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Investigation wars

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.

Orly Taitz

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…"

OrlyBlog-7-25-2013

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.

Anti-birthers

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.

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19 Responses to Investigation wars

  1. avatar
    Bob August 26, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    If Orly was really the least bit concerned about this she wouldn’t blab about it on the internet. It wouldn’t surprise me if she made the whole thing up.

    World’s Leading Obama Eligibility Challenge Biggest Narcicist’s Web Site

  2. avatar
    Thinker August 26, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    The commenter in the Examiner article who claims Taitz herself has said she came to the US on a tourist visa also believes she does not have a California Bar Association number. Obviously untrue. She is a licensed member of the CA Bar. It is outrageous that someone so obviously insane and incompetent can be licensed to practice law, but she is. He also calls the Taft School of Law a fundamentalist Christian diploma mill. Diploma mill, yes. But fundamentalist Christian, no.

    I think she was a mail-order bride and came to the US on a fiance visa to marry her husband, whom she barely knew. I don’t see any reason why she would have come here illegally (as a tourist who intended to marry an American and stay in the US) when she could have done it legally with a fiance visa.

  3. avatar
    bovril August 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Doc,

    Candidate for QOTD

    From Jeff Winston over at Freak Republic

    And this is the legacy of the birthers. A massive excursion into the popularization of utter stupidity.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3057103/posts?page=303#303

  4. avatar
    Graham Shevlin August 27, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    Judging by the responses on FogBow to the latest requests by Ms Taitz for dirt, I think that Foggy and the others are really quaking in their boots now…Orly doesn’t seem to get the connection between ridiculous behavior and ridicule.

  5. avatar
    Sef August 27, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    Graham Shevlin:
    Judging by the responses on FogBow to the latest requests by Ms Taitz for dirt, I think that Foggy and the others are really quaking in their boots now…Orly doesn’t seem to get the connection between ridiculous behavior and ridicule.

    Time to break out the Wellies. It’s starting to get deep.

  6. avatar
    ZixiOfIx August 27, 2013 at 3:00 am #

    “Jeff Winston” is one of the few reasonable, thoughtful minds left at FR. He’s been there more than three years, takes heaps of abuse, and is subject to endless childish name-calling and personal attacks, all of which are against the TOS. The rules don’t seem to apply to birthers, though.

    I understand his desire to tell the objective truth, even in the face of being called an “Obot” and much worse, because the truth is what it is, and to pretend otherwise is folly.

    I wonder how long he’ll last, though. The mods seem to get tired of having to play umpire, and eventually seem to find it easiest to dump the person who gets the most complaints lodged against them, even though they aren’t actually breaking any rules.

    Since the birthers took over at FR, so many smart people have left the site, never to return. Sad all around.

    bovril:
    Doc,

    Candidate forQOTD

    From Jeff Winston over at Freak Republic

    And this is the legacy of the birthers. A massive excursion into the popularization of utter stupidity.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3057103/posts?page=303#303

  7. avatar
    Dave August 27, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    The commenters at Taitz’s site have been doing this IP address -> street address conversion for years. It started with a commenter who imagined himself a great computer expert when in fact he was ludicrously misinformed. When Taitz posted an insulting comment with an IP address, he posted that you can look up the IP address at a geolocation website, and then put the resulting Lat/Long into Google Maps. Obviously, this does not work, as can be immediately verified by anybody trying this on their own IP address. But the commenters quickly had come up with and posted the address, name, phone number, employer, and employer phone number of the resulting random person and began harrassing him.

  8. avatar
    y_p_w August 27, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Most people have dynamically assigned IP addresses. In any case, most residential internet users can only be traced to their service provider, and then only to a general area.

    I remember using Topix, which would post a generic location and the user couldn’t opt out. Usually it was pretty close, but at other times it would say I was in Southern California or even Iowa.

  9. avatar
    Dave August 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    There are several geolocation services, and not surprisingly they will give different answers. The customers of geolocation services are marketers who want to localize advertising for one reason or another, and they don’t need any better accuracy than 10 miles or so. And, as y_p_w notes above, only the ISP can actually tell you who owns the IP address. When the cops want to know, they have to subpoena the info from the ISP.

  10. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG August 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Dave:
    There are several geolocation services, and not surprisingly they will give different answers. The customers of geolocation services are marketers who want to localize advertising for one reason or another, and they don’t need any better accuracy than 10 miles or so. And, as y_p_w notes above, only the ISP can actually tell you who owns the IP address. When the cops want to know, they have to subpoena the info from the ISP.

    But Taitz lives in a comic book world, where technology is magic. You press a button and the answer is instantaneous, doncha know?

