If Trump Is So Concerned that a DOJ Contractor Failed to Archive Texts, Why Not Hold the Contractor Accountable?

In yet another attempt to project criminal wrong-doing on those investigating criminal wrong-doing, both Rudy …

… And his client, Individual 1, have repeated a false claim that Robert Mueller deleted 19,000 Peter Strzok and Lisa Page texts.

The claim is, like so much else emanating from these two men’s twitter thumbs, an either willful or ignorant misstatement, this one based on a DOJ IG Report on efforts to collect Strzok-Page texts that, because of a technical malfunction, didn’t get collected by an FBI contractor. It conflates efforts to replace texts sent using their FBI-issued Samsung Galaxy phones (where some 19,000 texts did not get archived, though the number itself is inflated because it would necessarily include a lot of overlap) with a belated effort to check their Mueller-issued iPhones. Worse still, it talks about texts that actually were recovered.

OIG digital forensic examiners used forensic tools to recover thousands of text messages from these devices, including many outside the period of collection tool failure (December 15, 2016 to May 17, 2017) and many that Strzok and Page had with persons other than each other. Approximately 9,311 text messages that were sent or received during the period of collection tool failure were recovered from Strzok’s S5 phone, of which approximately 8,358 were sent to or received from Page. Approximately 10,760 text messages that were sent or received during the period of collection tool failure were recovered from Page’s S5 phone, of which approximately 9,717 were sent to or received from Strzok. Thus, many of the text messages recovered from Strzok’s S5 were also recovered from Page’s S5.

The only thing to blame Mueller’s office for is that, after reviewing Strzok’s phone and finding no substantive text messages, his Records Officer freed up the phone to be factory reset and issued to someone else.

According to SCO’s Records Officer, Strzok was removed from SCO-related work in late July 2017, and he completed his Exit Clearance Certificate on August 11, 2017. As part of an office records retention procedure, the SCO Records Officer stated that she reviewed Strzok’s phone on September 6, 2017. She told the OIG that she determined it did not contain records that needed to be retained. She noted in her records log about Strzok’s phone: “No substantive texts, notes or reminders.”

The Records Officer appears not to have realized that Page had a Mueller iPhone, so it was only subsequently checked for content, after which point it, too, had been factory reset.

But there’s no reason to think hers would have anything more substantive than Strzok’s phone. That’s because they appear to have kept using their Samsungs in the period they were assigned with Mueller (which is where their interesting texts were sent).

On May 17, 2017, the Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) was established to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. Strzok and Page were assigned to the SCO shortly thereafter (Strzok in early June; Page on May 28) and were provided DOJ JMD iPhones during their SCO assignment. Based on OIG’s examination of their FBI mobile devices, Page and Strzok also retained and continued to use their FBI mobile devices. Specifically, on or about May 18, 2017, Page received an FBI-issued Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile device to replace her previously-issued FBI Samsung Galaxy S5. On or about July 5, 2017, Strzok received an FBl•issued Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile device to replace his previously-issued FBI Samsung Galaxy S5.

So what the President and his plays-a-lawyer-on-TV-flack are complaining about is that the federal government reissued government devices when users no longer needed those government devices, something bureaucracies of all types do all the time. With Strzok, at least, before doing so, the Records Officer checked the device to make sure no important content would be overwritten.

And in trying to invent an obstruction claim out of normal bureaucratic thriftiness, they are ignoring the really damning part of the IG Report. The government contractor whose “bug” was responsible for the text messages that weren’t originally archived (but which were later recovered) still can’t ensure more than 90% of FBI’s texts are recovered.

Among the other excuses FBI offers for implementing a fix to a 20% failure with one that still results in a 10% failure is to say, “complete collection of text messages is neither required nor necessary to meet the FBI’s legal preservation obligations” (which goes back to how they’re requiring retention via policy, but not technologically-assisted procedure). The FBI also says that it “is not aware of any solution that closes the collection gap entirely on its current mobile device platforms,” which makes me wonder why they keep buying new Samsungs if the Samsungs aren’t serving their needs? Aside from the question of why we’d ask FBI Agents to use less secure Korean phones rather than more secure American ones (note, Mueller’s team is using iPhones)?

