Sunday, February 07, 2010

Amoeba Gets Underfoot

Phil Jones has given an interview to the Sunday Times. In one of the comments, amoeba reports that one Alan Wilkinson wrote

This was the exact text:

I hereby make a EIR/FOI request in respect to any confidentiality agreements restricting transmission of CRUTEM data to non-academics involving the following countries:
CAROLINE ISLANDS
SOLOMON ISLANDS
WALLIS ISLANDS
COOK ISLANDS
NIUE ISLAND

1. the date of any applicable confidentiality agreements;
2. the parties to such confidentiality agreement, including the full name of any organization;
3. a copy of the section of the confidentiality agreement that "prevents further transmission to non-academics".
4. a copy of the entire confidentiality agreement,
I am requesting this information for the purposes of academic research.
Amoeba points out in the comments at Rabett Run that
The point of his argument seems somewhat blunted by three observations:

An apparently identical template was posted on ClimateFraudit.
http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=6623

The fact that this FOI was submitted at the same time with the ClimateFraudit initiated FOI storm. What a coincidence?

If he were genuinely an academic, why would he issue the CRU with an FOI request about confidentiality agreements restricting transmission of CRUTEM data to non-academics involving the listed countries?

I'm sure there are other things that do not add-up about Alan Wilkinson's claim.
and goes on to give good google
It is most revealing to google

'Alan Wilkinson' site:climateaudit.org

It reveals that Alan Wilkinson was not an honest broker, but a porolific poster at ClimateFraudit and part of the FOI campaign.

Read this
'Steve McIntyre
Posted Jul 24, 2009 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Reply
I suggest that interested readers can participate by choosing 5 countries and sending the following FOI request to david.palmer at uea.ac.uk:

Dear Mr Palmer,

I hereby make a EIR/FOI request in respect to any confidentiality agreements)restricting transmission of CRUTEM data to non-academics involing the following countries: [insert 5 or so countries that are different from ones already requested]

1. the date of any applicable confidentiality agreements;
2. the parties to such confidentiality agreement, including the full name of any organization;
3. a copy of the section of the confidentiality agreement that “prevents further transmission to non-academics”.
4. a copy of the entire confidentiality agreement,

I am requesting this information for the purposes of academic research.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours truly,
yourname

If you do so, please post up a copy of your letter so that we can keep track of requested countries.'

From:
http://climateaudit.org/2009/07/24/cru-refuses-data-once-again/
A coordinated campaign, unintentionally revealed by one of the dishonest participants.
Eli wonders if one of the Brit readers might bring this to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office asking if they would care to revisit their drive by on Phil Jones. An enterprising reporter might like to ask questions. An enterprising lawyer might wish to explore the area of harassment and the misuse of the FOI process.

And enterprising readers should visit Deep Climate who is exploring what the M&M boys were up to. Deep Climate does miss the "Auditing the Auditors" threads on sci.environment, where Steve played Nigel Persaud.

Comments?

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mucho thanx to amoeba for doing the followup legwork to my drive-by anonymouse comment!

meddy said...

Phil Jones is obviously a passionate guy. I hope that the reorganization of CRU leaves him free to do science & selects some unembarassable legal mind as the public face of the organization. Someone who can match obstructive bullshit shovel for shovel with the likes of Mcintyre, Peilke etc

RP_sqrd said...

"The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than win... The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly." --L. Ron Hubbard, 1955.

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/Declaration/exhibg.html

Truth about FOI said...

Is there even such a thing as FOI harrasment?

Anonymous said...

"Eli wonders if one of the Brit readers might bring this to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office asking if they would care to revisit their drive by on Phil Jones."

Why do they have to be Brits? This is an international investigation is it not? Is there anything stopping Eli or Amoeba sending off a friendly letter to the ICO with the pertinent and incriminating information?
IMO this is pretty damning evidence against McI, and is certainly good reaosn for NDET to investigate the role of McI further (i.e., having access to McI's email accounts); maybe CSIS can be encouraged to cooperate with NDET. Add to that that McI was in frequent contact with Paul Dennis...

