Patterico's Pontifications

11/28/2012

L.A. Times Covers SWATting on Front Page

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:16 am

Using Simon Cowell’s recent SWATting as a news peg, Chris Lee and Richard Winton have a front-page story at the L.A. Times about the phenomenon of SWATting. The story focuses on the recent rash of celebrity SWATtings in Los Angeles, rather than the politically motivated SWATtings of four people (including myself) between June 2011 and June 2012. Hey, the news biz is all about eyeballs! However, the article does mentions the SWATtings of myself and Aaron Walker.

If you’re looking for a typical Patterico polemic on the atrocities of the L.A. Times, you’re going to be disappointed. I spoke to reporter Chris Lee for the story a few weeks ago, and he pretty much gets it right:

When Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick Frey got swatted at his Rancho Palos Verdes home last July, he thought it might have been in retaliation for posts on his conservative-leaning Patterico’s Pontifications blog.

In full view of his startled neighbors, Frey was led out in shackles by five armed deputies after a male caller told responders at the Lomita sheriff’s station that the deputy district attorney had shot his wife. Outside were four police cruisers, a fire truck, an ambulance, a hazardous materials van and a chopper shining a spotlight over his property. Frey’s wife was awakened and frisked by police on the front porch while two officers checked on the couple’s 8- and 11-year-old children sleeping upstairs.

“I’m dealing with psychopaths who know where I live,” Frey said. “Someone had it in for me so much, they committed an act they knew could get me killed.” No arrests have been made in the case.

In June, another lawyer-blogger, Aaron Walker, was swatted at his home in Prince William County, Va. Two officers wielding M4 assault rifles showed up at Walker’s town house and ordered him out. The attorney de-escalated the tension, however, by telling the patrolmen: “Let me guess, someone called and claimed I shot my wife.”

“I believe this to be reckless endangerment if not attempted murder,” Walker said. “The intent there was to cause harm. The other angle is, [swatting] degrades the police’s ability to trust 911. It used to be they had some degree of trust knowing people had a fear of filing a false police report.”

I think the editors should have explained that Aaron had been my guest blogger, and knew it had already happened to me and two other conservatives who had written about related topics. That information would have helped readers understand how Aaron knew he had been SWATted. And I would have liked to have seen more discussion of the political SWATtings and potentially related harassment — including the details of the SWATtings of Erick Erickson and Mike Stack, and the curious way in which we and our writings have been the particular obsession of a dangerous group of online lunatics.

I nevertheless tip my hat to the L.A. Times for finally covering the phenomenon in general, and giving it the front-page placement the topic merits. The story does a good job portraying the potential dangers of the phenomenon:

“Swatting is a very real problem for those in the public eye,” said Blair Berk, a criminal lawyer who has represented stars including Mel Gibson, Kanye West and Lindsay Lohan. “It is only a matter of time before someone dies because of this stupidity.”

What started a decade ago as a malicious prank among computer gamers is quickly evolving into a Grade-A crisis for law enforcement nationwide, encouraging new legislation aimed at stiffer punishments for swatters as well as redoubled attempts to defeat the “spoofing” technology that enables such cyber-troublemaking.

[LAPD] Chief [Charlie] Beck acknowledged that swatting has stretched the LAPD’s emergency response capacity while also endangering victims by placing them in potential confrontation with police firepower.

“It not only draws public safety resources away from real emergencies, it places people at significant risk by the dispatch of armed police officers,” said Beck. “Our big fear is that [swatting] will become more prevalent.”

And I learned something I didn’t know before — namely, that SWATting has already caused heart attacks:

Kevin Kolbye, assistant special agent in charge of the Dallas FBI office, began fielding swatting probes in 2007. He views the phenomenon’s rapid growth in recent years as a dangerous replacement for a time-honored practical joke.

“You no longer call pizza [to someone's house] like in the old days,” said Kolbye. “Instead, the young generation are getting their kicks putting a lot of people at risk. We’ve already had a couple of heart attacks and an officer hurt in a collision responding to a scene.”

Given how serious the dangers are, people are considering legislation to increase punishments for these sorts of false reports:

One major stumbling block to police efforts, however, is California law. At present, making a false police report is a misdemeanor. But departments across L.A. County are beginning to realize that many jurisdictions are wasting valuable resources on swatting call-outs. “We are going to approach the Legislature with the idea of making swatting a felony,” McSweeney said.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) oversees a district that includes such celebrity-studded areas as Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Pacific Palisades. He is looking into proposing legislation that would make it easier for district attorneys to make swatting a felony offense.

“There may be other ways to do it in which you wouldn’t need a law,” Lieu said. “But if they can’t fix it — if they can’t figure out a way to easily trace the people who make these very dangerous 911 calls — I would introduce a bill to try to mitigate the problem.

