Gagged? Not Hardly.

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach — Crossposted from my blog, Skating Under The Ice

The media is all abuzz with claims that the Trump Administration has “gagged” or “muzzled” the EPA. Under the headline

Trump administration seeks to muzzle U.S. agency employees

the news agency Reuters reports:

On Tuesday, a source at the EPA said that staff had been told by members of the Trump administration not to speak to reporters or publish any press releases or blog posts on social media. EPA staff have also been asked not to publicize any talks, conferences, or webinars that had been planned for the next 60 days, the staffer said, asking not to be named.

trump-gagged

The part that folks in the media don’t seem to understand is that this is standard business practice. If you run a large business you can’t have every hothead from the shipping department spouting off to the New York Times about how mean the bosses are. As a result, most large businesses have equivalent policies regarding publishing or discussing the internal business of the organization, particularly with the press.

These standard policies of large businesses generally mandate several things.

First, employees can’t talk to the press without prior authorization from the public relations department. They are told to pass all questions on to the PR department.

Next, as far as social media goes, employees are forbidden from doing anything that brings negative publicity on the organization. In particular, they cannot post on social media about what goes on at work.

Finally, it is totally verboten to discuss the future plans of the organization with anyone anywhere anytime. That is the job of the public relations department alone.

These are perfectly commonsense regulations. They are not “gagging” anyone. They are bog-standard business practice for very good reasons, and if the government employees don’t like these regulations they can go to work for Apple …

… oh, wait … Apple has exactly the same kind of policies about contact with the press and disclosures on social media, and for exactly the same reasons …

w.

PS: If you comment, please QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS you are referring to, so we can all understand your subject.

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200 thoughts on “Gagged? Not Hardly.

  1. On Tuesday, a source at the EPA said that staff had been told by members of the Trump administration not to speak to reporters or publish any press releases or blog posts on social media

    I would imagine that they were told exactly the same thing by the Obama Administration [and by all administrations going back in time]. So why is this news? Except that the unnamed ‘staffer’ may have had an agenda and was insinuating some nefarious reason.

    • Thanks, Leif. I don’t think that the Obama folks cared much if people talked out of school, since they were all singing from the same sheet of music. They were all wild-eyed climate alarmists, so what’s the problem?

      Now, however, they will have to follow what as you point out are the normal rules for this kind of situation … let the wailing begin.

      w.

      • For several years I was publishing papers with a coauthor who worked for the Air Force. All our joint papers had to be vetted and approved by the ‘administration’ before publication.

      • Actually, I suspect that during the O’Bugger Abomination it was the Non-Warmist employees that were “muzzled” simply because they would NOT sing from the same sheet music. You know – the ones that knew that many of the EPA dictates were (and are) based on crap model “data” and on Alarmist agendas.

      • Actually they did – except in the case of the Obama Administration they were called whistleblowers and in defiance of the federal statute that protects them, they were persecuted. As Obama had the backing of the press, they reframed them as malcontents. There will be some in any organization, and it is just the PR of the press that defines what they are called.

      • Tell that to Alan Carlin, who was hounded out of the EPA for questioning the research behind the “endangerment finding.”

      • The best thing Trump could do would be shut down the EPA and have congress enact a new agency with a very strict and narrowly focus mission.
        This goes for most of the other bloated ridiculous agency’s as well.

      • EXCEPT – I can guarantee that if any federal employee had used social media to cast doubt on global warming, or the state of illegal immigration (even using the words “illegal immigrant”), or anything else that contradicted Official Govm’ Policy in the Age of Obama, they would have found their employment terminated within 24 hours.

      • The Obama Administration never had to worry about chatty employees because the media had Obama’s 6. They never reported anything contrary to Obama’s wishes or interests.

      • Also they shouldn’t be surfing on company time or equipment. No wonder their productivity is so pitiful.

        G

      • Having had some experience with federal employees and the difficulty in sacking the dead wood, hopefully violation of this policy will be grounds for dismissal. Time to start thinning the herd.

      • wws said” “EXCEPT – I can guarantee that if any federal employee had used social media to cast doubt on global warming, or the state of illegal immigration (even using the words “illegal immigrant”), or anything else that contradicted Official Govm’ Policy in the Age of Obama, they would have found their employment terminated within 24 hours.”

        Prove it.

    • It isn’t just Federal Government and businesses. Employees at the state social services agency I worked for have been under instruction not to speak to reporters but to refer them to specific individuals within the agency for years.

    • I used to be a federal employee with the Social Security Administration. The rules were the same under
      Reagan, Bush1, Carter, Bush 2, and Obama. This is a non news story.

      • … and because the MSM knows that not everyone knows that this is not news, thereby causing the uniformed to be ill-informed about the Trump administration.

    • Obama did exactly the same thing. Two examples:

      Tom Vilsack, President Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary in 2009:
      “In order for the department to deliver unified, consistent messages, it’s important for the office of the secretary to be consulted on media inquiries and proposed responses to questions related to legislation, budgets, hot-button policy issues and regulations. Policy-related statements should not be made to the press without notifying or consulting with the office of the secretary.”

      Michael Young, the acting deputy secretary of the Agriculture Department who wrote this year’s memo to employees more recently said:
      “This memo is not some sort of creative writing exercise. This is almost exactly what was issued eight years ago. I just updated it a bit.”

    • The global warming scammers have a much greater problem than allegedly being gagged.

      Global warming is a blatant scam that cost society tens of trillions of dollars.

      I suggest that the costs of this scam are so high that civil RICO lawsuits will become commonplace in the USA, and some of the top warmist scammers will end up in jail.

      We can assume that the paper shredders and hard-disc erasers are working overtime, but there will still be a digital trail (and lots of time in jail?).

      Regards, Allan

      • 2 Peter C.
        When outlining the rules of confidentiality in the UK pubic services, you have overlooked some critical information.

        1. What is a whistleblower
        You’re a whistleblower if you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing. This will usually be something you’ve seen at work – though not always.

        The wrongdoing you disclose must be in the public interest. This means it must affect others, eg the general public.

        As a whistleblower you’re protected by law – you shouldn’t be treated unfairly or lose your job because you ‘blow the whistle’.

        You can raise your concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or you believe will happen in the near future.

      • One of the best examples of whistleblowers were the employees who exposed the corruption inside the VA system, and who were systematically harassed and subsequently terminated by the Obama adminstration for being “divisive”.

      • You can raise your concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or you believe will happen in the near future.

        There is an endless supply of incidents that “may happen in the future” as well as an endless supply of people wishing to raise alarm about incidents that “may happen in the future”.

      • “As a whistleblower you’re protected by law”

        In your dreams!

        I can show you at least two who were anything but.

        As a matter of interest, have you ever signed the Official Secrets Act?

        I very much doubt it…

  2. “The part that folks in the media don’t seem to understand is that this is standard business practice. “
    So how does FOIA fit in with standard business practice. I thought the local enthusiasm was for everyone to be able to read every public employees emails, reports, letters etc, on request, and within 2-3 weeks at most. It’s everyone’s right ot know. Yet they are now not allowed to speak to anyone?

    • FOIA has nothing to do with business.
      The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government.

      • That’s why my favorite charity is JUDICIAL WATCH—- the Masters of FOIA Requests. Just ask Hillary.

    • Nick Stokes January 24, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      “The part that folks in the media don’t seem to understand is that this is standard business practice. “

      So how does FOIA fit in with standard business practice. I thought the local enthusiasm was for everyone to be able to read every public employees emails, reports, letters etc, on request, and within 2-3 weeks at most.

      Exaggerate much?

      It’s everyone’s right ot know. Yet they are now not allowed to speak to anyone?

      I don’t see what the problem is with the two.

      a) We have the right to see what they are doing, upon filing a proper FOIA request, and within bounds, and

      b) They don’t have the right to talk out of school or mouth off to the press.

      Where is the contradiction? Where is the issue? You’re comparing apples and walruses.

      w.

      • Willis,
        “Where is the issue?”
        I think your comparison of EPA to businesses is the apple walrus. EPA is subject to FOIA, which is supposed to achieve transparency. WUWT has been an enthusiastic supporter of the public’s right to see inside government organisations. And of course, of whistleblowers inside EPA. This latest edict is not advancing transparency. It is limiting the public’s access to information.

