In a bizarre turn of events, we now have republican Lamar Smith who Chairs the NOAA oversight committee, issuing a press statement effectively demanding NOAA (who are answerable to Trump) comply with their outstanding legal subpoena.
And here’s the fun bit … if NOAA continue to refuse to comply, then it will be Trump who has to agree to take legal action against what is then his own administration. (which is why Obama never took action).
OK, I seriously doubt that will happen, but I do think there’s clearly a little bit of friction detectable in NOAAgate. Because, rather than complying with the law and supplying the documents under the subpoena, NOAA have decided to start their own investigation – and continue to ignore Lamar’s subpoena.
Is this an oversight? Is it a slap in the face of Lamar Smith? Is it just a procedural move? I really can’t say, but we can say that NOAA do not comply by the 28th February Trump’s administration will be in direct conflict with the Congress.
The following is copied from Climate Scepticism:
The Press release is entitled “Committee Probes Allegations of Politicization of NOAA Study” and sets out the background to the issue as follows:
In the summer of 2015, NOAA scientists published the Karl study, which retroactively altered historical climate change data and resulted in the elimination of a well-known climate phenomenon known as the “climate change hiatus.” The hiatus was a period between 1998 and 2013 during which the rate of global temperature growth slowed.
The committee heard from whistleblowers who raised concerns about the study’s methodologies, readiness, and politicization. In response, the committee conducted oversight and sent NOAA inquiries to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Karl study.
Over the course of the committee’s oversight, NOAA refused to comply with the inquiries. This culminated in the issuance of a congressional subpoena, with which NOAA also failed to comply. During the course of the investigation, the committee heard from whistleblowers who confirmed that, among other flaws in the study, it was rushed for publication to support President Obama’s climate change agenda.
Here are some excerpts from the letter:
In recent weeks, further information has come to light that exposes the internal conflicts related to this NOAA study. Dr John Bates, a recently-retired principal scientist at NOAA who created science integrity principles at the agency, raised public concerns that the Karl study ignored NOAA standards, was rushed to publication, and was not free from political bias. In fact, Dr Bates wrote in a blog post that lead author, Mr Thomas Karl, had his “thumb on the scale” throughout the entire process.
After explaining that the Committee has a duty to investigate alleged politicization or misconduct, the letter requests the following information by 28th Feb:
- All documents and communications between or among employees of NOAA referring or relating to the release of the Karl study.
- All documents and communications between or among employees of NOAA referring or relating to the release of ERSST Version 4 dataset, or any other dataset used in the Karl study.
- All documents and communications between or among employees of NOAA referring or relating to concerns raised about datasets used in the Karl study.
- All documents and communications between or among employees of NOAA referring or relating to the scientific integrity of the study, including but not limited [to] the archiving of datasets.
What few seem to have realised, is that whilst the Karl study is scientifically dubious and most likely what would be termed “scientific fraud”, it isn’t strictly illegal to make up things for government or publish them unless it can be proven it was done for financial or other gain. Otherwise most politicians would be locked up!
Yes within the ethos of proper science, you don’t make up figures or cherry pick data to match your desired conclusion. But (as yet) no one has gone to jail for “scientific fraud”.
However, whilst supplying boring emails and data to an oversight committee will sound quite dry, dreary and uninteresting to many sceptics, not supplying them is illegal and can result in prison.
So, the crime here, isn’t the scientific fraud, it’s the failure to comply with an administrative order. That’s what is likely to catch NOAA, not fiddling the data. It’s trying to hide the fiddling of the data, not the fiddling the data itself which is the crime.
What is also important is who gets to judge the “crime”.
If someone has fiddled a scientific paper – the press will undoubtedly accept a buddy academic of theirs in climate “science” to judge the merits of the case. And we all know what they will say: “nothing to see here” even though we all known they will be lying through their teeth.
In contrast, lying to an oversight committee, illegally withholding documents showing an intention to fiddle the data … will be judged, not by some buddy scientist … but as a political/legal issue, it can and will be judged by the public as a legal not scientific matter. And I’ve no doubt they will be found guilt.
The questions they will ask will include::
- Was the committee right to investigate?
Even if Bates is wrong – the fact he believes there was wrongdoing at NOAA means that the answer to this question is unequivocally yes, Lamar’s committee were right to ask for the documents.
- Do the documents show an intention to deceive in order to politically benefit Obama?
The timing certainly looks right. The anecdotal evidence already looks damning of an intention to “put the thumbs on the scale”.
- Did the committee illegally withhold the docs?
(just a technicality as it is clear they did)
It therefore seems to me that there is sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution EVEN IF THEY NOW COMPLY WITH THE SUBPOENA!!
But, would a prosecution succeed?
Paradoxically, it is in neither the Democrat nor Republican interest to render the oversight committees powerless which is effectively what would happen if there was no penalty for failing to comply with subpoenas. So, even without Democrat support, there could be a conviction here.