Feature:Opinion

Penn State whitewashed ClimateGate

Photo of Chris Horner
Chris Horner
Contributor
  • See All Articles
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Bio

      Chris Horner

      Christopher C. Horner serves as a Senior Fellow at CEI. As an attorney in Washington, DC Horner has represented CEI as well as scientists and Members of the U.S. House and Senate on matters of environmental policy in the federal courts including the Supreme Court. He has written on numerous topics in publications ranging from law reviews to legal and industrial trade journals to print and online opinion pages, and is the author of two best-selling books: Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed (Regnery, 2008) and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism (Regnery, 2007), which spent half of 2007 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Correction: Mann didn’t “ask” Wahl to delete the emails, he just forwarded him a request to delete the emails.

A federal government inspector general has revealed prima facie proof that the so-called independent inquiries widely if implausibly described as clearing the ClimateGate principals of wrongdoing were, in fact, whitewashes. This has been confirmed to Senate offices. It will not be released to the public for some time because the investigation is ongoing.

The document, an interview transcript, will put an end to the foolish talk of anything resembling a ClimateGate “inquiry” having taken place. It will also invite a real inquiry into the affair. Expect fireworks, as the one such effort, by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is being fought hysterically by Big Science and Big Academia.

Critically, it also begs questions of Penn State University, which conducted one of the three supposed inquiries into ClimateGate.

The key point is that the Penn State investigators never interviewed a principal who was able to confirm or deny a key charge against “Hockey Stick” lead author of “Hide the Decline” infamy Michael Mann. This individual has now been interviewed, and what he told federal investigators has indicted Mann and Penn State.

The inspector general’s report specifically reveals Penn State’s wagon-circlers to have been at best comically negligent/inept in allowing Mann to not answer the damning charge they were tasked with examining: did he delete or ask others to delete records? At worst, they were complicit in the cover-up.

Simply by interviewing Mann’s colleague Eugene Wahl, PSU would have exposed Mann’s “answer” for what it was (and wasn’t). Such an interview was obviously necessary for any inquiry. Penn State chose not to conduct it, for its own reasons. A federal inspector general has now conducted it. And the result is damning of both Mann and the parties that chose not to interview Wahl.

As background, Phil Jones in the United Kingdom asked Mann, now at Penn State, by email to delete records being sought under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act, and to get a colleague to do so as well:

Mike:
Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment — minor family crisis.

Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.

We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

“Gene” is Eugene Wahl, who now works for the federal government.

Mann’s terse reply included in pertinent part:

I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP

Now, from Penn State’s supposed inquiry and exoneration of Michael Mann:

Allegation 2: Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data, related to AR4, as suggested by Phil Jones?

Finding 2. After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data related to AR4, as suggested by Dr. Phil Jones. Dr. Mann has stated that he did not delete emails in response to Dr. Jones’ request. Further, Dr. Mann produced upon request a full archive of his emails in and around the time of the preparation of AR4. The archive contained e-mails related to AR4.

If the above excerpt accurately reflects Mann’s testimony, both Mann’s “answer” and his peers’ acceptance of it ought to raise red flags. Penn State asked Mann and only Mann if he destroyed records or was indirectly involved in destroying records. Mann said only that he did not destroy records. And that did it. Even though Phil Jones asked Mann to instruct Wahl to do so as well.

Allow me to translate this in relevant part:

PSU: This is potentially very grave. We must know: Did you do A or B?

Mann: I did not do A.

PSU: Ah. There we go. It appears there is no evidence he did A or B.

Close enough for academia, I suppose. But spare us the “cleared” tag and the claim to have conducted an inquiry.