The Heartland Institute Sends Legal Notices to Publishers of Faked and Stolen Documents

From a Heartland media release:

FEBRUARY 19 — The Heartland Institute has sent legal notices http://heartland.org/press-releases/2012/02/19/heartland-institute-sends-legal-notices-publishers-faked-and-stolen-docume  to numerous Web sites, blogs, and publications asking them to take down the stolen and forged documents and what it views as malicious and false commentary based on them.

The following statement by Heartland Institute President Joseph L. Bast may be used for attribution. For more information, contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely “at” heartland.org or 312-377-4000.

_____

“We realize this will be portrayed by some as a heavy-handed threat to free speech. But the First Amendment doesn’t protect Internet fraud, and there is no right to defamatory speech.

“For 28 years, The Heartland Institute has engaged in fierce debates over a wide range of public policies – school reform, health care, telecommunications policy, corporate subsidies, and government waste and fraud, as well as environmental policy. We frequently and happily engage in vigorous, robust debate with those who disagree with our views.

“We have resorted in the past to legal means only in a very few cases involving outright fraud and defamation. The current situation clearly fits that description, and our legal counsel has advised that the first step in defending ourselves should be to ask the blogs to take down the stolen and forged documents.”

Joseph L. Bast

President

The Heartland Institute

jbast”at” heartland.org

312-377-4000

_____

The Heartland Institute <http://www.heartland.org>  is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site http://www.heartland.org  or call 312/377-4000.

====================================================================

Here’s the letter being sent to some websites and bloggers, DeSmog Blog and Greg Laden of ScienceBlogs (already in legal trouble over the Tallbloke libel) both got copies.

February 18, 2012

By e-mail to: editor “at” desmogblog.com

By Federal Express to:

Mr. Brendan G DeMelle

Editor

DeSmog Blog

[street address redacted]

Seattle, WA 98117-2303

Re:      Stolen and Faked Heartland Documents

http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-insider-exposes-institute-s-budget-and-strategy

Dear Mr. DeMelle:

On or about February 14, 2012, your web site posted a document entitled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy” (the “Fake Memo”), which is fabricated and false.

On or about the same date, your web site posted certain other documents purporting to be those of The Heartland Institute (“Heartland”). Heartland has not authenticated these documents (the “Alleged Heartland Documents”).

Your site thereafter has reported repeatedly on all of these documents.

Heartland almost immediately issued a statement disclosing the foregoing information, to which your web site has posted links.

It has come to our attention that all of these documents nevertheless remain on your site and you continue to report on their contents. Please be advised as follows:

1.         The Fake Memo document is just that: fake. It was not written by anyone associated with Heartland. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. Publication of this falsified document is improper and unlawful.

2.         As to the Alleged Heartland Documents your web site posted, we are investigating how they came to be in your possession and whether they are authentic or have been altered or fabricated. Though third parties purport to have authenticated them, no one – other than Heartland – has the ability to do so. Several of the documents say on their face that they are confidential documents and all of them were taken from Heartland by improper and fraudulent means. Publication of any and all confidential or altered documents is improper and unlawful.

3.         Furthermore, Heartland views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and blogged about them. Heartland fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.

Therefore, we respectfully demand: (1) that you remove both the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents from your web site; (2) that you remove from your web site all posts that refer or relate in any manner to the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (3) that you remove from your web site any and all quotations from the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (4) that you publish retractions on your web site of prior postings; and (5) that you remove all such documents from your server.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Very truly yours,

Maureen Martin

General Counsel

original Heartland PDF is here: Tier One – DeMelle

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Claude Harvey

Sounds like a lot of work to comply. It lends new meaning to the old saying that “Your guaranteed freedom ends where my nose begins”.

Hunt

Heartland still has a link to the illegally obtained “climategate” docs:
http://heartland.org/policy-documents/death-blow-climate-science
Although if you click the megaupload link, it’s been closed down by the feds for racketeering. Kind of says it all.

