Regular readers here know that I have policy against publishing personal information about private individuals. In implementing that policy I have to decide who is a private individual and what personal information is—not always a straightforward determination. One very public individual, Orly Taitz, doesn’t seem to worry about these questions, something apparent in a recent round of articles on her web site.
One of the investigative initiatives at the Orly Taitz web site targets a commenter identified as "Jackson" with an IP address in North Carolina. "Jackson," by the way, is an extremely common name in the US. Taitz published the person’s IP address. Allegedly Jackson left an obscene comment on the Taitz blog that also had an interesting tidbit:
Not a [expletive deleted] chance, [expletive deleted]. Now get the [expletive deleted] out of the U.S. You don’t belong here you came here on a (redacted type of a visa) visa You’re nothing but low-life trash without any hopes of ever being anything else.
I deleted the expletives, but Taitz redacted the type of visa. Taitz’ claim is that only someone with access to her private immigration file, someone she says is with the Department of Homeland Security, could know about her visa. Two questions arise: First, why Taitz would redact the type of visa? And the second question is, exactly how private is visa information—would it really be just available to a DHS employee? It was asserted in a comment by "Ray" on an August 7, 2009 article at Examiner.com that the source of the visa information is Taitz herself:
And by her own admission she came to the US on a tourist visa and married a stranger to get a green card.
If true about the visa, that explains both Taitz’ reluctance to publish the type of visa, and how someone could have found out about it. I infer that the type of visa is correct. In an exchange with Jackson [link to Taitz site] back in July Jackson alleges that Taitz came to the US on a tourist visa, and her reply rather than a denial was: "I did not do anything illegal…"
In addition to trying to find out who "Jackson" is, Taitz is also asking for details about some other persons in North Carolina that Taitz thinks might be Jackson, whose names I won’t mention here (since it’s likely that they are innocent bystanders). She wants information about family members and their photos, where they studied and where they worked. She wants to know if they were connected to Bill Ayers, SDS or the Weather underground. Why? Taitz still thinks she can look up somebody’s IP address on the Internet and get the physical address of their computer. You can’t. You’re lucky just to get the right city doing that. Taitz is accusing these individuals of sending her obscene emails. Somebody may be soon accusing her of defamation. Heaven knows, she deserves it.
She’s asking similar questions about Bill (Foggy) Bryan and Fogbow commenter Sterngard Friegen.
Investigating people is not my style. I did track down a commenter here once that used a bunch of aliases, "Dragging Canoe." I found him and his personal web site with photos of his wife and kids. I didn’t publish what I found and never will. It’s personal information and Dragging Canoe is a private individual. That exercise a long time ago was an exception. Thoughts of hiring a detective to find out if Apuzzo is a member of the Klan are pure fantasy. Some anti-birthers have a more curious streak about the public person of Mike Zullo and anti-birther back channels are full of bits of information about employment, real estate and family—none of it particularly interesting I might add. The one question I have about Zullo is simply his work history in law enforcement, a valid question in the light of the claims he makes himself.