“The issue is, people have figured out how to do this,” Lieu said, “and it’s only going to get worse unless you can put some consequences in place.”

California law on this is especially disappointing. Penal Code section 148.3(b) makes such false reports a felony if the person making the false report “knows or should know that the response to the report is likely to cause death or great bodily injury, and great bodily injury or death is sustained by any person as a result of the false report.” And if someone is actually badly hurt or killed, the maximum punishment is? A whopping 3 years in state prison. Wait, did I say state prison? Sorry, under realignment, these days that piddling sentence would be served in a county jail. People would serve only half that time — and in Los Angeles, Sheriff Lee Baca could let them go any time he decided the jails were too crowded, whether the sentence was completed or not.

Given these meager penalties, it’s not surprising that I have been contacted by people on both the state and federal level looking to change the law, and asking me about my experience in that regard. If nothing else, today’s front-page story may help get the ball rolling on changing the law. And hopefully the public interest will also motivate law enforcement to solve all these cases.

I still think they’re solvable, if the police try hard enough.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

87 Responses to “L.A. Times Covers SWATting on Front Page”

  1. Ding!

    Patterico (8b3905)

  2. Good story.

    I am shocked at California’s meager penalty. Still, solving this solvable case (we have a recording of the criminal’s voice and tons of evidence of two party’s motive to harm this family) would do a lot to stop the apparent copycat problem California is dealing with.

    Law enforcement was used as a weapon, and putting someone in a jail cell would send a message to the next idiot.

    Dustin (73fead)

  3. Maybe they will show up in the comments again.

    JD (518ff4)

  4. NEAL…

    EPWJ (4380b4)

  5. Nice to see the LAT get something right. I’ve never understood why knowingly filing false reports of *anything* doesn’t carry exactly the same criminal penalties as whatever the person was falsely accused of.

    Xrlq (11e6f5)

  6. You and your blog aren’t just making news. Now you’re making laws.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  7. Patterico was right that the media wouldn’t cover the story until it started to happen to the movie stars. And here the emphasis was on them even though Patterico’s incident was nastier.

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  8. Illinois has pretty much the same lenient false reporting law. I only know one case where the full three years was given and it was almost swatting. The lady lent her car to a boyfriend she was mad at and then reported it stolen. The police dragged him out of the car at gunpoint. And, similar to California, there’s day for day goodtime and ninety days administrative goodtime.

    Does anybody know the federal penalties?

    nk (875f57)

  9. Excellent story–I had no idea these incidents were being used as a political weapon.

    One minor exception I’d take, though. I don’t know about CA, but here in PA, county prisons are far worse places to spend time than state prisons. designed for “short-term” prisoners (less than 12 months) and under-funded, County facilities are nothing more than holding pens for angry criminals.
    At state facilities, where inmates know they’ll be spending years inside, they develop a more structured society. It may not be what you and I call civilization, but social rules are better than no social rules.
    On top of that, state facilities have libraries and training programs. County prisons do not. IF an inmate wants to better himself, he has a chance at State. In County, all he can do is learn from other criminals…and that’s never good.
    I’m pretty hardcore law-and-order, but have a family friend serving 6-12 years. Due to crowding at the State level, he was farmed out to a county prison. Every time we speak, he asks me to try and help him get moved to a state prison–any state prison.

    OlGunner (5fd3d6)

  10. A surprisingly good article. My one complaint is in likening this to calling pizzas to someone’s house – annoying for the person receiving them, a small money-loser for the pizza establishment – but isn’t going to get someone killed.

    bridget (a44b32)

  11. Like if the driver gets in an accident on his way to the false delivery, or if the homeowner at the false address shoots the stranger on his property, bridget?

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  12. That penalty for a felony conviction should be greatly increased. Not so sure that the criteria for a felony conviction should be strengthened, though, as it would tend to remove responsibility from the officers responding to a call.

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  13. Yeah, OlGunner, Cook County is a hellhole, and even in DuPage, one of the best, the prisoners can’t wait to be moved to a state facility. For the reasons you said and others, segregation of prisoners based on degree of dangerousness being one, although that is improving.

    nk (875f57)

  14. Icy: but the driver is equally as likely to get into an accident delivering a pizza to a legitimate customer. I’m pretty sure that you’re flunking torts & crim law 101: confusing but-for causation with proximate cause.

    bridget (a44b32)

  15. Cue the angry letter from imdw to the LAT editors . . .

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  16. I think bridget has a point. There is something extremely dangerous about a hoax to the armed police that a target is an armed killer they need to apprehend. If there had been a shooting when the police saw Pat with his phone the hoaxers apparently ensured was in Pat’s hand when they listened in to the swatting occur (note: this is my opinion of what happened, but it is justified), and that shooting had killed any of the people, including children, at Pat’s house, the cause of that shooting was obviously the hoaxer telling police there was a killer.

