Is Turnabout Fair Play?

It’s hard to resist looking at the newly leaked documents from the contemptible Heartland Institute.

I was actually most shocked by their hand in trying to protect Governor Walker’s putsch in Wisconsin. “Angry Badger” indeed…

But shouldn’t people, no matter how nasty, get to keep their secrets? Is this ethically all that different from the CRU hacking? I’m serious. Those who think the CRU hacking was a perfectly fine thing need not respond.

UPDATE: The bit about “dissuading teachers from teaching science” was presumably just a sloppy edit, right? But then again, an embarrassing choice of words in a document intended to be private is not something that these guys would harp on for years on end, say if it came from a real scientist, right? So we surely shouldn’t make a fuss about this, right?

“Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain- two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.”

– from the Climate Strategy document. (emphasis added)

UPDATE – regardless of this revealing slip, (and of what the revealed documents imply about Heartland’s legitimacy as a 501c3 charitable organization, a topic that John Mashey has been pursuing assiduously),

Chris Mooney (in email, quoted with permission) spots perhaps the most surprising and most disturbing aspect of the documents in what is NOT there.

most of our ideological opponents think they’re actually right about the science, which means they would not want to prevent science from being taught, but rather prevent what they view as biased environmentalist science being taught. That there is no indication of this here is very, very striking.

UPDATE Feb 15: As is often the case with climate blogstorms, Adam Siegel is doing a good job of keeping up with fresh links at Get Energy Smart Now.

UPDATE Feb 15: Not a peep out of Watts yet. This morning he is featuring an especially clueless rant about El Nino instead. “It is infeasible that El Niño can arise from atmosphere and sun alone by warming this mass of water. Neither air temp or solar radiance change enough to cause this phenomena.” Well, yeah. “This phenomena” [sic] is caused by an anomalous strengthening or weakening of the trade winds, leading to warm water increasingly sloshing over and piling up in the west Pacific, or the pile sloshing back over to the east, meanwhile reinforcing the trade wind anomaly so it becomes sticky. The system is reset when the positive El Nino phase (warm in the east) radiates extra heat into space. These vertical cross sections along the equator should give the idea. The “atmosphere and sun” are not alleged by anyone to “warm this mass of water” on the oscillation’s time scale. The denier explanation? Volcanoes.

UPDATE Feb 15: Bishop Hill seems to have had the response delegated to him. “Nothing to see here,” is of course what they are saying. Given the context, that wears a little thin.

dissuade teachers from teaching science”? “we sponsor the NIPCC to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports”?(see below) “This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.”

Hmmm… Interesting positions for a non-profit to take.

Pity we don’t have ten years of emails to trawl through. Perhaps they’d release those?

UPDATE Feb 15: Watts finally replies. My response:

1) I do not begrudge anyone funding for publicly exposing data in an honest and even-handed way. The general incapacity of the scientific institutions for doing so in a reasonable, up-to-date, convenient way is quite a legitimate point of complaint. And Watts may well do this honestly, because unlike Heartland in general, he appears to “buy his own dog food”. I can imagine how this could be mishandled, but I’m not one for prior restraint.

2) Watts has a very good point that Gore purportedly has $300 million (total) compared with Heartland’s 5 to 10 million per year. Is Gore’s counter-campaign ineffective, and if so why?

Both are good topics for further discussion, unlike the silliness that usually passes for science over at Watts’. But both of the above are clearly intended to deflect interest from Heartland’s obviously revealed indifference to the facts of the matter, and its as-suspected dubious status as a 501c3.

UPDATE Feb 15: Heartland Press Release:

Yesterday afternoon, two advocacy groups posted online several documents they claimed were The Heartland Institute’s 2012 budget, fundraising, and strategy plans. Some of these documents were stolen from Heartland, at least one is a fake, and some may have been altered.

The stolen documents appear to have been written by Heartland’s president for a board meeting that took place on January 17. He was traveling at the time this story broke yesterday afternoon and still has not had the opportunity to read them all to see if they were altered. Therefore, the authenticity of those documents has not been confirmed.

Since then, the documents have been widely reposted on the Internet, again with no effort to confirm their authenticity.

One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.

We respectfully ask all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, especially the fake “climate strategy” memo and any quotations from the same, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.

The individuals who have commented so far on these documents did not wait for Heartland to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents. We believe their actions constitute civil and possibly criminal offenses for which we plan to pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation. We ask them in particular to immediately remove these documents and all statements about them from the blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.

How did this happen? The stolen documents were obtained by an unknown person who fraudulently assumed the identity of a Heartland board member and persuaded a staff member here to “re-send” board materials to a new email address. Identity theft and computer fraud are criminal offenses subject to imprisonment. We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes.

Apologies: The Heartland Institute apologizes to the donors whose identities were revealed by this theft. We promise anonymity to many of our donors, and we realize that the major reason these documents were stolen and faked was to make it more difficult for donors to support our work. We also apologize to Heartland staff, directors, and our allies in the fight to bring sound science to the global warming debate, who have had their privacy violated and their integrity impugned.

Lessons: Disagreement over the causes, consequences, and best policy responses to climate change runs deep. We understand that.

But honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.

Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.


RESPONSE: Heartland is challenging the veracity of the document containing all three of the most damning statements. I have no information about the provenance of these documents. Again, people who ought to know are saying that they are plausible, but that is hardly a proof of authenticity.

Heartland’s aggressive approach is interesting given their past position on the CRU hacking.

My main interest here is in trying to establish some good for the goose and good for the gander rules. Some people on both “sides” are reluctant to see any equivalence. Heartland, not surprisingly, is among them.


UPDATE Feb 17: The response from Bradley, Karoly, Mann, Overpeck, Santer, Schmidt and Trenberth is the obviously appropriate answer to the question that frames this article.



Borehole item(s).


  1. From the climate policy pdf:

    Heartland plays an important role in climate communications, especially through our in-house
    experts (e.g., Taylor) through his Forbes blog and related high profile outlets, our conferences,
    and through coordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of
    rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts).

    AVe have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in
    2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.

    It's only 'wrong' when willfully misinterpreted. Hahahahahahahahaha

  2. Oh, and this is fucking frightening!

    Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12
    schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the
    U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will
    focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and
    uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We
    tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by
    the Anonymous Donor.

  3. It's an interesting question whether the same moral concerns that made the CRU email hacking wrong apply here. Some factors that might legitimately lead someone to view the cases differently:

    1. As I understand things so far, this document release came from an inside whistleblower, someone we can assume was authorized (at least at some point) to have access to these documents. The CRU email release was described as the result of a theft, if I recall; someone using unauthorized access to the computer system to steal the emails. Now, you could certainly argue that Heartland would not have authorized this release, and so you could view the perpetrator as having himself (or herself) violated an ethical commitment, but I'm not sure how far the stigma of making such an unauthorized use should reach. And at a minimum, if the above assumptions about how the documents came to be released are true, the CRU case involved criminal activity, while this case probably did not.

