Shut Up, They Explained: Another Blogger Threatened With Imprisonment For Writing About Brett Kimberlin

Law, Politics & Current Events

A couple of weeks ago, a federal court representative reached out to an American citizen. She told that citizen that he could go to jail if he continued to blog about convicted perjurer and bomber Brett Kimberlin.

Given how the federal criminal justice system works, she was right.

An Ex-Con's View

The citizen in question was Paul Lemmen, a blogger who writes at An Ex-Con's View. As the title suggests, Paul is a convicted felon. The court official who offered the chilling warning was his probation officer, an agent of the United States courts.

Paul Lemmen has sustained multiple convictions for fraud. He's up front about it. In fact, it's part of the point of his blog. He's written a series of posts about his misdeeds, and about life as a prisoner. You can still find some stories about the more cinematic parts of his criminal history online — for instance, his elaborate fantasies claiming military ranks and records he did not earn to get jobs and money.

Most recently, Paul Lemmen was charged in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee with bank fraud and securities fraud. He entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison (a moderately tough federal sentence for white-collar crime these days, in my experience) and five years of supervised release — the post-sentence supervision that has replaced parole in the federal criminal justice system.

Based on his background, reasonable people view Paul Lemmen's claims with some skepticism. He understands that. He accepts that as a convicted con man, he may be treated like the boy who cried wolf when he seeks redress for actual injustice. As he put it to me, "[t]he issue of believability is one that I knew would be a thorny one. I am prepared for it to be raised and will bear the consequences of my past actions. . . .Part of being reformed is accepting the healthy skepticism of others."

The Knock On The Door

Paul Lemmen finds himself warned about returning to prison because his blog is not just about his past crimes and his life in prison. He also writes about politics. Recently, he began writing about Brett Kimberlin, and about Kimberlin's campaign of "lawfare" against his critics. We've covered that campaign extensively here, because I view Team Kimberlin's successful abuse of the courts as an important First Amendment issue.

As with others before him, Paul Lemmen faced dramatic consequences as a result of voicing his opinions about a public figure and a matter of public controversy.

Paul was convicted and sentenced in the Middle District of Tennessee, but he's living in Florida. During his term of supervised release, he's supervised by a United States Probation Officer there. In late May 2012, he was providing his probation officer with information about his new address, a modest apartment in Tampa. The probation officer asked to visit him — the first visit she'd requested in months. When she visited, after they had discussed his compliance with his residential and financial paperwork, the officer warned Lemmen that she "had been told" that he needed to "not write about anything that could get [him] in trouble" and that she didn't want him to "go back to prison to await a judge's ruling on possible defamation." This was the first time the probation officer had ever mentioned Paul Lemmen's blogging. Paul asked her if this had something to do with what he had written about Brett Kimberlin; she responded only that she didn't want to see someone so easy to supervise be violated (that is, be found in violation of supervised release and returned to prison) and that he needed to be careful and "watch his back."

Paul does not have a single bad thing to say about his probation officer, and says she seemed very uncomfortable telling him this.

Paul is the first to admit that he has no direct evidence linking this warning to the lawfare activities of Team Kimberlin. But I submit that the inference is strong — even overwhelming. I've talked about the facts before: Kimberlin has used bogus "peace orders" and false criminal complaints to retaliate against critics. Team Kimberlin relentlessly characterizes any criticism as "harassment" or "stalking" or "defamation," and Kimberlin — a convicted perjurer — regularly claims that criticism of him has led to death threats, and asserts that his critics are legally responsible for those threats. Team Kimberlin has attacked and harassed an attorney who offered pro bono help to one of his critics. Team Kimberlin wrote to Aaron Walker's employers and local police, in an effort that was part of what led to Walker and his wife being fired on the pretext that his participation in "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day" presented a risk to his coworkers. Team Kimberlin has retaliated against a blogger who set up a charitable fund to help Walker by publishing the home address of the blogger's mother and a picture of her house. Moreover, the timing of the warning — coming as it did within days of Paul Lemmen's posts about Brett Kimberlin — is powerful evidence. As I've said before, we don't know whether Kimberlin himself coordinates or even knows of the actions of all of his supporters. But it seems very highly unlikely that the U.S. Probation Office just happened across Paul Lemmen's blog, independently concluded that it might be "defamatory," and dispatched Paul's probation officer to warn him. Rather, the most reasonable and probable explanation is that Team Kimberlin continued its lawfare by calling the probation office and accusing Lemmen of defamation or "harassment."

