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Steve Mcintyre: The Vergano FOI Request
Sunday, May 29th 2011, 2:38 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
On Oct 21, 2010, Dan Vergano submitted an FOI request to George Mason University for email records of Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said under the Virginia FOI, requesting both expedited treatment and waiver of fees. On November 4, 2010, GMU sent him a flash-drive with the requested information, which included Wegman’s correspondence with a journal about Said et al 2008.

Vergano’s original request was as follows:

Oct 21, 2010 ATI
FOIA REQUEST
Fee benefit requested
Fee waiver requested
Expedited processing requeste

Dear Mr. Hunt:

Pursuant to the Virginia Freedom oflnformation Act (FOIA), located§ 2.2-3700 et seq. of theCode of Virginia, I request access to and copies of information and documentary materials, including electronic mail and other communication, made by Dr. Edward J. Wegman and his associates, Yasmin J. Said and Walid Sharabati, in connection with I or related to the following grants:


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1. National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant 1 F32 A A015876-01A1
2. Army Research Office contract W911 NF-04-1-0447
3. Army Research Laboratory under contract W911 NF-07-1-0059

As well as in connection with I or related to the following reports created by some or all of these
authors at George Mason University:

1. Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 52 (2008) 2177 – 2184, Said, Y. et al
2. COMPST AT 2008 – Proceedings in Computational Statistics: 18th Symposium Held in Porto,
Portugal, 2008 Wegman, E. et al, pp. 173-189

Please note that Dr. Wegman uses the e-mail address: ewegman@gmail.com and Dr. Said uses the email address: yasid99@yahoo.com to conduct university business as seen in 2008 study’s author information, which cites their university affiliations. Please restrict the search to Sept. 1, 2005 to the present ..

If the university employees included in this request inform you that any ofthis material is not available, I am requesting a copy of their communications to that effect.

I would like to receive the information in electronic format.

Through this request, I am gathering information on a news story that is of current interest to the public because recently-emerged analysis suggesting scientific misconduct by these state and federally-funded researchers. This information is being sought on behalf of USA TODAY for dissemination to the general public.

Please waive any applicable fees. Release of the information is in the public interest because it will contribute significantly to public understanding of government operations and activities. I am requesting a waiver of fee’s because I am acting to bring this information of conduct that has shaped public perception of a high-profile environmental issue and was used to shape Congressional testimony made by Dr. Wegman. I request that you estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that I have requested.

If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I will also expect you to release all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material. I, of course, reserve the right o appeal your decision to withhold any information or to deny a waiver of fees.

As I am making this request as a journalist and this information is of timely value, I would appreciate your communicating with me by telephone, rather than by mail, if you have questions regarding this request.

Please provide expedited processing of this request which concerns a matter of urgency. As a jpurnalist, I am primarily engaged in disseminating information. The public has an urgent need for information about scientific misconduct affecting federally-funded research. I certify that my statements concerning the need for expedited processing are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.

I look forward to your reply within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Dan Vergano


On October 26, 2010, the University responded as follows:

Dan Vergano
USA TODAY
7950 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 221 08

Dear Mr. Vergano:

I am responding to your email dated October 21, 2010 and as received by this office for records under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§2.2-3 700, et seq.).

Please be advised that, due to the expansive nature of your request, it is practically impossible to respond to your request within five working days. Therefore, we are invoking subsection B.4. of §2.2-3704 to provide us with seven additional working days to respond to your request.

In the meantime, I am Sincerely .yours,

Philip Hunt


On November 4, 2010, the University provided the requested data as follows:

Dan Vergano
USA Today
7950 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 22108

Mr. Vergano,

In accordance with the Virginia Freedom oflnformation Act (§2.2-3700, et seq.) and per your request on October 21, 2010, for “information and documentary materials, including electronic mail and other communication, made by Dr. Edward J. Wegman and his associates, Yasmin J. Said and Walid Sharabati, in connection with I or related to the following grants”:

1. National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant 1 F32 AA015876-01Al
2. Army Research Office contract W911NF-04-1-0447
3. Army Research Laboratory under contract W911NF-07-1-0059

As well as in connection with I or related to the following reports created by some or all of these authors at George Mason University:

1. Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 52 (2008) 2177 – 2184, Said, Y. et al
2. COMPST AT 2008 -Proceedings in Computational Statistics: 18th Symposium Held in Porto, Portugal,
2008 Wegman, E. et al, pp. 173-189

Please find the requested information as electronically copied on the enclosed CD. Further, note that there are no fees associated with your request. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact me at 7031993-7081.

With Kind Regards,

Philip Hunt


The above information was obtained by ATI through their own recent FOI request to George Mason, who will be forwarding them a CD as well.

According to Mashey, the README included by George Mason stated the “documents may not be forwarded to a third party”. It also included the GMU policy on academic misconduct, stating Bradley had violated the confidentiality terms – a point not reported by USA Today:


The materials in this USB are being provided in compliance with the Virginia FOIA. Many of the documents are published research papers that are copyrighted by their respective publishers. All other documents are copyrighted by Edward J. Wegman and Yasmin H. Said or by their respective authors. All rights are reserved. These documents may not be forwarded to a third party. Also included in this USB is the George Mason University policy document 4007 on academic misconduct. This policy requires confidentiality for all parties including complainants, in this case Professor Raymond Bradley. This confidentiality requirement was violated by Professor Bradley.

The difference in how academic institutions have responded to the seemingly similar requests in respect to Wegman and Mann is quite startling. George Mason gave expedited service to a request for Wegman’s emails; the U of Virginia has done the opposite. George Mason turned over Wegman’s correspondence with an academic journal without litigation; the University of Virginia has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on litigation. Multiple academic lobby groups protested the production of Mann’s emails as a matter of principle; the same organizations were and remain silent in respect to Wegman.

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