Freedom Discussions

More FOIA fakery – this time in the USA Homeland Security, plus peer reviewed paper on Climategate FOIA issues

by Anthony Watts, WUWT

In light of these recent ugly FOI revelations uncovered by the Associated Press, it makes the recent FOIA issues paper by our friend Dr. Jennifer Marohasy and the subsequent scathing Washington Times editorial about science and disclosure (see below the Continue reading line) even more relevant. Clearly governments and government sponsored institutions like CRU don’t give a care about complying with the FOIA laws. CRU skated on a statute of limitations technicality. This WUWT story from the British ICO:

…the ICO has been alerted by the complainant and by information already in the public domain via the media, to a potential offence under section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act. The prima facie evidence from the published emails indicate an attempt to defeat disclosure by deleting information. It is hard to imagine more cogent prima facie evidence…In the event, the matter cannot be taken forward because of the statutory time limit.

And now we find not only did Homeland Security stonewall FOIA requests, they actively investigated the people making them:


Playing politics with public records requests

by Ted Bridis

For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive, according to nearly 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.

The department abandoned the practice after AP investigated. Inspectors from the department’s Office of Inspector General quietly conducted interviews last week to determine whether political advisers acted improperly.

Career employees were ordered to provide Secretary Janet Napolitano’s political staff with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived, whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked.



EDITORIAL: Global warming’s unscientific attitude


7:17 p.m., Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What separates a scientific claim from mere opinion is its ability to be tested by experiment. No true scientist objects to having his theories verified; the charlatan is the one with something to hide. Not surprisingly, purveyors of global warming have proved anything but open.

In the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Law and Management, Australian researchers evaluated the community of so-called climate scientists and found them to be “antagonistic toward the disclosure of information.”

Dr. Jennifer Marohasy

Professor John Abbot of Central Queensland University, a chemist and lawyer, and biologist Jennifer Marohasy studied the response of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU) and the Met Office – Britain’s national weather service – to various information requests. The most noteworthy of these was United Kingdom resident David Holland’s demand for the raw data underlying the infamous “hockey stick” graph that was published in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports. This chart was the centerpiece of the claim that the 20th century was the hottest in a thousand years. The stir that Mr. Holland’s request triggered among the scientists who worked on the report was captured in the Climategate e-mails…

Dr. John Abbot

Under the British Freedom of Information law, like the similar U.S. statute, information created at the public expense must – with limited exceptions – be made available to the public that paid for it. At first, the Met Office answered Mr. Holland’s request for data regarding a relatively uncontroversial chapter in the IPCC report. When he asked them for similar details regarding the hockey stick, the Met Office got around the law by claiming the data were “personal information” generated in the free time of the scientists involved. When this dodge failed to hold up, the Met Office began claiming that the records had been deleted. Mr. Abbot and Ms. Marohasy wrote:

“Of concern is evidence of a predisposition towards uncooperativeness on the part of the Met Office, which also used spurious claims of deleted correspondence and personal information in attempts to block the release of information,”

The attitude isn’t limited to Britain. The Washington Times asked the White House Council on Environmental Quality for its oldest pending FOIA requests. Among the top five was an August 26 letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeking documents related to its work on climate-change legislation and the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called greenhouse gas ruling.

None of these simple requests should have been denied or delayed. Many of those involved in purported climate science seem more preoccupied with advancing a leftist, anti-business legislative agenda than respecting the integrity of the scientific method. It’s obvious why. Their cataclysmic scare stories are unable to withstand scrutiny. By deleting e-mails and using tricks to hide the inconvenient decline in global temperatures, the climate alarmists prove to be not men of science, but ordinary frauds.

Here is the full paper,

Accessing environmental information relating to climate change: a case study under UK freedom of information legislation (PDF)
(Environmental Law and Management, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp. 3-12, 2010)
– John Abbot, Jennifer Marohasy