If you've been following this story, you probably accept the inference that Team Kimberlin called the probation office and accused Paul Lemmen of misconduct for blogging about Kimberlin. But I'll wager many of you are having trouble with the next step. How could this be truly chilling? How could such a warning be a real threat? How can blogging be a supervised release revocation? Won't it be immediately self-evident to anyone — probation officer or judge — that this is bogus? Even if Paul were arrested, wouldn't a sensible judge release him immediately?

To understand why Paul Lemmen was worried — why his speech was so immediately and effectively chilled — you have to understand how the system "works."

It's Easy To Get A Ticket On Con Air

When Brett Kimbelin was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment by a federal court in the early 1980s, sentences were effectively indeterminate — the number imposed had little or nothing to do with the sentence served. The U.S. Parole Commission determined when federal prisoners were released on parole, and supervised them after they got out. As a result, Brett Kimberlin didn't serve anywhere near his 50 year sentence, any more than Phillip Garrido did.

Indeterminate sentencing fell out of favor for some good reasons and some bad. In 1984 Congress passed the Sentencing Reform Act, ending indeterminate sentencing for subsequent cases and creating the convoluted Sentencing Guidelines. The new law replaced parole for subsequent defendants with post-sentence supervised release under the auspices of the U.S. Probation Office, an arm of the court. Federal sentences were no longer gut-check judicial pronouncements of a number that would bear little or no relation to actual time of incarceration. Rather, determining a federal sentence became a wonkish exercise resembling a cross between mediating a squabble over a long-form tax return and rolling up a Runequest character whilst on methamphetamine. Moreover, sentences became more truthful — or at least truthier. For the most part, federal convicts served at least 85% of the sentence imposed, with up to 15% credit for good behavior for sentences over a year. That's how Paul Lemmen wound up with the seemingly odd sentence of 42 months, serving slightly less than that.

So, probation officers — like Paul's — now supervise ex-cons like Paul, giving them as much or as little scrutiny as they see fit during their court-imposed term of supervised release. If the probation officer believes that a supervisee has violated the terms of supervised release by taking drugs or getting arrested or failing to report, typically the officer petitions the court seeking either a summons or a warrant to start the process of revocation of supervised release – that is, the process by which the supervisee gets sent back to prison for up to his or her full term of supervised release. And here, friends and neighbors, is where the wheels start to fall of the wagon.

An arrest for violation of supervised release must be supported by probable cause. But the probation officer has the power to make the arrest herself without a warrant or prior judicial approval. Moreover, though federal judges generally give semblance of scrutiny to arrest and search warrant applications (at least compared to typical state judges), in my experience federal judges come as close as they ever do to a rubber-stamp when reviewing revocation petitions. Indeed, the laws requires nut minimal scrutiny. They don't even require the judge himself or herself to sign the warrant or summons. The probation officer need not make her petition request under oath, as a federal agent must to get an arrest or search warrant; the polite fiction is that judges are aware of the credibility of particular probation officers. (That fiction is particularly ridiculous in cases like this, where a probation officer in one district would be seeking a warrant from a judge in another district.)

Once a supervisee is arrested on a warrant, a rule-based process begins. But that process is notoriously slow. The rules only require that a supervisee be brought without "unnecessary delay" before a magistrate for his first appearance, a "prompt" probable cause determination, and a full contested hearing "within a reasonable time." Moreover, when a supervisee is arrested in a district other than where he was sentenced, he is typically transferred to his sentencing district for the full revocation hearing — at the speed deemed fit by the U.S. Marshals. A supervisee might seek bail at his first appearance — in theory. But unlike people arrested on a new crime, a released inmate facing supervised release revocation bears the burden of proving by "clear and convincing evidence" that he will not pose a danger to society or flee. Its usually an insurmountable hurdle for an ex-con.

It is routine for supervisees to spend months in custody awaiting a full revocation hearing. It is routine for the probable cause hearing — when there is one — to be a mere rubber-stamp. Do judges sometimes find an accusation not proven at the full revocation hearing? Yes. (On one memorable occasion, a judge found no violation and released a supervisee I was prosecuting, finding that the accused violation was physically impossible. The probation officer was convinced that the supervisee had thwarted a urine test by simultaneously manipulating his penis, a tube, a jar, a valve, and a false penis, all while under scrutiny by a monitor. The judge stormed into chambers for a few minutes, and returned thundering that what was claimed was not possible. His clerks, who followed him out and then in again, looked rather ashen-faced.)

But the bottom line is this: a probation officer's mere accusation is usually enough to cause a supervisee to be incarcerated for a few months.

Paul Lemmen's Choice

This is the context for the dilemma facing Paul Lemmen.

Paul knew that the accusation was bogus. He believed he had not committed defamation on his blog. I've read it; I think he's right — he offers opinion or facts supported by evidence. He knew that his terms of supervised release didn't even purport to prohibit defamation in the first place. (Read them through the link above to his judgment if you doubt it.) It's true that Florida has a criminal libel statute, but it is of highly dubious constitutionality and too narrow to be applicable to anything Lemmen said, unless Kimberlin is secretly either a bank or a very successful cross-dresser. There is no lawful, rational theory on which Paul Lemmen could be found in violation of his supervised release for blogging about Brett Kimberlin.

But Paul Lemmen knows enough about the system to know that legal merit doesn't matter much, at least in the short- and mid-term. If his probation officer saw fit to accuse him, in all likelihood he'd be arrested, sit in jail for a while before a hurried appearance in Florida, take a trip on Con Air, and wait a month or two in hopes that the U.S. District Judge hearing his revocation would understand (and care about) the First Amendment. Paul Lemmen knew that because he was an ex-con, continuing to write about Brett Kimberlin meant very possibly going to jail for a while, whatever the right or wrong of it was.

This was no casual matter for him. Sure, incarceration isn't a casual matter for most of you reading this blog. But Paul has long-term severe health problems. Thanks to a criminal justice system with an approach to inmate health care that is somewhere between spiteful and amorally indifferent, incarceration in America can be a death sentence for someone with health problems. Sure, the U.S. Marshals would have gotten Paul Lemmen his medication — eventually, after a few layers of indifferent review, in generic form, in limited quantities, if the bureaucracy was working just right that week.

But even unjust incarceration, and the grave health risks that come with it, were not what was first on his mind. Paul Lemmen is the sole caregiver for his wife, who suffers from debilitating MS — and who suffered brutally during his prior imprisonment:

I was immediately worried for Barbara, my wife. Anyone who has read my blog, especially my prison stories series know the hell she went through while I was in prison. Her health is very bad and she requires someone (me) to help her dress, to bathe, she cannot cook as her neck and spine have been fused and she cannot look down at a stove or cutting board. She cannot drive and due to the short term memory deficit caused by her MS, she cannot remember what she has just done, so I must monitor her medications, etc. That was my prime worry!

What would you choose, under those circumstances? Would you keep blogging? Would you even want to?

I don't admire what Paul Lemmen has done in his criminal career. I'd be lying if I said I'd trust him in a position of responsibility based on that history. But I don't know what I'd do in his position. I talk a lot about standing up. But if I were facing what he faced, I fear that I might just fold like a cheap lawn chair.

Paul Lemmen hasn't. Paul Lemmen isn't.

Standing Up For What's Left.

Paul is not backing down. Rather, Paul is standing up.

I asked Paul Lemmen why he'd insist, at this potential cost, on continuing to write posts on a modest blog, posts that very few people were likely to read. Here's what he said:

Because I firmly believe in the words and concepts formulated by our Founders. That just because, in my stupidity I threw away my 2nd amendment rights as well as my right to vote, I have not lessened the attendant obligations nor the rest of the obligations of a citizen, prime among them to my mind, is the obligation to speak out in the public square when I believe that our government is doing wrong. To advocate and participate in our political dialog, on the local, state and national level. My restriction is only the inability to vote, all the other obligations of a citizen are intact.

I asked Paul Lemmen what he felt he had to bring to the discussion of Kimberlin, and why he thought it was important that his voice be heard.

I believe that as a career con-artist, I have quite a bit of insight into what he is doing. . . . [I believe it is] necessary to show up the differences between myself, an ex-con that has accepted responsibility for his crimes and Brett Kimberlin, someone who has not, who has in fact, avoided his responsibilities as he has avoided paying the civil judgment levied against him. I feel that if there is to be future acceptance of ex-cons that have made the very difficult decision to adhere to the lawful conduct expected by society, those who resist in their unlawful conduct must be exposed and the public made aware of them.

And so Paul Lemmen will continue to write.

Paul's willing to continue to write because people have convinced him that he's not alone in standing up. When he reached out to me, and I put up the Popehat signal seeking appropriate counsel for him, I received many responses and offers of support. Many were from lawyers in different areas of practice who just wanted to do what they could. Lawyers from the First Amendment Lawyers Association — which I recently joined thanks to the sponsorship of a friend — offered their support. Finally I was able to connect Paul with a formidable attorney to advise him — a consummately qualified federal criminal practitioner in his area. Those people will stand up and help Paul Lemmen come what may. If the U.S. Probation Office seeks to violate him based on protected First Amendment activities, I can guarantee that the decision-makers will be subjected to massive scrutiny.

