Thursday, October 01, 2015

The curious case of the RICO letter to President Obama from 20 climate scientists

By Rob Nikolewski

The case of a controversial letter sent to President Obama by 20 climate scientists keeps getting, in the words of “Alice In Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll, curiouser and curiouser.

The letter sent Sept. 1 called on Obama, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to use the RICO racketeering law to investigate “corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.”

The letter was harshly criticized by a number of other climate scientists such as Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry and hurricane expert Peter Webster, who say invoking the RICO statute was at least partly aimed at scientists who question the data and conclusions put out by organizations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, often cited by the Obama administration.

The lead signatory of the letter is Jagadish Shukla, director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies at George Mason University and head of the Institute of Global Environment and Society.

In the story’s latest twist, the Internet status of the letter has developed into a mystery.

When first sent to the White House on Sept. 1, a link to the letter’s contents was provided by IGES.

But late last week, it was taken down without any explanation.

Then on Wednesday morning, the link reappeared. But instead of the taking readers to the orginal text, there was a brief notation declaring, “The letter that was inadvertently posted on this web site has been removed” and “the IGES web site is in the process of being decommissioned."

What are the details regarding the circumstances that IGES “would be dissolved”? Is George Mason University distancing itself from the RICO letter?

An email and a series of phone calls from to the GMU communications officer have not resulted in a response.

A phone call to the IGES business office in Rockville, Maryland, resulted in a message saying, “The number you have called is not in service.” left a message for Shukla on Wednesday with Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies on the GMU campus but did not receive a return call by press time.

Curry told in an interview last week that the letter from Shukla and the 19 other climate scientists showed, “They understand nothing about the policy process, the legal aspects, the political situation, they don’t really understand RICO or the history of how it’s been used.”

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