In an interview yesterday, Mann told Eli Kintisch of Science (see here) that it has been “known for a year and half” that he forwarded Jones’ delete request to Wahl.
If Mann’s claim is true (and I do not believe it to be true), then this raises serious questions about statements in the Penn State Inquiry Report, authors of which were:
Henry C. Foley, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School
Alan W. Scaroni, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Ms. Candice A. Yekel, M.S., CIM, Director, Office for Research Protections, Research Integrity Officer
It’s time to find out whether they knew that Mann had forwarded Jones’ delete request to Wahl, whether they knew that Wahl had thereafter deleted emails as requested and why their Inquiry Report made the findings that they did.
Mann’s statement to Eli Kintisch was:
This has been known for a year and a half that all I did was forward Phil’s e-mail to Eugene.”
Let’s grant Mann a little literary licence on the “year and half”. The only salient issue here is whether the Penn State Inquiry (Foley, Scaroni and Yekell) knew that Mann had forwarded the Jones’ deletion request to Wahl and that Wahl had acted upon it.
If the Penn State Inquiry knew that Mann had forwarded the Jones’ delete request to Wahl, then how does one explain the following statement in their inquiry:
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 Penn State Inquiry knew that Mann had forwarded Jones’ delete request to Wahl, then there is no reasonable basis on which they could say that there is 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.” Regardless of whether Mann included an endorsement of Jones’ delete request by email or by telephone, the very act of forwarding the delete request was “direct or indirect” participation in “actions with intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data related to AR4, as suggested by Dr. Phil Jones.”
If Mann is right and the Penn State Inquiry knew the facts all along, then Foley, Scaroni and Yekel have some explaining to do.
Of course, it’s possible (and perhaps even probable) that the Penn State Inquiry was negligent rather than dishonest. Perhaps, despite Mann’s assurances that they knew about his forwarding of the delete request, perhaps they actually didn’t know that Mann had forwarded Jones’ delete request to Wahl. Although their question obliged them to ask Mann about his contacts with Wahl, perhaps they negligently failed to do so. Or perhaps they asked, got an misdirection answer and negligently failed to get a complete answer.
One way or another, Wahl’s recent admissions to the NOAA Inspector General show that the Penn State Inquiry findings on Question 2 were objectively incorrect. To find out why they erred, one would have to ask Foley, Scaroni and Yekel.
As to Mann’s claim that it has been “known for a year and half” that he had forwarded the Jones’ delete request to Wahl, I am unaware of any public admission prior to Wahl’s recent admission. Mann told Joe Romm on November 30, 2009 (see here) nothing is the Climategate email “can in no way be taken to indicate approval of, let alone compliance with, the request” – the request, inter alia, including the request that he “also email Gene and get him to do the same [delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4]:
This was simply an email that was sent to me, and can in no way be taken to indicate approval of, let alone compliance with, the request. I did not delete any such email correspondences.
Mann had the opportunity to say at the time that, yes, he forwarded Jones’ email request to Wahl, but that’s not what he said. He said that the Climategate email did not, in itself, show that he complied with Jones’ request that he forward the delete request to Wahl. Although the Climategate dossier shows that Mann told Jones that he would “contact Gene ASAP”, the dossier itself left open the possibility that Mann had second thoughts about the matter and did nothing. To outside observers, the dossier itself constituted prima facie evidence that Mann might well have forwarded the email (as he said he would do) and therefore required the Penn State Inquiry to recommend an investigation of this question – a point on which they were criticized at the time.
As to the new claim that it’s been known “for a year and a half” that Mann forwarded Jones’ delete request to Wahl, I’m unaware of any such admission prior to the Wahl’s recent admission and, if there were such an admission to the Penn State Inquiry, serious questions are raised about their Finding #2.
Update (Mar 11, 2011): A reader emailed me reminding me of the following article in a Pittsburgh newspaper on Dec 3, 2010, a few days after the Romm interview, an excerpt of which stated:
Mann said he did not delete e-mails and regrets that he did not reply to Jones with an e-mail telling him that was an inappropriate request.
“It put us in an awkward position,” Mann said. Instead, Mann forwarded that e-mail to a colleague to alert him to what Jones wanted the scientists to do.