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The inspector general of the Department of Commerce has just issued a review of NOAA’s response to the climategate emails and has essentially given the agency a clean bill of health. You can download the full report here [pdf].
It’s. just. another. whitewash. Let me quote just one part of the report’s summary, referring to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to NOAA in June 2007 in which the agency responded by saying they had no such documents:
We determined that, at the time, NOAA did not conduct a proper search for responsive documents as required under FOIA, and, as a result, did not have a sufficient basis to inform the requesters that it had no responsive documents. Given that federal agencies are legally obligated to publicly disclose records under the terms of FOIA, we recommend that NOAA conduct a proper search for responsive records as required by the FOIA, and reassess its response to the four FOIA requests in question, as appropriate. [emphasis mine]
In other words, NOAA did not follow the law. When several climate skeptics asked for documents under FOIA, the agency merely stonewalled, rather than search for those documents and provide them, as the law requires.
The report’s reaction to this illegal act? “Please don’t do it again.”
As for the other charges, the report is interesting in that no one but the accused climategate emailers were apparently ever interviewed. Similar to the Pennsylvania State University’s “investigation,” the Commerce department’s investigation asked the accused if they were innocent, they said yes, and the report thus concluded that they therefore must be innocent.