    2. I think the actions of those being informed upon are ethically significant. In the case of the CRU emails, numerous investigations have exonerated the people whose emails were released from having engaged in wrongdoing. It's not clear yet whether or not there might be smoking guns in this document release about illegal or unethical behavior at Heartland, but even in the absence of evidence for behavior that rises (falls?) to that level, it might turn out to be the case that the Heartland documents supply evidence that Heartland is, in fact, engaged in coordinated attempts to discredit legitimate science and mislead both the public and decision makers about the underlying scientific facts of human-caused climate change. Such activity has the potential to cause great harm to future generations. Should the potential for such future harm be a factor in the ethical equation?

    To put it another way, in answer to the question Michael raised, "shouldn’t people, no matter how nasty, get to keep their secrets?" I would respond that no, they should not, at least not in all circumstances. Certainly law enforcement and the government do not view criminal conspiracies as possessing any right to "keep their secrets"; that's why we have things like court-sanctioned wiretaps.

    This is not the same as that, true. And if we say that it's okay to steal documents from an organization that you _believe_ to be up to no good, then I could see someone making the case that that would excuse things like the theft of the CRU emails, at least as long as the people who stole them actually believed in the "warmist conspiracy" they were trying to discredit (which for all I know could actually have been the case with the CRU emails).

    If you commit a wrong in the name of preventing an even greater wrong, you certainly have an obligation to think very carefully beforehand about the possibility that you yourself might turn out to be wrong about that greater wrong. Since the hypothetically-sincere CRU email thieves were, clearly, wrong in believing that they were going to actually expose evidence of wrongdoing, I think that would take away any moral or ethical support that such wrongdoing (if it actually had existed) would have conferred on their actions.

    All of this assumes, by the way, that this actually was a legitimate release by a bona fide whistleblower, rather than some kind of deceptive false flag operation, in which Heartland (or some third party) released faked documents in an effort to discredit those making use of the documents. (This was one theory I always thought made a fair amount of sense in the case of the "Killian Documents", forged documents allegedly showing problems with George W. Bush's National Guard service record, which ended up costing Dan Rather his job.)

    Anyway, it's an interesting question you raise. I'm curious what others think about it.

  4. "Is turnabout fair play?"

    Is this really the right question? IS the CRU hack and the release of some Heartland documents they really the same thing?

    Yes they both involve the release of communications not meant for public consumption, but private emails are different from things like a fundraising plan. Presumably Heartland's 2012 fundraising plan was intended to reach a wider audience than the typical off the cuff email, and thus was written with more care.

    But more importantly many of the 'gotcha' quotes in the CRU emails "such as the 'trick' and the 'travesty') were relating to issues being more or less openly discussed in the scientific literature. So nothing new was revealed by the emails. This is very different to documents relating to the inner workings of a powerful think tank. Academia is orders of magnitude more open than the Heartland institute.

    So I would argue that this document leak is very different than the CRU email hack, however, many of the lessons in context (or lack thereof) learned after the CRU hack need to be applied here. A few poorly chosen words might seem particularly damning, but without context it would be hard to draw meaningful conclusions.

    More importantly than the actual document leak is to compare what happens afterwards. After the CRU leak the openness and self-correcting nature of academia ensured that those who wrote and received the emails would be investigated (A total of 9 investigations which turned up nothing nefarious). Will we see several independent investigations of Heartland? I doubt it very much.

    This difference alone (assuming I am correct)speaks volumes and should be highlighted as often as possible.

  5. Pingback: What I’m Reading Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Rationally Thinking Out Loud

  6. Interesting that Revkin's name would be thrown into the mix as a potential ally, ala Curry. Seems we weren't the only ones interpreting Revkin's reporting as "antipathy" toward "Hansen" or "Gleick" or "Trenberth".

    So no matter what type of "middle ground" or "objectivity" these guys like to champion, at least we know we were right that what they do serves strategies, like "leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming". It's good to know that lobbyists understand that too.

  7. Ah, if only Heartland e-mails had been leaked. Can you imagine what would be found in there, when just the 'innocent' strategy documents are already that bad?

    The question is more: should 'alarmists' go on a rampage, frothing at the mouth, screaming 'triumph!' from the rooftops, like the denialists did and are still doing? After the CRU hack they'd have every right, but do they want to stoop to that level?

  8. Is turnabout fair play? When we get tens of inquiries into Heartland's inner workings and scores of lawsuits to compel Heartland to release its internal documents, then I'll worry about that question.

    But hey, it's election season in the US these days, and we really, really need to Reach Out Across The Aisle™...

    In other words, what Dan Moutal said.

    -- frank

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  13. IMO "effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science" is a typographical error, resonant though the literal meaning may be.

    I'm not offering answers to the MT's Q, just questions (which do strike me as shifting the moral balance, if we agree that the propriety is a quantitative measure. But even so, there's still the Q of where to draw the line. )

    (Note - much of what I bring up here has already been raised in the comments above.)

    Should the propriety depend on whether (as noted above) the docs were leaked vs. hacked? vs. accessible online under a flashing neon light saying "over here folks"? (and re the latter, how does it change the eqn if they were possibly put there by a third party, unbeknownst to reader and/or author?)

    Should it depend on whether the docs reveal wrongdoing affecting the public interest? What degree of wrongdoing? (Trying to set us up for a less habitable planet essentially forever, in human terms? Deliberately luring teenagers into becoming addicted to tobacco? Employing intemperate language? Jaywalking?) How does it change the equation if disclosing the docs' content invades the privacy of individuals?

    Was it legit. for The Insider to leak tobacco documents?

    What if this leak was about ThinkProgress instead of Heartland?

  14. Pingback: The meaning of HeartlandGate : Greg Laden's Blog

  15. There is, as far as I know, still a subset of the pseudoskeptic community that persists in calling the email release the result of a "leak," rather than a hack. I'll stipulate that these two "unauthorized releases" are equivalent, for the sake of discussion.

    I'd argue that there is a utility argument to be made for leaks being ethical when the behavior revealed is unambiguous wrongdoing of such a scope that it outweighs the wrong of invading someone's privacy. Obviously there is a big judgment call here, but I think one could make a case that Daniel Ellsberg revealing the US's role in the Diem coup for example, would be justifiable. Government coverup of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed by WikiLeaks might be another example.

    I think the uncovering of some diplomatic strategies held close to the vest in the cable dump fails that test. I think the CRU hack/leak and this revelation fail as well. Sure, one could make a case that the dastardly deeds of Heartland justify this, just as one might make a case that the perfidious professors deserved to have their private correspondence released to the world.

    I'm a supporter of David Brin's "Transparent Society" ideas, but that scheme presupposes universal openness, not selective leaks of partial information. Enjoyable as it is to see the other side get a bit of their own medicine, I don't intend to contort myself ethically to show how two wrongs somehow make a right.

  16. Well, again, as I said in the case of the CRU attack, either there's something specific and actionable, in which case we should focus on pursuing that with all our might, or there's nothing actionable, in which case we should just leave it.

    Meantime, I see that "dissuade teachers from teaching science" is fast becoming a meme which the low-information types will be parroting for the next few years. All hail the bipartisan stupidification...

    -- frank

  17. Did someone outside hack in and steal the documents, or did someone within the group leak them?

    I could see some outsider being prosecuted for illegal trespassing or theft, but if a trusted insider couldn't stomach continued cooperation, what would be criminally wrong with whistleblowing or leaking?

    I'd guess they best they could do would be fire the leaker and maybe try to sue them for damaging their reputation.

  18. Also, for those who've not seen this before: here is page 7 of Heartland's 2010 prospectus:

    (No one's privacy was harmed in the acquisition of this diagram -- it was right there in the open.)

    -- frank

    [ +1 -mt ]

  19. I see it somewhat more subtly. For example, Johnson said publicly in 1964 that he was not expanding the war when he was doing just that. There was nothing actionable (that is: he was not lying to Congress, which is a felony; just to the American people), but in my judgment there was wrongdoing which it was right to expose.

    The most important ethical questions, in my view, are ones that don't lend themselves well to causal conditionals of the if A then B else C form.

  20. Pingback: Anti Science “Think” Tank Pwnd | The X Blog

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  22. Re "dissuade teachers from teaching science," I think it's entirely clear what it means. The reference is to climate science, although one could imagine some collateral damage resulting from such an attack on one part of the curriculum. Otherwise, it means exactly what it says. Heartland and its funders are not so delusional that they can imagine getting their curriculum adopted on any significant scale (among climate denialist private schools and home schoolers, sure, but such people are already not teaching the science), so its primary purpose is as a tool to make the teaching of climate science seem so controversial that it's best to just drop the subject entirely.

    Imagine an outraged group of parents showing up at a school board meeting waving their (allegedly equally legitimate) alternative. The choice is to engage in a running fight with them or just quietly drop what is after all a pretty small part of the science curriculum.

    This can't be fought as easily as intelligent design, where not only can it be directly exposed as bad science, but an appeal can be made to separation of church and state. The latter is very pointedly not available to us.

    In addition, an anti-climate science curriculum will come with much more impressive-sounding scientific endorsements (just to note that ~50 years ago Fred Singer ran the U.S. satellite program for a few years, which past role doesn't mean much since it was in any case an administrative position but sure sounds impressive; also see this freshly-minted example of D-K syndrome from a physicist with some impressive-sounding and very much current qualifications).

    Many here will also recall the partial ideological capture of the National Science Teachers Association by Exxon Mobil 5 years ago (and it would be good to see how things have evolved there). Now imagine the Heartland curriculum coupled with a grants program, awfully tempting in these days of severe budget cuts.

    This sort of thing is insidious, and the fact that Wojick and Heartlend are scientific jokes shouldn't tempt us to discount their efforts, noting the exposure in the last few days of the Sierra Club having secretly taken $26M from the gas industry (!) to fund its anti-coal campaign. Money talks.

    Finally, over at DeSmogBlog someone suggested a Chicago plutocrat as the likely identity of Heartland's major anonymous donor. It's by no means proof, but I find the parallels to the Islamophobic video campaign and the (barely) failed effort to take over a small liberal arts college to be compelling. In any case, it's clear that for such people the climate debate is simply another front in a much broader culture war, notwithstanding that some of them (e.g. the Kochs) have direct fossil fuel interests.

  23. Dave, IIRC the leaker was identified as a donor, and these are indeed the sort of documents a donor would be expected to receive. It's easy to imagine someone deciding to funnel a modest amount of money to Heartland in order to get access to them.

    Staffers would also have access to these, of course, but I think we would have seen some additional material were such a person the source. Alernatively, I suppose it could be a staffer covering their tracks by pointing to a much larger group of potential leakers.

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  26. It appears that those who got the documents did not wait, as I did, to get confirmation that they were authentic. Anthony Watts insisted that I get some kind of proof that the mails were real. I got that from UAE. Even then, we worried that one or two of the worst pieces might be forgeries.

    Given the personal nature of some of the documents, they contain employee information( hiring and firing) who ever had access to them was probably on the board or in HR. heartland claims the documents were obtained by identity theft. If that's the case, it would be much more interesting than a simple "hack' of CRU which is a minor offense under english law. I wonder how deep the civil liability could run. If a blog posts personell information without due diligence, information that was obtained by identity theft, could get interesting. not sure, just a question

    That said, once heartland confirms that all the documents are accurate I have no issue with folks reading them.

  27. C'mon folks. Arguing about Heartland is not relevant. The science is definitely not settled,

    [ yadda yadda yadda etc, etc. See the whole letter in the borehole for much more... ]

    Then we have the Medieval Warming Period. There are some 900+ peer-reviewed studies, which have come from some 40+ countries showing that the MWP was as warm as this warming, plus as long a duration. And additional confirming studies of that continue to show up. (All can be accessed from links provided by

    You can argue politics (and religion) forever. However, in science you are not entitled to your own facts.

    [ ...unlike yourself, that is? You assert that "There are some 900+ peer-reviewed studies, which have come from some 40+ countries showing that the MWP was as warm as this warming"

    Really? Evidence please? -mt ]

  28. Well that's a nice ex post facto defense of your own role in all this, Steven. What would have happened if CRU had pulled a Heartland and denied everything?

    Of course, Heartland's story could be correct. If so, they should have solid leads on finding the perpetrator. But on the other hand, perhaps they are playing hardball (go ahead and prove me wrong, you've got nothin'!) in a way that a public university could not.

    As you can see, it worked on me. I am not about to take on an outfit like theirs in court. They'd grind the likes of compulsively honest me to a paste in five minutes. And they have a point - I have no way of knowing whether the most embarrassing document was real.

    I'd really like to know if that most embarrassing document was in fact real, but presumably its distribution was tighter than the others is it was, and probably it will not be confirmed for a long time if ever. So we're just left with the same suspicions as ever.