      • “Transparency” does not include allowing every damned fool Tom Dick and Harry to spout off to the “fake news” outlets with a load of trash, because the incompetent fools will publish that garbage without question.
        The freedom of information act requires some effort (and often expense) on the part of an inquisitor, and the response is audit able.

      • EPA is subject to FOIA, which is supposed to achieve transparency. … This latest edict is not advancing transparency. It is limiting the public’s access to information

        FOIA is a formalized process to allow controlled public access to governmental information. This process allows for withholding some information under specified circumstances. If the EPA people want to communicate with the press, let them do so by complying with FOIA requests, subject to the limitations of that process, rather than saying whatever they want without it being vetted in any way.

      • “let them do so by complying with FOIA requests, subject to the limitations of that process, rather than saying whatever they want without it being vetted in any way.”
        Affection for the limitations of the FOIA process is rather recent here.

      • Nick Stokes,
        Oh come on will you? There is a vast difference between a legislated, regulated process like an FOIA application and subsequent information release and an ‘off the record’ leak or document release that is then selectively reported. Just the ‘secretive’ nature of the leak is plenty of basis to insinuate some sort of nefarious behaviour by the organisation or person in the cross hairs.

        Its just a variation on that great (and apparently true) episode reported by HS Thompson in ‘Fear and Loathing on The Campaign Trail 1972’. At a campaign strategy meeting, it was proposed to allege a political opponent has sex with his farmyard animals (pigs in fact). One staffer says ‘you can’t accuse him of that!!’ to which the proponent responds, ‘the hell we can’t and what’s more lets watch the SOB try and deny it!’ ( i.e. with the cameras zoomed in and a mouth full of microphones.

        The point being the leak enables an accusation to be made whether it has any merit or not and to be made in a gotcha situation. Re the matter in hand it seems clear this is an apple that has been presented as a walrus and lets watch the Trump Whitehouse deny its a walrus while the media shout accusations at them and zoom their camera lenses.

        Nick, you are carrying on like a complete bigot.

      • PS

        ‘denier’ is just the 21st century version of ”pigfiddler’. Lets watch them deny their denialism. Its almost the perfect accusation. The accusation itself undermines any response as the mobius strip of self referenced implied guilt returns to undermine any counter argument.

        There is a leak ergo those leaked against must be guilty of something ergo their defence is obviously a lie.

      • I think this has got off the real point. FOI is not the relevant point of this question, it is the basic rules for government employees, be they direct or indirect. Quoting from the UK rules (The Civil Service Code) which I cannot believe are much different in the US:

        [In public Service] you must not:

        misuse your official position, for example by using information acquired in the course of your official duties to further your private interests or those of others

        accept gifts or hospitality or receive other benefits from anyone which might reasonably be seen to compromise your personal judgement or integrity

        disclose official information without authority (this duty continues to apply after you leave the Service)

        Obviously it is points 1 & 3 that are the most relevant and self explanatory.

      • Nick Stokes knows damn well what the FOIA is, represents and mandates …… and the only reason he has “suckered” ya’ll into an argumentative discussion with him was/is to divert the discussion away from the out-of-control EPA and its dastardly devious disingenuous managers and employees.

      • You will note that Nick has the MSM line down pat. See how he tries to reframe the debate. The problem is, the MSM no longer rules the lingo. But he is slow to learn that.

      • I recall you had a deep interest in freedom of speech Willis. Strange to see you now quantifying that philosophy with various clauses and restrictions. I recall this site bravely campaigning for Government , Academic and other employees to be free to disclose evidence of tampering with information or data which resulted in an exaggerated view of climate change.
        How things have changed, I wonder what has happened to facilitate such a substantial change in philosophy?

      • The problem with the transparency Nick Stokes refers to is that people talking and playing telephone allows facts or policies to quickly morph to something very different. FOIA requests seek documents that are going to read the same every time they are read, keeping facts and policies as they are in the documents. Talking is basically gossip, FOIA is seeking a hard-copy record of the agency’s activities. Quite different.

        However, a whistleblower would likely raise a red flag for people outside the agency such that one knows what to request in a FOIA request.

      • Well!

        Isn’t this just exciting? Nick Stokes decides to pretend he has a hair up his “fill in your choice here” and pick an absurd argument with WUWT commenters.

        What Nick really really wants to do is call WUWT commenters’ names and imply they change their attitudes depending on left or right.

        So, Nick plays brainless, until he can try to snap his word trap shut. Then he claims everyone here is against FOIA.

        FOIA is a method whereby citizens, businesses, organizations and even government to request information from the government or government funded.

        Yes, every government employee receives a welcome screen that informs them about misuse of a computer being a crime, and also informs the employee they have no secrets on computers or networks.

        Every business, including Government operates under some version of employee responsibilities.

        i.e.; Businesses have been held accountable, by the courts, for things their employees said or did.

        Businesses with some common sense, which is most of them, place restrictions on what their employees can say, who they can talk to, what they are allowed to do regarding the business.

        To ensure news going out from a business is in keeping with the business owners/manager’s intent every employee is explicitly instructed to follow a strict chain of command regarding talking to anyone outside of the company.

        When a new owner/manager takes over, it is normal for them to emphatically inform all employees that no-one is allowed to speak/give any information to anyone outside of the company.

        So far, all this is standard operating procedure for pretty much everywhere.

        Since Nick is playing as a stooge for the leftist progressives using classic trolling tactics, this one being a double ended straw man.
        Donna Laframboise covered the Obama’s Administration transparency, or rather the despotic lack of transparency.
        At her “Nofrakkingconsensus” website renamed as “Big Picture News”, Donna reveals a small part of her research to date. Here is an excerpt:.

        “Two weeks ago, New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen wrote about Obama’s “war on the press.” This “aggressive crackdown on journalists and whistle-blowers,” he said, is a critical part of the Obama legacy. In Risen’s words:

        Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act…to go after government officials who talked to journalists.

        Yep, you read that correctly. In all of US history only three people suspected of leaking sensitive information had been prosecuted under a 1917 law intended to punish spies.
        Since Obama took office, nine have.
        Seizing years of e-mails and phone records, the US government subpoenaed Risen about a former CIA officer accused of being a media informant.

        Risen won in court, but the Obama administration appealed. He explains:
        “the administration tried to compel me to testify to reveal my confidential sources in a criminal leak investigation. The Justice Department finally relented — even though it had already won a seven-year court battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court to force me to testify — most likely because they feared the negative publicity that would come from sending a New York Times reporter to jail”.

        Risen cites a “scathing 2013 report for the Committee to Protect Journalists” authored by Leonard Downie, a former editor at the Washington Post.

        In that report, Downie declares:
        The [Obama] administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent.”

        At this rate, Nick is voluntarily dropping his reputation to that of simon of giffiepoo.

      • I would also point out that in the last administration, under Obama, FOIA has been subject to incredible abuse by the administration. They have ignored, obfuscated, sidestepped, and done everything in their power to not comply with FOIA.

        Re business, the Feds can with subpoena power, or pursuant to regulations, request all manner of data, demand even, from the company, but they go to the top, not to the low level employees. I, as a lowly grunt, was never allowed to blab to the press about anything. As per Leif’s comment above, I have written a fair number of engineering papers over the years, they had to be run by not only my company management for approval for release, but also by the government customer when such papers were on subjects related to projects we were doing for the government, usually the military.

      • Nick

        So disgruntled agenda driven people should have the right to spew whatever garbage they want when ever they want. FOIA stands for freedom of INFORMATION act, gossip, BS, made up stories are not information.
        And yes I am all for FOIA and whistle blowers when the public interest is at stake, I am not for people with a political agenda complaining just to make the job of the people in charge harder.

      • There’s a difference between someone seeking out information via the proper channels and an insider giving opinions or providing information to the press about internal activities.

      • Nick, Nick, Nick: Are you really that desperate to change the subject that you are willing to lie about what others have said. Again?
        The complaints about the FOIA process is precisely because the federal agencies have not been following the law, and hiding information that they are legally required to provide.

      • I love it when the trolls suddenly discover freedom of speech only when their ability to spill other people’s secrets gets curtailed.
        Gareth, as you already know, this issue has nothing to do with freedom of speech as you already know.

      • Jeezz- Usss Nick, I would hate to be married to you, I bet you have 15,000 good reasons why you didn’t put the toilet seat down !

      • Spreading rumors and slander and innuendo is not the copy-boy’s job. That’s the job of the main stream media. And CNN.

