The Long Game of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd

I've been following the doings of Brett Kimberlin and Neal Rauhauser for some months now, and while there has been episode after episode of lawfare tactic, invective, and intimidation going on, at some point someone has to ask, "What's the point?" Actually, several people have, but none gets closer to reducing it all down to saucy glory than R. S. McCain's recent article Conspiracy Theorist ‘Qritiq’ Conspires Against Neal Rauhauser’s Targets. It's definitely worth the read, and I'm basing a lot of it from there. So go and read there, and come on back. It's OK. I'll wait.

Let me introduce Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd of the Political Internet, I've taken to calling Neal Rauhauser and Brett Kimberlin, as anyone who comes into direct contact with them seems to end up worse for the occasion (not to mention a penchant for explosives). The whole point of this is one big, giant spearfishing expedition to root through the private correspondence of high level bloggers, reporters and pundits that Wint and Kidd believe are in some conspiracy against themselves, the Democratic party, the legions of left-wing special interest groups and the produce seller on the side of the road. There's no use in telling them that none of us are taking marching orders from the Koch brothers, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh or [insert your favorite vilified Conservative here]. But that doesn't mean thy don't want to troll through your garbage to find things they "know" are there.

So how do they gain access to something like this? It's a court procedure called Discovery, and it is enforced through subpoena power. But in order to get this process going, one must convince a court or investigative body that something criminal is going on. That's the entire premise of all the actions we've seen up to now, building a case (however manufactured) to drop in front of a judiciary in a friendly district.

Even getting that far requires some legwork. Sure, the Twitter spamflagging and workplace harassment is good for the ego, but it's not enough to get the right energized enough to want to come down like a ton of bricks upon Wint and Kidd.  My theory is that the process of SWATting comes in- a horrendous tactic of what to me would seem to be a form of political intimidation wrapped in a reckless endangerment conviction.

With this going on, and national news outlets beginning to take an interest, it's only a matter of time before outspoken conservatives, journalists, bloggers and others begin to talk among themselves regarding how to deal with the situation. Now, even though this is a perfectly reasonable tactic to take (self defense, internet style) it might, might be enough to get some loony ACLU type to file a complaint that they're "concerned" about a cabal of Nasty Right Wing Conspiracists have it out for our duo and an investigation is needed to "uncover these devious tactics."

This is, as you can imagine, complete USDA-grade schlock, but investigations have started with less, and that's when discovery kicks in. The subpoenas go out, and some of us will have to turn over our servers, mail boxes, social media account passwords and our mother's maiden names.

And in the end, when nothing is produced showing any sort of collusion to trample on the rights or security of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, they now have weapons-grade blackmail and extortion fodder for further disruption down the line- or at very least you've been "quieted." Because it doesn't take evidence of wrongdoing in your personal information to pressure you. In their hands, information theft, disclosure of your financial transactions, who you've donated to, the family squabble you had with your cousin; any or all of these things can be as sensitive as the real-as-fairy-dust Koch Brothers Letter of Employment and Indentured Servitude.

So when dealing with these people, it's important to realize what they're aiming for, that being your reaction. Even statements made innocently that could be read by some alt-universe National Lawyers Guild zombie as having any insidious meaning at all could get lumped into a bucket and used to establish a "pattern of conduct" that a RICO suit requires. Something as stupid as "Kimberlin, I'll cut you out of my timeline on twitter" could get edited down to the first part. Get it? Good. Watch the verbiage, people.

Until this all plays out, remember those people who are really doing the yeomen's share of heavy lifting on reporting and placing themselves in jeopardy by continuing to be outspoken about Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Mandy Nagy, Patrick Frey, Aaron Worthing (Ack! Sorry. Still used to the pseudonym, still) Aaron Walker, Robert Stacy McCain and so many others. I'm not deliberately excluding anyone here, I'm just spitballin' off of the top of my head. When you see them, give them some support (if not hitting their tip jars- some have been put out of work or chased from their homes, and incurring big legal bills). They need it.