    But what of the hypothetical. If CRU had just blatantly denied the veracity of the stolen emails, is it your claim that we would never have heard of them?

  29. Heartland havent denied everything.

    They've denied one document.

    That document has weird document properties. The others are all pretty clear about who wrote them and when. I would expect a responsible person to check these kind of things. I certainly checked them with CRU. And I did more than that.

    I'm pretty clear about my role. The mails were controlled by Anthony and Charles. I promised not to release them ( we didnt know the hacker had put them several places) . My job was to see if I could find anything that indicated they were fake. That was Anthony's first concern.
    So, I called Mc and read him mails over the phone. I read all the mails looking for anything that looked To good to be true. I did some forensics. Looked at attachments and did some forensics there. In the end, Tom fuller gave me legal advice: you need to wait until you get confirmation from CRU and approval from Anthony. Even Then you dont know that all the mails are real. He advised that if I were quote them, I should still say they may not be true. which I did. On thursday I got the confirmation from UEA.

    Now, you pose the hypothetical. what if CRU said that they were fake.

    1. prior to my posting a pointer to the file?
    2. after my posting to the file?

    1. Prior to. I would have taken Tom's advice and not revealed the existence of the mails. Our main concern was that the files were a trap. why step into a trap.

    2. After my posting. I would not have written a book if CRU had pointed to one single mail that was phoney.


  30. Mosher's concern trolling is pathetic.

    Re the strategy doc, it being early in 2012 all they have to do is not undertake some or all of those activities (plenty of other stuff to do) or just change the particulars enough to bolster a claim that they're different activities.

    One the science ed business in particular, any curriculum with Heartland or Wojick written on it is now irretrievably tainted, so there's that. OTOH it can be done next year by CEI or whoever, using some other "scientist" as a front, and if so pointing out the connection to this ancient history (public and media memory being so short) will be seen as not too noteworthy.

    The threat of a lawsuit is empty in substance, as discovery would blow them wide open, anonymous donor and all. The real threat is the expense of litigation, backed up by anonymous deep pockets. All of this is a bit of a sideshow in the big picture, but I might wish for someone on our side to call their bluff.

    Hopefully the Grauniad will do right by this. The present controversy over the GWPF makes it doubly topical, plus I seem to recall them owing us one. IIRC they're pretty fearless when it comes to this sort of lawsuit, being their own deep pockets in that regard.

    Hmm, come to think of it, could the primary purpose of the Heartland denial of some of the documents be directed at keeping that material out of the current GWPF FOI inquiry, given that some similar evidence just got admitted? So many think tanks, so many deep pockets to hide...

  31. If that’s the case, it would be much more interesting than a simple “hack’ of CRU which is a minor offense under english law.

    Is there any other legislation which deals with computer hacking?

    The Terrorism Act 2000

    When the Terrorism Act first came into force it made the threat of or use of computer hacking a potential act of terrorism.

    Under the Terrorism Act not all hacking will be considered to be terrorism. Accordingly the use or threat of an action designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system will be a terrorist action only if both of the following conditions are satisfied:

    It is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public

    It is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause

    The act does not, however, make for additional penalties for hackers who would be punished under the existing laws of the Computer Misuse Act.

    Or it's all terrorism.

  32. Pingback: Some notes on the Heartland Leak | Wott's Up With That?

  33. Who could have or would have set such a trap? Surely not CRU!

    Anyway, in balancing the events, CRU's capacity to lie needs to be put up against the capacity of Heartland to do so.

    I am just speculating, of course, but I find it easier to imagine the damage control meeting this morning at Heartland coming up with an imaginary theft scenario and a denial of the most embarassing of the documents than to imagine anything comparable happening at a second rank British university which showed anything but PR and legal agility in the actual event.

    If you're telling the truth, there's a sense in which CRU should have lied, and comparably, that Heartland should lie.

    I'm not saying they did of course.

  34. Watts and Heartland just lost the high ground. Now they have to wallow around in the mud with their rent seeking counterparts on the other side of the controversy.

    Meanwhile the rest of us are just going to wait a while longer to see if frogs start falling from the sky or whatever the climate disruption du jour is.

  35. This is interesting. It's Wojick at Curry's, just an hour ago:

    "The web is loaded with pro-CAGW teaching materials, many federally funded. These are not presenting a balanced view of the facts. The basic fact is that climate science is a great debate. My goal is to communicate that fact, in grade level appropriate scientific detail."

    Other than the mention in the allegedly-fake document, does Wojick have a history of K-12 curriculum development or at the least expression of a desire to do so? Not that I know of, but OTOH he's a third-rater to whom I've paid little attention. Anyone?

    OTOH I suppose it could be the case that the document could be fake even if Wojick had approached Heartland for funding for such a thing, i.e. that could have been known to the faker and ended up in the document even if Heartland had expressed no interest.

    OTTH, a fake document can have contents that are entirely true.

    I think I'm going to need more hands.

  36. Sorry, Dave, missed one listed elsewhere (Science Daily is just a aggregator site for press releaes describing research results, so no press release means no listing there). Oh look, it's another model failure too.

  37. The damage to Heartland is self inflicted. They claim that to get confidential documents all you have to is pull a simple "hi this is my new email please send me all top secret documents you have". Its beyond belief that is what happened and almost beyond belief that a company with such controversial clients and practices is so sloppy with this kind of information. Clients will have a long hard look at them in terms of their security. The likes of Microsoft and GM really dont want dragged into this debate. They have enough controvosies in their own turf.

    The next damage is to Bob Carter who has tainted Australian scepticism with him being in the middle of this. It risks making a political hot potato too hot for many.

    And then there is Tony W. His damage is not really reputational but personal. His much vaunted "free of influence" that he traipses round is now shot. He is also thin skinned and hurts easily. And in future when he says he is independent he will not be able to say "prove Ive taken a penny".

    There are no killer blows of final nails but there are some wounding cuts.

    And the idea of an 'independent' skeptic blogosphere has suffered a blow.

  38. Pingback: Breaking news: A look behind the curtain of the Heartland Institute’s climate … | Malls Best

  39. I vaguely recall the existence of software that allows a comparison of documents to determine if the writing style is similar. As the "fake" document appears to be written by an individual, are there other documents admitted to be real to which it could be compared?

  40. i.e. strategy document leaked by a prospective donor

    You mean like what happened here to the Discovery Institute (Intelligent Design Creationism) 15 years ago?

    History repeats itself. Same actors, same plot, different stage.