I've also had people offer help in making inquiries and referrals that could lead to appropriate authorities investigating Team Kimberlin's communications with U.S. Probation. I am curious about exactly what was said to probation in the complaint about Paul Lemmen, and whether the complaint involved any false statements of fact. The Feds abuse 18 U.S.C. section 1001 often enough; it would be nice to see them investigate a malevolent false statement that actually causes palpable harm. What with the recent related intimidation of bloggers attracting Congressional attention, it may even happen.

Paul is not alone.

Closing Thoughts

1. It could happen to you. You're thinking "I'm not an ex-con, it's can't happen to me." You're not an ex-con. But you can be sued in a bogus defamation case that can lead to your financial ruin — possibly by a plaintiff who will forum-shop for a state without an anti-SLAPP statute. You can be subjected to a bogus "peace order" approved by an indifferent judiciary, like Aaron Walker was. You can have your family's home address published and photographed to those hostile to you, like Ali Akbar. You can be SWATted, like some bloggers have been in incidents that may be related to Team Kimberlin. They can get to you. Perhaps you're thinking, "no, not me, I don't blog about controversial public issues." But politics is merely the current venue for the Kimberlin sociopathy and its various opening acts. Angry, crazy, narcissistic, vengeful people will pursue you for any reason or for none. When they do, you'll need to ask yourself –what have I done to stand up for people in this situation?

2. The dilemma of partisanship: I remain convinced that it is a mistake to treat the struggle against Team Kimberlin as a partisan issue. It's an illustration of the failures of a system that could be manipulated against anyone, and an occasion for support of fundamental First Amendment values that protect us all. Treating it as a conservative vs. liberal issue marginalizes it and makes it easy to dismiss. My view has been met with some genuine support, some lip service, and some open scorn.

But even I must admit that partisanship has its value. It's unlikely that members of Congress would be paying attention to this — and hopefully producing results — without the partisan angle. Similarly, the partisan spark has led to many people considering issues of freedom of expression and due process that they might otherwise dismiss as "liberal."

In that vein, I hope that the story of Team Kimberlin and Paul Lemmen will lead people to consider criminal justice issues that they might otherwise ignore. Most people hearing about the SWAtting of conservative bloggers seem to understand immediately how it puts the lives of the bloggers and their families at risk. I hope that instinct — that recognition — might lead people to be more open to hard questions about police use of force and police over-militarization. Similarly, I think that people will be appalled by the injustice that Paul Lemmen faces — but I hope that will then be more open to criticism of a system in which government misconduct usually goes unpunished. I hope that some people will question, a bit more, the odd worldview that government actors are obviously not to be trusted when armed with regulatory powers, but somehow very much to be trusted when armed with guns, badges, and the power to levy criminal accusations.

3. What distinguishes one ex-con from another? Why, you might ask, do I see ex-con Paul Lemmen as sympathetic, but not ex-con Brett Kimberlin? Well, if you have to ask . . . when Paul Lemmen's lies and fantasies were revealed and people on the internet lambasted him, he didn't publish his critics' addresses, file bogus restraining orders against them, seek criminal charges against them, or otherwise abuse them. He accepts responsibility for what he did. Is it possible that Brett Kimberlin has been subjected to injustice and unfairness at some point of the criminal proceedings against him? Certainly. But thousands of people aren't talking about him this month because he's a convict — they're talking about him because he's engaged in contemptible and fundamentally un-American lawfare against people who talked about him being a convict.

4. What can you do? If you've been reading this series of posts, I hope that you want to do something in some small way. You can, whoever you are. You can help tell the story on blogs and forums and social media, especially when victims need pro bono help. You can learn about, and support, stronger anti-SLAPP laws to make lawfare-through-defamation-suits more difficult. If you're an attorney, you can offer pro bono services — even the willingness to be local counsel is a huge help. You can help promote pro-free-speech attitudes by defending the rights of opinions you despise, and calling out lawfare and retaliation when "your side" uses it.

5. Be vigilant: Never forget — we are dealing with people who want Aaron Walker and Paul Lemmen to go to jail for criticizing them.

A lawyer's note: when Paul Lemmen sought my help, I determined that my best role would be securing local counsel for him. I have not revealed any confidential communications from when he first consulted me, and have only repeated what he told me during a subsequent interview he gave me for the express purpose of telling his story.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

68 Comments

60 Comments

  1. Ken  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:17 pm

    tl;dr

  2. Bret  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:23 pm

    The guy never stops. Ken – Thank you very much for all you've done to help folks entangled in Kimberlin's lawfare and for your continued efforts to explain and publicize whats going on.

  3. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:28 pm

    Before I finish reading, I just wanted to say that paul's PO seems to not be the bad guy (or gal) here. It seems that she was honestly warning him in an effort to not have him tossed back in prison. I don't think she was doing it out of malice or as part of some effort – I think it was more along the lines of "Dude, I've been hearing some shit, you need to be careful. I don't want you to end up back in prison."