Come on people, we have to coordinate and step up to the plate here and help the authorities. Musing and making suggestions is great, but M&M are counting on us not having the guts to take action and following through. NDET may, of course, already know this and more, but it is better to be safe and make sure that they have all the information that they need.

MapleLeaf

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Poor, poor put upon Stevie has a post post up today about this. Funny how he neglects to mention that he orchestrated the whole damn thing.

Then he has another whine about how he was abused by the press. Funny, I read the article and it was pretty straightforward. Stevie and Watts both had contacts with Paul Denis and Denis had been questioned. The truth hurts, doesn't it little itty bitty McI.

Hint Stevie, you slime yourself with your own behavior. Get over it.

deepclimate said...

More on M&M, part 2 - the full story on Barton and Wegman.

http://deepclimate.org/2010/02/08/steve-mcintyre-and-ross-mckitrick-part-2-barton-wegman/

bluegrue said...

Thanks for the link to the CA post, Rattus Norvegicus.

Steve is playing games again. See how he included that travel envy enciting snippet about Tom Peterson? The bits left out from Tom Peterson's e-mail are bolded

Hi, Phil,
Yes, Friday-Saturday I noticed that ClimateFraudit had renewed their interest in you. I was thinking about sending an email of sympathy, but I was busy preparing for a quick trip to Hawaii - I left Monday morning and flew out Tuesday evening and am now in the Houston airport on my way home.


A bare minimum of digging would have revealed, that Tom Peterson was a panelist for the session "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" (page 14) on Tuesday, July 28 2009, at the Hawai'i Conservation Conference 2009.

Deech56 said...

Another link

Steve McIntyre
Posted Jul 24, 2009 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

I suggest that interested readers can participate by choosing 5 countries and sending the following FOI request to david.palmer at uea.ac.uk:

Deech56 said...

Also posted at Michael Tobis' place:

Rattus, I did read through the thread at one time. I posted the link to the relevant comment at Eli's place and at CA. McI posted his new letter asking for data from Canada, U.K., U.S., Australia and Brazil and asked others to pick 5 countries each and send in their requests.

Steve Mosher posted the country list with the following request: "After you FOI, copy this list. Remove those you requested and repost." McKitrick was also involved.

At one point, a reader suggested the appeal process, but got thi sin reply: "Steve: Submit your own FOI request and carry out your own appeal."

Another reply to a question about CDAs: "Steve: They used the term “confidentiality agreement.” Let’s stick to that. Widening the scope opens up more possible excuses. If the present language fails for some reason, we can always do it all over again with wider language"

Friends, read the bolded "Steve" comments. Very heavy involvement and coordination. Very clearly harassment ("Steve, I know not what you have wrought, but I love it! There is nothing sweeter than impaling a bureaucrat on their own words.").

Steve McIntyre
Posted Jul 24, 2009 at 3:13 PM

People who haven’t sent an FOI request, please stop cluttering this thread with advice on what we should or shouldn’t do or how we might do it better. If you think that you’ve got a better form of request, feel free to send it in and to share your wisdom afterwards. But otherwise please don’t backseat drive.

bluegrue said...

A "gem" from the comment section at timesonline

Steven Mosher wrote:

If people are writing death threats to Dr. Jones, I would suggest that given his state of mental health, his caregivers should screen his mail. They should know that his condition requires this kind of protection. Supporters of global warming, like supporters of Nixon, can of course be angry. But they should not take it out on Dr. Jones while he is suffering.

February 6, 2010 11:58 PM GMT


The death threats writers are supposed to be supporters of AGW!?!?! What a crock.

carrot eater said...

If you guys are mining comment threads, make sure you archive the relevant pages, online and locally.

