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Cuccinelli, campus cop
The A.G. uses little discretion in going after a former U.Va. professor

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Date published: 5/9/2010

FIT, confident, and eager, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli always looks ready to fight for the light-heavyweight title. That's a good quality in the state's top law-enforcement official. Alas, regarding former U.Va. professor Michael Mann, a leading theorist of manmade global warming, Mr. Cuccinelli seems to have taken up a less appropriate sport: fishing. Says he to The Washington Post:

"In light of the Climategate e-mails"--intercepted messages at East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit revealing that global-warming researchers suppressed data counterindicative of human-caused climate change--"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."

"Does seem." "At least." "An argument to be made." "Potentially Michael Mann." On this hey-it's-not-impossible basis, Mr. Cuccinelli launches an expensive and disruptive fishing expedition at U.Va. to harpoon the great white whale of global-warming deception? At least the first Captain Ahab had actually seen Moby Dick.

No one disputes that the A.G. is acting lawfully. The 2002 Fraud Against Taxpayers Act can assess civil penalties on state employees who stoop to funny business to secure public funds. Mr. Mann, who got almost a half-million dollars in state research grants while on the U.Va. payroll from 1999 to 2005, helped create the dramatic 1,000-year "hockey stick graph," which shows a sudden jump in global temperatures starting in the mid-20th century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cited the graph in its U.N. report warning of planetary calamity. East Anglia is a bank of IPCC data--some now tainted, and some supplied by Mr. Mann while at U.Va. Those connections were all the wind Mr. Cuccinelli needed to fill his investigatory sails.

A FATEFUL INCURSION

Did Mr. Mann cook data to secure Virginia taxpayer funding, with which he produced more climate-change hooey? That evidently is Mr. Cuccinelli's hunch. But there are two arguments against his demand that U.Va. turn over voluminous e-mails between Mr. Mann and more than 40 other scientists, supporting materials for the grant requests, and other documents.


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