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« Police are climate change experts | Main | Just saying no »

How did Mosher get the Climategate files?

New revelations of the circumstances surrounding the escape of the climategate emails and data seem imminent. Patrick Courrielche has a three part article, the second part of of which has just been published. Taking us through how some of the key climate bloggers were informed of the whereabouts of the files, and how they were at first missed, he then leaves us with this devastating cliffhanger...

As anyone who really researches Climategate will learn, the name Steven Mosher continues to pop up. When the story broke, it was Mosher who drew attention to the comment at the Air Vent. He was also the man that alerted Lucia of The Blackboard blog to the files. And he was the first to alert followers of ClimateAudit with a series of posts that included some of the emails.

Why was Steven Mosher so ubiquitous when it came to the breaking of the Climategate story? Because Steven Mosher had the files several days before they reached the internet.



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Reader Comments (50)

Oh my...

Jan 11, 2010 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichal Gancarski

Why him?
How did he get them? I've been following a number of blogs for about 2 years now, and I must admit I'm not familiar with the name Steven Mosher. Sure would like to shake his hand and buy hima beer.

Jan 11, 2010 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterP Gosselin

Steven Mosher received the emils on a CD. But from whom?

Jan 11, 2010 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

P Gosselin

Mosher is a Climate Audit regular.

Jan 11, 2010 at 8:45 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Coauthor with Thomas Fuller on a book about climate.

Jan 11, 2010 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

"Well we're almost out the door with our book--Steven Mosher and I have been working quite a bit on this. Here's a sneak preview:

Jan 11, 2010 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

So what?
The BBC had them for about two weeks prior to the Air Vent posting, from what I recall.
My bet is the files were floating around for awhile, but the AGW true beleivers in the media kept spiking them.

Jan 11, 2010 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I don't think the BBC reporter received all the emails and files, just a few that referred to him.

Jan 11, 2010 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterwindansea

He posted something a bit cryptic just a few days ago that I can't find now - something like : (paraphrasing) "You know it was a whistleblower and not a hacker if you know what to look for. The whistleblower did what a hacker wouldn't have have had to have done."

or something like that - I might have the second sentence reversed from what he said. I thought it was on Lucia's but just not sure. Perhaps this thread will flush the man out to clarify. Indeed, as I may have botched the quote.

Where are you Mosher? Please put down the mohawk and come talk to the man.

Jan 11, 2010 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris D.

Chris, you will have trouble flushing Mosh. Brilliant, but determinedly eccentric. As our Host remarks, he is a longstanding commenter on Climate Audit, and a co-conspirator with Steve McIntyre. He will do it his way, or not at all.

Jan 11, 2010 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

I asked his comment on his comment at Part 1 of Courrielche's article which read:

“Patrick it looks like the police have contacted JeffId. ( domestic extremism task force or some such nonsense)

I suspect they will be contacting me, after the whole story breaks.

I do want to protect deep throat. May need legal help. ”

So Moshpit knows the source, but refuses to reveal him/her.

My take is that the leaker first sent info to the BBC weatherman, when he ignored them, he sent the CD to Mosher, who in fact put it on the internet.
So the leaker knows Mosher and Mosher knows the leaker.

The fact that Mosher is playing hide and seek is not very smart and may turn against him, eccentric or not...

Jan 11, 2010 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Mosher and his cohorts all should be knighted for services to the nation and the world

Jan 11, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtheist Ranter

hoi polloi

Mosher is just kidding in that comment

he is a very smart fellow

Jan 11, 2010 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterwindansea

Maybe windandsea, that's why I said "The fact that Mosher is playing hide and seek is not very smart and may turn against him, eccentric or not..."
I'm afraid the extremist constabulary does not have any sense of humor, especially in this sensitive case.
It reminds me of someone who's saying jokingly "a bomb" when asked for the contents of his bag at the airport.
So after all he's not so very smart?

Jan 11, 2010 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi


look at all the attention Mosher's getting now on the Intarnet. Personally I wouldn't be happy, at all. The are a lot of nutters around...

Jan 11, 2010 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

I really don't care who got the files -- that is obvious. Who sent them?

Jan 11, 2010 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

1. Mosh is a US citizen
2. Mosh is writing a book about climategate.
3. Mosh probably has consulted with some very good lawyers .

I wouldn't worry, he's a big boy

Jan 11, 2010 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterwindansea

Hoi gets a lot wrong.

Jan 11, 2010 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteven Mosher

part of the problem is that when I briefed patrick for the article there were some things I wasnt sure I could talk about. I've just got permission to talk about them so they went into the book last night.

WRT my legal issues. I have none, but I did want to check on some issues relatve to information that was passed to me through another party about a party at CRU. hows that for obscure.

the party at CRU did not pass me the file. full stop.