This story — particularly the contractor’s squirreliness when asked about what privileges its retention function accesses…

As DOJ IG was trying to puzzle through why they couldn’t find all of Strzok and Page’s texts, the unnamed vendor got squirrelly when asked how the retention tool interacts with administrative privileges.

Upon OIG’s request, ESOC Information Technology Specialist [redacted] consulted with the FBl’s collection tool vendor, who informed the FBI that the collection application does not write to enterprise.db. [Redacted] further stated that ESOC’s mobile device team and the vendor believed enterprise.db is intended to track applications with administrative privileges and may have been collecting the logs from the collection tool or another source such as the Short Message Service (SMS) texting application. The collection tool vendor preferred not to share specific details regarding where it saves collected data, maintaining that such information was proprietary; however, [redacted] represented that he could revisit the issue with the vendor if deemed necessary.

Maybe it’s me, but I find it pretty sketchy that this unnamed collection tool vendor doesn’t want to tell the FBI precisely what they’re doing with all these FBI Agents’ texts. “Proprietary” doesn’t cut it, in my opinion.

… Seems like what happens in government when a unit has made inappropriate purchase and contracting decisions, but even two years after discovering that fact, nevertheless doubles down with new investments in the same inappropriate purchase decisions.

If Trump really cared that FBI wasn’t archiving all its texts and continues to fail to do so, he should command Big Dick Toilet Salesman Matt Whitaker to ensure that FBI make purchasing decisions (perhaps starting by replacing the Samsungs with more secure iPhones) that will result in full archival records.

But he didn’t do that. Perhaps it’s time for journalists to start asking why he’s not demanding better of DOJ and FBI going forward?

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post.

69 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    For Trump, a lifelong criminal, good records can only be a liability. But his lax attitude does seem at odds with the conservative idea that government should be run like a business, or should at least get its money’s worth.

    Sadly, this dynamic seems typical of how neoliberals treat government: it should spend widely and deeply but not ask too many questions about what it gets in return. Profits before patriotism and all that.

  2. P J Evans says:

    I’m not sure that Himself even understands that cell phones/smart phones aren’t phones like the old Bell models that he grew up with. (He doesn’t seem to get that they’re computers – which he also doesn’t understand.)
    I wonder what he’s afraid of them finding if they look at his own phones.

  3. Trip says:

    Trump repeats talking points (often devoid of facts) ad nauseam. He thinks, like most propagandists, that if you repeat it often enough, it becomes part of the public consciousness and accepted as a widely held truth (the way constant brand advertising gets inside your brain). All one has to do is go back to the birther narrative, with people in the proximity of Trump stating that he admitted he knew it wasn’t true, (but that it was device for purpose). That there is an element of truth (that the FBI does, in fact, sometimes really suck and is sketchy at times) does not equal Trump telling the real (or entire) story. Adding tiny bits of fact or established general perception is a propagandist’s best option for hooking the imagination toward a larger acceptance of the shit that ain’t real.

    • Jan Marra says:

      “Cathy’s lies were never innocent. Their purpose was to escape punishment, or work, or responsibility, and they were used for profit. Most liars are tripped up either because they forget what they have told or because the lie is suddenly faced with an incontrovertible truth. But Cathy did not forget her lies, and she developed the most effective method of lying. She stayed close enough to the truth so that one could never be sure. She knew two other methods also — either to interlard her lies with truth or to tell a truth as though it were a lie. If one is accused of a lie and it turns out to be the truth, there is a backlog that will last a long time and protect a number of untruths.” –John Steinbeck, East of Eden

  4. Troutwaxer says:

    I’m seeing what may be a possible typo in the phrase “…FBI Samsung Galaxy SS” above shouldn’t the “SS” be “S5” or “S6?” Or is the typo in the original document?

