Bizarre: NYT follows AAAS lead on "FOIA requests equate to death threats"

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Chris Horner of the American Tradition Institute writes in with this:

So the American Association for the Advancement of Science, thoroughly rattled by the American Tradition Institute’s FOIA requests of UVa and NASA — and even more so by the litigation forced by the institutions’ respective stonewalling — issued a board statement comparing FOIA requests of climate scientists with death threats. Really.

Naturally this caught the eye of the New York Times, which had a young lady contact us for comment. Right off the bat it was clear she, too, had been rattled by the horrors of our outrageous efforts to …see certain records the taxpayer has paid for and which are expressly covered by transparency laws.

Her stance was sympathetic to AAS’s to the point of temper.

She first reaffirmed a fancy for the apparently absolute truth that a FOIA request for climate scientists’ records is indeed no different than death threats allegedly made in Australia against scientists — sadly, if that’s true, they are now treated to what ‘skeptics’ have experienced for years, as I have detailed.

Well, actually, her disinterest in Greenpeace having created this little cottage practice indicated that this is true only for certain climate scientists’ records. Not the ones whose records Greenpeace is asking her for…that’s just transparency, good-government type stuff.

She continued by wondering, as such, do we condone death threats (really?) and, if not, why would we then also issue a FOIA?

Why that is particularly amusing, as opposed to sad, is that she was shocked by my assertion that Big Science/Big Academia’s objection to having laws that obviously cover their own actually applied to their own was of a part with Hollywood objecting to laws being applied to Roman Polanski. Apparently, by saying this, I was accusing Michael Mann of some heinous crime. Or something.

So see the below as I sent to her and, given the above, I expect you will not see in the story. Surely because it will be too busy explaining the tyranny of Greenpeace broadly filing similar requests. ATI’s statement is here.

—–Original Message—–



Sent: Wed, Jun 29, 2011 1:14 pm

Subject: AAAS release citing ATI transparency efforts

Dear Joanna,
I’m told you called ATI for comment. Below is my response per an earlier inquiry.
Christopher C. Horner Senior Fellow Competitive Enterprise Institute 1899 L St, NW 12th Floor Washington, DC, 20036 +1.202.331.2260 (O)
Several points:
I noticed no relation between our initiative and the Board’s rhetoric until they mentioned us somewhat incongruously.
The notion that application of laws expressly covering academics [is] an ‘attack’ on academics is substantively identical to Hollywood apologists calling application of other laws to Roman Polanski an attack on Polanski. They rather lost the plot somewhere along the way.
The failure to mention the group that invented this series of requests, Greenpeace, informs a conclusion that this attempt at outrage is selective, and therefore either feigned or hypocritical. This is also new; their problem is quite plainly with the law(s), but it is a problem they have, over the decades of transparency and ethics laws applying to scientists subsisting on taxpayer revenue, heretofore forgotten to mention.
Opposition to such laws applying to them is rather shocking. But then, maybe not so much when you also note their failure to comment on scientists being outed as advocating the flaunting of transparency laws.
Finally, AAUP’s code of professional ethics indicates that efforts to manipulate the peer review process are impermissible. Given the overlap and for other reasons we assume this is something AAAS agrees with or at minimum accepts. But this, too, is insincere if such behavior is permissible — or at least, where just cause indicates further inquiry is warranted, it is to be ignored — if the party at issue is one who for various reasons the AAAS or AAUP et al. elevate or find sympathetic. In Mann’s case, if our review of his documents which belong to the taxpayer also happen to exonerate him from the suspicions that have arisen, we will be the first to do so.


Below is the ATI statement – Anthony


Statement from American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center in Response to American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Misleading Accusations Against ATI Today


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Christopher Horner, director of litigation,

Paul Chesser, executive director,


Today the board of directors for the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement and press release that denounced “personal attacks,” “harassment,” “death threats,” and “legal challenges” toward climate scientists. AAAS’s press release specifically cited actions taken by American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center in its efforts to obtain records of Climategate scientist Dr. Michael Mann from the University of Virginia, and its efforts to obtain outside employment records of climate activist Dr. James Hansen from the National Aeronautical and Space Administration(NASA).

