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HomeNewsworthyOpinion☕️ ANTI SOCIAL ☙ Tuesday, April 2, 2024 ☙ C&C NEWS 🦠

☕️ ANTI SOCIAL ☙ Tuesday, April 2, 2024 ☙ C&C NEWS 🦠

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Opinion

By Jeff Childers

04-03-24

Good morning, C&C, it’s Tuesday! Your morning roundup includes: helpful C&C primer on how to (not) talk to the FBI about your social media posts; Israel-Iran “shadow war” is coming out of the shadows; Trump pays massive bond in undervalued real estate case; and a surprising jab guidance change in Australia.

🗞💬 WORLD NEWS AND COMMENTARY 💬🗞

🔥 The Washington Post ran a befuddled story yesterday headlined, “How the FBI’s visit to a Muslim woman became a right-wing rallying cry.” I’m not sure WaPo knew how to report it, the story never actually answers that “how” question. The sub-headline added foggy context: “A viral video of FBI agents looking into pro-Palestinian Facebook posts reflects the muddled politics and social media swirl of 2024.” Only WaPo is confused.

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It’s not clear whether this muslim woman’s FBI encounter was the first example, but several other similar videos popped up on social media around the same time yesterday from people claiming the FBI visited them to talk about their social media posts. WaPo’s article only focused on the Muslim woman.

The article tried but failed to generate a controversy. WaPo was shocked that some right-wing pundits stuck up for the Muslim lady. Apparently that jarred the WaPo’s worldview; it either thinks Muslims should be a secure liberal constituency happy to help censorship, or it thinks that right-wingers can’t be apolitical when defending Constitutional rights.

Second, in a reflexive spasm of journalistic malpractice, the WaPo’s story unaccountably produces no hint of the woman’s Facebook posts so that its readers might get any idea of what provoked the official visit. From what I could tell, she really doesn’t like Israel or Jewish people and tends to use angry, provocative, and violent rhetoric, and she often wishes bad things on a whole raft of folks including the American military. Ugly but perfectly legal.

Why the WaPo omitted that fact is unclear from the story.

Third, and most importantly, we have no idea what actually led to the FBI’s visit. It could be related to a legitimate terrorist investigation; maybe they are really looking at one of the lady’s similarly-angry friends. The feds might have other information justifying the visit. We just don’t know. Despite the bad apples at the FBI, and despite the pitiful explanation the agents offered, I would still lean toward giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Slightly.

Inarguably, the FBI has been used to intimidate lawful speech. I was invited to speak at the Moms for Liberty annual conference in Tampa a couple years back. Mainly so I could help prepare their national chapter leaders for what to do if the FBI ever called on them. It was right after DOJ head Merrick Garland identified Moms as a domestic threat of some kind, and the FBI in fact called or visited several (volunteer) chapter leaders for the thoughtcrime of criticizing woke school board members.

Obviously domestic terrorists.

🪖 In case the FBI is coming after anti-vaxxers next, here is a “field guide” to interacting with the FBI about your social media posts.

The basic rule is: don’t talk to the FBI at all. You aren’t legally required to talk to them without legal process (like a subpoena) or without your lawyer. So don’t talk to the FBI. This can be trickier than you think. One way you can accidentally get in trouble happens when you don’t even know you’re talking to an FBI agent. The second way — lying to a federal official — happens during your conversation with the agent.

Both ways are easy to avoid. Don’t ever talk to them unless legally required — and you will know when that is — and don’t ever talk to them without a lawyer. I’ll tell you how to handle both types of encounters.

🪖 Sometimes you might not know you are talking to an agent. An ‘act in furtherance’ is the entrapment path. Unless you are making specific threats against people, the things you say are protected by the First Amendment and can’t be criminalized. But an undercover FBI agent could try to convince you to do something, however small, “in furtherance” of a criminal act. It doesn’t take much. Then they can combine that act, however small, with your words, which are used as evidence of your criminal intent.

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It’s not hard. Just don’t get involved in anything shady. Especially not if the idea comes from some new online contact. And not even if the act, whatever it is, however satisfying it might feel, seems distant from any actual crime. You don’t have to do the actual crime to be convicted of being an ‘accessory’ or a ‘co-conspirator.’

There doesn’t even have to be a crime! Or any real co-conspirators. Even if the rest of the ‘conspiracy’ group is all undercover feds, and even if no crime ever actually happens, or even gets close to happening, they can still charge you for the ‘attempt.’

