This is the story of how the right wing uses artificial swarms to shame and silence voices they don’t want to be heard. Even as they rise up and beat their chests about the First Amendment and the right to free speech, they scurry behind the scenes to squelch it at every turn.
Before you read this post, go read Alex Pareene’s really well-done post at Salon on Brett Kimberlin and Lee Stranahan’s ginned-up “Blog about Brett Kimberlin Day.” Here’s the principle you must keep in mind in order to understand the strategy:
Basically you have a large group of people who receive a great deal of joy from pretending to be the victims of unprovoked and terrible persecution, and they are united against an incredibly litigious narcissist — possibly because he is attempting to block them from exposing his past through intimidation, or possibly because they’re attempting to block him from exposing malfeasance by the activist right. Or maybe a little of both.
As a wise person once said, not everything is a conspiracy but conspiracies exist. And in this case, it would appear that there was a concerted effort to shame and silence Neal Rauhauser and Brett Kimberlin by the power of the mob, even when the mob was really just an invented bogeyman.
Kimberlin’s past is not pretty. As Pareene noted, he has served time in prison, and appears to have paid that debt to society, given that he is no longer on parole or probation. Yet he is a convenient villain to construct a narrative that turns ordinary people into malevolent, two-dimensional villains.
They made Neal Rauhauser into a left-wing supervillain because they wanted and needed one so badly. And for a moment, right wing bloggers seemed to finally be picking on someone their own size, because no one could find Rauhauser to engage him in “lawfare.” So they wrote with what little information they had, embellished and inflated it, and called the whole fiasco their finest hour.
In Rauhauser and Kimberlin’s case, there is a convergence of several different conflicts, which have been conflated and made into one gigantic conflict over time. They are:
June-July 2011 – Rauhauser’s spirited and dogged defense of former Rep. Anthony Weiner
From the moment the Anthony Weiner scandal broke, Neal Rauhauser smelled a rat, and as it turns out, he was right. If you are Andrew Breitbart and information comes to you that there’s a certain loudmouthed New York Congressman who happens to have a propensity to flirt with young women online, you might give serious thought to providing a few “friendly” young women for him to flirt with.
No one doubts Anthony Weiner had a weakness for flirtation. Rauhauser doesn’t deny that. But that weakness was exploited by Andrew Breitbart in order to discredit and ultimately force Weiner into an early retirement. A few sock puppet girls, some provocative tweets, and away we go.
How James O’Keefe-ian. A Breitbart signature takedown with cooperation from the good Congressman himself.
I’m certain the Breitbots expected all left-wing outrage over the setup to evaporate when Rep. Weiner resigned. Remember Andrew Breitbart hijacking that press conference?
Yet. One person wouldn’t let it go, and that one person was Neal Rauhauser, who kept on with it and keeps on with it until this day.
2011 – The “SWATings” aka “SWATgate
For the uninitiated, SWATing has been a popular way to use emergency response services to smack around people other people don’t like. Here’s how it goes, via Wikipedia:
Swatting has its origins in prank calls to emergency services. Increasing sophistication of the techniques employed and the objectives, notably attempts to direct response units of particular types, and in particular attempts to cause SWAT teams to be dispatched to particular locations, spawned the term swatting. The term may have been coined by the FBI, which investigates these activities that are in the United States or are US-related.
Los Angeles District Attorney Patrick Frey may be the most notorious right wing blogger to claim he was SWATted, and of course, he blames his left-wing bogeymen, Rauhauser and Kimberlin. There is absolutely no evidence to link either one of them to it, but that hasn’t stopped Frey from making the accusation. Another right wing blogger and co-conspirator in this email loop is Mike Stack, who has a storied history with online pornography forums and other slimy underbellies of the Internet, and who is also linked to the Anthony Weiner scandal. 1
Here’s the thing: There is some evidence suggesting that this was a setup, that there was no legitimate SWATting of Frey (though Mike Stack’s may have been legit), and further, there is no evidence it was linked in any way to Rauhauser and/or Kimberlin. Were it not for a prominent Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney claiming it was so with a very loud and well-funded echo chamber behind them, no one would consider them to be suspects.
