Some positive developments occurred yesterday for several of us who have suffered retaliation in our personal lives for our political views.
Yesterday Saxby Chambliss, U.S. Senator for Georgia, wrote Eric Holder to request a federal investigation of politically motivated SWATtings:
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.
In a story linked by Drudge, ABC News covered the story and reported further details about the SWATtings. One detail that I had known but had not made public was that Erickson’s SWATting was more serious than was previously realized. Erickson had previously reported, based on statements from the patrol officers, that the caller said there had been an “accidental” shooting. But based on the call, it is now known that the caller reported that he had killed his wife:
Late last month, Erick Erickson, the editor of the conservative site RedState.com, was the victim of the same type of targeting. He had written about Frey’s case just a few days before.
Erickson sat at home in Macon, Georgia with his family while his children played outside over Memorial Day weekend when two sheriff’s deputies drove to the house after receiving a phone call about Erickson allegedly shooting his wife.
“My first thought was, ‘What have the kids done?'” Erickson said after seeing the police car outside his home. “The police officer approached me in the driveway and said it was a call about an accidental shooting. According to the 911 call, the person claimed I had killed my wife.”
If this isn’t the same SWATter from the previous incidents, I’ll eat my hat. And I like my hat.
The absolute best part of the ABC piece? I am now a “prominent blogger”!
ABC News spoke with two prominent conservative bloggers who were victims of SWAT-ting, a hoax tactic used by some hackers to infiltrate a victim’s phone system, often through voice over IP (VOIP) technology to make calls appear as if they are coming from a residence. The perpetrators call police to report a violent crime at that home to which the police respond, sometimes with SWAT teams.
Just after midnight on July 1, 2011, Patrick Frey, a deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles and a conservative blogger who writes under the name “Patterico,” heard a pounding at his door as sheriff’s deputies arrived to investigate a call from Frey’s home about a man who claimed he had killed his wife. But no one in Frey’s home had been killed, and no one had made a phone call to the police.
“It’s a phone call that could have gotten me killed,” Frey wrote on his blog about the incident.
Meanwhile, the thugs supporting Brett Kimberlin have gone after Ali Akbar, the head of the National Bloggers’ Club legal defense fund for those harassed by Brett Kimberlin. The Breitbart Unmasked site published details of a felony conviction Ali has on his record, forcing Ali to take to his Facebook page, explain the background of his criminal mistake, and promise not to back down.
Now, sympathizers of convicted domestic terrorist Brett Kimberlin are harassing me, tearing me apart—and coming after my family.
In the past two weeks, hackers have tried accessing my email accounts, they’ve placed a fake SWAT call on a colleague, and just two days ago they posted the address and picture of my mother’s home in an attempt to incite unlawful behavior—or violence.
This is all because the National Bloggers Club is raising funds to relieve some of Aaron Walker’s financial strife—caused by his own legal run-in with Kimberlin. I became a target.
Kimberlin has notified my attorneys that he intends to sue me and my organization directly. By bringing up my past, he hopes to destroy my credibility. By bringing my family into it, he aspires to frighten me into silence.
Despite all of this, I’ll stand for free speech. We’re going to get the peace order against Walker overturned, restore his First Amendment rights, and fight the thugs who are bullying my family.
This is a dangerous man, especially for someone in my position. Note the following from the book written about him, Citizen K:
“For three months, Kimberlin resided at the federal prison in prison in Terra Haute, Indiana, in a unit reserved for convicts awaiting long-term assignments to other institutions. . . . He had resisted a sexual predator by tossing powdered chlorine cleanser in his face. The predator was African American, Kimberlin told me, and as he fended him off he shouted, ‘You f–king n–r! You motherf–kng n–r! Get the f–k away from me! I’ll kill you, you motherf–r!’ Kimberlin enjoyed telling this story.”
– Mark Singer, Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin (1996), Page 183
I’m going to remain a target because I’m not backing down. I’m an imperfect man still finding my way back to the arms of a loving Father. But right is right and wrong is wrong and Kimberlin cannot hide from the sunlight he’s being exposed to.
Your continued prayers and standing with the other victims and I at KimberlinFiles.org is truly humbling and much appreciated.
I can’t say that we know why the most recent SWATting happened, or any of them, with certainty. But further investigation is certainly warranted. Kimberlin supporters like to call discussing the SWATtings a public trial by blog — mainly because it’s yet another way for them to portray my public speech about matters of public interest as somehow violating my job duties. But that’s nonsense. None of this is a trial by blog. We just want the matter fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
Eric Holder faces the House Judiciary Committee today. Will the topic come up? We’ll see.
Meanwhile, the Aaron Walker appeal has been announced, and Ali continues to stand tall:
“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.”
This is not an easy thing to do, folks. There are Big Media reporters who are literally scared to report the story. Please support anyone willing to stick their necks out.