      • Nick Stokes,
        A silly argument. FOI still exists if you want to obtain specific information on a specific subject. That is quite different from allowing any member of the Department to put out information on any subject they choose, which may or may not be accurate within the policy of the Department. The two areas are quite independent of each other.

      • “One is to compel the disclosure of things bureaucracies want to hide. The other is to forbid the disclosure of things bureaucrats want to disclose.”

        … unelected bureaucrats want to disclose in order to control the political agenda?

      • Not only does FOIA not apply until after the fact, but FOIA requests must be very specific: the requester requests to be supplied with this message via that medium on that date from a certain author to a specified recipient concerning a very circumscribed subject. Requests may cover a range of dates, subjects, or persons–again, specified. Permission to view the material has to be granted by a specific authority. It is neither easy nor cheap to formulate a FOIA request, and some government agencies have done their level best to stonewall and avoid compliance, even once the request is granted.

        Compare that to what the administration is trying to avoid: An idiot or traitor in the organization makes up a story, blabs it to CNN, and sits back to watch the fireworks. No comparison to FOIA whatever.

      • “the requester requests to be supplied with this message via that medium on that date from a certain author to a specified recipient concerning a very circumscribed subject. Requests may cover a range of dates, subjects, or persons–again, specified”

        Not really. Here is CEI’s FOIA request from NOAA. It is date bounded, but not much more:
        “all records, documents, internal and external communications and attachments produced, sent or received by NOAA’s Thomas Peterson, sent to or from Thomas Stocker, dated during the four-month period of February 2010 to May 2010, inclusive.”

      • Nick Stokes, lets pars this FOIA request.
        Not really. Here is CEI’s FOIA request from NOAA. It is date bounded, but not much more:
        “all records, documents, internal and external communications and attachments produced, sent or received by NOAA’s Thomas Peterson, sent to or from Thomas Stocker, dated during the four-month period of February 2010 to May 2010, inclusive.”
        1 date range “February 2010 to May 2010, inclusive”.
        2 by one employee “sent or received by NOAA’s Thomas Peterson”
        2a further restricted to emails sent or received to only one person “sent to or from Thomas Stocker”.

        note not all emails from or to all employees

      • The common thing the Fake News media uses is ‘sources say’ which is utterly different from leaking something the government wants to hide.

    • Two different concepts Nick. One is to compel the disclosure of things bureaucracies want to hide. The other is to forbid the disclosure of things bureaucrats want to disclose.

      There is an intersection but they are not congruent. But seriously, you knew that. Why troll?

    • There are “Sunshine” laws in certain statewhich make can any “government” email available to the public upon request. When such policy is in effect, from my experience both the governmental entity and private entities involved in covered communication provide guidance which limits what employees should say in such commnications similar to what I would expect for FOIA or the guidelines as provided recently to the EPA.

      • Hillary spent the last 8 years demonstrating how easy it is to circumvent all FOIA requests.

        And that, progressives, is Why You Got Trump.

      • “Hillary spent the last 8 years demonstrating how easy it is to circumvent all FOIA requests.”

        Some say that the main reason for having your own mail server is so that you can easily destroy the contents. Others say that is the only reason.

        Point of interest: All those emails must have had at least one sender or recipient. I wonder where all those emails are? Perhaps Vladimir is already on it?

    • Also, if you have not written an email or talked about and recorded any information, then there is no recorded information available to which anybody has a right to see.

      The so called gag order, as I see it, asks that such information NOT be created in the first place. Do not write emails, hence no emails to hack. Do not speak of changes, hence no conversations to record secretly. Do not send memos or communications of any kind, hence no recorded information of any kind to access.

    • Your employer has a right to set standards and make sure employees don’t say or do anything that might piss off a significant number of potential customers. Off the job, while not officially representing the company, you’re pretty much free to say what you want to your friends and acquaintances.,

    • “Yet they are now not allowed to speak to anyone?”

      President Trump wants the Federal Agencies to speak for him and his new policies, not the old administration.

      I think some of those FOIA requests that were being held up by the previous administration, will now be expedited.

    • Poor Nick, he’s so desperate to change the subject that he’s willing to be-clown himself.
      A random employee talking to the press has absolutely nothing to do with FOIA requests.
      But then, you already knew that.

    • Federal employee’s are restricted, under the federal ethics code, for 1) Acting impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual; and 2) Protecting and conserving Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.

      Generally, it is unlawful for a federal employee to release information not specially authorized by his agency to avoid providing “preferential treatment” to individual members of the public. Consequently, the only ethical means of releasing information is to provide that information to the “whole public” at the same time This is generally done thru a authorized department of an agency.

      Furthermore, information is “Federal property” under law. Consequently, it may not be released for other than authorized activities. This is particularly true for information considered “business sensitive”, “government sensitive”, Secret, Top Secret, etc.

      the FOIA process provides an organized process that allows the release of most, but not all, of the information the federal government possesses. But, only after a review ensures the information requested may be lawfully released.

      So, for example, even though I knew what a proposed or final federal regulation would say. I could not legally inform any member of the public until the regulation was released thru the Federal Register. Nor could I make a comment based on the “inside” information I possessed. The same can be said for federal research studies that I participated in.

      During my 30+ as a federal employee, I was reminded on numerous occasions that I was not allowed to release any information to the press, general public, individuals (including family members), etc. without specific authorization.

    • Well it’s always the bosses (we the people) who make the company rules.

      G

      It is never compulsory to work for any particular company; public or private. It is a choice people make for themselves.

  3. Willis said: “I don’t think that the Obama folks cared much if people talked out of school, since they were all singing from the same sheet of music. They were all wild-eyed climate alarmists, so what’s the problem?”

    That’s not true. Dr. Roy Spencer worked for NASA and now the University of Alabama. He is clearly a skeptic, from his web site: “This website describes evidence from my group’s government-funded research that suggests global warming is mostly natural, and that the climate system is quite insensitive to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol pollution.”

    His government funding was not cut off, he was not forbidden to speak about his skeptic beliefs.

      • “We’re talking about the EPA, Chris, not NASA.”

        So what? We are talking about policies. Unless you are saying that the logic of presidential policies is different as it applies to one dept versus another. Your article linked policies of private companies to that of the EPA (a public entity) and suggested equivalence. Yet when I do it between the EPA and NASA, both of which are public entities, it’s not valid?

      • Chris, you forget that NASA’s top priority under Obama was Muslim Outreach. As long as Dr. Spencer’s communications did not violate that directive, then he was fine with NASA’s hierarchy. EPA was a different matter, and no one who committed a Heresy on that level would have been allowed to remain for even 24 hours.

      • wws said “Chris, you forget that NASA’s top priority under Obama was Muslim Outreach.”

        Evidence to support that assertion?

      • Tell me Willis.

        What was the subject of the last Federal Law that NASA handed down.

        Damn short term memory; sometimes I can’t even remember Albert Einstein’s name !!

        G

      • You’re confusing two completely different issues. Nothing in Trump’s order prevents any EPA employee from speaking their own personal opinions on any issue at any event, on their own web page, etc. It merely prevents EPA’s employees from taking any public action on behalf of the agency. This is well within the Administration’s prerogative to control the actions of its own agencies by freezing agency action until they have a chance to review them.

        Also, I can find no evidence that Dr. Spencer made any public skeptical statements on global warming while an employee of NASA. All I can find are positions be took long after leaving the agency. What evidence do you have that he was free to speak his mind during the Clinton administration?

    • Dr. Spencer has been talking about the results of his research, which is not classified. What he is not doing is speaking “under color of Authority”, pretending to speak for anyone besides himself, or speaking about any internal matters in either the university or the government. He probably doesn’t have access of any internal matters of the government, anyway.

    • Chris James Hansen Broke NASA’s Policies
      Roy Spencer clearly stated:

      Something about retirement apparently frees people up to say what they really believe. I retired early from NASA over seven years ago to have more freedom to speak my mind on global warming. . . .
      Theon now also supports what I have repeatedly said over the years. That NASA’s James Hansen routinely ignored NASA policy, and said whatever he wanted to the press and to Congress without getting approval first. The reason why everyone at NASA looked the other way was that we were trying to get congressional funding for satellite missions to study climate. I personally don’t think we needed Hansen’s extremist views to get that accomplished, but it probably helped to some extent.

      I asked NASA managers at the time, how can Hansen get away with saying whatever he wanted to? The answer was, “well…he’s not supposed to”.

      Another NASA Defection to the Skeptics’ Camp January 29th, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

  4. Agreed Willis – the new rules are standard business practice. The fact government agency staff were allowed such latitude under Obama IMO shows how unprofessional the Obama administration was.

    • No, making a comparison between govt and the private sector like they are the same thing is not valid. Or, if that’s how you think it should be, then the University of Georgia administration should be free to forbid Dr. Judith Curry from speaking to the press, tweeting, or issue any press releases. Correct?

      • making a comparison between govt and the private sector like they are the same thing is not valid … University of Georgia administration should be free to forbid Dr. Judith Curry from speaking to the press, tweeting, or issue any press releases.

        No, making a comparison between a university and either the government or private sector is instead invalid. Whether in a public or private university, faculty have the academic freedom to research, publish and disseminate information on almost anything they want to. In contrast in both the government and private sectors (and also for non-faculty university positions), employees are hired to do the bidding of the organization (except where it conflicts with existing law).

      • “In contrast in both the government and private sectors (and also for non-faculty university positions), employees are hired to do the bidding of the organization (except where it conflicts with existing law).”

        What is your proof that this is the case for federal government scientists? I am not referring to job content or projects they work on, I am referring to their ability to speak or communicate (non confidential information, of course).

      • @ Chris – January 25, 2017 at 1:04 am

        What is your proof that this is the case for federal government scientists? I am not referring to job content or projects they work on, I am referring to their ability to speak or communicate (non confidential information, of course).

        Here Chris, …… read it and weep, to wit:

        Voices of Federal Climate Scientists

        Survey: Federal Climate Scientists (2006)

        In the summer of 2006, the Union of Concerned Scientists distributed surveys to more than 1,600 climate scientists working at seven federal agencies and the independent National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), asking for information about the state of climate research at federal agencies.

        I. Political Interference with Climate Science

        Large numbers of federal climate scientists reported various types of interference, both subtle and explicit:

        73 percent of all respondents* perceived inappropriate interference with climate science research in the past five years.

        58 percent of all respondents personally experienced interference with climate science research in the past five years. This number increased to 78 percent among scientists whose work always or frequently touches upon sensitive or controversial topics. In contrast, only 22 percent of NCAR scientists personally experienced interference with climate science research.

        Nearly half of all respondents (46 percent) perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words “climate change,” “global warming,” or other similar terms from a variety of communications. This number increased to nearly three in five (58 percent) among respondents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

        46 percent of all respondents perceived or personally experienced new or unusual administrative requirements that impair climate related work.

        II. Scientific Findings Misrepresented

        Federal climate scientists reported that their research findings have been changed by non-scientists in ways that compromise accuracy:

        Two in five respondents (43 percent) perceived or personally experienced …………

        III. Barriers to Communication

        Agency scientists are not free to communicate their research findings to the media or the public:

        52 percent of respondents said their agency’s public affairs officials always ……………

        Survey Demographics

        Surveys were sent to 1,630 scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the independent (non-federal) National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

        Responses came from 279 federal scientists and 29 NCAR scientists. One hundred forty-four scientists provided narrative responses. The response rate (19 percent) was fairly consistent across agencies.

        http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/abuses_of_science/federal-climate-scientists.html

      • Samuel C Cogar, as Nick Stokes noted, thanks for highlighting that the Bush administration interfered with the work of federal scientists.

      • Dr. Curry worked for Georgia Tech, not UGA. Making a mistake like that is sufficient to get you fired, at a minimum in these here parts.

      • Bush set a limitation on what scientists who work for the government were allowed to work on.
        What’s wrong with that?
        When you work for someone else, they get to set your agenda.
        I love it how leftwing trolls feel that they have a right to do whatever they want, and have someone else pay for it.

      • MarkW said: “Bush set a limitation on what scientists who work for the government were allowed to work on.”

        This entire thread is about the freedom to express or discuss projects currently being worked on, not future work priorities. So your point is completely irrelevant. Try harder next time.

      • Chris – January 25, 2017 at 7:18 am

        Samuel C Cogar, as Nick Stokes noted, thanks for highlighting that the Bush administration interfered with the work of federal scientists.

        Well, ….. excuse thee hell out of me, …… Chris, …… I simply answered the question you asked, which was, to wit:

        Chris – January 25, 2017 at 1:04 am
        What is your proof that this is the case for federal government scientists? I am not referring to job content or projects they work on, I am referring to their ability to speak or communicate (non confidential information, of course).”

        Chris, yours and Nick Stokes’s asinine and disingenuous CYA attempt to “politicize” your question after-the-fact, ……. is, …… IMLO, ……. a “proof-positive” self-admission that your only concern is to support and further your lefty liberal highly Democrat partisan “anti-science” agenda to insure that the government “feeding trough” is always chock-full of “FREE” Grant monies and Green subsidies.

        Chris, ….. getta clue, ……. the only reason that a similar survey of Federal Climate Scientists was not conducted for or during the Obama administration years is simply because your lefty liberal highly Democrat partisan “anti-science” federal Agency Secretaries and Administrators …… flatly refused to “fund it” and PROHIBITED federal employees from responding to a similar survey. And even if such a survey was conducted for the “Obama years” …… the Obama “loving” news media would have made sure it was never published.

      • Samuel C Cogar, thanks for posting a singularly unimpressive rant without any supporting links. At least you are consistent.

      • @ Chris January 26, 2017 at 8:41 am

        So Chris, like all miseducated lemmings with their mentor nurtured “superiority complex”, ….. when they exhaust all of their memorized “tripe & piffle” commentary in a futile attempt to defend and support their argument, …… their only recourse is to respond with their “canned” condescending comment …… and then go “poof” like the Magic Dragon and disappear into the weeds.

    • I’m not so sure there was all that much “latitude” for agency staff to talk to reporters in the Obama Administration. Journalists’ access to science, for example, was often mediated by agency public information officers (PIOs). They had to get prior approval from the PIO not only to interview scientists but to get their questions approved. Often interviews were closely monitored and sometimes denied. See http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/promoting-public-access-science/mediated-access-transparency#.WIhc2flpGUk

      In August of 2015, dozens of journalism and open-government groups urged President Obama in a letter to reverse media policies that they say amounted to censorship and information suppression within his administration.

      “According to the letter, signed by 53 organizations, officials block reporters’ requests to talk to specific staffers, delay answering requests until reporters’ deadlines have passed, refuse to talk on the record and block reporters who write critically of the agencies.

      For example, employees of the Food and Drug Administration, were forbidden to speak to reporters without being monitored by public information officers and other staffers about allegations that the agency had violated rules for storing smallpox and other dangerous materials.”

      So, apparently, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  5. An interesting blast from the past

    Whether or not EPA has a policy in place won’t matter until the agency is transparent about the data behind its science and decisions, said Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Without transparency, the agency is free to conform science to its own agency and force out anyone who dares to disagree, Ebell said.

    Ebell pointed to EPA whistleblower Alan Carlin, a longtime economist for the agency, who discovered this firsthand in 2009 when a report he co-authored questioned the science behind then-proposed global warming regulations under the Clean Air Act.

      • Nick, you forgot to say whether you thought your examples were a good thing or a bad thing. You will also understand the place of whistleblowers in the scheme of things. Why pretend? Why stoop to the level of a troll?

      • Forrest,
        Well, I didn’t think much of Carlin’s report. And I think it was reasonable of EPA, as a matter of management, to tell him it wasn’t part of his job to spend EPA time on this matter (he was an economist). But they didn’t stop him talking about it, and I think that is proper. Soon after CEI released the report, he appeared on the Glenn Beck show to talk about it. AFAIK, no disciplinary action followed.

      • Then, by extension, as a matter of management it’s reasonable for the Trump administration to temporarily tell agency employees that they can make no public stance on behalf of the agency, announce any agency workshop, etc. until the administration has a chance to step in and control its own agency. You’re improperly conflating what the Trump administration actually did with some fictitious gag order on agency employees from expressing their own opinions publicly. As long as the employee makes clear they are not advocating or acting on behalf of the agency, they have no issues with the Trump administration order.

      • As a follow-up, Willis has it exactly right. This is SOP. To paraphrase some liberal politician whose name escapes me right now, elections have consequences. As of January 20, the EPA is a cog in the Trump administration, and that administration has every right to prevent any EPA employee from taking official agency action without the administration reviewing that action first. That’s all that is going on. .