Mike McMillan

A good first step. While the taxpayer funded operations so ubiquitous in the climate debate have an obligation to disclose what they’re doing with our money, privately funded Heartland does not. I think Heartland could also claim copyright to all its communications, and use that approach, too.

WOW!
Mr. Brendan G DeMelle lives at [snip . . putting personal details up on a public blog is frowned upon here . . kbmod]
Thanks
JK

cui bono

There seem to be three issues here:
(1) Identity theft / fakery by the person who got the documents, fabricated one, and made them public.
(2) Whether a website is entitled to display a fake document when the source institution has stated it is a fake.
(3) Whether the website is entitled to show stolen documents without any redaction, thus publishing 3rd parties names and personal info on the web when these people had expressly been promised anonymity. What about their rights?
I know little of US law (beyond the inevitable TV series which hit the UK) and await clarification, but whether legal or not, the morality of these sites in doing all of these things, and especially (3), is in the gutter.

Ed Fry

No doubt, the warmist apologistas will babble on about the Climategate e-mails, whistleblowing, free speech, etc., all the while conveniently ignoring the fact that the CRU is a public institution, operating on public funding, therefore rendering almost all of that which it produces (including e-mails) as public property and therefore subject to scrutiny. The Heartland Institute is a PRIVATE entity, and what it does and what it produces internally is of no business to anyone other than the Heartland Institute.
They will also of course ignore the fact that a crime was committed to secure the Heartland documents whereas, thus far, the Climategate e-mails’ disclosure can only be explained as an internal leak – no one has yet been able to prove there was a theft or hack.

Mat

Given the press coverage and the wall to wall nature of the smear campaign I can see why they have done this some may say they should let it pass but this is outright fraud and theft ! if the victims do sod all what will the unhinged nutters do next ?

Mat

illegally obtained?? what you have proof they were illegally obtained? great then give it to the police and we can get that all cleared up ! unless you don’t at which point you are making groundless assumptions and are therefore easy to dismiss !

Ian W

Hunt says:
February 20, 2012 at 3:53 am
Heartland still has a link to the illegally obtained “climategate” docs:
http://heartland.org/policy-documents/death-blow-climate-science
Although if you click the megaupload link, it’s been closed down by the feds for racketeering. Kind of says it all.

And CRU were told that but for the time limitation on the FOI Act in the UK they would have been guilty of illegally withholding the information. Information which should have been in the public domain.
Furthemore, NONE of the ‘Climategate’ information has been shown to be faked whereas it appears that the Hearland institute documents had to be ‘sexed up’ with a poor fake document to make them even worthwhile reading.
It is interesting that you defend this fraud.

Mat

This is the only step they should take as the smears were spread with the help of some big MSM players and they will never admit they are wrong so should be forced to say so ! the victims have a right to stand up against fraud and theft or are some sanctioning the rifling of anyone’s privacy by any means ?

DJ

Keeping in mind my leanings here, this is going to reap a backlash as having the smell of righteous indignation. It will be argued, and correctly so, that Heartland didn’t mind when the Climategate emails were obtained and disseminated in a similar manner.
While the principle differences are that the Climategate emails were done on the public dollar timeclock, and their ownership is quite arguably by the public, and ultimately the content proper was authenticated by the authors, the underlying principle here is the same.
Heartland is going to get hammered with the “good for the goose, good for the gander” argument and their response to that will be important.
That a key document was faked will, or at least should, weigh heavily, I fear the public in general will find little sympathy. That Heartland hasn’t openly advocated the removal of the Climategate files as they are with their own will also be scrutinized.
Personally, I feel Heartland has the high ground, and I sincerely hope they can keep it.

Wade

Hunt says:
February 20, 2012 at 3:53 am
Heartland still has a link to the illegally obtained “climategate” docs.

You still don’t get it. Or you are purposefully using fallacious arguments to trick people. The climategate documents are legally our property because of Freedom of Information laws. However they were obtained is now irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have a legal right to have them. Linking to documents which we have a legal right to is legal. Climategate released information from taxpayer funded emails. Heartland is not taxpayer funded. Therefore, we have no legal right to their emails or documents.
The real question you should be asking is why the people in the climategate emails can be allowed to break federal laws by refusing to release the emails and work done on taxpayer’s time.

