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« Perverse incentives in the ivory tower | Main | Paul Nurse on sceptics again »
Wednesday
Mar092011

The wind from Hawaii

Science has obtained statements from Eugene Wahl and Michael Mann regarding recent reports about the "delete all emails" episode. The major point of interest is that, Mann says that, contrary to some reports, he said nothing to Wahl, merely forwarding Jones' request to the AR4 delete emails:

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."

Wahl confirms Mann's story in a separate statement.

I must say, I wasn't aware that Mann had added nothing. Does anyone know where this was revealed?

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Reader Comments (85)

Did Mann sail to Hawaii? Hansen wouldn't let him fly.

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Briffa's request? Wasn't it Jones?

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

sHx

Thanks. Fixed now.

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Bizarre. He says he did not approve the instruction, simply participated and facilitated something that may have lead to the unlawful destruction of information subject to FOIA or EIR. If he'd simply replied to Jones saying 'No, this is unwise', he may have avoided conspiracy. Given Mann had previously commented on FOI, he should have been aware of the implications.

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Just to pull it all together:

From the relevant climategate email (http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=891):

Jones to Mann:

Mike,
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.

Reply from Mann to Jones:


I'll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: generwahl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx

talk to you later

And today's statement from Mann:

"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."

And that PSU statement from its investigation:

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.

(my highlighting throughout)

The PSU investigation at the very least needs to be reopened (yeah I know).

If Dr Mann's evidence as outlined in his latest statement to Science were to be given to a reopened (and open) PSU investigation, it beggars belief that Finding 2 could stand in relation to the passing on of the Jones email to Wahl. We've moved on from "contacting" to "forward(ing) Phil's e-mail to Eugene".

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

It seems a bit odd to forward an email without comment if the reason for forwarding it is that you believe the recipient will somehow be at risk if they carry out the instructions contained in that email. To me, in such a situation the natural thing to do would be either to query the email with the original sender, or add some kind of disclaimer or warning message when forwarding it, or both. Simply passing it on without comment would suggest that the go-between has no qualms about the content.

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

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

To which any decent lawyer or investigator would ask "How?", thus demonstrating why the first bit of legal advice is usually to let the lawyer do the talking. Not dig yourself in deeper. I'd forgotten about the reply to Jones, and why if Mann were so busy he felt it needed dealing with "ASAP".

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

His reply to the Jones request ahead of the act of forwarding was affirmative. He admits he forwarded it.

To the question containing the phrase "directly or indirectly" Mann answered no. Now he reveals that the answer should have been yes.

He said he would, Wahl says he did, Mann admits he did. The PSU enquiry is at the best, incomplete and at the worst, incompetent.

Mar 9, 2011 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

And on to Jones. Acton has stated that he asked Jones if he had deleted any emails and reported that Jones said no. The exact wording of the question and the exact reply would be interesting in the light of Wahl's statement.

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

This is so pathetic I would feel bad for Mann if he hadn't been such a despicable p@#*k for so many years. "Can you e-mail Gene and get him to do the same?" "I'll contact Gene about this ASAP"

He immediately forwards the e-mail and Gene does the deleting in accordance with the request. And Mann wants to argue that he did nothing?! This is as ridiculous as Sgt Schultz in Hogan's Heroes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34ag4nkSh7Q&feature=related

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

OK, lets try this scenario -- Al Capone tells his asst to go to the hitman and say, "Capone says to take out Bugs Moran on Valentine's Day." The asst goes to the hitman and says exactly what Capone told him to say. The hitman then wipes out Moran and his buddies on Valentine's day.

At trial for conspiracy to commit murder the asst puts up the defense that by not adding any words to Capone's message, he did nothing to further the conspiracy and is therefore not guilty. Judge and jury fall down laughing their asses off.

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Josh

hawaiian shirts...always good for a cartoon :-)

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Ridiculous. By far the most effective way to have protected Wahl would be to have forwarded nothing whatsoever.

If he never had the request he would have had no pressure to do anything and there would have been no possibility he would interpret it as a request.

