At WUWT today, Eric Worrall has written how the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is getting a taste of its own medicine (archived here). The CEI is complaining that they've been issued with a subpoena to produce twenty years of emails and other documents relating to their climate science denial campaigns. You might have heard of CEI, they are the same mob who usually appear at WUWT boasting how they asked for decades of emails from other people. Now the tables have turned and CEI doesn't like it.
In a complete about face, the CEI is now claiming that letting people know what is said in emails is a violation of freedom of speech! The article claims it to be part of "an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate". Wow! (Is that why Chris Horner and the CEI spend almost all their time suing people for emails - to intimidate and stop research on climate?)
Here are just a few of the zillions of previous articles from WUWT about CEI and its email harassment campaigns:
- 2014: White House Science Advisor John Holdren sued over emails
- 2014: New FOIA lawsuit filed against the EPA - again starring Chris Horner
- 2013: This one is about a lawsuit filed by CEI's Christopher Horner wanting emails from the EPA
- 2012: CEI’s Chris Horner made an FOIA request for correspondence between NOAA’s Dr. Thomas Peterson and Thomas Stocker
- About how Chris Horner and the CEI sought emails from a bunch of academics, who called for a RICO investigation into science denial campaigns.
It's all about Exxon
ExxonMobil is suspected to have engaged in, or be engaging in, conduct constituting a civil violation of the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 14 V.I.C. § 605, by having engaged or engaging in conduct misrepresenting its knowledge of the likelihood that its products and activities have contributed and are continuing to contribute to Climate Change in order to defraud the Government of the United States Virgin Islands ("the Government") and consumers in the Virgin Islands, in violation of 14 V.I.C.§ 834 (prohibiting obtaining money by false pretenses) and 14 V.I.C. § 551 (prohibiting conspiracy to obtain money by false pretenses).
In relation to the Government's investigation of the above matter, YOU ARE HEREBY DIRECTED, by the authority granted to the Attorney General of the United States Virgin Islands ("USVI"), pursuant to the provisions of 14 V.I.C. § 612, to produce and deliver the documents responsive to the inquiries set forth herein, on or before April 30, 2016, directed to the attention of Attorney General Claude Earl Walker, Esq.
- All Documents and Communications sent to or received from ExxonMobil, or third parties acting on behalf of ExxonMobil, concerning Climate Change, including strategies to address Climate Change or impact public views on Climate Change.
- All Documents and Communications concerning the likelihood that or extent to which any of the products sold by or activities carried out by ExxonMobil directly or indirectly impact Climate Change.
- All Documents and Communications reflecting or concerning studies, research, reviews, events, or publications funded by ExxonMobil (in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, including through Donors Trust or Donors Capital Fund or other third parties acting on behalf of ExxonMobil) concerning carbon dioxide or concerning the likelihood, certainty, uncertainty, scope, causes, or impacts of Climate Change.
- All public statements You have drafted, reviewed, edited, made, or published on behalf of or in connection with efforts directed, assisted, or funded by ExxonMobil (in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, including through Donors Trust or Donors Capital Fund or other third parties acting on behalf of ExxonMobil), including but not limited to advertisements, op-eds, letters to the editor, speeches, and publications, concerning Climate Change. In Your Response to this Request include any Communications with ExxonMobil concerning any of the materials responsive to this Request.
- All Documents and Communications concerning any potential impacts on ExxonMobil's sales, revenue, or business caused by Climate Change itself, by public policies responding to Climate Change (including any legislation or regulation concerning Climate Change), or by public perceptions of Climate Change.
- All Documents concerning Climate Change published by You that were directed, drafted, prepared, reviewed, edited, approved, or funded by ExxonMobil (in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, including through Donors Trust or Donors Capital Fund or other third parties acting on behalf of ExxonMobil), and all Communications about such Documents.
- All Documents reflecting or concerning meetings with or including ExxonMobil and/or third parties acting on behalf of ExxonMobil concerning Climate Change, including but not limited to meetings discussing or presenting: strategies, plans, or activities to address Climate Change; strategies, plans, or activities to impact public views on Climate Change; the likelihood that or extent to which carbon dioxide, methane, oil and gas extraction or use, or any of the products sold or activities carried out by ExxonMobil impact Climate Change directly or indirectly; the accuracy or credibility of research or researchers examining Climate Change; or the accuracy or credibility of models or assessments of the likelihood, certainty, uncertainty, scope, causes, or impacts of Climate Change.
- All Documents and Communications concerning or reflecting ExxonMobil's activities using, working with, or funding third parties (including Donors Trust or Donors Capital Fund), or its strategies or plans to do so, to disseminate information or opinions concerning Climate Change.
- Documents sufficient to identify the amount and date of all payments to You from ExxonMobil (directly or indirectly, including through Donors Trust or Donors Capital Fund or other third parties acting on behalf of ExxonMobil) to support work concerning Climate Change and the nature and dates of the work being funded by those payments. Please arrange payment records by year.
From the WUWT comments
Science deniers at WUWT love it when the CEI asks for emails and documents, but the last thing they want to have to deal with are emails and documents that might show shady dealings of science disinformers. The tiny brains of deniers are getting tied up in knots of contorted double standards. On the one hand "truth will out" and emails are fair game - except when it comes to emails between deniers. Then it becomes "stifling free speech".
