A Climategate milestone – will 'FOIA' make the leap?

Over the weekend we marked the third anniversary of Climategate, which occurred on November 17th, 2009. A timeline of events can be read here.

Today marks the anniversary of my most famous story, the one written hastily on my laptop at Dulles airport, published just moments before the door to my flight home to California closed, leaving me with over 5 hours of sheer offline terror wondering “what have I started?”. For all I knew there would be police waiting at the airport for me in Sacramento.

That one story created a much needed firestorm, and I’m proud to have played a part in letting the world know just what sort of people we are dealing with.

Now, as we reported this summer: Climategate investigation closed – statute limit looms, cops impotent.

The Norfolk constabulary has called off the investigation saying:

Norfolk Constabulary has made the decision to formally close its investigation into the hacking of online data from the Climate Research Centre (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.

The decision follows a comprehensive investigation by the force’s Major Investigation Team, supported by a number of national specialist services, and is informed by a statutory deadline on criminal proceedings.

While no criminal proceedings will be instigated, the investigation has concluded that the data breach was the result of a ‘sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet’.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Superintendant Julian Gregory, said: “Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.

“The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging.

“However, as a result of our enquiries, we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet. The offenders used methods common in unlawful internet activity to obstruct enquiries.

“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

The security breach was reported to Norfolk Constabulary on 20 November 2009, following publication of CRU data on the internet from 17 November onwards.

An investigation was launched by the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, led by Det Chief Supt Gregory, with some support from the The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, the National Domestic Extremism Team and the Police Central e-crime Unit, along with consultants in online security and investigation.

The investigation, code-named Operation Cabin, focused on unauthorised access to computer material, an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which has a three year limit on proceedings from the commission of the original offence. It has been concluded by Norfolk Constabulary, in consultation with The Met, that due to outstanding enquiries this is now an unrealistic prospect.

Norfolk Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Hall, Protective Services lead, said: “Online crime is a global issue. While law enforcement agencies continue to develop our response to emerging threats, it falls upon individuals and organisations to be alert to this and and take steps to mitigate risk as far as is practicable.”

The “statutory deadline” referred to is three years, and that is now expired. With the statute of limitations now passed, and with no threat of criminal prosecution, will the person known as  “FOIA” reveal him/herself? Or, will this be one of those long ongoing mysteries like the famous “deep throat” that went on for decades before finally being revealed?

Whether you choose to reveal yourself or not, we all owe you a debt of gratitude.

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Duncan B (UK)

I’m Spartacus!

RC

Well! there it is in Black and White….
……It was an inside job.
RC

Mum’s the word

Gary Pearse

I’m sure there are more gems to be released. It is a well that must be drying up, though, as the climatastrophists switch to dummy servers and other sneaky techniques – Gee, why don’t they just clean up their acts?

Dodgy Geezer

If it’s an inside job they surely aren’t going to reveal themselves.
Not while they have a salary or pension still at risk…

tallbloke:
You mean it was Phil Jones’ mum wot did it?

Ch.E

There’s also that small matter of the encryption key.

Dave in Delaware

…we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet.
———————–
Or not.
It seems more likely that the FOIA file was compiled by the UEA information officials, working with their IT support. There was an on-going FOI request covering this very material, that was due for release, after months of stonewalling. At the final appeal, the FOI case was decided in favor of UEA, so UEA were not compelled to release the already collected file.
With the FOI file already assembled, it would have been simple for someone to copy the file out to an unprotected server (not requiring a sophisticated and orchestrated attack). It could have been anyone with access to the file, including the UEA information official him/herself.

Resourceguy

I’m Spartacus!

Gerry Parker

Yeah, I’m thinking the thing to do is keep quiet. No good deed goes un-punished.

Kev-in-Uk

”I’m Brian and so is my wife”

Jimmy Haigh

Just browsing through the original posting from 3 years ago i found this.
Scott A. Mandia says:
November 20, 2009 at 7:46 am
“I wonder if Fred Singer and Christopher Monckton, after polishing off their fake Nobel Prizes, sent out these doctored emails?”

Ed Reid

We are still waiting for the “Easter Egg” to emerge. Depending on its contents, these “smoldering embers” could become a “firestorm” again.
One can only wait and hope!

Jimbo

If you won’t reveal yourself then release the key 3 days before the next CAGW summit.

