Thursday, December 17, 2009

An own goal for the CRU Hockey team.

What if there was no whistle blower at the UEA or CRU.
What if FOIA.zip was not produced and released by a noble whistle blower but was created and released to the wild accidentally by Phil Jones et al. Could it be that Phil Jones may be the whistle blower but doesn't know it.

OK It sounds nuts but bear with me. The theory is a bit complex but its an exquisitely ironic and too good to ignore.

We know Phil Jones and the others wanted to delete the data and emails to cover-up their actions and errors from those true climatologists that want to ask key questions like, which stations did you 'not' use in the climate graphs.

We all should know that simply shifting a folder or email into the windows bin does not actually destroy the data. It relabels it and/ or changes the file tables. Any digital detective looking at the computer would know where to look for these 'deleted' files and folders. It also does not clear temp folders or logs of file usage. A cybernetic officer plod looking for digital records that are requested under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would just load a little disk that looked behind the fa├žade of the trash bin first.

Phil needs help. Phil needs a program that sweeps his hard drive clean, sanitises it, wipes the data permanently, invisibly and irreversibly. He needs something like this or this or maybe even this. He needs untraceable eraser software.

I haven't used these. Nor do I think he did. These are just examples of what's out there. There are indications that this is how the deletions were done but there's a catch.

I've always thought these programs a little suspect. If I were a frustrated computer forensics' officer working on fraud and vice all day for years this technology would be public enemy number one. Every other case I would be left suspecting that these programs are being used to cover up the crime. However I would also realise that its the ideal tool for the prefect sting.

I think officer plod somewhere in the world made his own data eraser and distributed it. I'm not saying the above three programs in the links are it. There's been a lot of turnover in the field since 1996.

I think our nefarious climatologists got a bugged version. It seemed to do the job but it created a hidden zip folder that archived all the data. By using this software all the Hadley people systematically selected the data and stored it. Only the most damming evidence got deleted with such care, so the archive seems to have been crafted by someone close to the data, with climatology skills and full knowledge of the manipulations. It was, they all were.
Then one of two things happen.

1) Its not an active bug just an archiving system. Its waiting for the cops to find it. However changes in the computer security at the UEA or Hadley, or an internal trigger based on time, 5 years are up, data size or a key word in the text trips it to send the zipped archive out. It emails the whole thing to an appropriate whistle blower site.
Or 2) It is a bugged eraser. The bugged eraser is no good if it doesn't have a place to phone home to. It could call its vice squad creator and report in. Yet since the program is not quite legal calling home directly is a problem. It needs to go via a set of re-mailers. Even in 1996 this part could be almost fully automated.

Either way our jaded cop turned spy may not at first know what he's got. Its not obviously illegal: not child or snuff porn; financial records or anything else he's familiar with. If its a bug he ignores it for years, it keeps getting updated, it keeps reporting in, he glances at it but takes no action. If its a robot it reports in in early 2009.

Then mid 2009 climate change is in the media. Its dominating the air waves, there's even a few mentions of the climate skeptics. Our cop connects the dots re-reads the emails and decides to do something with it. But what?

Ok the UEA is in the UK so one copy goes to the Attorney General's Office (AGO), or MI5 or Scotland yard. Nothing happens it probably gets ignored as a prank email. (Brits take note your homework is to ask around and find it.) Then a version goes to the BBC but again nothing happens.
The third attempt is to send it to Realclimate but unbeknown to our accidental climate skeptic its a mouth piece for the US end of Mike Mann's hockey team. (In it up to their necks with the CRU). Mmmm running out of ideas. Oh the first email is from Russia lets try that. Bingo! A server with a good reputation among cops and whistle blowers gets the file and the rest is history.
Cute. We have the conspirators crafting the evidence that will hang climate change. An unconnected party, probably a cop halfway around the world, posting the data. Strictly speaking he is a hacker and a vigilantly but he's untraceable. If he's ever asked he can claim that he was after legitimate criminals with semi-legal software (fully legal in some countries) and caught the CRU by accident. If the first copy went to the British government but was ignored he's off the hook. That's why we need to look.

Yes its a wild idea but it fits quite well.
It is probably just fiction. It would make a good TV episode. Oh boy its fun to think about.
Its also a warning, crime doesn't pay and software isn't always what it seems. I can't prove that there's any bugged eraser software out there. There probably should be.

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