DeSmogBlog will leave them in place - in the public interest
Heartland Institute general counsel Maureen Martin has sent letters to the DeSmogBlog and several other publications demanding that we remove all Heartland-related documents that we posted on February 14, as well as all related commentary.
After due consideration, we could see no basis in fact or law for Heartland's demand that we remove these documents.
The Heartland letter is reproduced in full below with our observations.
Re: Stolen and Faked Heartland Documents
Dear Mr. DeMelle:
On or about February 14, 2012, your web site posted a document entitled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy” (the “Fake Memo”), which is fabricated and false.
On or about the same date, your web site posted certain other documents purporting to be those of The Heartland Institute (“Heartland”). Heartland has not authenticated these documents (the “Alleged Heartland Documents”).
Your site thereafter has reported repeatedly on all of these documents.
Heartland almost immediately issued a statement disclosing the foregoing information, to which your web site has posted links.
DeSmogBlog: As soon as we learned that Heartland claimed the Climate Strategy document was “fake,” we posted a story, informing our readers and linking to Heartland's claim.
It has come to our attention that all of these documents nevertheless remain on your site and you continue to report on their contents. Please be advised as follows:
1. The Fake Memo document is just that: fake. It was not written by anyone associated with Heartland. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. Publication of this falsified document is improper and unlawful.
DeSmogBlog: Heartland has never identified the alleged “obvious and gross misstatements” in the “climate strategy” document. We have not identified any. Neither does Heartland specify anything “unlawful” about publication of the “climate strategy” document.
2. As to the Alleged Heartland Documents your web site posted, we are investigating how they came to be in your possession and whether they are authentic or have been altered or fabricated. Though third parties purport to have authenticated them, no one – other than Heartland – has the ability to do so. Several of the documents say on their face that they are confidential documents and all of them were taken from Heartland by improper and fraudulent means. Publication of any and all confidential or altered documents is improper and unlawful.
DeSmogBlog: Since Heartland does not know whether the “other documents” are fabricated, altered or authentic, we are at a loss to understand how Heartland is in any position to allege that the documents posted on DeSmogBlog were obtained by “improper or fraudulent means.”
3. Furthermore, Heartland views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and blogged about them. Heartland fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.
Desmogblog: Again, since Heartland does not know whether the “other documents” are fabricated, altered or authentic, we are at a loss to understand how Heartland can allege that the documents were obtained or disseminated “in a malicious or fraudulent manner.”
Therefore, we respectfully demand: (1) that you remove both the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents from your web site; (2) that you remove from your web site all posts that refer or relate in any manner to the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (3) that you remove from your web site any and all quotations from the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (4) that you publish retractions on your web site of prior postings; and (5) that you remove all such documents from your server.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.
Very truly yours,
We look forward to learning the results of Heartland's investigation concerning the documents mentioned in their letter of February 18 and would encourage Heartland to include the “Climate Strategy” document within the scope of that investigation.