    In my opinion, the statute for attempted murder should apply in Erickson’s swatting because the swatter seemed to be tuning his hoax to be more deadly. I sincerely believe they were hoping someone got shot so that all these pesky bloggers would back off and shut up.

    Had a pizza delivery driver been killed in a car accident when en route to a prank delivery, the cause of that accident isn’t immediately related to the prank. The event that is is closest to that injury is whatever driver failed to yield right of way or otherwise abide by the rules of the road.

    Bottom line, I am convinced that the swatter intended to place people in fear for the safety of their families and then tuned the hoax with a ‘I’m going to shoot again’ claim in order to increase the likelihood of a tragic and speech quelling outcome. Icy is right that the penalty for that should be severe.

    Dustin (73fead)

  17. bridget, I wasn’t saying anything about a fake pizza delivery call in terms of civil or criminal culpability — and neither was the FBI agent. In fact, rather than “likening” one to the other, he was contrasting SWATting with a fake pizza delivery order, saying that prank calls have moved from the relatively harmless to the potentially deadly.

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  18. EGYPT COURT SENTENCES 8 TO DEATH OVER PROPHET FILM
    CAIRO (AP) – An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world. The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the verdict. The charges were issued in September amid a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.

    – Remember what Director of National Intelligence Clapper said:
    “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’…is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam,” Clapper said. “They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera…..In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.”
    –GOOD NEWS, EVERYBODY! As long as you remain outside the land of your birth they will NOT kill you.

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  19. That’s horrifying, Icy. That man’s own government helped facilitate this as they churned the outrage to 11 in order to cover up their own failure for political expediency.

    They screwed their own powerless citizen just to do damage control on the eve of an election. They should put this man in the witness protection program.

    Dustin (73fead)

  20. Another story that goes to the question of criminal culpability:

    DISNEY, SEARS USED FACTORY IN FIRE
    DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – Amid the ash, broken glass and melted sewing machines at what is left of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory, there are piles of blue, red and off-white children’s shorts bearing Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory brand. Shorts from hip-hop star Sean Combs’ ENYCE label lay on the floor, along with a hooded Mickey Mouse sweatshirt from Disney. An Associated Press reporter searching the Bangladesh factory Wednesday found these and other clothes, including sweaters from the French company Teddy Smith and the Scottish company Edinburgh Woollen Mill, among the equipment charred in the fire that killed 112 workers on Saturday. He also found entries in account books indicating that the factory took orders to produce clothes for Disney, Sears and other Western brands.

    – “Western”, as in ‘greedy Westerners whose demand for inexpensive goods led the factory to disregard safety standards’.

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  21. Dustin, perhaps Obama should be congratulated for preemptively placing the filmmaker into protective custody.

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  22. – “Western”, as in ‘greedy Westerners whose demand for inexpensive goods led the factory to disregard safety standards’.

    That makes no sense. There’s nothing greedy about buying things at the lowest price available. Paying any more is called waste, which we’re constantly being exhorted to avoid, right? It is none of the customers’ business to inquire into how the seller runs his affairs.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  23. It is none of the customers’ business to inquire into how the seller runs his affairs.

    Of course it is. You are morally obligated not to benefit from slavery or theft, for example (extreme example) and should never buy goods that you learn were acquired that way.

    There’s nothing greedy about buying things at the lowest price available.

    It would be abhorrent to buy goods that help continue the tragedies of communism or terrorism, just because you personally benefit.

    Dustin (73fead)

  24. Of course it is. You are morally obligated not to benefit from slavery or theft, for example (extreme example) and should never buy goods that you learn were acquired that way.

    The key words being “that you learn”. You have no business to inquire into such things in the first place.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  25. So if I buy a car stereo from craigslist, I have no business asking the seller where he purchased it?

    What happens when I lose the benefit of my purchase when the stolen property is returned to his owner, and I cannot locate the seller?

    I think it’s legitimate to scrutinize the business practices of anyone you do business with, if you want to control risk and be moral.

    Dustin (73fead)

  26. So if I buy a car stereo from craigslist, I have no business asking the seller where he purchased it?

    Exactly. If you choose to be nosy, it’s at your own risk.

    What happens when I lose the benefit of my purchase when the stolen property is returned to his owner, and I cannot locate the seller?

    The same thing that happens when you find it’s broken. That’s the risk you take whenever you buy on craigslist or on the street. But it’s irrelevant here; the factory isn’t hard to locate and sue, if necessary. It’s still not the customers’ job to poke their noses into the factory’s books. Do you ask whether the corner bodega is sending money to Hamas?

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  27. So all well and good that everyone is tut-tutting, and the LA Times finally put a story out when a “real” celeb is involved, but:

    1. What is LAPD/LACoS or the other agencies involved doing to trace the call and put into the slammer, the person or persons that did this? It was no a prank: the instigator(s) are not thigh slapping funny guys. It was tantamount to bumping your car toward a cliff.

