DOE sends a "litigation hold notice" regarding CRU to employees – asking to "preserve documents"

UPDATE: I’ve confirmed this document, see below the “read more” line.

It appears bigger things are brewing related to CRU’s Climategate.

WUWT commenter J.C. writes in comments:

I work at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. I’ve been following the Climategate scandal since its inception. The first time many of my coworkers had heard of the situation was when I asked them about it.

Well, well, well.

Look what was waiting in every single email Inbox on Monday morning:


“December 14, 2009

DOE Litigation Hold Notice

DOE-SR has received a “Litigation Hold Notice” from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) General Council and the DOE Office of Inspector General regarding the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. Accordingly, they are requesting that SRNS, SRR and other Site contractors locate and preserve all documents, records, data, correspondence, notes, and other materials, whether official or unofficial, original or duplicative, drafts or final versions, partial or complete that may relate to the global warming, including, but not limited to, the contract files, any related correspondence files, and any records, including emails or other correspondence, notes, documents, or other material related to this contract, regardless of its location or medium on which it is stored. In other words, please preserve any and all documents relevant to “global warming, the Climate Research Unit at he University of East Anglia In England, and/or climate change science.”

As a reminder, this Litigation Hold preservation obligation supersedes any existing statutory or regulatory document retention period or destructive schedule. The determination of what information may be potentially relevant is based upon content and substance and generally does not depend on the type of medium on which the information exists. The information requested may exist in various forms, including paper records, hand-written notes, telephone log entries, email, and other electronic communication (including voicemail), word processing documents (including drafts, spreadsheets, databases, and calendars), telephone logs, electronic address books, PDAs (like Palm Pilots and Blackberries), internet usage files, systems manuals, and network access information in their original format. All ESI should be preserved in its originally-created, or “native” format, along with related metadata. Relevant backup tapes and all indexes for those tapes should also be preserved. Further, information that is reasonably accessible must nonetheless be preserved, because such sources will, at the very least, need to be identified and, under compelling circumstances, may need to be produced.

If you have any doubts as to whether specific information is responsive, err on the side of preserving that information.

Any employee who has information covered by this Litigation Hold is requested to contact Madeline Screven, Paralegal, SRNS Office of General Council, 5-4634, for additional instructions.

Michael L. Wamsted

Associate General Council”


Everyone on-site who has an email account received this letter. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 8000 people. How about that? And this is the first official mention of the entire subject that I have seen.

DOE-SR = Department of Energy Savannah River

SRNS = Savannah River Nuclear Solutions

SRR = Savannah River Remediation

NOTE: Some commenters raised some doubts about the authenticity of this email.

I checked out a couple of things before I posted this. The IP address of J.C. comes from the correct location in South Carolina, Aiken, and the name Michael L. Wamsted does work for DOE at the SRS in SC in legal. See

Also the existence of the paralegal “Madeline Screven” listed in the email (whom I believe composed it) is listed in the DOE phonebook search of  “Screven” and is listed in the same building as Wamsted.

The “Council -vs- Counsel” spelling error could be something as simple as a spell checker substituting the wrong word, or just a dumb mistake when composing email where the spell checker would not flag “council” as it is spelled correctly.  Heck, I misspell “meteorologist” sometimes in correspondence, dropping an “o”. I have had a situation sometimes where “metrologist” (also valid) gets substituted on spell check. Spelling mistakes, compounded with spell checker substitution errors – they happen. I have one computer (the one I’m typing on) that always switches the word “because” to “becuase” in spell checks for some odd reason, and I can’t figure out how to correct it. So I live with it and try to manually fix it when I notice it.  There is another spelling error “Climate Research Unit at he University”. Which is a mistake I make from time to time, missing the “t” on the. Spell checkers don’t catch that one, since “he” is a correctly spelled word.

If the IP had not come from Aiken, SC where Savannah River Site and lab is, I would be highly suspect of it. But the IP address in Aiken and the names check out. Aiken is right next to SRS.

See the doc and map for directions here:

The language used also checks out, it has been reviewed by an attorney who frequents WUWT and he raised no red flags. Steve McIntyre points out that Dr. Jones got funding from DOE (of which SRS is part of). The different pieces connect pretty well and I don’t have a reason to doubt this memo sent via email today. – Anthony


UPDATE: 12/15/12:36 PST

I called SRS Legal office just now and spoke with Madeline Screven, who is listed as a paralegal in the letter I posted. I found her telephone number via the DOE phonebook.

When I called, she fully identified herself in her greeting to me, I explained who I was, giving my full name. She asked if I was “on or off site” referring to SRS. I explained I’m off-site.

My question: “Do you have a litigation hold notice related to the Climate Research Unit.”

