Well, the ever-loathesome web-Nazi and FBI paid snitch Hal Turner is in the news again. He is proving to be a most useful tool of the FBI, IF, and its a big if, this present case doesn't blow up in their faces. Not since the case of Mafia killer and FBI snitch Whitey Bolger have we had a better chance to find out the inner workings of the Kingdom of FBI Snitchdom. (What? You think it's a coincidence that Whitey's still on the lam?)
Outed as a paid FBI snitch when his emails with an FBI special agent were hacked and posted, Turner earlier this month was arrested by the FBI for threatening judges. The case has the potential to strike at the heart of the First Amendment on-line as Jacob Sullum reports here at Reason Magazine.
The Difference Between 'They Should Die' and 'I'll Kill You'
Jacob Sullum | June 25, 2009
Yesterday the FBI arrested a white supremacist in New Jersey for threatening federal judges, based on his online response to the recent 7th Circuit decision that said the Second Amendment does not constrain state and local governments. Here is a description of the crime that Hal Turner, an Internet radio host, committed:
"Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed," Mr. Turner wrote in a blog entry on June 2. "Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions."
He said the three judges, William J. Bauer, Frank H. Easterbrook and Richard A. Posner, should be made "an example" of in order to send a message to the rest of the federal judiciary: "Obey the Constitution or die."
Mr. Turner also posted the judges' photographs, phone numbers, work addresses and courtroom numbers.
There is no indication that Mr. Turner or anyone else acted on his warnings. Nonetheless, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in an affidavit that it believed his comments constituted "a threat to assault or murder a United States judge."
This does not seem like a "true threat," one kind of speech the Supreme Court has said can be punished without violating the First Amendment. Turner did not actually threaten to commit violence; he simply argued that violence would be justified. What he said seems closer to incitement, except that in this case there is no threat of "imminent lawless action," one of the requirements imposed by the Court. Unless I'm missing something, what Turner said ought to be protected speech.
What do you think? Does the posting of photographs and information about the judges make a crucial difference?
As The New York Times notes, Turner's arrest is reminiscent of the "Nuremberg Files" case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a $109 million civil judgment against the operators of website that arguably encouraged violence against abortion providers. In 1999 I argued that the website should be protected by the First Amendment, the position that a 9th Circuit panel endorsed before it was overturned by the full court.
Now I will say that back in the 90s, when I thought such information important given local ATF misdeeds, I taught folks how to use local property records to track down personal information on ATF field agents and supervisors in the Birmingham office. In short order, we had an excellent file. I never posted them, of course, holding them back for the "tit" for their "tat," should that have ever arisen. It didn't.
Since that time, new federal laws have been laid on to make even that a federal crime. Sullum's point is a good one, though. Which may be why the Fibbies decided (beyond the considerable pressure an outraged well-placed judge can bring on a mere bureaucracy) that Turner's usefulness as an informant and agent provocateur had come to an end. Far better to use him to attack Net free expression. After all, what federal judge is going to find the posting of another federal judge's personal information on the Net NOT to be a crime?
And yet, if Turner uses his FBI paid snitchery as a defense, that could have an entirely different result than the FBI seeks. ANY publicity about the FBI's "Confidential Informant" program is anathema to them. Be interesting to watch as this plays out.
On a less important, but still significant, note. We have this breathless, silly story of last year's Paid Snitch of the Year Award winner. It seems when arrested he had legally registered weapons, and -- HORRORS! -- hollow-point ammunition.
I have two questions, three, really. First, is English this idiot reporter's native language? Second, as to the "court bombshell" (?) -- is the possession of hollow-point ammunition by civiliams really illegal in New Jersey? Third, if it is, why are there any gunnies still living there? I would have voted with my feet at such an outrage.
Court bombshell: 200 rounds of ammo, hollow-point bullets seized from hate blogger Turner's home
by Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal
Thursday June 25, 2009, 1:47 PM
Infamous hate blogger and Internet radio host Hal Turner had an arsenal in his home that included 200 rounds of ammunition and 150 hollow-point bullets -- which are illegal -- when it was searched by the FBI yesterday, it was disclosed in court today.
Federal officials dropped the bombshell at Turner's hearing this afternoon in Newark. Turner, who is charged with threatening to kill federal judges in Chicago in a blog post on June 2, was held without bail -- at least temporarily.
Turner will be held until the value of his mother's Pennsylvania home, which would be used to secure the $200,000 bail bond, could be proven.
FBI seized the ammunition as well as three handguns and one shotgun, officials said. Turner's attorney, Michael Orozco, said Turner had permits for the guns. A Jersey City police spokesman said Turner's hollow-point bullets are illegal, and added that only law enforcement officers and members of the military can own them.
Turner, wearing a gray t-shirt and blue jeans, appeared relaxed in court today. His hands were cuffed in front of him and his feet were shackled. There was a U.S. Marshal at his sides and a number marshals posted at the door of the courtroom. The hearing was attended by Turner's wife, mother and brother, who spoke with Turner briefly before the hearing.
District Court Judge Michael Shipp said at the hearing he found Turner is a danger to the community based on the remarks in his blog. Illinois authorities say Turner wrote on his blog June 2: "Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed."
The Chicago judges apparently has angered Turner with their ruling on a handgun ban.
Shipp today gave Turner a list of conditions that must be adhered to if he posts bail. He order Turner to refrain from using the Internet; he can have no contact with the judges he's accused to threatening; Turner's barred barred from blogging or broadcasting his show; he must surrender all broadcasting equipment he owns; he must remain under house arrest and wear an electronic bracelet; he must forfeit all travel documents like his passport.
Also the judge ordered his wife to serve as a third-party custodian for the government.
Turner is also facing charges that his comments in a blog post -- also posted on June 2 -- was inciting violence against two lawmakers who championed a bill that would provide more oversight of the finances of Catholic parishes.