Wahl Transcript Excerpt

From Capitol Hill come excerpted notes from the interview transcript between the NOAA Inspector General and Eugene Wahl. I am advised that it’s not a continuous chain, with some back and forth between the paragraphs excluded. I am advised that the excluded sections, often lengthy, do not place the excerpts in any different light than reading them as presented below.

Neither the Muir Russell nor Oxburgh “inquiries” took transcripts despite requests from the UK Parliamentary COmmittee to do so.

Q. Did you ever receive a request by either Michael Mann or any others to delete any emails?
A. I did receive that email. That’s the last one on your list here. I did receive that.

Q. So, how did you actually come about receiving that? Did you actually just — he just forward the — Michael Mann — and it was Michael Mann I guess?
A. Yes

Q. — That you received the email from?
A. Correct …

A. To my knowledge, I just received a forward from him.

Q. And what were the actions that you took?
A. Well, to the best of my recollection, I did delete the emails.

Q. So, did you find the request unusual, that they were — that the request — that you were being requested to delete such emails?
A. Well, I had never received one like it. In that sense, it was unusual.

Q. I guess if the exchange of comments and your review was appropriate, I guess what I’m just trying to understand why you’d be ask to delete the emails after the fact, at the time that they’re — it appears that the CRU is receiving FOIA requests
A. Yeah. I had no knowledge of anything like that. But that’s what they were — where they were coming from. And so, you’d have to ask Keith Briffa that. I don’t know what was in his mind.


  1. Mac
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    Looks bad, very bad.

    • DEEBEE
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

      Wait for TheFord to give a Perfect dissembling and Nick to Stoke the fires of rectitudinal posting

      • Lance
        Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 12:37 AM | Permalink

        Well, the comment count is up to 178 and those boys are still MIA.

        Their silence is deafening.

  2. Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    Blaming Briffa doesn’t sound particularly ethical at this stage

    • Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

      I missed it. Who is blaming Briffa?

    • timheyes
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

      Wahl wasn’t blaming Briffa for anything. He was merely making the point that he didn’t know the the origin of the request to delete emails was in response to an FOI request in the UK.

      He obviously knew that there had been unethical correspondence between himself and Briffa in the formulation of responses to AR4 comments and that he had provided an unpublished paper to Briffa in order to help Briffa respond to Steve’s AR4 comments.

      Curiously, Jones seems to have known that Briffa, Wahl and Annan had had some collusion in some matter to do with AR4 which needed expunging from the record and known that they had incriminating emails as he asked Mann to get Briffa to delete his (Briffa’s)emails and to contact Wahl to do the same. He indicated that he would contact Annan hmself but didn’t have Wahl’s new email address. As far as we know he left Mann to contact Wahl about this and didn’t email Annan directly using the email address provided by Mann.

      Circumstantially, it appears that the whole Team knew where the dirty laundry was and who’s emails needed purging.

      • timheyes
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 7:56 PM | Permalink


        … email Wahl directly using the email address provided by Mann.

        • timheyes
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

          In my orginal comment I suggested that Wahl didn’t know that the origin of the “delete the emails” request was FOI/EIR requests at CRU. It now appears that Mann simply forwarded Jones’ email to Wahl and he must therefore have been aware of the origin. If this is the case, I wonder why Wahl was willing to delete emails subject to FOI/EIR?

          I’m still curious to know what Jones knew of the Briffa/Wahl email correspondence regarding AR4 comments. None of this put the Team or the IPCC in an edifying light.

      • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

        You claim that Wahl was involved in unethical email communications with Briffa re: the AR4 and responding to McIntyre’s critique. Why was discussion with Wahl unethical?

        According to RC, IPCC lead authors can consult anyone they want to when conducting their duties. They are not cloistered.

        Why is there a deadline for the inclusion of papers in the particular assessment reports? I’ve searched for some guidance on this and finding none other than what Steve McI has published, I wonder what the reasoning is. Is it done more for convenience? One has to stop considering new papers or else the thing would never get finished. Any person who has written a thesis or dissertation knows that! At some point, you just have to knuckle down and stop reading the latest literature or else you’ll never stop editing.

        It is not a competition the way Steve McIntyre seems to claim here, unless getting cited in a particular assessment report is seen as a feather in a career cap:

        In most walks of life, there’s usually a reason for administrative policies and one of the main reasons is to avoid accusations of favoritism. In a municipal contract, if a qualified contractor gets a contract without due process, there is always grounds for suspicion. But if the mayor’s nephew gets a municipal contract without due process, then no one really cares how meritorious the nephew may be, the contract is tainted.

        Considering papers for inclusion in a particular assessment report isn’t like awarding a contract or administering a grant deadline in which there is actual competition. I would suggest it’s just for convenience of those who have to actually do the work — for free, I might add.

        • peetee
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

          interesting summation in that RC article: “Wahl and Ammann did show that MM05 made no substantial difference to the MBH reconstruction, whether it got said in the IPCC report or not.”… a difference of, ~0.05C to the MBH reconstruction.

        • LC
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:07 AM | Permalink

          The deadline is there to enable the “expert reviewers” to have ample time to examine all the relevant papers and pass any comments or queries they may have before the final draft. If you read the emails, you will see that the various players were very well aware of this. The team were desperate to get the Wahl/Amman paper accepted so they could use it to “debunk” the M&M paper (even though it didn’t really do so), thereby (falsely) keeping the continuity of message.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

          That’s your opinion, of course, and is at odds with that of those involved who say it was important to reflect the best science that was known at the time, which was that M&M were wrong on some points and it was important that this was reflected in the report.

        • timheyes
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

          Maybe unethical was too strong. Perhaps “contrary to the IPCC procedure” is better. I refer to this:

          “Coordinating Lead Authors, in consultation with the Review Editors and in coordination with the respective Working Group/Task Force Bureau Co-Chairs and the IPCC Secretariat, are encouraged to supplement the draft revision process by organising a wider meeting with principal Contributing Authors and expert reviewers, if time and funding permit, in order to pay special attention to particular points of assessment or areas of major differences.”

          Mentioned by Steve here:


          Discussing this:

          Click to access ipcc-principles-appendix-a.pdf

          As I understand it Briffa was seeking assistance from Wahl to answer Steve’s comments about Briffa’s own work which seems strange in itself but add to this that the some of the final responses were apparently taken from an unpublished paper supplied to Briffa by Wahl certainly seems contrary to IPCC guidance.

          On a circumstantial level, the constant requests for confidentiality (i.e. not even other IPCC LA and CAs) in the AR4 emails suggests that some subterfuge was going on in the resposne to reviewer comments.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

          I would think it would be contrary to the IPCC mandate to not use the best science available at the time to Lead Authors when preparing the reports and responding to comments. Since the reports come out only once every four years, and the LA knew of a paper that was soon to be published but just outside the deadline for consideration, it would be foolish for those interested in science, rather than smearing, to consider what took place to be unethical. I could argue it would be stupid to have not considered W&A if its findings were relevant and significant just because the deadline for “in press” had just been missed.

        • Shub
          Posted Mar 11, 2011 at 7:28 PM | Permalink

          You don’t know much about the Wahl and Ammann papers, do you?

    • theduke
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

      omnologos: He’s not “blaming” Briffa; he’s implicating him. There is a difference. The evidence backs him up.

  3. PJB
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    Ahhhh, in response to the question by the UPenn investigation, Mann DID NOT e-mail a request to delete e-mails….he FORWARDED it!

    Clever Mann, just not able to get others to be as clever as he.

    • Chuck L
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

      Please do not confuse UPenn (The University of Pennsylvania), which had nothing to do with this incident, with Penn State, which did.

      Chuck L
      BA Economics
      University of Pennsylvania

      • PJB
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

        My humble apologies to the good folk and alumni of U. Penn. I did mean Penn State, of course.

        • Chuck L
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

          Apology accepted. We tend to be a bit sensitve about such things, especially nowadays!

  4. Yancey Ward
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Permalink


  5. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    For comparison, here are the corresponding findings from the Penn State “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.

    • Hu McCulloch
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

      Notice that the questions the Penn State “Inquiry” was directed to obtain answers to were posed in the second person to Mann, not in the third person to the panel.

      If the panel had been asked, “Did Dr. Mann engage in, etc”, it would have had to interview whoever was making such a claim, examine whatever evidence there was to support it, then ask Mann to reply, perhaps go back and requestion the accusers, and then answer the question itself.

      But instead, the panel was merely directed to ask Mann himself if there was a problem and to determine his answer. If he said no, then case closed.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Mar 8 12:28),

      Dr. Mann has stated that he did not delete emails in response to Dr. Jones’ request.

      Maybe, he had a request pending from IT to delete his mails and he deleted them for that reason.
      Or, made a copy, and deleted the orginals

      “In and around the time.” so Jones request to delete would not be in that stack.

      maybe he forwarded the request to Wahl, and then thought that he should check with his legal office.
      and didnt delete mails himself.

      So, the focus, it would seem, is not mann. but the 4 who led the inquiry

      • JohnH
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

        Mann had the emails on a zipstick which he produced at the Penn iquiry, so maybe instead of deleting them only he first backed them up and then deleted them from the email server. So he was covering both bases, a casual investigation eg Muir Russell type would not even look for them but if the questioning became more heated he could always release the backup.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Mar 8 12:28), Also, mann could say he didnt know if Wahl had complied or not.

      • AJ Abrams
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

        Steve – I’m betting that there was a response email from Wahl – something along the lines of “will do”. You’d have to respond to that kind of email somehow. That question needs to be asked of Wahl.

    • Harold
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

      I woulkd think that the sys admi would be the one to answer the question. Providing an archive off of systemarchives doesn’t prove that he didn’t delete the email off of his system, only that he didn’t wipe all traces (which presumably he didn’t have system priveledge to do).

      • Stilgar
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

        That is one thing that has always gotten to me. In all the various investigations, they look at the backups done by IT and see that the emails are there and conclude the person did not delete the emails.

        As an IT person, if you want to make sure there are copies of important files, you do not leave archiving and backup proceedures to the user. You automate them so that if the user ever screws up and deletes or corrupts the data, there is a backup. Most users are not even aware of this.

        Just because the IT staff was proactive in making backup copies does not mean the user did not do something stupid, unethical or illegal with their copy. If the investigation does not differenciate between the local copy the user has vs the backup the IT department does, then only if the IT department does something stupid (like following a request from a user to delete archived information) would an investigation into the user’s activities ever show something was wrong.

        Once an investigation begins, the user discovers there is an archive and low and behold they are cleared because IT did its job. That is only clearing the actions of the IT department, not the actions of the user.

  6. Yancey Ward
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

    Looks like Penn State needs to do an inquiry to investigate the previous inquiry.

    Clearly, Mann lied outright- there really is no other reasonable interpretation now. Of course, the fall back position will be that he didn’t recall forwarding, or contacting Wahl in that regard.

    Steve: The Penn State “inquiry” was defective on many counts. As to whether Mann “lied”- in the absence of a transcript from Penn State, you don’t know whether he lied about his contacts with Wahl or whether the Penn State simply failed to investigate.

    At this point, I think that people should focus more on the Penn State inquiry’s negligence rather than on Mann.

    • Yancey Ward
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Permalink


      Fair enough.

  7. Ron Cram
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    It is hard to reconcile the findings of the PSU inquiry with the statements by Gene Wahl. The inquiry simply does not provide enough information to know exactly what Mann said. Mann provided an archive of his emails, was the email from Jones asking him to delete emails present? Was there evidence that request was forwarded?


    If the Penn State inquiry are silent on the matter, then they were complicit and are hoping this all goes away. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

      Re: Ron Cram (Mar 8 12:37),

      We know that Briffa took over 4000 emails home for “safekeeping”. Mann probably did the same thing.

      The issue is : is there anything wrong with deleting emails from a university computer that is readily accessible to FOI, if the emails are preserved on a CD at a person’s home?

      • mpaul
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

        Knowone yet knows why Briffa took the emails home. But the effect of such an action is to remove information from being discoverable under FOIA. To me, this is a clear problem.

        • mpaul
          Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

          Ouch — ‘no one’ not ‘knowone’ 🙂

        • Philip Finck
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

          Yes, there is a problem. As a government employee I am not allowed to delete any files that might be subject to a FOI…. only if a paper copy is made and it is stored in the `central registry’for the department. Taking them home is not the same thing. They belong to the government. If they get a FOI 50 years down the road they must produce the relevant documents. I would be long gone.

