I almost feel like starting with the old saw “Once upon a time” except there’s nothing remotely amusing about what I’m going to write about. The facts in this matter are so outrageous, so bizarre that if they weren’t true, the story would almost certainly be considered for inclusion in Aesop or Kipling’s Just So Stories.
What is happening in the blogosphere today is the ugliest, most frightening display of political hardball I can ever remember. And the target is not some big time politician, bureaucrat, or reporter. The target doesn’t even reside in this country.
The target is a blogger who runs a small, well-written site. He goes by the nom de blog Seixon. He lives in Norway. And he is under attack from some of the left’s most hateful and spiteful mouthbreathers over his defense of one of his commenters who himself got into trouble for (to use one of the left’s favorite phrases) “speaking truth to power.”
The story is a convoluted one best told by Sexion himself. Here’s the short version, condensed quite nicely. You need to read that post in order to understand what else has been happening in the 24 hours since Seixon began to tell his story.
Ace has the super short version:
Long story short: AnonymousArmy is a poster on DailyKos. He objected to Leopold’s claim of proof of the “Rove indictment,” and pointed out stuff like, oh, the docket number he kept citing as being on the indictment wasn’t even assigned until several days after Leopold claims to have seen it.
Or have been told it existed by someone who’d seen it. Whatever the hell his claim was.
AnonymousArmy, as I understand it, believed the left was putting too much faith in the claims of Joe Wilson and his pimp Larry Johnson.
Leopold began harrassing AnonymousArmy, and escalating that harrassment, and, of course, escalating that harrassment via sock-puppets.
Some of these sock-puppets were exposed, and the story was picked up by Seixon, who also began getting abused by sock-puppets.
The players on the left are both familiar and unfamiliar. Jason Leopold, the left-wing fantasist that every decent liberal in the blogosphere no longer holds in any regard whatsoever. And Larry Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter-Terrorism official, frequent guest on cable talk shows, defender of Valerie Plame, and an internet bully.
A bully? Well, the thinly veiled threats against Sexion’s well being are among the sleaziest things I’ve ever seen posted on a blog:
Perhaps most haunting was the email I received from Larry Johnson last night. He claimed I defamed him and called him a liar. I did not defame him and he did lie to me when he said that he had answered my questions when he had in fact not done so. This was not part of the story I wrote yesterday, calling him a liar for that, I simply stated the fact that he declined to answer a set of yes/no questions I posed to him, as he responded that he had already answered them, which was false.
Johnson laced the email, to a personal account of mine which I do not usually give out and which is not available through Google, with personal details about my family and me. Just like Leopold had done, Johnson repeated my motherâ€™s name, my parentsâ€™ address, and even my birth month and year. Obviously Johnson thought this would freak me out and scare me into retracting everything. He concluded the email with:
I am willing to accept a written apology and move on. If you refuse to retract your statements about me I am prepared to ratchet this up several levels. I have not spent the last twenty years working with the U.S. military and the intelligence community to accept this kind of nonsense from a wet-nosed 24 year old coward, who is an armchair warrior but does not have the courage to enlist in the military when his country is at war.
Is that a threat, Mr. Johnson? After I responded, he fired back with this:
I know where you are living. You forget that I do work for the European Union and friends in Interpol. I’ve offered you a mature way to deal with this situation. You’re obviously too immature and inexperienced to recognize the offer for what it is. Too bad.
Seixon asks “Is Larry Johnson using his law enforcement contacts to dig up information on me to intimidate me into retracting uncomfortable facts about his involvement with peddling false allegations against a commenter at my blog?”
In addition, some commenter named John Dean who had been defending Leopold actually called Seixon’s parents at their home:
Mr. Dean called my parents home in the United States (I live in Norway). He passed himself off as someone doing research for an article, got my father to confirm some things, and also divulged that he had researched my mother and fatherâ€™s activities to do with a â€œliberalâ€ cause.
The story gets nuttier and even more bizarre with the addition of several sock puppets who have been making the rounds of the blogosphere posting on anyone’s site who comes to Seixon’s defense. I personally do not have the information to ascertain exactly who these sock puppets really are. But Sexion does.
In addition to sock puppets, there are falsified portions of emails used to “prove” Seixon’s “threats” and, most disturbing of all, there was this:
At approximately 7:00 AM Central European Time I received a phone call from a blocked number. The person on the phone told me I had written naughty things on my blog, and then laughed when I asked them who they were.