    2. Can you file a lawsuit against a Doe defendant, get a summons on a phone company to see who originated the call, and trace back to get a name? Or a location that might have been near a CCTV?

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (329cc1)

  28. Do you ask whether the corner bodega is sending money to Hamas?

    More or less, I kinda do.

    Dustin (73fead)

  29. “Exactly. If you choose to be nosy, it’s at your own risk.”

    Consider that your ‘nosy’ is another person’s common sense.

    Dana (292dcf)

  30. Pat do you know if the Swatting you went through is still being actively investigated? If not do you think the LA Times story and the attention it brings might help give the investigation new legs?

    Mattsky (406d10)

  31. Its a good article and if it took Simon Cowell getting swatted so long after Patterico, then so be it.

    Considering how very difficult it is to catch the swatters and prosecute, it would seem there should be a heavier sentence involved. This aside from the fac that swatters essentially, for that moment, are the ones controlling law enforcement response and reactions. That’s immensely frightening.

    Dana (292dcf)

  32. Do you ask whether the corner bodega is sending money to Hamas?

    I won’t buy Nokia or GE products if I can avoid it, because they do business with the Iranian government.

    Dustin (73fead)

  33. The key words being “that you learn”. You have no business to inquire into such things in the first place.
    Comment by Milhouse (15b6fd) — 11/28/2012 @ 10:07am

    – Blood diamonds clean up real nice, I hear.

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa)

  34. I won’t buy Nokia or GE products if I can avoid it, because they do business with the Iranian government.

    And how did you find that out? I suppose because you happened to have read about it somewhere. You certainly didn’t audit their books! And how do you know their competitors don’t do the same thing? You don’t, and yet you buy their products, because you simply have no duty to do such poking around. It’s none of your business. If it happens to come to your attention, then you have to deal with it; if it doesn’t, then you don’t. What would you do if you happened to find out that the nice old lady living next door was a Nazi Party member back in the day? Such information is potentially very important, and yet you have no reason (let alone duty) to seek it out.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  35. – Blood diamonds clean up real nice, I hear.

    What gives the mob that happens to be in power in Luanda (or wherever) more right than its rival mobs to the diamonds that are in the ground? The entire “blood diamond” hoo-ha is a deliberate effort to prop up the governing mobs over the mobs that would like to be governing. I see no moral basis for it.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  36. Isn’t this what so called “hackers” claim is the reason they do stuff that they do? To supposedly draw attention to faults in a current system?

    Well, alrighty then, let’s up the ante for them.

    Whatever the law is for attempted murder and/or threatening a LE officer should be the max with appropriate divisions into lesser offenses depending on circumstances, age, IQ, political motivations etc.

    Second and more to the point, how’s about it become a requirement that 911′s have the equipment to tell if someone’s using a proxy and then make it the protocol to alert the responding officers of that fact?

    There’s ways to bring this to a screeching halt but all you’ll hear is it costs too much? Given that I have yet to see California hesitate to spend money for the most ridiculous of goals, I say; SO?

    Jcw46 (eda37d)

  37. My duty to you, Milhouse, is to help your car stereo stay in your car by practicing diligence when buying stereos from craigslist. If there is no market for stolen stereos, your stereo is going to stay in your car.

    I have a duty to Iranians, as a moral person, to show a little diligence in my economic choices and refuse to support those who trade with oppressors, which as you rightly note is limited by my lack of perfect knowledge.

    Will I go out of my way to find this information? Not unless I have reason to be suspicious. So what?

    Dustin (73fead)

  38. Sorry for contributing to the threadjack. I lost track of which thread I was in.

    Second and more to the point, how’s about it become a requirement that 911′s have the equipment to tell if someone’s using a proxy and then make it the protocol to alert the responding officers of that fact?

    This is a great idea. I believe some progress has been made, but of course not enough.

    Those selling phone spoofing tools should be prosecuted. They sell harassment. Tor, however, is a tool that is used both for good and evil.

    However, when a crime like this is committed, and there are some great suspects, they should be watched carefully, their records scrutinized to see who is paying them, and they should be interviewed and confronted with the evidence against them. That is the best deterrence.

    Dustin (73fead)

  39. It’s not going to end until someone important enough to the political establishment dies as a result of this “pranking”.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  40. Will I go out of my way to find this information? Not unless I have reason to be suspicious. So what?

    So the companies buying clothing from this factory’s owner had no reason to inquire into its operation, and thus bear no responsibility for the fire.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  41. Milhouse is funning us.

    nk (875f57)

  42. Milhouse is funning us.

    No, I’m not. The bloodlust betrayed by efforts to pin this on Western companies is chilling.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  43. and he pretty much gets it right

    Good for the LAT, but — I hate to be cynical, but your story did not refute a liberal narrative, so…this proves they can write a straight story, when they have a mind to.

