The Jury Talks Back

7/9/2019

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: The Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory Was a Russian Disinformation Operation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:20 pm

So be proud if you spread it. (See below for plenty of comments on this very Web site from people who did.) You were doing the bidding of Russian trolls:

In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.

. . . .

The Russian-inspired conspiracy theories also have had a devastating effect on the Rich family, especially after the theories migrated to alt-right websites and, ultimately, primetime Fox News shows. As they did so, there were repeated suggestions by alt-right commentators that the DNC staffer’s parents and brother were concealing information about his conduct.

We have had some commenters in recent times who fell for this crap. I won’t outright name anyone, but here are a few comments that appeared on this here Web site, just so you know I’m not making this up. For example, here:

damn that was unreadable stuff. Couldn’t get through the first paragraph. You Brennanites just seem so doomed.

And not a word about Seth Rich. Well, okay. Good luck with your little confused narrative. I can’t imagine who you find to latch onto that.

And here:

the sluts and tarts at the corrupt FBI aren’t even a wee tiny bit curious about Seth Rich’s murder

but spearphishing holy god america that gets their hot and horny blood pumping

Here:

I guess they will next be hired by bezos, the hill is also the ones there is nothing strange with the Seth rich matter.

And here:

Kim Dotcom says he was involved beginning, middle, and end, with the DNC email leak.
Can’t call it a hack because Seth Rich was an insider, supposed to use the DNC computer the exact way he did, as part of his job.

Here (copypasta of Roger L. Simon):

Further to this portion of the narrative is the overall question of putative Russian government hacking into the Clinton campaign. So far we have seen no public evidence that this is true. We have actually seen circumstantial evidence (the Seth Rich murder) to the contrary.

And here:

Seth Rich, the guy your evil hag had murdered, was the source of THE DAMAGING TRUTH reported by Wikileaks. How do we know this with not even a shadow of doubt? Because Rich forwarded the Hildabeast’s dirty laundry direct to Julian Assange’s director of films, Gavin MacFadyen. His computer was in London, outside of the Clinton’s sphere of control.

Here:

I know Patterico doesn’t hold Gateway Pundit in high regard, but this particular piece is well sourced, including with youtube videos of Assange denying that the Russians were his source. I would also remind everyone that Wikileaks offered a reward for info about the murder of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer. Alegedly, the motive was robbery, though nothing was taken. And if he was a Wikileaks source, that would explain why Wikileaks is offering a reward for his killer.

Yeah, or if Wikileaks were an arm of the GRU, that would explain why they made the offer, to drum up publicity about trolling bullshit from the Russian government.

Many of these people have been banned. I haven’t checked to see if they all have been. But all of them, banned or not, should be ashamed that they were doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin and repeating total horseshit tossed out there by the Russians to stir up the stupidest and most conspiracy-minded people in our midst.

I don’t know if anyone wonders why I don’t post much any more, but among a combination of non-political factors (a very busy work life, some time out of town, desire to get more sleep and spend more time with family), this kind of thing is part of it. The feeling that I have spent a large part of my life trying to push rationality, only to see this kind of conspiratorial nonsense gain a greater foothold in the minds of crazed partisans … it can make you wonder why you bother. It honestly can.

I haven’t given up entirely. I mean, I wrote this, didn’t I? And I’m heartened by the absolutely fantastic people writing on this Web site with me, and many of the excellent and common-sense commenters who remain.

But you can see how a guy can get dispirited. Can’t you?

US Appeals Court To Trump: Blocking Critics On Twitter Violates Constitution

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 2:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

We’ve argued ad nauseam about President Trump and his compulsive tweeting. Debates have included whether the dangers of someone in his position (and with his disposition) publicly opining with little restraint is outweighed by the claimed benefit of having the President of the United States be able to communicate directly to the American people. While his advisors and members of the GOP have urged him to refrain from using the platform, he persists. And after two and a half years of this president tweeting about, well, everything that pops into his head, we all know he’s not just tweeting about innocuous things like the swampy weather in D.C. Far from it. He regularly tweets about global events, his agenda, policies, issues warnings to foreign leaders, engages in dangerous games of one-upmanship with thug dictators, attacks the media and members of the media, attacks Democrats, Republicans, and everything and everyone else in between. And the voluminous amount of tweeting about so many issues, opened him up to condemnation, ridicule and all manner of foul comments. As a result, President Trump blocked his critics.

