Conservative bloggers are being targeted with an illegal and dangerous tactic with the aim of silencing or moderating their voices. The tactic is SWATing (from the police special forces often named Special Weapons and Tactics). The perpetrator makes a telephone call to police falsely reporting that a crime — usually a violent crime — has been committed or is in progress at a blogger’s home.
Erick Erickson of the prominent conservative blog RedState relates the story of his SWATing: “Sunday night as my family and sister’s family were around the dinner table and playing outside, sheriff’s deputies pulled into my driveway responding to an accidental shooting at my home. One deputy was in the driveway. Another blocked the end of the driveway with his car. A neighbor tells me another was up the hill from the house. There was no shooting at my home. Someone called 911, claimed to be at my home, and claimed to witness a shooting at my home.”
Besides the illegality of making a false police report, the tactic is dangerous to both police officers and people at or nearby the targeted address.
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia has written to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing his concern regarding the SWATing attacks. In his letter he wrote “Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels.”
Later he added “The perpetrators appear to be targeting individuals who are vigorously exercising their First Amendment rights to political speech. As you know, these reported efforts to intimidate those who choose to enter the political forum and express their opinions are in conflict with the founding principles of our nation. Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse. Those who choose to enter into that political discourse should not have to worry about potential threats to their or their family’s safety.”
The purpose of SWATing is to, as Chambliss explained, silence conservative bloggers, or make them less likely to write posts and articles. Besides the attempt to tamp down civil debate and discourse, the SWATing technique is illegal and potentially deadly. It goes beyond bullying. Those who use it are domestic terrorists.
The use of SWATing against conservatives stands in contrast to a recent New York Times column by Charles M. Blow. In the column, Blow uses the bullying of an elderly bus monitor to draw a larger conclusion: Republicans are bullies. “… bullying has become boilerplate. Hiss and taunt. Tease and intimidate. Target your enemies and torture them mercilessly. Maintain primacy through predation.”
Later Blow wrote “But bullying is always about power — projecting more than you have in order to accrue more than your share.” That describes SWATing: Illegally summoning police power to target and intimidate your enemies.