As part of the discovery process in a related civil lawsuit, this little gem of an email (PDF) emerged. Addressed to Breitbart blogger “Liberty Chick” (aka Mandy Nagy), Aaron Worthing (more about him in the next section), Douglas Stewart, Mike Stack, and “Dustin F”, it describes Mr. Frey’s meeting with a Dallas FBI agent. I’m unclear why a Los Angeles ADA would bring in the Dallas FBI on something that happened to him at his home in Los Angeles, but the group he addresses his summary to is indeed an interesting one. This text in particular intrigues me:
Here’s the text in case it’s hard to read:
It’s not our fault, Mike.
So I don’t know how much closer we are to catching them, but I feel happier. I mean Neal basically announced today that he and Kimberlin are responsible for the harassment. We just have to keep watching, keep taking notes and screenshots, keep sharing information, and try to catch them committing a crime with an unprotected computer.
Er…easy enough, right?
Let’s keep our chins up. Soon high tech investigators from my office will be on it and they might be more motivated. Don’t give up. We’ll get them.
Yes, that’s the ticket. Folks, this is an Assistant District Attorney presuming guilt about a man who differs with him politically and has no shame at bringing the resources of the Dallas FBI office and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office together to “get them,” without any credible evidence they are involved. Neal announced nothing like what Frey claims in that email, and there has been absolutely zero evidence of any involvement on his part, but in typical right wing fashion, they think if they say it often enough it will somehow magically become true. This is especially true in their minds if enough people say it loudly enough and often enough that they simply become monsters capable of anything, worthy of all hate mustered by their “enemies.”
What kind of sick obsession is that? And again, why is the Dallas FBI office involved in something that is alleged to happen in Los Angeles? Mike Stack and Patrick Frey, the two who claim to have been wronged, do not live in Texas.
One might wonder if Texas FBI agents are more friendly to right-wing bloggers. After all, we just saw a Florida FBI agent try to influence a national election by interfering in an investigation for nothing other than his politics and the belief that he could disgrace President Obama with his absurd Benghazi/Petraeus theory.
2011-2012 – Aaron Worthing’s “Outing”
Aaron Worthing, aka Aaron Walker, is an especially odious brand of right-wing blogger. Like Frey, Walker is also a lawyer, and extraordinarily Islamophobic. Standing bravely for the First Amendment, Worthing maintained two blogs. One was his regular blog and the other was a far more inflammatory blog intended to trash Muslims, called “Everybody Draw Muhammed (EDM).” It was as offensive as they come, and “Worthing” hid behind his pseudonym while firing shots at Kimberlin from his blog even as he went out of his way to offend every follower of Islam on the planet with the other one.
Lawsuits were filed. What option does one really have when an entire group of ideologues decides they’re going to engage in group defamation? Online conflicts like this rarely get resolved online. Most of the time they’re resolved in court, and this was no exception. Kimberlin filed suit and Worthing’s identity became known. He was not Aaron Worthing, but Aaron Walker, and he was indeed responsible for the offensive and possibly dangerous EDM blog.
Brave man that he is, Worthing decided to go to his employer with the news that he might be exposed as the man behind the ugly blog. Hoping to paint himself as a victim, he sent a two-page letter to the human resources department telling them about the blog and blaming Brett Kimberlin.
He was fired. When he tried to blame that firing on Neal Rauhauser and Brett Kimberlin, the attorney for his former employer responded with this (also available via recently released court documents (PDF)):
As you can see, his former employer was quite angry at the possible danger Walker’s actions had put other employees in, but ultimately Walker was let go because he was doing right wing things on company time and wasn’t doing the company’s business very well.
But…Brett Kimberlin. Neal Rauhauser. They are the bogeymen. Right? Wrong.
In October, 262 pages of correspondence between Los Angeles District Attorney Patrick Frey, Breitbart blogger Nadia Naffe, right wing associate Mike Stack, and various other players were released as part of a discovery request. They quite clearly illustrate the conspiracy to shame and frame Neal Rauhauser and Brett Kimberlin for every possible sin and bad thing visited upon right wing bloggers.
