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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review-Journal resists subpoena for names of readers who posted views

Review-Journal resists subpoena for names of readers who posted views
By JOAN WHITELY
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Disclaimer: The Publisher does not necessarily endorse any comments or opinions made by others. The Publisher also does not endorse any other publication or media source or verity its' integrity and correctness in reporting. The publisher may, however, share some beliefs and thoughts as published by others and by virtue of links and reprints here does believe there is some validity which warrants closer investigation by the public.

The article above from the Las Vegas Review Journal has a story I have not seen anywhere else. It should be a major headline for all of the major media. Is our freedom os speech being eliminated? A scary thought and a very important and interesting question.

I am reprinting the article by Joan Whitely below. At the bottom of her piece she posts her email address so that you can contact her directly. In addition, I suggest you go directly to the link so that you can read some of the very interesting comments made by other readers (uh oh, are they going to be in trouble?)

An interesting addition to this article is a piece written in
Survival News Network titled Defense Department sees protests as terrorism
Free speech collides with fair trial
said the following:

Antiterrorism training materials used by the Department of Defense teach that public protests should be regarded as "low-level terrorism," according to a letter of complaint sent to the department by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
"Teaching employees that dissent on issues of public concern is something to be feared, rather than encouraged, is [...]
Publisher's Note: The link does not allow for a continuation of this story. Maybe you can figure out how to see the rest of it but I cannot and therefore cannot publish it.

Now to the story in the Review-Journal.

Free speech collides with fair trial. (emphasis by TMCForum)

Review-Journal readers who posted online their views about a federal criminal tax trial are the target of a sweeping federal grand jury subpoena asking for information so that authorities may identify who they are and where they live.

The Review-Journal plans to file later this week a motion to quash the subpoena, and the American Civil Liberties Union has posted its own online solicitation asking those who posted whether they would like the ACLU to legally represent them.

The newspaper received the subpoena on June 2, and Editor Thomas Mitchell revealed the existence of the subpoena in a June 7 column.

This past week the grand jury subpoena, which is separate from the ongoing trial but was signed by one of the prosecutors involved in the tax trial, was the topic of discussion between the trial judge and attorneys, revealing for the first time a possible motive for the subpoena.

The newspaper's subpoena does not explain why the U.S. attorney's office wants to know who commented on the case, but prosecutors told federal Judge David Ezra that they issued it out of concern for jurors' safety, because some comments hinted at acts of violence.

Las Vegas business owner Robert Kahre and others face federal tax fraud charges for paying contractors with gold and silver U.S. coins based on the precious metal value of the coins but using the much lower face value of the coins for tax purposes.

As of 9 p.m. Monday, 173 comments were listed below the May 26 Review-Journal article about the trial. Many comments deal with the trial and its principal players. Others were posted after the subpoena arrived.

The subpoena bears the name of U.S. Assistant District Attorney J. Gregory Damm, who is part of the government team prosecuting Kahre and three others on charges that include tax evasion, fraud and criminal conspiracy.

Jury members, Damm and Christopher Maietta, another government attorney, are the subjects of online comments that might be construed as threats.

On Thursday, the ACLU of Nevada also posted below the article an offer to help people who feel threatened by the subpoena. Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel of the civil rights organization, said it has received "several" inquiries.

Mitchell said the paper is resisting the sweeping nature of the subpoena, noting that anonymous speech is "a fundamental and historic part of this country," citing the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers that argued for passage and against passage of the nation's Constitution as an example. All were written under pseudonyms. He said the paper would consider cooperating if specific crimes or real threats were presented.

Interest in the Kahre case appears to run counter to a remark that Ezra made during a hearing to prepare for jury selection. If "CSI: Tax" were a television crime show, it wouldn't pull much audience, he said.

In the case, the government contends the defendants operated illegally, out of greed. The defense contends they had an honest but mistaken understanding of tax laws, and therefore had no criminal intent.

Many used the newspaper Web site to say the U.S. government has turned socialist, the nation's monetary system encourages deficit spending and guarantees inflation, or the Internal Revenue Service has to be reformed or abolished.

In addition to requesting the names of people who posted, the subpoena also tells the newspaper to supply the writers' gender, birth date, physical address, telephone number, Internet service provider, IP address, credit card numbers and more.

The reason for the subpoena came up in court, outside the jury's presence, after an alternate juror sent a note to Ezra, explaining that his spouse had told him to avoid a certain talk radio station, which was discussing the trial. Ezra retained the alternate after he determined the man did not know any details of the broadcast.