    Patricia (be0117)

  44. “So the companies buying clothing from this factory’s owner had no reason to inquire into its operation, and thus bear no responsibility for the fire.”

    Milhouse – You are completely full of crap and have no idea what you are talking about. The customers of the factory of course bear no no responsibility for the fire but any company concerned at all with its reputation will review who it is doing business with both domestically and internationally to make sure those relationships to not come back and and bite them. That review does not require an audit of the supplier’s books but can include things like site visits and pledges from suppliers to adhere to certain labor and material standards.

    The comparison of a manufacturing supply contract for a multinational company to purchases at corner bodega is risible. Thanks for the laugh.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  45. any company concerned at all with its reputation will review [...]

    Only because of extortion like that on display in the news piece Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa) quoted above.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  46. > And if someone is actually badly hurt or killed, the maximum punishment is? A whopping 3 years in state prison

    I don’t understand this.

    I mean, I understand that that’s the penalty for filing a false report. But surely filing a false report under these circumstances, knowing that there’s a serious risk of death or severe bodily injury, should be sufficient to show implied malice murder under Penal Code 188.

    aphrael (687e43)

  47. “Only because of extortion like that on display in the news piece Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (f97cfa) quoted above.”

    Milhouse – Complete crap. What gives you the basis for uninformed statement that a customer has no duty to review operations of a supplier in the first place? Did you think it up all on your own or did somebody actually tell you that?

    Do suppliers have no possible financial, legal, or operational impact on their customers? Why would any customer want to review the soundness and legality of the operations of a supplier? That’s crazy talk and negligence to consider such things.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  48. What gives you the basis for uninformed statement that a customer has no duty to review operations of a supplier in the first place?

    Where does such a duty come from?

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  49. Milhouse – If my friend’s cousin Tony is selling big screen TV’s out of the back of his minivan for prices lower than WalMart on Black Friday but I have to make a decision whether to buy today, I’m usually pretty sure I have an idea that those TV’s were acquired with a five finger discount and I shouldn’t ask about their provenance or file a warranty claim if I buy one.

    If I buy a used car through an ad on craigslist or elsewhere and I can’t retitle it or register it because it’s been reported stolen, I’m going to want my money back. These are simple concepts.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  50. “Where does such a duty come from?”

    Milhouse – I’m asking you how you could confidently assert that there was no duty. If the operations of a supplier can have a potential financial or legal impact on a customer, is there not a duty a duty on the part of the customer to review the operations of the supplier. Think. Reread my comment.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  51. A lot of good points here.

    Swatting should be a felony if for no other reason law enforcement would take it more seriously. It just isn’t worthwhile to make a major effort for a misdemeanor conviction.

    Another point is to use technology to a better extent. Police have access to the 911 recordings. They might even have a suspect or two. Voice analysis is apparently fairly sophistcated in the intelligence community. Hopefully some of that can filter down to law enforcemnt. Might not get a conviction, but you might have probable cause enough to monitor phone calls of suspects.

    Corky Boyd (c2186d)

  52. in the socialist republic of california, we will go away for years for the wrong fire arm. we will be fined out the yin yang for traffic tickets. we are losing our rights by the second. do not expect the law to change, unless more celebrities get swat’d. then the celebrities and politicians will get protected and as usual the public gets screwed.

    Deserttrek (7794cf)

  53. But surely filing a false report under these circumstances, knowing that there’s a serious risk of death or severe bodily injury, should be sufficient to show implied malice murder under Penal Code 188.

    Comment by aphrael (687e43) — 11/28/2012 @ 12:59 pm

    In practical terms, there will be a conviction only if there was a death, aphrael. Nobody got hurt is a good defense.

    nk (875f57)

  54. I did a lot of gun cases, some involving attempt armed robbery and others reckless conduct, and “nobody got hurt” helped a lot.

    Not to be too cynical, but it relates to who the “victim” is. If you were to take a shot at me, it would be aggravated assault, a misdemeanor. Were you take a shot near, not necessarily at, a police officer, it would be attempt murder, a felony with aggravating circumstances. It’s the way of the world.

    nk (875f57)

  55. I had this client, he was always getting arrested for carrying a gun where he was not allowed to. He never hurt anybody, so he’d just have his gun confiscated and let out on non-reporting supervision (a non-conviction).

    Police, prosecutors, and courts have limited resources and they use them for the people they truly consider dangerous. It’s a big advantage to the mala prohibitum defendant.

    nk (875f57)

  56. Swatting sounds an awful lot like attempted murder to me. Why not prosecute on that basis? So no new law needed.

    Brad (1b5b11)

  57. At present, making a false police report is a misdemeanor.

    Wait. Why is THAT the only crime they can be charged with? Reckless endangerment, attempted homicide, a whole host of similarly constructed laws. Not to mention the civil crimes of fraud and slander….

