The man battling NASA for access to potential “Climategate” e-mails says the agency is still withholding documents and that NASA may be trying to stall long enough to avoid hurting an upcoming Senate debate on global warming.
Nearly three years after his first Freedom of Information Act request, Christopher C. Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said he will file a lawsuit Thursday to force NASA to turn over documents the agency has promised but has never delivered.
Mr. Horner said he expects the documents, primarily e-mails from scientists involved with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), will be yet another blow to the science behind global warming, which has come under fire in recent months after e-mails from a leading British research unit indicated scientists had manipulated some data.
“What we’ve got is the third leg of the stool here, which is the U.S.-led, NASA-run effort to defend what proved to be indefensible, and that was a manufactured record of aberrant warming,” Mr. Horner said. “We assume that we will also see through these e-mails, as we’ve seen through others, organized efforts to subvert transparency laws like FOIA.”
He said with a global warming debate looming in the Senate, NASA may be trying to avoid having embarrassing documents come out at this time, but eventually the e-mails will be released.
“They know time is our friend,” said Mr. Horner, author of “Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America.”
Mark S. Hess, a spokesman for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which overseas the climate program, said the agency is working as fast as it can, and that Mr. Horner should expect some answers any day.
“It looks like the response to his appeal is probably going to happen very soon. I can’t tell you it’s going to be tomorrow or the next day, but it’s just a matter of days,” Mr. Hess said.
He said he hasn’t seen the response, and doesn’t know whether it will authorize any more information to be released.
The science behind global warming has come under question since e-mails leaked from one of the key sources for global temperature data, the Climatic Research Unit in Britain, seemed to show scientists manipulated data. It became known in the press as “Climategate.”
An investigation has cleared the scientists of deliberate malpractice and declared the basic science credible.
The British investigation also sympathized with scientists being reluctant to share all of their data, but investigators said the science needed to be above reproach and so the more that is shared, the better.
In the case of NASA’s FOIA situation, The Washington Times first reported on the agency’s delinquency in December. At that time, the agency was more than two years overdue on one request and nearing the two-year mark on another request - far longer than the 20 business days allowed under FOIA law for a first response.
After that report, the agency released about 2,000 pages, many of them heavily redacted, to CEI. Mr. Horner said among those pages was evidence he said proves NASA data is based on the British records that have come under fire.
But CEI said the agency withheld e-mails NASA scientists sent from nongovernment e-mails, even though they were doing government science work.