Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Stacey Plaskett’

In FBI Case, the First Amendment Takes Another Bizarre Hit

Posted by M. C. on March 14, 2023

The same Democratic minority staff that trashed the First Amendment in last week’s Twitter Files hearings put something amazing in writing in a parallel case

The style of the new anti-speech Democrat is clear: define all government critics as lacking standing to criticize, impugn their prior opinions and associations, imply that all their beliefs are conspiracy theory, define their lack of faith in the FBI’s judgment as treasonous, and declare their motivation to be financial. Lastly, when they invoke common constitutional rights, make a note that their activities exist in an uncovered carve-out. This is the playbook, and we all better get used to it.

Matt Taibbi

Racket readers may recall that in November, shortly before the Twitter Files began, I ran an interview with Steve Friend, a onetime FBI agent who lost his career after blowing the whistle on the Bureau.

Friend refused to participate in a bureaucratic scheme to put local agents across the country in charge of J6 cases that were really being run out of the Washington office, a plan that made one Washington-based case look like a national map full of domestic terror cases popping up everywhere. He also objected to heavy-handed tactics like the use of S.W.A.T. teams for a suspect communicating voluntarily through an attorney, and the questioning of people in connection with J6 in cases where the state had little to no evidence. From that story:

Friend didn’t think the interview was warranted, and worried the feds showing up at someone’s door without cause “might do more harm than good” in a part of the country where government was unpopular already. He sucked it up and did the “knock and talk” anyway.

“I said, ‘Hey, were you at the Capitol?’” Friend recalls. “And he said, ‘No, that was my son’s funeral that day. I wasn’t there.’”

He shakes his head. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought, I can’t believe I just made this guy relive that. And for what? Even if he’d admitted to being there, if he said, ‘I was there, I don’t wanna talk about it,’ I couldn’t even charge that.”

But even though Friend had reservations about some of the cases, his main concern was procedural — that by playing bureaucratic games with who was running these investigations, and putting locals nominally in charge of cases where they were really in supporting roles, they put all of the court cases in jeopardy. “A lot of these guys are bad dudes, and they should go to jail,” he said, about the Oath Keepers. But if “we didn’t follow our rules… we set ourselves up to get crushed at trial,” adding, “I want to win.”

A little over a week ago, the same Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Government that organized the Twitter Files hearings privately heard testimony from Steve and two other FBI whistleblowers. The Democratic Party response to Steve and his colleagues was eerily similar to tactics pulled out against myself and Mike Shellenberger:

— Mike and I were not real journalists, they said, but “so-called journalists.” Steve and his fellow agents “are not, in fact, whistleblowers,” according to the minority report, and “do not meet the definition of a whistle-blower,” according to the New York Times.

— I was told by Florida’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz that “being a Republican witness certainly casts a cloud over your objectivity”; Democratic Party sources told the Times that Steve and fellow agents Garret O’Boyle and George Hill “have engaged in partisan conduct that calls into question their credibility”;

— Democratic questioners in our case asked us about our opinions on Russian interference, and one said openly that failing to agree with them on that issue disqualified us from the “nuanced convo”; Steve, George, and Garrett were repeatedly quizzed about their attitudes toward various right-wing movements, suggesting that their opinions about these matters made them ineligible to offer procedural complaints. Friend, for instance, was asked about statements by “Three Percenters”:

Q: (Quoting from flyer) “Remember this, it comes straight from our Declaration of Independence, that whenever any form ofgovernment becomes destructive, it is the right and duty of the people to alter or abolish it. That is why you are here. For massive change to occurmassive action must be taken. Patriots, we are the lifeblood of this great nation, and it’s time we prove that.” Do you have an opinion about this statement?

Friend: It seems like First Amendment-protected activity.

— Michael and I were repeatedly quizzed about money we may have made during the Twitter Files period, with Wasserman-Schultz going so far as to harangue my about my Twitter followers tripling and to ask us if we were paid for our testimony; Committee Democrats accused Friend of having “profited, and is profiting, from making his allegations about the FBI public”;

See the rest here

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Democrats Have Lost the Plot

Posted by M. C. on March 11, 2023

Reclaiming some time, from a House hearing on free speech

It was a bizarre collective display of a whole group of politicians not understanding some pretty basic things about how not to act around journalists.

Matt Taibbi

Testifying with Michael Shellenberger before a House Subcommittee was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. I expected serious attacks and spent a nervous night before preparing for them. Then the hearing began, and an episode of Black Adder: Congress broke out. The attacks happened, but it was more farcical horror and a parade of self-owns that made me more sad than upset.

The Democrats made it clear they were not interested in talking about free speech except as it pertains to Chrissy Teigen, seemed to suggest a journalist should not make a living, and finally made the incredible claim that Michael and I represented a “direct threat to people who oppose them.” Of all that transpired yesterday, this was the most ominous development — perhaps not for me but for reporters generally, given our government’s recent history of dealing with people deemed “threats.”

Beyond that, much of the hubbub yesterday involved the many “When did Elon Musk start beating your wife?” questions, and the line about me being a “so-called journalist.”

Regarding the former, both ranking member Stacey Plaskett and Texas Democrat Sylvia Garcia repeatedly asked questions about when I first got Twitter Files information, and from whom. It was a bizarre collective display of a whole group of politicians not understanding some pretty basic things about how not to act around journalists.

See the rest here

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »