll have the first update here soon after the first release.  – Anthony

Guest post by Chris Horner

On Monday, per its agreement as filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in CEI v. EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency and/or its lawyers the Department of Justice are to produce the first of four deliveries of approximately 3,000 emails to or from the Administrator formerly known as “Richard Windsor”.

Specifically, EPA owes us a cache of identified emails to or from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (by pure coincidence, that’s now “outgoing Administrator Jackson”…), using one or more of four keywords: coal, climate, endanger/endangerment and/or MACT (“war on coal” emails).

I detailed the backstory and reveal these accounts for the first time in The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information ‘Criminal‘ published in October — irony alert, it was Jackson who had called my use of FOIA ‘criminal’.

We already possess three Windsor emails, which tell us that this account was, at minimum, for use corresponding with a close circle of political appointees. And some lawyers, in on the false identity.

So here are a few questions to consider as we await delivery and examination of the first tranche:

  • How broad is the universe “in on” the false identity for recordkeeping purposes; that is, who were Windsor’s correspondents aware of the account, the intent of which we can only speculate about but the one inescapably foreseeable outcome of which was to subvert federal recordkeeping and disclosure laws?
  • Rephrased, who is now off of any short list to replace Winds…Jackson as EPA administrator? (Hint, we already know the list includes her acting replacement, Bob Perciasepe who, my original source within EPA also states to me also was suspected of using an “alias”).
  • Who else now faces questions next time they are before Congress, about their own habits given their complicity in this, and having said nothing?
  • Will we see correspondence with more lawyers, since this is, by EPA’s spin, Jackson’s account for internal correspondence?
  • For example, will we see former EPA general counsel, Scott Fulton, who by coincidence resigned the day we revealed copies of Windsor’s emails, here. Did EPA’s inspector general, who has vowed an investigation — stop laughing — ever correspond with the administrator’s account that, the Agency says, was for her internal correspondence? (The first email address of a Windsor correspondent that EPA attempts to redact probably puts the lie to this non-responsive spin that the false identity was only used for internal correspondence).
  • If not, what other account did she use to correspond with these lawyers? Remember, EPA said her public account was too cumbersome to use.
  • Come to think of it, what email account did she use to correspond outside of the Agency — for example, with rent-seeking businesses like GE and green pressure group allies.
  • Was the account used for corresponding with external allies her personal account? Because another of my requests for some of her correspondence with colleagues using that account, prompted by a FOIA request revealing that they were all aware of it, is presently the subject of possibly the most inane stonewall I have yet faced. In fact, that correspondence involves discussions about what her secondary account address would be.
  • In order to kick the can of revealing “Windsor” correspondence further down the road until media heat possibly cools — and Jackson is safely ensconced at, e.g., Princeton University — will EPA abandon its line to date that this unprecedented false identity account is really just the sort of “secondary”/alias account used by all administrators since Carol Browner, but which an EPA memo I found states “The secondary e-mail accounts are configured so the account holder’s name appears in the ‘sent by’ field”? Mmm.
  • The latter is a big question, the answer to which could signal the administration are going deep into the bunker and seek delay in the courts.
  • Finally, how ostentatiously will EPA and/or DoJ stoke our cynicism, with redactions or forcing out first the most benign mail (“most benign mail in a dummy account that violates federal law” being a fairly restricted universe, I admit)?

To date, the signs, which we might detail later and which might prove relevant to our arguments with the court, haven’t been good. It is entirely possible that the government intends on simply kicking many required disclosures, and the legal briefing with the embarrassing arguments necessary to hide things after insisting they have nothing to hide, into the summer. In that event we have limited, if still a couple, of options to get things on a more productive track.

You should know that FOIA productions tend to involve the government releasing those records about which no one around the government table had any demands for redaction or withholding (e.g., personal or private information, legitimate “pre-decisional” deliberations); the next production(s) includes those over which objections had been ironed out; the final is the dump of pages of black rectangles, or redactions, and a list of what the government refuses to turn over, period.