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  58. Like if the driver gets in an accident on his way to the false delivery, or if the homeowner at the false address shoots the stranger on his property, bridget?

    While I will grant these are vaguely possibly outcomes, they are hardly reasonably anticipated results from the prank. The chances of them happening as a result of the prank are really quite miniscule (and note that the REAL victim of the prank is the pizza company and the driver — they waste the pizza and the driver gets #%$#@^ out of his time, income, and the wear and tear on his vehicle).

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  59. I won’t buy Nokia or GE products if I can avoid it, because they do business with the Iranian government.

    I’m sure if you dig far enough, you can pretty much find equivalent justification for not dealing with anyone outside your own direct personal acquaintance…. and even eliminate most of them, as well. Good luck with that.

    I suspect at some point you’ll manage to find excuses for why you aren’t making your own car from iron you mined yourself…

    “Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.”
    – Thomas Jefferson -

    At some point, you draw the line. If it is expressly called to your attention, and is expressly egregious (truly abusive child labor, true slave labor), then that is clearly relevant.

    But digging into things yourself is overzealous.

    As far as this stupid fire goes, clearly some oversight is called for, and the company itself and the officials that ran the factory should be culpable… but Disney? Sears? Wal-Mart? Get a life. Particularly Sears and Wal-Mart, since you obviously don’t have any clue how modern textile commerce works… Hint: There’s no such thing as a “company buyer” any longer. That’s not the model AT ALL.

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  60. – Blood diamonds clean up real nice, I hear.

    You got some for sale? I’ll give you a good price.

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  61. Those selling phone spoofing tools should be prosecuted.

    Except that clearly one can see a time when phone spoofing tools can and will be required for use against the State’s overreach of power.

    Of course, THEN they WILL be clearly outlawed.

    But let’s not give them excuses to do it “on our behalf”, huh?

    The spoofing isn’t the true problem. It’s the fact that the 911 types take any call as gospel and the police officers are all too ready to go in with an entire fully armed military regiment when all they really need — which is what’s been adequate for a century and more — is a couple of cops with backups nearby watching their backs.

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  62. but can include things like site visits and pledges from suppliers to adhere to certain labor and material standards.

    SITE VISITS??? LOL, yeah, let’s send representatives out regularly to foreign nations with the objective to supervise exactly how a company is making “our” stuff. What, only $5k-10k a visit… per location. This in a cutthroat business with ultra-fine margins. Ah-huh.

    And hey, *I* will pledge that all the stuff I obtain for you is of the finest gossamer, hand crafted by fat and healthy dwarves with the worlds greatest pension plans, using silk made from the manes of the most well fed unicorns to ever exist on the planet.

    Now you’ll need yet another representative to verify that I’m actually following through on that pledge. Contact my secretary to arrange for an on-site appointment in the Ridiculoimagi Nation, n’kay?

    Wow. Not exactly much of a grasp of how REAL business works on pretty much any level, do ya?

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  63. Milhouse – I’m asking you how you could confidently assert that there was no duty

    Where the eph do you imagine that they HAVE such a duty?

    They have some vested self-interest, as the lone customer does with the TV out of the back of a pickup, to be wary of a clearly suspicious circumstance — but if you have a friend who wants to sell you his TV do you seriously think every person who buys such from their friend has a special obligation to investigate if the FACTORY in which it was made five years before used illegal child labor — not NOW but THEN?

    A corporation is obligated by their own self-image to avoid using factories with suspect labor forces. But that hardly means they need to look into every nook and cranny of every single one of their THOUSANDS of not just suppliers but sub-suppliers, component assembly operations, and so forth.

    Here, you need to read this
    I, Pencil

    That wool shirt you’re wearing. Did you personally check to see that the sheep were well fed and treated flawlessly well? Why not? That’s what you’re demanding of the corporation that bought the wool from the shepherd, the one that bought the wool fabric from the textile factory, AND the corporation/store that sold the shelf-space to the shirt maker who sold it to you.

    Again, go back and consider “I, Pencil”… realize you’re demanding that one trace back through that entire process chain looking for anything “suspect” or “unacceptable” in a vague and unspecified way.

    And if the intermediaries have such an obligation, THEN WHY DON’T YOU AS WELL?

    Hmmm?

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  64. Sheriff Lee Baca could let them go any time he decided the jails were too crowded, whether the sentence was completed or not.

    The US does have the largest legitimate prison population in the world, and SWATing is a non-violent offense, like being caught with a pound of cocaine. They should be let out when the jails fill with uppity film makers, perpetrators of hate speech, murderers, and other serious criminals.

    ErisGuy (76f8a7)

  65. SWATing is a non-violent offense, like being caught with a pound of cocaine

    In these cases, the victim has guns pointed at him and is in fear for the lives of his family.

    But I think you’re being sarcastic.