Today the U.S. appeals court said Trump had violated the Constitution, calling it “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination”:

U.S. President Donald Trump violated the Constitution by blocking people whose views he disliked from his Twitter account, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

In a 3-0 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the First Amendment forbids Trump from using Twitter’s “blocking” function to limit access to his account, which has 61.8 million followers.

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote, citing several Supreme Court decisions.

Tuesday’s decision upheld a May 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan, which prompted Trump to unblock some accounts.

The Justice Department has called her ruling “fundamentally misconceived,” saying Trump used Twitter to express his views, not to offer a public forum for discussion.

Parker, however, said Trump’s account bears “all the trappings of an official, state-run account” and is “one of the White House’s main vehicles for conducting official business.”

Last year, the Justice Department argued that the ruling was “fundamentally misconceived,” and that since becoming the president, Trump was simply continuing to use his Twitter account in the same way as he always had: sharing his thoughts and views about any number of topics. The Justice Department also asserted that President Trump’s account belonged to him “in his personal” capacity” and “not the control of the government,” thus:

… when he exercises the power enjoyed by all Twitter users to block other users from their own accounts, he is not using any authority belonging to or conferred on him by the federal government,” the Justice Department’s legal brief said.

The appeals court also took into consideration that it was the President’s own spokesman, who confirmed that President Trump’s tweets are “official statements”:

“The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco said in a statement to NPR, “We are disappointed with the court’s decision and are exploring possible next steps.” President Trump, however, has not tweeted about the ruling. Yet.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University et al v Trump et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 18-1691 case is here. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is here.

ADDED: I’m adding this piece by David French, wherein he explains how the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals got it wrong in their ruling:

Boiled down to its essence, the court’s reasoning contained two key elements. First, it ruled that Trump’s Twitter account represents an outlet for official communications and interactions that is controlled by President Trump. Second, it found that under these circumstances, Trump’s decision to block users represents impermissible state action undertaken to suppress dissent.

The first element is fundamentally mistaken. By no traditional legal measure of “control” does Trump control his Twitter account. Twitter owns and controls his account, and he has no legal right to wrest control of it from Twitter. The court’s misunderstanding of the platform is made evident by this deeply flawed analysis:

The fact that government control over property is temporary, or that the government does not “own” the property in the sense that it holds title to the property, is not determinative of whether the property is, in fact, sufficiently controlled by the government to make it a forum for First Amendment purposes. See Se. Promotions, Ltd. v. Conrad, 420 U.S. 546, 547‐52 (1975) (holding privately‐owned theater leased to and operated by city was public forum). Temporary control by the government can still be control for First Amendment purposes.

There is no “control” at all, temporary or otherwise. When a politician rents a theater or other private venue, there is typically an exchange of money and a rental agreement that explicitly grants enforceable legal rights to access the property and control others’ access to the property, and — critically — limits the landlord’s power during the course of the rental.

Compare that level of control to the absolute lack of rights the user has under Twitter’s terms of service:

We may suspend or terminate your account or cease providing you with all or part of the Services at any time for any or no reason, including, but not limited to, if we reasonably believe: (i) you have violated these Terms or the Twitter Rules or Periscope Community Guidelines, (ii) you create risk or possible legal exposure for us; (iii) your account should be removed due to prolonged inactivity; or (iv) our provision of the Services to you is no longer commercially viable.

