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We-Don't-Want-To-Talk-About-It-Gate

Why won't more politicians talk about Climategate?

David Harsanyi
December 5, 2009

Americans honor the courageous informant, the gutsy citizen who stands against the savagery of the profit-mongering conglomerate. Well, sometimes. It appears, believe it or not, that there are those who aren't religiously tethered to this sacred obligation.

For now—because of revelations of the ClimateGate scandal, in which hacked e-mails revealed discussions among top climate scientists about the manipulation of evidence—Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in Britain, has stepped down from his position. Michael Mann, architect of the famous "hockey stick" graph, is now under investigation by Pennsylvania State University. Similar inquiries should follow.

Yet Barbara Boxer, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is off hunting bigger game.

"You call it 'ClimateGate'; I call it 'E-mail-theft-gate,'" Boxer clarified during a committee shindig. "We may well have a hearing on this; we may not. We may have a briefing for senators; we may not." Boxer, as steady as they come, went on to put the focus where it belongs: on hackers. She warned: "Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated. ... This is a crime."

If this hacker(s) is unearthed on U.S. soil (or anywhere in the Middle East, actually), Boxer can jettison the guilty party to Gitmo for some well-deserved sleep deprivation.

But surely there is time for some sort of investigation? This is, after all, the senator who ran a vital committee hearing in 2008 so that an Environmental Protection Agency whistle-blower, who accused the Bush administration of failing to address greenhouse gas emissions appropriately, could have his say.

Boxer's rigid devotion to rule of law is also admirable. But this is the senator who championed the Military Whistleblower Protection Act and fought for whistle-blowing rights for defense contractor employees (to ferret out bureaucratic waste) and for nurses (to protect patients' rights).

All of which sound like sensible protections for the truth-seeking citizen. Because taxpayers matter.

So take Kevin Trenberth, who was caught claiming it was a "travesty" that climate scientists could not "account for the lack of warming at the moment"—though such anxiety never slowed him from weaving unnerving tales of calamity. Trenberth runs the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., which obtains 95 percent of its funding from taxpayers.

Take the taxpayer-funded EPA, which was handed the incredible power to arbitrarily (and without Congress) regulate all carbon dioxide, through the Clean Air Act, in part because of the science in question.

Take NASA, which—despite a 2-year-old Freedom of Information Act request asking for research detailing its historical data—continues to ignore taxpayers.

Are these state secrets?

Surely this insularity is one reason 59 percent of Americans, according to a new Rasmussen poll, believe it is "somewhat likely" that some scientists falsified research data to support their own global warming theories. (Thirty-five percent of Americans believe it's "very likely.")

Fortunately, President Barack Obama has an unwavering admiration of truth tellers, asserting during his campaign that their "acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled."

Well, we don't need acts of courage and patriotism. Not yet. Just start with a committee hearing, and work your way up. Because the real crime here would be to continue to irresponsibly pass more experimental legislation that fundamentally undermines our affluent economy and free society on the word of those whom we might not be able to trust.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com. This column first appeared at Reason.com.

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