AAAS wrote, in part,

“we are concerned that establishing a practice of aggressive inquiry into the professional histories of scientists whose findings may bear on policy in ways that some find unpalatable could well have a chilling effect on the willingness of scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions.”

Response to AAAS from ATI Environmental Law Center director of litigation Christopher Horner:

“I noticed no relation between our initiative and the AAAS Board’s rhetoric until they mentioned us somewhat incongruously.

“The notion that application of laws that expressly cover academics is an ‘attack’ on them is substantively identical to Hollywood apologists who call application of other laws to Roman Polanski an attack on Polanski. They lost the plot somewhere along the way.

“AAAS’s failure to mention the group that invented this series of requests, Greenpeace, informs our conclusion that this outrage is selective, and is therefore either feigned or hypocritical. Their problem is plainly with the laws, but it is a problem they have had over the decades: That transparency and ethics laws also apply to scientists who subsist on taxpayer revenue. This they also forgot to mention.

“Finally, the American Association of University Professors’ code of professional ethics indicates that efforts to manipulate the peer review process are impermissible. Given the overlap, and for other reasons, we assume AAAS agrees with these principles or at a minimum accepts them. But this, too, is insincere if such behavior is permitted or ignored where just cause indicates further inquiry is warranted, as long as the parties at issue are those whose views the AAAS or AAUP sympathize with. In Mann’s case, if our review of his documents which belong to the taxpayer also happen to exonerate him from the suspicions that have arisen, we will be the first to do so.”

For an interview with Christopher Horner, email or or call (202)670-2680.


Reaction is now coming in. Alana Goodman of Commentray Magazine writes in a piece titled

Contentions – Climate Change Skepticism Now Considered ‘Harassment’?

Of course, what the AAAS calls “personal information” actually appears to be public data. The group’s statement comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed against NASA by the conservative American Traditional Institute earlier this month, which is trying to force the agency to release information about scientist James Hansen.

And after years of watching climate change advocates demonizing global warming skeptics, it’s hard to have any sympathy for the AAAS on this issue. Not to mention, previously leaked emails have shown climate change scientists behaving in ways abusive to the public trust. Skeptics should absolutely work to expose any potential corruption in the global warming advocacy community — and the fact AAAS is so terrified of legal challenges is good reason to believe these skeptics might be onto something.


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Words fail me.

Richard M

Sounds to me like the AAAS has something to hide. They are running scared.

The alarmists are getting more desperate. Attacking in all directions like a trapped animal. It is petty, stupid and insane, but do not expect it to stop any time soon. They had a plan – a bad plan – but a plan. They see it slipping away now and they are unwilling to start over.


The New York Times, which doesn’t hesitate to publish state secrets and put lives in danger, is now concerned about the dangers of FOIA requests? That’s choice. “Transparency for me but not for thee.”

Al Gored

More on this here… “Personal attacks — including legal challenges and even death threats — on climate scientists have created a “hostile environment” that could result in a “chilling effect” on much-needed research…”
Commenters just not buying this ‘play victim’ act. Some hopes that this “chilling effect” could solve the AGW problem.


Ah, yes, I remember AAAS’s vigorous response to the Freedom of Information request that UVA honored immediately in the John Christy case. Also, their intervention in the abuse of peer review in for Lindsen, Soon and others. Some Fellows are just better than other fellows. But, I guess consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

Bloke down the pub

….when the law is against you, bang the table…etc

John from CA

New York Times has turned into a rag. I’m not sure when it happened, they used to be respected.
“Her stance was sympathetic to AAS’s to the point of temper.” Its pretty pitiful when a reporter believes the FOIA is anything other than a positive.

nobody in particular

Beginning in 2002, Soon’s funding mostly came from oil companies, including Southern Co (SO.N: Quote), one of the largest coal burners in the United States, and the American Petroleum Institute, according to documents uncovered in a Freedom of Information Act request by Greenpeace and seen by Reuters.

As usual, the degree of hypocrisy is simply staggering.


Easier solution. Make it illegal for ANY taxpayer money to mingle with an organization that does NOT follow the FOIA rules. Any organization that violates or stonewalls FOIA is subject to the immediate incarceration of it’s board of directors until such time as the violation is remedied.
But… this isn’t a perfect world. One can dream.