  5. Marinela says:

    Good question on why the contractor is not held responsible, or why they don’t move to more secure iPhones?

    The contractor glitch would affect all departing FBI agents, including those with pro Trump views. It just  happens recently FBI was purged of anybody perceived as not loyal.

    Regarding Strzok firing, curious if he can/would challenge his firing, considering he said some disparaging things of Hillary as well, the FBI concluded he didn’t act on “Trump bias”, and his FBI service is really impressive, especially regarding Russian counterintelligence.

    His FBI firing seems like a quo gift to Russians.


    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Good question on why the contractor is not held responsible, or why they don’t move to more secure iPhones?

      Probably because the agency bought into a vendor solution for message retention, and the software dictated the OS and hardware. (Android is more easily ‘rooted’ to expose low-level stuff than iOS, and that’s what was being done here.)

      From the OIG report: “the Department, unlike the FBI, does not have an automated system that seeks to retain text messages.” That’s why Mueller’s team is on iOS: they got their devices from Main Justice, not the FBI.

      Anybody who’s had to deal with bought-in enterprise software (and its salespeople) in a corporate setting will have that queasy déjà vu feeling from the OIG report. Too many vendors overstate the capabilities of their software, hide the flaws, and won’t disclose ways to run independent audits of whether it’s working correctly. By the time you discover things go wrong, you’ve re-upped the contract or the deployment has become a sunk cost: finding a new vendor and migrating is expensive, and you’ll probably run into the same problems.

      (Sure, buy in commodity tech where it makes sense. But do not outsource your core competencies. Develop that shit in-house.)

      • Marinela says:


        Just saying, these are the questions to ask about these issues, not to spin it that Mueller team erased the messages.

        I’m sure there are solutions to these technical issues. Worked for government contracts and they are really adverse to changes/improvements/risks. Once you “are in”, you are set for a long time.


      • BobCon says:

        Also, your vendor will have customized your systems just enough with some kind of proprietary setup that another contractor won’t be able to jump in and take over. You’ll need to pay two vendors at the same time during the transition period, which of course will last longer and take more work than anyone had initially budgeted for.

        • Peterr says:

          If the vendor misrepresented their ability to fulfill the requirements of the RFP, and then failed to fulfill the terms of the contract, then it is possible that termination of the contract may also require the vendor to disgorge their income gained via that misrepresentation/failures, and perhaps even additionally pay for the transition to a new vendor. It will cost a lot of time, but perhaps not money.

          Of course, this assumes a contract with substantial penalty clauses and a DOJ that is inclined to press criminal charges – and there is no evidence that I have seen that says either of these assumptions are correct in this case.

    • emptywheel says:

      THe circumstances of his FBI firing may be certainly be damaging for the FBI’s ability to retain talent. I’m not sure he was really up to the RU investigation though.

  6. oldoilfieldhand says:

    How many components of the Samsung phones are manufactured in China? The South Korean middle class is costing the titans of South Korean industry billions in labor costs and union benefits. (Reminiscent of US labor costs prior to corporate offshoring and tax breaks ) Imagine every North Korean (contracted and paid through Kim Jung Un to work for a fraction of the won paid to South Korean union workers), with a cellphone and digital app payment account… Would the United States government’s digital records be safer? Any wonder that the corporate President and Prime Minister of South Korea both favor dialogue with the North.

  7. Pete says:

    As if ANYTHING Rudy or Trump tweet about is going to affect anything related to Trump investigations. The river will flow where it will.

  8. Jharp says:

    It is my opinion that Trump has one goal in mind every waking moment.

    To obstruct justice.

    And that includes him using the power of the Office of the President in every way possible (shutting down the gov’t) to disrupt the investigations.