    Just my $.02…

  4. Venusian  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:28 pm

    Awfully long. I'm all for this post but it could have been 1/4 the length and made the same point.

  5. Paul Lemmen  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:32 pm

    Excellent Ken, simply excellent. You have my deepest gratitude.

  6. Dustin  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:32 pm

    How frustrating for this poor guy. To fear for his wife and his own health… just because he wants to blog.

    I agree he's made mistakes, but from reading his blog he clearly is aware of it as he notes he made mistakes quite often. His voice on redemption is important, and I really liked his point about his responsibility as a citizen to discuss these matters.

    I would have folded under the pressure he's facing.

  7. Dustin  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:34 pm

    Scott, that's clear. The PO is doing her job. No doubt she understands the system and the risks in being tossed into it.

    It would be nice if she could help us understand who suggested Paul was defaming someone.

  8. Niedermeyer's Dead Horse  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:52 pm

    I was one of the original skeptics when Paul showed up at AOSHQ but his right-back-at-ya post from a couple of days ago told the tale of someone feeling the breath of BK and Company down his neck.

    No person deserves the hell that is being dished out and now, with congress taking notice, and FNC and CNN covering the SWATting incidents, he and those who support them won't be able to hide much longer.

    BTW, Ken, in case you missed the tweet from Seth Allen from a few days ago, BK has now filed an order against another man, Martin Maher, for telephone harassment. It's easy to find the guy with a Bing search as he owns a software company in Miami. I wonder what the back-story is there.

  9. SPQR  •  Jun 10, 2012 @8:04 pm

    "tl;dr"

    ROFL

    Great post Ken.

  10. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 10, 2012 @9:01 pm

    It's not too long, and it needs to be read.

    Actions have consequences, and people who have lived by deception in the past will have a hard time regaining trust. But think what Kimberlin might have accomplished with his life if, from the beginning, he had been willing to accept consequences and move on instead of trying to cover it up. (How ironic is it that Barbra Streisand has contributed to his nonprofit, BTW?)

    People are willing to forgive. People derive satisfaction from forgiving. One of the greatest leaders of early Christianity was Saul of Tarsus, a terrorist who had participated in lynch mobs that killed Christians and who subsequently had to fight to gain the trust of those Christians.

    Kimberlin can't move on with his life until he is willing to acknowledge that someone with his past must work harder to gain trust. Trying to conceal the past instead of being open about it is just one more form of deception.

  11. John David Galt  •  Jun 10, 2012 @9:02 pm

    If it's that easy to get a paroled felon sent back to prison for little or no reason — why hasn't somebody done exactly that to Brett Kimberlin?

  12. John David Galt  •  Jun 10, 2012 @9:12 pm

    PS. I can't wait to see if Kimberlin's house gets "SWATted" when the police finally get their thumbs out.

  13. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 10, 2012 @9:17 pm

    Because he isn't on Supervised Release.

    He got violated while he was on parole. By the time he got out, it sounds like it was after this reform BS. Five years and he's free, so he's free.

    A shame the system can't work for us just once in this whole sordid affair…

  14. Donald Douglas  •  Jun 10, 2012 @11:25 pm

    First, an outstanding essay. You do Paul justice in this. I should add though that continued thinking on the partisan angle would be good. It is good that you see the value of it (in mobilizing support, etc.), but I'm thinking you might not understand that folks on the left don't view "free speech" the way most of us would. They view free speech as a right for those who uphold the progressive agenda. Those who do not are engaging in hate speech, or whatever, say defamation. When I see conservatives engaging in this kind of lawfare — and getting as much support from fellow partisans — I'll reconsider my argument on partisanship.

    But again, you're a mensch.

  15. Matthew Cline  •  Jun 10, 2012 @11:32 pm

    Indeed, the laws requires nut minimal scrutiny.

    The laws were written by squirrels?

  16. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 10, 2012 @11:59 pm

    Donald, while maybe – MAYBE – the right isn't engaging in lawfare…

    But it could. It could very easily. And the right does try to stifle speech and free expression with things like obscenity laws.

    Free speech is something everyone should care about. If you can only get interested in the issue when your rights are being denied to you, you don't really care about the issue.

  17. flip  •  Jun 11, 2012 @1:35 am

    But I'll wager many of you are having trouble with the next step.

    Nope. My first thought was "where's your evidence?" Isn't it possible that the probation officer read the blog and wondered if there would be defamation issues – especially if Lemmen wrote about other people having problems in regards to Kimberlin? Isn't it possible the timing issue is coincidence? Isn't it possible putting two convicted liars up against each other and calling one the bad guy merely speaks to your particular bias about the issue? (Ok, the last one is dealt with in your conclusions…)

    Don't get me wrong, I think Kimberlin's taking advantage of the law for his own ends, and Walker is clearly being harassed… I just don't see anything more than speculation on Lemmen's case.