Just in case anyone thinks that AAAS is not a political association:
At the AAAS Annual Meeting in 2009 none other than Al Gore urged scientists to get involved politically about climate change. According to an AAAS press release, “An estimated 3000 people greeted Gore with a standing ovation….”
“In introducing Gore, AAAS President James J. McCarthy cited the impact of his work: ‘No single individual deserves more credit…for our public acceptance of climate science – public acceptance that has emboldened growing numbers of mayors, governors, senators, and presidential candidates to embrace the urgency of addressing anthropogenic climate change’.”
“During the next 50 minutes, the audience gave him rapt attention.”
“The audience responded with a standing ovation that lasted over a minute, until Gore left the room.”

Steve from Rockwood

She continued by wondering, as such, do we condone death threats (really?) and, if not, why would we then also issue a FOIA?
Four million years of evolution, 70 thousand years out of Africa, 10,000 years of culture and still the world is full of hopelessly stupid people.

Alex the skeptic

Let me see. FOIA means: Freedom Of Information Act. So are the New York Times people against freedom to be informed? If this is so, than Chris Horner et al are Information Freedom Fighters fighting against journalistic Tyranny. I just wonder what the founding fathers would say to all this if they were still alive.

Fred from Canuckistan

She’s a journalist, probably has a Minor or Undergraduate degree in Globalization of Victim Whining and Post Feminist Mumbo-Jumbo Economics.
Journalism is appealing to her and her ilk . . . because math is tough

If the climate scientists were not so involved with a political agenda to keep their feeders, the politicians, happy, they would not have much to fear from a FOIA request. I have begun to question if there really is anything such as a “climate scientist”, or are they merely political operatives pumping out junk. I say this because their main objective seems to be the global control of societies by restricting everyone to a politically correct “energy diet” and carbon emissions ration. Totally evil in nature and intent.

Peter Plail

Interestingly, the AAAS in its statement says “Science advances through a self-correcting system in which research results are shared and critically evaluated by peers and experiments are repeated when necessary.” This would suggest that “experiments” are carried out in the first place. Has anyone out there spotted any climate change experiments that have been performed?


The question then becomes: Why then would a woman from New York Times make death threats by asking for the information the law entitles her to ask for?

Billy Liar

The Alana Goodman article is very well expressed and worth reading:

Ryan Welch

The American Association for the Advancement of Science receives funding, indirectly of course, from George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Their goal is to bring down western society, by destroying western economies, through “climate change” legislation in order to pave the way for a One World Government or as Soros named it, a World Open Society.
I am currently working on a paper that ties George Soros to the AAAS through the New America Foundation.

Dr A Burns

If the Australian “death threats” had been real, there would have been police action. It was simply a political stunt. “Death threats”, “phones being tapped”, “being spied upon” are hallmarks of scammers and nut cases.


In a situation of dealing with hostile journalist you need to be a neutral as possible , give them nothing and they less to lie or be selective about.

Leon Brozyna

Silly me.
There I was, thinking that scientists were mere mortals, subject to the same human shortcomings of fallibility we all seem to experience once or twice in our lifetimes.
Just goes to show you how much I know.
Seems that climate scientists, who have embraced the hypothesis of global warming, are to be considered infallible, somewhat akin to high priests, to be treated with reverential awe for their superior knowledge and intellect which transcends the simple thought processes of us mere mortals, led by the great and powerful Al Gore, bringer of wisdom for the ages.
Excuse me while I use my barf bag.

Dave N

Steve from Rockwood:
In modern times, consumers are being absolved of responsibility, and are being able to pay less attention to detail; that’s why many are becoming “stupider”. Why else would there be a sign on a hairdryer saying “do not use while sleeping”, or one on a car sunshade saying “do not have shade in place while driving”?

R. Shearer

When did the “S” come to stand for “Socialism?”

D. King

Don’t be too hard on her, after years of being lied to, reality is quite a shock.
Joanna, only 5 minutes of your time.

This is what has happened to you. I hope you can see through it!
How can a little FOIA request hurt you, or anyone else for that matter?


