This is not a story about free speech, but when it is published the right wing will squawk loud, long and hard about how it really is about free speech. They use free speech as a cudgel: They're always entitled to it, but the rest of us can just shut the hell up and sit down. For the right, free speech is only free when it supports their point of view.
In a nutshell, this is the story of slime merchant James O'Keefe's attempts to prevent the truth about the ugly underbelly of his smear operations from becoming known -- in part because that truth could well land him in prison -- and how his cohorts in the smear operation, especially his "legal team" in the L.A. District Attorney's office, have relentlessly attempted to keep that truth hidden.
Lies: James O'Keefe's Obsession With Frames
Nadia Naffe was once an associate of James O'Keefe's. She was recruited to play whatever role he could cook up in his latest frame scheme of the day, funded by his billionaires through his recently approved non-profit organization. You can see more examples of his duplicitous skulduggery here, here, here and here. Those do not include the evil he did to ACORN, NPR, Medicaid providers, Planned Parenthood, Abbie Boudreau and Shirley Sherrod, which are particularly insidious.
Yes, James O'Keefe is a slime artist, and once he and Andrew Breitbart found each other, they found that magic slime chemistry that kept the dream alive. There's little doubt their fraudulent campaign against ACORN resulted in that organization's demise, and his frauds have harmed countless other organizations, including NPR and Planned Parenthood. Yet despite all of the ratf*cking he's tried since then, the only one that's brought consequences for O'Keefe is the attempted wiretap of Senator Mary Landrieu's office in New Orleans -- which landed O'Keefe in jail and on probation.
Sex: O'Keefe's Fantasy Life
James O'Keefe also seems to have some issues with women. The incident with CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau was about as sexist as anything I've seen in this lifetime. Remember the plot? He was going to lure Ms. Boudreau onto a boat and feed her strawberries, get her drunk, hit on her, and have the tape running the entire time. His point? Who knows? Maybe he just wanted to embarrass her or worse, seduce her and sell the sex tape.
At any rate, his "assistant", Izzy Santa, intervened, warned Boudreau off from the plan and they got away unscathed.
However, that didn't stop O'Keefe. He recruited a new woman as his accomplice, and hatched a plan to go after banks that had been assisted by TARP funding. Somewhere along the way, he also got some legal eagle whispering in his ear that wiretapping was totally legal if there was suspicion of bribery or other nefarious activity.
The only problem I see with that stellar legal advice? It doesn't appear to give private individuals the right to wiretap the phones of a member of Congress, which is what Naffe alleges she did on O'Keefe's behalf.
After that little caper, O'Keefe seemingly decided he had the hots for Naffe and allegedly attempted the Boudreau maneuver on her. This produced the subsequent falling-out between the two, which in turn resulted in Naffe outing O'Keefe's behavior on her blog and filing a sexual-harassment suit against him.
Then, after O'Keefe slimed Naffe with his own ugly retaliatory video, her harassment case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Note that the underlying reasons for her lawsuit still stand, but evidently the place she filed her lawsuit felt she did not file in the proper jurisdiction.
No one has disputed her version of events, by the way. This isn't to say that there has been silence from the Breitbots; quite the contrary. But in all of their sound and fury, their focus has been on why she didn't simply call a cab instead of trying to make O'Keefe take her back to a populated area. Because I guess her failure to do something covers his failure to behave decently and appropriately.
Wiretaps: Maxine Waters faces ethics charges. O'Keefe's doing?
Rep. Maxine Waters was cleared in September of this year of all charges related to allegations that she had acted unethically with regard to her husband's ownership in OneUnited Bank, which received TARP bailout money but still ended up going under.
It's not an accident that Rep. Waters found herself under investigation. As the ranking member of the House Financial Services committee and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, she is a target for wingers' ire, and so it should come as no surprise that Rep. Waters faced what can only be considered bogus charges. After all, it was clear that Waters had requested attention be paid to all minority banks, not just one minority-owned bank. And it was equally clear that as soon as she realized there might be any potential conflict, she turned everything over to Barney Frank.
That didn't stop the partisans in the House and on the outside from pushing for her to be shamed in public.
Except there's a problem, of course. Mr. O'Keefe is serving three years of probation for his attempted wiretap of Mary Landrieu's office. If he is caught doing it to Rep. Waters, he might face prison, which would mean the end of his little muckracking operation and subsequent smear hits on prominent people and institutions which coincidentally happen to either be fair-minded or serving poor people. One other inconvenient fact: Mr. O'Keefe can't leave New Jersey without approval by the court.
But Nadia Naffe was free to travel the country, and with a little legal assistance to reassure her that she wouldn't be doing anything terrible or illegal, O'Keefe could send her as his proxy.
