May 11, 2010 - About a week ago, I blogged about Attorney General Cuccinelli's Civil Investigative Demand targeting Dr. Michael Mann during his time employed at the University of Virginia. (1)
Fortunately, UVa has been granted an extension in its effort to provide the information demanded by Cuccinelli. The university now has until July 26 to comply. (2)
Despite the opportunity to provide the rationale for this investigation (3), Cuccinelli has refused to elaborate fully on its necessity. In an interview with the Washington Post, Cuccinelli is quoted, "In light of the climategate emails, there does seem to at least be an argument to be made that a course was undertaken by some of the individuals involved, including potentially Michael Mann, where they were steering a course to reach a conclusion. Our act, frankly, just requires honesty." (4)
His statement is deliberately vague. In light of the climategate emails? There does seem to at least be an argument to be made? These are phrases that belong in lexicon of the blogosphere, not in the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia. What specifically led him to these conclusions? Has he actually examined any of the previous investigations targeting Dr. Mann to determine if there is reasonable suspicion?
Furthermore, within the last several days, other highly respectable groups have taken notice of Cuccinelli's actions.
A group of nineteen professors at Old Dominion University issued a statement indicating that Cuccinelli's actions "echo some of the worst offenses of the McCarthy era." (5)
Expanding further is Rachel Levinson, Senior Counsel of the American Association of University Professors. She writes, "In addition to demonstrating a profound misconception of the scientific process, the potential chilling effect of this tactic is staggering. Scientific theories are expanded, modified, or discarded with regularity; hauling up scientists on charges of fraud when they explore ideas that may ultimately be revised or disproven will put the brakes on scientific progress." (6)
Although UVa is planning on full compliance in accordance with state law, there was late word on Monday that the university is "looking at some options." (7)