Of course the “light of day” is akin to a death threat, for it exposes what these “climsci” people have been doing to waste your tax dollars and my tax dollars. They should all have to show their work and justify what they do–otherwise it should be considered theft, which is a felony. Imprisonment wouldn’t be out of line, methinks.
(Man, they’re getting really, really nervous about all these investigations, as if there was something terribly, horribly wrong with their “science”.)


What a moron. She must have majored in Voodoo.

J. Felton

” How dare you ask to know what we are doing with your money! Thats an attack!”
Seriously, can you imagine if a board of investors for a corporation asked to see where their investments were being spent, and the corporation just said ” No, that’s personal information”?
There’d be he ll to pay!
Not to mention, for the AAAS to condemn personal attacks and threats against them without mentioning the hundreds directed at people like Anthony Watts, Steve McIntyre, and others, ( of which there is plenty of evidence of, Watts showing many examples, ) is nothing short of hypocrisy. And a dangerous example of one that is.


Short version: the AAAS doesn’t like the Constitution, the practice of real science, or the existence of an individual free thought capacity, so much so that it is the one making any significant “death threats” in regard to the questions surrounding Climate Science:
The AAAS seems to be manifesting some of that good old psychological “projection”, then morphed more strongly into gross “paranoia”, and an acting-out which then only results in stimulating even more of what it is reacting to in utter fear and a corresponding sense of threat to begin with – a mere lawful search for facts and an honest desire for the practice of real science; but which, predictably, instead results in the AAAS “justifying” its initial fear by progressively fueling a process that must result in an upward spiral of a truly unhinged positive feedback upon its perceived state of necessarily being increasingly threatened; so that eventually the AAAS instead thinks it is justified in making what is actually more of a truly significant “death threat” against its lawful sceptic “antagonists” – which I think is the cash value of what it just “argued” by making itself and Climate Science the victim instead of the obvious problem, starting with the law.
Strangely, this “thinking” sounds much like Climate Science’s operation of its own GCM Warming Models and, of course, its own quite threatening “scientific method” per se which, despite facts, always strives to escalate the fear that “it’s worse than we thought”, so that the rest of us alone simply “must do something really stupid like committing suicide or becoming enslaved before it’s too late, or else we’re all gonna die!”
What the AAAS claims Classical Liberals want it and Climate Science to do – merely as per our Constitutional law, but also according to the normal process of real science, and according to a normally functioning individual sceptical rationality – is really what they want to do to anyone questioning their Totalitarian “faith”, their need and desire for ultimate control; which is in turn apparently also based upon their collective failure to be in inherent possession of anything resembling a individual’s free-thought capacity or having any desire to adhere to the rules based upon its nature.
In other words the AAAS’s outburst can be seen as a manifestation of a pure bigotry on its part in regard to the “other”, one so strong as to be equivalent to what is usually thought of as bedrock “racism”.
Essentially, imo, the AAAS can be seen as speaking against the indiividual’s inherent free-thought capacity and his or her inherent right to be and think freely, and what this then translates to Constitutionally, and what it means in regard to the practice of real science especially concerning transparency and the need for replication and extremely sceptical, individual inquiry.
Therefore, it seems clear to me that the AAAS is the one making the significant “death threats”, and that everyone knows it, even the AAAS.

Doug in Seattle

The FOI laws enacted over the past 30 years or so were designed by the left to create fodder for their constant legal challenges, which were used to enrich their causes and embarrass and humiliate their foes.
Now the folks who worked so hard to get these laws passed are the target of them. It does make for interesting irony.


The scam is coming apart at the seams. Follow the money >>>
Many ‘important’ people (Gore et al.) and institutions (BBC pensions et al.) have invested vast amounts in this carbon scam. They will fight tooth and claw to preserve the careers of these failed Nintendo (GCMs) players. The con was always going to be extremely difficult to pull off.


The American Association for the Advancement of Scientists is one of the many lobbying arms of Big Academe; it is not, and never has been, a scientific body. And if it’s true that Al Gore got a standing ovation in 2009, then even the “Scientist” moniker is suspect.