  41. Yes, true, it may not be false. I don't have a high opinion of Heartland, so I certainly wouldn't take their word for it. It appears to be a scan from an Epson 2/13/12 at 12:41PM. If the leaker or identity thief can tell us when he/she received the docs, that would be helpful. Or since Heartland seems to know what happened, they should know when all this took place. ATTN: JOURNOS!

    Their are no properties, but I wouldn't expect them in a scan, as I just opened several scanned PDF's and none have titles or names in the form. It also appears to be an older doc, if not a fake, than it was written before the funding docs, as it says it wants to raise $90,000 for Watts and the other says:

    Heartland has agreed to help Anthony raise $88,000 for the project in 2011. The Anonymous Donor has already pledged $44,000. We’ll seek to raise the balance.

    so the exact amount wasn't known at the time.

    So I see 2 scenarios so far,
    1) It's a fake, the leaker/id thief wrote it up, printed it out and scanned (for whatever reason

    2) It's real, an old file, one that whoever sent it, didn't have on their PC, scanned it, and that's it.

  42. Steve,

    Do you think you can convince me that we aren't in a interglacial period that is getting a bit long in tooth, that the Milankovitch cycle that helps the glaciers grow by making northern hemisphere winters warmer and summers cooler isn't moving in the direction favorable to glaciation, and that the next once-per-thousand year volcanic eruption won't happen in this century, and it won't be the straw that breaks the camel's back by lowering the earth's temperature a couple degrees for a few years to mark the end of the Holocene?

    The way I see it even if humans do manage to warm the planet a few degrees that's what I call a better safety margin against the human race finding itself back in the business of hunting woolly mammoths over mile thick glaciers covering everything north of Washington, D.C.

    Spare me the propaganda. I'm retired since 2000, bored, educated, and have spent more hours in the past 5 years learning everything even peripherally related to climate science that I could find on the intertubes than a gaggle of PhD's spends at it from freshman year to doctorate. And I've been a great student of science in general for 50 years.

    This is all about politics. Science left the building about the time everyone conveniently forgot the earth has been in an ice for the past several million years and a frozen world is a helluva lot harsher than a melted one.

    Watts screwed the pooch. Heartland sucks. They're the same people who tried to deny that HIV causes AIDS. Let's leave it at that. I'm on your side in this particular case and very little else.

  43. Yes, there are various methods of comparative authorship analysis. The result of each is a statement of (subjective) probability as to agreement.

    However, the results, I opine, will not be so clearcut as for the Federalist Papers project.

  44. Neven,

    I can only relate what was said to me and what I was asked to do. At 735 pm I got a call from Charles explaining the situation. I took a cab home. He explained that Anthony was in Europe. One concern was that the file had a virus, so charles was testing it. Anthony's concern was that it was a hoax. So, they asked me to go thru the mails. I was given a CD. I read thru the night. I did much forensic work as I could. I called Mcintyre and read him mails. I wanted to go public on wednes, but I had promised Anthony. At points it got pretty heated because I thought the fear of being trapped was silly. We've told all of this from day one. Just read what Anthony has had to say about it. The point is simple: Anthony was skeptical and wanted proof. Tom suggested we wait until CRU confirmed. That eventually happened.

    So did I think it was a trap. No. The minute I looked at the attachments, the minute I found certain mails I was convinced that it was real and not a trap. But, I was asked to prove a case. So, I looked at everything I could ( like when people said they booked flights I check a couple of airlines to see if there were flights from A to B ) If you asked me to prove they were fake I would also take that challenge. For me it was fun, a challenge. a puzzle. I dont know why you guys cant get that. So, on Thursday the 19th I sent a note to revkin, told him to follow the FOI and thought that I was done with it all. Simple as that.

  45. It is my opinion that Watts is not implicated in anything by this.

    He proposes to provide tools to help the general public look at data. That is commendable. (Much of what he does is not, but that is entirely beside the point.)

    Heartland apparently proposes to fund it. If anything this makes Heartland look better, not Watts worse.

  46. MT,

    Yes, if heartland had to pick one document to disown it would be that one.

    However, before they disowned it nobody had checked the document properties. So that was a risk. Second, there are internal aspects of the document that are troubling.
    Its supposed to be a strategy document, but its filled with operational details, and it gets some of those details wrong ( the 88K and the 90K)
    Finally, the other documents were prepared and sent out on the 16th for a meeting on the 17th. The scanned document was scanned on monday the 13th.

    It would help if the people who conversed with the leaker would step forward and do what I did: a full accounting of the timeline. Who knew what when.

    All that said, I've never been a fan of heartland and have been critical of them from day one. I dont like the way they try to piggy back on the work of Mcintyre. For me the interesting thing is the argument about the documents and the legal aspects. In any case the arguments about privacy and funding just got waay more interesting. Its a side show.

  47. In the post-Climategate, post-Wikileaks. post-Anonymous and now post-Denialgate world we are faced with the interesting question of authenticity.

    Can we definitely prove - or disprove the documents are fake? Perhaps not.

    If the documents are genuine, do we really imagine Heartland throwing up their hands and saying "OK, ok! You got us! Time for us to close up shop!"

    All we can do is assess the probabilities:

    - are the documents consistent with the activities of Heartland? Check
    - have other sources verified the existence of programs detailed in the document? Check (Watts new surface station program).

    We need to assess these documents in the same way a historian would detail documents.

    As noted in resorting to legal threats Heartland potentially opens itself to the discovery process: as the tobacco industry learnt, that ain't necessarily a good thing.

    I tend to think Heartland does not want people rummaging around their paper and electronic records as part of a litigation process. They'd may some potentially nasty ticking time bombs.

    Organisations produce thousands of documents and emails which are replicated in both hard copy and electronically. No matter how good a destruction process is, records are now almost immortal,

    There is a degree of brinkmanship in this: the reputation of DeSmogBlog and Heartland are at stake.

    Heartland has essentially said "Go on I dare you!".

    Question is are they bluffing?

  48. What I understand is that it was sent from a gmail account that has probably never been used before or since, and was sent to a bunch of folks, myself not included, without much additional information, just something like "have a look at this" or such in the cover text. Any further evidence that might be uncovered is between Heartland and Google.

    I agree that it is a side show. It is sad that this sort of thing gets way more audience than talking about the actual science. But Steven, you yourself had a lot to do with setting the precedent on that aspect of the situation.

    But yeah, there is definitely some schadenfreude happening. What would you expect?

    I am very happy that this is awkward for Heartland. Anyone who is a supporter of Governor Walker is no friend of mine, regardless of climate science.

