While it is true that computer system hacking is a very serious crime, the content of the email strings from the University of East Anglia exposed in the "climategate" scandal that has since led to the temporary resignation of the university's central climate scientist may very well point to a more devastating crime - one of scientific fraud in the face of wide-ranging global economic legislation.
However, Senator Barbara Boxer - the lead Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee - believes the criminal focus should remain on the hackers themselves and not on the material uncovered.
"You call it 'Climategate'; I call it 'E-mail-theft-gate,'" Boxer said
, according to The Hill
. "Whatever it is, the main issue is, Are we facing global warming or are we not? I'm looking at these e-mails, that, even though they were stolen, are now out in the public."
The email string is indeed in the public, and the suppression that they represent with regard to scientific peer review has attracted a great deal of scrutiny ahead of the much-toted Copenhagen climate summit.
Senator Boxer promised the specter of a committee hearing on the issue, responding to calls for investigation and tangible action
from Republican Committee Member Senator James Inhofe.
"We may well have a hearing on this, we may not. We may have a briefing for senators, we may not," Boxer said. "Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated."