According to TimesOnline, investigators of the CRU email theft (dubbed SwiftHack or Climategate) have concluded that the release of the stolen material was held back for weeks in order to cause maximum damage to the upcoming Copenhagen conference.
This development, along with new reports of breakins and other attacks at the University of Victoria, should finally lay to rest the baseless rumour that the hacked email archive was assembled at CRU as part of a contingent FOI response and released by an inside whistleblower, a canard that was started by – wait for it – none other than Steve McIntyre himself!
First, here’s the latest on the CRU SwiftHack (a.k.a. “Climategate”) investigation from the Times of London:
Climate e-mail hackers “aimed to maximise harm to Copenhagen summit”
E-mails alleged to undermine climate change science were held back for weeks after being stolen so that their release would cause maximum damage to the Copenhagen climate conference, according to a source close to the investigation of the theft.
Climate change sceptics obtained the e-mails by hacking into a computer at the University of East Anglia. Professor Phil Jones, director of the university’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), has agreed to stand down during an independent review of the affair.
The first hack was in October or earlier, the source said. The e-mails were not leaked until mid-November.
Meanwhile, here in Canada, the National Post reports that the University of Victoria has also suffered from break-ins, attempted hacking and other “dirty tricks”.
An alleged series of attempted security breaches at the University of Victoria in the run-up to next week’s Copenhagen summit on climate change is evidence of a larger effort to discredit climate science, says a renowned B.C. researcher.
Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and key contributor to the Nobel prize-winning work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says there have been a number of attempted breaches in recent months, including two successful break-ins at his campus office in which a dead computer was stolen and papers were rummaged through.
University of Victoria spokeswoman Patty Pitts said there have also been attempts to hack into climate scientists’ computers, as well as incidents in which people impersonated network technicians to try to gain access to campus offices and data. However, those incidents took place at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, she said — an Environment Canada facility located at the university. As such, Environment Canada would be the investigating agency.
Perhaps the parallels to Watergate are not so far-fetched after all – although not in the sense originally proposed by those who first coined the term “Climategate”.
Meanwhile, in a transparent attempt to distract from the real issues raised by this latest assault on climate scientists, contrarians have put forth the preposterous theory that the CRU incident was essentially an “inside job”, involving the release of an FOI data set assembled at CRU.
As recently as November 29, L. Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal online wrote :
The emails, released by an apparent whistle-blower who used the name “FOI,” were written by scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England.
But surely the most absurd variation on this theory was offered by CBSNews blogger Declan McCullagh (as well as by the Telegraph, Junk Science and countless others):
Another [theory] says that the files had already been assembled in response to a Freedom of Information request and, immediately after it was denied, a whistleblower decided to disclose them. (Lending credence to that theory is the fact that no personal e-mail messages unrelated to climate change appear to have been leaked.)
McCullagh links to Steve McIntyre’s November 21 account of his receipt of refusal by CRU of his umpteenth FOI request or appeal. Curiously, that post doesn’t explicitly mention the idea that the hacked file set might be related to his FOI request. But McIntyre did state:
Given the tumultuous events of the past few days, the receipt of yet another refusal to provide station data pursuant to an FOI request may seem a little uneventful. But the chronology of this most recent refusal is, to say the least, interesting …
On Nov 18, 2009, I received the letter attached below from Jonathan Colam-French, Director of Information Services of UEA, turning down my appeal. The letter is dated Nov. 13, 2009. In the letter refusing the appeal, Colam-French says that he consulted a file on the matter.
Now consider the following chronology.
The file contained emails up to and including Nov 12, 2009 (the most recent is 1258053464.txt) the day prior to the date on the letter refusing the appeal.
Housekeeping emails are absent from the file …
McIntyre’s implication is that the “file” referred to by Colam-French is the very same file that was released on November 20. The dog whistle was heard loud and clear by commenter RPhelan:
Ahhh, Steve Mosher’s cryptic references to the significance of November 12 are becoming a little clearer. I wish the mole well.
Apparently, some people are willing to believe and say anything to avoid the obvious truth staring them in the face.
Update, December 6: As seen in the first comment below, Andrew Bolt is now fingering Tom Wigley as the likely whistleblower. This is beyond cretinous.
Update, December 6: The Daily Mail reports that suspicion is falling on the Russian security services:
Suspicions were growing last night that Russian security services were behind the leaking of the notorious British ‘Climategate’ emails which threaten to undermine tomorrow’s Copenhagen global warming summit.
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the explosive hacked emails from the University of East Anglia were leaked via a small web server in the formerly closed city of Tomsk in Siberia. …
The server is believed to be used mainly by Tomsk State University, one of the leading academic institutions in Russia, and other scientific institutes.
Computer hackers in Tomsk have been used in the past by the Russian secret service (FSB) to shut websites which promote views disliked by Moscow.
Such arrangements provide the Russian government with plausible deniability while using so-called ‘hacker patriots’ to shut down websites.
Update, December 8: I’ve done some Google searches on FOI vs.FOIA, with some interesting results. The actual searches were done using FOI or FOIA in quotes along with the phrase “freedom of information”, with the appropriate top level domain as site parameter.
Conclusion: FOIA is by far the more commonly used acronym in the U.S. The rest of the English speaking world? Not so much.
This strongly suggests, of course, that the use of FOIA as the name of the subdirectory in the released archive was not made by an insider whistleblower, but rather by someone who wanted to suggest that erroneous conclusion. Nice try, though.