          I would suggest that something similar would exist at Pen State, but US vs Canadian stuff is often very different. Thus they should have copies of relevant e-mails independent of individual employees. An example of an e-mail that I must keep is one where I offer advise, guidance, opinion that could influence policy, regulations, enforcement, etc. Background information is attached as a second page as that type of information is not FOI pop-able.

        • Kay
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

          As a government employee, I agree. There is also the added snag that most government IT people will not allow you to plug a USB flash drive or memory stick into a computer connected to the network–it’s a security breach and government computers (eg the Pentagon) have been compromised by viruses spread through those devices. I don’t know if universities have similar policies, though.

          Did I hear that Mann had the copies of the emails on a USB drive at the inquiry?

          Another thing to keep in mind is that just because you hit “delete” doesn’t mean that email magically evaporates into nothingness. Every single email Mann had sent or received is stored on a server somewhere–and where I work, that server is further backed up by magnetic tape. If Penn State said those emails didn’t exist, they were lying. There’s no sugarcoating it. It doesn’t matter what they said later–they lied.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

          Well as another gov’t employee. I’d have to say that not all gov’t IT systems are the same and may even differ within a jurisdiction. Some email are eventually over-written depending on protocols. You can’t speak for all gov’t just because you are one employee. You don’t know every detail of every gov’t IT dept and to suggest as much and to allege that Penn State officials lied based on your personal experience is to way over-reach IMO.

      • David Holland
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (Mar 8 12:45),

        Under the EIR – which climate change is in the UK and similar European laws – if the information was created by or received by a public authority and is held at home by an employee it is held by the public authority. The public authority should have data management procedures to ensure that it, and not the employee, decides what is kept and what is not. If it is environmental information it must be proactively disseminated by electronic means so the authority’s servers and not someone’s memory stick is where it should kept, if it is to be be deleted.

        We should stop tying to kid each other as to what is going on. In IPCC work – and most climate change science is aimed at IPCC citation – the rule should be absolute openness and transparency. For the Team, this is inconvenient.

      • Sharpshooter
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

        This would violate numerous and varied rules for “Chain of Custody” as to contamination of evidence.

      • kramer
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

        “We know that Briffa took over 4000 emails home for “safekeeping”. Mann probably did the same thing.”

        I had no idea this occurred until I just read this here. This is nuts…

        The more I learn about this issue, the more I believe something is wrong. I know you don’t like the idea of Virginia’s AG going after Mann’s emails but I do and I hope he’s able to get them (and the ones at his place of residence) so we can help make climate science more transparent.

        • Harold
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

          Some people are in the habit of keeping personal copies of everything they do. All companies I’ve worked for didn’t allow this. Work product you have been paid for is usually owned by whoever pays, unless there is some written agreement to the contrary. Anyone who does this type of thing is somewhat facile – opening ones self up to charges of theft of property (especially IP, confidential materials, etc) is a potential career killer in industry. Who is going to trust you if you’re untrustworthy? Would you hire someone who did this?

        • Kay
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

          I’m a state government employee, and our emails–every last one of them–belong to the taxpayers and are subject to FOIA. I could be wrong about this, but as an employee of Pennsylvania [i]State[/i] University, Mann is also a state employee and is subject to policies governing state government property. In other words, you don’t delete stuff and you don’t plug a USB drive into your computer and take stuff home with you.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

          Commonwealth actually. Pennsylvania along with Massachusetts, Virginia and Kentucky are Commonwealths. The distinction has bearing on the relationship between the “commonwealth” and its subsisderary bodies (states own them, Commonwealths are more a country club type place).

          However, as a “Commonwealth” employee, he is still subject to the laws of that dominion. And PSU is like most “state” colleges in that they are partly private and partly state(commonwealth), but they are all employees of the state/commonwealth.

        • Kay
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

          You’re right, of course. 🙂 It is a Commonwealth, but none of us, even at the capitol, refers to ourselves as “Commonwealth employees.” We’re just plain “state employees.”

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

          Really? We are called COV (versus contractors and such) which stands for Commonwealth of Virginia employees. Yea, we got a Virginia State and state this and state that. But when it comes time for the General assembly to “lower the boom” on localities, they remind us we are a commonwealth not a state. 😉

  8. Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    It will be interesting to see how the team attempt to spin this. Clearly the ‘divergent account’ problem is worse than suspected.

  9. Ron Cram
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

    Yours is a different question than mine, but I would say yes that is wrong if the purpose is to be non-responsive to an FOIA request. If it was university policy to take older emails home and all researchers were required to do it, then it would be okay – but that is unimaginable in today’s world.

  10. 007
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    No one has mentioned it, but Eugene Wahl’s honesty is refreshing.

    • JohnH
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

      He has changed employer since the emails were deleted, so can no longer lose his job over previous mistakes. Be fessing up now he keeps on the right side of his current employer as if he lied now and was found out later without changing job in the meantime he would be exposed. Not so refreshing after all.

    • Dave L.
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

      If you check several of Briffa’s e-mails to Wahl, you will find:

      I am taking the liberty (confidentially) to send you a copy of the reviewers[McIntyre’s] comments (please keep these to yourself) of the last IPCC draft chapter.”

      “PLEASE REMEMBER that this is “for your eyes only ”.”

      Wahl was entirely aware that his assistance to Briffa was ‘under the table’; i.e., using a to-be published paper to refute McIntyre. Yet look at Wahl’s final comment in the main post above: “And so, you’d have to ask Keith Briffa that. I don’t know what was in his mind.” I don’t find this response to be very refreshing. Wahl knew the game that Briffa was playing.

    • Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

      What many forget is that in the last dozen years, the only thing that has gotten convictions in government is lying. Clinton, Libby, etc. Wahl is probably not stupid. Deleting them may get you a frown, but lying under oath gets you a jail term.

      • AusieDan
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

        Wahl is not the president.

  11. JEM
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    It is possible, if one is being charitable, to accept that Wahl was just far enough removed from the initiation of this process not to know, or not to want to know, that the request to delete emails was a FOIA-avoidance tactic (and as such quite probably illegal, but…)

    To anyone in a commercial line of work in the US, anyone who’d had even passing understanding of the past two decades’ history of product liability, securities, etc. litigation, a request like that would (or at least should) result in a quiet “I don’t think you know what you’re asking…” chat on a park bench somewhere well away from the office, likely followed by a forward to the general counsel for reference.

    • Harold
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

      As a practical matter, I have only heard of requests to delete an email come from executive offices, and it is scrubbed from everyone’s email and all IT archives within hours of being sent. I have never seen this in any case where there could be legal implications, since it automatically makes any legal position much much worse, if discovered.

  12. chris haynes
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    Wahl’s honesty is refreshing? Come on. he’s trapped.

    The inspector. First thing, he gets all the E-mail records. Hence this: “I did receive that email. That’s the last one on your list here. I did receive that.”

    So they’ve got a record of the Email from the server and a record of deletions. And they show Wahl a list of them. And if a contractor wont talk, no more of Uncle Sam’s gravy. So he sings.

    • mpaul
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

      Yeah, and Mann can’t say that Wahl is lying since its clear that the IG has the email.

    • JEM
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

      As any of half a dozen Watergate defendants (or Bill Clinton, for that matter) could tell you, it’s not the crime they’ll nail you for, it’s the coverup.

  13. pax
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM | Permalink


  14. RayG
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    I can just hear Graham Spanier, the president of Penn State Univ. shouting in his ivied cloisters, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest of CAGW?”

    • Kay
      Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

      Spanier has bigger fish to fry at the the moment. Corbett just cut Penn State’s funding by 50%.

  15. Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

    The Penn inquiry was a surreal affair. Quite obvious from reaing their report when it came out.

    Please read the PSU investigation/inquiry language very carefully. Their approach is the email deletion issue is funny, very “university-like”.

    Their first step is to presume the stupidity of the reader: ‘An impression has been created by Phil Jones’ message that Michael Mann deleted some emails. Deleting emails is obviously a bad thing, dear reader. So did the eminent Dr Mann do this very ‘bad thing’?

    It is not per se, that deleting emails is bad. Which specific email was deleted, why was it deleted? These things are more important,and such questions were not asked. To ask these kinds of questions, you should *know* what the heck is going on.

    The second step is obfuscation: ‘We are led to believe, dear reader, that these supposedly deleted emails ‘relate to AR4′. If Mann deleted emails, he wouldn’t have any such emails in his possesion, would he? Shall we check?’

    The final step – a low-down play with words about zip file archives.

    The whole thing takes place in two stages. Firstly, note the wording of the initial set-up para:

    On January 15, 2010, and on behalf of the inquiry committee, Dr. Foley conveyed via email an additional request of Dr. Mann, who was asked to produce all emails related to the fourth IPCC report (“AR4”), the same emails that Dr. Phil Jones had suggested that he delete.

    Dr Phil Jones did *not* ask Mann ‘all emails related to the AR4’. He specifically asked Mann to delete emails ‘sent by Kieth Briffa, relating to AR4’. If the committee sought proof in a transparent manner (as they pretend), Foley’s question would have been specific. Instead they join these two different elements with the phrasing: “all emails related to the fourth IPCC report (“AR4”), the same emails that Dr. Phil Jones had suggested that he delete”.

    Then the second stage, the assessment. This is the mindboggling part.

    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.

    What is a ‘full’ archive? An archive containing ten emails will be ‘full’ with those ten emails. So will an archive containing twenty emails. How would you tell one from the other? How do you look at what one has, to determine what one does not have – if you don’t know what that is, and ask for it specifically?

    The inference we are to draw, is that, Mann’s ‘archives’ were ‘full’ because he hadn’t deleted any emails. And because he hadn’t deleted any emails, he did not delete emails from Keith Briffa.

    It is notable therefore that the inquiry never asked about emails from Briffa, to begin with, but yet succeeded in dealing with it.

    Mann might have still not deleted/acted on Jones’ request, but the inquiry did not establish this.

    (Slightly modified comment from Bishop Hill)

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 6:37 PM | Permalink

      Re: Shub Niggurath (Mar 8 16:54), searching the archive I find only a few mails in 2005 between briffa and mann WRT AR4.

      perhaps Mann followed the rules. This would explain why Briffa complains to overpeck that Overpeck should not be swayed by Mann or Solomon.

      Rather that work Briffa directly, mann would work through Over peck and solomon.

      So, there were no mails for mann to delete. no mails between briffa and mann WRT AR4.

      And Mann had no way of knowing whether Wahl followed directions or not.


      • Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

        Jones’ request relates to email ‘from Keith re AR4’. So Mann may have had forwards, through which he was simply being kept in the picture.

        If he was not known to have any such emails at all, why would have Jones written to him so, in the first place?

        • John Whitman
          Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

          Jones’ general behavior wrt to Mann seems to indicate that Mann was considered by Jones to be the leader in the USA for the team. Jones seems to often defer to Mann, but I sense it is seldom the other way. Therefore it would make sense to speculate that Mann was kept informed on all correspondence on AR4.


        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 3:49 AM | Permalink

          Re: Shub Niggurath (Mar 8 18:55), because Mann had wahl’s email

      • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 12:50 AM | Permalink

        The CRU emails is almost certainly an incomplete archive. So you have no way of knowing how many emails may have gone between Mann and Briffa.

      • Tom Fuller
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

        For some reason, Real Climate does not like the following comment:

        “What are the ethical responsibilities of an intermediary who conveys a message? Michael Mann knew from prior correspondence that what Phil was requesting was questionable at best. By forwarding the correspondence to Wahl, is he implicitly endorsing Jones’ request?

        Does Mann have a duty of care or ethical responsibility in this case? I believe so. I believe he owes Wahl something–I’m not sure what. I strongly believe he owes Jones a caution regarding his behaviour. And I believe he owes something to a larger group, although I am not sure if that group is science, society, or what.

        You people sure do create interesting dilemmas for yourselves and the rest of us.”

    • David S
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:56 AM | Permalink

      I think the inquiry gave Mann a hiding place, whether deliberately or inadvertently. The report states that “Dr. Mann produced upon request a full archive of his emails in and around the time of the preparation of AR4”; AR4 was published on 2 February 2007, while the offending email was dated May 29, 2008, some 15 months later and not “in and around the time” in everyday English. So it looks as though they had simply not done their homework and were looking under the wrong shell.