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

The relevent fragment of the interview between NOAA Inspector General and Eugene Wahl, as stated on Climate Audit.

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.

That exchange suggests to me that, as one would expect, his recollections are significantly fogged by the mists of time. But now, amazingly, his memory has miraculously returned.

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

"Why, why, why?"

Indeed. Perhaps Mann was simply so swept up with the need to do 'good' that he wasn't thinking clearly. Even saints make mistakes, apparently. And in this case poor Mann was 'just following orders' and has apparently erased Nuremburg as well as the MWP.

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAl Gored

"I was so busy.- MM

Busy doing what I wonder? Restructuring his e-mails?

Mar 9, 2011 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

Mann's position is completely untenable, his latest wriggling is almost surreal. The act of forwarding the email is itself complicity in the conspiracy to hide the interaction regarding AR4. That he added nothing to the email he forwarded to Wahl is wholly inconsistent with his latest claim, that he forwarded the email to Wahl as an advisory.

If this is what Mann thinks is a compelling defence, he's gone completely barking. But then this is not news.. it's heavily evidenced by his recent interactions at JC's.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Al Gored,
For someone who has the skills to erase the MWP, erasing e-mails would hardly be a memorable event (and perhaps such an action would be erased from his memory).

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

Worth noting that Mann is clearly attempting, with this don't shoot the messenger angle, to shift the blame for this to Phil Jones.

How will Jones react to that? Just take a bullet for the Team?

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAl Gored

An interview given by Prof John Davidson, former head of chemical engineering at Cambridge University, in the Dec/Jan issue of The Chemical Engineer magazine, came to mind. He served as an expert witness to the court investigating the Flixborough disaster (for those unfamiliar: a major, fatal, explosion at a chemical plant in England back in the 1970s). He says of this experience: "I got rather taken with lawyers. I think the formal legal process is the only way to run an enquiry - lawyers are used to cross-examining witnesses and finding out if their evidence is doubtful and that sort of thing". The absence of anyone able - or willing - to ask the right questions seems to have been common to all the 'enquiries' held since Climategate.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Simon, we're deep in High Five territory indeed... He sure is rattled. Also, the author of the Science item seems to have asked lots of incisive follow-up questions to Wahl and Mann, doesn't he?

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterj

I have looked but cannot find anything to corroborate Mann's statement that;
"This has been known for a year and a half that all I did was forward Phil's e-mail to Eugene."
So who is Mann referring to here?

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Tony Hansen,

Good point. Chronic use of doublethink would have that convenient effect on memory.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAl Gored

Wahl deleted the emails.

So he understood the email forwarded from Mann to be saying "Delete the emails".

Otherwise he would not have deleted the emails.

Which he deleted.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I wonder if Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reads this blog. If not he should. Perhaps someone will inform him?

And Josh, Anoneumouse is right, Hawaiian shirts make great cartoons. Just think what you can decorate them with.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I think that it is important to take into consideration, the mindset of the team at the time this incident occured. I think that up until this point, they all felt that they were in control of the debate. Professor Jones was the first one to detect the possibility that FOI requests might lead to problems at some future date, but still felt confident enough to take this evasive action simply by sending "The E-Mail". Had he thought it through, i am sure that he would have used the telephone rather than his computer.
One of my six predictions for 2011 was that climategate would be a bigger than ever and i still feel that it will prove to be a game changer. Professor Jones has (in my opinion) brought the whole debate to an abrupt end. All by himself.
Brilliant!

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

How come Science is doing PR for Mann anyway?

Way back when this started, I suspected a leak rather than a hack because the release was too specific for it to have been an outsider. The emails showed tension between the US and UK team members, and some concerns regarding science vs advocacy. Now that Mann and his allies seem to be trying to throw Jones and Briffa under the nearest bus, I wonder whether more leaks will appear? Or, if a more managed release will occur and try to put it down to an academic dispute that got out of control. How long has it been since the Police started their investigation into this sorry affair?

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Talk about requiring a "willing suspension of disbelief", eh?!

