On Intent, Mental Health, and Terrorism

In thoroughly unsurprising news, Joshua Ryne Goldberg was declared unfit to stand trial yesterday.

Goldberg is the Jewish guy who pretended to be a lot of things online, many of them anti-Jewish, but who had a role in the incitement of the Garland, TX attack and got busted for sending an informant instructions on how to build a bomb and encouraging him to bomb Kansas City’s 9/11 commemoration.

Joshua Goldberg is a troll. But he has liaised with IS supporters and called for terrorist attacks against the West. Police who arrested him on Friday morning Australian time said he had recently instructed a confidential source on how to make a bomb.

And even before his recent exploits, Goldberg’s dangerous social media fantasies may have had real-world consequences. An Australi Witness tweet in the lead up to an exhibition of pictures of the Prophet Mohammed in Garland, Texas, in May, urged Muslims to go with “weapons, bombs or with knifes”. Two men answered the call, and were killed by police.

“Australi Witness” praised them as martyrs.

Since July he has fed out a series of bomb threats against various targets, including a synagogue in Melbourne and another in Perth. Most recently, he said he was working with others to direct a “pressure cooker bombing” in the United States.

[snip]

He has masqueraded as a neo-Nazi blogger called “Michael Slay” on the site Daily Stormer, and as a fictional Australian left-wing anti-free speech activist called “Tanya Cohen”. He’s caused significant harm to anti-sexploitation campaigner Caitlin Roper by setting up a fake account in her name and then defaming transsexuals.

According to a prison psychologist who testified at a hearing yesterday, Goldberg suffers from an illness on the schizophrenia spectrum.

After numerous interviews, Dr. Lisa Feldman, a forensic psychologist with the Federal Detention Center in Miami, found Goldberg not mentally sound enough for trial. She said Goldberg suffers from a mental disorder she described as on the “schizophrenia spectrum” and that he could not participate in his own defense.

[snip]

Goldberg exhibited “very paranoid, suspicious ideas and a feeling that other people wanted to harm him,” Feldman testified.

After his transfer to the detention center in Miami, Goldberg stopped bathing himself and was eventually put on suicide watch, Feldman said. She said he insisted constantly that he should be in a hospital, not a prison.

While she could not rule out that Goldman was exaggerating some of his mental health symptoms, Feldman said Goldman’s background materials and behavior at the facility made it clear to her that he was not able to understand his legal predicament.

Neither Kevin Frein, a national security prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, nor Goldman’s attorney Paul Shorstein, objected to her findings.

Let me be clear: I don’t doubt that Goldberg is incompetent to stand trial. You’d sort of have to be, to voice support for all these contradictory issues.

That said, I suspect it was a lot easier for the criminal justice system to find him incompetent than it would be to find the long list of young Muslim men with mental illnesses who get caught in stings.

That’s true, in part, because people are going to believe that bluster from a Jewish guy advocating attacks targeting Jews lacks real intent, whereas bluster from a Muslim harbors intent. It’s all bluster, often spurred by mental illness, but we believe the Muslims meant it.

But also because Goldberg’s claim of credit for the Garland attack might pose really uncomfortable questions for the government, given the conflicting reports on whether they had a warning of the attack (making it likely they were following Goldberg). If ISIS-inspired attacks are, in fact, inspired by Jewish kids living in their parents’ basement just talking shite, then what does that say about the war on terror?

Moreover, what does that say about FBI’s success prosecuting guys for “material support” because they retweet ISIS propaganda? Goldberg was producing ISIS propaganda, but it’s hard to believe he really “meant” it.

A whole lot of online trolling consists of individuals engaging in make-believe to see if they can get a response. But what if it becomes increasingly clear that some of it really is make-believe, even while that make-believe has real consequences?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

15 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    As an aside, it is also a hell of a lot easier to get a mental incompetency declaration when it is the government requesting it, rather than just the defense. Which, of course they do not do for Muslims, especially ones the government has gone out of its way to entrap.

    • scribe says:

      Easy when the government doesn’t oppose the application, too. They were happy to get this clown off the streets and net and in a quiet, nobody looking at it way.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    “A whole lot of online trolling consists of individuals engaging in make-believe to see if they can get a response. But what if it becomes increasingly clear that some of it really is make-believe, even while that make-believe has real consequences?” Sounds like an interesting question for bmaz, as to civil and criminal liability. Got to believe there’s an applicable body of law out there.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      . “Got to believe there’s an applicable body of law out there.”

      You speak of “Canned Goods!” There is a body of law, international in fact, to address enabled fabrications to justify aggressive invasions.

      Maybe Cheney might want visit a beach in France?

      As for domestic canned goods, the good press complies, completely like the good German..