Ken Hall

It will be interesting enough to see how the alarmists respond to this, and if they can differentiate between genuine, un-tampered data released in the public interest to add to understanding of how the “science” has been arrived at, most likely by an insider engaged in whistle-blowing Vs. stealing data then maliciously adding false and misleading information to it before leaking it, specifically to defame and cause harm.

MangoChutney

In my opinion, HI should go for the lot of them, accept damages and then give the money back (unless donated from “defence funds”, in which case give it to a worthy charity – ideally One Water, which tries to provide clean water and sanitation for the billions who have no access to clean water).
This way HI will have a good victory over the alarmists without appearing to be greedy and / or out to bankrupt individuals. In the case of the Guardian or the BBC, the damages should be given to the BBC charity Children in Need
JMHO

MangoChutney

@Matt
Documents obtained by posing as somebody else if illegal. Not sure what part of “illegally obtained” you don’t understand
Finding the culprit is another matter, but you can pretty sure HI have given all the details they can to the police and probably IT specialists to help track down the culprit and when they do, well I just hope the guy responsible printed off lots of copies of the fake document to stuff down the back of his trousers, because where he’s going, he’s gonna need it.

Garrett

Hypocritical Heartland. They should just suck it up. If they can condone the fraudulent acquisition of CRU e-mails (regardless of whether you think those e-mails should have been public) then they can’t cry over the theft of their own documents and expect to be taken seriously. Both the CRU e-mail hacking and this Heartland saga are examples of fraud, plain and simple. You can’t justify one without justifying the other. Suck it up.

Ken Hall

Hunt, can you provide any evidence to East Anglia police to back up your assertion that the CRU emails were obtained illegally? Because, the police, in over 2 years, have failed to find any evidence to ascertain for certain IF these documents were obtained illegally or not.
Additionally, these emails placed into the public domain, information which had already been lawfully ordered to be placed in the public domain through lawful FOIA requests. Keeping that publicly paid for data private and secret was unlawful!
That is a wholly different set of circumstances than those now inflicted upon the Heartland Institute.
If you cannot understand the difference, then that would ably demonstrate the difference in cognitive ability between the average climate realist and the average climate alarmist.

MangoChutney

can deskearblog be closed down for publishing copyright material without permission?
isn’t that what recent legislation is for?

[snip . . putting personal details up on a public blog is frowned upon here . . kbmod]
Err, I got those “personal details” from your post on this thread, right after your line “By Federal Express to:”
Assuming your objection was to his address, lets try it without the identifying info:
Google earth shows that DeSmog’s editor lives in a low density neighborhood – shame on him, the climate fascists tell us that we should be living in high density condo farms to have a low carbon footprint.
It doesn’t look like there are sidewalks there either, so he choose to NOT live in a walkable neighborhood. Moe bad carma for his carbon footprint.
Even worse, he is wasting large amounts of land by living on what appears to be a 75 x 100 foot lot. And, double even worse, he has a driveway! Since that type of neighborhood is usually poorly served by transit, he probably drives a car!
But, wait, it gets triple even worse – I don’t see any solar panels. No windmill either.
He doesn’t look very sustainable to me.
Oh the hypocrisy!!!
Thanks
JK

MangoChutney

*desmearsblog

Cadae

If warmists were less gullible and more skeptical they wouldn’t fall so easily for fake documents.

Markus Fitzhenry

DJ says:
February 20, 2012 at 4:27 am
“”That a key document was faked will, or at least should, weigh heavily, I fear the public in general will find little sympathy. That Heartland hasn’t openly advocated the removal of the Climategate files as they are with their own will also be scrutinized.”‘
In a Court of Law, Heartlands response to a separate matter is irrelevant. Public opinion, so far, is in Heartlands favor.