  16. Mailman
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    So, is this the same university that Republican Governer is trying to force to release all their Michael Mann papers from?



    • OldUnixHead
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 5:38 PM | Permalink


      I’d guess that you are referring to the Attorney General of Virginia, Mr. Cucinelli. He was (still is?) trying to make the U of VA disgorge (some of) their Mann-related emails. I believe that Mann was on the U of VA faculty at the time of interest. There are a number of CA posts around this topic.


      • OldUnixHead
        Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 5:45 PM | Permalink

        Oops, that was supposed to be “Cuccinelli”


    • G E Lambert
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Permalink


  17. Benzopf
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    A pawn? Heard that before, and I’m sorry, that doesn’t wash. Mann went into this with eyes wide open. Pawns don’t benefit from the notoriety, prestige and government gravy that Mann has received. His hockey stick and its permutations are active and persistent attempts to push a political agenda, while he actively and persistently guarded it against refutation (through stonewalling and obfuscation).

    Mann wasn’t just following orders. He may not be at the top of the pyramid, but he’s no useful idiot.

    • JEM
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

      I think these guys each work from a variety of motives.

      Some truly believe in the science the field’s produced.

      For others no doubt the science plays second-banana to various sociopolitical goals.

      For some, being on the ‘right’ side of the climate-science issue has represented a quick way to climb the ladder, and if that means you don’t look too closely at the results, so be it.

      For others less ambitious or less certain, but willing to take what falls in their lap, it’s been a way to hitch oneself to the coat-tails of someone else or some other organization climbing the ladder.

    • Jeremy
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

      I find it greatly comical that experienced PHd’s, who consider themselves (mostly correctly) among humanity’s more capable thinkers, could ever be pawns. It’s like a big healthy, good-grades male teenage quarterback claiming he is a victim of the man trying to hold him down.

      “I am a world-renowned expert, believe what I tell you about impending climate doom!”
      *same breath*
      “I had no idea these guys I deal with frequently were doing anything sketchy, how surprising!”

      • bubbagyro
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Permalink


        Mann, Briffa, Trenberth et.al. were just “Victims a Soycumstance”.

        Actually, once under scrutiny by FOIA request or under investigation, civil or criminal, all emails are legally “discoverable”. This is not an imprecise, but a legal term. The person of interest does not have the leeway to determine what is germane. It is all in the hands of the auditor or investigator. Deleting with the purpose to obfuscate comes under SOX and other related legislation. There is lots of related law besides SOX, applying to public institutions.

        Compounding these violations with lying to any court appointed investigators is a felony under most state and all federal statutes.

        One key factor involves intent. Although, for public companies (including universities receiving federal grants), ignorance of the law is not an excuse. A CEO, president, CFO, or the equivalent, when audited, is responsible for the accuracy of any public statements that may impact investors or taxpayers adversely. It is always assumed under SOX and other statutes, that the person of interest is qualified to know the accuracy of the statement.

        For example, a principal investigator for a grant must sign a legal statement that what he is proposing in the grant he knows to be true, to the best of his present knowledge. Secondly, he has to sign a document showing he is not in a conflict of interest. These are legal writs that cannot be falsely attested under civil and sometimes criminal penalty, depending on state and federal law..

        • Jeremy
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

          Though technically, Were Wahl and Mann under an FOIA request at the time? Wasn’t it just CRU? The international nature of the collusion clouds things quite a bit.

        • JohnH
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

          Yes the FOIA was at CRU, but they were thinking ahead and making sure a further FOIA placed in the US would not divulge emails that Biffa had already deleted in the UK.

        • JEM
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

          Yes, and there may be an element of ‘plausible deniability’ (particularly in Wahl’s case) surrounding the reason for the request to delete email, none of which makes the Penn State “investigation” any less of a whitewash.

        • Tom
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

          It doesn’t matter when you take preemptive action in expectation of a legal request it is considered that same as if you made it in response to that request. You start hiding money expecting divorce papers to be filed the judge doesn’t care he pulls the assets back in. If you start to hide money before you file a bankruptcy the trustee doesn’t care they pulls the assets back in. This is a well settled matter of law. Jones and Wahl have no plausible deniability.

    • Atomic Hairdryer
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

      Less a pawn, more a useful idiot.

      When this started, Mann was a nobody who suddenly had very influential allies because there is an awful lot of money to be made from assuming climate change is man made, and solveable.

      Mann helped legitmise this, but probably didn’t realise exactly how much attention he would get. For a while, this was good. But as Craig Loehle says at 6:13, he perhaps missed the bigger picture and the damage this is doing to public trust in science.

  18. OldUnixHead
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Steve or other moderator,

    Was the TAG on the headpost supposed to be “wahl” instead of “wah”?


  19. Theodore
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    One other factor in the PSU slight of hand. The report says he produced an archive from the time period that AR4 was written. There is no reference to Mann producing an archive of his emails from the time of the deletion request.

  20. David Davidovics
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    Do we know the source of the transcript? This would be explosive, but as it stands now, its easy to dismiss if no source is provided.

    • Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

      Yes, we know the source.

      • David Davidovics
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

        This could get interesting….

      • peetee
        Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 2:46 AM | Permalink

        There is growing speculation and rumor that the source came from within the office of Sen. Inhofe… surely, you could help dispel the unfortunate growing suspicion; perhaps you have an obligation to reveal the source you state you are aware of.

        • LC
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:18 AM | Permalink

          What difference does it make where it came from? It’s either true or it’s not. Wahl now says it’s true. Why “unfortunate growing suspicion”? Are you saying that the fact that it may have come from Inhofe makes it less true?

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 4:11 AM | Permalink

          Re: peetee (Mar 10 02:46),

          Re: LC (Mar 10 03:18),

          The source is moot since today Mann admitted forwarding Jones’s email, (claiming it’s been public knowledge for a year and a half?), and Wahl also admitted deleting his AR4 correspondence with Briffa.


          The claims of libel appear to be the difference between:

          Mann told Wahl to delete emails which he did.


          Mann forwarded an email to Wahl telling him to delete emails which he did.

          Not a great basis for a libel claim.

          Steve McIntyre, man a million references, until this last week have you ever heard of a determination or admission that Mann forwarded Jones’s email to Wahl? Because I sure haven’t.

          Wahl’s mentioning that everything he attempted to hide from potential investigators deleted is in the public domain anyway because of the Climategate leaks makes it sound as if he’s trying to say no harm was done and therefore no wrongdoing.

          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.

          It’s an interesting point of view, perhaps like the son who murders his parents throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.

          Steve: Until Wahl’s admission, I was unaware of any public admission that Mann had forwarded Jones’ email to Wahl, let alone that Wahl had acted on it.

          Wahl’s statement that everything is in the public domain is untrue. The attachments to Wahl’s correspondence with Briffa were not in the Climategate dossier. I have an outstanding FOI request for these attachments. The UEA refused the request on the basis that they no longer possessed the documents. The UEA told the Parliamentary COmmittee that they had all the documents, so I’ve appealed to the ICO to find out which of their stories is the right one. Wahl has also refused consent for UEA to release correspondence.

        • peetee
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

          you’re stating, “the source of the transcript is moot”… really? You don’t think it’s important or relevant to realize whether or not a sitting U.S. Senator (or someone within his office) released the transcript? Really?

        • Keith W.
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

          Peetee, considering the IG transcript of the interview is a public document of a government investigation, one not covered under the Official Secrets Act, any citizen of the United States can walk into the appropriate governmental office and ask for a copy, and all they have to do is pay any required fees. No need for a conspiracy theory.

  21. geo
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

    I suppose Mann might argue that *he* didn’t ask Wahl to delete anything, he merely passed on a request from Jones as a matter of courtesy to Jones since Jones was temporarily missing Wahl’s current email address.

    One would have to know what if anything Mann added to the “forward” to say how “direct” his participation was.

    But the “indirect” part of the PSU question would still leave him naked, even if his own forward was nothing more than “fyi, from Phil, who has misplaced your email address”. Plus it is hard to argue that he isn’t implicitly blessing the request as appropriate by passing it on at all.

    • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 12:53 AM | Permalink

      And the most troubling thing to me, is that Mann didn’t bat a virtual eye. No “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” in response to Phil. Nope.

      • geo
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

        Worse, if what he told PSU is right, it appears he himself was too smart to delete emails in response to such a request but was willing to be the conduit whereby Wahl put himself in future difficulty by doing so!

        You’d think if he felt obligated to pass on the request from Jones he might have at least added “but I’m not going to do so!”

  22. John Whitman
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 8:05 PM | Permalink

    I may have missed something relating to why is the NOAA Inspector General involved. Does anyone have info as to why they are conducting the inquiries?


    • Rattus Norvegicus
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

      This is related to the requested IG investigation of NOAA involvement in the CRU email affair requested by Inhofe (who I suspect is the source of the transcript).

      Note that Wahl has made a response in which he makes two key statements:

      He did delete emails in response to the forwarded email.
      At the time he was employed by Alfred University, a private university in upstate New York and as such was not subject to FOIA.

      Wahl’s email at a private university is not subject to US FOIA law and cannot be subject to UK FOIA law. There really is nothing here. No scandal, no wrongdoing, nothing.

      Steve: as I observed on several previous occasions, this was not the position taken by the Penn State inquiry. Had their report stated that even if the allegations were true, it did not constitute misconduct, then we could have considered their reasoning on this point. That wasn’t what they did. Their decision rested on the premise that Mann did not “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”. Their finding on this point is directly refuted by Wahl’s revelation that Mann had forwarded Jones’ email to him.

  23. Roger Knights
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    A leading Republican Pennsylvania state legislator–perhaps one who was head of the Education committee–wrote to the head of Penn State telling him that his University’s investigation had better not be a whitewash or there would be consequences.

    Now maybe his committee will conduct hearings. Perhaps he will ask Steve McIntyre to be a witness.

  24. John Whitman
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    If the NOAA Inspector General has interviewed Wahl, then they surely have or will interview Mann, Ammann and Overpeck.

    Steve, can your source provide the interviews if they exist.


  25. David Smith
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

    “Q. So, did you find the request unusual, that they were — that the request — that you were being requested to delete such emails?
    “A. Well, I had never received one like it. In that sense, it was unusual.”

    Read literally, Wahl’s answer says that this deletion request was the first one he received. I wonder if it was the only request, or were there requests after this event.

    If I was the questioner I would have used Wahl’s phrasing to open that door and peek inside.

  26. Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    There’s a great article on the PSU whitewash, but the title says it all….”Penn Panel Limbos Under the Hockey Stick”….posted at Canada Free Press.

    Looks like it’s time for a Panel to review the Panel ! ! !

    • Hoi Polloi
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

      let’s call it “Pennel”?

  27. Charlie A
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 11:09 PM | Permalink

    John Whitman “If the NOAA Inspector General has interviewed Wahl, then they surely have or will interview Mann, Ammann and Overpeck.”

    Wahl became a NOAA employee a few months after receiving the forwarded e-mail from Mann. The NOAA IG was looking into things because NOAA at the request of Senator Inhofe, who noted that NOAA was mentioned in several e-mails.

    The NOAA IG also interviewed Susan Solomon and some other NOAA employees that were mentioned in the e-mails, and NOAA employees that were involved in IPCC AR4. Mann and the others would be outside the scope of the NOAA IG investigation.

    See WUWT article on NOAA IG, with link to the report.

  28. Charlie A
    Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

    oooops. The link to WUWT story on NOAA IG report that I mentioned a few comments up above is http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/24/inspector-general-finds-noaa-climategate-emails-warrant-further-investigation/

    • John Whitman
      Posted Mar 8, 2011 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

      Charlie A,

      Thanks for the info and reference.


  29. Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 12:32 AM | Permalink

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. Are the emails in question subject to FOIA?

    If they are exempt for some reason, then deleting them may not be a violation of FOIA. I don’t know the answer with respect to the emails in question but not everything a government employee has in his or her possession is FOIAble.

    This would seem to be the most important issue to settle.

    If the emails in question were exempt from the FOIA, deleting them would not be illegal or a breach of FOIA. Where I work, we only have to keep documents that we originate. In other words, if I receive a CC from someone, or a copy of a document from someone, I do not have to keep that since I am not the originator of the document. If I create a document or email, I should keep a copy of it — if it is FOIAble. Some of my work is not FOIAble because it is exempted. Deleting “exempted” material is not a violation of FOIA, at least as I understand it. We are encouraged to interpret the Act widely so that it is better to keep documents if you are not certain if they are FOIAble and let the Officials decide but we delete documents and emails all the time if we do not originate them.

