Well, yes and no on being cleared. While they made every effort to Frankenstein together data (tree rings when it showed temperatures rising and then ignoring them when it did not and instead using temperature readings to make that hockey stick look more hockey-ish) that was not unethical or even unreasonable - unless journalists misrepresent it and you don't correct them, which happened for 9 years and no one except skeptics talked about it. So there was misconduct, namely that they refused to answer any question that might give skeptics ammunition and set out to suppress papers disputing man-made global warming, but they didn't invent data so it was not scientific misconduct.
If a skeptic group were cleared of scientific misconduct in this way, climate scientists would be up in arms about the distinction between misconduct and scientific misconduct. And New York Times columnist discusses the last fact-finding mission in Scientists Are Cleared of Misuse of Data (registration required) and keeps it pretty middle-of-the-road, noting that cleared actually means...
“We did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data.”Inappropriately manipulated data is telling. They shouldn't be manipulating data at all if they want to be the trusted guides for the public other scientists are. Heck, even other scientists don't trust climate scientists so how will the public if they don't do clean representations of their work? You can't use 'grey literature' in physics but the IPCC had no problem at all publishing non-expert speculation to a journalist about melting Himalayas as fact.
So what does it all mean? Obviously the review, requested by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), no stranger to global warming zealotry, except on the other side, was not delving into the physics of climate change but rather the nature of humans. The physics is easier than you might think. While many numerical models projecting specific events in the future are so flawed they would not be publishable in other disciplines (well, maybe sociology) the physics are easy to understand - we are getting warmer and if we keep polluting we will continue to get warmer and that is bad. Arguing about whether it takes 50 years or 100 years is a little silly, we should be tackling solutions using basic research now instead of, on one side, endorsing, mandating and subsidizing idiotic ideas like CFL bulbs or Prius cars or ethanol, or flat out denial on the other and assuming something magical in science to fix it will happen in the future.
The nature of humans is the subject of the review and this review says the scientists acted unethically, they just didn't act unethically with regard to the data. Here's hoping that the ClimateGate experience encourages all climate researchers to renew their interest in data and not the use of aggressive framing to get their point across.