    Wisconsin used to be a very civilized place. Wisconsin voters expected another Tommy Thompson, not Atilla the goddamned Hun. They got baited and switched. These people, the Walker/Bast type, people who have no hesitation kowtowing to the Kochs and their like for a few bucks and some shadow of their power, have about as contemptible a mindset as there is these days. As far as I am concerned they can go to hell; go directly to hell. But I'm not vindictive. If they prefer, they can pass Go and collect their miserable $200 payoff along the way.

  49. Dave, that's an awfully idiosyncratic point of view to be getting all huffy about.

    First of all, re: "Do you think you can convince me that we aren’t in a interglacial period that is getting a bit long in tooth, that the Milankovitch cycle that helps the glaciers grow by making northern hemisphere winters warmer and summers cooler isn’t moving in the direction favorable to glaciation, and that the next once-per-thousand year volcanic eruption won’t happen in this century, and it won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back by lowering the earth’s temperature a couple degrees for a few years to mark the end of the Holocene?"

    I don't know if I cam convince you, but if you actually look at the Milankovic forcing it's about neutral, indicative of a prolonged interglacial even if we weren't around monkeying with it.

    But leaving that aside, if your argument that we have put off an ice age is correct, at what point do you suppose we should stop turning up the heat? You know that on human time scales CO2 accumulates, right?

    I don't doubt you've put as much time into this as many Ph.D.s, but science is social. You don't make progress unless you butt your ideas up against others'. What you get instead is a bad case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    I suggest you hang around the more science oriented sites and ask questions rather than just announcing a point of view you have concocted that nobody shares.

  50. Re: authenticity and claims of certain documents being 'fake" the phrase "plausible denial" comes to mind.

    The documents were leaked and came to DeSmogBlog, ThinkProgress via a third party.

    Without actually getting into Heartland's document/IT systems and viewing the original documents (with unique ID, time stamps, author detail, document creation date, edit history) there is bound to be some ambiguity about their authenticity.

    We would also need to see the documents in context:

    - the email/s sent from the Heartland employee to "Heartland Insider" that shows the documents attached
    - the email from Heartland Insider to the "15 individuals"

    Such a audit trail would reveal the necessary meta data to verify the authenticity of the documents beyond doubt.

    But we are unlikely to get our hands on this information. Especially from the Heartland end.

    Because of this ambiguity, It opens the way for plausible denial - a very wide opening Heartland has been quick to run through.

    "No! They're not real! Prove they are!"

    Predictably, acceptance of Heartland's statements the strat document is a fake will fall along "party lines".

    So we are left with some missing pieces of a puzzle, and speculation.

    Given that the Heartland Institute are in the business of misinformation and obfuscation, it comes down to assessing the *probabilities* that Heartland staff are the creators of these documents.

    I tend to rank the authenticity of the 2012 Strategy Document in the "very probable" category (unscientifically rating said confidence at 70%-80%).

  51. Would it be relevant to remember that Heartland was in the thick of the tobacco wars? This is not new.

    I don't think the mainstream press has any appetite for all this, so we will be stuck with the increasing consequences of warming which someone above thought would be not very serious. Hah, I wish!

    You guys appear to be to have become so wrapped up in the ethics of this that you've missed the point, which is that at this point the most destructive thing on the planet is the continuing war to prevent action to slow down climate change and stop being so dependent on conflict economies and dirty energy.

    Heartland has been a mainstream player in the disinformation wars for quite a long time now, and the professional look of some of the material we are seeing that is hard to counter in the public arena is to some extent down to them.

    I agree with the person who suggested this is now bordering on crimes against humanity.

  52. No!!!!! To match the enthusiasm of Susan's comment.

    Going on a rampage, frothing at the mouth, and screaming only reinforces the image of alarmism

    Especially if later on some of the documents are found to not be genuine or if it turns out some important context was missing.

    In short it hurts our credibility to froth at the mouth.

  53. Pingback: The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display

  54. I used a pdfinfo script to analyse the memos. The info I got is that all the meta data dates changed on the day of the leak in the Pacific time zone (-8 GMT). This is likely where our thief resides. This is also where the "fake" was created on 2/13. The other docs, with the exception of the IRS form were in the central time zone (-6 GMT). The IRS form was -4 GMT. This has been corroborated by a commenter at Lucia's. Based on this, and I'm not sure if I've covered every base, the strategy memo is a fake.

    The only other option would be if the create dates were faked, highly, highly unlikely or, the sender from HI didn't have the doc, and someone from the west coast scanned it , emailed to her to send to the leaker. This, to me, doesn't seem likely either. Logically, I have to go with HI's story.

  55. Pingback: The meaning of HeartlandGate [Greg Laden's Blog] - Dennis Flint High CountryDennis Flint

  56. I have to admit that the Climate Strategies document is weird. The formatting and language isn't as polished as the other documents. If it's not fake, then it might be some sort of draft.

    -- frank

  57. I ran across this odd claim. Not sure what to make of it.

    the XMP toolkit used to generate the fake pdf was:
    “Adobe XMP Core 5.2-c001 63.139439, 2010/09/27-13:37:26 ”
    The XMP toolkit used to create one of the elements of desmog-fracking-the-future.pdf was:
    “Adobe XMP Core 5.2-c001 63.139439, 2010/09/27-13:37:26 ”

  58. Pingback: Heartland Institute: Hey Kids, Have a Smoke and Denial « Global Warming: Man or Myth?

  59. The existence of a recently scanned low-circulation document is inconsistent with Heartland's version of the story... "Somebody asked us to email these private documents to an unknown email address, pretending to be somebody we know." Then a hard copy could not have been mixed up with electronic documents.

    However, ignoring the substance of what Heartland says, which in most matters is a sensible course, we don't know who did it or how.

    One scenario is "somebody's nephew". In this case the security breach was not at Heartland headquarters, but at somebody's home office. Say some relative was house-sitting. Unbeknownst to the recipient, that relative was a follower of the climate blog wars, and spotted some of this stuff sitting around. They then opened an email account (say an account where the browser had memorized the password) and looked for documents from Heartland, and saved them to a USB stick. But the juicy "strategy" doc he could only find on paper, so he hurriedly photocopied it in the home fax machine.

    When he had finally worked up his M.O., he had to decide whether to include it. Only at the last minute did he scan it.

    Just a scenario; let me emphasize that I have no idea what actually occurred and will happily admit that this is speculation, but it seems plausible to me.

    The alternative requires not just an ability to find and convey a few documents, but an elaborate hoax requiring extraordinary powers of invention. Such a hoax could easily have forged the headers.

    I'm not convinced that it's fake. But still, we ought to just let the embarrassing quotes lie and focus on what was actually indicated in the other documents. Which is quite a bit.