John W. Garrett

Dear FOIA,
If you’re reading this, THANK YOU !!!

eyesonu

FOIA has much more work to do so we should all confess.
I am FOIA and you are FOIA and the guy down the street is FOIA. Hell it seems that everyone is FOIA. Shout it out!
Maybe Lisa Jackson w/ EPA is FOIA as she seems to know all about alias internet accounts.

tallbloke says: “Mum’s the word”
FOIA is somebody’s Mum? Whose?

Reveal yourself and you are quite likely to be entitled to a lifetime supply of Steve Milloy’s “I’m FOIA™” t-shirts. http://junkscience.com/2012/01/12/breaking-climategates-foia-identified/

john robertson

When dealing with vindictive stupid people anonymity is recommended, thanks FOIA and password please, whenever you are ready.

We’re on pace for 4°C of global warming. Here’s why that terrifies the World Bank.
Reports the Washington Post

Bob Tisdale says:
November 19, 2012 at 8:39 am
tallbloke says: “Mum’s the word”
FOIA is somebody’s Mum? Whose?
==================================
Perhaps the password is “mum???

I just made this comment on the BH post entitled ‘Without Limitations’.

The CG1 info releaser(s), the self-named ‘we’,
might have reasonable doubts about receiving an un-biased legal process in the UK if identified publicly . . . SOL or no SOL.
I would have doubts.
John
Nov 19, 2012 at 4:24 PM | John Whitman

John

Yea, my thanks to Mum too.

Brian Johnson uk

Bring on the Third tranche…………

The statute of limitations may have expired on the CRU (break-in, hack, leak), but what other legal clocks remain ticking? Did the publication of the Climategate II emails break any laws? Is the possession of the Climategate III package, even encrypted, a crime? Even if it is difficult to win a conviction, it is easy to prosecute if there is the political will to do so.
Like Deep Throat, the identity of FOIA should go to the grave of all involved. Somewhere in cyberspace there needs to be a “Tomb of the Unknown Freeman“

I always felt that the police concluded it must be a hack because they couldn’t figure it out. Have you ever called tech support? All they are trained to do is read down a list and if that list doesn’t solve the problem then the problem must be you. I’ll bet police procedures are the same way, especially when something is clearly complex. Go do a list, if that list doesn’t discover who did it, then it must be a “sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack”. Because of the way the file is, I think it is an inside job and the person or persons who released it are keeping quite lest they face the well-funded wrath of Big Climate.
Big Climate is powerful and unforgiving unless you switch to their side. It might be best for FOIA to stay a secret.

davidmhoffer

Whoever FOIA is, they are a true humanitarian, once who turned the course of history. I doubt the significance of what FOIA did will truly be understood for several decades…. if ever. If today’s journalists don’t “get it” (and they don’t) we’ve no reason to believe that history will be recorded with FOIA as anything but a footnote. Unless….
FOIA wants to be fabulously rich, and I do mean FABULOUSLY. All s/he need to is get to a country with a well run legal system, a government willing to listen, and hire a very very very expensive attorney. Big press conference. Donations for the legal defense fund would roll in by the millions, only to be dwarfed by the cash to be raked in from speaking engagements, book deals, and movie rights.
And if FOIA turns out to be an establishment climate scientist blowing the whistle (like an actual member of “the team”) it ought to be worth plenty.
I’d donate just for the simple pleasure of watching Michael Mann pee himself.

davidmhoffer

FOIA wants to be fabulously rich, and I do mean FABULOUSLY. All s/he need to is get to a country with a well run legal system, a government willing to listen
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Meant to put (ie Canada) in there….

“It seems more likely that the FOIA file was compiled by the UEA information officials, working with their IT support. There was an on-going FOI request covering this very material, that was due for release, after months of stonewalling. At the final appeal, the FOI case was decided in favor of UEA, so UEA were not compelled to release the already collected file.
With the FOI file already assembled, it would have been simple for someone to copy the file out to an unprotected server (not requiring a sophisticated and orchestrated attack). It could have been anyone with access to the file, including the UEA information official him/herself.”
This was our first theory which we quickly dismantled.
1. The only active FOIA at the time was an FOIA appeal for CRU data.
2. The mails cover more than that FOIA, in fact one would not search mails
for that data.
3. There is no evidence that Palmer used tools to collect mails. They already had
a defense to deny mails.
4. The mails contain “cruft”. out of office replies etc.