    I would expect that every national FOIA is somewhat different so it is possible that different rules apply to the case in question than I am familiar with. I would also think that it is the FOIA officials who would be best able to interpret the law and its application rather than anonymous bloggers on a website.

    2. Does deleting the emails in question off an individual’s computer delete them permanently from the government server? IOW, are they backed up somewhere and thus, the deletion is merely off one computer and not total? In other words, even if someone deletes an email off their computer, is that email gone or is there still a record of it somewhere else?

    This would seem to be an important fact to establish. Where I work we have a limit on the size of our inbox. We are expected to regularly cull emails to keep them under that limit. We save whatever emails we believe are important and that are subject to FOIA but all our emails are backed up on a regular basis and we can access them but they are no longer on our “computer”. Even if I was to delete an email from my archive, it is still backed up somewhere else.

    3. A person may say they are going to do something or have done something but unless there is physical evidence of their having done it, we do not know for certain that they have — even if they say they have. As House is fond of saying, people lie.

    Do we have physical evidence that FOIAble emails were actually deleted permanently off of servers?

    Unless we do have that evidence, I think it is premature to speculate.

    • Nicolas Nierenberg
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 1:11 AM | Permalink


      If your point is that it is unlikely that a crime was committed then I agree.

      • Peter
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:25 AM | Permalink


        One should not excuse criminal/unethical intent with incompetent execution. Wahl was asked to delete e-mail, and Wahl did so. If at that time, he was actually aware of the IT behind e-mail he would doubtless have not bothered, responded that it couldn’t be done or some such. The fact that the climategate e-mails exist underscore that the “team” was unaware of e-mail infrastructure, as evidence I offer Jones’ e-mail where he advises he had deleted alot of e-mails, which didn’t really work out too well.

        • Jeremy
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

          … Which leads me to believe that the climate gate leaker might have simply found someone’s “recycle” bin and compressed it for distribution. That package of mail might just be what Phil himself thought he was deleting when instead he was simply highlighting all of it to anyone with sufficient IT skill and understanding of the situation.

          As someone who grew up with computers I am finding more humor the more I look at all of this.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 8:10 AM | Permalink

        Nicolas and Susann,

        first, it is presumably possible for something to be academic misconduct under the policies of the University of East Anglia or Penn State without also being a criminal offence. It also seems to me that the statute of limitations would be different. For example, FOI offences in the UK had a 6-month statute of limitations under UK criminal law. If the FOI offence was also academic misconduct, then there’s no reason why a 6-month statute of limitations would apply.

        second, the issue of whether deletion of emails is misconduct is the sort of issue that a preliminary inquiry, such as the first Penn State inquiry, can and should consider. For example, let’s hypothesize that the Penn State inquiry issued a finding that deletion of emails under the circumstances at hand – even if true – did not constitute academic misconduct. Then one could argue about the validity of that finding in legal/academic terms abstracting from the particulars of the Wahl-Mann-Briffa-Jones exchange.

        However, that’s not what they did. They accepted the idea that it would have been misconduct, but made a decision of their understanding of the “facts” – that Mann had not in fact “directly or indirectly” aided Jones’ request to delete emails, a factual finding that flew in the face of the Climategate emails and is now directly contradicted by Wahl’s testimony.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

          Did Mann forward Jones’s email or write one himself suggesting that folks on the receiving end delete emails from Briffa re AR4? And is doing either “misconduct” or criminal?

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

          Forwarding is still sending an email. You’re splitting hairs.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

          It might be misconduct – I don’t know that it is or isn’t. I have an opinion, but that’s anout it as I have no direct knowledge or evidence that it is misconduct. Is it defined as misconduct in the employee handbook or policies?

          Steve: that’s the sort of question that the Penn State inquiry should have squarely addressed.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

          Did Mann forward Jones’s email or write one himself suggesting that folks on the receiving end delete emails from Briffa re AR4?

          That seems to be established quite conclusively both from the Climategate dossier and from Wahl’s evidence.

          And is doing either “misconduct” or criminal?

          As I’ve said elsewhere, that was an issue that the Penn State (preliminary) “inquiry” ought to have addressed, rather than usurping the role of the “investigation” stage. Had the inquiry considered this question – as it ought to have done – then we could comment on their opinion.

        • RomanM
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

          What’s the difference? Do you actually have to type some “new” words yourself to participate in the deletion process? Suppose that a terrorist were to send email instructions to a confederate to begin an attack, but passes them through an intermediary because they don’t have the requisite email address. Would the intermediary then have a defense that they were not complicit because they merely “forwarded” the message without verbally “suggesting” that the act take place?

          As far as “misconduct” goes, if Prof. Jones was deleting his emails to avoid producing under UK FOIA, then his own act would quite possibly be considered “criminal” in the UK. His request to others to delete their would be a part of a cover-up to remove evidence that his own erasures had taken place. It seems to me that for Mann and/or Wahl to comply would appear to be equally legally culpable in the UK (but not necessarily in the US). However, knowingly assisting someone in an illegal act in another country could reasonably be seen as being ethical misconduct.

        • stan
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Permalink


          I made a similar point at Bishop Hill about criminal conspiracy. If you pass on a message from Al Capone to a hitman, you are guilty even if you merely repeat the exact words that Capone said. Being a messenger and passing on a message is an affirmative act.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

          The difference could be important depending on a number of factors.

          1. Did the claimed deletion of emails constitute an infringement of the FOIA or other laws? Has that been found in an official capacity?

          2. Did it contravene institutional policies on employee conduct?

          3. If yes to either, was forwarding the email participating in the infringement / contravention of policies? Has that been found by any official body?

          4. If no to both, I don’t see anything of substance to the allegations made here.

          As far as I can see, nothing firm has been concluded in an official capacity about the above. I don’t have a copy of the actual email in question and other information necessary to judge and can’t know for a fact what was taking place.

          Someone has a copy of the email in question and knows the answer. I don’t have a copy so I can’t speak from a position of fact.

          Everything else is just a bunch of gossipers speculating and fantasizing and potentially over-reaching — possibly even libelling.

          I guess I think that anyone who is acting in cooperation with, or even on the same side as, people like Morano should consider what side of history they want to be seen as being on in the long run. That’s JMHO.

        • RomanM
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

          Nonsense. Show me an inquiry that actually made an effort to do a real evaluation.

          This isn’t a court of law, nor are “official” findings by such the only way for individuals to make conclusions about the actions of others. Official bodies need to make such determinations only if they intend to impose sanctions of some sort on an offender.

          I have pointed out earlier that, in my opinion, assisting in the cover-up of an offense (even if you are not in a jurisdiction where someone may act legally act against you) is itself at least an ethically reprehensible act. From my own 40+ years of experience in that environment, I have been led to believe that university professors are expected to to behave ethically – it has to do with being a professional. The fact that they went through the process of deleting the “evidence” indicates quite clearly that they themselves thought that what they had done needed to remain hidden from view.

          To make matters worse, they have gone through yet another charade to show just how squeaky clean they were. I am saddened by such behavior. It has harmed their cause and damaged the reputations of other scientists. How can you continue to justify it?

        • Fred Harwood
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:40 PM | Permalink


        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:05 PM | Permalink

          The issue is whether it was an offence — was Wahl’s deletion a violation of records retention policy or illegal? If it wasn’t, then all this speculation is just heat and not light. If the inquiry is still ongoing, it is wise to wait to see what the findings are because otherwise we are all acting with only partial facts.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:37 AM | Permalink

          Re: RomanM (Mar 9 19:33),
          “cover-up of an offense”
          There was no offense, and that is not a matter of jurisdiction. The FOIA request lodged with UEA only required UEA to produce documents held by UEA. It did not apply to anything Wahl may have had.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

          Many thanks Susan for the Gavinesque perspective. (I was wondering how one would attempt to spin this particular inclement set of facts). ‘Side of history’, and ‘libeling’ are interesting possible diversions to consider, for example. However, the Penn finding on the ‘directly or indirectly, any actions’ question was clearly wrong. Wouldn’t you agree?

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

          The question is what the forwarded email represents. You suggest it can only be either direct or indirect involvement in the deletion of emails or materials. It may be neither. Wahl is his own master, AFAIK.

        • RickA
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:52 PM | Permalink


          In law, we often use the “but for” test.

          But for Mann forwarding the email, would Wahl have deleted the emails?

          The answer is no – Wahl would not have deleted the emails – because he wouldn’t have seen the request to do so.

          Therefore, Mann indirectly participated in their deletion under the “but for” test.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

          RickA – in order to accept your argument, I would need to know whether Wahl deleted emails as part of his normal maintenance of his email account. I don’t think you can logically claim the “but for” unless you have evidence that he never deleted emails as part of normal account maintenance or that these particular emails would never be deleted under the document retention policies of his employer at the time. We would have to know how Wahl handled his email account to judge if he would have eventually deleted those emails just as part of normal maintenance.

          Steve: The evidence is conclusive that Wahl deleted the emails (which were from 2006) pursuant to the email from Mann in late May 2008 (forwarding the Jones email), rather than ordinary maintenance.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:27 AM | Permalink

          Re: RickA (Mar 9 22:52), Also dont forget

          ” I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: generwahl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
          talk to you later,

          It would be fun to ask Mann questions about this.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:48 AM | Permalink

          Susan, “It may be neither”. Yes, an email titled ‘IPCC & FOI’ requesting detailed email deletion, that resulted in email deletion, that was forwarded ‘ASAP’ in Mann’s words to Jones, to an email address that only Mann had, could easily be a subtle request to purchase new curtains. I’m sure that is what Foley’s exoneration committee thought, right?

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

          You’re trying too hard. If it isn’t wrong for Wahl to have deleted emails that were’t FOIAble anyway, passing along the email was not directly or indirectly being involved in anything contrary to FOIA. That is the real issue.

    • MrPete
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:04 AM | Permalink

      Your points with respect to FOIA miss another aspect, at least in the USA.In the USA, the SOX 802 (Sarbanes Oxley) rules require public and private organizations of any significant size to maintain all email (that could ever be part of a lawsuit, which covers pretty much everything other than spam) as business records for a significant period of time, and to have company policies for this. This is a codification of “discoverability” rules for potential legal cases. Around the world, more and more organizations are required to have internal controls regulating these kinds of things.

      Bottom line: in a USA business/workplace context, email retention is a more significant topic than your questions imply.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

        Pete’s observation that Sarbanes-Oxley appears to apply looks correct to me at first glance, though the scope seems to be defined a little differently, as it covers not simply “lawsuits” but deletions done with the “intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States” as well as some other circumstances.



        (a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 73 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:`Sec. 1519. Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy. `Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


          My original comment was intended to be a bit sarcastic since I don’t see the criminality issue as central. But it is a huge stretch to try to apply Sarbox here. What was the Federal investigation at the time of the deletion? I know “proper administration” could mean anything but it certainly is unlikely to mean this.

          As is typical in these cases the only thing anyone could get caught for would be perjury I think. I doubt that Mann was under oath in his Penn testimony, and apparently Wahl was quite well aware of that danger assuming he was under oath in this interview.

          Alternatively I think there is an ethical issue with Mann’s previous answers, but it seems unlikely the University will pursue it.

        • RayG
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

          It was not necessary for Dr. Wahl to be placed under oath. Lying to the IG would have been a criminal offense for which others have been convicted. Just consider the case of Scooter Libby.

        • MrPete
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

          Re: Nicolas Nierenberg (Mar 9 10:01),
          I think you misconstrue the reach of SOX. No investigation of any kind is necessary. Organizations are now required by SOX to retain all such documents, period. They must be available in case any investigation ever takes place… thus the typical time frames are related to statutes of limitation, typically either seven years or in perpetuity.

          SOX 802 is quite painful, to put it mildly.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

          I suppose the next question is – does the University have an email archive to ensure it complies with the requirements of the S-O such that an accidental or intentional deletion of emails by employees does not put the University’s compliance with S-O and FOIA in jeopardy? Leaving compliance with such important acts in the hands of employees alone seems rather imprudent. I would think that given modern computer storage capabilities, all email outside of spam could and should be archived in a secure location, even if only for business continuity. I’m not commenting on the culpability of the principals involved since there have already been inquiries, but on the general issue.