I haven't seen a single comment from anyone who is curious about what will be found among the emails of CEI, or even if there will be a single document that fits the above criteria. There seems to be a general consensus that CEI will have to put together lots and lots of documents, which implies that WUWT deniers accept that CEI was being paid by Exxon or someone related to spread disinformation about climate.
Shelly Marshall can't believe that anyone would turn the tables:
April 8, 2016 at 11:13 pm
This is so difficult to believe. It doesn’t seem real.
Shocked Citizen thinks that finding out what people said is squashing free speech:
April 9, 2016 at 7:15 am
The truth never needs protection from open and honest debate. If humans are having a material influence on climate through CO2 (I believe human influence is significantly smaller than natural influences), then that “fact” will eventually become evident–even in “unadjusted” data. The fact that free speech on this topic is being squashed is simply indicative of how weak the case for AGW really is (not to mention an affront to one of the most basic of all human rights).
Hugs points out that the USA is among the most litigious nations in the world. He or she says it's "pretty American tactics" but stops short of admitting it's pretty CEI tactics:
April 9, 2016 at 9:13 am
Easy. Actually, this is pretty American tactics. Subpoena, threaten with grave penalties provided by the local collection of established and unestablished law, coerce into co-operation.
Or use huge amounts of money into legal defence not needed elsewhere.
The system resembles justice. Yes, but only remotely.
AB goes even further and calls it an "attack on civilization":
April 9, 2016 at 7:25 am
Appalling. It’s an attack on civilization. Not only do the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age not exist in their tiny demented minds but neither does the Age of Enlightenment.
April 8, 2016 at 11:25 pm
They should be done for an abuse of the law.
I don't recall NeedleFactory being outraged by any such requests from Lamar Smith or Christopher Monckton or Chris Horner.
April 9, 2016 at 10:40 am
Agreed. The 12+ pages of detailed instructions in Appendix A of the subpoena imposes a horrendous amount of work on CEI: documents cannot merely be “handed over”, they must be catalogued, scanned via OCR (Optical Character Recognition) so that they are searchable via computer, and provided with “Bates Numbers.” I imagine it might take thousands of man-hours to put the requested documents into the form demanded. A fishing expedition by the AG, with all the work done by those subpoenaed.
Mike McMillan points out that there may be suspicion of unlawful activities in CEI, though it might not be what he was thinking at the time:
April 8, 2016 at 11:57 pm
The government doesn’t have a legitimate interest in the lawful activities of a private outfit that doesn’t take taxpayer money. Congress could invite those AG’s in for a little chat, under oath, of course.
On the other hand, the govt has an obligation to investigate the activities of those multitudes on the climate gravy train. Over a hundred billion so far, might just be some prosecutable offenses in there.
First thing Cruz or Trump should do is appoint a whole passel of special prosecutors. (Then fire the Joint Chiefs and move EPA headquarters to Lenexa, Kansas.)
Dudley Horscroft is the first to draw a parallel with deniers requesting emails from scientists. He also assumes that there will be lots and lots of documents from CEI that relate to the Exxon investigation.
April 9, 2016 at 12:07 am
Is this not similar to the requests for Mr Mann to produce certain emails. As a non-US citizen, it appears that the procedure is the same. The difference is that Mr Mann and Mr Steyn are engaged in a legal bttle between the pair of them.
I cannot see what the CEI has to do with Exxon – did CEI advise Exxon, has any link been established between CEI and Exxon? Does Exxon operate in the colony of Virgin Islands? Does Exxon pay CEI to do anything? This commandment could be equally well addressed to the State of Kentucky. The causal link would appear to bea s good.
Yes, the commands appears to be totally off the page, but does this really amount to an attack on free speech?
To demand that 10 years worth of documents be transcribed into electronic text and all within a month appears to be totally ridiculous.
Simon questions if Eric Worrall (who wrote the WUWT article) has double standards:
April 9, 2016 at 12:08 am
So where do you stand on the Lamar Smith abuse of power in his request for the NOAA emails? Seems to me you can draw parallels to McCarthyism there to. In fact he has been accused of it by more than just a few.
nicholas tesdorf calls on McCarthy. I don't recall him criticising Lamar Smith or Cuccinelli or Chris Horner or CEI.
April 9, 2016 at 12:58 am
This is an attack not only on freedom of speech but also an attack on Science itself. This McCarthy style attack and abuse of power strike at the fundamental free exchange of ideas that Science represents and by which Science develops.
Amatør1 makes an observation. I don't know if it relates to the propensity for people in the US to go to court, or if it's about a search for the facts of the matter:
April 9, 2016 at 1:38 am
Frankly, I don’t quite understand why this behaviour is called un-American.
Here's another one who equates this subpoena with censorship. CD in Wisconsin
April 9, 2016 at 8:37 am
Censorship through legal intimidation. The totalitarian element in climate alarmism rears its ugly head….something every freedom-loving individual in all nations where human rights are respected should comdemn.
There are lots more comments - I've not read them all. You can read more of the 213 comments here.