      Truth is a hard pill for the credulous to swallow

  3. Les says:

    He sounds like a conservative Jew. He’s baiting individuals from these anti-Jewish groups into carrying out violent acts. He’s also trolling progressives.

    In the first instance, the police are at least doing so in order to ferret out potential terrorists. He wants them to carry out these acts, knowing well the effect on public opinion.

  4. Robin Selk says:

    “After his transfer to the detention center in Miami, Goldberg stopped bathing himself and was eventually put on suicide watch, Feldman said. [b]She said he insisted constantly that he should be in a hospital, not a prison.[/b]

    While she could not rule out that Goldman was exaggerating some of his mental health symptoms, [b]Feldman said Goldman’s background materials and behavior at the facility made it clear to her that he was not able to understand his legal predicament.[/b]”

    I dunno. Between those two parapgaphs it seems like he has some understanding of his legal predicament.

  5. Evangelista says:

    “A whole lot of online trolling consists of individuals engaging in make-believe to see if they can get a response.”

    The error in the above quote is the word “trolling”. A whole lot of online braggadocio and authoritocio is make-believe. Very little trolling is. The little that is is predominantly pretense to being an authority, to knowing, etc. Trolling is an aggressive online activity. The purpose of trolling is always to cause an effect, to anger, to instigate, to humiliate, to push, over an edge, to do something, to respond, etc.

    There is no actual indication of real incompetence, or mental illness above or beyond any that is normal for ninety-nine percent of the administrative bureaucrats in the United States government in any of young Goldberg’s actions. The activities, themselves, indicate that he knew what he was doing, and what he was trying to do, and that he felt he was as reasonable, rational and ‘patriotic’ as the next person, especially including such next persons as are employed by the FBI and such, who do exactly the same thing, attempting to instigate escalations from thoughts-to to follow-through. All “masquerading” qualifies as in, or “on” “the schizophrenic spectrum”. The behavior Goldberg engaged in is correctly designated “baiting”. It is a not uncommon adolescent activity. Only the extent of Goldberg’s indulging was ‘excessive’ (for a non-government employee). Goldberg’s self-presented ‘condition’, defined, “very paranoid, suspicious ideas and a feeling that other people wanted to harm him,” is defined, in other circumstances, “Being Jewish”. There is indication of self-justification by Goldberg, in his imagining his activities in line with FBI ones, or practice for becoming a government agent, and of manipulating to avoid consequences. His own insistence on hospitalization indicates awareness and was probable manipulation. His ‘abnormal’ prison behavior, not bathing, is normally not abnormal, and is pretty petty in the scales of anti-social,let alone schizophrenic, behavior. There is no indication of Goldberg being ‘incompetent’ in any regard. All indications are of A young man of finer sensibilities, and sensitivities, scion of a respectable family, whose life and future must not be ruined by forcing him to publicly experience the consequences that would be meted without concerns or considerations, and commonly are, to a lesser person, or person of lesser ‘station’ who engaged in the same activities, especially if doing so sincerely, not attempting to manipulate and instigate as a troll…

    There is lots of evidence of systemic indulgence, the kind of thing that gets white-collar criminals non-prosecutions, and wrist-slaps with follow-up apologies, if something must be done. There is no indication of actual or legitimate incompetence, inability to understand, or any other of the spectrum that would be laughed out of court if put forward by a genuinely mentally ill or retarded or otherwise unable to comprehend ‘lesser-human’ defendant.

    The case is an example of the kind of disease judiciary systems die of, or of the way they stink when they have died, but are continuing to dysfunction.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      “A whole lot of online trolling consists of individuals engaging in make-believe to see if they can get a response.”

      War of the Worlds sure created a response. It was quite make belief, yet very believable….

      Der…

      Don’t give the trolling controlling personality disordered creep a response. It is what they want. Especially an Alphabet looking for job security “Savaking” social media?

      • Evangelista says:

        JamesJoyce,

        The line you quote is quoted, in my comment, from the posted article. I don’t believe make-believe, to and including mis-understood ‘practical joking’ is ‘trolling’. As in criminality (under the Presumption of Innocence Principle, though nowadays not under the UnConstitutional Statutory Law perpetrated by the current Constitutionally illegal United States, and States’ Commercial Law based “law”) ‘trolling’ requires intent, malice and knowing.

        The curious component of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” is that its only artistically believable component was its ‘dramatic reportage’ presentation format, which format, for being presented in artistically believable dramatization, was interspersed frequently, not occasionally, with disclaimers advising that the ‘reportage’ was radio-drama. The panic was equivalent to practical-joke gone badly wrong for being believed. Note that in the 19th century the equivalent was recognized an ‘occupational hazard’ of presenting melodramas in mining-camps and other rural (unsophisticated audience) venues, where threats and even shots were occasionally fired toward villains during shows.