Of interest.
FOIA’s last public response on climate audit was
“No deal was done”
Subsequent to that a Jones Co Author, who had not published with Jones or anyone else in quite some time–over a decade, had his name appear once more on a Jones paper. Perhaps, its unrelated.
If FOIA is an outsider you’ll see a release of mails
If FOIA is an insider– 2 cases:
A) the deal was done, and you’ll see no more mails
B) the deal was not done and the releases will continue.

Coach Springer

I would think there are all manner of consequences other than criminal should FOIA be exposed. Loss of compensation, lawsuits, character assassination and harrassment, Greenpeace in your garbage, green terrorism. I doubt if FOIA is so pure as to be unassailable from even conjecture and it would focus attention away from the content of E-Mails. Maybe later after they’ve all been released and when people are ready to forget. Then it would serve as a reminder.
Could it be a small group (2 – 4) of insiders and internet security specialists working together under advice from an attorney?

H.R.

My guess is that FOIA has already published the password, you just need the pointer to where it is. Why? If someone stumbles across it, then it’s time to publish. If no one stumbles across it then I’d think it would be easier to remain anonymous by dropping dribs and drabs that make no sense by themselves but steer a few people towards discovery of the key. Otherwise, FOIA has to throw the key out and say “Here it is!” which will of course produce a mad scramble to backtrack to FOIA.
My guess is as good as anyone’s, eh?
BTW, Thanks, FOIA.

The encrypted bundle of documents released with ClimateGate II has a limited shelf life. In two more years, after the publication of AR5, I don’t see how their decrypted contents could make much of a ripple much less a splash.
Now that the US Election is over, the CAGW crowd is in full voice. Lot’s of stuff was prepared, like the World Bank stuff and EPA regulations. They are riding the wave of Sandy to full effect.
ClimateGate may turn out to be only a speed-bump on the Road to Serfdom.

Well if that’s what they think so be it. However Pointman’s thesis (here) that it was an inside job, still resonates with me.

Gary Pearse says:
November 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

Gee, why don’t they just clean up their acts?

That would require integrity. I’m pretty sure that most of them are unfamiliar with that term.

H.R. on November 19, 2012 at 10:01 am
My guess is that FOIA has already published the password, you just need the pointer to where it is. Why? If someone stumbles across it, then [ . . . ]

– – – – – –
H.R.,
It would be clever, in my view, if the encryption key for the unread CG2 release file was placed somewhere online in the past year. Then just a vague hint or rumor about where it is would be enough to find it.
This idea would make a great plot for a novel. The late novelist Michael Crichton would have had fun with it.
John

Kev-in-Uk

I just wish there was something someone could say to make FOIA realise that IF there is more important stuff in the encryted file(s) it is vital to get it out now. If it is left much longer, the whole climategate affair will have long since passed from the average memory – and – as every day passes, the ‘team’ are rebuilding their defences and indeed preparing further advance attacks.
Perhaps, s/he was hoping that the science would prevail – which to a degree it has, but only really due to the lack of warming – the peddlars are still peddling! Without direct removal of those responsible for the ‘peer’ reviewing and (false) AGW advocacy – all we have at the moment is stagnation whilst they regroup.
IF the contents are insignificant, then we should just ignore them as false hope – and concentrate on just getting the real science picture out there.
And FOIA – if you are reading/watching – (which would be nice to believe) – I would just make one last appeal to your (presumed) reasoning. If the original release was a ‘bow shot’ and the second release a ‘confirmation of intent’ – in order to receive some benefit or other – I find that rather sad, but so be it. If, on the other hand, you were indeed working from a stance of decency and belief that you NEEDED to do something – then I ask simply, why do you feel the need is now less? – the AGW falsehoods are still out there and being promoted as hard as ever, and with AR5 on the cards, the world in economic recession, etc – the last thing we need right now is wasted effort.
regards
Kev

Kaboom

While it would satisfy my curiosity as to my guesses at the source of the leak and as much as I’d like to know what’s in the rest of them I think we’re better served having FOIA keep his job at UEA where he has the opportunity to collect more juicy bits for release at a later time when it may provide more leverage against the cabal.

What still continues to amaze is that hardly anyone has even heard of Climategate outside of WUWT-like circles. My colleagues certainly haven’t.

