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« Watts' analysis | Main | Big bucks »

Heartland says key memo was fake

This just has just been posted (link).

The stolen documents appear to have been written by Heartland’s president for a board meeting that took place on January 17. He was traveling at the time this story broke yesterday afternoon and still has not had the opportunity to read them all to see if they were altered. Therefore, the authenticity of those documents has not been confirmed.

Since then, the documents have been widely reposted on the Internet, again with no effort to confirm their authenticity.

One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.


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Reader Comments (136)

I'm enjoying seeing all the people who had their panties in a knot over people referring to or using the "stolen" CRU emails now drooling over this.

Where is their outrage now?

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.

Bloomin' 'eck baldrick!! That was the one will all the money quotes in it too. If this is true (personally my head is spinning a bit here) then the ramifications are pretty huge - cue bluff, double bluff triple bluff speculation. That meta study I mentioned when I first heard of this HI -gate may turn out to be whole new subject at college level - a bit more of a way of life for media studies in a whole new category of social study ;)

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

As of now, this sounds like Much ado about nothing.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

It's pretty clear that Heartland are not playing a straight bat by throwing in the question of whether some or all of the documents have been altered and then issuing a statement that authenticity is not confirmed. If the documents have been altered, it raises the clear and salient point in what way were they altered? How can Heartland know that 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute? if it's a total fake then Heartland shouldn't know who wrote it. Heartland Insider would seem to be associated with The Heartland Institute.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Heartland should publish the full data.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterschumpeter

I hope that the "several obvious and gross misstatements of fact" are the of type that they can reveal. If the misstatements refer to donors or such, then they would understandably not want to reveal that info.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonasM

I agree that the HI could be playing fast and loose and seeing what they can get away with, but they have put whatever of what would be left of their reputation on the line by saying the "Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy" has no connection with them. If so there will be bounce back on some of the people took up the more damning quotes - the "undermine" and "dissuading teachers from teaching science" come to mind I have seen reported, if there is not much more than donor speculation left after that doc gone it seems a few red faces in the media may be due.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Of course if HI are talking sh*te about the "no connection" with that doc the bounce back would totally bury the HI too.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Hengist McStone in other to believe its a fake you want impossible levels of evidenced , but you were happy to believe it was real on the basis of ?

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Hengist McStone

Heartland Insider would seem to be associated with The Heartland Institute.

Or a hacker. Anonymous could have easily done it.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

According to the press release, it would appear the real documents were obtained through social engineering, not a hack, and not an 'insider'.

However, the threat to sue all of the blogs is dumb PR. Makes them look like they have something to hide behind expensive lawyers and defamation suits.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpellbound


Funny Hengist, I read your comments and infer that you are not a sincere and honest person. I will leave it to you to ponder the intermediate steps of my reasoning, since it is also clear to me that your comments have already wasted too much of my time.

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

What is the big deal, this is a storm in a tea-cup and the tea is long gone cold, the cat's out of the bag and we [along with the whole world] all know that AGW is a crock of s............. .

"Heartland Institute" - honestly, so what?

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

@spellbound, defending the reputation of something that only exists with that reputation intact, is not dumb PR. That is called defending yourself.

The internet age is a wonderful thing, but just because it is the wild west out doesn't mean the lawlessness is the only game in town.

The have raised the stakes in the poker game. If people want to play now the entry fee is much higher.

yeee haaa...

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

My thought is this. Since this document was supposedly part of a large amount of information I am wondering why it is titled " confidential". It does not make sense to have a bunch of data that would seem to be information on how the organization is run and in the middle a " confidential" piece about cliamte strategy is enclosed. That is what stuck me anyway. Also why is it so explicit with damning information as to who will get what money but very vaugue on the actual plan moving forward.

Just a couple things that made me scratch my head........

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDude

Whatever the original source of the strategy document, it is suspicious. Looking at the complete set shows that all but the questionable one were not scanned in but PDFs generated from a digital file, while the strategy document clearly was scanned from a paper copy. You can clearly see the odd bits and dots as well as edge shadow marks on it.