        I do believe what Goldberg was doing was ‘auditioning’, or building his resumé, for entry into the alphabet-agency world, where it was not gaming his definition ‘bad-guys’ to reveal themselves by acting on his instigating. The last is what FBI et al do in ‘sting’ instigations, what CIA et al do in aiding al Qaeda, ISIS and their other stooge-operatives, and what it appears was most likely done to instigate-perpetrate the Paris attacks. Note that in the case of the last, and the Charlie Hebdo event, no efforts were made to arrest to take to trial, also how unlikely it would be for a woman to be wearing a ‘suicide-vest’ at home (while likely that one might open a door for hearing a rattling against it just in time for the ‘door-buster’ causing the rattling to blow her up along with the door). Note, too, the curiosity that the abandoned ‘suicide-vest’ found was sans detonator; it makes one wonder if the vest-wearing event actors blew themselves up individually, or were blown up, to assure none would ‘chicken-out’ at the suicide point. French (EU) investigation is lousy to the point of providing probable cause to believe complicities, if not conspiracies.

        • JamesJoyce says:

          “…it makes one wonder if the vest-wearing event actors blew themselves up individually, or were blown up, to assure none would ‘chicken-out’ at the suicide point. French (EU) investigation is lousy to the point of providing probable cause to believe complicities, if not conspiracies.”

          Dead loose ends never talk, just like alleged Polish saboteurs, shot in the back of the head?

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleiwitz_incident

          “The Gleiwitz incident (German: Überfall auf den Sender Gleiwitz; Polish: Prowokacja gliwicka) was a false flag operation by Nazi forces posing as Poles on 31 August 1939, against the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany (since 1945: Gliwice, Poland) on the eve of World War II in Europe. The goal was to use the staged attack as a pretext for invading Poland. This provocation was the best-known of several actions in Operation Himmler, a series of unconventional operations undertaken by the SS in order to serve specific propaganda goals of Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the war. It was intended to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany in order to justify the subsequent invasion of Poland.”

          To make the attack seem more convincing, the Germans used human props to pass them off as Polish attackers. They murdered Franciszek Honiok, a 43-year-old unmarried German Silesian Catholic farmer, known for sympathizing with the Poles. He had been arrested the previous day by the Gestapo. He was dressed to look like a saboteur; then killed by lethal injection, given gunshot wounds, and left dead at the scene, so that he appeared to have been killed while attacking the station. His corpse was subsequently presented as proof of the attack to the police and press.[4]”

          In addition to Honiok, several prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp[2] were drugged, shot dead on the site, and had their faces smashed up to make identification impossible.[3][5] The Germans referred to them by the code phrase “Konserve” (“canned goods”). For this reason, some sources incorrectly refer to the incident as “Operation Canned Goods”.[6] In an oral testimony at the trials, Erwin von Lahousen stated that his division of the Abwehr was one of two that were given the task of providing Polish uniforms, equipment and identification cards, and that he was later told by Wilhelm Canaris that people from concentration camps had been disguised in these uniforms and ordered to attack the radio stations.[7]”

          I fell off turnip truck yesterday!

          Canned goods?

  6. RUKidding says:

    It’s easier to get a finding of incompetency due to mental health issues when you’re not a Muslim or a darker skinned minority. Muslims, blahs or Hispanics mostly need not apply for such a “pass” as they won’t get one from the govt., even if they are truly suffering from a mental illness. Doesn’t matter. Muslim? Dark skinned? Guilty!

    • bmaz says:

      Honestly, in my experience, that is a gross misstatement. It is easier to get an incompetency ruling when the government joins, irrespective of the status of the defendant. Truth is, under modern/current standards, whether §4241 for Federal District Court cases, or Rule 11 and the various like in state court proceedings, obtaining such a finding is extremely hard and rare, irrespective of the race/religion of the defendant.

      • Evangelista says:

        bmaz,

        Your observation, “It is easier to get an incompetency ruling when the government joins, irrespective of the status of the defendant.”, while true, is off-point, since RUKidding’s point was not government jointure, but the unlikeliness of such where defendants are ‘non-status’, or ‘deprecated-status’, rather than ‘status’, ‘value’, ‘privileged’, ‘aristocracy’, etc.

        However few such findings, what are the ratios between privileged-class vs. deprecated-classes individuals who are favored with such findings?

  7. JamesJoyce says:

    Here are some “canned goods,” sold to credulous human beings…

    Drink the current miestenguizen at your own peril…..

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/41-admitted-false-flag-attacks.html

    (2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland.

    (3) Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building in 1933, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson.

    (8) The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

    (17) The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 … manipulating data to make it look like North Vietnamese boats fired on a U.S. ship so as to create a false justification for the Vietnam war.

    (31) Similarly, the U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction (despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers).

    I fell off turnip truck yesterday…. How about the rest of us?

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