Am I the only one flabbergasted that Peter Gleick was reinstated as president of the Pacific Institute?

Last February, Mr. Gleick confessed to obtaining documents under false pretenses from a conservative think tank – with the aim of discrediting that very think tank. More to the point, he apparently assumed the identity of and represented himself to the staff of the Heartland Institute as a board member of that organization, in order to obtain confidential fundraising documents. His goal, which he freely admitted after being fingered, was to further debate over the “risks and reality of climate change,” which he said was being frustrated by attacks on climate scientists and, risibly, “by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.”

I’d say falsely assuming the identity of an adversarial organization puts “lack of transparency” in a whole new light.

Nonetheless, after a decent interval the board of the Pacific Institute “was pleased to welcome” Mr. Gleick back to run the outfit. Other than accepting his apology, and noting for the record that they do not condone identity theft, there’s no evidence that the Board visited on Mr. Gleick any punishment or approbation.

The board of the institute should be ashamed. Would the professors who are on the board grant a doctorate to a candidate who cheated in his dissertation? Would the retired businessmen on the board keep an operating officer who lied to obtain a competitor’s secrets? Would the former government regulators give the benefit of the doubt to a business that lied to obtain a permit?

Informed and even strident debate is good for science, and it’s good for public policy. The Pacific Institute has sent a very different message: The ends justifiy the means.