Guest post by Christopher Horner
Michael Mann has made what will, I expect, prove to be his greatest misjudgment yet. He has filed suit against the Competitive Enterprise Institute (with which I am affiliated), a CEI adjunct, National Review Online and Mark Steyn for libel.
The gist of his claim that negative characterizations of him and his activities are actionable is that he has been “exonerated”. No, he hasn’t.
The truth is he has never even been investigated, and has furiously warded off scrutiny of what he and his allies insisted was the missing “context” explaining away Climategate. This suit, if he continues with it, should put an end to that.
I and my co-counsel encountered this talking point after Mann intervened in litigation against the University of Virginia, seeking to block release of certain public records relating to his tenure there (our judge rightly waived that away as irrelevant to applying the law).
Like so much else in the “climate” realm this claim suffers badly under scrutiny. As I detail, in discussing publicly funded academia’s refusal to self-police, in my new book The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal”.
Exoneration requires investigation; investigation requires pursuit aimed at discovering material facts. Two bodies are actually positioned to pursue and produce such facts. Mann’s employer since 2005 and where he worked when the Climategate leaks occurred, Penn State University, has done no such thing. Neither has the University of Virginia where he worked when first organizing against researchers who were undermining his claims.
Panels in the United Kingdom which Mann often cites, the Muir Russell and Oxburgh inquiries into UK taxpayer-funded operations at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), did not even purport to address U.S. citizen Mann, or validate his work. They respectively inquired into “aspects of the behaviour of the CRU scientists” [sic, emphasis in original], “allegations about CRU‘s impact on climate science” and “to understand the significance of the roles played by those involved from CRU” (see, “The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review”); and “to assess the integrity of the research published by the Climatic Research Unit in the light of various external assertions” (see, “Report of the International Panel set up by the University of East Anglia to examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit”).
Mann is not and was not with CRU, and was not party to or the subject of those investigations. His role in Muir Russell was limited to submitting comments, like 110 other individuals seeking to influence matters, despite, according to Muir Russell, authoring the second-greatest number of relevant emails. Mann’s name does not even appear in the Oxburgh report purportedly “exonerating” him.
It is worth noting that a UK FOI request helped uncover how the Oxburgh panel operated to cover over dissenting opinion in the ranks. See, e.g., “How Lord Oxburgh of Persil washed the Climategate team whiter than white (pt 2)”.
As regards the PSU fiasco, otherwise-sympathetic Clive Crook in The Atlantic styles the Muir Russell effort as being “equally probing” as Penn State’s, whose contortions he elegantly devastated, piquantly summarizing them as “difficult to parody”.
Further as I discuss in The Liberal War on Transparency, I have documents in which a principal in that effort indicates it was orchestrated from behind the scenes to avoid certain people being asked certain things, presumably because that would make the desired outcome impossible. See also Steve McIntyre, “New Information on the Penn State Inquiry Committee”.
Also, subsequent to Penn State’s report a U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General managed to interview Eugene Wahl in the context of federal government involvement in Climategate, which PSU incredibly did not. (“Examination of issues related to internet posting of emails from Climatic Research Unit,”, p. 5). Wahl was someone to whom Mann did forward Phil Jones’s (UEA) request that Wahl hide or destroy records. About this, PSU was remarkably incurious, its unexplained decision to not interview Wahl further making a mockery of its supposed inquiry into whether Mann “engage[d] in, or participate[d] in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data, related to [IPCC] AR4, as suggested by Phil Jones”.
We were not given the opportunity to depose Mann in the UVa case and so are unaware what if any knowledge of this he had at the time or since. We do know that PSU’s effort oddly did not meet the same uproar organized against other efforts to scrutinize the record, for example our various FOI requests. Unlike PSU’s proclaimed instigative tribunal, a simple FOIA request presents no ability to sanction Mann, but only threatens the transparency Mann agreed to as a condition of his employment at UVa. Yet announcement of what proved to be a risibly inept PSU effort, if one nominally with teeth, was greeted with no protest and, we are told, complete cooperation including turning over all requested records. That this behavior is inconsistent is something of an understatement.
The National Science Foundation purported to inquire, as well, but worked (almost entirely) from what PSU provided it. So much for that.
[Update Oct 25, by Chris Horner with thanks to Brian Angliss for inviting this elaboration: It equally failed to conduct a credibly rigorous examination of the evidence and/or key relevant factors. For example, the NSF OIG totally disregarded the findings of the NOAA OIG that Eugene Wahl had destroyed documents immediately upon receiving Mann’s email; Penn State apparently, and incredibly, never asked. Nor did NSF examine or report on whether, despite a conflict of interest, William Easterling had interfered with the Inquiry Committee even after supposedly “recusing” himself, interference which I understand stopped the Inquiry Committee from carrying out its obligation to interview critics, including Stephen McIntyre. Nor did the NSF OIG report directly address any of the contentious issues.]
The special silence, the dog not barking about supposed exoneration is the University of Virginia. Not once has UVA argued that it looked into Mann’s activities occurring on UVA’s watch. In fact, the University apparently was deliberate in its failure to conduct an inquiry. We have been reliably informed that UVA’s Board of Visitors suggested the administration get to the bottom of what transpired on Grounds, only to be rebuffed. The argument they received, we were told, is that the school could not guarantee that the findings would not be made public and as such it could not risk an investigation.
We also wished to depose the University on this matter but were denied the opportunity to confirm this. At our most recent hearing, the University stood and, oddly, denied any claim that the board stopped the administration from inquiring. No one has alleged this.
Regardless, as Mann now seeks to again use the courts to push this claim, the reality is plainly otherwise. Mann has never been credibly investigated. By definition he has therefore not been exonerated. In fact, he and his allies furiously oppose all possible independent inquiries — scrutiny of public, yet still-hidden records providing what they all swear is the missing context that would explain everything away as a big misinterpretation. Only release of UVa and other Climategate-related emails has the potential to actually exonerate the Hockey Team.
Read whatever you wish into their fiercely opposing release of precisely that which supposedly would clear their names. With this latest lawsuit, they may find they have no choice.
Christopher Horner is author of The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal” (Threshold, October 2012).
Subject: Anthony, per this counsel from Steve, would you please update the Mann/investigated post?
Date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 10:12 AM
My thoughts for a response were below, but I am going to go with his “update or ignore”.
Would you mind updating, and it’s obviously fine to note this was updated to resolve a correct statement being read ambiguously, re-characterizing it so as to dismiss the analysis, or something? thx cch
From: Steve McIntyre <email@example.com>
To: chornerlaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thu, Oct 25, 2012 1:01 pm
Subject: RE: I’ve got a speech I’ve only sketched out, for which I leave in hour and a half…can you look at/comment on this reply?
I’d be inclined to make a slight update to your post, but otherwise not engage. Perhaps something like this:
The National Science Foundation purported to inquire, as well, but worked almost entirely from what PSU provided it. [Update Oct 25, with thanks to Brian Angliss for inviting this elaboration: It equally failed to conduct a credibly rigorous examination of the evidence and/or key relevant factors. For example, the NSF OIG totally disregarded the findings of the NOAA OIG that Eugene Wahl had destroyed documents immediately upon receiving Mann’s email; Penn State apparently, and incredibly, never asked. Nor did NSF examine or report on whether, despite a conflict of interest, William Easterling had interfered with the Inquiry Committee even after supposedly “recusing” himself, interference which I understand stopped the Inquiry Committee from carrying out its obligation to interview critics, including Stephen McIntyre. Nor did the NSF OIG report directly address any of the contentious issues.] So much for that.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: October-25-12 12:26 PM
Subject: I’ve got a speech I’ve only sketched out, for which I leave in hour and a half…can you look at/comment on this reply?
And add to/improve as you see appropriate, thx:
A Brian Angliss at ScholarsandRogues takes umbrage at my guest post on WUWT detailing the spectacularly overblown nature of claims that Michael Mann has been exonerated, which requires being properly investigated. Specifically, he objects to this statement:
The National Science Foundation purported to inquire, as well, but worked from what PSU provided it. So much for that.
This statement is true, as the NSF document we both reference notes. I suppose NSF “purporting to inquire” is opinion, dependent upon one’s assessment of the effort’s scope and rigor. That they worked from what PSU provided them is disputed by no one. Angliss says “This is demonstrably false”.
To support this Angliss restates what I wrote, by implication, to charge at a strawman and declare it false: I apparently deny “that the OIG’s investigation went beyond the information provided to the OIG by Penn State.” I do not and did not deny it, but linked to the document saying as much.
For example, information I possess indicates that PSU panelists were instructed from behind the scenes to not interview Steve McIntyre, who was in fact interviewed by NSF (although neither report draws attention to its respective ignorance of or consultation McIntyre).
Angliss slays this allegation never made with aplomb. Allow me to rephrase for him and see which turn his umbrage takes: NSF began with (“worked from”) what PSU provided them. It was facially deficient, as Clive Crook among others noted to devastating effect. For example, on its face it was incredible that PSU did not interview McIntyre. Which NSF apparently agreed. They should have written about that interview. It would help support concerns about its rigorousness.
Regardless, mischaracterizing what I wrote to then say that mischaracterization is knowingly false or spreading false rumors is advocacy, not analysis. In fact, in his effort Angliss becomes what he deplores.