    • P J Evans says:

      His goals:

      (1 ) make money in every way he can, while he’s in office and (he thinks) untouchable

      (2) avoid indictments and prosecution for his many, many crimes, including the ones he’s committing while in office

      (3) punish everyone who’s getting in the way of (1) and (2)

      • hester says:

        With dump, it’s always been about money which he conflates w status.   He’s desperate for both, can only ever achieve the first and only by corruption and deceit.  And of course he has to obstruct the process… which will reveal him to be the ultimate flim flam man.

  9. somecallmetim says:

    Probably an oversimplification,  but criticizing government contractors is inconsistent with Government Is The Problem, and brings the spotlight uncomfortably close to dirty golden geese  in contracting/privatization.

    h/t DeVos, Pruitt,  Zinke, et al.

  10. Peterr says:

    The collection tool vendor preferred not to share specific details regarding where it saves collected data, maintaining that such information was proprietary; however, [redacted] represented that he could revisit the issue with the vendor if deemed necessary.

    [redated], it’s necessary.

    This is the embodiment of the “close enough for government work” cliche. When the vendor says “Even if our process was working right, we still would miss 10% of the messages we are supposed to capture,” that’s when [redacted] needs to recommend that the contract be terminated and all payments be returned for failure to fulfill the requirements of the contract. And then [redacted] needs to review the vendor’s bid documentation. Dollars to donuts that [redacted] will find lies and deceptions that were included in order to get the contract in the first place.

    “The vendor preferred not to share specific details.”

    The vendor may have screwed up on the technical stuff, and may have screwed up by overpromising on the contract, but the vendor is not stupid and well aware of the first rule of holes: When you’re in one, quit digging. Failure to meet the terms of the contract is problem enough, especially when you add likely lying to a federal agency to get the contract in the first place. You don’t need to compound it with additional stuff. With a little nudge from [redacted], the vendor’s next statement would have been “I’d like to speak with my lawyer.”

    And this, my friends, is why the vendor is smarter than Trump and his plays-a-lawyer-on-tv-flack. Unlike that pair, the vendor knows when to shut up.

    • scory says:

      As the CIO of a bureau-level Federal agency within a larger Department, let me assure you with conviction and evidence that the Government often writes horrible requirements and manages enterprise-wide service contracts as poorly as is in evidence in this case.  At this moment I’m waiting for confirmation of records retention from our internal shared service provider on three “litigation holds”.  I’m reasonably confident that those documents, emails, and text messages are lost forever.

      I’m shocked they’ve been able to locate and retrieve as many texts as they have.

  11. David K. Peers says:

    I love this. Why isn’t Trump demanding better record keeping of cell phone text messages going forward? Srsly, in your bizarro world Trump is so ineffectively bad he hasn’t even required the FBI ensure all texts of its own personnel’s bias, plots and planned insurrection to remove a lawfully elected president be more efficiently retained going forward.

    This is Trump Derangement Syndrome just before the disease enters the catatonic phase.

    Ppl, take a couple of months off, come back and read this tripe and see if your body doesn’t involuntarily give your heads a shake.

    Then, go out into your communities and volunteer your extra hours to do something good, something like helping new immigrants settle into their adopted American home or making sure your parks are clean and in good repair.

    You’ll live longer if you do. Trust me.

    • Marinela says:

      Go ahead and rake the forrests while you are making lists. Are you volunteering?

      So in your paid propaganda world, how are they feeding you to answer the question about this specific Trump lie?  Him lying about this specific issue?

      BTW, I  don’t expect you are going to answer the question, rather spew another aboutism.

    • Tom S. says:

      Peers: ” lawfully elected”….”trust me.” Isn’t the OSC charged with determining if your allegedly “victimized” POTUS was “lawfully elected” or engaged in/conspired to/directed illegal activity to accomplish an “individual one” secretly financed, National Enquirer propagandized 24/7/365, pro-Grabber cover story, at the grocery store check-out line, electoral college majority?


  12. BobCon says:

    Just a reminder, don’t feed the troll. And if you need evidence of the trolling, Google is your friend.