Dan Lee

With Climategate, the police tracked down a suspect blogger and seized his computer equipment from his home.
I wonder if the State will be just as enthusiastic about tracking down this one.

Markus Fitzhenry

Mat says:
February 20, 2012 at 4:22 am
illegally obtained?? what you have proof they were illegally obtained? great then give it to the police and we can get that all cleared up ! unless you don’t at which point you are making groundless assumptions and are therefore easy to dismiss !””
Give it to Police, what proof do you have that the constabulary isn’t involved?

Charles.U.Farley

Hunt says:
February 20, 2012 at 3:53 am
Heartland still has a link to the illegally obtained “climategate” docs:
http://heartland.org/policy-documents/death-blow-climate-science
Although if you click the megaupload link, it’s been closed down by the feds for racketeering. Kind of says it all.
——————————-
Ya know, it does.
But it says a lot more about the warmist sides lack of any ethics or moral compass when it comes to releasing publicly funded information to which the public is entitled to by law, subverting freedom of information requests, data fabrication, bullying, lying, smearing of counter scientific viewpoints, hiding of research to any outside scrutiny due to all that previously mentioned and the general piggery and mendacity presented in posts such as yours as a defence.
Your side of the fence couldnt get the goods either legally or factually, they had to steal them and fabricate something up ( spot the trend line anyone?) which has, as is inevitable in cases such as these, come back to bite ya all on the tushy.
To coin a phrase, “Kind of says it all really”.

John Anderson

No sign yet that the BBC or the Guardian have been issued this formal legal notice. But their actions were arguably far more serious than the small-fry. Presumably HI would need advice from UK lawyers – but there is plenty of time to proceed with all this. If only for the embarrassment factor for Richard Black, I hope HI start on the BBC soon. Black’s behaviour was atrocious, way outside BBC reporting guidelines, and he needs to be called on it.

Scottish Sceptic

Hunt says: Heartland still has a link to the illegally obtained “climategate” docs:
The climategate docs were such a huge public interested that they were investigated numerous times and e.g. the UK information commission stated the FOI law had been broken by those writing the emails.This certainly is a public interest defence to what you correctly point out would be unwarranted publication otherwise.
The Heartland Documents show no law breaking, they show no impropriety. Even if the public interest is “helping the planet” … it is impossible to show anything in these documents that demonstrate the Heartland Institute was not helping the planet.
About the strongest defence anyone can give is: “they didn’t show the institute was doing what we thought would help the planet”. Which if that were applied, would mean no one of earth was entitle to privacy because according to the BIG-OIL funded eco-zealots, mankind is a plague and so none of us by existing is helping the planet.

MangoChutney

@Charles.U.Farley
“Your side of the fence couldnt get the goods either legally or factually, they had to steal them and fabricate something up ( spot the trend line anyone?) ”
hockey stick shaped by any chance?
i’ve often wondered if the hockey stick is actually based on the amount of fabricated data, hence the blade beginning when it did and the projection for even more fabricated data to feed the gravy train

Tony Mach

I think the Heartland Institute went overboard with this. This isn’t the 1940ties (when would havt to ask only the NYT and the WashPost to keep things out of the public), the cats are out of the bag (both the forgery by the alarmists and the real documents) and playing Barbara Streisand isn’t going to help.
Now, if they had asked bloggers to take down obviously false statements (or at least distance themselves clearly from false statements), they would have my full sympathy.

Mat

MangoChutney
Sorry what ? I was replying to Hunt ! so what part have I got wrong or don’t understand ?!

