Of Climategate, constabularies and Copenhagen: a brief update, a poll and a wiki page

As I have now noted in an update to Part 1, the date of the Ben Webster article I had cited was Dec. 7, not Dec. 4, and I have now amended accordingly. [Please Note: All dates on this page are 2009, and background is covered in Part 1.]

Steve McIntyre also has a post in which he provides his views on other aspects of news coverage in the same timeframe, one of which is a Dec. 3 article by Webster in the U.K. Times entitled:

Climate e-mail hackers ‘aimed to maximise harm to Copenhagen summit’“.

Does this title ring a bell? Yes! It has the same Climategate-Copenhagen meme in the headline as Webster’s Dec. 7:

Climate e-mails were hijacked ‘to sabotage summit’

In his post, Steve has observed that the Dec. 3 article includes two references to an unnamed “source close to the investigation”. And in an update to his post, he noted that he had sent an E-mail to Webster asking him about the article, and that Webster’s “cheerful” reply included:

I have never spoken to [Neil] Wallis and have never spoken to anyone from Outside Organisation in relation to UEA. I did not know until I read it recently that Wallis had worked for UEA.

My response to this (because I thought at the time that Steve had asked Webster about the Dec 7 article, for which error I have since apologized) …

If I had a suspicious mind … and of course I trust anything and everything a journalist tells me these days, so I’m not in the least bit suspicious!But if I were, my take on this would be …

Hmmm … OK, he’s never “spoken” to Wallis. This doesn’t preclude emails, does it? Nor does it preclude Webster having “churnalised” a press release, ostensibly from one of a possible multitude of UN desktops but (perhaps unbeknownst to Webster, if one were inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt) prepared by Wallis and/or Bowen – bearing in mind OO’s known “strategy” of “planting rumours in the press”. Then, of course, there’s always the possibility of the Hayman connection (could be your “source of Webster’s source”?)

Webster also says he’s “never spoken to anyone from OO in relation to UEA” [my bold].

This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s never spoken to anyone from OO; not to mention that the major thrust of Webster’s article was the IPCC – rather than UEA which, in this piece, was mentioned almost en passant, i.e. for “context”. Resulting in a “bonus” for this particular part of OO’s “mission”, in that Webster’s article takes considerable heat off UEA, and places it on the IPCC – and its “parent” [UNEP] and “godfather” [UNFCCC].

Maybe no one at UEA knew that the Copenhagen deal was doomed, but this triumvirate most certainly had to know. They just might have jumped at the opportunity to make use of a diversionary scapegoat (regardless of how far-fetched the words attributed to them might have been).

But, of course, only someone with a suspicious mind would think along such lines. So it must all be simply coincidence, I’m sure;-)

But I digress …

My take on this Dec. 3 article is that Webster could easily have compiled it from CRU Updates 1, 2 & 3 – with additional information contained in CRU’s Dec. 3 “Sir Muir Russell to head the Independent Review into the allegations against the Climatic Research Unit (CRU)” and the now “out of the picture” (since Dec. 1) Phil Jones might well have been Webster’s “source close to the investigation”.

The Dec. 3 article also contains some spin quotes from allies of CRU and a very short-lived seedling meme of “multiple hacks” had sprouted. On reading this article, and comparing it with the text of CRU Update 3 (which I had cited in full in my post), the perceptive reader will note that there is a glaring discrepancy between Webster’s account and that which can be found in CRU Update 3:

Webster Dec. 3:

“Professor Phil Jones, director of the university’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), has agreed to stand down during an independent review of the affair” [emphasis added -hro]

CRU Update 3 Dec. 1:

Professor Jones said: “What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible. After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director’s role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this. The Review process will have my full support.” [emphasis added -hro]

They can’t both be right can they?! I’ve run this wicked problem through my Causation of Glaring Discrepancy Scenarios Simulator (CGDSS) which has yielded the following potential options:

a) Webster is not a stickler for accuracy

b) Assuming he actually read CRU Update 3, Webster might benefit from a remedial reading comprehension skills course.

c) Again, assuming he actually read CRU Update 3, Webster lacks an appreciation for the nuances of English language usage

d) Perhaps Webster’s “source” was not as reliable as he thought.

e) <gasp> Phil Jones (or whoever put the words in his mouth) lied.

There was a sixth scenario:

Jones’ Dec. 1 “decision” to “step aside from the Director’s role” for the duration of the investigation (so that he could devote his time to supporting it) was a secretly negotiated compromise between the Guardian‘s George Monbiot (who had demanded his resignation) and UEA’s Trevor Davies who (on Nov. 24 after the release of CRU Update 2) had told the Guardian‘s Leo Hickman, in effect, ‘absolutely not’. In which case, there’s a very high probability that Monbiot was Webster’s “source close to the investigation”.

However, CGDSS deemed this particular scenario to be 99.99% implausible, so it has been discarded.

I can’t decide (with any degree of confidence) which of the five CGDSS options is the unequivocal most likely explanation for this glaring discrepancy. So I am seeking your assistance, dear readers. Maybe we’ll have a “consensus” ;-)

Please note that in order to reduce the possibility of skewed results that may occur due to the known predominance of “first choice presented” factor, the order of the options presented is randomized. You may only vote once, so please look carefully before you click. Poll closes on August 25, 2011.

If responding to polls is not your favourite pastime (and even if it is!), you might be interested in exploring Wikipedia’s “historical reconstruction“. This page has undergone many revisions since being started Nov. 22, 2009 (most recent entries are dated today, Aug. 18).

Viewing this Wikipedia “reconstruction” through the eyes of one who might never had heard of Climategate before, it has the appearance of being well-researched and “neutral”.

However, the “big picture” that emerges when the page is viewed through the eyes of one who is aware of the history is that this Wikipedia “storyline” is that which was (for all intents and purposes) seeded in CRU Updates 1, 2 and 3 – and embellished and sustained throughout all the so-called “investigations”. The notable exception being the conclusion in their “Timeline” section, which notes that “The [police] investigation is as yet unresolved”.

This “curious case of the unresolved police investigation” is the major focus of Part 2 of “Of Climategate, constabularies and Copenhagen: coincidences worth considering” – my personal “journey” back through time from the perspective of “what we know now that we did not know then” (which I hope to have completed in the next day or so).

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