I can see a FOIA being perceived as a death threat to the institute, that is hiding things, that will bring about it’s head on the Congressional Budget chopping block.
Transparency behind fortified walls and bolted doors.
Must have hit a frayed nerve or two: Schrill-voiced responders nearly hit the ceiling.
“OMG, what do we do now? -send up smoke signals, and step on it- Got it”

why were no names used in this piece? Who was the cub NYT reporter? who were the board members who signed such a statement?

So the sum. According the New York Time, information from a right-leaning institution, such as the Bush administration, is everyone’s right to know, even if that means putting lives in danger. But asking a left-leaning institution to follow the law is harassment and like a death threat.
You see what they do, right? If I said “everyone who loves to punch puppies and kittens eats at a fast food restaurant. Why do you punch puppies and kittens?” They equated an action they did not like to something really bad based on absolutely nothing and then right away try to put you on the defensive by accusing you doing the bad thing they invented. It is a trick they have learned to silence debate. The best thing to do is attack right back with facts, thereby putting them on the defensive.

Gary Crough

Perhaps these FOI requests are not “death threats” but they may be the next worst thing … threats to the career of scientists who have been a bit less than honest in reporting facts or perhaps a bit stupid in the interpretation of facts. The rights demanded by our most progressive people include the right of scientists to feed at the public trough without direct accountability to low-life taxpayers.

Don Horne

I’m a retired Prof. of Biochemistry. I only regret that I’m no longer a member of AAAS so that I could cancel my membership. Alas, I retired before they started being so blatantly anti-Science. They should change their name so the acronym is AAA of anti-S (AAAaSS), in my not so humble opinion!!

Peter Miller

She is a young girl, who is desperately naive, loves bunny rabbits and is therefore a fertile garden in which Greenpeace can plant its toxic seed.
Death threats? That is more than a bit of a stretch, but I suppose easily believable by the faithful of the AGW sect. All the threats I have seen in recent times is from alarmists, but I suppose that´s OK, because they are obviously fighting for truth, liberty and justice, as preached by a Gaddafi/Mann thinkalike.


Another FOIA….
…what’ll we do?
> I know
Let’s invoke the Phil Jones defense………………..
Even now, weeks later, Jones seems rigid with shock. “There were death threats,” he says. “People said I should go and kill myself. They said they knew where I lived.”

Al Gored

If this ‘playing victim’ act doesn’t work, what next? If they have been watching Seinfeld reruns, perhaps they will claim to have cancer. Or maybe they’ll play the always popular ‘celebrity rehab’ card after being diagnosed with some appropriate addiction… maybe to models?
Anyhow, this is beyond pathetic. I hope the membership protests.

Moira says: June 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Just in case anyone thinks that AAAS is not a political association:
At the AAAS Annual Meeting in 2009 none other than Al Gore urged scientists to get involved politically about climate change. According to an AAAS press release, “An estimated 3000 people greeted Gore with a standing ovation….”

So, according to the AAAS, it’s perfectly OK for scientists to be self-appointed arbiters of policy and (conveniently circumvent the democratic process); yet in their “Statement” they whine:

we think it would be unfortunate if policymakers became the arbiters of scientific information and circumvented the peer-review process.

Too bad that the AAAS is so blind to the known shortcomings of “the peer-review process”.
But speaking of Al Gore (and other high-profile Merchants of doom on the great green ship of fools), Part 2 of Walter Russell Mead’s critique of Gore is an absolute must read. How the mighty have fallen! As Mead notes:

It is a measure of how far Gore has fallen that almost all the scanty attention [his Rolling Stone] piece received focused on Gore’s criticism of what he sees as President Obama’s failure to lead on climate change. Gore, like the global green movement he champions, has fallen by the wayside. Despite terrible weather, despite tornadoes, droughts, food crises and high oil prices, the world conversation has moved on. […]
[and Mead concludes:]
It is a waste of time to talk science with Al Gore. It is a waste of time to listen to him at all. That, apparently, is what the world at long last is beginning to understand. The policy makers and the heads of state who only two years ago were ready to follow Gore up the mountain have softly and quietly tuned him out.
These days, he can’t even get his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone

LIttle wonder that we are seeing such desperate grasping at straws by the likes of the AAAS (and – to quote Mead – the green movement’s “handmaid press”).