Aside from any real vs fake, and publicly-owned vs privately owned issues relating to Heartland vs Climate, there’s another important difference: The content.
While the climategate emails contain stuff that the team would prefer to keep private, I’m not aware of any really confidential personal & financial information in them. If there is, it hasn’t been widely published or discussed/ For example, I don’t think the climategate details contain something like Phil Jones’s credit card number, or personal bank transactions details, or a list of every paid project he’s done in the past few years.
On the other hand, putting aside the obviously faked strategy memo, the supposedly authentic budgets and so forth do contains lots of personal details of Heartland, it’s employees, and it’s donors. And people are already making use of that information, not only merely by publishing, but for example, by contacting organizations that Heartland has interacted with and demanding they stop.
So what you have is documents obtained by fraud, containing very sensitive information, and then people using that sensitive information – in conjunction with fraudulent information from the faked document – for purposes that are best harassment, but may well fall under torts like tortuous interference and/or interference with contract.

Andy

While heartland has a legal basis, it’s arguable that it better to let these site go on posting the fake docs. It clearly demonstrates how fraudulent these blogs and organizations are. If they want to wear a big sign around their neck announcing their credibility, ethics, and motives, why not? They can paint the scarlet letter on themselves.
Let them go on. Why is one obvious fraud different than hundreds of more subtitle ones. Let’s the big ugly lie meet the light of day and color every other statement they make.

Dave N

“Since that type of neighborhood is usually poorly served by transit..”
Buses run down 15th Ave NW and 8th Ave NW to/from the city. They’re both short walks from the address in question. Given his environmental concerns, I’m sure he uses them often.

Mat

Give it to Police, what proof do you have that the constabulary isn’t involved?
My god look it’s very simple he says something was stolen I say if you have proof had it to the police that has nothing top do with the police being involved now or tomorrow but has a lot to do with making statements of fact where you have non !!!!!!!

Phil C

The headline here refers to the documents as “stolen” yet, five days after their becoming public, Heartland has not confirmed the authenticity of a single document, and stated that only one is fake. There are freely available binary compare software tools that Heartland could have used to verify the authenticity of these documents in just a few minutes and state unambiguously if the documents are stolen or not. But Heartland has chosen not to do that.
The simple response from anyone getting this letter is this: “What stolen documents?”

Colin Porter

Anthony
Does this notice mean that you will likewise have to clean up your previous blogs on the subject in order to remove adverse comments from the likes of Chris Colose, Karl L or even William M Connolley. Unfortunately, you will be damned if you do and damned if you don’t, especially from people like Connolly, a veteran in the area of censorship.

sceptical

Heartland Institute says, ” Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.”
Didn’t take long for Heartland Institute to back off its mission and turn to the intrusive power of government when it wanted something from the government. So much for the statists at Heartland Institutes belief in the free market.

Steve S

Phil C:
Heartland has already stated that the memo was fake. They’ve done so more than once.

MangoChutney

@Matt
Apologies, I didn’t realise you were responding to Hunt – please ignore

The HI legal notice to the blogs and news outlets has multiple purposes. Among them, it is a “high ground” effort to limit the damage to HI’s reputation – a step that also limits the amount of money (“damages”) the criminal will have to pay to HI when caught and successfully prosecuted. While self-serving, amongs lawyers, it is considered a very ethical thing to act to limit the residual harm so as to reduce the cost to the criminal. Some lawyers would let the damages pile up so as to economically destroy the poor sod that stupidly thought they could get away with the fraud.
I say criminal as it is a criminal act to engage in fraudulent activity through the post or by email, in this case by representing oneself as a different person so as to obtain confidential business information.
Nothing like this can be said about the unauthorized EAU email releases.

The Heartland statement icludes this demand:
“(2) that you remove from your web site all posts that refer or relate in any manner to the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents;”
I disagree with this, and I really, really cannot understand it.
Anthony’s paraphrase says that they are after “what [they view] as malicious and false commentary based on [the documents].”
But this demand #2 does not confine itself to certain types of statements.
I suspect that like me, Anthony is not completely comfortable with demand #2, either.
Anthony, respectfully, would you mind clarifying your view of this? Because I think that the position that has been staked out with this demand is ultra-extreme and likely to be pounced on by the other side, if it hasn’t already. I think a clarification from you would be better coming sooner rather than later. This is not the White House where we float trial balloons before deciding what position to take.
Thank you.
RTF

“that you remove from your web site all posts that refer or relate in any manner to the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents”
That’s heavy-handed. There is nothing wrong with “referring or relating to” these documents, particularly to point out that Heartland flat says one is fake and it has yet to confirm the others are accurate copies of real documents (vs. versions slightly edited to make Heartland look bad).

