When In Doubt, Delete

One of the hacked East Anglia emails that has gotten considerable play on the web indicates that several alarmist scientists deleted emails that were subject to a Freedom of Information Act request rather than produce them. That’s true; here is the context.
On May 27, 2008, David Palmer, who is in charge of “data protection” at the University of East Anglia, wrote to Tim Osborn about a Freedom of Information Act request the university had received from one David Holland:

Please note the response received today from Mr. Holland. Could you provide input as to his additional questions 1, and 2, and check with Mr. Ammann in question 3 as to whether he believes his correspondence with us to be confidential?
Although I fear/anticipate the response, I believe that I should inform the requester that his request will be over the appropriate limit and ask him to limit it….
I just wish to ensure that we do as much as possible ‘by the book’ in this instance as I am certain that this will end up in an appeal, with the statutory potential to end up with the ICO.

Thus, the same day, Tim Osborn wrote to Caspar Amman of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado:

Our university has received a request, under the UK Freedom of Information law, from someone called David Holland for emails or other documents that you may have sent to us that discuss any matters related to the IPCC assessment process. We are not sure what our university’s response will be, nor have we even checked whether you sent us emails that relate to the IPCC assessment or that we retained any that you may have sent. However, it would be useful to know your opinion on this matter. In particular, we would like to know whether you consider any emails that you sent to us as confidential.
Sorry to bother you with this,
Tim (cc Keith & Phil)

The point was to lay foundation for an objection to producing such emails on the ground that they were “confidential.” Amman replied:

Oh MAN! will this crap ever end??
Well, I will have to properly answer in a couple days when I get a chance digging through emails. I don’t recall from the top of my head any specifics about IPCC.
I’m also sorry that you guys have to go through this BS.

Osborn replied:

Hi again Caspar,
I don’t think it is necessary for you to dig through any emails you may have sent us to determine your answer. Our question is a more general one, which is whether you generally consider emails that you sent us to have been sent in confidence. If you do, then we will use this as a reason to decline the request.

That was followed by this more formal response from Amman on May 30:

in response to your inquiry about my take on the confidentiality of my email communications with you, Keith or Phil, I have to say that the intent of these emails is to reply or communicate with the individuals on the distribution list, and they are not intended for general ‘publication’. If I would consider my texts to potentially get wider dissemination then I would probably have written them in a different style. Having said that, as far as I can remember (and I haven’t checked in the records, if they even still exist) I have never written an explicit statement on these messages that would label them strictly confidential.

In the meantime, though, Osborn and his colleagues had already taken matters into their own hands. On May 29, Phil Jones wrote to Michael Mann, with the subject heading “IPCC & FOI”:

Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have with Keith re AR4? [“AR4” is common shorthand for the U.N. IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, which was released in 2007.] 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.

These emails appear to show that, when faced with a legitimate request under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act, these global warming alarmists preferred to delete their emails with one another about the crucially important IPCC report–the main basis for the purported “consensus” in favor of anthropogenic global warming–rather than allow them to come to light. This is one of many instances in the East Anglia documents where the global warming alarmists act like a gang of co-conspirators rather than respectable scientists.

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