      • ” that administration has every right to prevent any EPA employee from taking official agency action without the administration reviewing that action first. That’s all that is going on.”
        Not all, it seems:

        At EPA, the lockdown extends well beyond formal coordinated messaging. Aside from a block on any press releases and social media posts, a Monday memo circulated internally and obtained by POLITICO warned that EPA employees scheduled to speak at public events like conferences in the next month must alert Trump’s team of temporary political appointees.

        Trump’s team will also review EPA’s previously planned public webinars “and decide which ones will go forward.” And EPA employees were cautioned to send only “essential” messages to email lists, since those messages “can be shared broadly and end up in the press.”

      • Nick, first it is good that the administration is taking control of the EPA. Second, that particular entity should not be at all surprised that what was done by the power of presidential decree can be undone by presidential decree.
        Who knows, the may get back to environmental issues. You know, REAL environmental issues!

      • Nick Stokes
        Study the context. Alan Carlin was explicitly doing the proper due diligence formally required – but ignored by the politically driven EPA.

        In response to a request for comments, I prepared unfavorable comments on the science in the EPA’s Draft Technical Support Document for the Agency’s Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions in March, 2009. As a direct result, EPA imposed a gag order, forbade me from further work on climate change, and quashed my comments. These events have been documented in a Congressional Report. These EPA actions led to my retirement in early 2010. As a result of my Comments, I received a Climate Change Science Whistleblower Award at the International Climate Change Conference (ICCC-9) held in July, 2014, in Las Vegas, NV.

      • Well Nick?

        You posted this comment; now exactly what is wrong with government policy?

        “Nick Stokes January 25, 2017 at 1:31 am

        ” that administration has every right to prevent any EPA employee from taking official agency action without the administration reviewing that action first. That’s all that is going on.”
        Not all, it seems:

        ““At EPA, the lockdown extends well beyond formal coordinated messaging. Aside from a block on any press releases and social media posts, a Monday memo circulated internally and obtained by POLITICO warned that EPA employees scheduled to speak at public events like conferences in the next month must alert Trump’s team of temporary political appointees.

        Trump’s team will also review EPA’s previously planned public webinars “and decide which ones will go forward.” And EPA employees were cautioned to send only “essential” messages to email lists, since those messages “can be shared broadly and end up in the press.”

        The basic fact is, any EPA presentation prepared before the new Administration took over is likely still following Obama dictates.

        The new team wants to review those presentations, webinars, whatever and make changes.

        Still a perfectly normal action.

      • “EPA employees scheduled to speak at public events like conferences in the next month must alert Trump’s team of temporary political appointees.”

        So what? The administration wants advance notice of employees giving lectures at events. I’d do the same thing in their shoes to make sure that the speaker doesn’t make any unapproved representation of EPA policy or conclusions. If the speaker wants to opine on something, but makes clear it’s their own opinion and doesn’t reflect EPA policy, there’s no problem. I’m not seeing why you think there’s something nefarious about this.

    • Nick’s desperation at EXPOSURE of the AGW scam, which he is PAID to support..

      So funny to watch. :-)

      Who do you work for, again, Nick… you pays you ??

      What will be the effect on your employer of the AGW scam being exposed ??

      • I am sure Nick is superannuated.
        Not like those of us working the old 11 hour day.
        That’s why he has time and effort available to analyse this debate and others.
        Note single handedly he took over this thread.
        Such skills should be turned to ensuring CO2 is not blamed as a pollutant, with the result that only the biggest and most powerful developing countries are able to better look after their people.

  6. Agree Willis except;

    “I don’t think that the Obama folks cared much if people talked out of school, since they were all singing from the same sheet of music. They were all wild-eyed climate alarmists, so what’s the problem?”

    I’m sure not “all” and any skeptics would have felt gagged under Obama.

  7. These are perfectly commonsense regulations. They are not “gagging” anyone.

    Businesses gagging their employees may seem “commonsense”, that does not mean they are not being gagged.

    • Gagged. Brought back into line with reasonable operational procedures. Its just words.

      One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. In that analogy those who do not want to comply are the terrorists no matter how much they see themselves as freedom fighters.

  8. The Democrats are refusing to approve Trump’s cabinet so a gag order until the respective agencies have a head is understandable.

    • “The Democrats are refusing to approve Trump’s cabinet”
      Really? Don’t Republicans have a majority in House and Senate? And no filibuster on these appointments?

      • Really. While, in the end, they indeed cannot stop the nominations from being approved (thanks, one might add, to Harry Reid’s implementing the nuclear option previously), they can delay any of them they wish via procedural actions. And are doing so in a number of cases, not just Pruitt’s.

      • Schumer, is using every legislative procedural trick in the book to delay the confirmations. And the HR has no Constitutional role in presidential appointment confirmations.

      • Interesting how no one here called out the Senate for refusing to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nomination for a year. I guess you have ethical positions only as long as your guy is in the White House.

      • Nick Stokes January 25, 2017 at 3:27 am wrote:

        “The Democrats are refusing to approve Trump’s cabinet”

        Nick: “Really? Don’t Republicans have a majority in House and Senate? And no filibuster on these appointments?”

        Nick, here’s the problem with the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. It’s true the Democrats can’t stop the confirmation process, but they can use Senate rules to cause delays in the votes.

        http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/trump-cabinet-democrats-senate-232136

        “Senate Democrats can’t block Trump’s appointments, which in all but one case need only 51 votes for confirmation. But they can turn the confirmation process into a slog.

        Any individual senator can force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold procedural votes on nominees. Senior Democrats said a series of such votes are likely for many of Trump’s picks.

        Democrats could conceivably force up to 30 hours of debate for each Cabinet nominee, which would be highly disruptive for a GOP Senate that usually works limited hours but has big ambitions for next year. The minority could also stymie lower-level nominees and potentially keep the Senate focused on executive confirmations for weeks as Trump assumes the presidency and congressional Republicans try to capitalize on their political momentum.”

        end excerpt

        And note the article is dated in December, so the Democrats have been planning this delaying tactic all along. Let’s see how long they continue to delay once Trump starts really complaining about it.

  9. It would be very interesting to know what is now going on at the EPA, in particular, what Scott Pruitt is telling Gina Wotsername.

  10. Is it wrong to be positively giddy about all of this? Trump is delivering on all his campaign promises. It’s unheard of!

    • No, it’s not wrong to be happy about what Trump has done already, and he’s just getting warmed up. You will be even happier in the future, I’m thinking.

  11. This is nothing to do about nothing. The lines of clandestine communication between Congress and the Federal bureaucracy and the DC press are so well established that this order will in no way prevent the flow of the information to the press. NBC got the classified Trump-Russia dossier before Trump was even briefed on it and people are obsessing about this order? Get a clue!

    • The Trump-Russia dossier was a privately produced reported initially commissioned by one of Trump’s republican rivals for the nomination and had been circulated to the press and others (John McCain for instance). It wasn’t a classified document and wasn’t a product of the intelligence community.

      • LOL just about anything that comes into the possession of the CIA or other Government Intelligence agencies is classified even if it came from an open or private source Phil. Even information extracted from newspaper clippings get classified at the CIA and they have a whole plethora of people that do nothing but read and compile that stuff from open sources from all over the world.

        Besides:

        1. The Atlantic
        The ‘Trump Dossier’ and the Making of Intelligence … That was the length of an “annex” appended to the classified government document on Russian election …

        2. Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian …
        http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/donald-trump-intelligence-report...
        Jan 12, 2017 · Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations … Classified documents presented last …

        3. Jan 12, 2017 · President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news … behind the Trump dossier was an … leaks about the inclusion of the summary in the classified …
        Newly Leaked Dossier on Trump Circulated in DC for Months
        News Max

        4. Jan 11, 2017 · Newly Leaked Dossier on Trump Circulated in DC for … The summary of the dossier allegations was appended to a classified assessment of Russia’s suspected …

        5. What We Know and Don’t Know About the Trump-Russia Dossier …
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/us/politics/trump-intelligence
        Jan 11, 2017 · What We Know and Don’t Know About the Trump-Russia Dossier. … CNN broke the news that a summary of the memos had been attached to the classified …

        etc, etc, etc………..

        Ever been trained in Intel or the handling of classified documents Phil?

  12. Not sure if previous post made it- sticky fingers I expect!

    This is nothing new public employees/corporate employees not being permitted to speak out of turn with prior approval, I’d be surprised to find anywhere that this doesn’t happen!

    • In Germany, most members of the public service are even sworn in. The swearing-in implies a strict duty not to bring to the public knowledge which is acquired in the service. For public relations and for information, there are special press officers appointed by the head of the authority. I know that after all, I was active in a state organization during my active career. Trump is only dealing with what is normally normal working day in a government agency. Obviously, however, there are already gossip bases in the EPA. These should be determined and fired. Undisciplined is the death of every state and every private company.

  13. Whatever department of Government it may be, because it IS Government it represents the current Office and should therefore act in a manner that is supportive of that Office.
    Governmental departments aren’t created to present their employees political positions/views but to present and act upon those of the current establishment – they are a servant of both the Government and the people who elected them.
    Speaking ‘out of turn’ undermines the will of the people and the electoral principle therefore the edict as issued is perfectly valid.

  14. This is NOT new and that is the real story. The policies were essentially the same under the previous administration and the one before it. The press is making much ado of nothing, not something small.

  15. Any organisation worth its salt would have a compliance process appropriate for its specific business, that all employees would sign up to each year which would include a process to report previous contraventions, interests etc. The rules are also reinforced by this process. Surely a new government would ensure all are aware of the rules so inappropriate acts don’t occur under their watch through ignorance.

  16. This is the standard practice where I work only the PR department talk to the news people, we’ve had film crews turn up at work from time to time. They can set up shop on public land and even point their cameras toward the site but NO ENTRY. and if any of us get asked questions we are like Manuel in Faulty Towers.
    “We know nothing”

    James Bull

  17. It will gag them though – we have precedents from Canada and Florida

    The truth will continue to be politically inconvenient to Trump – e.g. next summer’s record arctic sea ice low.

    But you can’t hide from the truth for ever…

      • As much as it pains me to bring this up, that chart ends in March of 2016. You need to click on it and go to the source of those charts to get an updated one. Currently, Arctic extent is a couple percent below last year due to record winter high temps in the Arctic region. There are consequences to really large El Niños. That being said, the sea ice extent may very well recover during the next winter.

        Weather Bell is predicting a small El Niño this year that may prevent much recovery if it occurs. It doesn’t matte. These are still natural cycles that are playing out over multiple lifetimes of humans. None of the temperatures and melting match the catastrophic warming hype of the CAGW crowd.

      • Correct, the chart he posted is nearly a year old, very old data. The El Nino was similar in strength to that of 1998, so if that is the case, why are the Arctic ice levels so much less now? Here is a comparison: https://weather.com/news/climate/news/strong-el-nino-december-2015 Note that the 2015 El Nino ranks as the 2nd or 3rd strongest, depending on the measurement used – not the highest.

        You say sea ice levels “may well recover.” Hey, I can say they “may well decline even more.”

        You say these are natural cycles – specifically what is it that has caused the Arctic ice levels to decline so much?

      • Chris, or is that giffiepoo under new false pretense?
        As it is so often with the religious faithful, that they fail to take advantage of internationally trusted sources of data.

        Anthony’s site provides easy access to sea data ice data, by using links to international web sites specializing in sea ice data.

        However, as Anthony posted on the sea ice page, quite a long time ago;

        “However, about the same time, wordpress.com (where WUWT is hosted) installed an unannounced software update which completely wrecked the ability to display live updated images as we do. They started caching them, and will only display new images that are called with https protocol, rather than http.

        Some images will REQUIRE THAT YOU CLICK ON THEM TO SEE THE UPDATED IMAGE”

        Imagine that! All that is necessary is to lick the image and one will, nearly instantly, get to see the current sea ice data. Voila!

        Click the above graph image and the current chart shows sea ice is quite normal for this time of year.

        Weather dot com is not trustworthy. One can’t even trust their two day weather outlook as they’re too busy strangling he last bit of global warming hysteria from their version of weather.
        Maybe weather dot com will start naming thunderstorms next?

    • If I knew the future as well as you do Griff, I would be looking for a way to make money out of my prescience.

    • Yup! And due to a ten-day hiatus from the ccccold weather that we had from mid-December to mid-January, I have very little snow left on my front lawn.

      But I think I will keep the shovels in the garage for a couple more months instead of storing them in the shed..

      Possibly longer, … , this “climate change” thingy is really affecting the weather!!!!!!

  18. Yes Leif,

    same reason why Mannings, pardoned by Obama, ‘never’ spoke to MSM.

    Or German Über green Ströbele.

    2 discrete worlds of perception.

  19. 20 years ago, when I was deep in U.S. corporate culture, I was told that one of the reasons for outsourcing was to get to arms length with employees, such that the corp would be insulated from publicity from any nefarious activity of employees. The corp dreaded seeing headlines, “Joe Shmoe, who works for CORP, was arrested for murder.”

  20. “EPA staff have also been asked not to publicize any talks, conferences, or webinars that had been planned for the next 60 days,”
    That is not normal. If you are giving a talk, webinar or presenting at a conference it is normal to publicize it. Dissemination is the point of such things and it makes no sense not to publicize such things.

    • Think on what you just said. They have been told not to publicize them because they may very well be cancelled. Remember Trump is going to be in combat against the culture of EPA and the first thing he needs to do is cut them off from disseminating bogus CAGW information.

      • No, he is going to cut them off from doing legitimate research. This is a classic ostrich in the sand scenario, but it won’t change a thing about what is happening with the climate.

  21. From Bloomberg …
    The Obama administration has also charged or prosecuted more government officials for allegedly leaking information to reporters than all of its predecessors combined, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Administration representatives monitor interviews with government officials, and often forbid government scientists and researchers from speaking directly with reporters, according to the Society of Professional Journalists.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-12/obama-falls-short-of-promise-for-transparency-journalists-say

    This from a letter from the Society of Professional Journalists via reason.com …

    … prohibiting staff from communicating with journalists unless they maneuver through public affairs offices or through political appointees; refusing to allow reporters to speak to staff at all, or delaying interviews past the point they would be useful; monitoring interviews; and speaking only on the condition that the official not be identified even when he or she has title of spokesperson….

    The public has a right to be alarmed by these constraints–essentially forms of censorship–that have surged at all levels of government in the past few decades. Surveys of journalists and public information officers (PIOs) demonstrate that the restraints have become pervasive across the country; that some PIOs admit to blocking certain reporters when they don’t like what is written; and that most Washington reporters say the public is not getting the information it needs because of constraints. An SPJ survey released in April confirmed that science writers frequently run into these barriers.
    http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/24/trump-makes-government-leaks-great-again
    http://spj.org/pdf/news/obama-letter-final-08102015.pdf

    Two wrongs don’t make a right but silence at one and outrage at the next is evidence of bias and/or shoddy reporting.

    • rovingbroker, so you at least agree that the public has a right to be alarmed at these constraints, whether from Obama or Trump?

      • I don’t believe that for an instant. Trump needs to cut off the false agenda concerning CO2 and rein in the over reach with respect to its mandate. The alarm has been over the steady over reach into peoples daily lives for the simple exercising of authority not actually in the EPA mandate. The EPA has no mandate to regulate cattle tanks on rancher land, but it has certainly been trying to do so.

  22. “These are perfectly commonsense regulations. They are not “gagging” anyone. They are bog-standard business practice for very good reasons, ”

    “”This follows similar guidance to USDA employees, who were instructed in an internal memo obtained by Buzzfeed not to release “any public-facing documents” including “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content” until further notice.”

    News releases and feeds, fact sheets etc is part of the role of these departments. Shutting this down is not bog standard practice. It s like Apple instructing its press office not to publicize anything. Apple got a new product launch? Don’t tell anyone about it.

    • You do not need Apple as an example. At least 99 percent of all companies do not want corporate interiors to be worn outside. These may be different, e.g. the company climate, business secrets like new manufacturing methods, new materials. I think, if you do not like it in the company, you have to look for a new one or turn to union representatives. Should employees be forced to commit unlawful deeds, there is also the possibility of informing the prosecutor’s office. Many companies have in-house Addresses for criticism. But turning to the press or chatting in social medias about such things is the worst of all ideas.

      • One of the purposes of these departments is to communicate and disseminate. It is not business as usual to prevent that.

      • seaice1 January 25, 2017 at 6:48 am

        One of the purposes of these departments is to communicate and disseminate. It is not business as usual to prevent that.