You know, in one of my previous incarnations I met and worked with a number of children and adults who have developmental disabilities. And I cannot recall a single one of these individuals whose learning challenges could even begin to equal those that have been demonstrated in the past year by the utterances of Mann and other leading lights of "climate science".

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

'exonerated by three independent inquiries' == 'as guilty as charged'

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Simon

"That he added nothing to the email he forwarded to Wahl is wholly inconsistent with his latest claim, that he forwarded the email to Wahl as an advisory."

Well we all know by now the difficulty scientists have when it comes to communication. Apparently they just forget to, sometimes.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterStu

Re hro001

A definition of intelligence is the ability to solve problems. An alternate definition is the ability to complicate simple problems.

If Mann had just said "I was busy at the time and just forwarded the email. In hindsight, I realise that was the wrong thing to have done." he may have got away with it, but he's trying to be too clever, which investigators love.

Mar 9, 2011 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Without photographic evidence, I will not accept that Mann is in Hawaii.

His word that he is, makes me suspect he isn';t

Mar 9, 2011 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Re golf charley

No problem, try here

http://bigthink.com/ideas/31561

Hard to believe that it is only Wednesday, but the eruptions have been coming nonstop it seems. This week has been very Hawaii-centric

Behold, for he is the Anti-Gore! One brings cold, the other heat.

Mar 9, 2011 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Mann obviously read and understood the meaning of the email. "I felt Eugene Wahl had to be aware of this e-mail … it could be used against him." It could only be used against him if he complied with the request and strangely, his colleague added no comment or warning to the email. Wahl would have interpreted the unaltered email as a request from Jones with Mann in agreement. How could Jones and Mann not be considered complicit in the deletion of Wahl's emails?

Mar 9, 2011 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrant

The problem these guys have is keeping all their smoke screens facing the mirrors. When you tell a few different versions of the truth (sic) you have to remember them all - or eventually you forget your own position.

Mar 9, 2011 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

So, Dr Mann was simply obeying orders... now when was the last time someone use that sort of statement to defend there actions?

Mar 9, 2011 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Atomic Hairdryer, nice link!

But no proof that Mann is in Hawaii, only a suggestion that he may be somewhere that may demonstrate occasional, non seasonal warming.

Are we to expect a new paper from Mann about warming in Hawaii? Obviously warming in Hawaii has nothing to do with natural variability, more to do with the shirts that tourists wear

Mar 9, 2011 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

"Why, why, why?"

Here's what I think and what many seem to be missing. The request was to delete AR4 email correspondence. The correspondences, some of which we know was communication between Briffa and Wahl about responses to McIntyre's comments about AR4 and contrary to IPCC protocol. Furthermore, Wahl sent Briffa an unpublished paper for Briffa to use in addressing McIntyre's comments against IPCC protocols. It is these things which could be "used against" Wahl.

Circumstantially this suggests one of three things:

a) Jones and Mann were party to the fact that Briffa and Wahl had colluded in responding to AR4 comments i.e. the Team were all fully aware of "irregulairties" they were using in creating AR4, or

b) there was other collusion or irregularities in the AR4 process which Jones and Mann were aware of and they wanted to make sure that the whole Team were "sanitised" before these were revealed by FOI/EIR requests even though they didn't know the details of what the rest of the Team had done, or

c) Jones just panicked at the FOI/EIR request, sent the email to Mann who forwarded it to Wahl without thinking what he was being asked to do.

Option c) seems the least likely as Mann had no reason to suppose that Wahl had anything that could be "used against him" under this option. It also suggests that Jones and Mann both didn't understand that what they were doing was illegal.

Options a) and b) suggest that either the Team were acting in concert to present their interpretation of the science to the exclusion of all criticism or that the AR4 process was being corrupted by the Team individually and separately. Either way it's not very edifying.

The main fault in the whole saga is the failure if the inquiry into Mann to understand the issues behind the emails and to ask follow up questions where Mann's responses were not answering the questions put to him. The inquiry was supposed to be the check which balanced the implications in this particular climategate email.

