Digital Dirty Tricks, Part One: The Left's Underground Online War
The political operative's voice had dropped to a grave whisper.
"This is future of dirty tricks in American politics. It's happening right now, before our eyes. You better believe that some very important people are watching it very, very closely to see how the whole thing plays out. And the next time it happens, they will have learned lessons from what is happening right now and how we react to it."
The operative was talking about the wide range of actions used to throttle conservative speech, activities believed to trace back to a small group of internet-saavy progressive radicals. What appears to be a series of unconnected incidents may have connections that tie the incidents to the radical left.
Consider the following activities from recent months. You've certainly heard of some of these events and others may be new to you.
- Conservative bloggers are victims of "SWATing"- a dangerous intimidation tactic where a false report of a murder sent a cadre of armed law enforcement to the blogger's homes. The problem is so serious that 87 Congressmen send a letter to DOJ chief Eric Holder but with no apparent law enforcement effects.
- A liberal activist admits to having over 500 fake twitter accounts ('sock puppets') that are used to intimidate or influence by giving the impression that a large group of people are acting in concert.
- Accusing the accusers: After Andrew Breitbart got Keith Olbermann to deny rapes had occurred at Occupy Wall Street, accusations are raised about Breitbart himself covering up assaults. Such charges are unproven but the story is promoted by Olbermann flunky David Shuster and spreads through the left-wing blogosphere.
- Lawfare/vindictive lawsuits: Brett Kimberlin, a left wing activist and convicted felon, launches a series of legal actions aimed at silencing bloggers. Kimberlin actually manages to get blogger Aaron Walker jailed for a short time for reporting about his own court experiences.
- The comment sections of blogs are used to generate "evidence" for the progressive media's attack on the right: Anonymous or fake names post comments that are offensive or even legally problematic and then the comments themselves are screen captured and become fodder for stories on sites such as Media Matters for America.
- Social engineering: During the Weinergate story last year, a number of false Twitter personas were used to disseminate false rumors and information. Mediaite reporter Tommy Christopher was victim of an extremely elaborate hoax to discredit Andrew Breitbart that involved fake IDs and a complex chain of artificial personalities.
- Threatening the safety of writers/bloggers: A number of bloggers including Patterico and Ace of Spades received threatening emails from untraceable accounts.
- Some conservative writers on Twitter are subjected to organized, coordinated harassment on a consistent basis. The worst, most vile attacks are reserved for women and children.
- Organized complaints to suspend conservatives' twitter accounts: Conservative bloggers on the social networking site Twitter find themselves suddenly banned and sent to the "Twitter Gulag".
- Black operations: Conservative bloggers both large and small are suddenly targets of intense 'opposition research', often posted anonymously.
- Contacting employers: A number of conservative writers have their employers contacted and their jobs threaten, expressly because of their political writing. Some lose their jobs and in one case, blogger R.S. McCain is actually forced to leave his home in fear.
These incidents and many others all trace back to a small, secretive group of progressives who are also tightly tied into advocacy on political issues such as Voter ID, unions and the Occupy movement.
As the political operative I spoke to pointed out, these moves by a small group of modern 'hacktivists' are actually a very big deal with implications for future elections, the use of new media and American democracy. Now, after months of investigation, the Breitbart News team will be laying out the whole story for you in a series that exposes the characters, tactics and motives of the well-funded leftists who are actively trying to stifle free speech in the run-up to the most important election of our lives.
Andrew Breitbart foresaw a world where technology empowered citizen journalists were able to break the liberal media's stranglehold on the news cycle. In the last radio interview Andrew did, he talked about the threat he saw to that vision and he promised to expose it. We ask you to join us in the coming weeks as we fulfill Andrew's promise to his readers and lay bare the network that is trying to stifle, intimidate and shut down the defenders of liberty once and for all.
Stay Tuned for Part 2.