A few months ago, 85 members of Congress sent Attorney General Eric Holder a letter about the swatting of four conservative bloggers, but the story got little traction in the mainstream media. However, when former American Idol judge Simon Cowell and pop star Justin Bieber were swatted recently, the subject finally made the front page of the Los Angeles Times.
As the Times reported:
Count Bieber and Cowell as the latest high-profile victims of "swatting," a fast-growing phenomenon masterminded by anonymous mischief-makers who alert police to a bogus crime situation, prompting a tactical response — sometimes by SWAT officers — that involves a high-risk search for phantom assailants. Several officers have already been injured responding to such calls, and officials, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, fear that it's only a matter of time before events turn deadly.
Conservative blogger Patrick Frey aka Patterico has been a vocal critic of the L.A. Times in the past but told his readers, “I spoke to reporter Chris Lee for the story a few weeks ago, and he pretty much gets it right:”
The article tells the harrowing story of how conservative bloggers were targeted:
When Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick Frey got swatted at his Rancho Palos Verdes home last July, he thought it might have been in retaliation for posts on his conservative-leaning Patterico's Pontifications blog.
In full view of his startled neighbors, Frey was led out in shackles by five armed deputies after a male caller told responders at the Lomita sheriff's station that the deputy district attorney had shot his wife. Outside were four police cruisers, a fire truck, an ambulance, a hazardous materials van and a chopper shining a spotlight over his property. Frey's wife was awakened and frisked by police on the front porch while two officers checked on the couple's 8- and 11-year-old children sleeping upstairs.
"I'm dealing with psychopaths who know where I live," Frey said. "Someone had it in for me so much, they committed an act they knew could get me killed." No arrests have been made in the case.
In June, another lawyer-blogger, Aaron Walker, was swatted at his home in Prince William County, Va. Two officers wielding M4 assault rifles showed up at Walker's town house and ordered him out. The attorney de-escalated the tension, however, by telling the patrolmen: "Let me guess, someone called and claimed I shot my wife."
Frey is glad the Times is covering the story and understands playing up the celebrity angle, but he told Breitbart News that the political swattings are more dangerous because they impact not just the First Amendment rights of the victims but have been used as an intimidation tactic in order to silence anyone thinking of writing about controversial subject.
Aaron Walker told Breitbart News the issue affects all Americans:
The fact that this rash of SWATtings against myself, Mike Stack, Patrick “Patterico” Frey, and Erick Erickson all appear to be motivated by politics should make Americans of all parties be concerned. This makes the issue not merely a matter of ordinary criminal law, but also of freedom of expression. I am disappointed in the lack of interest from liberals, particularly democratic Congresspersons, in this very serious matter.
Patterico’s blog post also points out how the law has not caught up with this crime trend:
California law on this is especially disappointing. Penal Code section 148.3(b) makes such false reports a felony if the person making the false report “knows or should know that the response to the report is likely to cause death or great bodily injury, and great bodily injury or death is sustained by any person as a result of the false report.” And if someone is actually badly hurt or killed, the maximum punishment is? A whopping 3 years in state prison.
There’s a human cost to these remote control crimes that are done from a distance by cowards. As Red State’s Erick Erickson reminded Breitbart News:
People who hear these stories probably shrug them off as a prank, but it is no prank when you have small kids who want to know why police are pulling up with their hands on their guns. This has the real potential to harm innocent lives, which is why it is so serious. It is also why they do it — a form of intimidation. They know where you live and can try to get you, your wife, and your kids hurt.