NOAA releases tranche of FOIA documents – 2 years later

Guest post by Christopher Horner, CEI.

Today, NOAA finally delivered thousands of pages (hard copy, oddly, despite our request for electronic copies) of additional records that had been withheld during the deliberations over what to produce for a thorough FOIA seeking records relating to the HS, Mann’s appointment, Menne/surface stations, M&M, Climategate and the like.

This is a request from two years ago that has produced thousands of pages of papers and emails (all of the good stuff among which, in an odd coincidence, having already been produced under Climategate) and was the last in a series of four requests in response to which NOAA claimed ‘no responsive records’, when actually referring to records which they possessed but which Susan Solomon had said were really IPCC records and therefore not agency records. The subsequent IG investigation uncovering this response given to others, which we challenged when given to us, affirmed that this claim was not appropriate.

After congressional interest was expressed, NOAA offered differing defenses to us and Congress, what with Congress being subject to certain arguments against release which are not applicable to FOIA (eg seeking to protect the integrity of the scientific review process…), and we being subject to certain FOIA arguments to which Congress is not vulnerable (pre-decisional and the like).

The cover letter and inventory of withheld records, which counsel has been working on for a year, is attached. I have yet to review it in detail; I also will go over the records this week. A very superficial pawing through of the records indicates they’re mostly “IPCC” docs (there are also some emails…remember, these are the docs over which NOAA’s counsel and review panel have been fighting for more than a year, over whether to redact or withhold), and makes one wonder what they were so insistent about. But, as they fought like the devil to keep these secret, there — as the old joke has it — must be a pony in there somewhere.

Here is the cover letter:

CEI_NOAA_Solomon_Memo_and_Withholdings-1 (PDF)

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GlynnMhor

Not just a pony, but perhaps a huge steaming pile of what comes out of a pony…

Luther Wu

Glynn, you get the Gold Star next to your name today.

Luther Wu

by Christopher Horner, CEI
Today, NOAA finally delivered thousands of pages (hard copy, oddly, despite our request for electronic copies)
__________________________
Possible reasons:
a) They think that it will be harder to search and collate information in hard copy
b) It costs more this way and if they don’t spend it, they lose it
c) They can’t figure out how to make data available in electronic format
d) They only did it this way to aggravate you
e) All of the above

Sundance

2 rears? Was this NOAA’s version of the rapid response team?

Ian H

Is there a plan to scan these and get them online somewhere. If you get lots of eyes looking through the documents then the pony won’t have a place to hide.

Peter Miller

Why would any government employee group refuse to release tax-funded data, if it was not of national strategic importance, unless they were trying to hide something?

SanityP

Probably the reason why it took them so long, the printing of all those documents.

pat

And i bet they shuffled the pile.

Edohiguma

I wonder how complete these files really are. The hard copy certainly comes with an idea in mind. It takes far longer to search through printed paper than through a digital version of the same.

Alex

Looking forward to the forensic exam of the compost pile. It’s in there somewhere.
AAA

thallstd

According to the cover letter, 1978 docs are in electronic form and 365 hard copy. Hundreds of others have not been released due to various FOIA exemptions that are allowed. Some seem reasonable (published studies behind a paywall) but 126 docs have been withheld because they contained personal emails or phone #s. Seem like they could have redacted the personal stuff rather then withhold the entire docs.

johnfpittman

I wonder about attachments.

Clyde Edgar

Would be useful to request a response as to why the documents were’t provided as requested,in their native electronic format. Of course,the answer is obvious,to make it difficult to search on key words. Typical Obama government transparency,not.

D.I.

How much could be ‘Faked’ in 2 years?

Doug Huffman

I read at Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF.org. When security agencies tried to choke the review process with thousands of pages of FOIA response then the EFF recruited thousands of volunteers to read and comment from their particular special knowledge.
https://www.eff.org/issues/foia

RomanM

Running OCR on the document using Acrobat Professional can convert the pdf linked in the post to a searchable document.

Congratulations! I am looking forward to the discovery of at least one needle in this haystack. However I wonder how much of it has been faked up by the fake-up team at NOAA. These guys are on standby 24/7 to produce corrupt data.

kramer

If these are posted online, we could crowdsource them…

Mike Jowsey

Also included, according to the postscript in the covering letter, are 8 DVDs, 7 of which contain movies, the eighth containing some 2000 documents.

Steph Carroll

I have a problem with the fact that certain emails are going to be withheld due to personal information being in those emails. Surely FOIA could have released those emails with personal details ie: phone numbers blocked out ? The pony may be in one of those 126 emails that have been exempted from release.

JP Miller

Does everyone really believe they are being forthcoming in providing everything that might be relevant? Personally, I doubt it. They fought hard knowing they could release BS. I don’t “believe” NOAA for a minute. I think it’s a corrupt agency that should be disbanded. Let trhe private sector provide weather information.

wayne

Did they release anything that was not already public (IPCC, Climategate, web data, etc)? Seems it would take a couple of years to sort that out. How would you ever know if what they sent is the whole? And what about the “always upward since 1940” adjustments totally about +0.6°C?

richardM

Why in God’s name would NOAA need to ever have a FOIA request made for anything it does? Even if this was “IPCC” data, the fact that they were warehousing it and possibly referencing it in and of itself should have been sufficient for a data request to be honored. I’m completely baffled by this. I’m not naive, it just stinks to high heaven that a tax payer funded entity would have say whatsoever in a request for data that is publicly funded.
All of this data should in fact be stored on publicly accessible servers so none of this would ever become an issue. This isn’t a public employees data or even a public agencies- it’s the taxpayers.

We all owe Chris Horner a debt of gratitude for his dogged persistence in the face of official intransigence and resistance to openness. I hope something of interest shows up in the tranche of released information. If Chris still has the determination, a further request for copies of the relevant documents with names/phone numbers redacted seems reasonable.

Interstellar Bill

The very same Warmistas constantly shrieking about how little time we have left to save the Earth, about how urgent it is to get on with their program of universal poverty, are of course the very same who take endless years of excuses before they finally release any of their shoddy work, and only under duress at that, Congressional in this case.

davidmhoffer

Uhm…. my understanding of compliance law as it applies to the private sector for certain, and which I presume applies also to the public sector is that this isn’t legal.
Various evidentiary statutes require that any document provided for evidentiary purposes must retain itz original attributes. If the original document was electronically searchable, then what they provide to you must also be electronically searchable. If the original documetnt held meta data (for example, the meta deta in a Microsoft Word document will tell you if it has ever been sent by email) then what they provide you has to include that same meta data.
Unless those documents were created on a type writer or on a computer and printed but never saved, I believe that they have a legal obligation to provide you with electronic versions.

John Blake

Two years, eh? Time enough for a thorough job of scamster editing. Absent a serial log-in/register, no-one would trust such grudging compliance for beans. The burden to prove this dogpile complete lies not on private-sector requesters, but wholly on NOAA’s arrogant, feckless, ill-tempered apparat. As “devoted public servants,” DIPS, these charlatans care for no-one’s interests but their own.

Crispin in Waterloo

If the weather information were to collected and managed by a private concern there would be little left of the argument that it belongs to the public. Perhaps they would let you have what you want at $10 a page. Or $100.

Latimer Alder

Re ‘Pony’
‘Pony and Trap’ is Cockney rhyming slang for cr*p.

Mark and two Cats

Crispin in Waterloo said:
August 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm
If the weather information were to collected and managed by a private concern there would be little left of the argument that it belongs to the public. Perhaps they would let you have what you want at $10 a page. Or $100.
—————————————————-
A bargain compared to what we are paying now – not just in money, but in damage being done to science and society.

jv

One possible reason for paper may be to remove information. For years people have been pulling deleted information out of word documents for example. Also it removed electronic time stamps and some times audit trails on files etc. It is much safer to release paper versions.

Skeptik

Shifty bastards.

About a week ago I reported on the sale of old Tesla’s lab at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, NY
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/15/fun-puzzle-name-these-official-stations/#comment-1058858
I am happy to report that according to latest information, the required sun of US $1.6million of which New York is contributing 850,000 in order to be restored as Tesla’s museum, has been achieved.
More info at: http://mashable.com/2012/08/22/the-oatmeal-tesla-museum/

It’s a known technique. I’ve used it myself.
The interesting stuff will be hidden and inter dispersed in the documents.

Stephen Richards

Sundance says:
August 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm
2 rears? Was this NOAA’s version of the rapid response team?
That’s where the steaming pile came from?

D. Patterson

When I contacted NOAA with the thought of obtaining one or more pages of the weather records I authored some decades ago, I was informed after long long chasing of transffered telephone calls, it would cost something on the order of $40.00 per page to have them retrieved, copied, and mailed. So, a cost of $100 per page is not so far away from current reality at NOAA.

john in oxley

what was it? monkeys…….typewriters. my bad, that was shakespeare. maybe this was the first try!

