Sen. Inhofe Leading Witch Hunt to Prosecute 17 Climate Scientists


Photo via KWTV

In a move that bears an eerie resemblance to the communist witch hunts lead by McCarthy, the infamous climate action opponent Sen. James Inhofe is leading an inquisition to attempt to prosecute 17 leading climate scientists. Their crimes? Doing climate science and participating in the IPCC. In other words, anything Inhofe can distort to sound like one--so far, he's come up with 7 laws he thinks scientists 'might have' violated, and is embarking on an inquisition that would simply be a farce if it weren't also disturbing.Climate Science Watch reports that Inhofe is calling for a criminal investigation into the hacked email controversy (to investigate the scientists, but not the hackers!) and the IPCC. He

is now using the resources of the Senate committee to seek opportunities to criminalize the actions of 17 leading scientists who have been associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports. A report released by Inhofe's staff on February 23 outlines this classic Joe McCarthyite witch-hunt: page after page of incorrect and misleading statements, a list of federal laws that allegedly may make scientists subject to prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department, and a list of names and affiliations of 17 "key players" in the "CRU Controversy" over stolen e-mails and their connections with IPCC reports.
This is an egregious waste of taxpayer money, and it demonstrates that Inhofe is on the fringe of even the climate denying community--few would have the gall to accuse a scientist of breaking the law just by participating in the IPCC process. There is, after all, nothing remotely illegal about submitting and critiquing peer-reviewed scientific literature and drafting policy suggestions.

And while that body does occasionally commit errors--as all bodies composed of human beings do--suggesting that it has intentionally broken laws when it has done so is absurd. As for the CRU controversy, the 'key player' Michael Mann has already been cleared of any wrongdoing. There was some unseemly behavior exhibited, but the fact remains that none of the scientific data was found to be manipulated in any way.

So what is Inhofe's witch hunt going to do? What else? Assemble a list of the guilty, and try to pin baseless charges on them. That list includes some of the leading climate scientists (both those involved in the CRU incident and otherwise--why limit your paranoia?) in the world. Here's the list:

Raymond Bradley
Keith Briffa
Timothy Carter
Edward Cook
Malcolm Hughes
Phil Jones
Thomas Karl
Michael Mann
Michael Oppenheimer
Jonathan Overpeck
Benjamin Santer
Gavin Schmidt
Stephen Schneider
Susan Solomon
Peter Stott
Kevin Trenberth
Thomas Wigley

Next, Inhofe will comb through existing laws to see if he can come up with any sort of near-plausible case to bring the scientists to a public trial. He's looking at the Freedom of Information Act, Shelby Amendment, OSTP Policy Directive, President Obama's Transparency and Open Government Policy, Federal False Statements Act, The False Claims Act (Criminal), and Obstruction of Justice: Interference with Congressional Proceedings. In other words, he's grasping at straws.

Let me say it again. Despite the misconduct of a couple of the men involved--misconduct, not illegal behavior--there is simply no evidence of illegality. This is nothing more than a political ploy, and unfortunately it comes at the expense of some respected scientists' time and reputation.

So what will happen? Well, it's bound to involve a lot of pomp and circumstance, a lot of blustery finger pointing, complete with McCarthyite trappings. Fox News will cover it. Then, it will likely (hopefully) be dismissed for the foolishness that it is. That's the best case scenario--given our nation's current aversion to science, I shudder to think of the worst.

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Tags: Congress | Global Climate Change | United States

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