A quick round up of the latest for your perusal. I am TIRED, long day at work, and car trouble on the way home, so my brain is fried, too fried for deep thought right now. But, through the magic of linking some other bloggers who are not so damned tired I can still bring you up to date!
Today, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding recent reports that several conservative political commentators have been targeted with harassing and frightening actions. Chambliss demanded that Holder examine these cases to determine if federal laws have been violated.
These dangerous hoaxes, also known as “SWAT-ting,” occur when a perpetrator contacts local police to report a violent incident at a target’s home. These callers are believed to utilize voice-over IP (VOIP) and other less-traditional telecommunications methods to make the call appear to come from the target residence and to hide the caller’s true identity.
In response, a dispatcher sends a SWAT team or other police unit in a heightened state of readiness to the unsuspecting target’s residence. Targets only learn of these false reports when a large police presence descends upon their homes.
In the letter, Chambliss states that “Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels… Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse. Those who choose to enter into that political discourse should not have to worry about potential threats to their or their family’s safety.”
A copy of the signed letter is attached, and the full text of the letter is below:
June 5, 2012
The Honorable Eric Holder
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue. NW, Suite 5111
Washington, DC 20530-0009
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I am writing with concern regarding recent reports that several members of the community of online political commentators have been targeted with harassing and frightening actions. Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels.
According to these individuals’ reports, these dangerous hoaxes, also known as “SWAT-ting,” have a perpetrator contacting a local police department to report some type of violent incident at the home of the target. It is believed that these callers utilize some of the less traditional telecommunications methods, including voice over IP (VOIP) to make the call appear as though it is coming from the target residence and to better hide the true identity of the caller.
In response, a dispatcher then sends a large number of understandably anxious police units, in a heightened state of readiness, to the home of the still unsuspecting target. The first that the target or their unsuspecting family learns of this false report to law enforcement is when they are shocked to see an abnormal police presence descending on their residence.
The use of SWAT-ting as a harassment tool is apparently not new, but its use as a tool for targeting political speech appears to be a more recent development. During the last year, some of the more widely reported cases of SWAT-ting have taken place against blog operators across the country, including in Georgia. The emerging pattern is both disturbing and dangerous.
While these incidences are currently small in number, and have fortunately not led to any accidental physical harm, they are extremely concerning. The perpetrators appear to be targeting individuals who are vigorously exercising their First Amendment rights to political speech. As you know, these reported efforts to intimidate those who choose to enter the political forum and express their opinions are in conflict with the founding principles of our nation.
Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse. Those who choose to enter into that political discourse should not have to worry about potential threats to their or their family’s safety.
While I am certain that local law enforcement is reviewing each of these instances, I am asking you to please look into each of these cases as well to determine if any federal laws may have been violated. Future targets of SWAT-ting, whether engaged in political speech or not, may not be so fortunate as to escape physical harm.
I appreciate your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response no later than June 29, 2012. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or comments that you may have.
Encouraging, although Holder will not do one damn thing about it, but still, it is a nice step.
New developments today in the story of convicted terrorist bomber-turned-progressive activist Brett Kimberlin: Sources report that conservative New Media activists believe that Kimberlin — whose activities are funded by the tax-exempt 501(c) non-profits Velvet Revolution and the Justice Through Music Project — showed up in April at BlogCon, a conference sponsored by FreedomWorks and the Franklin Center.
The incident was uncovered by@JDonels, who reported on his Tumblr blog that a person using the Twitter alias “Robert Slydell” appears to have been involved in the incident:
Did a left-wing activist infiltrate BlogCon Charlotte? Try to intimidate bloggers on Twitter? Did this person know someone who may have hacked Twitter accounts, and have his real name accidentally exposed in the process? And did this person know of efforts to put conservatives in TwitterGulag?
A photo of Kimberlin was circulated among online activists and, sources say, it was confirmed that Kimberlin showed up at the hotel in Charlotte, N.C., where BlogCon was held. Sources say Kimberlin was seen collecting information about the conference proceedings and was eventually escorted from the premises by hotel security.
Kimberlin has been accused of engaging in a campaign of harassment and intimidation against conservative bloggers, including Patrick “Patterico” Frey, Aaron Walker and National Bloggers Club presidentAli Akbar. The case has drawn widespread attention, and major news organizations are taking increased interest in the story
More from McCain here, who notes that Ali Akbar says WE ARE NOT STOPPING!
WASHINGTON, DC — The National Bloggers Club, Inc. is announcing that it will continue to raise funds to provide financial relief to member Aaron Walker. An appeal to the peace order granted by Judge C.J. Vaughey was filed Monday.
Last week the Maryland judge issued a 6-month peace order and jailed attorney Aaron Walker, preventing him from mentioning Brett Kimberlin in public. A Blogger and Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney wrote of this order that, “this is a clear-cut case of a First Amendment violation — about as clear-cut as you’ll ever hear.” Since then, Walker has been working with a new legal team and the National Bloggers Club to legally restore his free speech rights.
“We’ve got over a dozen lawyers coordinating on this now, volunteering their time. Aaron’s first amendment rights are being violated when he is barred from even being able to publicly mention the case or Kimberlin’s violent past,” said Bloggers Club president Ali A. Akbar.
Akbar continued, “Yesterday they came after the Bloggers Club and my family — my family. We’re not stopping. We’ve got to raise $5,000 more dollars to continue to stand with Aaron Walker and I’m positive supporters will continue to step up.”
The National Bloggers Club is working to promote KimberlinFiles.org where supporters continue to give financial and written support to this cause.
In keeping with the ruling of the court, Walker’s response was simply, “thank you”.
– * – * – * –
When I asked Ali Akbar of the National Bloggers Club for help with a website/infrastructure to support the blogger targets of convicted bomber/online terrorist Brett Kimberlin two weeks ago, he didn’t hesitate or waver. He stepped up to the plate because he believes in free speech and new media. I knew and respected him from his past work on grass-roots conservative campaigns and online projects. I was honored to join the NBC board of directors when he asked me late last year. There is no vast, deeply-funded conspiracy behind how it all came together — as some deranged progressive operatives (who habitually indulge in such rancid psychological projection) are claiming. I simply asked for help with organizing/fundraising tasks that were way beyond my paygrade. Ali volunteered to help and hasn’t stopped. The blogosphere owes him bottomless thanks.
Despite threats made to Ali’s family by Kimberlin associates and new legal threats waged by one Kevin Zeese, he and the NBC are not backing down. They are standing with the Kimberlin targets who continue to fight these ongoing menaces. Joining the battle: many, many excellent First Amendment lawyers (including Eugene Volokh, who on Tuesday noted his pro bono involvement at his blog.) . . .
Bob Belvedere has a nice round up on all this too.
MUCH, MUCH more at American Power