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Penn. AG Corbett Subpoenas Twitter For Bloggers' Names 205

Dthief writes with this from Pennsylvania's ABC27 News: "The state attorney general's office has issued a subpoena threatening officials of the social networking service Twitter with arrest unless they reveal the names of two bloggers who have been critical of Attorney General Tom Corbett and his public corruption investigation. Vic Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union told Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV that the court action 'raises grave concerns about abuse of the grand jury process to retaliate against political critics and opponents.' He said Americans 'have a right to criticize government officials and to do so anonymously.'"
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Penn. AG Corbett Subpoenas Twitter For Bloggers' Names

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  • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @07:45PM (#32287288)
    Let me be the first say that Tom Corbett is an asshat. He is also the Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania. One has to wonder how much of this is motivated by his candidacy.
  • Join their twitters! (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @07:48PM (#32287322) Journal
    Here's the two people he's requesting subpoenas for:
    http://twitter.com/bfbarbie [twitter.com]
    http://twitter.com/CasablancaPA [twitter.com]

    Let's see if we can make them go from 300-500 followers to 3,000-5,000.

    I can't believe he's making such a huge stink over someone with a few hundred followers.
  • Re:But... (Score:4, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @07:48PM (#32287336) Journal

    Maybe they'll provide the IP address..... not that it really matters. The PA General Attorney is abusing his power by trying to silence bloggers he does not like, in violation of the State Constitution (see below). It's pretty typical of the Rendell administration. His has been the most corrupt of the last twenty years.


    Freedom of Press and Speech; Libels - "The printing press shall be free to every person who may undertake to examine the proceedings of the Legislature or any branch of government, and no law shall ever by made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.

    "No conviction shall be had in any prosecution for the publication of papers relating to the official conduct of officers or men in public capacity, or to any other matter proper for public investigation or information, where the fact that such publication was not maliciously or negligently made shall be established to the satisfaction of the jury; and in all indictments for libels the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court, as in other cases."

    Reservation of Powers in People - "To guard against the transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate."

  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @07:50PM (#32287358)

    Typical of the Rendell administration? Nice spin there- the attorney general is doing this, and he's he republican nominee for governor.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @07:55PM (#32287402) Journal

    Oooo.... two Republican candidates (Corbett, Paul) have shot themselves in the foot in just the last day. Maybe they're trying to lose on purpose?

    "Corbett, who won the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night, told the television station that he doesn't have any problem with people criticizing him on Twitter. He refused to discuss the nature of the subpoena, however, stating that the investigation prevents him from discussing the matter."

  • Re:But... (Score:1, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:07PM (#32287526) Journal

    >>>That was reference to his speeding on I-83 (twice),

    Turns out I was wrong. Rendell has been caught speeding *multiple* times. For some reason he thinks he's above the law? :-| QUOTE: "In 2004, state troopers clocked Rendell's trooper-driven car exceeding 100 mph on the turnpike. That made him the butt of David Letterman's list of the "Top Ten Signs Your Governor is Nuts."

    "Rendell hasn't hit the brakes" (March 22, 2009)

    "His trip speeds between the Harrisburg East and Valley Forge exits, the stretch of the toll road he uses most often, have estimated speeds ranging between 48 and 93 mph...... It found one instance on a Sunday morning when his car averaged an estimated 99 mph traveling between the New Stanton and Warrendale interchanges of the Pennsylvania Turnpike." CONTINUED - http://www.pennlive.com/news/patriotnews/index.ssf?/base/news/1237675211322200.xml&coll=1 [pennlive.com]

  • Twitter subpoenaed (Score:5, Informative)

    by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <<falconsoaring_2000> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:15PM (#32287596)

    That's kind of old, according do ACLU helping keep Twitter users' IDs secret in Pa. [earthlink.net] a judge will decide whether the subpoena is thrown out.


  • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:19PM (#32287630) Homepage Journal
    He is looking for the names of people who have criticized him? Really? Because I am pretty sure that by doing this, half the Internet will be speaking poorly of him. And I for one, am drinking the cool-aid.

    Fuck Attorney General Tom Corbett and his public corruption investigation. Fuck him in his stupid ass. He is fucking clown shoes.

    Come get me Tom. I dare you.
  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:24PM (#32287674)

    Attorney general positions don't answer to the governor. They're an independent elected position answering to no one. Rendell is not his boss, and has no say over anything he does. I'm not going to comment on whether or not Rendell has other issues, but pinning anything his AG does on him is pure lies and misdirection.

    This is the case in many, if not all states. Which is why the republican AG of a very very democratic state (Washington) is suing over health care reform, which is supported by the governor and majority party..

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:27PM (#32287692)

    You got modded down for being flat out wrong. The AG is elected and not a part of the governor's administration- he's independent. The governor couldn't make him do anything if he wanted to. You're trying to spin the story and blame the other party, and the mods caught you.

  • by Loadmaster ( 720754 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:32PM (#32287732)

    You get modded down because the AG does not answer to the governor. You are trying to say Asshat Rendell is making Asshat Corbett do things. That is not how the AG of a state works. The AG is elected by the people and not appointed by the governor. AG Corbett is his own man and needs to be held accountable for things he does of his own free will. Unless you have proof that Rendell is forcing Corbett to do things then you are simply blaming Rendell for Corbett's actions.