In any event, I daresay the investigators know there was an orchestrated FOI campaign on. Documenting it further could be useful, but I don't know that it's as significant as you're all making it out to be. Even if what Steve McI and his followers did was totally unreasonable and harassing, and even if Steve McI is a disingenuous *** (well, he is), the CRU could have probably handled the whole thing better, on their end.

What I don't understand is why the whole thing is falling on Jones. What is the line of responsibility and decision making, in regards to FOI requests? Surely this gets bumped to the university's legal counsel at some point. Seems to me that the whole thing had gotten to Jones on a personal/emotional level; there's a reason why a university administration has legal resources to sort these things out.

Anonymous said...

Yea, there was an FOI request, to which the response was, the material is confidential. Then McIntyre said you gave this material to Peter Webster, so he made an FOI request for that. TO which the response was, we are not allowed to give the data to non-academics. So he had people try and verify this with FOI requests. Are people OK with these lies from Phil Jones and co?

bluegrue said...

carrot eater,

I've got a local copy, but timesonline prohbits robots (includes WebCitation) and doesn't give proper links to comments anyway. For Mosher's comment, go to the comments, have them sorted "oldest first" and go to page 3.

Hank Roberts said...

Thanks all for nailing this down. I recalled seeing the CA thread organizing the FOI flood, but hadn't kept the link.

> Anonymous Truth about FOI said...
> Is there even such a thing
> as FOI harrasment?

Yes, of course there's FOI 'Harassment' -- you can look this stuff up. You should've looked it up before you got involved in doing it, if you're one of the CAcas.

How much counts as harassment? Here's one precedent:
http://www.out-law.com/page-7797

"15 requests from one person under the Freedom of Information Act in just 11 months" -- was harassment.

Vexatious FOI requests were 'harassment' of transport authority

OUT-LAW News, 22/02/2007

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has ruled in favour of a public authority which complained that it was the subject of so many Freedom of Information requests that the behaviour of the requester was vexatious.

The West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (Centro) received 15 requests from one person under the Freedom of Information Act in just 11 months, between January and November 2005. It told the requester at that point that it would not answer any more queries. The requester complained to the ICO....."

Hank Roberts said...

For 'Anonymous Truth ...' -- the sort of thing you can find if you look for it:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/foi-procedural-vexatious.htm

----excerpt----
Vexatious requests

Under section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, public authorities are not obliged to comply with vexatious requests.

Whether a request is vexatious is determined by the information requested, not the person making the request. An individual can make as many requests for information as he or she wishes. Each of their requests must be considered on a case-by-case basis (although it may be appropriate to reject substantially similar requests under section 14(2), see Repeated requests, below, and the provisions on aggregating costs may be relevant, see Fees and aggregation.

Vexatiousness needs to be assessed with reference to all the circumstances of an individual case. However, if a request is not a genuine endeavour to access information for its own sake, but is aimed at disrupting the work of an authority, or harassing individuals in it, then it may well be vexatious.

deepclimate said...

Mosher also commented about Phil Jones at my blog:

http://deepclimate.org/2010/02/04/steve-mcintyre-and-ross-mckitrick-part-1-in-the-beginning/#comment-2269



The death threats are troublesome for two reasons.

1. Jones caregivers should be reading his mails if he is in such a state of mind.

2. I know his supporters are mad at him, but why are they writing death threats

[DC: You are a real piece of work. Please don't bother to comment here again. But thanks for revealing your true colours.]



That's one comment that won't disappear into the ether.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote @7:57 "So he had people try and verify this with FOI requests."

OK, so no moniker, so I'll call you "air head". And the idea of actually reading the FOI rules and guidelines as an alternative completely escaped McIntyre's mind. Uh, huh, that is the only way they could figure that out. M&M&M (McI, McK, and Mosher) knew damn well what was going on, they and Wilkinson saw an opportunity to obstruct, interfere and harass, and they could not resist to temptation to do so.