Skiphil

Dear RC/FOIA,
Should you be reading this thread (one can hope)…. Thank you for all that you have contributed to date, in the face of the grave personal risks involved. Please do recognize, though, that the agents of deception and obfuscation have remained remarkably brazen and resilient. Despite some modest course corrections we have seen primarily whitewash faked “inquiries” and a lot of dissembling from “The Team” and their apologists.
If you do possess more revealing items among the many remaining emails it would be great to expose the miscreants in a Climategate III before the issues are regarded as too stale and dated….

Old Nanook

I am Spartacus!!

See - owe to Rich

Isn’t it high time that someone created a FOI request of release of the evidence that the Norfolk Police claim to have that it was an outside job. If the statute of limitations has expired, then such evidence should no longer be considered sub judice. And the reaction to such a request would be very telling.
However, I suspect that any evidence that has actually been collated has been done by a specialist agency rather than the police, and that agency might well have a “national security” exemption to FOI requests.
Rich.

Phillip Bratby

Is it the real RC operating here, at the Air Vent and at Bishop Hill? He likes dropping hints.

I’ve just been over to Pointman’s place (http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/so-was-climategate-a-hack-after-all/) and read the .pdf of the Norfolk Police briefing at the end of Operation Cabin (investigation of UEA ‘hack’)
In the briefing was this statement:-
“We identified that the attackers breached several password layers to get through and they got to a position where they employed different methodologies to return the data. We identified a significant quantity of data that was taken in this way, certainly in excess of that which was subsequently published in the two files in 2009 and 2011. Emphasis mine
To me this would indicate that there’s a lot more still ‘out there’ than just the encrypted Easter Egg in the 2011 release!

Vince Causey

Did anyone actually think “plod” was going to be a match for the hacker, whoever he/she may be?
Plod don’t can’t even say if it was a leak from inside (no evidence it was – no evidence it wasn’t).

Otter

The unknown person who left a rose at Edgar Allen Poe’s grave each year, stopped doing so this past year.
Let’s hope FOIA leaves us some more roses.

@Dave in Delaware says: November 19, 2012 at 8:10 am
Yup. Sounds a possibility. Given that : what do you think the remaining encrypted files might contain – and why are they encrypted, if this is FOI?
Just wondering aloud. One lives in hope of Climategate III.

auto

FOIA – my thanks, with, for sure, those of many, many others’.
Climategate – insider or outsider – I don’t know.
Off thread [maybe?]
Friends of mine – working in a [non-UK] Government linked strategic [Commercial] company -recently suffered [at a – local – week-end] a devastating targeted, malicious cyber-attack.
Plainly from heavy-duty attackers.
For a week, they ran on ‘off-site’ email addresses – hot mail or gmail etc. Over a month
before they had desk access to their emails.
Remote access – possibly before Xmas.
Thie IT Security folk are renewing e v e r y t h i n g electrical – from the actual wires up, I am advised. Screens, printers, servers, DVDs, keyboards, you name it.
Skips and skips of the stuff.
My – limited – IT contacts all – without exception – suggest that this was an ‘insider’ attack. [Possibly recently ex-insder; more likely (then) current].
UEA – draw ones own conclusions, I suppose.
And Mr Plod, generally, is little more IT-savvy than I am.
There may be specialist units [and if they were brought in, might that suggest that ‘someone, somewhere’ is a mite concerned about the UEA emails??].
But generally, Plod [UK] struggles with IT. We get a story a fortnight that some teenager has cracked a crime by IT [when the Thin Blue Line haven’t] – often in hours.
Plod on the ground is committe.
Higher Plod is a political animal. Nuff Said?

Skiphil

IANAL in any jurisdiction, and I realize all the legal details are quite different, but if the late Peter Wright was able to cash in on publishing “Spycatcher” about MI5 in the face of the Official Secrets Act then surely RC/FOIA can find a nice way to both publish (make ooodles of money) and expose more climatology and official wrongdoing…… of course, Peter Wright went all the way to Tasmania/Australia to be beyond the reach of UK laws, but there must be close venues such as Canada or USA which could offer RC/FOIA both wealth and a new lease on life…..
Peter Wright vs the UK’s Official Secrets Act

“…The British government did all it could to suppress publication, under the pretext that such a publication would be in violation of the Official Secrets Act. They brought an injunction against Wright in Sydney. The Australian court, however, ruled against the British government, thus turning a book that might have had moderate success into an international best seller. Furthermore, the verdict not only vindicated Wright but also represented a victory for press freedom….”

ocker

My theory – the zip file is secured because it shows the identity of FOIA.