Man Bearpig

NOAA must think everyone is stupid! either that or they think of themselves as clever, but neither is true.
Why would they not give out documents with email addresses/phone numbers? Do they think you are going to offer them a job ?
As another poster said, that information could have easily have been redacted either at source or by Christopher’s team before publication.

Ian W

RomanM says:
August 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm
Running OCR on the document using Acrobat Professional can convert the pdf linked in the post to a searchable document.

I know companies that do this for a living – there was a huge amount of work transferring UK National Health Service files to indexed and searchable electronic copy.

Alan the Brit

Latimer Alder says:
August 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm
Awe, shucks, you beat me to it! 😉
For the Virginian Colonials: Dickie-dirt = shirt, daisey roots = boots, whistle & flute = suit, boat-race = face, apples & pairs = stairs, frog & toad = road, dog & bone = phone, borasic lint = skint (broke), rub-a-dub = pub, jam-jar = car, trouble & strife = wife (not much used these days), brown-bread = dead, telling pork(ies) pies = telling lies (rather appropriate in some sectors of Climate Science), butchers’ hook = look (hence, have a “butchers” at this, etc), plates ‘o meat = feet, mince-pies = eyes (clap your “minces” on this, etc). There are a lot, lot more that many of us use from time to time. There are many modern versions too & many double-ryming that goes on too 🙂
People who hide something, usually have something to hide!

polistra

Stop blaming Obama (or Bush or Clinton or the current President Who Does Not Belong To My Party) for a permanent characteristic of bureaucracies. Agencies have been frustrating the open exchange of information since the days of Hammurabi. That’s half of their job.
The other half is to exponentially increase their budget and workforce. And handling a request like this helps to increase their budget requirements. Horner didn’t pay for all this legal scholarship, we did.

cedarhill

Get a hundred folks to scan in a 20 pages a day using and use something like MSoft’s word to convert it to text. Even wikihow has examples. A couple more minutes a day to add an index entry with file links. Annoying but should be very doable given the effort to do all those surface stations. And, the UNIX folks can likely create some simple grep and pipe things to convert/auomate/extract.
Imho, it’s just the bureau nitters at work. Imagine a group of folks whose only objective is to NOT screw up and release anything that might be “priviate” or “restricted” or … Then put them in a room for a few years and even the Bysantines would be proud.

Dodgy Geezer

@Latimer Alder
“apples & pairs = stairs,”
Apples and PEARS, please!!

LazyTeenager

ntesdorf on August 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm
Congratulations! I am looking forward to the discovery of at least one needle in a haystack
———
Go for it.
I find it amusing that you guys are convinced that there is this huge conspiracy between climate scientists. The obvious consequence of such a conspiracy of course would be a huge amount of email traffic to coordinate the supposed fakery. But there is no sign of that traffic in the nicked emails exposed by your favorite thing, namely climate gate.
Now you have a bunch FOAI emails and I am betting that again that you will find no evidence of the coordination required to maintain a conspiracy.
It’s pretty obvious you all know that because many of you are trying to lay down an escape route by claiming preemptively that no such evidence will be found due to its hypothetical removal.
I guess you all learned that trick when you where toddlers and had an invisible friend.

mogamboguru

SanityP says:
August 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Probably the reason why it took them so long, the printing of all those documents.
—————————————————————————————————————
We’re still lucky – they could have copied them in handwriting…

Bob

LazyTeenager seems to forget that most of us grew up when coordinating stories involved picking up the telephone, not sending email.

Steve Keohane

LazyTeenager says:August 22, 2012 at 5:28 am
[…]
I find it amusing that you guys are convinced that there is this huge conspiracy between climate scientists.

I find it amusing that you are convinced we hold that ludicrous position. Still lazy after all these years…

kcrucible

“I have a problem with the fact that certain emails are going to be withheld due to personal information being in those emails. Surely FOIA could have released those emails with personal details ie: phone numbers blocked out ? ”
Those documents were “withheld in part”, I assume that means exactly what you suggest. Personal information was redacted, but the rest supplied.

DesertYote

Stupid Brat is once again displaying the cognition dysfunction of those who’s teachers were more interested in creating lefties then teaching kids how to use their brains. Listen kids, Marxism kills!

beng

****
LazyTeenager says:
August 22, 2012 at 5:28 am
Go for it.
I find it amusing that you guys are convinced that there is this huge conspiracy between climate scientists.

****
Naive much, Lazy? It’s far worse than any conspiracy (which is done secretly, not in the open). It’s an entire culture. Duh…