    A few days ago he was on this site calling Trump a “douchebag” but here he is on some pseudo-Breitbart site:


    He’s clearly trying to stir up the crazies with a weird defense of Strzok.

    But then at the same site on another piece on Strzok he writes the following, um, string of words. He’s clearly not trying to do anything but stir things up.


    Really, what does it matter anymore after these reports, the Dept’s responses and the complete dismissalof the entire issue by the MSM.

    Best we can hope for is Trump doesn’t get assassinare and I 30 years we realize he was the greatest president. Ever.

    However, it might be BRAVE NEW WORLD. by the.

    • Marinela says:

      Bob, thank you for the reminder. I’ll refrain in the future.

      If nobody answers to him, does he get paid? Retorical question, I guess.


  13. Rick says:

    I have a program on my computer, and an app on my phone, that automatically backs up 100% of the info (texts, photos, recordings, location history, etc) on my Android Google Pixel to both my local computer and a cloud server within minutes of plugging it in to charge (or even through wifi or Bluetooth if I allow it).


    How does the FBI not have software like this?

  14. Alan says:


    I’m guessing maybe because, for starters, the FBI doesn’t want the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, etc., reading all of their texts, photos, recordings, location history stored in the cloud. The FBI probably also wants service level guarantees, encryption, audit trails, background checks for every person who might be able access the data, etc.–things that your mass market and highly convenient cloud solution simply doesn’t provide. In sum, it’s never that simple…

  15. David K. Peers says:

    Sorry folks, your “reply” button is not working.

    There’s a lot of paranoia here.

    I remember reading thru it the first time, some reasoned thinking, I thought … a good equiponderant to the RW crazies.

    But now, not so much.

    Apparently evertbody’s crazy, on the right, on the left.

    Let this play out, ppl. Trump’s a bad human being, but who isn’t? Is he worse than Bill Clinton, JF Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, GW Bush?

    He’s not. He’s just uncool. But he’s unwinding a lot of crap that’s gonna eventually lead your grandkids into slavery.

    I know you think I’m nuts, but wtf, things HAVE TO CHANGE.


  16. Ewan says:

    From Foxnews: “Texts only last… for a little while… not like emails,” Giuliani said. “I do this work, cybersecurity work. Texts are hard to get. That’s legitimate. »
    That is from the expert who didn’t get that that.in is detected as a link by twitter, but not this.either
    And it is false, of course. So he may be not going after the contractor because his cybersercurity enterprise cannot figure it out either.

  17. Michael says:

    “The collection tool vendor preferred not to share specific details regarding where it saves collected data, maintaining that such information was proprietary”
    Your preference is noted, sir. Now, tell us where hell your company stores our data!

    My bet: Stored in the cloud. Strike that… stored in hard drives rented from a 3rd-party. It’s “the thing” now, doncha know. Just like calling 3rd-party storage “the cloud” (groan).

  18. James says:

    On “don’t feed the troll,” there are a couple different thought.

    The first is that the troll is simply trying to stir up dissent, therefore not feeding it is a wise strategy, with the hopes it goes away. To me that seems to be the attitude of such sites as Twitter (since that site doesn’t seem to care about banning them).

    The problem with that is a third-party comes along who may not know the person is a troll and take some of the troll’s ideas onboard, or spread them.

    The second is to simply ban it if you can. Then you get the cries of “Freeze Peach” and sockpuppets or brigading.

    Wonkette uses the third idea: humiliate the crap out of it and show its agenda and ignorance (usually with coarse humour at that site).

    I see this one is trying to compare Trump to people like JFK and Clinton. Any issues of the Russia investigation aside, there are the issues of Mar-a-Emolument, Trump Steaks, Trump University, the Trump Foundation, Trump Airlines, Trump’s casinos, &c which show Trump to be nothing much more than a grifter.

    His treatment of women and command of English show him to be nothing more than a boor.

    And oh boy does he hire the “best people.”

