Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

RICO20 Letter to President Obama Disappears

The institute that published a letter demanding mobster-style investigations of non-mainstream climate views has removed it. But the letter was archived in at least three other places.


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I recently discussed a letter, sent earlier this month to the US president and Attorney General, that called for mobster-style police investigations against those who express non-mainstream climate views.

The letter was signed by 20 American academics (since dubbed the RICO20) who are associated with institutions ranging from George Mason University to Columbia to Rutgers. Declaring imperiously that “the world’s response to climate change” is “insufficient,” it alleged that certain corporations and organizations “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.”

A public copy of that letter has since disappeared. The letter’s apparent organizer, who heads its lists of signatories, is a George Mason professor named Jagadish Shukla. He also happens to be president of the Institute of Global Environment and Society. It was via that institute’s website that this letter was made public.

Clicking its web address,, now brings up a blank page. There’s no explanation, no apology – just open space where this anti-free-speech document used to reside.

This being the Information Age, however, the letter hasn’t entirely vanished. The Internet Archive took a snapshot of it on September 20th, which may be accessed by clicking the blue dot on that date here. During the writing of my earlier blog post, I downloaded the letter, saved it with the identical file name, and uploaded it to a WordPress folder. Which means another copy lives here. Russell Cook Someone else has made an additional backup here.

Over at his ClimateAudit blog, Steve McIntyre has been probing financial matters concerning Shukla’s institute. Having received millions in federal climate grants the institute has, in turn, paid large sums to Shukla, Shukla’s wife, and allegedly their daughter, as well. (McIntyre reports that Shukla’s 2014 George Mason salary alone was $314,000.) Such double-dipping may violate policies at the federal agencies that disperse such grants, as well as George Mason’s own policies.

Returning to the letter’s claim that certain parties “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change,” why do these individuals, with numerous PhDs between them, refuse to believe the bleeping obvious? The public has listened to their arguments – and rejected them.

Not everyone shares their sky-is-falling worldview. There comes a time in every academic’s life when comic book fantasies of shadowy, deceptive powers need to be abandoned.


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This entry was posted on September 29, 2015 by in ethical & philosophical, free speech and tagged , , .
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