M&M&M are the ones lying here air head. They knew that the CRU and Met Office were in no position to release all of the data. So like petulant children they threw their toys and started playing dirty, and hoped that the child screaming the loudest would get the attention. Well, they got attention, positive attention at first, but that is likely to change very soon as Sir Russell and the ICO continue to investigate.

I agree with Carrot about Jones. Correct me if I am wrong, but was the final decision to reject and honour a FOI that of the university? Wouldn't the University say we have this FOI, it is legit so please help us get it done. I can certainly understand why Jones et al were pretty fed up with all the continuous stream of bogus requests coming in. Maybe Jones is being a scapegoat for the University admin? Jones is first and foremost a researcher, he is not equipped/trained to deal with these kind of bogus requests. That should have been the university's priority and problem, not his.

MapleLeaf

carrot eater said...

MapleLeaf: If anything useful comes of all this, perhaps it will be universities looking at their procedures for handling FOI.

It would not surprise me if the final investigation showed that CRU could have released more information than they at first did (which only resulted in an unreasonable barrage of further requests). I really never use HadCRU data (I'm just more familiar with GISS and GHCN) so I don't know what they released when, but I would think they could have made transparent all their data streams which weren't confidential, as well as providing a station list. I'm not sure, but it sounds like they've only done this belatedly.

A researcher's personal annoyance with the Steve McI's of the world can be understandable, but that annoyance shouldn't cloud your judgment. Maybe between Hadley and CRU somebody was also being overzealous about the confidentiality agreements. Having a legal officer of the school playing a clear role should avoid that sort of thing.

Anders Martinsson said...


Patrick M.
Posted Jul 24, 2009 at 2:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

I too would write a letter to someone except for the fact that I am a
mere muggle, (non-academic), and would be far too tempted to use the
data for commercial purposes, like selling it to some senator in a
highway rest stop or selling it to Amy Winehouse in some dark alley.

Steve: non-academics please ask as well. The more the merrier.


http://climateaudit.org/2009/07/24/cru-refuses-data-once-again/#comment-188549

Martin said...

DeepClimate,

did the Mosher thingy come from a plausible IP number for him? It sounds a bit improbable that he would be that stupid.

bigcitylib said...

"A researcher's personal annoyance with the Steve McI's of the world can be understandable, but that annoyance shouldn't cloud your judgment."

This is wrong. No matter what you might think of Jones et al's handling of FOI requests, the decision was institutional, not personal. Jones persuaded UEA's info officer that these requests were vexatious, and this was cleared with some level of the UEA management, and everybody signed off on it.

I hope UEA uses this occasion to ask the Information Office how they are supposed to handle frivolous FOI requests. Is more funding involved? I hope they defend their scientists vigorously. If it starts with Climate Science it will spread: anytime you want to sandbag progress, use FOI requests. Creatiinists, Larouchians, you name it....all will start filing.

carrot eater said...

Bigcity:

I agree to an extent, and thus I'm also puzzled why this is falling on Jones personally, but Jones still had some involvement in how it plays out. As I've been saying - I have no idea how these things work, but this would be a good occasion for the university to look at the procedures, as you say.

Creationists don't already use this tactic? Climate sceptics have been running plays from the creationist book; maybe it's time for an idea to go the other way.

amoeba said...

A letter has been sent to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) about this matter.

For those interested in doing likewise, the email address is:
casework@ICO.GSI.GOV.UK

Subject
UEA FOI CASE ONGOING

Norfolk Police have also been informed.

enquiries@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

I repectfully request that some others [especially individuals with impressive credentials] lend their weight to this.

amoeba said...

Eli, I see you've been looking at my family photo album!

Marion Delgado said...

For the record, I don't think Phil Jones did one damned thing wrong, and it's being proven now that he did not. He did his job, some creepy resource extraction and neoliberal anti-sciencers started a scripted spam FOIA harrassment campaign, and he stuck by his data agreements with the sources in the face of the illegal harrassment campaign. Full stop.

