(Update: Senator Donald McEachin contacted me to say he strongly supports freedom from harassment and freedom to do research. – promoted by lowkell)
Cooch has gone so far to the extreme in his attack on academic freedom at the University of Virginia that even some climate skeptics are denouncing his actions. Per Andrew Revkin’s DotEarth blog, these critics include Paul “Chip” Knappenberger, who writes:
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has placed scientists, past and present, from the state’s public universities (a group that includes me) under notice: You may be prosecuted for your work. […] In no way will the threat of a civil lawsuit move science along more efficiently. More than likely it will have the opposite effect as intimidation will result in fewer ideas being put forth.
Also Steve McIntyre:
This is a repugnant piece of over-zealousness by the Virginia Attorney General, that I condemn. […] To the extent that Virginia citizens are concerned about public money being misappropriated, Cuccinelli’s own expenditures on this adventure should be under equal scrutiny. There will be no value for dollar in this enterprise. […] To the extent that there are issues with Mann or Jones or any of these guys, they are at most academic misconduct and should be dealt with under those regimes. It is unfortunate that the inquiries at Penn State and UEA have not been even minimally diligent, but complaints on that account rest with the universities or their supervising institutions and the substitution of inappropriate investigations by zealots like Cuccinelli are not an alternative.
And Thomas Fuller:
Sir, As co-author of a book (Climategate: The CRUtape Letters) that was harshly critical of the performance of Michael Mann and his colleagues, I write in criticism of your decision to investigate Mr. Mann for potential violations of state laws on fraudulent payment of claims. […] No matter what has prompted your investigation, there is no doubt that it will be interpreted as a witch hunt. If you are in fact investigating a credentialed scientist for results that do not suit your political opinion, that interpretation is correct. Unless you can reveal to the public prima facie evidence that shows cause for this investigation, I beg you to reconsider. There are ample avenues of professional and academic recourse for people like me who think he has done something wrong. But being wrong is not a crime, and intimidating scientists not a path that this country, including I presume Virginians, should ever pursue. You may consult with colleagues in Salem to determine how long it takes to live this type of thing down.
If even those who question the scientific consensus on climate change are willing to publicly oppose Cuccinelli’s appalling attempt to use state power to intimidate innocent academics, might Governor McDonnell find his backbone on this issue soon?