  11. avatar
    bob August 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    Thinker:
    I think she was a mail-order bride and came to the US on a fiance visa to marry her husband, whom she barely knew. I don’t see any reason why she would have come here illegally (as a tourist who intended to marry an American and stay in the US) when she could have done it legally with a fiance visa.

    It is much easier to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa and then get married. A finance visa takes longer and is more expensive.

    But entering the U.S. on a tourist visa with the intent to marry is immigration fraud.

  12. avatar
    misha marinsky August 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    bob: is…fraud

    Fraud is a subject Orly is well versed in. I’ve never seen proof of her degree from the Hebrew University.

    Did she fake it, like she faked everything else?

  13. avatar
    Keith August 29, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    Dave: There are several geolocation services,

    Here is a very useful geo-location service: mobile phone tracking service

    Its free to try.

  14. avatar
    y_p_w August 29, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    bob: It is much easier to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa and then get married.A finance visa takes longer and is more expensive.

    But entering the U.S. on a tourist visa with the intent to marry is immigration fraud.

    There’s a lot of fraud out there. Coming over on a tourist visa to give birth in the US is fraud, but there’s a brisk business of Chinese women doing just that. Maybe not exactly fraud simply on the basis of it, but that one is supposed to declare the purpose for obtaining a visa, such as visiting relatives or going to Disneyland. Most obviously won’t declare the intent to give birth or get married to a US citizen since it looks bad an could be the basis for denying a visa.

    In general I thought the preferred thing would be to get married overseas and then apply for a spousal visa. Might not work for same sex couples though since most countries don’t allow it.

  15. avatar
    y_p_w August 29, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Dave:
    There are several geolocation services, and not surprisingly they will give different answers. The customers of geolocation services are marketers who want to localize advertising for one reason or another, and they don’t need any better accuracy than 10 miles or so. And, as y_p_w notes above, only the ISP can actually tell you who owns the IP address. When the cops want to know, they have to subpoena the info from the ISP.

    I remember a time when common message board/forum software would display an IP address, or more often the domain hostname. It got interesting seeing where people were posting from. I remember posting from a university library, and it did in fact say something like library-18.xxyyzz.edu However, that was at a time when anyone could post without an account, and consistent domain names attached to a username made it easier to spot when someone was being spoofed.

    There was a board that I would frequent where I noticed that they were displaying the partial domain address where a post was made. This was long after most message board software no longer did this by default, although most board software had the display as an option. We actually had a scare once when someone was trying to get even with the board for a group action (getting Craigslist postings removed for ToS violations via their reporting system). This guy was sending private messages via the board software, and was threatening release of personal information of board members if we didn’t stop. This guy apparently got information about one guy, including his real name and address, then sent it out via private messages to other members. We found out that the info was real, but that he probably got it because this member uses the same “handle” and probably revealed info in another message board that made it possible to track him. The claim that we could be tracked started with the part about the partial hostname (mine would display something like —-.hsd1.ca.comcast.net) although I understood that the entire IP address and hostname was logged by the board software. The threatener claimed that he had accessed the system and could see all IP addresses. The board admin assured us that it was not the case. In any case, there was no way anyone would be able to track down a dynamic IP address from a major provider to a specific name and address without the cooperation of the internet service provider.

  16. avatar
    Kate August 31, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    If Taitz considers that post to be obscene, her standards are ridiculous. As for her coming on a fiance’ visa, from what I understand they take several months to obtain. Taitz’s story has always been that her husband proposed to her on their second date and she said, “yes”. They were married shortly after when they came to the U.S. and allegedly went straight to Vegas because she didn’t want her parents to think she was living in sin (insert eyeroll)

    Taitz reveals her ignorance about U.S. law and her lack of schooling by publishing names, addresses and alleged relatives names and phone numbers for people she thinks “might be” the ones who are harassing her. I hope someone takes her to court on this and soon! Her followers, as few as they may be, are a nasty bunch and will not give up on making calls for her.

  17. avatar
    misha marinsky September 1, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Keith: Here is a very useful geo-location service: mobile phone tracking service Its free to try.

    I fell for it. I was pranked.

  18. avatar
    Northland10 September 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Kate: If Taitz considers that post to be obscene, her standards are ridiculous.

    These definitions from the OrlyDeectssionarreee might help:

    1. Obscene – any post, article or verbal comment that states Orly is incorrect, wrong or bat guano insane.

    2. Treasonous – any post, article, verbal comment or news story that ignores Orly.

    Neither of these offenses are protected by the First Amendment because, because, free speech is only free if it compliments a certain faux-lawyer.