Like a lot of people, I read the morgsatlarge post with Josef Oehmen’s email on the Fukushima plant shortly after the earthquake and tsunami. It apparently contained some inaccuracies and is found now in an edited form. A critique was written at Genius Now, and is now hosted by Barry Ritholtz, which is how I found it. Barry is supposed to be a smart guy, so I was surprised how poor the argument was. I’ll skip the part about Oehmen not being as appropriately credentialed as Jason Morgan indicated, since I have no cause for complaint there. I’ll jump down to the bottom where the author gets most ridiculous. Before the comments were expunged at MITNSE he wrote one saying:

“So far, although I see a link to this site from NSE, I don’t see any discussion of it. And frankly, Mr/MS mitnse, as far as I can tell you’re actually Ismail Subbiah, graphic designer occasionally on contract to MIT. The links between Siemens AG, Dr Oethman, Barry Brook, and MIT/LAI (which has cleverly been avoided – lets do bring that up, shall we?) suggest that no matter why the article was written in the first place, it’s become a major piece of disinformation masquerading falsely as academic opinion.”

Below that he writes, “As you can see, Siemens AG comes up again”. Comes up, how? Because you mentioned it? The only previous mention of Siemens is that Barry Brook (from the U. of Adelaide) wrote a post at BraveNewClimate which reproduced Oehmen’s summary, and that was subsequently reposted at a site called The Energy Collective which proclaims itself “Powered by Siemens”. Oehmen’s email downplayed the risks at Fukushima and it shouldn’t be surprising that those in the pro-nuke lobby would promote it. But Mr. Genius at that point had not provided any evidence that they were any more connected than me or you. Later on he noted that the Lean Advancements Initiative, the MIT department where Oehmen works, “doesn’t say is who [their] industry partners are. Oddly, they are all major defense contractors. And the only one I’ve found so far with any direct connection to nuclear power plants is Siemens”. That makes me curious as to who they are also, and oddly Mr. Genius does not list them! Now, the fact that LAI had partners in the nuclear industry might make them more inclined to promote a pro-nuke point of view. But if it was not the case that their “only” nuclear partner was Siemens, it would seem to amplify the nuclear industry influence. Why Siemens in particular is suspicious isn’t explained at all.

I wasn’t sure how seriously to take his purported belief regarding the authorship of the blog, but since a commenter at Ritholtz mocked the theory as “a hoax so pernicious that it included hacking the MIT content management system” and a trackback proclaimed “mitnse.com is a total fraud”, I’ll pile on. Mr. Genius writes that MITNSE was only set up after the Oehmen email went viral, it isn’t a .edu site, and while it is linked from the real MIT (“only a couple of links”) those were “added well after normal working hours on Monday night”. And the wordpress site was set up on, egad, a Sunday! Nor do we know the identities of the so-called “students” behind it, leading to his (possibly facetious?) accusation that it’s really Ismail Subbiah, graphic designer extraordinaire. If the wordpress site he set up doesn’t give contact info, Mr. Genius could always try contacting MIT, alerting them that someone may be fraudulently borrowing their authority, and asking who is actually behind the site. But he gives no indication he bothered to do that.

On a completely unrelated note, I think Greenwald may be wrong about standing. An ordinary criminal can indeed get away with crimes if they do so secretly and there is no identifiable victim. I believe that is the case even if they proclaim, “Muhahaha, I have committed nefarious crimes!”. Now a constitutional challenge can be facial rather than as-applied, but I think in that case it’s not necessary to demonstrate standing or for any victims to exist.

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