This is, allegedly, what he did, and Naffe claims now to have a recording which proves it. Ms. Naffe is not making this claim lightly or frivolously. She alleges it in her complaint filed last March against Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney and right-wing blogger Patrick Frey, aka Patterico.
Naffe has subsequently encountered the usual right-wing barrage against her personal life, including the outing and distribution of her personal information and private medical information, as well as attacks on her reputation and motivations, and attempts to paint her as mentally unstable and mentally ill.
In her lawsuit against Frey, which has been updated with responses from Frey, Naffe, and L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley, a picture emerges which isn't pretty. Because the filings are, at this point, still allegations, assume that we cannot conclude that everything alleged is fact. However, there are some very interesting arguments being made which obfuscate Naffe's allegations without actually rebutting them.
It's worth reviewing the tactics that have subsequently been employed to silence Nadia Naffe:
1. Harass, Humiliate, Intimidate
Naffe alleges that Frey verbally intimidated her in order to stop her from giving evidence of the wiretapping to the District Attorney so that O'Keefe could be prosecuted. It's not hard to imagine why she would demur when she was being assaulted with blog posts and a barrage of tweets accusing her of everything from slutty behavior in the barn incident to intentionally stealing a laptop from a former employer who also just happened to be the RNC, that bastion of honesty and virtue.
Here's one example of what he tweeted to her. Remember, by day he is an Assistant DA in the very office where she would have turned over her evidence of wiretapping by his friend James O'Keefe.
What do you think? Suppose she might think twice about that idea? Here's a whole collection of tweets. 32 pages of tweet after tweet after tweet, humiliating her, harassing her, playing the 'blame the victim' game, ganging up on her, and otherwise discrediting her publicly while claiming to have the evidence.
2. Protection and Cover for O'Keefe: Shut the b*tch up
Evidence, I might add, that included a videotape O'Keefe put together intending to embarrass and humiliate her. No matter to ADA Frey, who found it perfectly acceptable to use it as leverage to shut her up while whining about her trying to silence him. From Naffe's declaration, filed November 19, 2012:
I am informed and believe and based thereon allege that as of at least February 28, 2012, MR. FREY knew: (a) I had evidence of O’Keefe’s wire tapping of Congresswoman Waters’ office and the OneUnited Offices; (b) I was planning on coming forward with this evidence; (c) since the wiretapping occurred within the County’s jurisdiction, MR. FREY’s office would likely receive the evidence; and (d) O’Keefe risked a prison sentence for violating his federal probation if I made the evidence available.
I am informed and believe and based thereon allege that, combined with MR. FREY’s personal friendship with O’Keefe, the facts in paragraph 18 constitute a motive for MR. FREY to engage in behavior likely to stop me from coming forward with the evidence.
Hmmm. I would think so too.
3. When in trouble, when in doubt...OUT her
On March 24, 2012, after nearly a month of constant back and forth, things really turned ugly. When Naffe wouldn't back down and started posting her version of events on her own blog even as the ink on her lawsuit was drying, Frey went into PACER, the federal legal document publishing system, pulled off 250 pages or so of a deposition she had given in a completely unrelated case, and published it. Verbatim. Raw. Unredacted. All of it.
He published it without redacting her name, her Social Security number, her medical information, her address, phone number, maiden name, mother's maiden name and other relevant information. Frey is an Assistant District Attorney. He's not a fool. He's able to read. PACER has a clear disclaimer on the entry page reminding users that they agree to make appropriate redactions before publishing the documents elsewhere.
Yet Frey published them. Unredacted, unrelated to the case at hand, and with all of her personal information intact for the world to see.
By the way, he doesn't dispute that he outed her. He simply argues that because it was on PACER, he had the right to publish it unredacted.
But there are ethical issues here. Using his status as an attorney, and an assistant District Attorney at that, Patrick Frey intimidated, humiliated, and silenced Nadia Naffe by using her personal information as a weapon against her. Like this, from his blog post, which you can see in its entirety with all of the comments here.
UPDATE: Interesting points in comments about the medications she was taking, and how those medications don’t mix well with alcohol. One of the medications, Seroquil, is commonly prescribed for schizophrenia, mania, or bipolar disorder — all afflictions that may well not be temporary. If she was still taking the medications in late 2011, it could explain why she allegedly had such a strong reaction to alcohol. Details
We have medical privacy laws in this country for a reason, and where is Steve Cooley, Frey's boss in all of this? I don't really care what kinds of disclaimers Mr. Frey has on his blog. For all of his whines and whimpers about how his right to free speech is being squelched, intentionally revealing personal, private information about another person on his PERSONAL blog would seem to me to be inappropriate and out of line with his day job.
Free speech should not include the right to intimidate others under the color of authority, disclaimer be damned.