    And what’s he unwinding? He hasn’t accomplished much of anything except renaming several post offices and signing a giant tax giveaway for the extremely comfortable paid for by the rest.

    The enslavement hyperbole? That doesn’t even fit in the realm of bad fiction, much less reality.

    Such trolls should be mocked mercilessly. I see BobCon notes the same troll was at other sites arguing opposite positions. Maybe this troll is just really David Dennison? /s

    • Marinela says:

      In the long term, the trolls should be reported  to the FBI and some sort of punishement needs to happen.

      There is no reason for people like this to be allowed to spew lies, when it is obvious that he argues the opposite sites to cauze raptures.

      You can still have the free speach, but how can you reconcile him arguing the opposite sites? He doesn’t have original thougths, so is the free speach even appying to a troll, when he gets paid for lying?

      The FBI reporting could help with tracing if he is even located in the US. If he is not, at least that proves the point that outside players are involved to cause ruptures, and very likely they are being paid for.

      In a short term, this is a mediated site, I think, so he can be easily banned. Most of us agree he is a troll.


      • P J Evans says:

        “reported to the FBI” – and they’d do what, exactly? Trolling isn’t actually against the law.

        • Trip says:

          I dunno. Don’t some people dial 911 because their pizza delivery guy is late or their McDonald’s order is wrong? lol

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There is that First Amendment free speech thingy that readers here care a lot about.  Trolls usually do nothing that invokes legal liability.  They advocate for opposing views.  They usually put in time here to distract from a powerful thread or generally to gum up the works; occasionally they appear to be paid to do it.

        They have a right to speak, but not to disrupt beyond the site owner’s limits.  Marcy is relatively tolerant.  Notable trolls here would have been shitcanned from nakedcapitalism, for example, after ignoring their first warning.

        As with Trump, notoriety feeds and drives them. I agree that the best option for the normal troll is to ignore them, while banning extreme, disruptive or violent behavior.

        • Trip says:

          People who ‘opinionate’, while blithely admitting ignorance of the subject and author analysis (“I didn’t bother to read the article”), IMHO, should be shitcanned.

          It’s simply meant to be an obvious disruption of the flow of conversation.

  19. Trip says:

    Suspect’s Twitter messages played role in NSA hacking-tools leak probe

    Hours before a 2016 leak of some of the National Security Agency’s most closely guarded hacking tools, a former NSA contractor sent a cryptic Twitter message that prompted alarm on the part of federal investigators, a federal judge has revealed.
    Messages that the former NSA computer security specialist, Hal Martin, sent via Twitter appear to have led to an FBI raid on his Maryland home and to his arrest on charges of retaining a vast trove of classified information there without permission, according to a newly released court ruling…. “In these messages, @HAL_999999999 asked for a meeting with the [redacted] and stated ‘shelf life, three weeks,’” Bennett wrote, describing the government’s assertions in court filings still under seal. “The Defendant’s Twitter messages…were sent just hours before what was purported to be stolen government property was advertised and posted on multiple online- content-sharing sites, including Twitter.”…“The Defendant was initially approached by nine SWAT agents dressed in protective gear, some of whom had their guns drawn at the Defendant. Multiple other officers were also on the scene,” wrote the judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “A reasonable person in the Defendant’s position would have felt that he was not free to leave.” (that Martin’s statements made to FBI agents that day could not be used against him at trial.)~Politico


    • Trip says:

      Marcy has had an expansion of audience via multiple news mentions, her pieces in a variety news outlets and her TV appearances. So the Trump cult feels the need to knock down good analysis being considered by the general public. That’s my guess.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        Thanks, it’s a good guess. bmaz is gunna get exhausted, we’ve already seen folks turn on the bman when he goes a bit off the rails in response…I worry about that.