    Some are seeing signs of

    * mercury pollution denialism funded by big coal
    * tobacco toxicity denialism funded by Altria and Reynolds
    * pesticide toxicity denialism funded by "RISE"

    I don't know about these things. I am not following all this very closely. But as for me

    * support for Scott Walker and his destruction of the political comity of WIsconsin

    looms largest of all.

    It seems the rest of the country is forgetting that the Occupy movement is a spin-off of the spontaneous several-months-long occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol, driven by the entire democratic caucus of the state senate leaving the state and a massive outpouring of support for them, not just from liberals and hard-left malcontents, but from farmers, laborers, police, firemen, and teachers.

    This convenient forgetting of the events in Wisconsin last year just goes to show how distracted and confused everybody is.

    Again, the people of Wisconsin did not vote for defunding one of the better run public sectors in the country. Walker was elected under a pretense of moderation (just as G W Bush had been).

    The active support of Heartland for this contemptible SOB and his cronies is astonishing to me. It just reinforces that they have no ethical bounds on what "free-market" (i.e., oligarchy-promoting) measures they will support.

    But I have to say that I appreciate the opportunity to make clear my outrage toward Scott Walker on this site. A silver lining of sorts.

  60. Pingback: #DenialGate – Get it All Here « Climate Denial Crock of the Week

  61. Well, Dan Moutal, darn it, I apologize, but you got me exactly backwards. I should have stuck with "what Neven said" which would have made my point without being open to misconstruction. Just shows how we can be trapped by words.

  62. Misc thoughts -

    Steve B. ("a fake document can have contents that are entirely true") - and in some cases the fakery becomes the story, to the exclusion of the content:

    dorlomin ("The damage to Heartland is self inflicted ") - HI says the docs were obtained via pretexting. - If their statement is accurate, is pretexting less reprehensible if the target him/her/itself is the one who falls for it? (rather than, say, your doctor's office)

    An exercise: ponder this optical illusion & consider a) whether you're comfortable relying on your native judgment, and b) how this cognitive shortcoming could be misused.

  63. The story so far: The "fake" document is likely quite real and the media (along with some liberal bloggers, present company included) has been played by Heartland.

    The Heartland BS is plain for all to see in this passage from the Heartland donor damage control email (of necessity widely distributed, so its veracity seems not to be in question by anyone) just posted at Mother Jones, referring to the "fake" document:

    "It does not express Heartland's goals, plans, or tactics."

    But in substance, it does all of that, as the remaining documents confirm. These people just can't help themselves.

  64. The "2012 Climate Strategy.pdf" document (that Heartland says is a forgery) is the one that the shocking quotes come from. I noticed several suspicious things about it:

    1. It uses the term "anti-climate" to refer to Heartland's position -- a term which neither Heartland nor any other climate skeptic outfit ever uses.

    2. It is written in the 1st person, yet with no indication of who wrote it. (Have you ever seen a memo like that?)

    3. The PDF is time-stamped with a Pacific Standard Time timestamp, even though Heartland is in Chicago, and none of its directors are in the Pacific Time Zone, nor even in a State adjacent to the Pacific Time Zone.

    It appears likely that, as Heartland claims, the document really is a forgery, and a clumsy one, at that.

  65. Pingback: A look inside the Heartland Institute and education policy - FileFront Gaming Forums

  66. Pingback: Leaked Documents From Climate Denialism Lobbyists Revealed | Care2 Causes

  67. I don't find 2 and 3 compelling, but the first point does seem valid.

    It would be like a well-informed person actually saying "the science is settled" without saying exactly what point they were referring to as settled. It just doesn't happen very often.

    But what expression would be used in place of "anti-climate"? "This influential audience (Forbes readership) has been reliably ..." what?

    "coldist"? "hostile to climate science"? "opposed to looking at evidence"? "mean-spirited, spiteful and willfully ignorant"? "indifferent to anything but their own bank accounts"?

    None of those would do.

    Exactly how would Bast polish this particular, ahem, item?

  68. Pingback: Wow after Toews loses his privacy, The Heartland Instutute gets hacked… The Schadenfreude storm is early this week | voice from the pack

  69. "The “fake” document is likely quite real"

    The problem is that Heartland has pretty good plausible deniability here. This doesn't mean they are telling the truth, rather it means we don't know.

    This is true even if the document is consistent with Heartland's actions.

    We need more data. Until then we simply cannot know if the document is real and Heartland is lying about it.

  70. And I’ve been a great student of science in general for 50 years.

    Dave Scott Springer's 50 year study of science has also led him to believe that creationism, not biology, best explains the diversity of life on earth.

    Just sayin'.

    [ Thanks for the tip, dhog. How does creationism and Milankovic coexist in one mind, I wonder? -mt ]

  71. All true. But it should also remind us of the uneven playing field.

    If CRU were an agile private think tank with smart and aggressive lawyers, they could have thrown up smoke screens too, rather than sitting around saying "tsk, tsk" for a couple of weeks.

  72. Michael, I don't understand your point of view here. A number of things show that the document you quoted the most damning quotes from is fake, a fraud, a con.

    The evidence includes the fact that the Koch Brothers donation is for the wrong thing, that it is the only document that is bit-mapped rather than text, that it is the only document that the Heartland folks say is an out-and-out forgery, and that the time-stamps on the document are different from the rest.

    I know bloggers are not journalists, but wouldn't it have been a bit wiser to not bet all of your chips on a forgery?

    And wouldn't it be wiser now to cop to it, instead of being the last guy on the block to admit he was fooled?

    All the best,


    [ We take no position on the question of the disputed memo, we no longer quote the disputed memo, and I have noted where we did so at first with strikethroughs. If the striking through wasn't complete I'd appreciate chapter and verse so I can correct it. -mt ]

  73. see what happens when you spend more than an hour on something with a critical eye.

    did any of you spot the obviously plagarized sentence the first time you read it? utterly obvious.

    did you think to check whether [bizarre implied allegation elided: see WUWT if you want to know who] had a copy of the 990? nope. That took about about 2 seconds of thought.

    [ Wow. Impressive. Starting to suspect Mosher actually believes his weird theory! -mt ]

  74. "did you think to check whether [alleged perp] had a copy of the 990? nope. That took about about 2 seconds of thought."

    I'm actually looking for the link to that. The closest I can come to this is a comment on a Taylor Forbes blog from here

    I wonder, however, if Taylor would publish the list of who really DOES fund the Heartland Institute. It seems to be a secret — no information is listed on their website about actual contributors of that $7 million budget that they use to deny the reality of climate change (and previously, the health effects of tobacco — their other focus). And their 990 tax form doesn’t say either.

