2- IMO the Ecat affair is not a Rossi's scam mainly because I find it impossible that the JoNP, the main propaganda tool widely used to perpetrate an alleged personal world scam for 7+ years (to date), could have seen the involvement of a US department for so long (see the issues raised by Krivit in his 2 mails to Vortex immediately after the appearance of the JoNP on the web).
(1) Single people controlling R&D budgets can push through funding for whacky ideas in large institutions. The standards for this are variable and can be much lower than needed for scientific budgets to be allocated because the decision-makers are not scientists and can back people, hunches, etc.
(2) When such funding is allocated it will typically (to get it through large institution controls) be masked as part of a wider program.
(3) It is in no-one's interest to declare such effort a failure. Where funding is for some high risk high return possibility a judgement will be made, after initial work, on whether results merit further funding. If they do not this is seen just as less work done. often the people involved, if committed and determined, can continue to keep the work alive without much backing - but also without funds for any new work.
The mistake made by ascoli, and others here, for example when evaluating japanese work, is to think that low levels of industrial or governmental interest in LENR mean success. In fact, any research work that was in conventional terms successful - either to generate scientifically influential new results or to show significant prospects for commercial product - will be followed up.
So, for example, take the Japanese work. The claims are for an effect that if optimised you would expect to be commercial. Certainly, if optimised, it would lead to lab rat type experiments that will unequivocally prove LENR a real effect. If this happens we will all be excited and happy. If it does not happen, it is an indication that most likely the skeptics were correct and the encouraging results were some combination of measurement errors.
My skepticism about LENR, in spite of the good-sounding theoretical stories from Hagelstein etc, is that the reported effects don't seem to optimise or become much more easily measured when positive results are followed up. That is a sign of pathological science (if chased) or a non-event. Nothing is certain in science and LENR has excuses, it could be an effect that is transient (NAEs get destroyed) difficult to reproduce (NAEs require complex and badly characterised treatment to form). These excuses justify some continuing efforts, but do not prove the claimed effects are LENR or anything other than a collection of measurement artifacts (excess heat) and misinterpretations (transmutation).