Foilball, the American return serve

The Foilball match was started at UVA with the help of a whole bunch of NGO’s, however, as Chris Horner points out in this press release, the hypocrisy is breathtaking when it comes to similar actions against former UVA faculty member Dr. Patrick Michaels.

ATI Slams ACLU’s Plea for University of Virginia to Deny FOIA Request of Michael Mann’s Records

April 14th, 2011 | Author: ATI


Contact: Christopher Horner,

Today the American Tradition Institute responded to the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and 11 other activist groups – all which are oft-political and always left-leaning – for their new pressure campaign against the University of Virginia, which aims to block ATI’s efforts on behalf of taxpayers to access University records of climate scientist Michael Mann.

In a letter the advocacy groups ask UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan to deny ATI’s Freedom of Information Act request for emails and other documents related to claims made by Dr. Mann to obtain, and claim payment under, certain taxpayer-funded grants. The groups, which also include Union of Concerned Scientists and People for the American Way, cite phantom exemptions to Virginia FOIA laws such as “academic freedom” and “the exchange of scholarly and scientific ideas.”

ACLU-VA and its collaborators note that ATI’s request “resembles the controversial civil investigative demand, or CID, issued last year by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act” for Dr. Mann’s records. As a matter of substance the requests are identical, but these same groups are the only instigators of ‘controversy.’ ATI simply seeks access to records that belong to taxpayers, under a transparency law that expressly covers state universities and their employees.

“The University was rather candid before, that it reversed course from cooperating with the Attorney General because these same groups instituted a pressure campaign against it,” said Christopher Horner, senior director of litigation for American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center. “But this has no bearing on the University’s obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. If they and pressure groups like Union of Concerned Scientists and People for the American Way want to rewrite FOIA law to exempt the academic class, which uniquely depends on transfers from the taxpayer, the appropriate place to do that is in the legislature.”

The American Association of University Professors and the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors also signed of the ACLU-VA letter.

ATI’s FOIA request is not on behalf of government, but of taxpayers, who have the right to know how and where their dollars are spent – or misspent. “Academic freedom” is not a legitimate exemption, any more than “bureaucratic freedom” is an acceptable exemption for state government employees. The coverage of state universities is very clear in Virginia’s Freedom of Information laws.

ATI notes that the outrage over “academic freedom” by the 12 groups was absent when Greenpeace sought similar records from Mann’s former colleague in the UVA Department of Environmental Sciences, the well-known climate alarmism skeptic Patrick Michaels. They were likewise silent when Greenpeace demanded the records of Professor David Legates at the University of Delaware, and those of Dr. Willie Soon and Dr. Sallie Baliunas at Harvard, as well as when pressure campaigns were instituted against climate scientist-academics in Washington state and Oregon who were also skeptical of alarmism.

“But of course those previous efforts were different,” said ATI’s Horner. “These groups didn’t like those scientists’ beliefs or their speech. Apparently this is an objection of convenience, and is therefore not serious.

“The ACLU and their doppelgangers call for two classes of people: Those who are covered by laws, and those who aren’t – the academic class, or at least selected academics,” Horner added.

Notably UVA counsel is proceeding on ATI’s request with the highest integrity, though there are disagreements and ATI expects to have to litigate some questions. While ATI expects records soon on a rolling basis, the university has not provided a date certain on which it will produce them.

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April 14, 2011 4:28 pm

As a card carrying ACLU member who believes in the stated principles of the organization — that stinks.

mike g
April 14, 2011 4:43 pm

Apparantly, based on what we’re seeing in Wisconsin, laws don’t matter if the left disagrees with them.

It's always Marcia, Marcia
April 14, 2011 4:50 pm

The ACLU teaming up with Michael Mann? What terrible public relations for him. Global warming is revealing its cards.