WRT safety issues. I'm well protected.

Jan 12, 2010 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteven Mosher

Thank you, sir. You get a bone.

Jan 12, 2010 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris D.

A fascinating exchange, great to be a miniscule part of this anti-AGW blogging network.

A book Mr Mosher, that will have historical repercussions.


Jan 12, 2010 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyrdale

Those who follow cliamteaudit might remember the strange story of the CRU mole in July of 2009. At the time Mosher had commented: "Yes Jean. Dr. Jones ftp site has been modified. I suppose inquiring minds will want to know if copies of the confidentiality agreements we sought under FOI were located there. Perhaps notes and drafts and emails pertaining to the FOI were there. ..."

It turns out the CRU had a bunch of stuff up on a public ftp site in July. At the time, I interpreted Mosher comment to mean that he had found emails related to FOIA on the ftp site.

Lets speculate that the climategate papers had actually been posted on a public ftp site by CRU. But having been exposed in July, I can't imagine that CRU was so stupid as to put stuff up again in November.

Stephen, when will you solve this little riddle for us?

Jan 12, 2010 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

Direct from Steven Mosher on big
On November 19th around 11:33 Am I found the comment on Jeffids site.
I didnt download the file pointed to in the comment.
I didnt have to, I already had the files

1. what date did I get them? date and time revealed in the book. Human source as well.
2. in the form of the FOIAzip? yes.
3. Server in turkey? Nope.
4. answers in the book? yes.

people who like this sort of thing love Climateaudit. they like figuring things out for themselves. Some people will just wait for the whole thing to be revealed, others will join in and take a shot at figuring it out."

I'd say this points to Steven knowing exactly how the files ended up out there and whom put them there. That doesn't mean there still isn't a mystery.

My theory is pretty simple. The files were accidentally or on purpose posted on an insecure ftp at CRU. Someone yanked them off before CRU figured out what happened and notified Steven as they knew he was the man to talk to. It is either that, or the person that put together the zip file contacted him but that seems too simple.

Jan 12, 2010 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterAJ Abrams


I can't rule out the "third"theory which first posted on WUWT.

Jan 12, 2010 at 5:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteven Mosher

The package is being well-packaged as a "mystery" that gets solved like a television detective show for consumption by the dim-witted media which otherwise will never embrace the story. So far, all we have seen from the media reporting is "even-handedness" ad absurdio. When the package explodes, the master of the mystery will get center stage to tell the story without interruption from some Marxist scientist with food in his beard.

Jan 12, 2010 at 5:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterhswiseman

Give 'em the Captain Willard treatment...."I am not presently disposed to discuss such operation....I am unaware of such activity or operation, nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist".

Jan 12, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterhswiseman

Well, Steve, you have a support group; including a hit to your tip jar if the lawyers become too expensive. Do you have a tip jar somewhere? Also sounds like you are going to do well with the book. Good luck buddy.

Jan 12, 2010 at 5:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterTilo Reber


I can't rule out the "third"theory which first posted on WUWT."

Are you Refering to Anthony's theory posted last Nov.?
That means there was NO hacker/whistleblower. Someone (Steve M.?) just found it laying around on an FTP server.


Jan 12, 2010 at 6:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterDuke C.

All in all this is a fantastic story. Then when the possible ramifications are considered it is monumental. I have my own theories... I'm sure it will be a best seller. I would think that everyone, from both sides of the debate, just can't wait to read it.

Steve Mosher has handled the whole episode, in my opinion, just right.

Jan 12, 2010 at 7:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Okay Steve you win, I'll buy your dam book. All this mystery and suspense better be worth it.

Jan 12, 2010 at 7:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterChuck

First Bishop, now Mosher/Fuller, there are big bucks to be made in this affair! I will buy both..

Jan 12, 2010 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterharold

'...But having been exposed in July, I can't imagine that CRU was so stupid as to put stuff up again in November'.
Thinking about everything else they have done .... are you absolutely sure they couldn't be?

Jan 12, 2010 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

After reading Mosher's clues on ClimateAudit, I think that Deep Throat must be Jones. It's so inconceivable it's bound to be true.

Jan 12, 2010 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterOllie

I can't rule out the "third"theory - Mosher .
Or a third man ..... Deep Gully?