EliRabett said...

Amoeba, would you care to share the text of the complaint with us so that we can carefully explain to the ICO commissioners what it is to be hit by 50 or so duplicate requests.

Marco said...

Don't expect an answer from the ICO. I've already tried to get them to clarify Graham Smith's supposed statement on UEA breaking the law, but have received zero response.

I say "supposed" statement, because the ICO hasn't published *anything* about the UEA. There's one decision notice from september on a different topic, and there have been no press releases on this topic.

dhogaza said...

"For the record, I don't think Phil Jones did one damned thing wrong, and it's being proven now that he did not. He did his job, some creepy resource extraction and neoliberal anti-sciencers started a scripted spam FOIA harrassment campaign, and he stuck by his data agreements with the sources in the face of the illegal harrassment campaign. Full stop."

Flooding with FOI requests is not, AFAIK, illegal. It appears that the UK FOI law allows an agency to speed-click the "reject" button in such cases, but there's nothing I've read that suggests that prosecution of the flooder's an option.

Of course, there might be other laws that come into play if you're persistent enough, I have no idea.

Jones did do one thing wrong, for certain - writing people and suggesting they delete e-mails that might be subject to a FOI request. It's illegal to do that in the US, and apparently in the UK, too (if you're in country, if I'm in the US I can ignore UK FOI requests - by law, maybe not by employer via personal conduct codes, etc).

He should be reprimanded for that, and then life should go on. As director of CRU, he's responsible for knowing at least the basics of what's required under the UK FOI law. I'd say the seriousness of the transgression would be much less if it were, say, a grad student in the employ of CRU rather than the director.

IMO. Emphasis on the "and then life should go on" part. The e-mail thief's 15 minutes of anonymous fame should have expired last year.

dhogaza said...

"Don't expect an answer from the ICO. I've already tried to get them to clarify Graham Smith's supposed statement on UEA breaking the law, but have received zero response."

They're the FOI Gods, so ... someone should FOI them! :)

Jim said...

Marco @9:35: Don't expect an answer from the ICO. ... the ICO hasn't published *anything* about the UEA.

Agreed, I looked all over their site for this claim about UEA breaking the law, to no avail. UEA is pushing back on the Guardian story, at least:

Statement from the University of East Anglia in response to ‘UK scientist hid climate data flaws’

Jim said...

dhogaza @10:05AM: "Jones did do one thing wrong, for certain - writing people and suggesting they delete e-mails that might be subject to a FOI request."

But that was satire, you see; satire excuses everything, at least if you're Rush Limbaugh.

Jim said...

So I sent a note to the ICO

Marion Delgado said...

dhogaza:

My take is that Jones was saying that if they were going to push it, that the FOI requests that weren't legal - which most of them were not, again, instead of going after the 95% publicly available, they illegally demanded the copies of the data from CRU instead of from the data sources - then better to delete the copies than violate the contracts with the data, some of which were formal, and other of which were "gentlemen's agreements" and others of which were derived from other formal contracts and agreements.

I say illegal, because they were spam FOI requests for CRU to violate the rights of the original data holders.

I don't think that's legally wrong - it's what you should do. This is a purely political process, not a fair legal process, and the irony here is that it's being done by the MARKET FUNDAMENTALISTS whose stated position in this case is that you should be able to force someone to fence you someone else's stolen IP.

Compared to what the Blair govt. did w/r/t the Iraq aggression, it's probably small beans, but IMO it's the same corruption. They would never, ever, in a million years dare to have the government announce formally that if any American political group wants you to give them copies of proprietary data you have from other sources, you must give them up or face legal penalties. They prefer to keep this in the shadows, because caving in to right-wing sleaze has become the UK govt. way.

Steve Bloom said...

dhogaza, I think it's crystal clear per the FOI law that exempt materials can be properly deleted.

Jim said...

ICO replied to my query: ICO responds to Desdemona’s ‘Climategate’ query.