Finally, someone on Capitol Hill confronts the Justice Department. Finally.
Chambliss Demands Inquiry Into Attacks Against Conservative Commentators
Sends letter to Attorney General Eric Holder about recent “SWAT-ting” incidents
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding recent reports that several conservative political commentators have been targeted with harassing and frightening actions. Chambliss demanded that Holder examine these cases to determine if federal laws have been violated.
These dangerous hoaxes, also known as “SWAT-ting,” occur when a perpetrator contacts local police to report a violent incident at a target’s home. These callers are believed to utilize voice-over IP (VOIP) and other less-traditional telecommunications methods to make the call appear to come from the target residence and to hide the caller’s true identity.
In response, a dispatcher sends a SWAT team or other police unit in a heightened state of readiness to the unsuspecting target’s residence. Targets only learn of these false reports when a large police presence descends upon their homes.
In the letter, Chambliss states that “Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels… Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse. Those who choose to enter into that political discourse should not have to worry about potential threats to their or their family’s safety.”
Full letter is here. Excerpt:
The use of SWAT-ting as a harassment tool is apparently not new, but its use as a tool for targeting political speech appears to be a more recent development. During the last year, some of the more widely reported cases of SWAT-ting have taken place against blog operators across the country, including in Georgia. The emerging pattern is both disturbing and dangerous.
While these incidences are currently small in number, and have fortunately not led to any accidental physical harm, they are extremely concerning. The perpetrators appear to be targeting individuals who are vigorously exercising their First Amendment rights to political speech. As you know, these reported efforts to intimidate those who choose to enter the political forum and express their opinions are in conflict with the founding principles of our nation.
Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse. Those who choose to enter into that political discourse should not have to worry about potential threats to their or their family’s safety.
While I am certain that local law enforcement is reviewing each of these instances, I am asking you to please look into each of these cases as well to determine if any federal laws may have been violated. Future targets of SWAT-ting, whether engaged in political speech or not, may not be so fortunate as to escape physical harm.
I appreciate your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response no later than June 29, 2012. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or comments that you may have.
Atlanta Journal Constitution covers the Chambliss letter. It’s a start…
On a related note from Captain’s Journal: ATF SWAT failures. Scary stuff here.
Update: Well, well. ABC News finally covers the story.