A reply to Michael Mann and Eugene Wahl

Christopher Horner Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
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Michael Mann has responded to my piece in The Daily Caller accusing Penn State of whitewashing ClimateGate. Mann’s response is typically off point from the question:

The claim by fossil fuel industry lobbyist Chris Horner in his “Daily Caller” piece that I told Eugene Wahl to delete emails is a fabrication — a lie, and a libelous allegation. My only involvement in the episode in question is that I forwarded Wahl an email that Phil Jones had sent me, which I felt Wahl needed to see. There was no accompanying commentary by me or additional correspondence from me regarding the matter, nor did I speak to Wahl about the matter. This is, in short, a despicable smear that, more than anything else, speaks to the depths of dishonesty of professional climate change deniers like Chris Horner, Marc Morano, Stephen McIntyre, and Anthony Watts.

Please state where I “claim . . . that [Mann] told Eugene Wahl to delete emails,” and also what is libelous, Mr. Mann. If you do the latter, I am happy to retract it.

But, “Wahl says Mann did indeed ask Wahl to destroy records, and Wahl did” doesn’t do it, unless you want to crop off one end of the sentence (“Wahl says”) and replace it with something more appealing to your thesis (an inside joke for those familiar with the whole Hockey Stick saga). Chuckle.

Your allegation is false until you somehow demonstrate otherwise, and your problem lies with the NOAA inspector general whose transcript indicates these events transpired.

A guy who has clearly lawyered up probably ought to call his lawyer to see what libel means before accusing someone of it. It actually doesn’t mean accurately using someone’s name in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

Similarly, Eugene Wahl, the NOAA employee who worked for Alfred University (a place that I understand gave Ward Churchill an honorary PhD — while we’re busy making associations — though I’m not sure it was in climate) at the time he deleted the emails, writes in his public reply to the piece:

The Daily Caller blog yesterday contained an inaccurate story regarding a correspondence that was part of the emails hacked from East Anglia University Climate Research Unit (CRU) in November 2009.

Mr. Wahl, please state what the inaccurate statement was. You forgot to.

Wahl goes on:

For the record, while I received the email from CRU as forwarded by Dr. Mann, the forwarded message came without any additional comment from Dr. Mann; there was no request from him to delete emails. At the time of the email in May 2008, I was employed by Alfred University, New York.  I became a NOAA employee in August 2008.

The emails I deleted while a university employee are the correspondence I had with Dr. Briffa of CRU regarding the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all of which have been in the public domain since the CRU hack in November 2009.  This correspondence has been extensively examined and no misconduct found.  As a NOAA employee, I follow agency record retention policies and associated guidance from information technology staff.

But he did delete emails after receiving Jones’ request. He says he deleted the emails cited in the request that Mann forwarded to him from Jones. In response to Jones’ request that Mann ask Wahl to delete emails. But — and here’s where us non-scientists are missing the boat, it seems — Jones’ request was to Mann. You see? To, well, to ask Wahl to do what Wahl did. In response to which Mann forwarded the request. From Jones.

So, really, Mann never asked him to delete the emails, just like you can never be “alone” with someone in the White House. See?

Let’s review the points:

Penn State asked Mann, in pertinent part:

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?

Mann gave a non-answer, according to the way Penn State’s panel tells things, which nonetheless lapped it up and repackaged it as new and improved.

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.

Did you do A or B? I did not do A. OK, he didn’t do A or B.

PSU’s panel accepted the non-response, then dressed it up as claiming something there is no indication it actually claimed.

So Mann yells “libel!” and will figure out where and how later. Wahl says I wrote an inaccurate piece without saying how or where it was inaccurate, but is adamant that no one really asked him to delete the emails he deleted on his own volition or after hearing voices or reading it on a tortilla in Mexico or in an oil stain in the parking lot, but regardless, upon receiving this email, which didn’t ask him to delete any emails but only names the emails that need to be disappeared and expresses a desire that someone ask him to delete them.

I think we understand quite well.

Chris Horner is a senior fellow at The Competitive Enterprise Institute.