        Seaice, if you took over after the Trump presidency, would you want the EPA to continue to “communicate and disseminate” the Trump EPA message while Trump’s allies prevented your team from even taking over the EPA?

        This is absolutely “business as usual”, and you’d do the same. Nobody wants a government department mindlessly spewing the claims of the previous administration. You’re being as nit-picky as Nick in this one.

        w.

      • Chris January 25, 2017 at 8:16 am

        What has been done here is highly unusual compared to past administrations.

        Chris, that is true about nearly everything this Administration does, and I can only thank the US’s lucky stars that it is highly unusual. The usual was strangling all life out of the country.

        w.

      • Willis – strangling all life? Oh please, 4.9% unemployment and a world leader in many technology areas.

      • Chris January 26, 2017 at 8:48 am

        Willis – strangling all life? Oh please, 4.9% unemployment and a world leader in many technology areas.

        Yes, strangling all life. Do you think Trump got elected because people think the economy is doing wonderfully?

        Wall Street is rich, yes, but Main Street is broke. Unemployment is low for two reasons, because millions of people have simply left the workforce, and because they count someone with a part-time job as being employed. The number of people going from full-time to part-time has increased, but that drop in employment doesn’t register in the official figures.

        In addition the number of people on food stamps has soared, home ownership rates have dropped, black family net worth (total assets minus debts) is through the floor, wages have been stagnant for thirty years, and the most telling statistic, 70,000 factories have moved overseas. As a result we are hemorrhaging money to foreign countries. You seem to think that sending billions of dollars overseas every year can go on forever …

        By the way, this is what KellyAnne Conway calls “alternative facts”, and there is nothing sneaky or underhanded about them. You bring up your facts, I bring up mine, people make a choice as to which are important.

        See my posts here for a deeper discussion of this question.

        Thanks for your comment,

        w.

  23. Local commentaters here in Atlanta say this kind of order is common when administrations change, but this one goes farther than the usual case. Basically everyone knows that the Trump administration’s policies regarding the EPA and climate change will be very different from those of the outgoing administration. These orders are intended to prevent the EPA from continuing to operate under the old policies until the new head is confirmed, takes command and ‘splains to everyone what the new policies are.

    Essentially, this is the “Ready about!” command; “Hard to lee!” is coming soon.

  24. The thought police will be monitoring all attitudes closely. Any whistle bowing will be dealt with severely. In an age of Post truth/ Alternate facts/ False news we can’t allow anyone to to buck the trend and report accurate observations which may cause dissension in the regime.

    • When emperical data is ‘adjusted’ to create a trend that did not exist, how does ‘accuracy’ apply?

    • Mr. Phillips, I have a serious objection to your use of the phrase “whistle blowing”. This is a term that applies to the practice of exposing illegal activities in an organization, as per the Wikipedia definition that follows:

      “A whistleblower (also whistle-blower or whistle blower)[1] is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public.”

      Therefore “whistle blowing” is intended to be very beneficial, with legal protection allowed to the individual exposing the wrong-doing. This phrase has nothing at all to do with the propagation of rumors or allowing protection to individuals to propagate nonsense in the media, because they don’t like the POTUS. Cry me a river, the votes have been cast and counted.

      Too bad there weren’t any “whistle blowers” in the EPA over the past eight years ……

      Or the past 20+ years ……

  25. There is a change in US i guess?
    Last I was informed You had proposal for a law to forbid all those who had different view than IPCC 1,5-4,5 deg C heating to research or inform the public.
    Now the state forbid their employees to express their own opinion in the name of the state.
    A change for more sanity!

    • oppti, QUOTE WHAT YOU ARE BABBLING ON ABOUT!!! I have no clue who the “you” is that you are railing at when you say “You had proposal for a law “, nor about the “proposal for a law” itself. You are just mumbling into your oatmeal, none of that makes any sense.

      I’m not asking you to stop. I’m asking you to quote what you find objectionable, because as it stands, your post is meaningless.

      w.

  26. Good civil servants keep their mouths shut.

    There is no place for activists of any sort in the civil service. Civil servants are supposed to work hard and dispassionately for the country no matter which party is in power. They take an oath to that effect.

  27. Then, there is the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act of 1939, officially “An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities,” is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials of that branch,[1] from engaging in some forms of political activity.

    I believe that it is no stretch to assert that the preponderance of leaks to and open collaboration with the press, NGOs, and other politically-driven entities, that have been coming from the federal bureaucracies for decades – especially those from State and the EPA – are prohibited political activity per the Act. E.g., James Hanson & “Richard Windsor.”

  28. Thank you very much, Mr. Eschenbach, for your article on this topic. And thank you to those who have very clearly attempted to explain that yes, this is standard operating practice in business. I work for a multinational company and we have to take mandatory training on this and other topics. And there is a shelf-life on this training, requiring review on a specified schedule.

    And yes, there are times when “no comment” is the correct answer however more importantly is to typically respond in the manner of, “I have no comment on that topic, please contact our Public Relations department, they can be reached at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.”

    The overall intent is standard operating practice, however I do agree with Mr. Allan Watt that yes, the magnitude of this specific directive extends beyond what would be considered “normal”. And Mr. Watt very accurately points out that since this is the epitome of “the changing of the guard” at the top levels, it is truly warranted.

    FOIA violation? Get real! Or get a life! This directive is intended to protect the majority of the staff at the EPA from tripping over themselves for if they do, “You’re Fired!” might be heard quite a lot in the halls of the EPA.

  29. Willis have you considered the effect of a tax credit for payroll races on employment? Unlike typical business expenses, employees pay taxes on income not profits, so their expense should be treated differently than other expenses because of their tax benefit to society. Allowing business to take a tax credit for the employees income taxes would provide a huge incentive to hire US workers.

  30. This is standard practise for any large organisation which has the power to influence others.

    Imagine if some intern at the EPA answers the phone from a journalist, gets chatting and let’s slip that there’s an investigation into Biggo Corporation on the desk in front of them.
    The journalist then reports that Biggo Corporation is being investigated. Biggo Corporation shares fall. There are layoffs.

    The report on the desk had actually been found to exonerate Biggo Corporation of virtually everything, except one small incident worth a slapped wrist and a demand to sew grass where there lorries had parked. The journalist told the truth. Biggo Corporation was investigated and a finding upheld. But the impact on Biggo Corporation was vastly excessive.
    So then Biggo Corporation sues the EPA for failing to control its information and misrepresenting Biggo Corporation… More expense for the taxpayer.

    There are many victims in this tale. Not the least of which is the unemployable intern.
    And all caused by an organisation failing to be run properly. This is standard practise for any large organisation for a very good reason.

  31. Apparently Trump added, as an addendum, “If you do comment, please QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS you are referring to, so we can all understand your subject.” ;)

  32. Excellent post, Willis.

    You are absolutely correct. This is standard operating procedure at each company where I have worked either as an employee or as a contractor. The transition to the administration of President Trump has roughly the same effect on Federal agencies as a takeover would have in the private sector. In a takeover, if someone in the target company would make public statements without prior approval, they could find their employment abruptly terminated.

  33. Posted the exact same points as your article on a blog yesterday on “the Hill”. Must have received 20 vicious replies stating the public paid for these employees so they had every right to speak publicly to straight out f u.
    Left just doesn’t want to “get it” and will be forever angry.

  34. One constant with Nick, any conversation he become embroiled in quickly descends into noisy irrelevancy.
    As always, Nick has achieved his purpose. Change the topic of the conversation from reality to himself.

  35. Willis, as you know I’m a huge fan of you and your work. And I agree that the EPA has overstepped its bounds.

    But your fundamental premise here is just incorrect: “The part that folks in the media don’t seem to understand is that this is standard business practice. If you run a large business you can’t have every hothead from the shipping department spouting off to the New York Times about how mean the bosses are. As a result, most large businesses have equivalent policies regarding publishing or discussing the internal business of the organization, particularly with the press.”

    Your statement above implies a parallel between the EPA and “a large business” that is not correct.

    The EPA is a government agency, NOT a business.

    As a taxpayer, I pay their salaries, and the administrators of the agency (up to and including President Trump) are my employees.

    A good analogy is that I’m a board member, and I have every right to know what the hotheads in the shipping department are whining about. Because the EPA is acting in MY name and has as its underlying authority ME, the U.S. taxpayer. If I want to hear the un-massaged, un-spun, personal, subjective comments of an EPA staffer–that is 100% my right, because I’m the one writing the checks, and upon whom the administration’s authority rests.