Jan 12, 2010 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen


That would be unfair for you to merely buy the book to find out all that I know, so I can't let that happen. when patrick interviewed me for his piece there was only so much I could tell him. Let me detail that for you. he actually did the work to go and figure out that the post I put on Lucia's that refered people to Airvent was the first calling attention to the file that got peoples' attention. After I posted that and a couple of mails from the file, lucia did her post about whether it was real or not. then It all took off. patrick contacted Lucia and she told him about gavin's mail. Well, I knew about gavins mail, but I didnt feel like I should be the one to say "Lucia told me gavin sent her a mail." When Patrick and others have asked me how I got the mails and when I got the mails
I have had to be vague while other people are consulted. Vague but truthful. I apologize if this appears mysterious to you, but when patrcik contacted me there was only so much I could say and he's done a huge amount of work to lay out for people a chronolgy working from Nov 19th back. heck, I'm excited to see what
else crops up and I know how it ends!

Over the past couple of days some more things have come out, principally because of the Patricks piece
that I didnt know before. For example, that on Nov 17th the FOIA comment and link was posted at two blogs.
RomanM's blog and CLimateskeptic. On the 17th I didnt know that. On the 19th I didnt know that. The file
I got didnt come from anybody hitting those sites.

Today I also learned that one of my friends, bender, hit the hidden link on CA 1 hour after it was
posted. thats about 730AM EST. bender says he didnt download the file. I was on the thread at CA
that day, So were other people. I dont know of anybody besides bender who hit that link. I didnt
get the files from that link being hit. bender and I have been friends a long time but we never even talked
about him hitting that link till he told me today

Hopefully, one of the people who helped me understand the files will speak up soon and tell his story.
I guess that's been one of my deals here. Gavin's mail to Lucia is Lucia's story. It's hers to tell not mine. One thing that matters to me here is peoples reactions and they ought be told by those people.

I spoke to people about the files. I have my recollection of that, I think they ought to be able to tell their recollection. Hopefully they will. that will fill in a lot more detail, but before the book goes public there is no way I am going to pull a stunt like making everybody wait and only buy the book for that reason. Its a tiny part of the story.

Jan 12, 2010 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteven Mosher

I'll be buying the book too. Could I get a signed copy?

"I think that Deep Throat must be Jones"
C'mon!! Get out of here! You serious? My gut feeling says it's someone inside CRU.
I wish I didn't have my small business to run. All this climate iintrigue has been interfering with my work, and the wife knows it. .

Jan 12, 2010 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterP Gosselin

Perhaps Steve Mosher could at least tell us what kind of fallout to expect.
I know it's asking for a lot.

Jan 12, 2010 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterP Gosselin

Well I never. I just sit down for a nice cup of tea and a couple of Highland Shorties to catch up with the blogs, and find the Bishop and Steve Mosher with a fascinating story developing. These tea breaks are getting longer. Have you any idea how damaging this is to the nations productivity :)

Jan 12, 2010 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Amazon does not show anything about a book; Climategate - The CRUtape Letters

Jan 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterP Gosselin


I can't rule out the "third"theory which first posted on WUWT."

Are you Refering to Anthony's theory posted last Nov.?
That means there was NO hacker/whistleblower. Someone (Steve M.?) just found it laying around on an FTP server.


Not Steve M from what he has subsequently said, but not ruling out that it was just found laying around on an FTP server.

Much as I would like there to be an inside whistleblower, I think the "found just laying around on an FTP server" to be more likely. Well, this still does not rule out the possibility that it was deliberately placed there in order to be found, but I think, as we say in the UK, that cock-up was more likely here than conspiracy.

"But even CRU couldn't be that stupid...". hmmm, you may say that; I could not possibly comment.

Jan 12, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeE

Ah, Moshgate likes cliffhangers.... Or is it marketing?

Jan 12, 2010 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Well, this still does not rule out the possibility that it was deliberately placed there in order to be found, but I think, as we say in the UK, that cock-up was more likely here than conspiracy.

You forgot Phil Jones even warned Michael Mann in one of the E-mails to becareful putting things on a ftp server since they are "trawled" by sceptics.

At 09:41 AM 2/2/2005, Phil Jones wrote:

I presume congratulations are in order - so congrats etc ! Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time ! And don't leave stuff lying around on ftp sites - you never know who is trawling them.

So it was a well known fact inside the CRU that if something senstive was put on a ftp server it would be found by sceptics, however the problem with a whistleblower placing it on the site, is that a sceptic that found it wouldn't have went through that whole routine with the Russian Proxy server and trying to upload it to RC. They would have just either placed it on their own site or sent it a big sceptic site like WUWT.

However since the police are still investigating I believe the "it was left on a ftp site by accident idea" is dead. They would have found that evidence a long time ago and announced it and cleared the CRU crowd. By them still investigating it is narrowed down to either an outside hack (Imo low probabiltiy) or an inside leak (high probability)

Jan 12, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterboballab

So, the games afoot huh?

Why do i get the feeling something massive is about to drop?