  20. Marinela says:

    P J Evans says:
    December 31, 2018 at 9:42 am

    For instance, if they get paid from the lying/trolling activities, should pay a fee like a ticket.
    They are using the internet as a free medium, they are using this site for free, but their “contribution” is not consequence free.
    We don’t pay for using the highway (most of the time), they are free to use, but we get ticketed if we speed, or hurt somebody.
    Why is the internet any different?
    There should be some limits to what is acceptable when using free medium.

    • P J Evans says:

      The site owners are the ones who deal with that, using disemvowelling, comment removal, and banning, in approximately that order, at some of my favorite places. Others do timeouts before banning.

      “Your site, your rules” is the general usage.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “Your site, your rules.”

        Yep and the last weapon in the troll arsenal is to concern troll about the terrible trolls. Turnin’ one against another is the goal.

        • P J Evans says:

          Or someone who is, or wants to be seen as being, unfamiliar with US laws. Which may not be trolling, per se, but could say that they maybe shouldn’t make assumptions about what can be done.

  21. Peacerme says:

    In regard to trolls:

    I forget…cause I do enjoy a touch of self righteousness every now and then.

    ‘What we focus on grows.’

    Lets focus on the validity of EW’s work.  Those of us who follow her work easily see the truth. No one who reads this site with voracity is going to be spun. No one.

  22. earlybird says:

    Probably for the same reason Trump, the Republicans, and Fox News have zero interest in looking into or even mentioning the other eight agencies that signed off on the Uranium One deal.

  23. Just Visiting says:

    Some friendly advice:
    Please do not countenance trolls. Ruthlessly eliminate them.
    I have seen trolls ruin too many sites. Daily Kos is infested with trolls now and is mostly unreadable.
    Trolls only want to defocus good conversations, sow dissent, and finally sidetrack otherwise intelligent people into unproductive byways.

    Trolls take advantage of those people who “play by the rules”. They use the tricks that fascists and Nazi’s used back in the last century to disrupt and control.

    Trolls are an insidious menace that must not be underestimated.

    Have no mercy on trolls, for they deserve none.

    • bmaz says:

      Thank you for the advice, formerly another handle here, but we will take care of the policing on our own.

      Also, please pick one consistent handle and stick with it. Thank you.

      • Just Visiting says:

        I will stick with this handle, I like it.
        Just some friendly advice, no policing from me, nope.
        Keep your trolls or not, no matter to me.
        I just happen to like lurking around here, and hate to see the disruption- oops, am I being disruptive?
        My sincere apologies.

        • bmaz says:

          Cool. And no apologies necessary. Just pointing out that we have been at this a while, and we do pay attention.

  24. Marinela says:

    earlofhuntingdon says:
    December 31, 2018 at 10:38 am
    There is that First Amendment free speech thingy that readers here care a lot about.

    My take on this.
    The free speach doesn’t play in the troll case. Free speach means you are free to speak up your mind, speak truth about powerfull and not suffer negative consequences, loose your freedom.
    Trolls, since they argue opposite views, by definition are not speaking their mind, and more so when they benefit financially from the trolling activities, they cannot be protected by the free speach.

    In my analogy about the usage of a highway, driving on the highway is a priviledge not a rigth. You need to have a driving license, obey the speed limit, don’t drink and drive, don’t hurt people while sharing the highway medium.
    If I get my driving license in US, I can go outside of the US and drive. It is universal.

    The internet usage is universal as well. The internet trolls are able to disrupt on internet because there are no limits now on internet.

    Nobody is saying now that everybody should have the rigth to drive at any speed on highway. It took many accidents when the cars were first introduced until we got to the point to have highway limits, driving licenses, policing the highways.

    If you are sharing a free medium with everybody else, need to share it responsibly.
    People are not going to police themselves.

    Yes, trolls are disruptive, and cause real damage. I know first hand of an aquantence that voted for Trump in 2016 because he really believed the facebook news about so called
    “criminal” Hillary.

    I would say, trolls are molding minds which is long term damage, much worse I think.