But much more interesting is that all the other documents were typeset in the same font, with thicker characters and the suspect on uses what looks like a typewriter with a worn out ribbon. In any case, it is done is a completely different font.

If this was faked whoever did it was not very skillful. It was not at all done in the same paragraph parameters and font of the others. A forensic examination would clearly show that.

Sorta reminds me of the Obama birth certificate. Fairly amateur.

I wonder if the Northfork plods would be of any help? :)

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Currently comments are stopped at Richard Black's.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Yeah interesting that in the Bish's update Black mentions "The "Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy" reveals that the next target is schools.".
Even if there is some doubt, this shows how quickly things can move. Meanwhile Suzanne Goldenberg has a story focusing on the donor list

If the key doc turns out to be fake I can see that particular fact getting "forgotten" in the noise later on while the leverage it provided is eagerly built upon. Meanwhile the fact HI are making noises about legal action rather than cannily making the most of the obvious capital they could make from embarrassing the people who bought the "fake" either shows lack of PR imagination or some other failing on their part.

I admit to being guilty of speculating while the story is still unfolding. Curious how this will pan out.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I must admit, I didn't bother reading the original documents.

I couldn't care less who funds what. What matters to me is; is the argument sound?
Everything else is just fluff.

Climate Science funding matters a little bit more because "I" am funding a portion of it, and I'm not in the least bit happy about that. But as for green groups funding this or that study; go ahead, if your study is good and your conclusions are sound, you might be right. I have no problem with that.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

@The Leopard In The Basement

You first raise the stakes in the game until everyone drops out or only the big boys remain.

Only then do you show you hand.

I think they have staked their claim. I cannot believe there hand is a poor one.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

"Currently comments are stopped at Richard Black's."

Hee hee hee. Censorship is the last vestige of scoundrels, or something.... Lawyers scrambling, accumulating "billable time". Hillarity will ensue.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterdfbaskwill

This entire affair has become an utter farce, in which some of the characters in play such as Black, Hickman and the odious edifice Desmogblog have all raced into print to declare their own utter lack of ethics, credibility and veracity.
It has made some members of the commentariat (Hengist springs to mind immediately) look even more divorced from reality than they usually appear and has shown others such as Richard Betts in a more human light.
Above all, the entire silly affair has illuminated the utter nonsense of the fairytale 'well organised and heavily funded sceptics' so often chanted by the warmista. It has also reinforced the ethical stance of Anthony Watts, who seemed initially to be the principal target.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K


How did this happen? The stolen documents were obtained by an unknown person who fraudulently assumed the identity of a Heartland board member and persuaded a staff member here to “re-send” board materials to a new email address. Identity theft and computer fraud are criminal offenses subject to imprisonment. We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes.

Since the site was registered in the US, it is a US federal crime.

I would sure hate to own the email address the stuff was sent to.

(I guess the Northfork plods will not be needed.)

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

This has blown up in the faces of Monbiot, Revkin and Black. A fake document, if confirmed, means utter catastrophe for the warmist cause.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Re Don Pablo

Hunt for the smoking Epson scanner! The memo does rather stand out, as does the absence of the proposed budget and fundraising strategy douments that allegedly contain more detail. Suprised our hacker missed those.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Compare and contrast the care with which Anthony and others sought to vet the e-mails with the rash rush to print by the alarmist cheerleaders. Some people have integrity and some don't. And the evidence time after time keeps revealing the answer in the same way.

As for the rash rush, it appears now that it will result in a rush to a bad rash for the miscreants.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Having NGO's or special interest groups directly fund scientific research of any type sets a bad precedent. However, this happens on both sides:

Such activities are frowned upon, for example, in medical research. However, the immediate problem that must be tackled is the perception that funding is innocuous when the funders are on the 'morally good' side. The bottom line is that when the people who fund your research or activities are expecting a particular outcome, this will inevitably impact on your results.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke

I have no particular brief for HI, since I barely know who they are (I'm aware that they sponsor conferences which get CAGW fanatics aroused, but that's all I knew of them before this incident).

