Raided for Blogging?
Dear Congressman X:
I am writing to seek your help with a recent threat to First Amendment freedoms in our country.
As you know, there has been an explosion of internet “blogs” in our country, in the past 10+ years. A blog is an internet website at which an author can post comments, photos, excerpts from other works, pretty much anything you can imagine. Some blogs are read by many thousands of people; others may be read by no-one but the writer.
I am specifically writing to call your attention to a very dangerous tactic which has been designed to chill the free speech of bloggers: “SWATting,” in which a disguised caller reports to the police some violent emergency, like a shooting or kidnapping that is supposedly happening at the real-world residence of a blogger. The police naturally rush out a SWAT team, and the resulting interaction at the blogger-target’s house is of course incredibly dangerous and harrowing for all concerned.
Two popular bloggers have been “SWATted” in this manner in the past year. Curiously enough, both have published criticisms of a Mr. Brett Kimberlin on their blogs. Mr. Kimberlin is a convicted bomber and perjurer, who also was sentenced to 4 years Federal prison for falsely impersonating a Department of Defense official (4 counts) and for unlawful possession of an official insignia of the Department of Defense and a Presidential seal (4 counts). (See United States v. Kimberlin, 781 F. 2d 1247 - Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit 1985). His convictions for impersonation are of particular interest with regard to the “SWATting” problem, obviously.
Mr. Kimberlin’s 50 year prison sentence was cut short for reasons of “gain time,” so he only served a total 17 years (includinga parole revocation), and was released in 2001. Since then, he has somehow managed to land a role as a director for 2 tax-exempt 501(c)(3) political activist groups, the “Velvet Revolution” organization, and the “Justice Through Music Project.”
In addition to the SWATting issue, the aforesaid Brett Kimberlin has filed apparently false and frivolous petitions for “peace orders” (the equivalent of injunctions or restraining orders) in the Maryland courts, with the intent to silence the blogging of a well-known attorney, Mr. Aaron Walker, who has done no more than call attention to Mr. Kimberlin’s criminal past. Congressman, how on earth can the factual recitation of the facts of a criminal conviction be subject to a gag order? How can this be consistent with the First Amendment to the US Constitution?
You may have heard by now that Sen. Saxby Chambliss from Georgia, and Cong. Marchant from Texas have both sought for Federal law enforcement agencies to investigate these issues. I hope you will join them in this effort.