April 14, 2011 4:54 pm

You’ll note that Greenpeace is not listed among the
organizations objecting to the Freedom of Information Act
request submitted to the University of Virginia by the
American Tradition Institute.
Why ?
Well, Greenpeace might want to try to drop an open ended FOI on
someone other than Dr. Michaels at UovV, or any other state university
in the U.S. Their overt support of administratively quashing this FOI
under the ruberic of “academic freedom” would be used against them.
Attorneys hate it when they end up arguing against themselves.

April 14, 2011 4:58 pm

The ACLU, the People for the American Way, and UCS are all in on this? That reeks of leftists circling the wagons…

April 14, 2011 5:08 pm

Anybody know of any instances where the ACLU was for a FOIA request in a similar circumstance?

Mac the Knife
April 14, 2011 5:09 pm

What the he(double hockey sticks) does the ACLU or any other ‘activist group’ have to do with compliance to our Freedom Of Information Act laws?
It’s more than time to play ‘hardball’ with these folks. If University of Virginia personnel refuse to disclose all requested materials, a crime (obstruction of justice?) will have been commited. Hand them a search warrant, lock the doors, and secure all of the PCs, laptops, and servers associated with the University. Classes will resume when all information requested has been recovered and secured.
The key proponents of AGW and their organizations are looking more and more like a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization. They collude and act in concert to publish analyses of fear mongering questionable merit, to substantiate their demands for more money. They collude and act in concert to suppress publication of analyses refuting their questionable work and exposing their deceits. That is exactly what the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) was designed to address.

April 14, 2011 5:30 pm

Universities all over are resisting FOIA requests. In Michigan, the Mackinac Center requested emails from various universities to look into whether employees were spending their working time and resources on political activities.
The reaction was quick and fierce from teachers including condemnation, but it also included bomb threats and encouragement of violence. The Washington Post called it a political witch hunt even though they themselves often use FOIA to find information to write their stories.–Is-Mackinac-on-an-open-record-law-witch-hunt?
There has been one arrest for bomb threats but more interestingly is how university employees feel that an FOIA request equates to harrassment and intimidation under which the threat of violence is an appropriate response. So writes Joyce Pines, Kalamazoo Gazette reporter and Professor at Western Michigan University, “Intimidation works both ways, as the Mackinac Center reports it received bomb and death threats after the news about its email requests became public.”
Disgusting coming from 2 newspapers, 1 reporter doubling as a professor of journalism. Keep at it Chris Horner.

It's always Marcia, Marcia
April 14, 2011 5:58 pm

kramer says:
April 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm
The ACLU, the People for the American Way, and UCS are all in on this? That reeks of leftists circling the wagons…
I got the same impression. So will almost anyone hearing the story.

April 14, 2011 6:26 pm

Although I share your outrage Mac, I think simply cutting off public money until they comply would work PDQ…

April 14, 2011 7:38 pm

Interestingly: Both organizations mentioned herein, the ACLU and Greenpeace…were, I think, started from good intentions.
But the road to Hell is paved with such.
Now the ACLU is the antithesis of civil liberties, UNLESS you are in lock step with their political ideology.
And Greenpeace the same….
It is right laughable that the ACLU is teaming up and defending Michael Mann.
If Dr. Mann were thinking clearly…I am not sure he would want their name as on his record as indemnifying him. [But then again we know, from his “research”, he is NOT thinking clearly.]
Moreover, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish other parties named in the campaign, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists….when juxtaposed to some of the other unions [hint AFL-CIO].
Anybody see a pattern here?
Idealistic intentions > flawed data or foundation > ideologues > groupthink > disaster!
This pattern of structural failure of our species…shown again and again in our short history…will be analyzed in history eons from now.
I never thought that “groupthink disorder” could or should be called a debilitating disease…but…in light of all of the environmental harm it causes…it may well be.
If homo sapiens are going to evolve an prove itself as a vital species for the long run on this planet…then they are going to have to cure the groupthink disorder epidemic.
That, and groupthink’s evil twin: cognitive dissonance.
Norfolk, VA, USA

Paul Jackson
April 14, 2011 7:41 pm

As the ACLU said

“Scholarship cannot flourish in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust.”