    Regarding trolling not being illegal now, the FBI could help trace the troll employer.
    The web sites, could share troll information between themselves, so if a troll is banned from emptywheel, maybe breibart could follow suit as well.
    Maybe breitbart is not a good example (I picked it because Peers was on breitbart as well), but they may not want the disruption either.
    The email accounts should be allowed only for physical persons, etc.

  25. P J Evans says:

    You apparently either don’t live in the US, or you don’t understand how the laws work here. Much of what you want violates the First Amendment.

    • Marinela says:

      Don’t undestand how the freedom of speach protects a troll activity, when he argues opposite sides, that’s all.

      But I am starting to see now that is not as clear cut as I thought.

      So a troll speach is protected by the freedom of speach bill, even though “his speach” includes opposite arguments, and/or he may not be a US citizen.

      The other assumption you made is incorrect.

      Anyway, don’t need to overreact, I’m not a lawyer, I did start by saying, this is my take on this.


      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        Go back to troll training. You obviously don’t understand a system that not only tolerates free expression of contradictory ideas but encourages it (at least in theory): “I don’t agree with what you say but I will fight for your right to say it.” If you’re going to engage in free speech for the purpose of creating confusion, distraction or anger then you must be prepared to have those dishonest efforts deconstructed and thrown back at you. How many times this must happen to you before you learn is an indication of your intelligence

      • P J Evans says:

        Public speech is protected, unless it incites violence or crimes. The usual expression of how it works is that you can’t shout ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater. (Speech on blogs is protected less, because the site owner can make rules about what may be said.)
        I’m sure bmaz can give you more correct legal information…offline.

      • bmaz says:

        Marinela – Think you have a misplaced and misguided understanding of what “free speech” means. The Constitutional protection only applies vis a vis government action. As to a private entity, for instance blogs in this case, it simply does not. Nor does it as to non-governmental employers and most any other situation that does not specifically contemplate a government restriction. So, restriction of trollery is fine, and we try to do that here, it has nothing whatsoever to do with “free speech” principles.

        As PJ brought it up, I’d like to note a couple of other things. Yes, so called “hate speech” is still protected speech absent an associated substantive crime. Let our friend Gene Volokh explain it.

        Also, you really can yell fire in a crowded theater. That phrase was total bullshit, if not dicta, issued by Justice Holmes in a garbage decision to clamp down on anti war sentiment and dissent in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States (see also the Eugene Debs case), a case almost completely retreated from by the Supreme Court ever since. In short, it is absolute bullshit when cited or uttered today as a phrase.

        • P J Evans says:

          I don’t necessarily agree with Eugene politically, but I have to say that he’s one of the brightest people I’ve ever met. (“Death does not release us” is the rule in that group.)

        • bmaz says:

          Think fair to say I do not probably agree with him either politically. But as a First Amendment lawyer, I think he is brilliant and usually right. And he certainly is on this issue.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The Schenk case decided in the era of the Palmer Raids, the post-WWI analogue to the post-WWII nominally anti-communist Red Scare. (J. Edgar Hoover figured prominently in both.)

          Both were arguably manufactured crises meant to drive the left from any legitimate cultural platform.  Bmaz cites the stunning example of the Debs case.

          Another would be the general response to pent-up union demands, owing to their war time contributions to the war effort and their forbearance in demanding better wages and terms of employment.  Their post-war demands were met with vicious reprisals, violence and imprisonment.  An example is the response to the 1919 general strike in Seattle, which led to a campaign to destroy the IWW. Another would be the continuing violence by mine owners against miners in Appalachia.

          Both were reactions to social shifts necessitated or allowed owing to the all-societal effort to wage war: women in the workplace and government, the underclass of African Americans men who were trained as soldiers, a breakdown in regional and class barriers owing to shared service, the fear that European notions of social welfare – and the overt political role played by unions and socialists – would infect American society, business and the political dominance by established parties.

          Free speech and civil rights generally took big hits.  The patrician Holmes, in his dotage, aided and abetted it.

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