Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com

Ken White reports:
The United States Department of Justice is using federal grand jury subpoenas to identify anonymous commenters engaged in typical internet bluster and hyperbole in connection with the Silk Road prosecution. DOJ is targeting Reason.com, a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.
Why is the government using its vast power to identify these obnoxious asshats, and not the other tens of thousands who plague the internet?
Because these twerps mouthed off about a judge.
Last week, a source provided me with a federal grand jury subpoena. The subpoena1, issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, is directed to Reason.com in Washington, D.C.. The subpoena commands Reason to provide the grand jury "any and all identifying information"2 Reason has about participants in what the subpoena calls a "chat."
Several commenters on the post found the sentence unjust, and vented their feelings in a rough manner. The grand jury subpoena specifies their comments and demands that Reason.com produce any identifying information on them:
AgammamonI5.31.15 @ lO:47AMltt
Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.
AlanI5.31.15 @ 12:09PMltt
It's judges like these that will be taken out back and shot.
croakerI6.1.15 @ 11:06AMltt
Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you
feed them in feet first.
Cloudbusterl6.l.15 @ 2:40PMIIt
Why do it out back? Shoot them out front, on the steps of the courthouse.
Rhywunl5.3l.15 @ 11:35AMIIt
I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.
AlanI5.31.15 @ 12:11PMIIt
There is.
Product PlacementI5.31.15 @ 1:22PMIIt
I'd prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.
croakerl6.l.15 @ 11:09AMIIt
Fuck that. I don't want to oay for that cunt's food, housing, and medical. Send her through
the wood chipper.

The grand jury subpoena specifies that it is seeking "evidence in regard to an alleged violation of: Title 18, United States Code, Section 875." In other words, the U.S. Attorney's Office is looking for evidence of violations of the federal law against interstate threats. That's the same statute that was at issue in the Supreme Court's decision in Elonis v. U.S. last week, in which the Court decided that to be a "true threat" in violation of Section 875, the speaker must have some level of knowledge or intent that the hearer will take the threat seriously.
Since the comments are about a judge, if they are "true threats" they could conceivably also violate Title 18, U.S.C., section 115(a), which prohibits threatening federal judges.

This does not surprise me. However, I continue to be amazed at those posting threatening comments about government officials on the internet.The idea that the internet is some kind of cloud where the government does not tread is absurd.


(ht Mike Cheel)


  1. This is clearly an intimidation tactic. Anyone with half a brain, no make that a quarter of a brain, can see that none of those comments count as actual threats. Do we really think some commentator is actually threatening to put a judge in a woodchipper?

  2. Chilling. The whole "free speech" concept still lingering in the U.S. has always been an anomaly. Historically states criminalized speech more aggressively than firearms more aggressively than economic activities. Because each poses threat to state power in that order.

    So it only makes sense that as the U.S. government inexorably continues to aggressively erode economic and firearms freedoms it would also move to start eroding speech freedoms.

  3. Probably provocateurs engaged in a psyop. I read a quote by someone who said that the "ones calling loudest for violence are the ones reporting back to HQ" or something like that. Typical COINTEL pro stuff. It'll end when some underling says to his boss "these comments appear to have originated in Langley, VA and/or Chatham House in London."

    1. That's generally true. However, those are usually actual threats, rather than bluster and bluffs that are twisted out of context.

    2. The ambiguity and haziness enhance the Hegelian dialectic. Are you a law and order type who supports the gov't and its agents who are always in the right or are you one of those unhinged, potentially prone to violence, civil liberties "extremists" as Chris Crispy put it? See what I did there? These kind of comments and much worse get posted everyday. However, a psyop will isolate an event, push a narrative, and divide people into camps, no middle ground allowed. It's tried and true and most recently employed in the highly publicized police brutality/riot scenarios.

  4. Makes great sense, Hollow Daze, that it is paid shills/provocateurs who are 'leading' that thread of comments, in the vein of Hal Turner:

    (My hands feel icky after cutting and pasting a link to Infowars, which I think is paid, controlled opposition).