“You’re a dead man.”
This is what the person on the line told me right before hanging up.
The sock puppets have also made an appearance on Ace’s site, using both Seixon and Leopold/Johnson target Anonymousarmy’s names to post outrageous comments smearing the two out of control leftists:
Whoever is sock-puppeting for Leopold just happens to share Leopold’s obsessiveness in searching for references to his name on Technorati. (Have you heard this story before?)
As readers of this site know, someone calling himself “Seixon” posted all of the real Seixon’s personal information in a post. And then, tonight, someone attempting to discredit AnonymousArmy posted as “AnonymousArmy” and posted this hateful screed about “Jason Jew Leopold,” outing his personal information (supposedly) with a big helping of extremely crude, KKK-level Jew-hatred.
A nasty post. But one cannot help but suspect the post was designed to aid Jason Leopold, not hurt him, by discrediting an enemy, and drawing sympathy for Leopold’s supposedly thuggish treatment by his critics.
Death threats, sock puppets, falsifying emails, more subtle threats, publishing personal information, calling one’s family – I’ve never heard or seen anything like it.
These are tactics honed during the Clinton years and were used to terrify potential witnesses in the Paula Jones case. Journalists knew about these women who were receiving phone calls in the middle of the night, whose families were being contacted, and who many reported were being followed. Jennifer Flowers had her place broken into several times. Kathleen Willey reported all kinds of harassment and veiled threats.
Journalists knew – and never reported it. They didn’t want to receive the same “treatment” from the minions of the most powerful man on earth.
In the case of Seixon, he has aroused the fury of people whose house of cards in the Plame Affair is in danger of crashing down around them. It is now clear to any fair minded observer who has been following the investigation of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that while there was definitely White House pushback against Wilson for his lies about his trip to Niger, there was never any intent for “revenge” against his campaign to discredit the President of the United States nor was their a deliberate effort to out Valerie Plame who, after all, was not a covert agent in any way, shape, or form.
In Seixon’s case, he has come up against practitioners of a special kind of sleaze – the kind that is common inside the beltway but never before seen in the blogosphere. It is a campaign of whispering, of innuendo, of threats, of casual utterances made to chill the bones. It is hardball politics of the worst sort and the cockroaches who are practicing it should have as much light shone upon them as is possible. Hence the reason for this post.
I urge you to drop by Seixons blog and show him your support by leaving him a comment. I think if I were him right about now, I’d feel awfully alone. I’m sure he’d appreciate a word from everyone.
And to the trolls, the sock puppets, the leftist lickspittles who grub around in the muck and the filth, bottom feeding with the rest of the scavengers and eaters of carrion …
Patterico is also disturbed:
Christ on a popsicle stick.
I donâ€™t know Seixon, but I have an impression of him as a solid and honest guy. By contrast, Leopold has faced accusations of sock-puppetry, and Joe Lauria has described Leopold as:
a troubled young reporter with a history of drug addiction whose aggressive disregard for the rules ended up embroiling me in a bizarre escapade and raised serious questions about journalistic ethics.
The Anchoress is also troubled, seeing it as I do; unprecedented:
That, along with a few other cases of blog sock-puppetry and other things has more than made the case for me that certain parties within the blogosphere are beginning to whirrrr out of control. And thatâ€™s cause for concern, for several reasons, but mostly because when blogs become discredited, the whole â€œblogging communityâ€ suffers for it, and because, frankly – if this stuff doesnâ€™t stop, someone is going to get hurt.
Too many people are beginning to fall into an â€œI have a blog and Iâ€™m not afraid to use it,â€ mentality, and that thought is morphing into an â€œI know where you live and where your children sleepâ€ mentality.
She assures us that there are probably right wingers doing this kind of “off-blog” stuff but frankly, what makes the Seixon case so disturbing is the prominence of the leftists carrying it out. And I can’t see any righties of comparable standing doing the same thing.
UPDATE II 7/27
Goodnight, Larry. It was nice but I’m very happy you have to leave now. Your 6 year run as “terrorism expert” (after writing in the NYT two months before 9/11 of the “declining terrorist threat”) is over. Any news outlet that touches you with a 10 foot pole now should be called out as a facilitator of bullies.
Maybe you could join Dan Rather on Mark Cubans HDTV network?