Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

A sure-fire way to discover nationally unreported but highly interesting regional news vanished when the C-SPAN Journal ended the daily open phone segment.
Without getting into the why and what if of the C-SPAN decision, I am happy to say that some callers still manage to work a little free speech into the relatively recent pre-selected topic format.
Yesterday, in my post about the Secret Service investigation of Brooklyn, New York resident Kit Kinsman and her Karl Rove parody website, I made brief mention of inappropriate FBI usage of the Patriot Act in a Reno bribery investigation.
A C-SPAN caller mentioned the case Monday morning and I later typed a few relevant words into Google.
A November 5, 2003 news account in the Reno Review-Journal said:

The investigation of strip club owner Michael Galardi and numerous politicians appears to be the first time federal authorities have used the Patriot Act in a public corruption probe?"I don't know that it's been used in a public corruption case before this," said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the Justice Department?Sources said the FBI sought the records under Section 314 of the act. That section allows federal investigators to obtain information from any financial institution regarding the accounts of people "engaged in or reasonably suspected, based on credible evidence, of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering activities?? Corallo said federal law enforcement officials have no qualms about using the act to pursue an array of criminal investigations that have nothing to do with terrorism, such as child pornography, drug trafficking and money laundering.

This same Reno Review-Journal article had reaction from Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley:

"The law was intended for activities related to terrorism and not to naked women," said Reid, who as minority whip is the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate?Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said she was preparing an inquiry to the FBI about its guidelines for using the Patriot Act in cases that don't involve terrorism. The law makes it easy for citizens' rights to be abused, she said. "It was never my intention that the Patriot Act be used for garden-variety crimes and investigations," Berkley said.

What, exactly, prompted the Secret Service investigation of a young Dean volunteer and her comedy website?
Was someone intending to serve revenge or did someone really think Kinsman was flashing secret terrorist messages with her altered photographs of Karl as a snowman or wearing a thong?
Was there really a need for a federal intrusion in the Reno bribery case?
Or, was it merely a generous interpretation of Section 314 of the Patriot Act coupled with certain federal officials having no qualms about using the act to pursue an array of criminal investigations that have nothing to do with terrorism?
To use a Daily Howler device, I do not have a clue.
A qualm-inducing Washington Post article this morning quotes our old friend Department of Justice spokesman Mark Corallo reacting to a report released yesterday by the agency's inspector general:

It is clear that the government has been thoroughly responsible in its implementation of the act.

Photos: DOJ,C-SPAN,,
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

A brief item in a January 15th New York Daily News column ties a happy bow on what could not have been a pleasant experience:

A Brooklyn woman who created a Web site proclaiming her love for White House political adviser Karl Rove has been questioned by the Secret Service. The presidential protectors contacted Kat Kinsman, a 31-year-old writer and Webmaster who has been carrying on a tongue-in-cheek imaginary affair with the 53-year-old Republican on her site,
Kinsman is actually a volunteer for Howard Dean's campaign, and she means it all in good fun. To its credit, the Secret Service got the joke. "It was clearly a political parody," Kinsman told us. "They had no problem with the content."

I really think it is shocking to contemplate that members of the President secret protective service subjected an ordinary person, simply exercising her constitutionally protected free speech rights, to an investigation and an interrogation without proper cause.
Could there be "a problem" with my content?
Or, yours?
I think many of us bloggers, using tracking software to monitor our sites, have noticed frequent visits from Hidden Referrers.
Would these Hidden Referrers harmlessly be just hackers masking their own true address or, maybe, government employees paid to track and report blog activities?
Are leg-irons in our future?
Widely unreported events in Reno, Nevada show authorities unnecessarily using the Patriot Act in an open and shut case of bribery involving local officials and a Reno strip club owner.
I’ve noticed Hidden Referrers appearing within days of using Mr. Rove or the Vice President’s name within my own published text.

Surely I’m being paranoid, as I'm several chapters into Kevin Phillips' excellent American Dynasty, for this morning’s White House Briefing in the Washington Post details the vast Rovian sense of whimsy.
Designated print pool reporter Edwin Chen of the Los Angeles Times described what happened yesterday after Air Force 1 landed in frozen Little Rock, AK:

Because of the foul weather, the pool was instructed to stay inside so that workers could de-ice the plane…senior advisor and White House political guru Karl Rove himself popped his head into the press cabin and snarled, "Weenies!" Chen described Rove's demeanor as "mocking disdain. . . . In the same vein, he also offered to take orders for hot drinks and blankets…on the tarmac, your pool had a third encounter with Mr. Rove," Chen wrote. " 'Oh yeah, you can get off the plane when it's 62 degrees,' he said with a laugh as he walked to the staff van."

That Karl, what a wacky dude, huh?


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