        • Jeremy
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

          It is highly likely that any University’s e-mail system has some form of backup. It is almost inconceivable that such a thing would not exist. The question is what form it takes. Either they do periodic compressed files stored offline for the purposes of restoring the system, or they have a rack farm of mirrored drives/boxes. Some likely do both. In the latter case, there would not necessarily be a true offline archive, but that doesn’t mean any deleted e-mails are truly gone (depends on software). In the former, there is most certainly some digital copy which someone could look up (were they paid to do so).

          Any sufficiently large organization would do this, not just for legal compliance, but to ensure the continuity of the system.

        • Jeremy
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

          I should add, some universities these days likely outsource their e-mail service. This would make the situation more complicated but I should think that a commercial service would make it much more likely that an offline archive in some form exists. It is in the commercial entities best interest that no e-mail is permanently lost due to fire/disaster, and offline backups are a simple thing to maintain (difficult sometimes to set up properly, but easy to continue doing once working properly). The grain of salt here is that I do not work in that industry, so I’m not intimately familiar with standard practices. I’m speaking from what a professional engineer/computer enthusiast would know.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

          Employees are often expected to cull email. It depends on the workplace as to how much space an individual employee has in their inbox or personal email archives. If an employee was going to cull the email anyway… Seriously, if culling email was in violation of S-O or other legislation, all our computer memory would have to be archived – every bit. Is that how you read the statute? If so probably most businesses and orgs are breaking the law…

        • Jeremy
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

          Yes, Susan, your question is a good one.

          If I am working at a big corporation running a server farm on which an e-mail system functions, I generally don’t have limited resources on which my system can run. These kinds of systems are large and designed not to fail in total. A single hard drive might go down each day, but they’re designed such that any fresh-out-of-high-school kid can walk in, open a box, and slide in a new hard drive without having the system bat an eye. If the system runs out of space, expansion is typically not so difficult.

          In the situation you are describing, the company/organization has decided they’re not going to fund more expansion to corporate IT space on a large scale (for whatever reason). In this situation, it is *more* likely that an offline archive is being kept. When you work with less short-term storage, you generally make sure you have some form of data archive to deal with your limited available working space while preserving data that might be important. If 4 years from now the company needs a copy of a document that had been deleted and there’s no archive… you can see the problem. The lack of sufficient direct storage space makes long-term archival important.

          I’m speaking strictly of what an IT manager might do given the situation you’re describing, I am not diving into the legal argument.

          Generally speaking, digital storage is very cheap, and any organization of any size will find some way to preserve old data, even if it just means putting old hard drives on shelves.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

          Susann, my understanding is that organizations can establish reasonable document retention policies and then may delete or destroy documents according to those policies and only according to those policies. Employees are not entitled to “cull” documents simply because they might be embarrassing.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

          Yes but whether or not the email is embarrasing, as long as those email are within the scope of the policies and the deletions are in accord with the policy, even embarrassing email may be deleted. So the pertinent question is not whether the email is embarrassing but what the policy is and if the deletion is in compliance with it.

        • geo
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

          In determining if the “deletion was in compliance with it”, one would have to know if all email that met the records retention policy requirement for deletion was deleted.

          In other words, if under the record retentions policy there are 500 emails that could be deleted as “past their retention date under the policy”, but only 50 are actually deleted, and those 50 are heavily in the “embarrassing” catagory, then using the records retention policy as a defense will not fly.

          In this particular case, we have Wahl’s testimony that he was acting specifically in reaction to the Jones email forwarded by Mann, not a record retentions policy.

        • elissalund
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

          The pertinent question is whether the particular deletions were in compliance, not whether all of Wahl’s other deletions or non-deletions were in compliance.

        • geo
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 2:40 AM | Permalink

          No, the pertinent question is did he delete the emails in response to Mann’s forward or not. . .and we have Wahl’s own testimony on the matter affirming that he did.

          The question here isn’t if Wahl did a bad thing. . .the question is did Mann accurately represent to PSU his participation in how the emails came to be deleted.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

          Re: Susan (Mar 9 10:31), Typical IT will ask you to ARCHIVE your mails on a regular basis. thats different from deleting it

        • Hu McCulloch
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

          I typically “delete” or junk-box 3/4 of the e-mails I receive on my OSU account, just to make it easier to go back and find important ones. The deleted ones are “archived” in my trash bin until I empty it every couple of months. Undoubtedly there is a copy on the university server, but I have no idea how long it stays there, so I count on important stuff being on my office or home computer.

          Unlike UEA, US state university professors are not subject to FOI so far as I know (unless perhaps when working on a federal grant).

          Since the legal problem with the alleged Mann-Wahl deletion(s) is that these e-mails were the subject of a UK FOI request, there may have been no even potential violation of US law. Even the UK case is apparently long beyond the FOI statute of limitations.

          So unless expired UK FOI violations are an extraditable offense, the possible problem here would be academic/scientific misconduct, rather than any prosecutable criminal offense.

        • Speed
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

          OSU e-mails have been in the news recently.

          ” … while reviewing information on an unrelated legal issue, the institution’s Office of Legal Affairs discovered an e-mail from Coach Tressel that was the subject matter of some of the activities pertaining to the University’s December 2010 NCAA self-report.”

          Perhaps you will soon be given some official direction regarding retention and destruction of e-mails.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:18 AM | Permalink

          Re: Hu McCulloch (Mar 9 15:23),
          Hu, as I’ve pointed out frequently here, the UK FOIA is quite restricted in the obligations it creates. That obligation is for the responsible authority (here UEA) to produce documents it holds, following a FOI request. There is no restraint on documents it doesn’t hold. And the only people who can commit an offence under Sec 77 are persons responsible to that authority (UEA). Ie its employees.

          So even if Wahl had been down the road at Cambridge, he would not have breached FOIA.

        • curious
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

          Nick- I think it’s worth noting that the EIR regs seem a bit tougher in this regard:

          “A request whether in writing or received in any other form can only be transferred where a public authority receives a request for environmental information that it does not itself hold and which is not held by any other person on its behalf. If a public authority in receipt of a request holds some of the information requested, a transfer can only be made in respect of the information it does not hold but is held by another public authority.”

          P14 http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/library/Environmental_info_reg/Detailed_specialist_guides/ENVIRONMENTAL_INFORMATION_REGULATIONS_CODE_OF_PRACTICE.ashx

          So I guess if an EIR request for correspondence came in to say Oxford requesting all correspondence between themselves and Cambridge on a particular environmental issue, and Oxford only had their portion, they would have to pass it to Cambridge who, in turn, would have to supply their portion?

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

          Define typical. I’ve read three different sets of document retention policies and in two the direction was to delete emails that were not of ongoing importance to the person’s work. Delete not archive. It really depends on the institution and jurisdiction. So many staff are entitled to delete emails that are either redundant – cc’s for example – or not of ongoing importance. Deleting FOIAble materials – in the institution or jurisdiction – is wrong but only those materials that are FOIAble and/or to be retained as part of the institution’s or jurisdiction’s policies. You can’t logically apply the UK’s laws to the US or one institution’s policies to another.

          Steve: it was open to the Penn State Inquiry to argue that the facts, even if proven, did not constitute misconduct. Arguably there are circumstances in which misconduct could arise without a breach of FOI legislation. Had they done so, they might well have been criticized for that position. But that’s not what they did. They made a finding of fact that is manifestly untrue.

        • Speed
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

          ” … companies must not only administer the policies set in place for compliance but also enforce them within the enterprise. All employees must be held responsible and accountable for complying with procedures and policy.”

          A good overview from 2006.

        • mpaul
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

          To my knowledge Sarbanes-Oxley applies only to companies that have debt or equity registered with the SEC. So Penn State would not be subject to the act.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

          To my knowledge Sarbanes-Oxley applies only to companies that have debt or equity registered with the SEC. So Penn State would not be subject to the act.

          Hmmm… as you observe, most of the Sarbanes-Oxley provisions are designed for SEC reporting issuers. However, section 802 cited above is incorporated in Title 18 of the US Code which applies to everyone.

          Title VIII of Sarbanes-Oxley (pdf here) is an amendment of Title 18 of the US Code. Title 18 defines Obstruction of Justice. Section 1519 states:

          § 1519. Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy

          Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

          I am not familiar enough with the legislation and its application to opine on whether the conduct at hand falls within these criteria or not. U.S. agencies sometimes interpret legislation very widely. Conrad Black, for example, was convicted under a law designed against corrupt politicians, a law that didn’t obviously apply to his circumstances.

          I would think that situations could arise where conduct was academic misconduct without being an offence under Title 18, section 1519.

        • ferd berple
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

          At the point where you receive a request from someone to delete records, thats the point at which you must retain them.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

          Simplistic. Depends entirely on whether deletion is legal and accepted as part of institutional policies. If that were the case, one would have to ignore one’s own institution’s policies if the policies mandate deletion of non-FOIAble materials.

        • Taphonomic
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

          You’re correct, but recipients of federal grants (like most climate scientists) are subject to the data and record retention requirements of the granting agency. These can be quite strict.

          Working as a government contractor, our standard instruction for writing an e-mail was: “Never put anything in an e-mail that you would not want to see on the front page of the New York Times.”

        • compguy77
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Permalink


          Finally, something in my area of expertise! Wading through the stats is fun, but challenging for me.

          In the US, certain regulated industries are required to keep all of some types of mail. For example, broker dealers are required to keep all communications with the public for at least three years. In practice, this means a company that is heavily regulated will likely retain all mail.

          Otherwise, companies are free to establish their own retention policies for business records, as long as they follow the applicable laws. One important area is the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which mostly says that as soon as you become aware of a need to preserve certain records, or have reason to believe that you will in the future need to preserve certain records, you must preserve them. Interestingly, this has recently been expanded by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who has been very active in this area, to include meta data about the records.

          An organization really needs to establish, and attempt to follow a retention policy, else they can be subject to the arbitrariness of a particular investigation. PSU probably has one at this point, I would think.

          An organization might use an archive system to help implement the policy, but that decision doesn’t change much in a legal sense. It just makes discovery and investigations easier.

          Backup tapes are an interesting repository for old business records, especially email messages. They are discoverable; just ask Morgan Stanley for example. Most end users don’t realize that emails can be on backup tapes, even after they deleted them from their mailbox. In my opinion, deleted emails from a backup were presented to Wahl during the interview.

        • mpaul
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

          This is where its going to get very complicated. One could argue that Mann had reason to believe that the emails were subject to an active UK FOIA. So there was clearly a need to preserve the emails — but perhaps not a statutory requirement under US law (since it was a UK FOIA). Where it gets murky is that one could argue that Mann could reasonably assume that these very same emails could be the subject of a US FOIA in the future. This would be a bit complicated. The other theory is that by forwarding Jones’s email, Mann participated in a conspiracy to commit a crime abroad. It strikes me that this is also a fairly complicated situation given that the crime is no longer able to be prosecuted under UK law.

          All of this will need to be sorted out by a grand jury.

          In any case, I can’t imagine that Penn State’s records retention policy says that “you must retain key records for xx months unless you get a panicked email from Phil Jones asking you to delete things because he received a UK FOIA — in which case its ok to delete them”. So at a minimum, it would seem that Mann has a bit of a problem with his employer.

        • mpaul
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

          Mann is now saying that he didn’t delete any emails, in which case he would (presumably) not have violated Penn State’s records retention policy.

        • stan
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

          I think we can make an ironclad rule regarding academic misconduct — if you get a request to delete records (including e-mails) regarding work, you should always assume that you are being asked to hide something and the hiding is likely to be wrong. In that case, DO NOT delete. The request itself puts any reasonable person on notice that impropriety may be an issue.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

          That might be wise advice for some institution and its policies but may not apply to others. I’ve read a number of institution’s FOIA policies and procedures and in some, staff are advised to delete all emails that are not considered essential to the conduct of the staff person’s responsibilities. Some advise that the employee should retain only those documents and emails that are of ongoing significance.

          Knowledge of the institution in question and their policies is necessary to determine what constitutes an infringement. Otherwise it’s just speculation and just adding to the accumulated noise surrounding this matter vs. clarifying the signal.

