Investigation of arctic scientist going nowhere

A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.

Is. Dr. Charles Monnett being muzzled for his work on global warming and polar bears?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal investigators continue to claim they are investigating an Arctic scientist for his role in administering research contracts, but documents released by a watchdog and whistle-blower protection group this week suggest the investigation is off base. Read the transcript of the latest interview of Monnett.

That gives more credence to the suggestion that Dr. Charles Monnett is the target of a politically motivated witch hunt that may be linked with his observations on polar bears and climate change.

Monnett, who works for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, was suspended a few months ago pending results of the investigation, then reinstated, albeit in a different position.

The Department of Interior Inspector General originally begin looking into a short 2006 article written by Monnett and a colleague on sightings of drowned polar bears following a storm.

This year, the IG expanded its inquiry to include alleged irregularities identified by its agents in his creation of a joint U.S.-Canadian study of polar bear movement across international boundaries, including a supposed tie between publication of the polar bear paper and award of the study.

However, documents assembled by PEER says its document show that:
·        The Canadian study was set up months before drowned polar bears were first observed, making any charge of a quid pro quo between the two unsupportable;
·        Dr. Monnett did not receive any appointment with legal acquisition responsibility until after the Canadian contract was signed; and
·        All of Dr. Monnett’s communications with Canadian researchers were encouraged by his own chain-of-command and procurement officials.

“A close examination of the record shows that the allegations pursued by the IG are based upon a mixture of false assumptions, misinformation and some just plain nutty notions,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization is providing legal representation to Dr. Monnett.  “After investigating for more than a year and a half, it is time for the Inspector General to either put up or shut it down.”

The IG initially took its concerns about the Canadian polar bear study to the Department of Justice which declined to take action. The IG next went to Michael Bromwich, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation & Enforcement (BOEM) where Dr. Monnett works.  BOEM immediately issued a stop-work order for the study and put Dr. Monnett on administrative leave, but after more facts became known both actions were rescinded.

In a letter recently sent to U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on the case, Acting IG Mary KendaIl claimed her agency would not “opine on the substance of the underlying science.”  Yet during an August 9th interview, IG agents continued to press Dr. Monnett on details of the 2006 peer-reviewed article in the journal Polar Biology, including how the paper’s abstract was edited, how comments made by anonymous peer reviewers were resolved and whether a conservative estimate was within the bounds of good science.

“These clumsy attempts by IG agents to criminalize the scientific peer review process are simultaneously childish and chilling,” said Ruch, noting that the IG handling of this case is itself under investigation following a PEER complaint that the IG is violating new Interior Department scientific integrity rules. “The Secretary of Interior declares that he wants to promote scientific scholarship but this case shows precisely why scientists need to be protected from backlash after their articles are published.”

Links provided by PEER:

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9 Responses

  1. Where is the conservative backlash about the tax money being wasted on a politically motivated witch hunt against a guy that didn’t do a freaking thing wrong?
    How much expensive investigative paid time and how many very expensive round trip plane tickets to Alaska are going to get blown trying to silence a guy that reported seeing drowned polar bears floating in a region that would have been frozen solid if we weren’t screwing up our climate?
    BTW, how’s that arctic ice cap looking this year?

  2. Didn’t W and is Evil Cronies leave office 2 years ago, to be instantly replaced by Truth, Justice and Compassionate Thinking?

    So why is he being investigated?

  3. As someone who voted for Obama because I thought I was voting for Change, I have to say that Obama is doing the same or worse than Bush when it comes to doing the will of corporations, destroying whistleblowers and smashing civil liberties.

    We as Americans now have to realize that there has been a quite Coup where the top 0.1% of the wealthiest people via their Corporations control both political parites, all 3 branches Government, the Media and soon the Internet.

    If we continue getting distracted by the Bread and Circuses of Reality TV (including Elections) and don’t kick out ALL the professional Politicians and ALL Corporate Money and most of the Supreme Court, we will be living in a 3rd World Nation totally controlled by Crony Capitalism.

    • But people *like* their bread and circuses.

      • The only ones who may like their bread & circuses, are the team players, those who are employed. Divide & conquer, bait & switch, drinking the koolaid, keep them distracted with the little stuff while the big stuff is done, “KABUKI”, because today, they can. The Unemployed are not team players, but are increasingly being pitted against those who are, again, because they can be. To those who are team players, your day to be thrown under the bus is coming, perhaps sooner than you might expect. Do your homework, look how much change has take place in your life time, how much has been systematically eroded? If you own a house, how much is it worth today? Do you have a savings account, retirement account, nest egg buried, a contingent plan not just for natural emergencies, but the day you lose your job? Food for thought.

    • unfortunately, when we vote, are we not truly electing the least of two evils? No honest, sincere, or compassionate politician will ever sit as president, they will be corrupted by Washington or resign!

  4. We replaced am MBA with a Lawyer. Neither are known for deep depth of technical or scientific knowledge.

  5. The IG is NOT under the control of Department of Interior. They are supposed to be independent so they can investigate fraud and waste no matter whose ax is gored.

    This is not an Obama administration deal. They are trying to correct the old MMS mess and some of the structural problems. Can’t reorganize government overnight. I predict action in a year or two. But they still can’t stop the IG from a whacko inquisition.

    If you can stand it, read some of the latest interrogation. The part where May makes Monnett define “deliberate”, then makes him read the dictionary definition (the same) is beyond belief. You can almost hear May saying “aha gotcha!” to himself.

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