Damn personal responsibility, blame Kimberlin and Rauhauser. And if you can screw up the Google results for the two of them, even better.
I have been America’s alpha political troll for two elections now and while it’s been fun, I am ready to do something else. This is, of course, entirely dependent on a bunch of butthurt crybaby wingnuts accepting that they got their asses kicked and limping off into irrelevance, rather than doubling down again with the same tactics that got on my nerves in the first place.
2012 – Nadia Naffe vs. John Patrick Frey, et al
Nadia Naffe used to work for James O’Keefe, until O’Keefe allegedly tried to drug and sexually assault her. Naffe has now filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles District Attorney Frey and related parties, alleging that he covered up a wiretap of Congressman Maxine Waters’ office.
Her allegations are explosive, and if they prove to be true, I would guess Mr. Patterico Pat Frey has some explaining to do to Los Angeles taxpayers.
Of course, blame is raining down on Kimberlin and Rauhauser for this, too. How convenient.
Let’s add it all up
- 2 scapegoats on the left named Kimberlin and Rauhauser
- Innumerable right wing bloggers, many of whom are lawyers
- Claims of victimizing behavior by the bogeymen toward the white right knights
- Lots and lots and lots of blog posts decrying vague unnamed things done by one guy with a scary past and another guy who was a midlevel political operative and a pretty decent climate change blogger, back in the day.
- Many claims, most unsubstantiated by a large group of right wing bloggers who not only used the opportunity to smear Rauhauser and Kimberlin but also to raise funds, ostensibly to assist these poor beknighted bloggers who suffered so much at the hands of bad lefties.
- Nadia Naffe, who has what appears to be a legitimate claim with regard to LA Assistant District Attorney Frey.
What you have is a pattern. Let me show it to you, in their own words. This is from an email to Andrew Breitbart, sent on February 29, 2012, shortly before he died. (All 3 emails on this subject are here, in PDF format). They were sent by a Michelle at Vested Protection Systems, LLC to Andrew Breitbart. Michelle has been identified as the operative known as @ZAPEM, a right-winger who also seems to have connections to a private detective agency used by Andrew Breitbart.
For purposes of this post, I want simply to illustrate their pattern. Specific targets were Anonymous, Neil Rauhauser, Nadia Naffe, and creepily enough, me and one other person who they erroneously connected to the “Breitbart Unmasked” site, written by people unknown to me. They assume Neil Rauhauser was posting there, but he had not been posting anywhere at that time, and picked up his own blog under his own name in April.
a. A Hacker group solicited by Adbusters on IRC in early 2011 for use as a political weapon.
b. Co-opted by the left immediately for political use and frowned upon by the hacker factions therein.
c. Our goal was to:
1. Infiltrate Anonymous
2. Cause a rift between the left and the hackers by first proving to the hackers involved that they were being used
3. Provide them with enough information to ultimately attack the left
4. Uncover the mechanics of how the left would filter control of the organization’s money to themselves
BOSTON POLICE & FBI – WHITE HAT GOALS
a. Work with Detective Blair of the Boston Police Department
b. Feed Boston PD information on hacker activity that we are assured trickles up to the FBI
c. Neal Rauhauser’s name has already been dropped to them & being investigated
d. As soon Anonymous arrests began to take place (already in progress), divert blame & tell Anonymous that it was a construct of the left
e. Stand back and watch Anonymous destroy the left themselves
MIKE STACK – (Making productive use of Weinergate)
a. Keep Mike focused and his PD up to date on Neal Rauhauser
b. Hillsborough NJ Municipal Court Harassment Complaint against Neal Rauhauser completed
c. Judge deemed valid process service was made to Mark Rasch, the attorney of record in Project Vigilant
d. Bench Warrant issued for Neal Rauhauser early February for not appearing on scheduled court date that appeared on the summons served
e. Formal hearing held 2/28/2011 where a Failure to Appear penalty was added to the harassment charges
f. Rauhauser will now have his DMV license revoked and be notified by mail
g. There is at least a $750 bail on the bench warrant, not including the penalty for the 2/28 Failure To Appear charge
h. Anonymous has promised to expose Rauhauser and I will be getting an update from them tonight hopefully –
(I received a quick message from one of them while writing this email)
a. Crooks and Liars.com is the only website advertised on this smear site (evidence & particulars have been documented already)
b. Neal Rauhauser is one of the only ones who have posted there
c. John Amato is the owner of crooksandliars.com (we have all the players involved, including Karol Kuns (@karoli) and Diane Sweet)
d. Anonymous has been advised that this site also obtained two internet names attacked to the crooksandliars domain, that being…
occupyamericapac.org – Created 10/6/2011
occupyamericapac.com – Created 10/5/2011
We believe these are the hidden, dormant accounts waiting to take over once Anonymous is fully co-opted
a. We’ve read the Twitter timeline
b. You stated that the relationship between O’Keefe & Naffe has only been 2 years
c. Contradicts the story that she has 6-7 years worth of emails by O’Keefe
d. There’s a concern that O’Keefe has been hacked. If so, please have him contact me any time tonight or tomorrow
e. We have a lawyer in his area who knows him and that’s Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., Milltown, N.J.