    Having said that, thanks for introducing me to Lemmen's site. I find him to be very eloquent and I will enjoy reading what must be a very interesting blog.

    @Donald Douglas

    They view free speech as a right for those who uphold the progressive agenda. Those who do not are engaging in hate speech, or whatever, say defamation.

    Whoa… I'm on the left and I think free speech is a right that EVERYONE has. (And I'll point out I'm not American and in my country free speech is not a guaranteed right in our constitution; it exists basically in case law)

    Perhaps this is why I don't understand why there exists a right/left thing about this issue. Why is it even coming up? Free speech is something that isn't partisan. I may not like what is being said by the other side, it doesn't mean as a left-leaner I think conservatives should shut up. … In fact, I've had this kind of harassment – well, short of police anyway – occur to me. You think only left-leaning people accuse others of defamation just because they don't like criticism? No, it happens to everyone. There are nutters in every field, whether it's politics, crime, or medicine. (Maybe you should be looking at some of the crap that's happened in regards to discussing AGW.)

    I think the whole point of "it can happen to you" is that it doesn't matter about politics. What matters is the person who is using lawfare is doing so because they don't like being criticised. Green, left, right, WTF does politics matter to the person squelching criticism? All they care about is making sure the other person shuts up.

  18. Christopher Swing  •  Jun 11, 2012 @2:02 am

    @Donald Douglas

    "They view free speech as a right for those who uphold the progressive agenda."

    That's news to me.

    And I have been threatened with a defamation suit by someone who's right wing. I never thought that person did it because of their political leanings, I think they did it because they were cowardly bullies.

  19. TJIC  •  Jun 11, 2012 @2:37 am

    > Paul Lemmen knows enough about the system to know that legal merit doesn't matter much

    Indeed.

    The system is corrupt from top to bottom and those who still labor for it are just following orders in a way that is familiar to everyone who has lived since 1946.

  20. TJIC  •  Jun 11, 2012 @4:08 am

    @Christopher Swing:

    > And I have been threatened with a defamation suit by someone who's right wing. I never thought that person did it because of their political leanings, I think they did it because they were cowardly bullies.

    Only tangentially related: I've been attacked because my firm SmartFlix operates under the First Sale Doctrine which has been a Supreme Court approved detail of copyright law for over a century (in short: you can buy a copy of something then rent it without further royalties or payments being due). This has lead to several legal threats, and at least a handful of red state folks telling me that I was un-Christian and they prayed for my soul.

    I didn't realize that Jesus had such a strong preference for the European model of IP licensing.

  21. repsac3  •  Jun 11, 2012 @4:22 am

    .

  22. creeper  •  Jun 11, 2012 @5:07 am

    Why is no one even mentioning the possibility that Lemmen's PO was ordered to stifle him by someone higher up?

    I have said from the beginning that we need to keep pulling the thread. Speedway Bomber Brett Kimberlin's cocksure attitude may well stem from knowing someone powerful has his back.

  23. SarahW  •  Jun 11, 2012 @6:48 am

    Re: "Swatting" – it isn't new at all. Swatters pick people at random or to punish, directly or by proxy, others who have dared to offend them.

    Another very non-partisan aspect of the crime is how helpless police and first responders are to deal with it, still, after hundreds of these false reports, which not only put the targets in danger, but the responders, neighbors, bystanders, pets, and also waste time, money, and resources of law enforcement and rescue agencies, diverting them from protection of those who are in actual need.

    It's almost impossible to identify suspect calls in real time, and that needs to change. Mandatory upgrades allowing agenciese to identify VoIP calls would be a good start and is possible now. The system ought to be hardened against this vulnerability, and no political outlook is a protection.
    http://www.911dispatch.com/911/swating_pranks.html

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  26. Ken  •  Jun 11, 2012 @9:27 am

    Pertinent comments are welcome, but please do not use this as a venue to carry on disputes from elsewhere. Thank you.

  27. Zilla  •  Jun 11, 2012 @9:32 am

    Thank you so much for writing of Paul's plight and for helping him to get legal protection! He is a dear friend of mine and it grieved my heart to see someone who has worked so very hard to turn his life around and use the painful lessons that he has learned for good purposes be put at risk of losing his freedom and ability to take care of his wife. I know about his health issues, and his wife's and the thought of him being locked up (just for telling the truth) terrified me because of what the results of such an event would do to him & his wife. Thank God for Popehat!