However, this episode is now a litmus test of integrity for all the CAGW blogs and journalists show jumped all over this. Also a test of integrity for people like Hengist....

This is now NOTHING like the "FOIA" issue (it wasn't before because that involved publicly funded institutions which had been avoiding legal FOIA requests). There has never been the slightest contention that "FOIA" was putting out fake emails, only real ones.

This is now about someone putting FAKE information into the media-stream.... all who have been trying to capitalize on this fraud now have an enormous duty to do all in their power to correct the record and not to try to continue to make hay out of the fake info.

I'm not holding my breath but any of the CAGW types who do not take emphatic steps to dissociate themselves from this fraud and to correct the record insofar as they have helped to create a false record is deserving only of contempt.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

Re: Hengist

It's pretty clear that Heartland are not playing a straight bat by throwing in the question of whether some or all of the documents have been altered and then issuing a statement that authenticity is not confirmed.
I am aware that you have very little scientific background so let me enlighten you. It is very nearly impossible to prove a negative. This means it is very nearly impossible for them to prove that a particular document did not come from them.
If the documents have been altered, it raises the clear and salient point in what way were they altered?
No. The salient point is: If they where altered without notification then how can they be trusted. In other words if, whoever released them, altered them before release and did not inform everyone, then they can not be trusted and should be consigned to the trash bin.
How can Heartland know that 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute?
This is about the only thing I agree with you about. It could well have been the cleaning lady who wrote it and without the Heartland Institute questioning every single person who has any connection with them, no matter how tenuous, they can not make this statement (see my point above: It is very nearly impossible to prove a negative).
if it's a total fake then Heartland shouldn't know who wrote it.
I've read pretty much everything about this on every news source and blog. I can not find a single reference whereby the HI claim to know who wrote it. Could you point me to where they make this claim?
Heartland Insider would seem to be associated with The Heartland Institute.
Your evidence for this is?

One last thing. I've noticed that you modus operandi seems to be to make unsubstantiated comments and then either disappear or completely ignore responses and make further unsubstantiated claims. I have asked 2 questions of you in this full and complete response to your initial comment. Unless you answer these question I will ignore all further comments from you on this thread.

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Jiminy Cricket

I admit to being on a knife edge of opinion here - a day ago I couldn't give a toss about the existence of HI either way - now I find that if the key doc is real, and does contain their policy stuff, then that is a pretty big turn off for me personally, if they have been found now out and are pathetically scrabbling around and blustering to distract attention then I hope they get what they deserve from some investigative journalists (the ones who can find out stuff for themselves, not just ask their readers or trawl blogs).

However, if they are just guily of getting a few donations from GM and Microsoft, then they go up in my estimation, and this fake would be a nasty smear to rank with some of the big ones emanating from middle europe at the start of the 20th Century.

It seems to me that this has blown up into a bigger story, either way.

I'm reminded me of the quote from Jodie Foster's Dad in the film Contact about the existence of ET life. roughly "If there is someone out there it would be amazing, if we are alone that would be amazing too."

Of course there could be an ever so mundane third possibility to this story I have totally missed here, either way I going to learn something ;)

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

lol at Hengist - learn to read, old chap. It will save you hours of self-abuse. By the way, why are you reading stolen documents?

Feb 15, 2012 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

The BBC’s Richard Black makes a false statement about WUWT:

“Further funding will go to climate blogger and former meteorologist Anthony Watts for a web-based project aiming to demonstrate problems in the US network of temperature monitoring stations – an issue whose irrelevance to the big questions of climate change was emphatically demonstrated last year by the Berkeley Earth Project, which found station quality was not a factor in modern measurements of global warming.”

ie the money was nothing of the sort, it was clearly described as a project for making public weather data more easily and accessibly available to the public

maybe it is time for the lawyers, Richards predjudices seem to be at work. this is misrepresentation and potentially reputationally damaging to WUWT


The documents state (pdf) that in January his company ItWorks/IntelliWeather was paid $44,000 to “create a new website devoted to accessing the new temperature data from NOAA’s web site and converting them into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public”. A total of $88,000 (pdf) is expected to be handed to Watts for the project by the end of 2012.