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Mar 11, 2011 at 3:33 AM | Permalink

          Come on, Susan. How, without clairvoyance, might one select “emails that are not essential to the conduct of the staff person’s responsibilities”. You have before your nose, in these pages, an example of a person acting without clairvoyance and causing quite a headache.

          In your heart, valuable as it is, you must know that you are making interesting hypotheses while knowing that at least a smidgin of guilt is indicated.

        • Rattus Norvegicus
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

          And note that this mostly applies to discovery in lawsuits. This doesn’t seem applicable in this case.

        • Rattus Norvegicus
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:15 PM | Permalink

          Steve, you should know perfectly well that Sarbanes/Oxley does not apply to academic correspondence at a private university. And as CompanyGuy77 pointed out organizatiions subject to Sarbanes/Oxley (primarily publicly traded companies) are free to establish their own retention policies.

          For example, at the last company I worked for which was subject to this the policy was set that no email would be retained on any backups past 60 days. All email older than this would be automagically deleted from your inbox and that if you wanted to retain this email past that time period you should back it up on your own and not count on the email server to retain it.

          Steve, once again, you are wrong.

          Steve: section 802 of Sarbanes-Oxley amended Title 18 of the US Code, the application of which does not appear to me to be limited to corporations. In addition, as I’ve observed on several occasions, it seems to me that there are circumstances in which conduct can be academic misconduct without being criminal.

    • John F. Hultquist
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

      Regarding Susann’s Q#2 – can one delete emails permanently

      I asked a similar question on a WUWT posting and a couple of folks responded, namely “Scott Ramsdell” and “davidmhoffer” to which I again responded. There may be others.

      I think this is going to be one of those things that we know we don’t know.

      • Jeremy
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Permalink

        I agree with davidhoffer there:

        Best practices in North America are that ALL email is retained, EVEN if the end user deletes it, they are only deleting it from their own account, the server still has a copy, and if backup systems are run properly, there should be additional copies on backup.

        This is my understanding of how most corporate e-mail systems are run, and is certainly in-line with my experiences as one of the end users. Universities are not so different than corporations in function in this regard, only in allocation of funding.

        Also, as storage space goes, e-mail is small-potatoes compared to data. Text is ridiculously easy to compress into tiny sizes.

        • Shevva
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

          Back ups are run weekly, monthly and yearly Monday-Thursday are weekly, Friday’s 1-4 are monthly and a month end tape which are yearly, you would also have a year end tape that is kept, as a general rule of thumb.

          And e-,ails are larger than you think as most come with attachments that push the size up, if you do not run limited sized mail boxes they can run out of control.

  30. Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

    Is that how these inquiry thingies work? Just ask the accused if they did such and such, and when they say “no”, just wrap up the inquiry? Neat!

  31. Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:00 AM | Permalink

    I was once advised by my IT department (while I was working in India) that the way to do it was:
    a. archive my “sensitive” emails to my hard disk and in time they would disappear from the servers.
    b. “transfer” (not delete) the archived emails to an external storage device (pen drive) and in time they would be overwritten on the hard disk, and
    c. take the unlabelled pen drive home and in time it would be “lost”.
    Of course there was no guarantee that the person being corresponded with would do the same but I remember being advised that requests to others to delete mails should be by phone and not by email!!

  32. Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:25 AM | Permalink

    If Wahl just received a forward of the Jones email from Mann, it would have included the subject line “IPCC & FOI”.
    This makes Wahl’s claim “I had no knowledge of anything like that” a bit dubious.

  33. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    Doing some digging, working backwards.

    The Jones email “Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? (etc)” that started this discussion was May 29 2008, 1212073451.txt.

    The day before, May 28 2008, we find 1212009215.txt
    From: Phil Jones
    To: t.osborn@xxxxxxxxx.xxx,”Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)”
    Subject: Re: FW: Your Ref: FOI_08-23 – IPCC, 2007 WGI Chapter 6 Assessment Process [FOI_08-23]
    Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 17:13:35 +0100
    Cc: “Briffa Keith Prof ” , “Mcgarvie Michael Mr ”
    which has, inter alia, “As for (3) Tim has asked Caspar, but Caspar is one of the worse responders to emails known. I doubt either he emailed Keith or Keith emailed him related to IPCC.
    I think this will be quite easy to respond to once Keith is back.
    From looking at these questions and the Climate Audit web site, this
    all relates to two papers in the journal Climatic Change. I know how
    Keith and Tim got access to these papers and it was nothing to do
    with IPCC.”

    It is possible that this email prompted the first when it was realised that Caspar might still have information of interest.

    The reference to “As for (3)” ties to
    From: Phil Jones [mailto:p.jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx]
    Sent: 11 September 2007 14:06
    To: Burgess Jacquelin Prof (ENV)
    Cc: Mcgarvie Michael Mr (ACAD)
    Subject: Possible problem looming
    I’ve been in discussion with Michael over the past several months
    about a number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for CRU data. I’ve
    responded to one and will be responding to another in the next few days. Michael
    suggested I bring you up to speed on the issue. To cut a very long
    story short, I’m attaching 3 things that relate to what’s happened
    since responding to the first request.

    ETC. The email is too long to reproduce here. It deals with 4 items sought by Doug Keenan under FOI. It includes “This is just another of the attempts by climate skeptics to get the public and the
    media thinking that there is disagreement amongst scientists and that
    we shouldn’t be doing anything about global warming. I will be
    discussing this with some IPCC people when I meet them in early October.”

    As a hypothetical, maybe it was realised that this matter contained evidence of collusion to avoid FOI requirements, not just by the Team, but also involving the IPCC.

    Steve has much more detail at https://climateaudit.org/2010/11/06/phil-jones-and-the-china-network-part-3/

    The hypothetical might be clarified by earlier emails that I have not searched. I stress that this hypothetical might not be the critical reason for the email deletion request, but it has some of that flavour.

  34. Barry
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Permalink

    I personally hope this will lead to legal action against Penn State and Michael Mann. The people of Pennsylvania are paying for the snow job they got and I hope they are outraged enough to call for the heads of the inquiry board.

  35. JohnH
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    When I worked for a large US headquartered company even though I was in the UK we had to follow these rules, IT set the policies and we had to sign that we would follow the policies. When the company became under Federal Securities investigation no emails could be deleted at all until it was concluded and this was communicated by a mass mailing. The servers had to have extra storage installed to cope.

  36. Salamano
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    Anybody see the latest legalese?


    It goes something like this:

    1. Because Mann forwarded the urgent email request to delete emails…WITHOUT ADDING TEXT HIMSELF…’technically’ the request to delete emails didn’t come from Mann.

    2. Because Wahl says that all the emails he had deleted (admittedly right after this request was forwarded from Mann) are already in the ‘public domain’ (thanks to the CRU hack), and because he was employed by Alfred University (not the NOAA)…he’s free to delete them.

  37. Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    The full defense is now up at RC.

    And, of course, it does include a hockey stick!!!! Really.

  38. Jeremy
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    Since I see no comment about this…Mann & Wahl have apparently responded:

  39. R.S.Brown
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    For those who would like to read Wahl’s very recent statement
    and Mike Mann’s comments from Hawaii see:


    I became aware of this link from WUWT.

    I pass this along to you without comment.

  40. stan
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:30 PM | Permalink

    I am just gobsmacked by Mann’s assertion that he is being defamed. Jones asks him to help. Mann agrees to help. The help Jones needs is for Wahl to delete. Mann, by forwarding the e-mail, is serving as Jones’ messenger. He helps. Wahl deletes.

    What does this say about Mann’s critical thinking skills? What does it say about the logic of anyone who agrees with Mann?

  41. RomanM
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    From Sciencemag.org

    [Bold mine]


    Mann, reached on vacation in Hawaii, said the stories yesterday were “libelous” and false. “They’re spreading a lie about me,” he said of the Web sites. “This has been known for a year and a half that all I did was forward Phil’s e-mail to Eugene.” Asked why he sent the e-mail to his colleague, Mann said, “I felt Eugene Wahl had to be aware of this e-mail … it could be used against him. I didn’t delete any e-mails and nor did I tell Wahl to delete any e-mails.” Why didn’t Mann call Wahl to discuss the odd request? “I was so busy. It’s much easier to e-mail somebody. No where did I approve of the instruction to destroy e-mails.”


    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.

    I presume that since neither of them deleted the email that Mr. Mann “forwarded” to Mr. Wahl, it should be easy for someone to produce that email. Did the group that investigated Mike Mann actually see what he sent?

    It all smacks of the “…but I didn’t inhale” defense.

    • Salamano
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

      What does this exercise say about any workplace email we forward ‘without comment’ …of various colors and sensibilities..?

      Are we liability-free? Forwarding the emails does not constitute some level of endorsement/recommendation ?

      All sorts of workplace lawsuits and firings look like they’d be headed for overturning based on Mann’s statements if they fly.

      “Hey, that racist email came from someone else, I didn’t even look at it, I just forwarded it on…It’s not my problem.”

    • RomanM
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:45 PM | Permalink

      Re: RomanM (Mar 9 16:45),

      The more I re-read the Mann statement, the more incredible it sounds.

      “I felt Eugene Wahl had to be aware of this e-mail … it could be used against him.

      “I was so busy. It’s much easier to e-mail somebody.”

      So he thought that it was important that Wahl not delete the emails because that act could be used against him (prescient anticipation of Climategate more than a year later?), but he was too busy to type the following before forwarding it:

      Phil has asked that we delete our correspondence with him on the 4th IPCC Assessment Report. I don’t think that this is a good idea. I am not going to do that and I don’t think that you should either. I am really busy. Gotta run. Mike.

      How many seconds would that have taken? Could be one too many mai tais before the interview …

      • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:20 PM | Permalink

        Is Mann responsible for Wahl’s actions?

        • RomanM
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:47 PM | Permalink

          You tell me whether he bears any responsibility. At the same time, do you find Prof. Mann’s latest explanation believable?

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

          Wahl is a grownup and can decide for himself whether to delete emails or not. I would think that Wahl is his own man.

          As to Mann’s explanation, he claims he thought it was important that Wahl have a copy since it might be used against him. I can’t read his mind so I have to take his explanation at face value. Unless we have another email explaining his state of mind at the time he forwarded the email, we are left to the quality of our mind reading skills or the fecundity of our imaginations.

        • stan
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

          Excuse me?! No one has to take his explanation at face value. That is absurd. We can look at the written evidence and put the most logical construction on it given the context. That gives us a look at his thinking at the time of the e-mails which varies quite a bit from his current explanation, so the most appropriate take is that he is dissembling. Given his history, that seems very likely.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:50 PM | Permalink

          So in addition to mind-reading, you advocate augury?

          What counts is evidence. Did Mann delete the emails? Apparently, the Penn State inquiry found that he did not as he was able to provide the emails surrounding the AR4 to their satisfaction. If he didn’t delete emails, why would you conclude that he forwarded the Jones email because he thought Wahl should or was encouraging him to?

          Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

        • James Evans
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 2:05 AM | Permalink

          Quite. Sometimes an email requesting the deletion of emails is just an email requesting the deletion of emails.

          If Mann’s forwarding of the email was intended as some sort of warning, then at best it was blatantly incompetent – as Wahl went on to delete the emails as requested.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 7:28 PM | Permalink

          And sometimes, a mountain is really a molehill that looks that way because people are holding a huge magnifying glass in front of you and telling you it’s really really much bigger than it looks…

          It was not illegal for Wahl to delete any email correspondence he had with Jones about AR4 when it comes to FOIA. He was employed by a private university which was not subject to FOIA in the USA, let alone in the UK.

          Were his actions in accord with the university’s policy on record retention? I don’t know for certain but a bit of research turns up very little clear policy on document retention at AU. I did find this, which is part of AU’s statement on IT policies and preserving electronic information:

          Alfred University’s Information Technology Services and the University Archivist are aware of this issue and will monitor the progress of research being conducted at institutions like the University of British Columbia and Cornell University. Their focus is to formulate model policies, standards, and strategies for ensuring that authentic electronic records can be preserved over long periods of time.

          In the short term, we advise campus offices and individuals to maintain paper copies of important documents and files.

          Our institutional memory is at risk. Without reliable electronic records, Alfred University will be unable to manage or defend itself and be at a significant risk. We need to ensure that electronic information needed for legal, administrative, and historical purposes will exist and be useable in 10, 20, or 100 years.

          We will continue to keep you informed about this critical issue.