f. If Naffe falls into Rauhauser’s hands, that’s exactly what you want. We’ll make fools of them if she plays into that hornet’s nest, no worries.
I honestly feel we’ve got this. The key here is to stay calm, let them ramble incoherently while we focus on goals (yours & ours). In order to accomplish this, we just break it down into manageable pieces, delegate people to focus on their areas and everything will get done from the police being informed — to Anonymous projecting against the left — to you becoming the sorely needed leadership voice the Tea Party has needed since Sarah Palin fell off the face of the earth and Glen Beck went insane.
Attn: Michelle ZAPEM whateveryourname is – Reality Check: Occupy America is a sister site of Crooks and Liars, edited by Diane Sweet. There is nothing hidden or dormant about it.
You think this is insane? I do. But please, do not ever think it’s insane to believe conspiracies exist. Just look at this crazy effort to link Neal Rauhauser to their own plots and then consider who should, and should not, be shamed here.
Neal Rauhauser is a guy who did some great blogging about climate change before he got derailed by the whole Weinergate scandal. He caught Andrew Breitbart’s attention and became the evil KimberlinRauhauser right-wing monster. Add in a few nutcases like Aaron “I hate Muslims” Walker, Lee Stranahan, this whacked-up Michelle aka ZAPEM aka Lady Crusader for Andrew Breitbart and what you have is what Alex Pareene described this way:
So in one reality we have a standard-issue right-wing character assassination piece against a liberal activist few liberals had actually heard of — think Van Jones, redux — that has grown into a much larger campaign accusing him, without evidence, of serious crimes, all because of his long-forgotten past.
Well, actually let’s call it one liberal activist and a liberal operative who made a convenient demon, and let’s go one step farther and say that right-wing paranoia and yes, hate, actually prove that the “one reality” referred to there is, well…reality.
It happens every day. Every single day. On the left and on the right. So the next time you’re tempted to write it off as a ridiculous convoluted conspiracy theory, remember how Neal Rauhauser in particular has been robbed of his ability to earn a living simply because right wing bloggers decided to make him the devil incarnate with no evidence, no actual wrongdoing, and no foundation in truth.
As for Brett Kimberlin, evidently redemption is only available to right-wingers. Whatever the truth about Kimberlin’s past is, the fact is that until the right wing decided to make him into Satan himself, he was a pretty low-profile guy promoting causes like voting rights. And pushing back against crooks and liars. Not a terrible thing to be doing with a life that could have been wasted with crimes and misdemeanors.
Yes, these two men have been shamed and turned into caricatures of true villainy, which at this point, appears to be the province of the likes of Patrick Frey, Aaron Walker, Lee Stranahan, and Ali Akbar, who I will discuss in a separate post.
1See the Patriot-Ombudsman blog for the full 262 pages and more on Aaron Worthing
2Original text updated to correct date of “Weinergate” and add reference to the full release of related discovery items