    • Johna Till Johnson January 25, 2017 at 10:29 am

      The EPA is a government agency, NOT a business.

      As a taxpayer, I pay their salaries, and the administrators of the agency (up to and including President Trump) are my employees.

      A good analogy is that I’m a board member, and I have every right to know what the hotheads in the shipping department are whining about. Because the EPA is acting in MY name and has as its underlying authority ME, the U.S. taxpayer. If I want to hear the un-massaged, un-spun, personal, subjective comments of an EPA staffer–that is 100% my right, because I’m the one writing the checks, and upon whom the administration’s authority rests.

      No, you do NOT “have every right to know what the hotheads in the shipping department are whining about”. If that were the case it would be legal for people to disclose government secrets.

      And no, it is NOT your right to “hear the un-massaged, un-spun, personal, subjective comments” of government employees. Go tell the director of the CIA or the people who design atomic bombs that it is your “right” to know everything that they know, and see how far you get.

      Johna, what you do have is the right to file a Freedom Of Information request if there is something you want to know. Other than that, there is no “right” for citizens to know everything the FBI does, or the Homeland Security does, or what any other government agency does.

      w.

  36. Gareth Phillips January 25, 2017 at 5:14 am

    I recall you had a deep interest in freedom of speech Willis. Strange to see you now quantifying that philosophy with various clauses and restrictions. I recall this site bravely campaigning for Government , Academic and other employees to be free to disclose evidence of tampering with information or data which resulted in an exaggerated view of climate change.
    How things have changed, I wonder what has happened to facilitate such a substantial change in philosophy?

    Say what? That is absolute nonsense. I’ve never held those positions you claim. Nor has this site “bravely campaigned” for some policy on tampering.

    This is why I ask people to QUOTE MY EXACT WORDS, because of charming fellows like you who show up to tell flat-out falsehoods about me.

    If you think there is any conflict between freedom of speech (a right guaranteed to all americans) and business restrictions on what an employee can divulge, you’re simply not paying attention. If you wish to discuss this further, get up off your dead okole and QUOTE WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE.

    Man, some people’s children …

    w.

  37. Does this mean that Gavin will have to shut down his blog, which he operates on the taxpayers’ dime, once these reforms reach NASA?

  38. Phil. January 25, 2017 at 7:54 am

    The Trump-Russia dossier was a privately produced reported initially commissioned by one of Trump’s republican rivals for the nomination and had been circulated to the press and others (John McCain for instance). It wasn’t a classified document and wasn’t a product of the intelligence community.

    You and others miss the point. That bogus “dossier” was 1) wrongly attached to the briefing, because the intelligence community knew it was false, and then 2) the FACT that the dossier was attached to the briefing was leaked to the public. This gave the “dossier” instant credibility.

    Trump is absolutely right that that leak had to come from the intelligence services, because nobody else knew the bogus document was attached to the briefing.

    Which makes the whole thing an intelligence setup to damage Trump.

    See my post here on the subject. You’re being led around by the nose by the media and the intelligence community.

    w.

  39. Willis,

    It goes beyond what you have written. Yes, these are standard business practices. They are also standard practices at the EPA. The EPA is being reminded that these are their standard practices.

    The Office Of Public Affairs is in charge of all of this and the appointee who will be running this office will change. As can be seen on the OPA website: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-office-public-affairs-opa

    OPA is the primary office for all EPA communications. The Associate Administrator for Public Affairs is the principal advisor to the Administrator on all issues concerning short-term and long-term strategic communications. OPA:
    •prepares speeches for the Administrator and senior managers,
    •serves as the principal news media gateway for official agency announcements, press releases and statements, speeches, Congressional and public hearing testimony, biographies of principal officers, and other documents of public interest,
    •coordinates the agency’s external message for emergency response activities,
    •serves as the agency-wide point of contact for the planning, developing, and reviewing of all agency print, promotional, display, audiovisual and broadcast products (other than news and web-based products) intended for the public,
    •directs agency multilingual outreach and communications efforts,
    •manages EPA’s web content, including content on epa.gov and in new social media, and
    •communicates with EPA personnel on a variety of topics.

    Programs and Projects Managed by OPA
    •EPA newsroom
    •Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other social media channels
    •The EPA Blog

  40. One of the reasons that federal agencies can’t allow everyone from the janitor to the mail room clerk posting tweets as though they were official policy is this recent tweet from the Badlands NPS: “…Ocean acidity has increased 30% since the industrial revolution…”

    As I have written here previously, “A pH decline from 8.2 to 8.1, the commonly claimed recent change in seawater, (http://www.whoi.edu/fileserver.do?id=165564&pt=2&p=150429) amounts to a change of -1.2% on the pH scale (-0.1/8.2) and it would take a change of about -15% to reach neutrality (pH = 7). It is disingenuous to cite an equivalent change of 30% in the untransformed active hydrogen ion concentration (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/alex-mifflin/oceans-co2-seafood_b_7286392.html) without noting the percentage change required to reach even neutrality, let alone an actual significant acid condition. The alleged change that has occurred in hydrogen ion concentration is actually about 25% (The value usually cited is rounded up considerably!). It would take a change of nearly 1500% in the hydrogen ion concentration to reach neutrality. That is, there has been a percentage change of about 1.7% (25%/1500%) of hydrogen ion concentration necessary to reach neutrality.”

    The Badlands tweet was little more than sound-bite propaganda intended to influence the unsophisticated. For that reason, this out-of-context tweet was not science, but rather, bald-faced political activism.

  41. ‘The part that folks in the media don’t seem to understand is that this is standard business practice.’

    Oh they understand, alright – but spin and misrepresentation is THEIR standard business practice.

  42. Perhaps I’m repeating what has already been discussed, I don’t want to read all the snippy comments that are going back and forth on the subject just to check. FOIA requests must be for already existing documents. No interpretations, comments, opinions, annotations, or compositions are made for the FOIA response; everything that can be released existed before the request was made. Also, there is a comprehensive formal list of what can not and will not be released to a FOIA request, mainly oriented towards protecting criminal justice activities, non-relevant personal privacy, and classified information. This is all very different from leaks, postings, and general statements about internal business made by those inside wishing to direct public opinion.

  43. In addition, some staff members spent part of the week before Trump’s inauguration downloading “everything” from the EPA’s climate change pages so that it would be preserved no matter what happened, the employee said. The employee said some people had been asked to preserve data on physical media, such as flash drives, so that a copy existed — even though much of the scientific and emissions data on the agency’s site exists elsewhere in the government.

    First off, I have never seen a single scientist who ever cited the EPA’s climate change pages for anything.

    This is because it’s not just that “much of the scientific and emissions data on the agency’s site exists elsewhere in the government” as they say. ALL of the data on the agency’s site is secondary data from somewhere else. Well, except for the often-bogus and often-political “scientific” analyses by their pet tame scientists …

    Not to mention that the Wayback Machine never forgets, making their oh-so-noble work of preserving data 100% paranoia-driven redundancy …

    The best thing about global warming is that the snowflakes are melting …

    w.

    • “Not to mention that the Wayback Machine never forgets, making their oh-so-noble work of preserving data 100% paranoia-driven redundancy …”

      Where is your proof that all data is accessible through a web site, and that ALL web site data is captured by the wayback machine?

      [instead of being lazy and demanding, why not look it up yourself? -mod]

  44. Also, under FOIA, what gets released, or not released, is, officially, an agency level response. When there is any dispute, there is an appeal process and, ultimately, the Federal courts get to adjudicate.

  45. An awful lot of discussion about something actually quite simple. |FOIA is a mechanism for transparency for serious inquiry as to what our government is doing. The gag order is a mechanism to speak with one voice and avoid sowing confusion. If someone seriously wanted to avoid transparency they would order a halt to all internal communications and start shredding documents and scrubbing digital media, like Hillary’s email server.

  46. After alternative facts we now also have alternative motives. If the purpose of all this is simply to make sure government employees don’t communicate directly to the public, why is it only applied to EPA and not to all other agencies? Doesn’t make sense. One has to be pretty naive to think that this is all there is to it.

  47. The EPA should be Abolished. All these Federal agencies no longer serve a useful purpose. They were designed for a much different time their usefulness is about as useful as your old heavy picture tube TV in the attic. Most all states have their own version of the EPA and its closer to home. In this age of social media and lightning fast communication government close to home works smarter and faster

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