Ezra said this past week in court that he would not be handling the subpoena. However, "anytime we get people writing ... that if a particular verdict isn't reached, that jurors ought to come to physical harm -- that's no good. And if somebody wants to investigate that, that's their perfect right."

One commentator said, "The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds."

Another writer suggested supporting Kahre with a public protest at the courthouse. A third writer advised moving it across the street from the courthouse, or to the local IRS office, to avoid court security officers.

Kahre has been gaining an opinionated Internet audience after an armed team from several law enforcement agencies raided several of his business locations -- including his sister's home office -- in 2003 to collect evidence for the tax case.

Readers' online feedback, mostly anonymous, is almost entirely pro-Kahre. Some comments personally attack Damm. One, for example, calls him a "socialist, fascist Mormon" and a "Nazi moron."

David Heller, senior staff lawyer at the Media Law Resource Center in New York, characterized the subpoena as "heavy-handed" and "bizarre."

"Federal prosecutors do have very wide latitude in investigating crimes," he said. "Even so, their power isn't unlimited." Some of the online comments struck Heller as "loose slang and hyperbolic language" rather than authentic threats to juror safety.

To ensure safety but still allay the concern about violating writers' First Amendment rights, the Justice Department could have avoided a blanket subpoena and sought instead only authors of specific comments, defense attorney Michael Kennedy said June 9 in court.

The subpoena might entail "mixed motives due to the personal animosity between the parties," the New York media lawyer said after he heard a description of several court actions that have pitted Kahre against Damm, going back several years.

After the raid in 2003 -- but before Kahre's 2005 indictment -- Kahre and several of his workers sued Damm, two IRS agents and others who had helped plan or execute it. That civil matter is on hold until after the criminal trial.

In February 2007, Kahre sued Damm and agents of the FBI and IRS, alleging they conducted themselves during the investigation in a way that constitutes a criminal pattern. Judge Ezra dismissed the complaint in December, but Kahre appealed and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Friday.

Kahre, his sister and a former assistant are standing trial for how they handled their own income taxes as well as their roles in Kahre's unique payroll system. Kahre paid workers at his six trade-related businesses in $50 gold or silver dollar coins. Those minted after 1985 are allowed to circulate as money. He also allowed workers to immediately exchange the coins for paper currency, as determined by the coins' investment value.

Two years ago, Damm prosecuted a similar tax case against nine defendants, including Kahre, on more than 160 counts. The trial ended with no convictions and four acquittals.

Five defendants were only partially acquitted, and two of them were dropped from the indictment that generated this trial.

Contact reporter Joan Whitely at jwhitely@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0268.

TMCForum Commentary:

There appear to be things happening right here in our own country that look very much like countries and governments out of the past in different parts of the world. The direction this country has taken over the past decade plus, needs to be looked at very closely. While many have called my opinions and the opinions of others as unrealistic (actually they have said "crazy") are now saying publically and out loud that there may be some truth to all this.

Glenn Beck is one of those people who on a recent report on the attempted smuggling of $134.5 billion in bearer bonds where the story whas not so much the smuggling of them but their authenticity and the purpose for which they were being smuggled in such a manner that would almost guarantee capture. This is an interesting story in itself leading to many quesitons such as who is behind this, who either legally obtained these bearer bonds (bearer bonds are almost immpossible to trace as possession is the only verification of ownership - hense "bearer" bonds - or forged them. If forged - and experts have said that the forgeries are almost perfect - then why smuggled in a very unprofessional manner? And one last BIG question, why was the amount of tese bonds - $134.54 billion - the EXACT amount of funds that are left from the Troubled Asset Relief Package (TARP) - the initial government bailout program of $700 billion? Coincidence or alternative use and motive?

In reference to the Survival News Network story above, there is a story going around about REX 84, an alleged systems of over 1,000 detention centers around the country to house detained civil protesters. You can google and research REX 84 on your own and draw your own conclusions but it certainly begins to tie into the the Survival News Network (who I know very little about).

Questions, we the American people, must be asking and must get answers to. Some things just don't make sense. We certainly are seeing signs of that.

For those who are old enough to remember, or for those of us that remember our studies of world history (which may not have been accurate either), or for those of us who choose to research history now there are enough signs out there to indicate possible danger ahead in the future of this country.

Of course, these are just my opinions, I could be wrong. What do you think?

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