When he understood that he had sent his intended message to Ms. Naffe; that is, don't mess with the wrong people because I have power and you don't, he posted this comment to his blog post the very next day:
“I think I may lay off Nadia and give her a chance to realize she has made a mistake in threatening to report me for totally bogus reasons.”
Then he posted this, almost immediately after:
“She may just be starting to realize that she that she has made a series of mistakes that could land her in trouble. Maybe she’s reconsidering . . . .”
402 comments on that blog post, ranging from attempted diagnosis of Ms. Naffe's reasons for taking medications a few years back when that deposition was taken to outright thuggery. 67 pages of humiliation. Public, ugly humiliation, reputation wreckage, and intimidation.
Because Nadia Naffe has evidence linking James O'Keefe to the wiretaps of Maxine Waters' office? Or because by the time this escalated into an outright war, Andrew Breitbart's Ghost had been elevated to the status of deity?
4. Send in Patterico's PR Parade
For anyone who has been paying attention, this has been the Month of Patterico PR. He has been playing L.A. Weekly, and now it appears he's got the Los Angeles Times interested in his "swatting" on July 1, 2011.
Because he's the victim, don't you know? He will convincingly tell you the story of his SWATting on Twitter or point you to his blog so that you can feel all of the fear he had that night when the SWAT team showed up at his front door. He's a victim, damn it!
Moreover, the more that comes out about his abusive mistreatment, silencing and bullying of Nadia Naffe, the louder the shouting parade becomes with regard to his moment of victimhood nine months before. The more he puffs up over that, the less attention gets put on how one Assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles might have used his authority and his position to silence someone who carries an inconvenient truth.
As for Steve Cooley, all I can say is that he knows what's going on. You'd have to be an idiot not to, and Cooley isn't an idiot. Yet his assistant is allowed to run roughshod in public over a woman who happens to pose a legal threat to his good buddy O'Keefe?
Frey says Naffe shouldn't have the right to sue because it chills his right to free speech. In Frey's view, his right to free speech trumps hers.
Also trumped: Her right to expect fair treatment within a law enforcement agency Frey is attached to.
I haven't found a document yet in the whole collection that denies her specific allegations. I'm sure he will deny them just as soon as he discovers both parties have a right to free speech. But for now, he's simply playing this along the lines of his rights versus hers, and he argues that his rights trump, even if it leaves her with compromised identity and reputation.
He's powerful. He's got the clout. She's got nothing but her right to speak, which now happens nowhere publicly while he just goes on and on about what a victim he is.
There ought to be a law against that.
Update: There seems to be a difference of opinion about the PACER rules re: redaction. For now, I'll say I misunderstood the redaction disclaimer on PACER's site, which appears to be aimed at attorneys uploading filings to their system. That does not mean Mr. Frey is exempt from ordinary ethics applicable to all attorneys, whether prosecutors or civil litigators.
Moreover, there are ethical issues that have not been mentioned in this post to try and keep it as brief as possible. However, they should be mentioned, because they relate to how Mr. Frey has conducted himself with regard to Nadia Naffe. Mr. Frey reached out to Barrett Brown to try to silence and denounce Ms. Naffe's attorney, who has represented several members of Anonymous on a pro bono basis.
Barrett Brown is currently in custody after the FBI arrested him for making public threats toward FBI officials. Here's a small snippet, where Frey proposes a non-deal (his characterization). If Barrett Brown denounces Naffe's attorney, Frey will say something about Robert Stacy McCain. In this conversation, "me" is Barrett Brown; "Patrick" is Patrick Frey.
me: As for 2), you and I haven't spent 45 minutes discussing McCain's allegations against you, whereas we've just spent 45 minutes discussing Liederman's participation in something against you
Patrick: If you prove to me that McCain is saying bullshit about you, I'll call it bullshit
me: I don't mean to imply anything in terms of a "deal"
Patrick: If you think I have proven Leiderman's lawsuit is bullshit, I'd like you to call it bullshit
Not a deal
me: What I mean is that I would obviously have to think more about this and talk to Leiberman [sic] and see what exactly they're thinking in terms of this before I would go out and denounce him
Patrick: You can't really plausibly deny that
1:52 AM Whatever
me: Just as you would need me to show you and discuss what MCCain has said about me and why it's wrong before you'd go out and do anything about that
Again, does that make sense?
Patrick: Nadia wants to use the lawsuit to out Ace of Spades
This was not the first time Frey turned to Barrett Brown to silence someone he disagreed with. A pattern seems to have been developing over time.
Why is Patrick Frey using Barrett Brown, someone sought after by law enforcement, to try and stop Nadia Naffe from suing him? Why indeed.
Update 2: Regardless of PACER's requirements, there are laws against disclosure of a person's medical information and Social Security number. See California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act and California Civil Code 1798.85.
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