  28. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 11, 2012 @9:40 am

    ..

  29. s.

  30. Ken  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:08 am

    .

  31. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:15 am

    <..

  32. Ken  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:33 am

    Why thank you, Douglas. That's kind of you, and a pleasant change from the post telling me I should STFU.

  33. Patrick  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:59 am

    Did you ever consider, you know, banning him?

    Not all blogging platforms make that easy. Some very high profile bloggers have learned that to their chagrin.

    Tip to aspiring bloggers: WordPress may be a little harder to pick up initially, but there really is no substitute if you're serious about the hobby.

  34. Narad  •  Jun 11, 2012 @12:01 pm

    I'm thinking you might not understand that folks on the left don't view "free speech" the way most of us would. They view free speech as a right for those who uphold the progressive agenda.

    Go take that broad brush and poke yourself in the "most of us" fantasy eye with the pointy end. I'm sitting here in a freaking IWW T-shirt, and I'm perfectly cognizant of the gravity of this kind of harassment.

  35. En Passant  •  Jun 11, 2012 @3:46 pm

    Patrick wrote on Jun 11, 2012 @10:59 am:

    Not all blogging platforms make that easy. Some very high profile bloggers have learned that to their chagrin.

    I've also noticed that Volokh Conspiracy now seems to have no comment sections on all postings. The "comments" links just reload the page.

    At first I thought I had a browser problem. After all, in the fast moving world of browser and web platform development, stuff sometimes happens that makes good browsers go bad. Then I tried another browser with another OS and another ISP. Same result.

    Since Prof. Volokh last week began consulting in a case involving you-know-who, I immediately wondered whether some form of comment section attack might be the cause.

    See http://www.volokh.com/2012/06/05/consulting-on-the-aaron-walker-brett-kimberlin-case/

    Please note that I am not attributing that as the most likely explanation for Volokh's comment outage, just wondering what actually happened. The coincidence is striking, but VC has changed comment platforms in recent months, and legitimate technical bugs could be the actual cause.

  36. Whoopie  •  Jun 11, 2012 @4:28 pm

    I received an email from Paul last week after he caught someone taking photos of his apartment and his car. When he asked the guy what he was doing the guy fled the scene.

    As for defamation, everything I've read at various blogs about Brett Kimberlin's criminal history can be found at Wikipedia. It's part of the public record. Restating those facts is not liable.

  37. Whoopie  •  Jun 11, 2012 @4:30 pm

    Oops, I meant to say it's not libel (my bad).

  38. SPQR  •  Jun 11, 2012 @4:38 pm

    Whoopie, it took quite an effort to get the story of Brett Kimberlin restored to Wikipedia.

  39. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 11, 2012 @5:18 pm

    "I have said from the beginning that we need to keep pulling the thread. Speedway Bomber Brett Kimberlin's cocksure attitude may well stem from knowing someone powerful has his back."

    Only if you understand that Brett Kimberlin is unlikely to be able to accurately assess how powerful someone is or how much they have his back. He's going to have fallings out with anyone who disagrees with him, so he's likely counting on people who aren't nearly as powerful as they say they are, or namedroppers who claim to have more influence than they really do. I'm thinking he's expecting Anonymous to back him, and I'm thinking he's going to be disappointed.

  40. Goober  •  Jun 11, 2012 @6:00 pm

    .

  41. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 11, 2012 @6:05 pm

    I received an email from Paul last week after he caught someone taking photos of his apartment and his car.

    I would be quite interested in whether or not he got a pic of the lurker…

    Several of us would LOVE to compare the person against a short list of folks…

  42. repsac3  •  Jun 11, 2012 @6:51 pm

    .

  43. .

  44. Narad  •  Jun 11, 2012 @7:15 pm

    .

  45. .

  46. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 11, 2012 @7:23 pm

    http://www.popehat.com/2012/03/12/berkeley-police-chief-chief-michael-meehan-resign-or-be-fired/

    That link isn't about right wing vs. left wing, but it does illustrate a point: Censorious abuse takes different forms when a person hold real power. You don't have to SWAT someone if you are the chief of police and can send one of your officers over in the middle of the night without any need for a fake 911 call. So if by "left" or "progressive," you mean the type of folks sleeping in tents in the occupy movement, and by "right" you mean people who give massive amounts of money to political campaigns, you will see different types of abuses, and the abuses by those in power may be less obvious.

  47. .

  48. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 11, 2012 @7:25 pm

    .

  49. Jess  •  Jun 11, 2012 @7:31 pm

    .

  50. Ken  •  Jun 11, 2012 @7:34 pm

    I asked people not to drag a dispute from elsewhere to here. Apparently people felt that I didn't mean it. They continued, and others engaged them in it.