This procession obviously presents a reluctant bureaucrat with opportunities for mischief (which, like the rest of how this indispensable law works, and some remarkable schemes it has uncovered, I detail in the last two chapters, the How-To guide of the book‘!)

FYI, I already have two followup requests seeking to answer some known unknowns and seal off certain avenues of escape. These are for a brief period of Office of the Administrator correspondence with Jackson’s personal account, and all Richard Windsor mail. EPA responded with the most risible stonewall yet of any they have tossed my way these many years.

So grab the popcorn but, to be safe and possibly pleasantly surprised, hit the dimmer on your expectations for Monday’s production.

28 thoughts on “Monday is D-Day — Delivery Day — for Richard Windsor’s Emails

  1. You know none of this will matter. It’s all a “partisan witchhunt” now, by a bunch of “climate-denying racists”. Nobody but the informed even notice (and the election results prove that there are fewer and fewer informed.)

    Don’t get me wrong. Keep up the good work. Fight the good fight. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking anything is a “game changer” anymore, just because it happens to be the truth.

  2. Chris Horner is to be commended on this clearly written, cogent posting. This has been a long time coming. Note the reference to the “rent seeker GE”. There is no telling what will emerge from this. Big, very Big players in the AGW grabfest.

  3. Not to worry, per:

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-08-03/world/35493923_1_foia-obama-administration-freedom-of-information-act

    “In its first year, the Obama administration vowed an increase in transparency across government, including through the Freedom of Information Act, the proactive release of documents and the establishment of an agency to declassify more than 370 million pages of archived material.

    Three years later, new evidence suggests that administration officials have struggled to overturn the long-standing culture of secrecy in Washington. Some of these high-profile transparency measures have stalled, and by some measures the government is keeping more secrets than before.

    Media organizations and individuals requesting information under the FOIA last year were less likely to receive the material than in 2010 at 10 of the 15 Cabinet-level departments, according to a Washington Post analysis of annual reports of government agencies.”
    ============
    And they work for us.
    (lest they forget)

  4. Didn’t I see your blog report that a complete ficticous identity named “Richard Windsor”? What other mischief could that “person” undertake? Did he sign any orders or directives?

  5. Well I wish luck to all of these efforts, but I’m afraid the will not produce much. This administration is the most criminal in my lifetime (I’m 68).

  6. I’d be interested in redacted emails. Given that Richard Windsor is not a government employee and has no security clearance, redacting his emails would open up a whole other can of worms. (I realize that Richard Windsor is alleged to be an alias of Lisa Jackson, but I don’t think that gets the job done.)

  7. I’m beginning to think that the operative phrase for everything this administration does that is against the Constitution and damaging to this wonderful nation is, “It doesn’t matter.” And why should anything as illegal as what Lisa Jackson (or Holder) or Obama himself does matter? He doesn’t want us to consider ourselves as free citizens in control of this country, he wants to consider us as his “subjects”. He is the ruler. I’ll be amazed if this FOIA produces anything but redacted page after page.

  8. Kudos Chris

    Specifically, EPA owes us a cache of identified emails … using one or more of four keywords: coal, climate, endanger/endangerment and/or MACT (“war on coal” emails).

    Next step in the Freedom of Information arms race: in addition to using pseudonyms for email addresses, they will (like Mafioso) start using code words in place of key search terms.

    Let’s have some fun guessing : )

    CO2 – phlogiston
    coal – brimstone
    endangerment – damnation
    global warming – hellfire
    fossil fuels – sin-source
    historical emissions – original sin
    carbon credit – indulgence
    emissions target – salvation
    COP15 – synod15
    lukewarmer – heretic
    denier – blasphemer
    climate – Gaia

  9. I doubt much will come of this, although I applaud the effort. Jon Corzine is not in jail. No administration official has been held to task for Fast and Furious. Does anyone really think they will turn over anything damning? Or that they will be held to account for not doing so?