Her answer: “Yes we do”




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Baffling to me.. what does DOE have to do with climate change or CRU?

Doug in Seattle

Wow. This means that either litigation has begun or is believed to be imminent. I hope something similar is also going out to other departments, particularly those involved in the CCSP and other documents used by the EPA.
I suspect though that this may have something to do with DOE direct funding of CRU and may not include NOAA, NCAR, NASA and others “Climate Agencies”.

Richard K

Sure has been quiet over at RC. I wonder why?


The hammer drops!


Ok, good. It’s about time!
Now how about NASA GISS?
How about Penn State?

Lets hope this information doesn’t mysteriously disappear like NASA GISS raw, un-homogenized data.


I wonder if Seth is regretting that AP article right about now

Pete M.

Justice prevails!

Perhaps it’s time for a quote or two from Bob Dylan.
You don’t need a weather man. To know which way the wind blows…
And the times, they are a-changin’
Things just get more interesting by the day, don’t they? How long until a major news outlet runs a daily extended “Maybe things are not as clear-cut as we were led to believe” series, and thereby doubles its readership / audience?

Polar bears and BBQ sauce

Shhhazaaam! Guess I’ll make a Polar Bear Pie… 🙂

Steve Oregon

I hope this covers “tempests in teapots” too?


Barbarians at the gates! Not too much longer now.


The folks that thought this would just blow over!
That light you see at the other end of the tunnel is an on coming train!
Good to see at least someone takes their responsibility for due diligence and custodianship of public records seriously.


Oh, goodness. This should be interesting.
Unless the CRU has a good records management solution in place ( I seriously doubt they do; they’re a university probably not used to this type of litigation and legal discovery), this is going to be an incredibly expensive (and/or expansive) legal discovery for them.

I’m wondering if it’s already too late. My 40 years of observing human behaviour says to me that a lot of stuff has already been “lost” (deleted) between the climategate revelations and this legal notice being received to preserve everything pending investigation.
Mind you – I’m such a cynic 😉


All i can say is “YES”. It is starting.


that raised my blood pressure just reading it. It almost sounds like some are starting to take this scandal seriously. Hopefully, it has arrived before the paper shredders went into overtime operation.


Part of a wholesale mail-out from the DOE? Just the DOE?


I sincerely, absolutely, seriously hope it works.
And I think they should have contacted all the mobile shredding companies and kept them away from Seinfeld’s Restaurant…


Someone will be ordering some large disk arrays to store and search all of this stuff. Discovery is a fun process.

David Q.

It is like a pot with too many popcorn kernels. Eventually you get to sit down and eat popcorn and enjoy the show as the lid is blown of the whole enchilada.
This is too much fun. Thanks Anthony for providing holiday entertainment for the whole family.
P.S. O. T. Regarding CO2, now when it is almost knocked off its pedestal it can still provide additional fun. Here is one my ten year old son made up.
“What did they say, a hundred years ago, when they burned cow hides?”
“Carbon dioxide!” get it… “carbon theoxhide”….
So much fun from such an innocent little gas, that even kid can crack a joke.

If you go to the U.S. Department of Energy Website, you can find the following information listed under Science & Technology:
The Department of Energy is the single largest Federal government supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, providing more than 40 percent of total Federal funding for this vital area of national importance. It oversees, and is the principal Federal funding agency of, the Nation’s research programs in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy sciences. Such a diverse research portfolio supports tens of thousands of principal investigators, post-doctoral students, and graduate students who are tackling some of the most challenging scientific questions of our era. ……
Research and Development
DOE manages fundamental research programs in basic energy sciences, biological and environmental sciences, and computational science and is the Federal Government’s largest single provider of funds for materials and chemical sciences.


I’m surprised this took several weeks. Why wasn’t it issued the minute the climategate story broke? Hope there haven’t been any shredding parties.


What a find! The stuff has hit the fan, after all. At least we know that there are some that took these emails and data seriously. This may all just disappear once Team Obama finds out, though. He is sporting spandex to the meeting, after all.


With Steven (paint everything white to save the planet) Chu heading up DOE, this is bound to be an honest investigation, right?

Henry chance

Looks like major criminal problems for the people that have been deleting.
someone has been Mannipulating data.


Will DOE correct its message before the communications and records are deleted. There is no Climate Reserch Unit at UAE, it is Climatic Rsesearch Unit.


Knowing who’s in charge, though, why assume this is anything other than another nefarious move?


We can’t let up!
Write your leaders!
Talk to friends!
Finally an opening!