          So, it seems that AU is aware of the risks involved in not having an adequate system to preserve electronic records and advises staff to produce paper copies, which can be archived and last as long as paper generally does, depending on the storage environment.

          Here is AU’s statement on email as a means of official communication:

          In keeping with the August 18, 2005 directive from President Edmondson, e-mail is an official means of communication at Alfred University. This formal statement establishes electronic mail as a proper and legal means of reaching the entire University community. It serves notice that everyone on campus is responsible for being aware of official information communicated electronically. All faculty, students and staff are expected to review their email accounts regularly and respond to those communications. In addition, all faculty, students and staff (in cooperation with ITS) are expected to keep their email accounts in working order, so that they can both send and receive email communication.

          Nothing I can see that mandates that faculty/staff are not to delete any emails.

          So, Wahl’s deletion of his emails with Briffa regarding the AR4 report and his paper addressing M&M would appear to be a non-issue with respect to FOIA or his own institutions policies, for what they were worth.

          If that is the case, why would Mann’s forwarding of Jones’s email advising Wahl to delete emails be unethical? It would be unethical if he were to ask Wahl to delete FOIAble emails / documents or go against his own institutions’s policies on document retention.

          He didn’t, according to Wahl. He merely forwarded an email that advised Wahl to do something that was not illegal or unethical.


        • James Evans
          Posted Mar 11, 2011 at 1:59 AM | Permalink

          But surely, they’re deleting emails and trying to hide their conversations from FOI because they don’t want their shady behaviour regarding IPCC AR4 to come to light. Whether FOIA rules applied to any of these individuals isn’t entirely the point.

          If you’re happy with all of this, and don’t see any ethical problems, then that’s fine. You’re obviously completely entitled to hold whatever values you like.

        • James Evans
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 2:41 AM | Permalink

          My understanding is that Mann responded to Jones’s email with this:

          >I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: >generwahl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
          >talk to you later

          No mention there of his intention to imbue the message to Wahl with a metaphysical instruction to do the opposite of what the words of the message say.

        • Jeremy
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

          Apparently, the Penn State inquiry found that he did not as he was able to provide the emails surrounding the AR4 to their satisfaction. If he didn’t delete emails, why would you conclude that he forwarded the Jones email because he thought Wahl should or was encouraging him to?

          Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

          You said “The emails” as if there were an expected set of e-mails that the inquiry was looking for. You used the word “The”, which is a definite article as opposed to an indefinite. In fact the inquiry’s report said “contained e-mails” in regards to AR4 without specification. This is an important subtlety which changes what you are saying as to be a defense of Mann. Simply demonstrating to an inquiry (whitewash) that he had e-mails wrt AR4 does not clear him of having “THE” e-mails which might truly exonerate him.

          Do I detect bias towards the defendant?

        • stan
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Permalink


          While you may be unfamiliar with concepts like evidence and inferences, I happen to be an attorney. I think you will be more likely to clear up the confusion that plagues you if you would read up on these concepts. Also, rather than start with a judgment that Mann is incapable of doing any wrong and then evaluating all the facts in an effort to support that conclusion, you might try to first look at the facts and then formulate a logical judgment.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Permalink

          Thanks for telling me you’re a lawyer, Stan.

          Please point out evidence of my “confusion” about evidence and inference instead of just asserting it.

          I’ve tried to discover the facts, such as they are. I see a lot of people busy reading Wahl and Mann’s mind – what they intended to do, what their words show they meant to do, what was in their hearts.

          Perhaps you should provide them with some lawyerly advice on making a case, such as using irrelevancies, heresay, speculation, and making inflamatory statements.

        • Posted Mar 11, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

          You seem to not understand the 3 pillars of a conviction. Motive, means and opportunity. The latter 2 are easy to discern as usually the means in evident in the method (gun, knife, etc.) and the opportunity usually by either placing the suspect at the scene or the lack of an alibi.

          However, motive is not so easy, yet presented in courts every day. What is it? It is what the suspect was thinking at the time of the crime. For a few, that is easy – they confess. For most, however, the motive is imputed to the suspect based upon behaviour and other telling signs. In other words, in your own words, they read the mind of the suspect.

          But in legal terms, no one is pretending to read the minds of Wahl, Mann or Briffa. They are simply imputing the motive based upon the facts in evidence. You may call a duck a horse if you like, but if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and walks like a duck, most of us will call it a duck.

        • Shub
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

          What kind of an ‘explanation’ is that in the first place?

          I can think of one.

          Mann wanted Wahl to have some one else to drag down with him i.e., Phil Jones, in case it were ever to be revealed that Eugene Wahl was helping Keith Briffa with his IPCC chapter.

          Why are we to resort to fecundity of our imaginations?

          Why not ask Eli Kintisch?

        • Salamano
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

          Apparently therefore we can circulate any email around the workplace… racist, harassing, violent, condoning illegal behavior, etc. … All we have to do is simply not comment anywhere in the forwarded chain, and no worries.

          I doubt this reality exists elsewhere.

        • HaroldW
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

          Susan –
          You ask “Is Mann responsible for Wahl’s actions?” which I take to be a rhetorical question, because the answer is obviously no. As you say, Wahl is a grownup.

          I don’t think that is what is being claimed here. Mann was asked a direct question during the PSU inquiry: “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?” To me, forwarding a request to delete emails to Wahl would seem to be prima facie evidence that Mann should have answered “yes” to that question. Something on the order of “yes, but only to the limited extent of forwarding Jones’ email to Wahl, without recommending that he delete the emails” would be accurate.

          So, Susan, would you say that Mann’s apparent answer of “no” — we don’t have a transcript so we don’t know exactly what he said — would be incorrect? Of course, if he answered as the report paraphrases him, that he did not delete emails, he would have merely been speaking carefully, and not incorrectly. In which case it’s PSU’s fault for not recognizing the evasion.

          Steve: perhaps the main issue here was the incompetence of the Penn State inquiry. We don’t know for sure whether they even directly asked the question.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

          Perhaps the main issue here is that we don’t have an exact transcript of what was said and how it was said and thus everything we do amounts to nothing more than speculation. While the inquirers interviewing Mann might have had that question in mind when interviewing him, they might not have used those actual words. They might have phrased it differently in terms of the whole FOIA business in the UK and of Mann’s own treatment of his emails. We don’t know until we have a verbatim transcript. What we do have is speculation and opinion, which is not worth very much. You know the old saying about opinions and certain bodily parts…

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

          Re: Susan (Mar 9 19:20),

          I did not write the robbery note. I passed it to the teller.

          Apparently Mann thinks that there is something wrong with what Wahl did.
          How else does one make sense of his claim that its libelous to say he “asked”
          Wahl to delete mails. There is nothing wrong with Wahl deleting mails. Nothing wrong with
          asking him to delete mails or forwarding a request to him to delete mails. weird. why does mann think it’s libel. It’s not like he passed a robbery note written by someone else to the teller.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 5:13 AM | Permalink

          Re: Steven Mosher (Mar 9 23:50),
          There was no robbery note.

        • MichaelM
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

          This comment is either insance or intentionally obtuse. Substitute ‘delete emails note’ for ‘robbery note’ – a fair analogy. They attempted (and to some extent succeeded) in robbing the public of evidence that they subverted IPCC proecdures to produce a more ‘convincing narrative’.

        • MichaelM
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

          Should, appropriately, read “insane.”

        • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

          The appropriate analogy, given that Wahl’s deletion of the emails was legal and apparently within the scope of his institution’s electronic records polices, would be “I did not tell Wahl to do go forth and do something of no legal or ethical consequence. I merely passed on Jones’s email that suggested he do so.”

          Wahl decided to do it all by himself.

          “Mann — aka “The Devil” — made Wahl do it” just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

          Re: Nick Stokes (Mar 10 05:13),

          “It’s not like he passed a robbery note written by someone else to the teller.”

          Did you miss what I wrote? There is no robbery note. There is no request of Wahl
          to do anything illegal. So, It matters little whether mann ‘asked’ whal to or
          whether he merely passed on the note. Yet, Mann thinks it is libelous to write
          “mann asked wahl to delete mails” as opposed to the technically more accurate
          “mann forwarded a request written by jones” The charge of libel makes no sense,
          unless Mann thinks that he is being accused of something nefarious.

          The issue is the inquiry’s representation of the facts. Did they know that mann forwarded the mail? either through his testimoney OR by seeing a record of the fwd
          in his mail archive. Why then not simply say. Mann deleted no mails. he forwarded Jones request onto Wahl. The simple facts.

          As for what Mann did and Wahl did? I have no opinion on its legality, or morality
          or anything. Mann apparently thinks its libelous to suggest that he asked Wahl to delete mails? That means Mann must think deleting mails is a horrible thing. And yet
          his defenders think otherwise.

          I raise the example of passing a robbery note for one purpose. Other examples of merely passing orders on would violate godwins law.

          Its also interesting from this perspective. I’m interested in how we attach meaning
          and intention to paralinguistic actions.

          1. linking to a blog. For example, some people think that linking to a blog, CONSTITUTES
          2. posting an article. Some people think posting an article constitutes endorsement
          3. forwarding a request.

          I like the ambiguity of these things. From a philosophical perspective. I like the way people change their interpretation of paralinguistic acts to fit the circumstance.
          Mann recieved a request to pass on a request to Wahl. He replied that he would contact Wahl ASAP. he then forwarded the mail. Since Jones didnt have wahl’s address we can say that “but for” mann’s actions, whal wouldnt have received the request. Does that mean
          that Mann approved of the request? endorsed the request? objected to the request?
          If he NOW thinks that accusing him of deleting mails is libelous, then its fair to say that he did not approve of the request. So, that leads to some more interesting questions. Still, none of that is interesting to most folks. Whether the inquiry did the best job it could is interesting.

    • geo
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

      Well, it is good to know that Wahl says Mann did not add further comment to the request. I would be willing to concede that gets him off the hook on the “directly” part of PSU’s question. I don’t see how it gets him off the hook on the indirectly part. Mann could have just as easily, as he in fact did do, just told Jones what Wahl’s new email address was and NOT forward the email to Wahl himself (telling Jones something like “Here’s Gene’s address, please communicate with him directly”), therefore adding his indirect imprimatur to the request.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:46 AM | Permalink

      Re: RomanM (Mar 9 16:45),

      Mann had time to reassure Jones

      I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: generwahl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
      talk to you later,

  42. Dave Andrews
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    Mann says

    “No where did I approve of the instruction to destroy e-mails.”

    But surely Jones only ‘suggested’ that it might be helpful if Mann asked Wahl to delete as he (Wahl) never responded to emails.

    So who gave Mann “instructions”?

    • Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

      ..and, as far as we can tell, he didn’t disapprove either.

      This is a nice hole they’re digging.

  43. MikeN
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    Is there any context around the e-mails, that suggest wrongdoing by Mann?
    We are talking about 15 months later, Mann receives an e-mail, Could you delete your emails from keith re AR4, and forward to Wahl to have him do likewise. This might seem a bit unusual, but why should he think it is a criminal or unethical act?

    Steve: as I observed above, the Penn State inquiry could have tried to argue that the deletion of emails or actions taken to further someone else to delete emails, even if proven, did not constitute misconduct. That’s the sort of thing that is within the scope of a preliminary inquiry. They didn’t do so. Instead, they usurped the duties of the investigation stage and claimed, incorrectly as it turned out, that Mann had done nothing “directly or indirectly” to further the deletion of emails.

    • RomanM
      Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

      Mann states that he thought that the email could be used against Wahl so it was important he see it. So it only seemed “a bit unusual” to him?

      • curious
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

        ccPennState FOI Officer

        This inappropriate request just came in from Phil and I thought you should see it. Please DO NOT act on it, please ensure you have a proper audit trail of your correspondence for future reference and please pass a receipted copy to your University FOI Officer forthwith.

        Phil – It is vital that the science and our practices are above reproach. Please can you assure me that you are keeping properly recorded details of our communcations? Thanks

        Truly yours,


        • curious
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

          Sorry Roman – just saw you made the same point upthread.

          Also apologies – I’ve not checked who these chaps actual employers were at the time of the email? Not sure Gene was in a Uni. post?

        • curious
          Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

          Ahem – now just read further up the thread… I’ll get my coat… 🙂

      • MikeN
        Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

        That statement by Mann makes no sense at all. I am talking about context about Mann’s state of mind at the time he forwarded the e-mail, and presumably deleted his own e-mails.