    I've deleted the comments that were engaging in the dispute. If you have a problem with that, or will have difficulty not engaging in this any more, please go take a breather someplace until you are OK with it.

    For now, cut it out. Further persistence will be met with me editing comments to amuse myself.

  51. Jess  •  Jun 11, 2012 @8:06 pm

    No problem here Ken – it's your living room

  52. G Thompson  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:00 pm

    Is it just me or are people talking in morse code on these comments.

    .. -. … .- -. .. – -.– .. … – …. . — -. .-.. -.– .- -. … .– . .-.

    (for those who are lazy http://webnet77.com/cgi-bin/helpers/morse.pl )

  53. repsac3  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:24 pm

    "Is it just me or are people talking in morse code on these comments.

    I can only speak for myself… …but I ain't sayin' nothin'. 8>)

    (At first, I was stumped as to how I "selected all," hit that punctuation, wiping out my whole comment, and then hit "submit," all without noticing my screw-up… It quickly became more clear, once I noticed mine wasn't the only comment affected with this peculiar punctuation.)

    ((Of course, maybe yer supposed to read those comments like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF4qii8S3gw&feature=youtube_gdata_player ))

  54. Narad  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:30 pm

    for those who are lazy

    Um, I can still copy Cuban cut numbers and briefly could keep up with the 40 wpm FAPSI transmissions from (presumably) Lourdes. The autoconversion of double-dahs and triple-dits to HTML entities is not your friend.

  55. Goober  •  Jun 12, 2012 @5:02 pm

    Sorry, Ken, I kept your direction in the back of my mind when i wrote what i wrote, thinking that it tied back in to the overall concept of keeping this thing non-partisan in pointing out what I pointed out.

    I was obviously not as clever as I thought I was. Sorry for not playing nice.

  56. Austin  •  Jun 12, 2012 @10:14 pm

    You've done good. Thanks.

  57. Paul Lemmen  •  Jun 13, 2012 @7:00 am

    For those enquiring minds: No photo. It was early morning and I had not even had my coffee. I was walking the dog and didn't even have my cell w/camera on me. Taking pictures while balancing with a cane is not an easy task even when properly caffeinated and fully awake. I am guilty of lack of situational awareness.
    I must note that there were several neighbors about and the landlord of the complex (a Vietnamese immigrant who is righteously suspicious of all) who made me aware of this persons activity. My unit was the only one photographed as well as the tag on our car was the only one photographed. Just who was behind it I don't know but their attempt was an epic fail when I pre-emptively posted the photos of my home, car, self and dog on my blog, thus making their efforts a waste of time and effort.

  58. Jess  •  Jun 13, 2012 @2:59 pm

    Paul, I must say I’m impressed with your very eloquent post and your focus of turning your life around.

    I would say the same about Kimberlin if he had ever shown any remorse or made any real attempt to change – but he hasn’t. Frankly I place a good percent of the blame on his mother for fostering and enabling his narcissism and lack of empathy. His special kind of self-centeredness is learned and reinforced in childhood. Those that simply went down the wrong path but have the basic sense of decency and empathy can turn their life around – those that don’t can’t. He can’t.

    I especially find ridiculous one of the latest postings on Breibart Unmasked (BU) the “not Kimberlin” site which seems clearly to be authored by Kimberlin or one of his sock puppets. As follows:

    “The high road is a very hard road to take, and because of that it is hard for either side in any debate to take it. BU has decided that the time has come to take this road in the hopes that the rhetoric will eventually be toned down where both sides can be free to discuss the issues of the day without fear that discussing those issues will cause them personal problems down the road. That being said BU will now move forward with the attitude that the stories we work on could have very real and potentially negative consequences for those individuals and companies being discussed. In that, we here at BU will strive to take those issues into consideration when reporting the issues and or stories of the day in the hopes that those we report on will not have to worry over personal or private information exposed by the staff here at BU. As of today June 12th 2012, all personal information, including but not limited to, addresses and or nonpublic pictures that were posted on various stories that we have done since the beginning have either been removed and or redacted from BU.”

    How nice, I suspect someone got a letter from someone else’s lawyer which prompted this or else the backlash from so many others on the internet has forced the owner of the Breibart Unmasked (BU) not Kimberlin site to reconsider how their tactics make them “appear” to others. I seriously doubt it was due to any serious conscience concerns. And the redaction of that content is poorly done – I can still see through some of it – and it comes at least a week after that content was posted. Seriously posting the house of Ali's mother even after admitting it was his mothers house? How fucked up is that?

  59. Deon Fialkov  •  Jun 15, 2012 @8:59 am

    Mystified why they bother to arrest people for blogging…

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