Halfwise above is quite correct. The floodgates are about to open on this scam, and the hacks at AP who wrote the greenwash will be feeling very green indeed.


boballab (20:27:43) :
So, what’s DOE telling them” “Quick, give us ALL the material on CRU, . . . we’re better at hiding it than you are.” ?


If certain folks have not yet “lawyered up” (MM, GS, PJ, GF, TW, KB, JH), I suggest they get right to it. Or, if it is just a “tempest in a tea pot”, I’m sure no one will bother them.

Theo Goodwin

Halfwise writes:
“How long until a major news outlet runs a daily extended “Maybe things are not as clear-cut as we were led to believe” series, and thereby doubles its readership / audience?”
Actually, the news outlet will find something…EVIL…that caused them to believe the wrong thing. I wonder what it will be. Lisa Jackson is a witch and she witched us? Al Gore was this wonderful human being and public servant but…then…unpredictably…he went over to the dark side? We don’t have anyone working for us who understands didly about science or communism? Well, isn’t the planet getting warmer? Didn’t George W. Bush fail to act on global warming and he caused this? Aren’t the global warmists a lot cooler than the global warming deniers? If not global warming, then how do we repent for our sins? Must we give up abortion? Must we give up no-fault divorce? What does God demand of us?


Global warming in discovery? But why DOE? Why not EPA or the Department of Commerce (parent department of NOAA)?


As a poor non-English native, it’s hard for me to grasp the meaning of “litigation hold”, and why DOE had to do this action. Could anyone teach me please?
In addition, slightly off this very topic, I still find it difficult to understand what the now-famous “travesty” denotes, because the explanations in my dictionaries do not appear to nicely fit its nuance with which you are talking about this word out there.
The latter is also what I am eager to know now.
Thanks in advance for your reply.

Shhhhh. Listen closely…. The sound you can hear is the shredders and HDD drive cleaners at GISS and NOAA working overtime


I would imagine the DOE memo resulted from Inhofe’s call back in November to retain documents relevant to the CRU:
” WASHINGTON (Nov 25) – Sen. Jim Inhofe, considered the leading skeptic in Congress that human activity is causing global warming, wants an investigation into whether some of the leading scientists on the topic manipulated data to inflate the problem.
The Oklahoma Republican sent letters to numerous
scientists at U.S. universities and to government agencies asking that they retain documents related to files stolen last week from a computer server at the Climatic Research Unit in England.”

Leon Brozyna

Wonder how many other similar notices have been sent out from other cabinet level agencies to other lesser activities. NASA? NOAA? It’s amazing what happens when there’s a hint of litigation in the air. Does get the attention (eventually) of various offices of GENERAL COUNSEL and INSPECTOR GENERAL.
Though I do wonder at the horrid spelling in that notice shown above. Council??? If that spelling originated from the Office of General Counsel then they’ve got some serious problems.


I note that this is a “litigation” hold, not an investigative hold. Who has filed a law suit? And against whom?

John in NZ

Nothing like a little bit of litigation to get the lies exposed.
OT. Our local newspaper has actually been giving time to the skeptics. This is not something that happenned before Climategate.


This sounds like it was initiated by either a Congresssinal action or a civil suit, in either case, I don’t think that either Holden or the head of the DOE can stop it. While I’m sure that some of the required information is being shredded, I’m also sure (as an ex-civil servant) that not all of those 8,000 will be shredding the same thing. There are probably 8, 101 CYA files. The info is there and it sounds like someone is motivated enough to find it.


great news. hope there’s lots of litigation in the pipeline.
the following is not wholly satisfactory, but it’s not bad for the Financial Times:
Financial Times: Trust the public on climate change
Expert dissenters, of whom there are many on this issue, have an honoured place in science. Sometimes, they turn out to be right. Strong consensus supports key findings of the climate orthodoxy, but the details matter and the science is far from settled. Aiming to smear the doubters and shut them up is just bad science, and from a public-relations point of view is wholly counter-productive…
As one Climategate e-mailer noted, we do not understand why global warming has paused lately: the models cannot account for it. But this is not for public consumption. It is best never mentioned, think governments and their scientific advisers. Just keep saying “flat-earthers” or, as the White House spokesman said the other day, “the notion that there is some kind of debate … is kind of silly.”


Pete M. (19:56:03) :

D. Ch.

And work grinds to a halt in every cubicle getting this email …

Indiana Bones

EdB (19:52:29) :
Baffling to me.. what does DOE have to do with climate change or CRU?

As of the time of the leaks, Professor Phil Jones of UEA was in receipt of a 2008 $300k DOE contract to do certain “climate research.” There may well be other U.S. government contracts with UEA and the Climatic Research Unit.
This is a prudent move to protect evidence used to prosecute malfeasance on the part of any “climate science” researcher funded by government grants.