  10. eck said:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm
    Well I wish luck to all of these efforts, but I’m afraid the will not produce much. This administration is the most criminal…
    ————————————
    I agree with eck – if a dead ambassador to Libya, the Fast-and-Furious scandal, and the failing green jobs scandal (eg Solyndra) can all be swept under the rug, what impact could a camouflaged e-mail account possibly have?

  11. congratulations Mr. Horner & co –

    can hardly wait to read them. the aussie open tennis won’t take a back seat, but am sure the material will be endlessly fascinating to read during the changeovers, etc.

    i’m not pessimistic – no matter what – even if every word is redacted – they will tell a story.

  12. Great work, Chris Horner. If only Woodward or Bernstein were still alive, the mainstream media would be all over this.

  13. It’s very simple:

    If there is nothing to hide, there will be a very large quantity of uncensored emails and the sequencing of these emails will be obvious. While this is always a possibility, albeit an unlikely one, a much more likely scenario is obfuscation through the release of a heavily censored/redacted set of emails, whose sequencing will be full of gaps and inexplicable comments.

    The EPA is a government bureaucracy, whose once lofty ideals have long since passed into history to be replaced by the twin goals of self-perpetuation and internal growth for its own sake.

    The EPA obviously wants to avoid the Climategate experience and appears obsessed by its own crusade against supposed imminent Thermageddon. This crusade will have the unfortunate side effect of causing incalculable economic damage, so not surprisingly it will not want either this or its internal machinations – i.e. fanaticism towards the ’cause’ – to be be the subject of any public scrutiny.

    Although a dramatic downsizing of the EPA is long overdue, its beneficiaries/employees will allow nothing to stand in the way of the previously stated goals of self-perpetuation and growth.

  14. I wonder that is what is realised will end up looking like the infamous ‘black wall of death ‘ seen when a government document was released but with it all redacted apart from the title .
    I think its a good bet the To: will go missing for it would tell us other iffy e-mail address which would open up more worm cans .

  15. Well, since you now have the most transparent and ethical administration ever, the release will be unedited and unredacted. That’s change you can believe in. Keep the faith!

    Meanwhile, in the real world, one keyword to look for in a next FOIA-request might also include ‘carbon’ since that is the new term of abuse for CO2 and coal/oil.

  16. Mark and two Cats says:
    January 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm
    ——
    I agree with eck – if a dead ambassador to Libya, the Fast-and-Furious scandal, and the failing green jobs scandal (eg Solyndra) can all be swept under the rug, what impact could a camouflaged e-mail account possibly have?

    The final straw?

  17. About computer and identity security; To frustrate monetization of the WWW I use quite a number of add-ons to maintain that ‘privacy’. I do use my own name and identity exclusively. I note for those seeking pseudonymity, as perhaps Mr. Richard Windsor, each computer identifies itself to a competent query that is almost perfectly linked with its user. See https://panopticlick.eff.org/

  18. Have you copied your FOIA requests to certain Congressional offices so they can ask 1.) to be copied on all correspondence, 2.) so they can request redacted or refused documents under their investigative purview, and 3.) just to be a general PIA?

  19. Chris Horner & CEI,

    Thank you for fighting for EPA openness and transparency.

    Regarding the expectation of a black wall of redactions somewhere in the 4 planned email releases that total to ~3000 EPA emails, I think that would be waving a big red flag at bullish seekers of openness and transparency. I think redactions will make seekers of openness and transparency more determined to find all the info inspite of any the usual bureaucratically inept censoring.

    John

  20. rogerknights said:
    January 14, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Mark and two Cats says:
    January 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm
    ——
    I agree with eck – if a dead ambassador to Libya, the Fast-and-Furious scandal, and the failing green jobs scandal (eg Solyndra) can all be swept under the rug, what impact could a camouflaged e-mail account possibly have?

    The final straw?
    ———————————-
    One could hope, but it will probably just serve to make the warmunists in the hugobama regime be more stealthy.

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