DirkH

The last resort of the warmist fanboys is defending defamation of their enemies with forged documents? And they appear here in droves, calling this defamation “free speech”?
Warmist fanboys, you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if that is your point.

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

Taxpayer funded work that is supposed to be disclosed and publicly available ‘illegally obtained’?? I thought leftwingers were supposed to be in favour of hacking government computers, Wikileaks and all this ‘whose street our street’ stuff?

Fredrick Lightfoot

Dactyloscopy, (n) the examination of fingerprints (The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary)
Fingerprints do get left behind at crime scenes, Even the craftiest of perpetrators forget to wipe up everywhere,
The faker of these documents obviously had not encountered Kleenex.

Spence

Interesting. The Heartland Institute cannot allow itself to appear over aggressive, it needs to maintain its decorum and reputation, although it will certainly and rightly, defend itself and its interests. The warmist camp has already grasped this, but are too busy celebrating their imagined immunity to realise that they are in a very serious situation, especially deSBlog.
I doubt that Heartland will punish deSBlog as fully as they deserve, although, if some blogs do not withdraw specific comments, allegations and links, Heartland may have no alternative but to use a more heavy handed approach. Something they are clearly within their rights to do.

Steve from Rockwood

Garrett says:
February 20, 2012 at 4:39 am

Hypocritical Heartland. They should just suck it up. If they can condone the fraudulent acquisition of CRU e-mails (regardless of whether you think those e-mails should have been public) then they can’t cry over the theft of their own documents and expect to be taken seriously. Both the CRU e-mail hacking and this Heartland saga are examples of fraud, plain and simple. You can’t justify one without justifying the other. Suck it up.

Heartland does not have to suck it up. It is not CRU. If CRU felt their emails had been hacked illegally then why did that organization do nothing? Heartland had information stolen and it was added to a fabrication. Ignoring climate science, any organization that this happens to should act quickly act vigorously to defend itself.
I agree the CRU e-mails were “stolen”. Why CRU has done nothing about it says more about them than Heartland acting in this manner to defend themselves. CRU sucks.

Snapple

If Joe Bast wants to clear this up, all he has to do is post a screen-save of the email sent with the attachments. Then we call all see what documents were actually attached and to whom they were sent.
Perhaps Joe Bast accidentally sent this email to the wrong person and he doesn’t want that Anonymous Donor to know he messed up.

Geoffrey Thorpe-Willett

To John Anderson. I complained to the BBC about the Richard Black article, his response was :
Dear Mr Thorpe-Willett,
Thanks for your email. You will be pleased to know that I did indeed phone the Heartland Institute before writing the article.
However, the basis for your complaint is false as seven out of the eight documents have not been dismissed as fakes – in fact the Heartland Institute acknowledged they were real documents, emailed out from the Institute.
Best regards,
Richard Black
—–Original Message—–
From: geoftw@gmail.com [mailto:automail@metafaq.com]
Sent: 17 February 2012 17:29
To: NewsOnline Complaints
{Feedback Type:} I would like to… Make a complaint
{Complaint type:} BBC Online
{Complaint about:} BBC News Online
{Complaint category:} Factual error or inaccuracy
{Complaint title:} The article was inaccurate as a document was fake
{Complaint:} The article by Richard Black lacked balance or journalistic
investigation. All documents were considered as real without any effort
to verify as such.
In fact at least one document has been declared a fake, did the
correspondent contact Heartland and ask them for a reaction, or did he
just print verbatim without verification?
{URL:} http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17048991
{Reply:} Yes

“(2) that you remove from your web site all posts that refer or relate in any manner to the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; … (4) that you publish retractions on your web site of prior postings;”
Don’t these two contradict one another? How do you do “4” without violating “2?”