  44. Craig Loehle
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    The discussion of criminal penalties for Mann and Wahl is missing the point. What this all shows is corruption of the scientific process. If IPCC was a straight-up scientific document, none of these shenanigans would have been necessary. This simply nails down another piece of the puzzle of hundreds of pieces of hiding declines, violating transparency, violating confidentiality, getting editors fired, going to town, blacklisting people, slander, ignoring valid (and important–like Himalayan glaciers not really vanishing by 2035) criticisms by IPCC reviewers, check-kiting, deleting emails, violating deadlines for inclusion of favored work, citing gray lit uncritically, etc. It is a litany of unprofessional conduct by NOT a single individual.

    • LC
      Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:51 AM | Permalink

      Absolutely right Craig. One of the best comments on this thread. They have done all this with the aid and abetment of far too many of the academic fellowships and establishments too. Everyone here should forget about possible criminal charges at this point. Strictly speaking, I cannot see that they have committed any real crime. They have, however, committed academic malfeasance and people here should concentrate on getting to the bottom of how and why it has been allowed to happen. Getting some proper answers from the PSU panel would be a good start.

  45. Robert of Ottawa
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

    With the latest statement from Wahl that Mann merely forwarded the Jones e-mail, can Mann plead innocence? He obviously read the e-mail and forwarded it to Wahl; he knew what it was all about. He must have approved, although his method left wiggle-room in the culpability department – like the man who supplies the guns to the bank robbers for a piece of the take if they are successful, otherwise, he had no idea what the guns were for.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:24 AM | Permalink

      Re: Robert of Ottawa (Mar 9 19:13), Dont forget what mann wrote to Jones

      “would have run off to the Wall Street Journal for an exclusive were that to have been true. I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: generwahl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
      talk to you later,

      Jones wants mann to contact gene to delete the mails
      Mann has Wahls address
      Mann says he will contact gene ASAP

      why ASAP? mann now says that gene had a right to see the request

      he gives Jones wahls email

      Jones could write Wahl directly

      WHY ASAP

      Dunno, maybe a request passed on from Mann will get MORE attention from Wahl tha a simple request from Jones

  46. PJB
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:21 PM | Permalink

    To paraphrase on old saying:

    “Intention is 9/10 of the lie.”

    Mann is guilty of participating in an unethical cover-up of inappropriate activity. They know what they did and it will soon come back to haunt them.

  47. MrPete
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    re: compguy77 (Mar 9 14:31) etc,

    Here is a nice summary document relating all this to FRCP (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), which apply to ALL organizations in the US. Not only is eDiscovery an issue, it is the responsibility of the organization to maintain sufficient administration / indexing capability to produce all required documents in a timely manner. Mess this up, and you automatically lose. Such fun!

  48. mpaul
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    The indictment of Frank Quattrone bears some similarities to this situation. news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/csfb/usquattrone51203ind.pdf

    During the internet bubble, Quattrone was one of the most successful investment bankers on Wall Street. He was the head of the technology practice at Credit Swiss First Boston. CSFB had become the subject of an NASD investigation regarding the practices by which CSFB allocated IPO shares to their best clients.

    CSFB had a records retention policy. The policy stated that

    “No documents related to a transaction may be destroyed if (i) CSFB has been made a party to litigation involving such transaction or has received a subpoena which calls for the production of such documents or (ii) it is reasonably likely that litigation may be commenced in connection with such transaction or any matter relating to CSFB’s involvement therein.”

    In May of 2000 NASD began an investigation of CSFB. In June CSFB advised employees that the firm had become a subject of the investigation and that they should not destroy any documents related to the VA Linux IPO.

    In December of 2000 Quattronne received an email from a CSFB executive asking him to remind employees of the document retention policy. The email instructed employees that information

    “should not be left in the file following completion of the transaction. That means no notes, no drafts, no valuation analysis, no copies of the roadshow, no markups, no selling memos,
    no IBC or EVC memos, no internal memos.

    The email went on to say:

    “Note that if a lawsuit is instituted, our normal document retention policy is suspended and any cleaning of files is prohibited under the CSFB guidelines (since it constitutes the destruction of evidence).”

    Quattrone forwaded this email to his staff with the following comment:

    “having been a key witness in a securities litigation case in south texas i strongly advise you to follow these procedures.”

    Quattrone was subsequently indicted for, among other things: “unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly, corruptly influenced, obstructed, and impeded, and endeavored to influence, obstruct, and impede, the due and proper administration of the law under which a pending proceeding was being had before a department and agency of the United States, to wit, endeavoring to influence, obstruct, and impede the SEC’s investigation, as set forth above.
    (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1505 and 2.)”

    The case rested on the fact that Quattrone failed, in his comments, to remind people that documents related to the VA Linux IPO were the subject of n legal proceeding and should, therefore, not be destroyed. The US Attorney argued that Quattrone’s failure to remind employees of the obligations regarding VA Linux documents was a purposeful omission designed to induce employees to delete those documents.

    Quatronne was convicted at trial. The conviction was later overturned on appeal.

  49. HaroldW
    Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

    Jones’ email stated “Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith [Briffa] re AR4? Keith will do likewise… 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 [Ammann] to do likewise.”

    Was it ever determined whether Ammann or Briffa deleted their ends of these emails in response to Jones’ request?

    Steve: It hasn’t been determined. Muir Russell told the Parliamentary Committee in October that they didn’t ask anyone whether they deleted emails, as that would have been asking them to confess to an offence. Ammann is not primary to this as the surreptitious correspondence was between Wahl and Briffa.

    • HaroldW
      Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 12:13 AM | Permalink

      Thanks Steve. I wonder why Jones thought that Ammann needed to “do likewise.”

  50. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    Last year, Joe Romm at Grist here asked Mann to comment on various Climategate emails. Question 3 was to comment on the following:

    3. “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.” (from Phil Jones)

    Mann did not tell Romm that he had forwarded the email to Wahl. Quite the opposite. Mann said that the Climategate dossier did not show ‘approval of, let alone compliance with, the request.”

    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.

    We now know that Mann did in fact comply with Jones’ request by “emailing Gene”, as he had undertaken in his Climategate answer – an answer omitted by Joe ROmm:

    I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP.

  51. Manfred
    Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

    I think it is significant, if Mann put this email to Wahl on the list he presented the Penn State enquiry.

    Penn State’s judgement doesn’t make sense if it was on the list.

    Is such an omission a crime ?

  52. David Holland
    Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    Those of you that have followed this saga for some time will probably understand what it is all about, but for the benefit of any new readers let me again put up a link to my Russell Review Submission and say that paragraphs 62 and 63 are what I believe the “delete all email” is really about.

    Jones’ email is certainly not the only reason for the Climategate leak, but the “hockey team” have so far managed to mount plausible defences to the “hide the decline”, to interfering with peer-review, to Eugene Wahl’s back-channel to Briffa and even to the retrospective change in the “in press” deadline that allowed Wahl and Ammann 2007 to remain in AR4. Indeed AR5 have adopted AR4’s policy of allowing citation of papers not “in press” until 3 months after the Government and Expert Review stage. Four inquiries have made little criticism of the climate scientists or the IPCC process.

    No sceptic is convinced, of course, but that does not matter so long as their supporters remained committed to them as they are now – and would still have remained committed if everything released in Climategate had been disclosed 20 days after I first asked for it on 5 May 2008.

    So why did Jones take the career-ending risk to try to get all AR4 emails held by Briffa, Mann, Wahl and Ammann deleted? What I think made the difference on 27 May 2008 was not my request to UEA but what I asked the Secretary of the IPCC, Renate Christ a couple of hours earlier.

    Government and Expert Reviewers had sent suggestions for correcting or improving the IPCC Report in “comments” and each was given a unique reference. By the June 2006 Bergen Lead Authors’ meeting, I will bet dollars to doughnuts that Jones, Overpeck, and Solomon knew that the US Government and other Expert Reviewers had pointed out that Wahl and Ammann 2007 broke the citation rules and that those published rules required its removal from the IPCC Report.

    In Briffa and Osborn’s evidence to Russell, Solomon admits that, with her Head of the TSU, Manning, and Jones, Overpeck, and the other Lead Authors she retrospectively changed the deadline to two months after the review stage had ended. On 3 July 2006, WGI TSU sent a memo to all 600 Expert Reviewers which said that “many” of them had made suggestions that resulted in the new guidelines that the memo contained. Unsurprisingly the memo did not say that it would allow Wahl and Ammann 2007 to be kept in the Report. Indeed it applied only to “additional” “2006” papers. However, the critical Review comments on Wahl and Ammann 2007 were rejected by reference to these new guidelines.

    But, regardless of whether the Lead Authors were entitled to change the deadline (and technically they may have been), what if it was totally untrue that “many” Reviewers had suggested the deadline change? What if no Reviewer had? If it were beyond doubt that WGI TSU, with the agreement of the Co-Chair, all Lead Authors, and with the acquiescence of all Review Editors, had sent out a lie to all Reviewers? How could anyone in the world trust any of them?

    So you can guess what I asked the IPCC secretary on 27 May 2008 and what may have spooked Jones into his email on the 29 May. Having seen the loose talk in the Climategate emails I doubt that he could be sure of just what he, Briffa, Mann, Wahl or Amman might have put in an email.

    I simply asked to be told which of the 11, 283 comments, that thanks to Steve McIntyre and despite the best efforts of Susan Solomon had just been released, suggested the deadline change. She did not answer then and she did answer when I asked her and Susan Solomon on 2 April 2010. By then I had thoroughly searched electronically all the comments whereas previously I had only searched four chapters. I put it them that there were no suggestions and asked them to disprove me.

    On 12 April 2010, I think I got an indirect reply. The Russell Review refused to publish the submission that I had sent on 25 February 2010 and has since refused to say why. However, after saying that they needed to correct every statement in my submission, Briffa and Osborn, in their evidence to Russell, chose not to show or comment on paragraphs 62 and 63 of my submission.

    Despite Russell’s suggestion that someone might want to sue them for defamation if my submission was published no one, so far, has even hinted at it to me even though it is easily available through the Parliamentary website. If AR4 WGI wishes to prove it did not lie, it is very simple. They need only quote the references to some of the “many” comments from AR4 WGI Expert Reviewers that suggested the deadline change.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

      David, That is the path I’d been tracking at Posted Mar 9, 2011 at 7:57 AM , but I thought as well that some of the authors might have felt in retrospect that they had made libellous comments about you & our host.

      Is there still scope for a short, clear, self-explanatory paper on the altered submission dates, the fooling around with W&A, all put against a time line with relevant original quotations?

    • Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

      Holy. Over 25 pages of comments and over 12,000 words… No comment on para’s 62 and 63…?

      Can’t imagine why.

      Brevity is the soul of wit.

    • Lucy Skywalker
      Posted Mar 16, 2011 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

      David your comment is ringed with light. Thank you.

  53. Mescalero
    Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

    Is the NOAA transcript available to the public? If so, where can I find it?

  54. Craig Loehle
    Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    Why did Jones ask Mann to ask Wahl? Because Wahl was not responding to Jones email–and Jones thought Mann might have more influence/closer connections with Wahl. Thus passing on the email was not “innocent”–it carried more weight coming from Mann, who is clearly seen to be central figure in the Team.

  55. Gras Albert
    Posted Mar 10, 2011 at 3:11 PM | Permalink


    Have I offended in some way? Two posts yesterday, both awaiting moderation and then ‘off into the ether’

    Yesterday, Steven Mosher found my observation at Lucia’s that Mann’s failure to correct Penn State’s Finding #2 when published was unethical

    Mann’s statement that it was public knowledge that he’d forwarded Jones email to Wahl is an admission of malpractice

    Malpractice is a type of negligence in which, the professional under a duty to act, fails to follow generally accepted professional standards

  56. Jeff Norman
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    “it’s not the crime they’ll nail you for, it’s the coverup”

    Or what might have been spilled on the coverup.

    Semantics – I only forwarded the e-mail I did not send the e-mail.

    In Outlook when I hit the “Forward” it creates an e-mail. In order to discharge the e-mail, I have to hit something labelled “Send”. Are there systems that allow you to consciously “forward” an e-mail without “sending” the e-mail?

17 Trackbacks

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    […] Also read the following links: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/08/to-serve-mann/ https://climateaudit.org/2011/03/08/wahl-transcript-excerpt/ […]

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