An attempt carries the same punishment as actually doing the crime.

For example, patriotic anti-lockdown trucker Barry Croft, 47, got 19 years for co-conspiring in the Whitmer incident. Largely he was convicted for his words — “discussions” — about using explosions to divert federal officials during a potential kidnapping. Although the ‘discussions’ might arguably have been First Amendment protected, but Barry traveled to Michigan to scout out the scene. (Plus he wore a funny tricorner hat they really hated.) Regardless that the federal agents talked Barry into going to Michigan, they combined Barry’s words (talking about using explosives) with his act (traveling to Michigan) to establish the crime of attempted fednapping.

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Most people reading this probably won’t have any trouble avoiding this category of potential risk. Just don’t do stupid stuff and don’t get involved with stupid people.

🪖 Second, don’t talk to feds especially when they identify themselves, like by unexpectedly visiting you or calling you on the phone for a chat. This second and more substantial risk of liability for your words arises from lying to a federal official. United States Code, Title 18, Section 1001, drops the hammer:

(a) Whoever, within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up … a material fact; (or)
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned (up to) 5 years or, if (it) involves … domestic terrorism, imprisoned (up to) 8 years, or both.

Since the FBI is within the executive branch, making any “fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation” to the FBI — even if not under oath — is a felony punishable with up to five years in federal prison (up to eight if they can say it “involves” domestic terrorism, like criticizing genderbending school board members).

Technically, section 1001 includes a “materiality” component — the lie must be somehow meaningful, not just about whether that dress makes your wife look fat — “material” is a super squishy legal term, and you don’t want to rely on the inability of creative FBI lawyers to convince a judge something you said was somehow “material.”

Not to mention the process is the punishment anyway. Even if you win your case, you still had to endure it. And unlike you, the FBI gets its lawyers for free.

But you argue, Jeff, I would never lie to the FBI in the first place. Of course not. Not on purpose. But why take an unnecessary risk of accidentally ‘lying’? Your memory isn’t perfect.  And like everybody, you probably believe lots of stuff that isn’t true. And some things you think are just your opinion — like saying the 2020 elections were stolen or Nancy Pelosi is a lizardarian — could be whipsawed against you as “false facts.”

You can’t beat them. Don’t even try. FBI agents are trained law enforcement professionals with lots of practice from interrogating people every single day.

Take conservative fashion stylist Martha Stewart as an example. Martha spent five months tastefully decorating a federal prison cell for lying to investigators under 18 USC § 1001, not for “insider trading.” She was heavily fined and went to jail for stupid stuff she said:

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Martha’s mistake was thinking she was smarter than them.

🪖 Step one. When the FBI shows up at the door and introduces themselves, you should start recording. Do not record them secretly — that’s a felony in many states (including Florida). Be friendly. Ask them to wait a sec if you need to go get your phone. Once the recording is on, you can ask a few quick questions.

This is optional. But to get some useful information for the recording, ask their names, ask for their business cards, ask what office they’re from, and ask for their supervisor’s name. Then ask, “gentlemen, what’s this all about?”

Then you should politely and firmly say “I would love to talk to you boys about this, but I want to do it with my lawyer. I’ll have my lawyer call your office and set something up.” Then say goodbye and close the door.

You won’t need to call and follow up. They don’t want to talk to your lawyer anyway. Also, there’s no reason to demand to see their identification, which can be faked by bad actors anyway. If they are pushy, or won’t go away, call your local sheriff and say there are armed men standing around in your yard. Then start microwaving some popcorn.

Here’s a quick summary of the advice:

  1. Record the interaction.
  2. Refuse to speak to them without a lawyer.
  3. Refuse to let them in the house (unless they have a warrant).
  4. Don’t go outside of the house and keep the door closed.

It’s that simple, although you’ll probably feel nerve-wracked the whole time. Odds are that, if the FBI was really there just to talk to you about your social media posts, the case ends right there.

Still, I’d suggest that if it does happen, contact a lawyer to have on standby, just in case they decide to follow up.

By avoiding talking, you’ll avoid the trap of helping the FBI turn your perfectly legal words into a crime.

A couple final thoughts. Many, if not most FBI agents are decent, hardworking professionals who want to do a good job. Even the ones at your door may have been sent there by another office’s request (like the infamous DC field office). Don’t assume the ones at your door are bad guys.

Finally, the obligatory disclosure: this is not legal advice and I’m not your lawyer.

