Sunday, December 04, 2011

Anonymous "FOIA" Hacker-Criminals Release More CRU Emails

The University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has issued a statement about the November 22, 2011 release of more emails stolen from the CRU by an anonymous entity called "FOIA." As they did in 2009, the hackers have "cherrypicked" the emails in order to mischaracterize the larger context of the scientists' discussions. The emails were posted on a short-lived "Russian server" and quickly downloaded by collaborators and/or bloggers who were evidently notified about the new cache of emails. Most of the emails were encrypted, so only collaborators who are privy to the password would be able to read most of the emails posted by "FOIA" on the "Russian server."


Although the email file was subsequently posted elsewhere on the Internet, the mysterious "Russian server" used by "FOIA" seems to have vanished into thin air. It is possible that some denialist bloggers should have heeded that folksy advice about not buying a pig in a poke.


The U.K. Guardian has a page devoted to the hacked climate science emails. According to The Guardian (11-22-11):


One marked difference from the original 2009 release is that the person or persons responsible has included a message headed "background and context" which, for the first time, gives an insight into their motivations. Following some bullet-pointed quotes such as "Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day" and, "Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels," the message states:


Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline. This archive contains some 5.000 emails picked from keyword searches. A few remarks and redactions are marked with triple brackets. The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons. We are not planning to publicly release the passphrase. We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics.”


For reasons known only to themselves, the hacker-criminals have posted a file that includes 5,000 emails that can be read and 22,000 encrypted emails. There are also two README files that were presumably added by the criminals. One can be read, but the second is encrypted. Perhaps the hacker who posted the most recent stolen emails put this encrypted message there for his collaborators who share the code; or perhaps he just wants to give the impression that he has collaborators. The Guardian has some speculation about the encrypted emails and the encrypted README file in the link titled hacked climate science emails.


So far, nobody claims to have used the secret code to access the encrypted emails or encrypted README file. Probably the encrypted emails aren't that interesting, but encrypting them makes them seem more exciting. Perhaps the criminals are trying to seem like they are using good judgment by avoiding the publication of personal information.


If readers click on the yellow highlighting at the bottom of the article linked below, Guardian journalist Leo Hickman speculates about the hacker’s claim that the emails are “encrypted for various reasons”:


One of the most intriguing statements. Why wouldn't the vast majority of the remaining emails be released, instead of being hidden behind a password? Wikileaks, famously, did much the same thing, but the password was inadvertently revealed months later. Is it intended as a threat? Or a future bargaining chip? Do those emails really contain anything of interest? If they do, why continue to wait rather than releasing them now, or even back in 2009? (Guardian, 11-25-11)


The truth is that these pathetic, low-life criminals really can't contend with the peer-reviewed science, as honest scientists do; rather, the dishonest culprits try to discredit the scientists by mischaracterizing the cherrypicked quotes they mine in the emails and by cloaking themselves and the encrypted emails an air of mystery.


The hackers claim they are interested in freedom of information, but they mischaracterize the climate scientists discussions and cloak themselves and their motives in secrecy. The hypocritical hackers employ the disreputable tactics of operatives who work for the fossil fuel industry and of political operatives in dictatorships who are practiced in kompromat


The Guardian (11-22-11) reports:


Norfolk police have said the new set of emails is "of interest" to their investigation to find the perpetrator of the initial email release who has not yet been identified.


The University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (11-22-11) reports:


Tue, 22 Nov 2011


While we have had only a limited opportunity to look at this latest post of 5,000 emails, we have no evidence of a recent breach of our systems.


If genuine, (the sheer volume of material makes it impossible to confirm at present that they are all genuine) these emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks.


This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and number of studies – including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group.


As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context. Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the University and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so.


See this link for responses from Prof Phil Jones regarding a selection of the stolen emails.

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