    Dustin (73fead)

  66. I’m sure if you dig far enough, you can pretty much find equivalent justification for not dealing with anyone outside your own direct personal acquaintance…. and even eliminate most of them, as well. Good luck with that.

    I guess if I were crazy and couldn’t draw clear lines in the sand, I could. Fortunately, I am not and have no real difficulty distinguishing between companies by practice.

    Except that clearly one can see a time when phone spoofing tools can and will be required for use against the State’s overreach of power.

    Personally, no, I don’t see that. But this objections makes no sense anyhow, as we are talking about criminalizing something that in your scenario would obviously be criminalized.

    But digging into things yourself is overzealous.

    Indeed. You do have that obligation too.

    Dustin (73fead)

  67. Bad copy and paste.

    And if the intermediaries have such an obligation, THEN WHY DON’T YOU AS WELL?

    My response to this is that we do have the obligation as well. Waving our hands in the air at how complicated it is to be proactively moral is just an excuse.

    Dustin (73fead)

  68. Geez! I really wasn’t trying to threadjack. Was just pointing out other current examples of blame-shifting.

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (203f3d)

  69. While I will grant these are vaguely possibly outcomes, they are hardly reasonably anticipated results from the prank. The chances of them happening as a result of the prank are really quite miniscule (and note that the REAL victim of the prank is the pizza company and the driver — they waste the pizza and the driver gets #%$#@^ out of his time, income, and the wear and tear on his vehicle).

    http://www.ahwatukee.com/localnews/article_ab4f1875-6e28-5500-a724-cf7110571653.html?TNNoMobile

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (203f3d)

  70. Trying again

    Icy (TrvthBt0ld) (203f3d)

  71. Here’s Icy’s link.

    I fixed it because it is a good story worth reading, though it’s not closely related to the topic.

    In that case, Icy, the proximate cause… the event closes to the injury, was the racing drunken driver’s recklessness, and not whatever call sent the pizza boy on his delivery. But you’re right that there is risk in pranks that touch the real world that are difficult to anticipate, even when the prank would seem harmless. I just like your link because it shows just how much good people are capable of. I cannot imagine all the good the nuts in this story could have done if they had gotten out of their house and spent their efforts trying to help people.

    Dustin (73fead)

  72. Cross posted with you, Icy.

    Dustin (73fead)

  73. FACTORY OWNER: I DIDN’T KNOW FIRE EXITS NEEDED
    DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – The owner of a Bangladesh clothing factory where a fire killed 112 people says he was never informed the facility was required to have an emergency exit, a sign of how far removed the leaders of the nation’s garment industry are from issues of worker safety. “It was my fault. But nobody told me that there was no emergency exit, which could be made accessible from outside,” factory owner Delwar Hossain was quoted Thursday as telling The Daily Star newspaper. “Nobody even advised me to install one like that, apart from the existing ones.”

    Icy (TrvthBtOld) (203f3d)

  74. Thank you, Dustin.
    And I’m not attempting to equate a pizza delivery prank with SWATting in terms of potentially dangerous outcomes. It touched a nerve with me, however, as this is the industry in which I work. I knew the young man in that story that was killed; and while his tragedy occurred as he was returning from a legitimate delivery, he just as easily could have been returning from a prank call.

    Icy (TrvthBtOld) (203f3d)

  75. Good news! They’re voting on a new constitution in Egypt:
    The assembly, overwhelmingly made up of allies of President Mohammed Morsi, abruptly moved up the vote – which hadn’t been expected to take place for another two months – in order to pass the draft before Egypt’s Supreme Constitution Court rules on Sunday on whether to dissolve the panel.
    – Okay, but that’s not so bad; they’re getting a new constitution out of the deal!
    One article that passed underlined that the state will protect “the true nature of the Egyptian family … and promote its morals and values,” as well as balance between a woman’s “duties to her family and her public work.” The draft also contains no article specifically establishing equality between men and women because of disputes over the phrasing.
    – Yeah, but that’s just a cultural thing. It’s not like they’re gonna institute
    As in past constitutions, the new draft says that the “principles of Islamic law” will be the basis of law. But in a new article, the draft states that Egypt’s most respected Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, must be consulted on any matters related to Shariah, a measure critics fear will lead to oversight of legislation by clerics.
    – IT’S YET ANOTHER FOREIGN POLICY TRIUMPH BY OUR VERY OWN NOBEL PEACE PRIZE-WINNER!!!!
    Let’s all celebrate with a round of female genital mutilations.

    Icy (TrvthBtOld) (203f3d)

  76. NK, Oh, I completely agree that you’d only be able to prosecute under section 188 if there were actually a death. That said, i think it should be possible to convict for murder – even if attempted murder would fail under circumstances which differed only via the lack of a death.

    aphrael (5d993c)

  77. > SWATing is a non-violent offense, like being caught with a pound of cocaine.