    From this comment it appears [alleged perp] had seen A 909, but not THE 909 in question.

    gross receipts 2009 6,870,656
    gross receipts 2010 6,157,904

    Not that having this 909 matters, as it is updated/discussed frequently on Source watch and ERI

    The SourceWatch was updated a month ago (1-18-12), and the comment from [alleged perp] says "a month ago", but it's one of the 1st comments on a blog post from 1-12-12, so I'm assuming that [alleged perp] hadn't seen it (2010 IRS) there. So if this the best 990 evidence, I'm afraid it doesn't point to [alleged perp], although it may point to someone who followed up on what was being written at sourcewatch.

    If i'm [alleged perp], and if I'm innocent, I'm waiting for the crescendo to come.

    [ Sorry about scratching this up, gryposaur, but I am trying to not spread the ridiculous smear any further. It appears to be mostly about hyphen-usage. I will note that both Bast and [alleged perp] are germanic-origin surnames, and English-speaking hyphen-neologism is reminiscent of germanic word-concatenation. -mt ]

  75. Heartland has stated that the 'theft' was reported to the police and the FBI. Has this been confirmed yet?

    One more question: Mosher and Willis, do you have access to all the internal documents and mails of the past ten years? Could you please release them for the whole world to see? There's nothing in them anyway, right?

  76. Neven, you ask

    "do [I] have access to all the internal documents and mails of the the last ten years?"

    Sorry, that's totally unclear. Whose "internal documents and mails" are you on about? What makes you think I have them, or have the power to release them? And why are you assuming there's nothing in ten years of internal documents, whoever they might belong to?

    [ brief pointless snark elided. Please be civil. -mt ]


  77. Sorry, Willis. I should have been more clear. Of course not the CRU documents and mails, as they have been released. No, I was referring to Heartland documents and mails. Perhaps you know certain things that would be of interest. Things that people should know. You know, transparency.

  78. Thanks for the clarification, Neven ... but why on earth would I know the inside details of Heartland? I mean, I'm good, but I don't have super-powers to snoop around in other peoples' business.

    Finally, I still don't understand what the furor is about. Obviously, if the documents the folks stole had shown anything bad, they wouldn't have had to fake up the Protocols of the Elders of Heartland. The rest of the docs just show a (quite small) advocacy group doing just what every other advocacy group does—fund activities that support their point of view. How is this news on any planet?


    [ Well, there is the small matter of the 501c3 status. And there's also the reputability of a group whose opinions seem available to the highest bidder, e.g., tobacco stuff. But there really are no surprises, even if the disputed memo is real, except the connection to Scott Walker, which makes my badger blood boil all over again. -mt ]

  79. Neven
    February 18, 2012 | 10:50 am

    ... Perhaps you know certain things that would be of interest. Things that people should know. You know, transparency.

    Thanks, Neven. Again, I'm in mystery here. I don't know any secret information, why should I? I spoke at one of their conferences, I'm not an insider. And if I did know Heartland insider stuff, why on earth would you think I would tell you or anyone else? Why should the internal workings of Heartland be any less transparent than, say, the details of your personal bank account? If I knew your banking details, I wouldn't reveal them either.

    As far as I know, neither of you get government funds subject to transparency regulations. Neither of you is basing scientific claims on hidden data or code. Neither of you are subject to FOI requests. Neither of you has been evading FOI requests using bogus excuses. So why should they (and by implication your checkbook) be exposed to public scrutiny?

    Heartland has as much right to privacy as you do, Neven. CRU, on the other hand, was subject to FOI requests and illegally evaded them. They had no "right to privacy" for their work, it was done on the taxpayers' dime.


  80. This article from Mike Masnik over at Techdirt in regards to Heartland's threats to send angry packs of lawyers to anyone who comments on the documents is well worth reading.

    It concludes:

    Now, I don't care what you think of Heartland, climate change or anything along those lines. Whether you think it's a wonderful organization or an evil organization... one thing I would hope we could agree on is that threatening people for "commenting" on documents with legal action, even if the documents later turn out to be fake, is not a good idea. I can certainly understand the temptation to try to get people not to comment, but the threat is pretty clearly bogus. The documents -- and the leak of the documents -- even if faked or altered, are still a public interest issue, and it's hard to see how there's any law broken in commenting about what's in the documents. There may be legal issues for whoever leaked the documents, but those who are commenting on them? Sorry, that's just silly.

  81. Obviously, if the documents the folks stole had shown anything bad, they wouldn’t have had to fake up the Protocols of the Elders of Heartland.

    I'm not ruling it out, but you seem to be ruling out the opposite possibility, ie that the strategy document isn't fake. I don't find that very skeptical.

    Let's say for argument's sake it isn't fake. What would you think of the content? And what would your opinion be as to Heartland pronouncing it fake when it isn't and even pointing at someone who they say faked it?

  82. And if I did know Heartland insider stuff, why on earth would you think I would tell you or anyone else?

    If we assume that Heartland is a PR outfit, not interested in truth or science, but in maintaining the status quo out of ideological and financial motives, the consequences of AGW be damned, you'd have a moral obligation to tell the public about it. IMHO. Unless you wouldn't mind being an accomplice.

    But you say you don't have any insider knowledge, so this is just hypothesizing.

    Why should the internal workings of Heartland be any less transparent than, say, the details of your personal bank account?

    That's a false analogy. My bank account is passive, it's not doing anything (especially with the current low interest rates 😉 ). Heartland is actively pursuing a certain tactic, for which the means whereby do not really seem to matter.

    Heartland has as much right to privacy as you do, Neven.

    A right to privacy is not the same as a right to opaqueness (never mind the fact that I'm a person, and Heartland is an organisation worth millions a year).

    For instance, last year I asked followers of the Arctic Sea Ice blog to donate so I could cover hosting costs. I received about 1000 USD and then put a blog post up to explain how much money had come in and what it was going to be used for. I think this kind of transparency is very important, as AGW is such an important issue.

    I don't mind Heartland, or Idso/Singer/Watts receiving money for what they do, I'd just appreciate it if I were told how much, and also if the money were donated by a (proxy for a) large corporation.

    Of course, if Heartland is sponsoring a program to get teachers to teach the controversy around AGW, or sponsoring a report undermining the IPCC, I'd like them to be upfront about it and make mention of it on their website. If they're doing nothing wrong, they can be open about it, right?

  83. Pingback: The send-packs-of-lawyers strategy | Planet3.0

  84. Politico asked the Chicago FBI office if Heartland had reported the alleged crime to them, and they said no. Chicago police had not replied and Washington FBI would neither "confirm or deny".

    [ Thanks, Ratty. That's here. -mt ]

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  86. Pingback: Heartland | Climate Etc.

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