Signs of Action On Climategate Hacker Investigation: DOJ and UK Police Probe Denier Bloggers

Signs of Action On Climategate Hacker Investigation: DOJ and UK Police Probe Denier Bloggers
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Fantastic news for a change – the Guardian reports that the UK police are finally making some concerted attempts to identify the hacker behind the criminal invasion of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.

The Guardian reports:

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 on his own TallBloke’s Talkshop blog that:

“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.”

What excellent news to hear that the Justice Department is getting involved with this investigation, it’s about time. Perhaps this came in response to the remarks by Rep Ed Markey (D-MA) last month?

Either way, it is reassuring to know that the investigation into the criminal hacking of climate scientists’ emails is, in fact, ongoing.  Last month, we reported about troubling indications that the UK police effort seemed inadequate given the tiny expense reports divulged after a Freedom of Information request by a UK journalist. 

It will be interesting to learn what the investigation uncovers, if anything, from this week’s actions. Since TallBloke’s blog was one of the first that the hacker “FOIA” commented on when revealing the stolen goods, there may well be something of interest to investigators.

It’s also interesting that Tattersall’s first move after welcoming the police into his flat was to log out of his email. He writes on his blog:

I managed to log out of my email on the big lappy as they sat down, to the annoyance of the Computer expert.“ 

(Funny statement coming from a guy who has trumpeted the criminal hacking of the email accounts of climate scientists?) 

Only time will tell what investigators might learn from reviewing Tattersall’s computers. Has he been in direct contact with the hacker? If not, has he communicated with any middlemen who might have relayed information that could lead to the hacker’s identity? Perhaps they’ll find an unlocked copy of the 220,245 encrypted emails that “FOIA” has teased the existence of, but so far have not been published online?

DeSmogBlog’s Richard Littlemore has previously written about TallBloke’s seemingly cozy relationship with the hacker FOIA. In his announcement about the release of the Climategate 2 batch, TallBloke refers to “our old friend FOIA. But later in the same post, he suggests he doesn’t know the hacker’s identity:

Message to ‘FOIA

Thank you, whoever you are, freedom of information is a principle worth upholding.

Tattersall is not the only target of the investigation by the UK Metropolitan Police, Norfolk Constabulary, Computer Crime Division and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division. There are other denier bloggers whom the investigation is focusing on as well.

More from the Guardian:

“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. All three blogs had received messages from “FOIA” last month pointing to the link hosting a second tranche of emails first taken from the UEA in 2009.

During an interview with the Guardian last week before the seizing of his computers, Tattersall said that he had been questioned by Norfolk police “some two months” after the initial breach in 2009, but had heard nothing since. A number of climate scientists and bloggers are known to have been questioned by the police.”

Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress points out that “Jeff Id” is the online name of climate denier blogger Patrick Condon who runs “No Consensus” a.k.a. the Air Vent.

Peter Sinclair caught wind of the DOJ action first, see his post: Has Denier Karma finally Run over its Dogma?

If you’re interested in following the real-time reaction to this news, check out this Twitter action on hash tag #climategate

The right-wing and climate-denier echo chambers seem to be freaking out that the police are actually doing their job to identify the criminal hacker. 

Chris Horner seems particularly verklempt over this, bizarrely expressing sympathy for the criminal hacker in his op-ed today, as Media Matters For America points out:

“It speaks to the twisted pathology of climate science deniers that they’ll condone, even defend, this sort of behavior.”

Of course, we’ve seen this behavior repeatedly in our five years covering climate denial on DeSmogBlog, but it’s absolutely still shocking to see the lows that they’ll go to, and Chris Horner provided another example today.

Image credit: Elnur/Shutterstock

Signs of Action On Climategate Hacker Investigation: DOJ and UK Police Probe Denier Bloggers
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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