BBC - I do hope you have good lawyers...

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

the suspect on uses what looks like a typewriter with a worn out ribbon.

Nah. It's a low resolution scan in b/w, although that doesn't exclude use of a FAX machine which could produce a similar result. The document metadata suggests it was produced by Epson scan on Feb 13th at 12:41 (-8.00), so US west coast. It seems at least some of the information in it is correct, however, that doesn't rule out the possibility that factual information was written into a nice story with a few tasty soundbites to put the rest of the documents into the "right" context.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveJR

So.. on the sceptic side, "FOIA" obtains and releases genuine emails and documents. On the warmy side, "anti-FOIA" releases faked and doctored documents.

This is like template-based hacking/data liberation! The sceptics in pursuit of, and uncovering, genuine and damning content, while the warmies are putting out fudged, distorted, misleading and even fabricated content. How absolutely in-keeping is all this!? LOL! All the way to the top!

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Cut Black some slack , he did have to wait instructions from 'the Team ' before he could write his piece.
Oh and don't feed the trolls

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Leave off Hengist. I perceive a troubled mind, a lefty, would-be journalist trying to develop a career but not prepared to lie. Like many of his age, he was brought up with the Hansen and Trenberth propaganda, as was I, but my extended experience left me sceptical.

So put yourself in the position of Hengist: who does he trust? Those whom the left have praised but who since 1997 under that protection have been busily faking data to fill the hole left by the 1997 removal of the CO2 ends ice ages claim?

Or does he put his faith in the hands of people like me, anonymous internet hounds who say it's a scam based on four basic physics' mistakes? Give him slack and we could have a good journalist to fill the boots of the tainted but with a healthy but honest left wing stance, as was the case with many great journalists until the soft Marxists were cynically deceived by Big Carbon Trading.

Science is kicking out lying scum. Journalism should do the same.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Re: Simon Hopkinson

On the warmy side, "anti-FOIA" releases faked and doctored documents.

It appears to be a systemic failure by those who believe in CAGW. They simply can not leave the data alone. It always has to be massaged to reflect their reality.
It is a pity really because now they all have to be consigned to the bin.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Notably, most of the docs were produced mid to late January (with the exception of the IRS990 doc) - except for the memo, which was produced almost exactly 24 hours before the final release and upload. All of the docs (again, except the IRS form and memo) seem to have recognisable user names from within the institute, notably missing from the memo. The creation time looks like a smoking gun though.

As for the legality of access, it sounds like Heartland claim they know how it happened - it sounds like a "spearphishing" attack. I have been trying to research the legal situation in the event of a spearphish attack, many anti-spam sites claim they are illegal but don't really make it clear which legislation makes it illegal or in which jurisdiction. More digging required!

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Re DaveJR

The fun may start if the UUID information is correct. Documents often contain fingerprints and does anyone know which version of UUID generation Epson uses?

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Curious I notice the original Guardian Article 15 February 2012 03.30 GMT, it now has a statement

• 3pm update: Heartland issues statement claiming one document fake, others stolen.

I'm sure I missed seeing the update at 3 pm did anyone else see that? I though the HI release came out only a couple of hours ago.

But in their history box it says:

About this article
Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science
This article was published on at 03.30 GMT on Wednesday 15 February 2012. It was last modified at 20.57 GMT on

Wednesday 15 February 2012.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

NB: just to clarify my above comment, the IRS form was created much earlier than the others (July 2011), leaving the memo as the only anomalous document from a creation perspective.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Leo Hickmans' piece now has this attached:

UPDATE: 8.47pm The Heartland Institute has now issued a statement claiming one of the documents - "2012 Climate Strategy" - is "fake".

