The Grauniad echoes Nature (subs req, but since the Grauniad appears to have copied Nature fairly thoroughly you're not losing much) in saying that the US govt has leaked (do they use that phrase? well I shall) the IPCC AR4 second draft. This is of course naughty of them.
To test that they actually had, I sent a mail with "giant stoats are nice" as the subject line (you're supposed to send your name and affiliation) and "I wonder if this will get me the password? OR if there some filtering?" as the message. I got a reply in about 10 secs with the password, so clearly there is no filtering at all - anyone gets it without even pretending to have a plausible name.
Why is this naughty? For the obvious reason: the report is given out in draft but you're not allowed to redistribute it without permission. The US doesn't have permission. Harlan Watson makes some specious excuse for their behaviour, but what is the real reason?
RP Jr makes a good suggestion - that they are trying to steal the reports thunder. Sounds plausible, and is good news if true: there is stuff in there that they need to get people used to slowly. I'm not quite sure what it might be, though.
My suggestion is its a deliberate demonstration of contempt - we'll behave in a rude and impolite fashion if it pleases us kind of thing.
But having said the US is wrong, what would happen if it was simply publically released? Even the IPCC distribution system wasn't strongly controlled - I'm fairly sure all the septics got a copy - so why the need for restriction? It doesn't matter much who you allow to read it, as long as you don't have to bother reading comments from all the wackos.
Clearly the review system was set up to get wide review without publicity, and broadly speaking it seemed to be working fine up until now. So the IPCC's press splash early next year becomes more of a ripple instead (unless there are sufficently major chnages from the current available draft), but other than that it doesn't seem to be a big deal. Of course I will happily ascribe the worst possible motivations to whichever Bush toady made the call (Mahoney I assume).
BTW, note that the web site said that access is limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. There was no exception for foreign mustelidae of any size. Scofflaw. :)
Time to go back and locate all the contrarians who cried foul when a few sentences of the report was leaked earlier...
The only thing it confirms is suspicions that RP Jr. has a very non scientific and personal approach to climate science. He recognizes one of his own at work
Beyond that it seems Americans just cannot pass up an opportunity to double cross, even when it makes no sense to do so. Maybe that joke about "it is in my nature" fits.
The US government does indeed use the term "leak" in this context. In fact, the President of the USA is becoming known as the "Leaker-in-Chief" for his role in several unfortunate incidents. This one is relatively minor, in comparison to blowing the cover off of US, British, and Israeli intelligence operations, among other things.