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

Well, the fact that Mann admits he forwarded Jones's email to Wahl is sufficient evidence for having "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."

It is irrelevant, IMHO, whether Mann added anything more to the email that he passed on. Mann is a co-conspirator in this saga.

BTW, why doesn't Mann just produce the evidence that all he did was to forward the email without additional comment or directions for Wahl? Why should we take his word for anything anymore?

These scoundrels have had it too easy being questioned by sympathetic journalists and investigators. If they were allowed to be questioned under oath by an experienced trial lawyer, they'd be shred to pieces.

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

After a bit more thought, option a) seems the most likely since as fa as we know Mann did not delete any emails and we might infer that he didn't feel he had any "dirty laundry" to hide, but he may have known that Briffa and Wahl had some (the AR4 comments responses).

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

You know, in the climate thing,...lot of holidaying.

Why did Tom Wigley email Jones in 2009

Why, why, why...

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Also I find it interesting that Penn State said they found that Mann did not directly or indirectly participate in the deleting of emails. Doesn't say much for the Penn State inquiry does it.

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered Commentergenealogymaster

As I posted on WUWT, ClimateGate, the gift that keeps giving.

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

The question "why, why, why" reminded me of a children's song by Woodie Guthrie, "Why, Oh Why'" The chorus goes:

"Why, oh why, oh why oh, why?
Why, oh why, oh why?
Because because because because
Goodbye goodbye goodbye"


www.woodyguthrie.org/Lyrics/Why_Oh_Why.htm

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

Mann has denied appending his own message to the Jones email before he forwarded it to Wahl. Since the unedited versions are already public record international confidentiality agreements wouldn't apply. ;)

And since he doesn't delete emails, why wouldn't Mann forward a copy to Science?

Mar 10, 2011 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterDGH

Say I received an email containing a message "of love", including the following:

... Forward this email to 5 friends within 5 minutes and you will have good fortune. Fail and you will receive bad luck!

If I forward this email to Stu, Bish, sHx, Josh and ZedsDeadBed, including my own message:

Look what that idiot Michael Mann sent me! What a plonker! Chain emailers are muppets!

.. you can reasonably infer that I do NOT intend for you to follow the instructions contained within. I could be even more specific in disassociating myself with the email's intent, so that there could be no mistake.. though you're all bright enough to figure out from my preface that I'm not sending it to you in compliance with the mystic message of fortune.

But if I simply forwarded it, with NO preface of my own, that'd be an entirely different story. There is only one way to interpret my forwarding chain email without preface - chain email complicity.

Mar 10, 2011 at 1:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

@ simpleseekeraftertruth

Yes, a strange comment that. A year and half ago, climategate hadn't even happened. Could he just be confused? "This has been known for a year and a half that all I did was forward Phil's e-mail to Eugene". Could he be referring to the PSU inquiry and just be mistaken on the timescale? If he is talking about the PSU inquiry, has he inadvertently let it slip that PSU *were* aware that he had forwarded the email? If so, would that not make PSU complicit in the cover-up having made the statement on Mann's involvement that they did? Very, very interesting times.

Mar 10, 2011 at 1:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterLC

It's easier to hit the "send" button than it is to think.

Mann's explanation rings true to me, he probably didn't think it through, default setting of passing the buck. Don't forget we are all relatively new to this digital world.

Mar 10, 2011 at 2:40 AM | Unregistered Commentermrjohn

I hope thay all of your reading this, who have any political, academic or scientific clout, will refer this matter to both Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the chancellor or president of Pen State Uni, with sufficient links to Climate Audit, WUWT and Bishop Hill.

I'm sure we are all heartly sick of all this rubbish.
It is time to act.

Mar 10, 2011 at 3:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

From Joe Romm's Grist article of Nov 29, 2009: http://www.grist.org/article/michael-mann-updates-the-world-on-the-latest-climate-science/. Romm asked Mann to comment on:

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's answer last year:

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.

Mar 10, 2011 at 3:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

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