I have seen apparent proof that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Criminal Division, is working with United Kingdom police to pursue the leaker of the 2009 and 2011 “Climategate” emails.
I have learned that last week DOJ sent a search-and-seizure letter to the host of three climate-change "skeptic" blogs. Last night, UK police raided a blogger’s home and removed computers and equipment.
The leaked records derailed “cap-and-trade” legislation in the U.S. and, internationally, as well as talks for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The emails and computer code were produced with taxpayer funds and held on taxpayer-owned computers both in the US and the UK, and all were subject to the UK Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and state FOIA laws.
They also were being unlawfully withheld in both the UK (by the University of East Anglia) and the U.S. (Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including stonewalling me for two years, and three other requesters for longer).
The hunt involving U.S. and UK law enforcement agencies is now escalating. On Wednesday night UK time, six detectives with the UK police (Norfolk Police Department) raided the home of at least one blogger, removing his equipment to look for clues to the identity of leaker “FOIA 2011.”
On December 9, DOJ sent a preservation letter under 18 U.S.C 2703(f) to the publication platform (website host) Wordpress. This authority authorizes the government to request an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to preserve all records of a specific account for 90 days while the feds work on a warrant.
Norfolk PD affirmed to the subject of at least one of their raids that this international law enforcement hunt is for the leaker, meaning not for those whose acts the leaker exposed by making public emails containing admissions in their own words.
In the U.S., the academic and political Left have had fits about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli exercising even more specific, anti-fraud authority to seek further records from University of Virginia in following up on indications from the first Climategate release of possible fraud against the taxpayer.
Apparently, that represented an abuse of the police power. No word yet if they are outraged by DOJ’s current foray or that of the UK raiding team.
The DOJ attorney sending the preservation letters, as it happens in this small world, a graduate of the University of Virginia (UVA). And UVA is also the subject of litigation a group I am associated with, the American Tradition Institute (ATI), that has filed suit on behalf of Virginia taxpayers seeking Climategate-related emails the school holds.
This is a case which has members of the Virginia faculty and establishment beside themselves and demanding an all-out effort to oppose production of the requested documents in an effort to wear us and Cuccinelli down.
So far UVA has spent upwards of $1 million fighting Cuccinelli’s request, and school officials continue to fight us in court every step of the way.
Clearly, this is no small matter in the quarters insisting that this taxpayer-financed information never see the light of day. Even the criminal legal apparatus of the U.S. and UK must be invoked against this threat, apparently.
To review: The UK police and the US DOJ, Criminal Division, are pursuing a leaker of public records subject to one or more FOIA, records that were unlawfully withheld under those laws, which leaks indicate apparent civil violations (tortious interference by seeking dismissal of certain “skeptics”), and raising reasonable questions of fraud against taxpayers.
And they are pursuing the leaker.
Here’s the text of the DOJ request to the ISP:
“Pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 2703(f), this letter is a formal request for the preservation of all stored communications, records, and other evidence in your possession regarding the following domain name(s) pending further legal process: [DELETED] (“the Accounts”) from 00:01 GMT Monday 21 November 2011 to 23:59 GMT Wednesday 23 November 2011.
“I request that you not disclose the existence of this request to the subscriber or any other person, other than as necessary to comply with this request. If compliance with this request might result in a permanent or temporary termination of service to the Accounts, or otherwise alert any user of the Accounts as to your actions to preserve the information described below, please contact me as soon as possible and before taking action.
“I request that you preserve, for a period of 90 days, the information described below currently in your possession in a form that includes the complete record. This request applies only retrospectively. It does not in any way obligate you to capture and preserve new information that arises after the date of this request. This request applies to the following items, whether in electronic or other form, including information stored on backup media, if available:
“1. The contents of any communication or file stored by or for the Accounts and any associated accounts, and any information associated with those communications or files, such as the source and destination email addresses or IP addresses.
“2. All records and other information relating to the Accounts and any associated accounts including the following:
a. Names (including subscriber names, user names, and screen names);
b. Addresses (including mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, and e-mail addresses);
c. Local and long distance telephone connection records;
d. Records of session times and durations, and the temporarily assigned network addresses (such as Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses) associated with those sessions, including any log history of when username “FOIA” uploaded posts to the Accounts;
e. Length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;
f. Telephone or instrument numbers (including MAC addresses);
g. Other subscriber numbers or identities (including the registration Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses); and
h. Means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records.”
Christopher C. Horner is an attorney in Washington, DC, pursuing several "climate" related freedom of information requests.