The Wrong People Apologized
The good guys took the fall for Vikileaks and the Heartland Institute
by Paul Dechene
Interim Liberal leader, Bob Rae, was all apologies when it was revealed a Liberal staffer was behind the Vikileaks attack against Vic Toews, the Conservative's Minister of Public Safety.
As for that Liberal staffer, Adam Carroll, he quit his job as a researcher and is said to be a picture of contrition for putting the Liberals in an awkward spot. Carroll is described as a perfectly nice, hard-working family man but, like many Canadians, he was angered when Toews remarked that anyone against the Conservative's online surveillance bill is siding with child pornographers.
Unlike the rest of Canada, Carroll decided to stand up to Toews bullying and give the Public Safety Minister a taste of what it's like to have your private life invaded.
But now the Conservatives are threatening to haul Carroll before a House of Commons ethics committee where we can expect to hear him say he's sorry several more times.
I don't get it. I mean, when is someone on the Conservative side going to apologize for Vic Toews?
That is, apologize for Vic Toews just being Vic Toews.
His infamous attempt to smear his political opponents as friends of child pornography was the lowest form of gutter politics. And when he was called on it, his response showed him to be an unrepentant dink.
Then Vikileaks came along and reminded us not only that he's quite happy to ignore his public statements about the sanctity of Christian marriage when it comes to his own infidelities, but also that there is cause to believe he plays fast and loose with public money. The picture Vikileaks paints of Toews is of a cheat and hypocrite.
By bringing all this out into the open, Carroll has performed a public service. Unfortunately, too few people see it that way.
And while we're on the subject of public services and unnecessary apologies, a few days before the Liberals started bleeding mea culpas, a climate scientist with the Pacific Institute, Peter H Gleick, was apologizing in the Huffington Post for leaking documents that expose pro-tobacco, anti-climate-science lobby group, The Heartland Institute, as tax frauds and science charlatans.
And now, the Pacific Institute, an organization Gleick not only works for but also founded, is investigating him for misconduct. Meanwhile, Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in Florida, is saying journalists shouldn't use those leaked documents because the way they were attained is tainted.
How does this backlash make any sense?
Gleick's big crime is that he was e-mailed a document from an anonymous source which he then went on to verify.
That document seemed to reveal Heartland's long term strategy. Most notable among their initiatives being a project to create a K-12 science curriculum that undermines established climate science. Faced with such a bombshell, Gleick e-mailed the Heartland Institute requesting corroborating documents such as their budget and IRS filings. All of which they handed over.
Great! Except that he used a fake name and e-mail address to trick Heartland into thinking he was on their staff and thus someone they could trust.
That may, to an academic journalist like McBride, seem underhanded. But Gleick isn't a journalist. He's a scientist. And while McBride says that journalists shouldn't use the information Gleick made public "without taking pains to verify" it, I don't seem to recall the Poynter Institute urging the same caution over the East Anglia e-mails. And those e-mails weren't inadvertently released, they were stolen.
What's more, the Heartland memos have been verified. By the Heartland Institute. (Although, they're still quibbling over that original strategy document that had been anonymously leaked to Gleick. They claim it's a fake. But DeSmogblog, the climate science blog that originally broke the story, has gone over that document with a fine tooth comb and argue it's legit. And I'll take their word over Heartland's, thank you very much.)
So, Gleick has nothing to feel bad about. By double checking a document he'd been leaked, he was doing good science. And performing a public service. He deserves applause, not an investigation.
Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute isn't saying, "Er… yeah… we probably shouldn't have claimed in our IRS filings to be paying a director who'd been dead two years. And whoops, yeah, we're sorry about getting tax-exempt status for being a think tank when really the vast majority of what we do is lobbying the government. Maybe, if we're going to stick to the lobbying, we should start paying taxes and register as a lobbyist organization. We're really, really sorry for lying about that."
No, like Toews, they're trying to deflect attention away from their own misdeeds by acting hurt and offended because their private sleaze was made public.