BREAKING NEWS: Intimidating the Anti-AGW Bloggers

From What’s Up With That

The first blogger to break the Climategate2 story has had a visit from the police and has had his computers seized. Tallbloke’s Talkshop first reported on CG2 due to the timing of the release being overnight in the USA. Today he was raided by six UK police (Norfolk Constabulary and Metropolitan police) and several of his computers were seized as evidence.

From the Guardian:

Police officers investigating the theft of thousands of private emails between climate scientists from a University of East Anglia server in 2009 have seized computer equipment belonging to a web content editor based at the University of Leeds.

On Wednesday, detectives from Norfolk Constabulary entered the home of Roger Tattersall, who writes a climate sceptic blog under the pseudonym TallBloke, and took away two laptops and a broadband router. A police spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Norfolk Constabulary had “executed a search warrant in West Yorkshire and seized computers”. She added: “No one was arrested. Investigations into the [UEA] data breach and publication [online of emails] continues. This is one line of enquiry in a Norfolk constabulary investigation which started in 2009.”

Tattersall posted his own account of the police search on his blog: “An Englishman’s home is his castle they say. Not when six detectives from the Metropolitan police, the Norfolk constabulary and the computer crime division arrive on your doorstep with a warrant to search it though … They ended up settling for two laptops and an ADSL broadband router … I got the feeling something was on the go last night when WordPress [the internet host for his blog] forwarded a notice from the US Department of Justice.”


Last month, Tattersall’s blog, as well as at least four other blogs popular with climate sceptics, received a comment from a user called “FOIA” providing a link to a Russian server hosting a compressed folder containing more than 5,000 emails exchanged between climate scientists, along with a short message setting out the perpetrator’s motives. The folder also contained an encrypted subfolder containing a further 220,000 emails. It was the second time such a release had occurred.

In November 2009, thousands of emails were released in a similar manner on the eve the Copenhagen climate summit. The episode prompted a series of inquiries into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists’ handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness, they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced.

Both Tattersall and a US-based climate sceptic blogger known as Jeff Id said they had received a “formal request” via the blogging platform WordPress from the US Department of Justice’s criminal division, dated 9 December, to preserve “all stored communications, records, and other evidence in your possession” related to their own blogs as well as to Climate Audit, a climate sceptic blog run by a Canadian mining consultant called Steve McIntyre.

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What This Is Really About

The point of this is not to catch the leaker, it’s to intimidate bloggers…. this is aimed at intimidating bloggers rather than catching the climategate leaker…. This has nothing at all to do with finding a hypothetical hackert

  Jo Nova makes a great point — highlighted — from the Washington Examiner has this story:

Tallbloke’s computers were confiscated by police today, allegedly in the search for the climategate leaker. But it’s obvious that there won’t be any clues left on Tallbloke’s computer (it would have no record of comments dropped onto, a US service). See Watts Up.

The point of this is not to catch the leaker, it’s to intimidate bloggers.

 Jeff ID writes:   Tallbloke a fellow recipient blog of the climategate emails, and linked on the right, was raided today in what seems to be a coordinated effort by Metropolitan Police, the Norfolk Constabulary and the Computer Crime division and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division.  His home was raided and computers were taken for ‘examination’.

They don’t really want to catch the leaker, because a whistleblower is protected by UK legislation. The proof that this is aimed at intimidating bloggers rather than catching the climategate leaker is the coordinated and pointless US dept of Justice action through wordpress. To wit:

Both Tallbloke and JeffID received “the following notification from the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division and forwarded by Ryan at WordPress.  ClimateAudit is also mentioned yet I’m not certain that Steve Received notice.  It seems that the larger paid blogs may not have received any notice.  On pdf –WordPress Preservation Request-1

The notification apparently asks them not to make the information public or else... they may terminate their wordpress account.

This has nothing at all to do with finding a hypothetical hacker.

How would anyone feel knowing that agents may turn up at their home, take all their computers, phones, routers and records, and have a copy of all their emails, their tax records, letters to friends, music, photos, information about family and friends, and their passwords?

The inconvenience of living without their computer, software and everything else would cost potentially thousands but worse, for someone who values their privacy, just the knowledge that so much personal information was in the hands of strangers would be unsettling.

Furthermore, there’s the risk that a single malicious person in the government could “leak” the emails, photos, or letters, medical records and spread them on the internet. These are home offices, so everything is on the computer. It would only take one agent — someone thinking it was “only fair” to release all that information. There’s a perverse logic that though the climategate leaker carefully removed personal emails, and was releasing work related information from a work account, it was somehow “just” to release irrelevant personal information from the accounts of volunteers.

If the establishment was really in the mood to send a signal that blogging is a risky business, what’s next — Nixon style tax audits?

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 See also Tall Bloke & JeffID