, so why hide and obstruct from the public that pays your salary? Here the clue stick that people need to be beaten with, never send an Email from an employer owned computer or network that you don’t want the employer to read, both the computer and your time has been purchased by the employer as well as anything produced on either. Any privacy your employer extends to your emails are a courtesy not an obligation, especially if your a public servant. Keep any correspondence on a professional level and always assume that anything you write will be read by the person most interested in embarrassing you, or destroying your career.

Brian H
April 14, 2011 7:43 pm

The functional difficulty with applying the law to enforce FOIA is that the Justice Department has been firmly placed in the hands of allies of the perps.

April 14, 2011 8:10 pm

I would note that UVa has been handling all requests fairly and in the same manner. You can read the relevant correspondence here:
In both the Greenpeace request (which was not pursued, apparently because of cost) and the ATI request (which is being pursued because ATI is willing to pay, at least somewhat for the search and evaluation) UVa was and is cooperative if the requester was willing to pay for the document search and evaluation for broad FOIA requests. I disagree with the cited letter. They are asking for an application of Virginia law consistent with an judgment by UW of Wisconsin law. This is a stretch.
However, I would note, as the letter did, that VA FOIA law does have an exemption for what might be called “work product”. It is up to UVa to interpret this, guided by VA case law.

April 14, 2011 9:47 pm

Why should we give you the emails? You will just try to find something wrong with them…

Steve in SC
April 14, 2011 9:59 pm

What a load of claptrap! If these bozos are going to run uva then they need to fund uva and the good govenor of the commonwealth of Virginia needs to put a brick on the check from the taxpayers.

David, UK
April 15, 2011 2:19 am

Oh, I can’t wait for the shit to hit the fan, I really can’t. And of course, the longer the University and its allies obsfucate, the harder the shit will hit them. And I will LOVE it.

April 15, 2011 4:33 am

As the ACLU said
“Scholarship cannot flourish in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust.”
Our point exactly … hiding data and destroying records has repressed scholarship in climate science … that assumes of course that they are scientists and not con men

Ian W
April 15, 2011 4:47 am

DSW says:
April 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm
Although I share your outrage Mac, I think simply cutting off public money until they comply would work PDQ…

Absolutely true.
The establishments that take public funds whether State or Federal explicitly give up all rights of privacy and ownership in their use of those funds. They are now trying to renege on that agreement. The immediate recourse of State and Federal authorities is to immediately cease all payments and funding to those establishments until the legal requirements of transparency are met.
Once the establishments meet the legal transparency requirements funding should still be withheld until a more binding form of undertaking is made on future compliance with the vesting and transparency requirements.
It should be absolutely clear to all the students, academics and staff that if you are funded with public monies what you do with those monies must be freely open to public view and what you produce with them is public property. Universities and professors have no ‘right of ownership’ or ‘intellectual property’ in anything that is produced using public funds. If that is not what is wanted then by all means use private funding under some other arrangement.

John Phillips
April 15, 2011 6:36 am

savethesharks said “Now the ACLU is the antithesis of civil liberties, UNLESS you are in lock step with their political ideology.”
Very true. A more accurate name for the organization would be either Un-American Civil Liberties Union or American Uncivil Liberties Union.

April 15, 2011 7:13 am

I dropped my support of the UCS about 6 months ago because of their refusal to look at AGW scientifically. They are concerned non-scientists.

chris b
April 15, 2011 7:15 am

I wonder if the ACLU, et al, knows of Michael Mann’s suit against fellow academic, Dr. Tim Ball?

Karen D
April 15, 2011 9:35 am

There’s an awful lot of effort going in to conceal this information!

Mr Green Genes
April 15, 2011 11:01 am

Civil Liberties eh?
I don’t know if they’re civil, but they certainly seem to take liberties.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
April 15, 2011 11:31 pm

Interesting. Has the sewer rat, spewer of disinformation, now attained “not worth responding to” status? Eh, suits me fine, statements that obviously wrong don’t need a response, except perhaps the chuckle I got from reading them. 😉

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