I don’t think “interfere” means what you think it does
I don’t usually listen to the Carl Gallups Freedom Friday show, but as distasteful as I find these slanderous and intellectually-insulting programs, I think they are important because they are the starting point for birther speculation that follows; they are the drop of ink in the glass of water whose tendrils spread and eventually color all of the water. They are claiming that their opponents are interfering with Cold Case Posse investigation. One thread tries to turn criticism of the birthers into a crime.
The status of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Cold Case Posse is somewhat murky (carrying on the ink-in-water metaphor). They appear to be affiliated with, but not responsible to, the Sheriff’s Office (there is, for example, no financial oversight and their Articles of Incorporation gives the Sheriff’s Office no say). There are assertions and denials (not precisely aligned in opposition) about the involvement of real Sheriff’s detectives in the volunteer posse’s investigation, and what they are investigating. But even if it were the FBI itself, criticism is not a crime and it doesn’t comprise impeding an investigation. On the contrary, criticism is a venerable American tradition, founded in the Constitutions’ protection of the freedom of speech. There’s a reason that the First Amendment comes first.
Criminal interference with an investigation is called “obstruction of justice” and most often the crime is lying to investigators (police, prosecutors, government officials, and regulators) and can include bribery, intimidating witnesses and jury tampering. Obstruction can also occur as the result of concealing or destroying evidence.1
No one from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Cold Case Posse has ever approached me to answer any questions, so I can hardly be accused of lying to them. In fact, to my knowledge, the Cold Case Posse has never interviewed anyone who disagrees with them. They have not contacted the White House or the State of Hawaii or anybody else who might give them an authoritative answer to any of their questions. They tested a thousand settings of PDF software, but didn’t even ask the White House what they used. In what real law enforcement investigation do you announce that you are investigating something, but never interview any persons of interest? So I reject the idea that anyone is interfering with their investigation in a legal sense. Is is punking Orly Taitz with a fake letter from Carl Gallups “interfering with an investigation”? The answer is “no” because the CCP can investigate as well as they could before it. They may find it personally annoying, but it doesn’t prevent them from doing what they are doing. The only impediment the Cold Case Posse might receive from their detractors is perhaps a damper on their fundraising, a hard argument to make because it highlights their lack of official support and standing.
If speech criticizing the Cold Case Posse on the Internet is not a crime at all, then it is certainly not a crime if the speaker is part of the Administration. I do not know of anyone in the Obama Administration who participates in birther discussions on the Internet, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some such person or persons exist. So what? If there were such a person, then all the birthers get is another dot to connect, but which doesn’t prove criminality.
A conspiracy theorists’ job is to expose the conspiracy, and that involves “tracking” the conspirators. Birthers have spent time and energy “exposing” the identities of their detractors, sometimes accurately and sometimes not (RC is not Randy Daniels, John). In general, those identifications are not particularly revealing, and aren’t really connected dot-wise with Obama.
Of late birther tracking has focused on Internet addresses, or “IP addresses,” a 32-bit number used to direct messages to specific devices on the Internet. Typically, an IP address will lead to local network, such as a home network, or a business. Sometimes IP addresses can be “spoofed” or made to appear other than the actually destination. Some birthers have said that they now are involved in a project of collecting IP addresses of their opponents and attempting to trace them back to the Administration, and there are claims that some trace back to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the White House. Here’s a comment from my blog from Arthur:
In a video posted at B.R., David Manning interviewed Miki Booth. During the interview, Manning said that Mike Volin “has got information that can trace many of these Obots right back to the White House” and that they are “pay-rolled by the White House,” which Miki Booth adamantly confirmed. Booth went on to identify the top paid Obots as, “that R.C. guy, there’s Fogbow, and there’s Dr. Conspiracy.” She continued, “A couple of these guys, we know who they are . . . and among these top three, they traced one guy all the way to the Department of Defense . . . in the division called DARPA.” Booth asserted that DARPA was responsible for, among other things, “psychological warfare” and that “one of the main Obots works there.”
Of course there is no secret who I am, nor who Foggy is. The birthers haven’t figured out who RC is, but I can assure my readers that I know and that he doesn’t work for the government or a political party or anything like that. None of us is paid to oppose birthers. I get the impression that Zullo lies, Gallups hypes, Manning goes out into left field, and the rest of the birthers improvise on the theme.
1For details, see the Congressional Research Service report: “Obstruction of Justice: An Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes That Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities” by Charles Doyle.