🔥 We’ve looked at the Proxy War a bunch lately, now the pace of events requires us to turn back to our Shadow War in the Middle East. Fox News ran a not-April-Fool’s story yesterday headlined, “Iran not likely to retaliate after alleged Israeli strike: ‘Not ready’.” Wildly, Israel missiled part of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria, killing several military folks including a top-ranking Iranian general.

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It’s hard to understate how significant was this attack. It must be seen as a major escalation. Syria may be a failed rump state, and Damascus may lie right outside Israel’s borders, and Israel may regularly have bombed the Damascus airport, and Iran may often launch proxy strikes against Israel from there, but Syria is still nominally a sovereign state. And its embassy is considered Iranian sovereign territory.

While Western corporate media downplayed the story, the non-Western world was accumulating outrage. Here’s one example, from a popular independent Muslim journalist (400K followers), with whom I do not fully agree, but gives you a pretty good idea of how folks outside the West are thinking about things these days:

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CLIP: Muslim journalist blames US for worldwide terrorist attacks (6:44).

It is fair to say the consular strike hit the Arab world very much like a swarm of enraged hornets. In the linked clip, the Muslim journalist connected the U.S. to the Nordstream bombing, various assassinations, the attacks on the Kremlin and the Crocus concert, economic sanctions against Russia and China, and Israel’s war in Gaza.

It’s a bad look for us. Biden’s inexpressible neocon foreign policy — whatever it is — is rapidly turning the U.S. into a pariah state with a majority of the world’s population.

Iran, which remained disquietingly measured in its response, officially blames the U.S. for Israel’s attack on its embassy. Here’s what Secretary of the National Security Council in Iran, Ali Shimkhani said:

“Even if the U.S. knew or not about Israel’s intention to carry out the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, this does not remove its direct responsibility for this crime – the Zionist entity made a serious mistake and will pay a heavy price for it.”

Of course, the Iranians blame the U.S. for everything and say lots of crazy stuff. So.

Even giving Israel the benefit of the doubt that it had a compelling reason to attack the Iranian embassy, a reason that is not yet publicly clear, the “shadow war” between Israel and Iran is starting to look a lot less shadowy and a lot more kinetic.

Which means it is time for someone to ask what, exactly, is Biden’s Middle East strategy? Does he even know or remember the strike happened? Or tomorrow will he deny it happened, like yesterday when he denied proclaiming that Easter was the 145th transsexual day of whatever:

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When yesterday I wrote my fake April Fool’s article about Biden wandering off on Easter in a deranged fog of confusion, I didn’t realize it would immediately become a metaphor for Biden’s brain wandering off in a deranged fog of confusion about his Easter trans declaration.

🔥 Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran an encouraging story headlined, “Donald Trump Obtains $175 Million Bond in Civil Fraud Case.” In other words, Trump just paid one of the largest bonds, if not the largest, ever paid by an individual in a civil case.

Slavering liberal predictions of “Broke Don” are done. And Trump’s appellate chances look extremely good.

💉 The mRNA juice continued draining out of the global vaccination needle yesterday, as Australia nerfed its covid jab guidance. Under the new rules, healthy adults between 18 and 75 are only recommended to get a single shot, and that’s it:

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Of course,  Australia’s rationale for the new and improved “updated” guidance remains unexplained and inexplicable. I’m sure you remember that, except for the now-recalled Johnson & Johnson shot, a single dose of mRNA was considered all but useless. So why only one shot? Why now? Did Pfizer authorize this recommendation?

Science! Shut up!

Or did they perhaps decide that Australians who’ve somehow managed to avoid all the previous draconian jab mandates will now decide, great!, it’s time to get my one shot? That seems like magical thinking to me.

Wait! Will they consider a half-dose next? Then a quarter-dose? Then maybe just sniff the mRNA vial?

It’s pretty crazy, but I still don’t think we’ve yet seen anything close to the levels of crazy that 2024 has in store for us. Hang on! We’ll get through it.

Have a terrific Tuesday! Don’t talk to any FBI agents about your social media posts, and get back here tomorrow morning for another delicious serving of Coffee & Covid.

We can’t do it without you. Consider joining with C&C to help move the nation’s needle and change minds.  I could use your help getting the truth out and spreading optimism and hope, if you can:  ☕ Learn How to Get Involved 🦠


Twitter: jchilders98.
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© 2022, Jeff Childers, all rights reserved


The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida

 
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