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Police State Watch - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Oct. 27th, 2004

03:14 pm - Police State Watch

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Ok. We know this stuff happens. It's important to take note of it anyway for the few out there who may believe that it doesn't.

LJer visitted by the Secret Service

a word to the wise
For all my LJ-loving friends, this is a word of warning, a word to the wise, and a word of utter exhaustion after the wringer I've been put through in the last twenty-four hours.

A couple of weeks ago, following the last presidential debate, I said some rather inflammatory things about George W. Bush in a public post in my LJ, done in a satirical style. We laughed, we ranted, we all said some things. I thought it was a fairly harmless (and rather obvious) attempt at humor in the face of annoyance, and while a couple of people were offended, as is typical behavior from me, I saw something shiny and forgot about it, thinking that the whole thing was over and done and nothing else would come of what I said.

I was wrong.

At 9:45 last night, the Secret Service showed up on my mother's front door to talk to me about what I said about the President, as what I said could apparently be misconstrued as a threat to his life. After about ten minutes of talking to me and my family, they quickly came to the conclusion that I was not a threat to national security (mostly because we are the least threatening people in the entire world) and told me that they would not recommend that any further action be taken with my case. However, I do now have a file with the FBI that includes my photograph, my e-mail address, and the location of my LJ. This will follow me around for the rest of my life, regardless of the fact that the Secret Service knows that I am not a threat.

Comments:

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From:lidora
Date:October 27th, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC)
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that happened to my friend as well after he said some bad things about bush a few years back. the fbi showed up at his front door and were going to take him away for questioning, but his dad was a cop and was able to talk them out of it.

bad stuff.
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[User Picture]
From:hssst
Date:October 27th, 2004 09:21 pm (UTC)
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That's one really wierd line she crossed. It seems a shame that she got shut down so quickly. She said she's going to edit what she posts.

Wait a minute, how did they find out where she lives? Isn't the LJ stuff confidential?

And why would they visit her parent's house if she was just talking? There is no crime in talking and discussing? I mean even if they're really shady things, it's still just talking. It's not like she went out and bought a firearm or actually went to the White House and tried to break in, right?
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[User Picture]
From:zarfmouse
Date:October 27th, 2004 10:12 pm (UTC)
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Livejournal is compelled to divulge what they know about you to the government if they ask. The government also has carnivore and eschelon set up at a lot of ISPs and consequently there's a lot of otherwise confidential information they can get if they want it.

She suggests that one of her "friends" reported her to the Secret Service. Perhaps said friend knows her personally.

Even if her home contact info wasn't available from LJ, it was probably available from comcast, which is her email provider for the address she lists on her home page which is linked from her userinfo. Her full name (Annie Sewell-Jennings) is also given on her home page, and her home town is listed in her userinfo. Perhaps her parents are in the phone book.

The secret service always investigates threats to the president that come to their attention.

There was no crime committed which is why they didn't take the action further. You don't have to commit a crime for the Secret Service to come investigate you, ask you questions, and generally stand about in an intimidating manner. If the family had wanted to they could have told them to go away until they got a warrant but the general feeling most people get is that standing up for your rights like that brings more harm than good in this kind of case.
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[User Picture]
From:zarfmouse
Date:October 27th, 2004 10:28 pm (UTC)
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Actually it's even easier than that. I don't know why I didn't think of this first. The "whois" record for her domain "anniedj.net" contains her address for everyone to see:

Registrant:
Annie Sewell-Jennings
4 Oatly Circle
Charleston, South Carolina 29414
US

Domain name: ANNIESJ.NET
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[User Picture]
From:simplepleasure
Date:October 27th, 2004 09:35 pm (UTC)
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Is this someone you know? Maybe I'm an idiot for saying this, but I'm not sure that I buy it.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:October 27th, 2004 10:05 pm (UTC)
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It is not someone I know. It could be a hoax. But it seemed awfully sincere and this is the kind of thing that one hears about pretty regularly. I do KNOW that indymedia has had to deal with this a few times.

I don't think it's a post 9/11 thing.

If you threaten the president and the Secret Service finds out about it, they always investigate.

Making threats (even in jest) about the president is just something that is Not Done. It's like making jokes about a bomb in the airport.

I'm not sure that the Secret Service even really crossed a line, this might not be the most outrageous example of police state abuses. It's just the kind of thing that gives you pause to realize that random jerkoffs have the power to call the Secret Service on you and men with guns may well show up at your house.
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From:simplepleasure
Date:October 28th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
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I wonder what she said in her post!
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From:erikforperson
Date:October 28th, 2004 04:40 pm (UTC)
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If you have time to go through the 43 pages of comments, somewhere in there, somebody had a screen capture of the original post, and she wrote a "letter" to God, asking God to kill Bush and his administration.

I understand that this is not something entirely out of character for the Secret Service, but I am shocked at the gall of a person to turn this poor girl in for her comments.

Shudder.
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From:swank76
Date:October 28th, 2004 04:07 pm (UTC)
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An interesting note to this, I was at the Alley Stores in Chicago yesterday and apparently the Secret Service had been in once or twice because of the "I Hate Bush" and "Kill Bush" t-shirts they sold. It sounds like bullshit when heard from the stoner wh told me, but I was almost open to believe it.

heh heh. You said "jerkoffs".
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[User Picture]
From:dirty_llama
Date:October 28th, 2004 05:59 pm (UTC)
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yeah, back in 1995, THE STATE, a sketch comedy show on Mtv whose awesomeness is yet to be surpassed, had a hillarious skit about how you should never joke about killing the president. damn that show was rad.
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[User Picture]
From:hssst
Date:October 29th, 2004 04:50 pm (UTC)

I miss the State too...

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I just looked at all the comments on her page, it's amazing how much hate is out there. She's got so many different types of lj people reading her stuff, I'm not surprised one of the more conservative people turned her in. Especially with some of those comments. whooosh- they were harsh. I suppose, that's the way it is out here. It's much easier to talk trash to people, from the safety of the, ah, well, from their own computer, far far away..

Actually, I saw a short film once about a chat room where these two people had an internet relationship, and it turned out they were roommates, and one roommate was a little homophobic, and the other one was gay, but said he was a woman online... And then they figured it out. and then the film ended.

People amaze and disgust me.
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