Jan 12, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

Thanks for your reply but i will probably still buy the book ;-)

Jan 12, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuck

In many ways, this is like Lost. A beginning, and hopefully an end. Much teasing happening in the middle. I'll buy both books as a show of support, plus future historical perspective.

But curious about a comment in Courrielche's P2P Pt 2

"An unknown user logged into, the climate science blog of co-founders Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, disabled all legitimate users,"

Unknown? With admin rights or the ability to elevate privileges?

Jan 12, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

By the way, part 3 is out now, see this link.

Jan 12, 2010 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlberto

I can't see it being Dr. Phil Jones. His "hide the decline" and "delete everything!" emails are some of the most damning pieces of evidence in the ZIP file.

What do you guys think about it being Briffa? Or Cook?

Dr. Robert

Jan 12, 2010 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr. Robert

I'm not entirely convinced by the FTP-server theory, judging by the content of the emails and other files.

According to the theory, Jones or an underling had been collecting material for release in response to a FOIA request if they really, really had too and used up their last excuses. But look at what's in there- not only are the contents very damning, but a lot of the most damaging materials, including Harry_Read_Me, only fit into the ambit of the FOIA request by a very expansive reading... but of course the Team, as we've all seen, was in the business of withholding information through any excusable loophole, dodge, hair-split or logic-chop. Would they really have packaged the material up and tied a bow around it?

The material is practically a dossier, a prosecutor's brief; and that also makes unlikely the alternate FOIA defense tactic, beloved of litigators: the "document dump-" send them three tons of paper, every scrap of rubbish and irrelevancy, a whole stack of useless hay, and bet they won't find the needle.

No, this collection was assembled by someone who was *not* onboard with the Team's goals, someone who very much wanted to discredit them. I think it was a whistleblower. The theory is reinforced, I think, by a couple of bits of information which Steven Mosher has just disclosed- that he had "sources" within CRU which he could check with; and that the files came to him on a CD. This last at least suggests extraction to physical media from inside a firewall, rather than an open server.

Jan 12, 2010 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBohemond

When I first saw the climategate package, my initial reaction was that it looked like the kind of thing that a lawyer assembles and reviews prior to production (as a result of a subpoena or a FOIA). So I think its possible that the file was assembled by one person or group (in response to a FOIA request) but disseminated by a separate person. One could imagine a review taking place and a decision being made to not release the data (possibly for politically corrupt reasons). Someone inside CRU thought the decision was corrupt, and released the data.

The new piece of info is that Mosh got the code via a CD. This is a significant piece of info. Previously I believed that the person needed to be highly technical to get the data out of CRU by putting it on proxy servers and wiping all fingerprints off the transfer. This led me to believe that it had to be an IT guy or one of the younger climate scientists (the older scientist are technically incompetent judging by the code they've written).

But now I'm not so sure. Nearly anyone can rip a CD.

But there's another possibility. It was noted that 4 people clicked on the "miracle" link from CA to RC. One of those people might have downloaded the file from RC, put it on a CD and sent it to Mosh.

Steve, did you get the CD prior to the file being posted on RC?

And, we still can't exclude the possibility that the file was sitting on CRU's FTP server and someone found it there (or was directed to it).

BTW, I'll buy your book regardless of how much of the story I aready know -- as will most people.

Jan 12, 2010 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

I wrote up a summary of his involvement:

Climategate Role

Mr. Mosher is frequently given far too much importance relating to Climategate breaking in November of 2009 when actually he was akin to a courier, being one of the first people who was given the hacked emails by the WUWT moderator who found them, Charles Rotter, and only because they happened to be roommates at the time. The anonymous hacker had posted an FTP link to multiple sites such as Warren Myer's Climate Skeptic, Patrick "Jeff" Condon's The Air Vent and of course to Anthony Watt's Watts Up With That?, none of which were to Mr. Mosher's blog which had been up since June 2009. Despite delusions of grandeur ["Steven Mosher is to Climategate what Woodward and Bernstein were to Watergate"] and ridiculous assertions ["He was just the right person, with just the right influence, and just the right expertise to be at the heart of the promulgation of the files"] Mr. Mosher was nothing more than a temporary go-between that he used to inflate his importance in the matter. He was never directly contacted or targeted by the anonymous hacker as a source to leak the emails since he was not prominent in the climate skeptic community and it required no special "expertise" to read emails, nor special "influence" to contact people like Steve McIntyre. In the end it was Anthony Watts and Charles Rotter who "broke" the story at WUWT where the anonymous hacker had originally intended. This did not stop Mr. Mosher from making ridiculous claims to have "alerted the internet" to the Climategate emails.

Jun 17, 2014 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPoptech

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