There is no exchange of money, the user has no right to the platform, and Twitter can not only eliminate your access entirely but censor any single tweet. If it chooses, it can even remove Trump’s ability to block, mute, or take any other action. And that’s not all — when you use Twitter, your speech isn’t even purely “your” speech any longer. Twitter grants itself the right to your communications, too…

Writing in response to the trial court’s ruling against Trump last year, law professor Greg Dolin compared Twitter to a radio call-in show that is hosting a government official as a guest. The politician has no right to be on the show, the host can send the politician packing at any time, and the host has ultimate control over not only the politician’s presence but also any callers’ speech. In other words, Trump remains on Twitter entirely at Twitter’s discretion.

In that circumstance, there is no “public forum.” There is instead a public official using a private platform to attempt to amplify his specific message, with the permission of the entity that controls the platform. The court’s ruling, in this circumstance, represents government intervention in Twitter’s control of its own service. The court is overriding the permissions Twitter gave its own user.

Moreover, the court gives short shrift to Trump’s own free-speech rights under the government-speech doctrine. Again, to borrow one of Professor Dolin’s analogies, “If a politician is holding a rally in a park (a traditional public forum), it doesn’t follow that he must permit critics to share the stage with him.” The Twitter thread beneath any tweet can undermine or amplify the president’s chosen message. So long as Twitter grants the user the ability to regulate his or her Twitter replies, then that regulation is an integral part of the user’s expression…

Read the whole thing.

–Dana

Coincidental Timing: Mitch McConnell’s Ancestors Slave Owners; McConnell Challenger Announces

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:30 am

[guest post by Dana]

Last night, NBC News published their version of a “big” story.

Like former President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ancestors were slave owners, and like the former president, McConnell is opposed to reparations:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said recently he opposes paying government reparations to the descendants of American slaves, has a family history deeply entwined in the issue: Two of his great-great-grandfathers were slave owners, U.S. census records show.

The two great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned a total of at least 14 slaves in Limestone County, Alabama — all but two of them female, according to the county “Slave Schedules” in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.

The details about McConnell’s ancestors, discovered by NBC News through a search of ancestry and census records, came in the wake of recent hearings on reparations before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Asked about the reparations issue, McConnell, R-Ky., said he was opposed to the idea, arguing it would be hard to figure out whom to compensate.

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” he said June 18, a day before the House reparations hearing. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president.”

Coinciding with this “big” story, is news that Kentucky DemocratAmy McGrath is challenging McConnell for his Senate seat in 2020:

Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who rose to national prominence last year in her failed campaign for Congress against Republican Andy Barr, is turning her sights on a new target: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a three-minute video released Tuesday, McGrath said McConnell has “bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.”

“I’m running for Senate because it shouldn’t be like this,” McGrath added.

McGrath’s candidacy marks a significant recruiting coup for Democrats. She emerged as an unlikely fundraising juggernaut in her congressional race, bringing in millions of dollars after her campaign released a biographical video that went viral, and becoming a Democratic celebrity in the process.

Three things to consider: Not since 1992 has Kentucky had a Democratic senator, President Trump won Kentucky by nearly 30 points in 2016, and Rep. Andy Barr beat McGrath in the Kentucky House race by 3 points.

Also, McGrath has a history of saying some pretty eye-popping things :

The one quote that McGrath…will likely have the hardest time explaining on the campaign stump in deep, deep red Kentucky is her comparison of the election of Donald Trump to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of an estimated 3,000 Americans.

“And then, of course, the results of the election, we have a new commander-in-chief,” the failed congressional candidate said at a Meet the Candidates Series event on Nov. 20, 2017. “And that morning I woke up like somebody had sucker punched me. I mean, I felt like, ‘what has just happened to my country?’”

She added, “The only feeling I can describe that’s any close to it was the feeling I had after 9/11. ‘What just happened, where are we going from here?’ and it was that just sinking feeling of sadness, and I didn’t know what to do.”

Here is McGrath’s video announcement:

Team McConnell wasted no time in “welcoming” McGrath to the race:

–Dana


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