The AAAS didn’t “equate” FOIA requests to death threats. They simply said that they had both happened and were perturbing scientists trying to do their job.
On the other hand,
“The notion that application of laws expressly covering academics [is] an ‘attack’ on academics is substantively identical to Hollywood apologists calling application of other laws to Roman Polanski an attack on Polanski. “
is explicit equating. Academics to sex offenders. Great.


At least the AAAS is consistant from one year to the other:
[I still can’t use “paste” !]
Now they have to worry about what shows up in the Prince County Circuit
Court ordered FOI compliance laid on the University of Virginia for the
34,000+ Mike Mann e-mails to fulfill ATI’s request.
You can check out the University of Virginia President’ letter of assurance
to AAUP, ACLU, UCS, et al. to resist the pesky legal requests they’ve gotten
for what’s supposed to be public information:
As I’ve said before, this science “community” fussing and fuming, and complaining
about the nefarious radical right plotting, is all about protecting Mike Mann and
especially holding his early works sacrosanct.
Many, many folks in climate studies, together with reporters, lobbyists,
politicians and publishers have vested interests in making sure the “mountain”
of research using Mann’s works as a “given” hasn’t been built on top of a dunghill.
AAAS and their daughter publications like Science magazine have been
right there on top of the heap for years. Someone burrowing deep into the pile
to see what’s actually down there is worriesome… since they don’t know
what’s really there.
Hence the public histrionics and vigorous arm waving to drum up political
support for legal matters the University, the “Team” and the “Community”
can’t find any other way to contain or control.
I know “There’s something going on…”.
Hold the butter on that popcorn, please.

Theo Goodwin

Actually, this is just more of what the Politically Correct crowd believes. For example, they believe that criticizing someone for being in this country illegally is harassment. They believe that arguing that same-sex marriage is a moral mistake is harassment. They believe that saying “Yeeeeesh” when first served cold lox and bagel for brunch is harassment. Actually, they believe that it is worse than harassment and, in fact, is insubordination. After all, they are the all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful cultural elite. We have seen these people before. Adolf and all his long-term associates held exactly these views. The Kommissars who came to Czechoslovokia in 1968 spent hours explaining to each detainee just how much they looooved them. We can expect this same treatment indefinitely.

Comparing FOIAs to Hollywood justifying Polanski confused the questioner and gave her something else to focus on besides “why shouldn’t tax-payer funded scientists be asked to obey the law.”
Distraction and rapid subject changes are their game, they live in that world, it’s how they think. We won’t win with asimiles or metaphors, since once they have to process that new thought, they’ve lost the thread of the discussion and you’ll end up arguing over the comparison instead of talking about the real issue.
Better to stay focused on the immediate subject at hand and concentrate on bringing them back to it every time they wander off to pile on additional nonsense. Ignore the other nonsense, don’t get drawn in, try to keep them focused. These are not people who think linearly.


Re, Ryan Welch says: June 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm
I just took a look at the New America Foundation and many of their members listed on their page are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR has a rather interesting history if you’ve ever read ‘Tragedy and Hope’ by Quigley…

Robert of Texas

Last I checked, science requires the publishing of the data and methods along with the conclusions so that others can derive the same or different results. So what some climatologists are practicing is NOT science, and AAAS is not acting as a science body.
People who work for public money – be they government or “private” education, must expect scrutiny. This is not harrassment, this is transparency.
How do these people ever earn a degree without knowing simple truths like this?


Too much is being made of this – we know the AAAS has for a long time now acted as a leftist front organization and we should expect no change in that behavior; and the New York Times has a history of selectively employing poorly educated and mentally retarded journalists, who will not question what they are writing and for what reason. In this case, the reporter did not know the difference between a FOIA and a FATWA – the former issued by a taxpayer’s representative – the latter by an ayatollah.


Now you understand why I would not even wrap a dead fish in the NYT and have dropped my AAAS membership after 25+ years. Dumped AGU a while back, and the AMS even before that. I refuse to participate or support dishonesty. I grew up in the NYC area. My dad bought every paper printed in NYC during the 1950s. That is 4 morning papers and 3 afternoon papers. The NYT was a garbage can then. It has not gotten any better with time.


or FATWAH, as may be the case.