The letters written by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton and his committee (Forum, Eos, 12 July 2005, p. 262) asking for data from Michael Mann and other scientists are certainly chilling because of the time it would take to meet the requests, but Rep. Barton has every right to make such requests.
Thomas Crowley asked,“At some point, one must ask why should a member of the U.S. Congress get involved in this matter which may have been raised by a Canadian?” He opines that the reason was to intimidate and foment uncertainty. The real answer is, Barton is making the request because he can and is doing what, in his mind, is his job. That the issues were raised by a Canadian is immaterial; plenty of Americans are also skeptical of global change research. Moreover, the argument that “there is more agreement than disagreement” among the various paleoclimate reconstructions would not resonate with a layperson; even laypeople know that the history of science is fraught with examples of consensuses that proved wrong.