Today, Rep. Sandy Adams led 85 members of Congress to join Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ call for Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the SWATting of RedState author and CNN contributor Erick Erickson, as well as the SWATtings of other Conservative activists over the past year:
The Honorable Eric Holder
U.S. Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 5111
Washington, D.C. 20530-0009
Dear Attorney General Holder:
We write you concerning the growing threat of “SWAT-ting” and its costly ramifications. These crimes occur when individuals call emergency dispatchers under the guise of another person’s name with fraudulent claims, causing local law enforcement to swarm the home of innocent Americans. SWAT-ting first arose in 2002, but as technology and the Internet has expanded, the dangers of SWAT-ting are also on the rise.
Investigators have concluded that the majority of SWAT-ting cases utilize voice over Internet (VOIP) connections between the suspect’s computer and a distant telephone network, and then dialing 911. This enables the suspect to falsify their identifying information, such as their telephone number and address, and make it nearly impossible for emergency dispatchers to identify or track the true origin of the call, or even pin-point calls from VOIP connections.
Some of these calls involve embellished schemes, including armed suspects and hostages, and in some instances, the caller claims that he has just killed someone. Moreover, the caller knowingly uses the identifying information of another person, who is usually an adversary of the caller. This elaborate hoax is all done with the goal of having law enforcement swarm the home of the caller’s foe, which only incites fear in and tarnishes the reputation of an innocent person.
Even worse, SWAT-ting is quickly becoming a scare tactic used against political bloggers, essentially stifling those bloggers’ First Amendment rights. Just last month, a popular blogger in the state of Georgia, Erick Erickson, became the latest victim of SWAT-ting. During the Erickson’s family dinner, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Erickson’s home after receiving a 911 call reporting an accidental shooting that appeared to have come from Erickson’s address. Fortunately, Erickson previously alerted police to SWAT-ting tactics; however, numerous similar scenarios have ended with guiltless victims held at gunpoint.
While none of the SWAT-ting victims have incurred physical harm from these hate filled ploys, we are gravely concerned that future victims may not find themselves so lucky. Plus, when law enforcement officers are responding to SWAT-ting claims, resources are diverted from those truly in need–all of this because of differences in political ideology.
Differences of opinion should enrich our lives, not divide us. Each American has the right to freely express his or her ideas and should not be subject to fear tactics like SWAT-ting, which run counter to the liberty that forms the bedrock of our great nation. These crimes are not to be tolerated and necessitate thorough examination at every level.
We urge you to hold true to those promises and work to ensure that criminals using fear in hopes to preventing others from exercising their First Amendment rights are held to the highest standard of the law. To this end, we implore you to thoroughly review each of these cases, determine whether any federal laws have been breached, and prosecute those crimes accordingly.
In the past year, Mike Stack, Patrick Frey, and Erick Erickson have been SWATted. Many suspect either Kimberlin or his cohorts, however there has been no direct evidence linking Kimberlin to the incidents. Kimberlin said, in an interview with ABC, “Of course not, it’s ridiculous. It’s totally irresponsible for them to even say this. There is no truth to anything about the SWAT-ting.”
Patrick Frey and Erick Erickson’s SWATtings happened shortly after they started discussing Brett Kimberlin, and his two non-profits Justice Through Music Foundation and Velvet Revolution, as well as the relationship between them, Neal Rauhauser, and Democratic donors. It’s awfully curious that these incidents only happen to individuals on one side of the political spectrum.
That is, until today:
Velvet Revolution alleges that on May 31st, Brett Kimberlin was SWATted as well, and is putting up a $10,000 reward “leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who have engaged in SWATting political activists.” Given that the same individual was responsible for the SWATtings of Mike Stack, Patrick Frey, and Erick Erickson, one would imagine that the person responsible had extended his criminal behavior toward Kimberlin as well.
Not so, according to Lee Stranahan. After Lee inquired about the alleged incident, this is what he received from a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Maryland Public Information Office:
I searched our 911 call database for the above listed address. There was no call listed for 5/31, nor anything similar to what you described. I then searched each of our 6 districts for the entire day of 5/31 for a murder in progress, murder just occurred or murder occurred earlier call with negative results. I then spoke with our director to determine if this type of incident was brought to his attention recently and it was not. If your research proliferates any further detail that would help us to narrow down the search, please let me know. I can always check another address if you find one, but for the time being, I don’t see anything similar to what you described.
Additionally, after Lee spoke to Kimberlin’s attorney, Kevin Zeese, he was initially unaware of the alleged incident as well. As a follow-up, Zeese explicated:
Regarding all the SWAT-ting incidents: This is a law enforcement matter, we are cooperating with the FBI in all these matters. We have offered the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons involved in these four swatting incidents. We do not intend to try this matter in the press. We have no further comment at this time.
You are welcome to report that, but make it clear — this is for all SWAT-ting incidents including of the right wing bloggers and Kimberlin.
I also called and spoke to the Montgomery County Maryland Public Information Office, and they responded:
“[We] have no information of police reports from the information you gave us.”
There were no police reports filed by Brett Kimberlin on the day in question. They told me I could call back tomorrow for more information, but I have no desire to ask them to look for something that doesn’t exist. This is nothing more than another chapter of the terrorist who cried wolf.
The fact of the matter is, Brett Kimberlin did not get SWATted. His attorney was unaware of the incident, there is no 911 tape, and there is no police report. Brett Kimberlin is, admittedly, quite successful at eliciting sympathy. In the same aforementioned ABC interview, Kimberlin shared:
“What they’re doing is an obstruction of justice and it’s defamatory. We’re cooperating with the authorities in this matter. They have engaged in a massive smear campaign against us that has resulted in death threats to me and my family and to others associated with us.”
This time, however, the facts have dismantled his house of cards. What’s particularly curious is that the ABC interview I’m quoting was part of a piece run by Artlette Saenz on June 6th, a week after Kimberlin’s alleged SWATting incident. Wouldn’t have Kimberlin used such a golden opportunity to drum up more sympathy for himself? If it indeed happened to him, that was the time to share the details of alleged incident. Alas, it took him until today to concoct such a ridiculous story, and he hid behind an announcement from his non-profit offering a reward, attempting to give an air of credibility to a story that was absolutely, 100% false from the beginning.
Indeed, had Kimberlin been SWATted, I hope that justice would have been served and the individual brought to justice. SWATting is extremely dangerous, and this pattern of incidents is worrisome. But unsurprisingly, his claim is without a shred of corroboration. And since Congress is indeed jumping into the fray, I hope they call upon Kimberlin to share his SWATting story as well, so that Congress, as well as us, can see Kimberlin for the liar he is.