    That’s a pretty silly remark, and I think it’s only possible to view SWATing as nonviolent if you have no familiarity with press coverage of interactions between police and people they think are highly dangerous.

    SWATing involves lying to the police to get them to think someone is highly dangerous; doing so creates a serious risk that the police will misinterpret innocent actions on the part of the victim and overreact to them. It’s not nonviolent; it’s simply using an unwitting accomplice to enact the violence on your behalf.

    aphrael (5d993c)

  78. “SITE VISITS??? LOL, yeah, let’s send representatives out regularly to foreign nations with the objective to supervise exactly how a company is making “our” stuff. What, only $5k-10k a visit… per location. This in a cutthroat business with ultra-fine margins. Ah-huh.”

    IGOT – Which business has razor thin margins, the clothing designer/manufacturer or retailer? Are you seriously telling me that a company does not have a duty to investigate whether a supplier has the ability or capacity to actually fulfill a contract before it is awarded, that it is not just operating out of a garage? Just imagine the conversation Boss to subordination: Who did you award the contract for semiconductor powered fall dress line to?

    The lowest bidder

    Who were they?

    Never heard of them before, but they offered the lowest price.

    Have they ever filled a contract of this size or type before, how big is their factory, how many employees do they have?

    Uhhhh?

    We had this discussion on this blog when Leviticus brought it up in connection with bleeding hearts complaining about sweat shops overseas.

    I don’t know what kind of businesses you’ve worked for, but you and Millhouse both seem blissfully unaware of processes businesses commonly go through qualify vendors. That qualification process has a multitude a purposes beyond mere reputation management, including compliance with laws, ensuring continuity of supply and non-interruption of business, and ensuring the delivery of the quality of goods or services contracted.

    You flunked Business 101.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  79. aphrael, I believe if you look at the entire comment, its sarcastic nature is revealed.

    SPQR (768505)

  80. “Geez! I really wasn’t trying to threadjack. Was just pointing out other current examples of blame-shifting.”

    Icy – I added to the diversion, but sometimes I think there’s a danger that if left uncorrected people may think that some of the completely unsupported BS that Milhouse says here may actually be true.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  81. And I’m not attempting to equate a pizza delivery prank with SWATting in terms of potentially dangerous outcomes.

    Of course not. I don’t think anything you said suggested that.

    It touched a nerve with me, however, as this is the industry in which I work. I knew the young man in that story that was killed

    I’m very sorry, friend.

    Dustin (73fead)

  82. SWATing involves lying to the police to get them to think someone is highly dangerous; doing so creates a serious risk that the police will misinterpret innocent actions on the part of the victim and overreact to them. It’s not nonviolent; it’s simply using an unwitting accomplice to enact the violence on your behalf.

    Comment by aphrael (5d993c) — 11/29/2012

    What if someone outted someone in hopes that they were subject to harassment like SWATting? What would their liabilities be if such harassment led to a death or an injury?

    Dustin (73fead)

  83. Cleverly posed question, Dustin. :)

    Generally speaking, you are responsible if someone is injured, you have taken some action without that person would not have been injured, it was forseeable that the injury would occur, *and the injury was not caused by someone else’s intervening bad conduct*.

    So here’s how I see the difference: in the SWATting case, not only are the police acting in a forseeable fashion, but they’re also acting in a non-blameworthy fashion. They are predictably acting to defend themselves from a reasonably perceived threat.

    In the outing case you pose, the people assaulting the outed man may be acting in a forseeable fashion, but they’re also acting in a fashion which we (rightly) expect them not to act in; they are choosing to assault someone, rather than defending themselves.

    So while the person responsible for the outing is *morally* blameworthy, I don’t think he’s *legally* blameworthy, because the voluntary action of the assaulters causes all of the legal blame to accrue to them. However, in the case of the police, the situation is different; the police are acting rationally to defend themselves from a reasonably perceived threat … and so all of the moral *and* legal blame attaches to the person who constructed the situation.

    aphrael (5d993c)

  84. Sorry to stale-post. I learned of BK’s invocation of the fifth to questions posed including his knowledge of such calls. I has no one to ask about finer points today, so looked it up and found discussion of law here I thought helpful to me.

    http://barnespc.com/blog/2011/10/converting-a-fifth-amendment-invocation-into-a-negative-inference/

    Sarahw (b0e533)

  85. I don’t know Chris, but I can tell you that Richard Winton is one of the best reporters the L.A. Times has right now. He’s the real deal.

    Anita Busch (1c1971)

  86. I meant to mention it earlier but this same story got the full page treatment in its sister paper the Chicago Tribune on Thursday Nov. 29. So at least two of the three big newspaper media markets have had the chance to hear about dangerous swatting and Patterico and Aaron (in addition to the celebrities who were swatted).

    elissa (0af317)


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