Swatting is a practice that involves calling 911 from either a spoofed number or a blocked number and relaying information that would get the police to a home in force.Calling a SWAT team on someone is a pretty vicious prank, especially considering the countless instances where contact with a SWAT team has meant death for many innocent individuals. Imagine this practice being used to silence bloggers, journalists and other influential people.
Now imagine this practice being used in a carefully-planned scheme to generate sympathy and big headlines in favor of conservative bloggers while allowing that same media apparatus and popular opinion to rip the "perpetrators" a new one. It's similar to the shenanigans performed by James O'Keefe against ACORN and the recently departed Andrew Breitbart and crew against Shirley Sherrod. Michelle Malkin, Chris and Dana Loesch both hoped the "Twitter Gulag" scandal would help gin up some sympathy points for them and other right-wing tweeters, to no avail. In other words, it's hard to approach this without wondering if this isn't just another scheme cooked up along those lines.
Conservative bloggers Patrick Frey and Erick Erickson were both "Swatted," supposedly as part of a feud between the two and political activist Brett Kimberlin. It's also worth noting that Kimberlin served time due to his role in the infamous "Speedway bombings." The undercurrent is that a guy who is despicable enough to wantonly injure and possibly kill innocents is surely capable of "Swatting" two guys who pissed him off. The expected response is to rally behind Frey and Erickson regardless of their political affiliations. However, it also helps how Kimberlin aligns himself to liberal causes, so conservatives also get to castigate both Kimberlin and liberals in general.
Make no mistake, "Swatting" is a legitimate problem that could get people hurt and possibly killed. And it's something you wouldn't expect conservatives to play games with. But as Matt Osborne puts it:
So we know how these types of games get played: right wing activists make the news they want to see with a sinister stunt, the right-wing blogosphere goes ballistic, spends weeks roaring about their victimization, and their yarns get days and days of mainstream coverage. Only later, when said media finally examines the facts, do we find out that we’ve been had once again.
And it seems we may have been had. Again.
In the midst of finding out more about "SWAT-Gate," I ran across this interesting tidbit of information from, of all things, a pastebin. And because of its source, the smart thing to do is to take the following with a rather large grain of salt until it's been properly verified*:
Mike Grimm is the Congressman from NY-13 and a former FBI undercover agent.
Grimm attempted to extort a Jewish congregation on the mafia stronghold of Staten Island, threatening to use his law enforcement contacts to “make it difficult for them”.
The congregation's rabbi approached former Congressman Anthony Weiner for assistance. This led to an extortion investigation for Grimm.
Grimm made contact with Brandon Darby and employed he and a small group of smear artists including Lee Stranahan and John Patrick Frey aka Patterico.
Anthony Weiner was pursued by a variety of real and synthetic female personas through 2010 and the spring of 2011. He was successfully smeared and forced to resign one year ago today.
Mike Stack was left holding the bag for the smear. He refused to drop out of sight, so he was swatted by Brandon Darby in order to silence him.
Ron Brynaert was investigating. They needed a bag holder for the swatting and Ron was the lucky winner, being set up via a phone call with Frey, purportedly for an interview, but in actuality it was purely to put him on the phone and engaged at a specific time.
Don't let the Weinergate rabbit hole distract from these simple facts. Follow the money and keep in mind a dangerous, complex hit job like this would only be entrusted to a few committed, hardcore operatives like Darby, Frey, and Stranahan.
Brandon Darby is a former FBI informant who currently spends his time as a conservative activist. Lee Stranahan is a conservative blogger who also hosts his own podcast. The following is audio from Stranahan's show when he took the call of the purported "swatter" who set the whole thing up (taken from Osborne's post):
And here is a video comparison of Darby's voice along with the voice used in the "Swatting" calls, including his appearance via phone on Stranahan's show:
The voices are remarkably similar and rather thinly disguised. There have been calls for a proper voice analysis to be made by law enforcement officials, something that Darby would be pretty reluctant to have happen if he was indeed behind all of this. In addition, there hasn't been any concrete proof that intended target Brett Kimberling was actually behind any "Swatting."
Meanwhile, fingers are being pointed at former Raw Story editor Ron Brynaert for being the one behind the "Swatting" calls, as the following video attempts to prove:
Brynaert's voice doesn't quite match up to the "swatter," although it would be very easy to simply assume it did on first listen, without Darby's voice to compare with it.
As for Mike Grimm, he's found himself under the wheels of the Romneymobile™ in addition to dealing with the fallout from his attempted shakedown.
So, is "SWAT-Gate" the end result of an elaborate and ultimately successful attempt to "ratfuck" Anthony Wiener out of a job for dropping a federal investigation right into the lap of a fellow representative who attempted to extort and intimidate the Shuva Israel congregation, who then turned to Wiener for help? And in addition to cleaning up loose ends, does "SWAT-Gate" also provide a sensational story for a bunch of aspiring Breitbarters to plaster up on mainstream media for weeks on end until the results of the inevitable round of fact checking come through?
It seems far-fetched and it's very easy to take "SWAT-Gate" at face value without reading into the motivation behind it. At any rate, it's gotten the desired reaction from across the blogosphere, one of shock, dismay and an expressed desire to see the designated target go down in flames without making sure it's the right one in the first place.
* http://sibob.org/wordpress/?p=10634, http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/fbi_confirms_agency_tipped_off.html