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

yeah interesting, both the Guardian pieces that leveraged the alleged fake doc, corrupt the kiddies minds angle, now have the Heartland statement - the Goldenberg article doesn't have it I guess it doesn't need it because she is making hay with the GM, MS donor horror story. I still think this wont be a quiet clean up of the old web sites if it turns out to be fake. Watching with interest.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

If you go to the Graun site (wont post a link cos of the screening :))

Suzanne Goldenberg has a piece out looking a bit more CYA with regards the HI response. There is not much added to the HI release these quotes grab my eyes:

The free-market Heartland Institute has moved to contain the damage from explosive revelations about its efforts to discredit climate change and alter the teaching of science in schools, claiming on Wednesday it was the victim of theft and forgery.


However, the statement from Heartland communications director, Jim Lakely, identifies only one of the eight documents posted online on Tuesday night by the DeSmogBlog website as a "total fake".

Ah, only one fake doc you see ;)

Its becoming clearer, mmmm....

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Looking again at that one document - apparently the most damaging - it does look like it could be a fake.
Why is it so fuzzy?
Why does it say "I" but have no name attached?
Why does it use such sloppy language as "reliably anti-climate"?
And would heartland really say "two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science"?

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

The Leopard In The Basement the fact it was the fake document that made the school claims seem to have passed Goldenberg right bye.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I'm reminded of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a fabricated piece of propaganda that convinced the gullible, the stupid, and the biased for decades.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Something is a little strange in the reports from desmog blog, Guardian and Roger Black.
- They mention the total budget of the HI, but do not refer to the other work. They have 7 policy areas including environment. Just 3 out of 20 issue-dedicated staff work on environment.
- The send out 6 monthly newsletters to 8600 elected officials. One of these is "Environment & Climate News".
- The alleged recipient of the biggest chunk of monthly "climate denial" funding is Craig Idso. The blogs (nor the sourcewatch link) direct you to the website which he is responsible for. Here you will find summaries of proxy studies related to the MWP (or not), ocean acidification and the impact of CO2 on plants.
- Roger Black has it wrong on Anthony Watts' funding. His funding was to make new NOAA temperature data more accessible.
So the public face of the Heartland Institute is one of disseminating policy-related information and argument. The so-called secret side seems to be summarising scientific literature and data in a form that is easily accessible to the masses. Could it be that the biggest threat of HI is to the thousands of taxpayer-funded PR folk who are employed to keep up the alarmism?

Feb 15, 2012 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter


Yeah there is the usual recursive self supporting logic that I personally wearily used to from the Graun enviro team. You get blind to it after a while, conditioned. But it is bad. All the Graun enviro team seem strikingly, uniformly, consistently, bad. As if they don't want to ever risk outshining each other. -

Feb 15, 2012 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

That money has been paid to Anthony Watts to set up a webpage to collate info and data otherwise not easily accessible doesn't really bother me. This is exactly the kind of project that NOAA itself should have funded.

What bothers me is why Anthony kept mum about it. I know that $90.000 of Heartland Institute was only approved last month (Jan 2012) and that probably little work was done on the proposed project, but why didn't Anthony issue a prompt announcement at the time that such a project was afoot and that the HI was funding it because the NOAA wouldn't?

Had Anthony himself made these disclosures and offered justifications in a timely manner, he would have been spared much of the negative criticism that came with this 'leak', regardless of whether the key documents is authentic. That $90.000 was paid/earmarked to Anthony's company for a project is authentic enough.

Compare and contrast this with a certain climate skeptic blogger who promptly and regularly reports any and all contacts he's had with 'big oil'. See for example here, here, here, and here.

When such disclosures are made in a timely and transparent manner, ill-rumours get snuffed out early and more effectively.

Feb 15, 2012 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

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