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:40PM (#32287798)
    just don't say anything critical of a public offical, make a joke about someones race or gender (unless they are a white male, then it's fine), fly with your laptop or shoes, be part of a muslim group, photograph a public building or dare to say the word fuck on tv.
  • Re:FP (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:46PM (#32287836)

    Isn't free speech allowed unless you're directly threating someone?

    Apparently you haven't RTFA or done any other checking.

    The particular Twitter ID's in question are linked to an ongoing corruption case against a number of Democrat politicians/operatives, and it's suspected that a defendant in that ongoing case has been tweeting & blogging anonymously about the prosecutor & AG and the investigation itself.

    In many courts/proceedings, revealing proceeding-related information or attempting to poison the proceedings outside the courtroom is cause for prosecution and/or contempt-of-court charges.

    If this is true and the AG has probable cause to legitimately suspect criminal actions have taken/are taking place, would he not be remiss if he did nothing?

    This submission appears to be quite partisan and one-sided, as well as sparse on the facts and context.


  • Re:FP (Score:2, Informative)

    by trum4n ( 982031 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:04PM (#32287962)
    I live in PA. Corbett is a corrupt asshole who should spend the rest of his life in jail, and he wants to be Governor. I agree with all of your facts, but guy is still a chicken-fucker.
  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Prof.PatPending ( 1603155 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:40PM (#32288184)
    I hate to be the one to break it to you, but as someone who travels the Turnpike daily, from Philly to Harrisburg, MOST of the folks on the road are going 80-90 MPH! Unless they see a cop by the side of the road, of course.
  • Re:Jurisdiction? (Score:3, Informative)

    by znerk ( 1162519 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @02:57AM (#32289956)

    ...it might be kinda bothersome to have to avoid layovers in Philadelphia every time you fly somewhere on the east cost.(sic)

    Not really... if you lived anywhere east of the Mississippi, you'd know that everything routes through Atlanta. No, really. Flying from New York, NY to Cincinnati, OH? 3-hour layover in Atlanta.

  • Re:FP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bakkster ( 1529253 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nam.retskkaB.> on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:35AM (#32292314)

    I wasn't aware that the definition of "free speech" included "the right to remain anonymous".

    It is, in certain cases. Here [wikipedia.org] are [justia.com] several [justia.com] examples [justia.com].

    If you want to say something, just fucking say it. If you're in a position where saying something is illegal (e.g. criminal libel), why should you expect to be protected by the law?

    That's essentially the rule. Free speech can have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However libel, slander, violating gag orders, revealing sensitive information, and other actions are not free speech, and thus don't have any of these protections.

    In cases like this, where the illegality of the speech is determined by the identity of the author (if they are a juror speaking of a case, it is illegal, but not if they are a random dude) it should be up to a judge to weight the burden of prosecution if they are acting illegaly, with the reasonable protection of someone who wasn't involved's privacy. That's why the users have the chance to file a counter-motion.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Informative)

    by wurble ( 1430179 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @11:35AM (#32293970)
    I live in PA and I've been following the Bonusgate scandal for a while. There are numerous Republicans and Democrats getting nailed for corruption in this case. The current investigation is into politicians who have been using public funds (read: taxpayer money) to fund their own campaigns and to pay campaign workers (usually friends and relatives). Millions of dollars stolen to fund campaigns, nevermind how much of that "campaign" money was then pocketed. This is stuff that makes Ted Stevens look saintly. Both sides of the isle here, this is a rather broad corruption scandal. The guys involved are VERY high up on the totem polls of their respective parties.

    Corbett is making a lot of enemies during this process. What you are seeing here is not a violation of PA law, not an infringement of free speech; it's a spinjob by the very very powerful scumbags that Corbett is nailing in this case. The Twitter accounts are being used by defendants in the case (and those working for the defendants) to poison the well for the trial. That's illegal. Corbett is issuing subpoenas for these two. If it turns our they are in fact defendants or working for defendants, then that means the law is being broken. If not, then it just means an investigative line was incorrect; it happens.

    What is sickening is how much the media has bought into the whole freedom of speech violation bullcrap. These are agents of corrupt politicians who have been stealing from the public for years and have been using Twitter to mess with the jury pool and derail the investigation. These are not noble people voicing their political opinions. These are corrupt scumbags breaking ANOTHER law in order to get away with breaking a hundred others. And now that the AG has caught wind of what they are trying and is doing what is in his power to stop this new illegal tactic; they are fighting back with a spin campaign against him.

    There is a very serious corruption problem in Pennsylvania right now. The AG is making a huge breakthrough in eliminating a large chunk of that corruption. Given the power and influence of those being brought down, any attacks on the AG and the AG's office should be viewed with intense scrutiny and suspicion.

    I expect to be modded down for this post. Corbett is a Republican and Republicans don't seem to be too popular here on slashdot. Hopefully there are people who can see through the smokescreen and understand what is really going on in this situation. This media story is a load of spin from very powerful and extremely corrupt politicians who are looking for every single trick in the book to avoid being convicted of the serious crimes they've committed.

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