Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The $th Estate

Last week, Nola.com lost their legal efforts to keep the identity of the commenters "Jammers1954" and "aircheck" private.  They must turn their information on the two Nola.com commenters over to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana by Wednesday.

I've speculated that "Jammers1954" may be a current or former top Justice Department official.  I think I was wrong.  Forget "Jammers1954".  After speaking with The Lens' Mark Moseley, who has done a tremendous amount of work on the commenting issue, and another source, I think Jammers' identity is redundant. I'm hoping Mark lays out a detailed synopsis on what he's found.

I think we need to worry about "aircheck"....and I think there's plenty to worry about.

This entire commenting scandal has reeked of closed-door deals and cloak and dagger politics from the get-go. But if this bomb drops, if aircheck is who the whispers on the winds of Poydras Street are suggesting, it will have moved out of the realm of incompetence and into the realm of political conspiracy for me.

Let me explain.

It wasn't a rat, it was a sewer

From the very beginning of the commenting scandal when it was revealed that Sal Perricone was commenting on active DOJ cases, I said I smelled a rat.  It was reported that Fred Heebe's crack defense team hired a forensic linguistic expert, the same guy that found the unabomber (except he didn't, Kasczynski's brother turned him in), James R. Fitzgerald, to scour through thousands of comments on Nola.com's website and was able to identify Perricone by his trademark syntax and certain key words used in his writing style.  Admittedly Perricone has a distinct writing style but I just found the whole story hard to swallow.

As time passed and even more commenters from within the DOJ were revealed, I found it even harder to swallow.

I've speculated, ad nauseam, about my suspicion that someone, or someones, from within Nola.com was/were data mining commenters' personal information and sharing it with Heebe's defense team.  Applying Occam's razor, it seems to be the most logical way these commenters were identified or were even known to be commenting in the first place.  In the wake of the revelations about Sal...and then Jan Mann...I began to see some very obvious signs that backed that theory up.

The most notable sign happened with the International House commenting story written by the Times Picayune.  For the most part, it turned out to be a tempest in a teapot but many aspects of this story disturbed me.  The first and foremost is how the TP was tipped off to the story.

The Times-Picayune's sudden change of heart 

It's disconcerting that the TP ran this story without reservation.  They could have potentially exposed one of their own commenters without the slightest concern for the guy's right to privacy as defined by their own commenting consent form that existed at the time the commenter was supposedly active on Nola.com.

I find it more than ironic that they are now fighting Federal Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Wilkinson, Jr.'s subpoena to turn over the identities of "Jammers1954" and "aircheck".  Nobody at the TP seemed too concerned about throwing the alleged IH commenter's picture up on the front page in January of 2013, I don't understand why they would suddenly give a damn about "Jammers1954" and "aircheck" to the point where they fought Judge Wilkinson's subpoena.

Even though I had the same picture and had researched the story, I decided not to post anything about the IH incident because I felt like I would potentially compromise the guy's privacy and identity....and even though I don't have a written contract for commenters on this site I hold anonymity with the highest regard.  In fact, I prefer it.

What we're seeing with the TP right now is a contradictory stance.  On one hand they recklessly threw the picture of one of their commenters on the front page and one year later they have engaged in a legal battle to protect the identity of "Jammers1954" and "aircheck".

Incidentally...I have no idea who the guy in the IH picture is nor have I pursued it.  Doug at Slabbed may know more but I think he's just as resolute on protecting the commenter's identity as I am.  Truth is...I don't care...I don't think it's important.  But I do think what happened with the "hunt" for him is important.

The spy that got away

What bothered me as much about the fact that the TP ran the alleged commenter's picture on the front page was how they came across the information in the first place.  I know they didn't find out about it from the hotel, so I'm curious how it fell into their hands to begin with.  Equally troubling, is how Heebe's team knew, or suspected, this guy was commenting from the hotel to begin with.

After researching the matter I discovered that an IT forensic specialist was called in to examine the hotel lobby computer, with the permission of the hotel, and I was even able to find out who this IT specialist was (very easily I might add).  His name is Glen Smith from a company called Affinity Dynamics....interesting guy.  I contacted him via email and he told me he couldn't comment (oh the irony) on the matter because it was under a federal investigation.  You know...the Horn "investigation" into the commenting scandal...(cough...spit).

Here's another thing I don't understand...Why didn't the story they published on the IH commenter state that Smith had been hired by Heebe to conduct the investigation?  Isn't that a crucial part of the puzzle?  It establishes that Heebe was not only contracting a linguistic forensic specialist to find commenters but an IT forensic specialist as well.  Did they even ask about that?  If they didn't, why not?  It's the first question any rational person would have asked the hotel, "Do you know how Heebe found out this guy was commenting from the hotel and who came in to investigate it?".

In that post, I asked how Smith and/or Heebe was able to track down the commenter to the International House and I came up with some possible scenarios.  You can see Heebe lawyer, Kyle Schonekas's, response on the issue in the Nola.com story.  He stated that "no special technology" was used.

Well...that may be true but a special IT consultant was used...I confirmed that.

The potential "aircheck" fallout

I'm rehashing this because I think it's absolutely critical in respect to what may happen after the identity of "aircheck" is turned over to the court, especially if his identity hits pay dirt.

I've spoken with a lot of folks, legal and non-legal, about the potential fallout and how it could affect cases in queue and judgements already passed during the Letten era.  The predictions have crossed the spectrum of possibilities with only two definitive opinions...both on opposite ends.

As I listened to the definitive opinion of the person who said it would have absolutely no effect on the Nagin case, the Stacy Jackson (NOAH) case or any other case or investigation that occurred under the "commenting" period, I couldn't help but ask, "I guess Fred Heebe didn't get that memo?"

Sympathy for the devil?

Recently a commenter took me to task about my sudden empathy for Ray Nagin in the wake of his conviction.  It's a great observation and I haven't explained myself very well..mea culpa.

I understand it may seem I'm being a Nagin apologist but I'm not.  I'm simply looking at things from my point of view (a lonely one I might add) and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together in respect to the efforts of his defense and what I believe to be true.  I don't like what I see.  I see it from a panoptic view and at the moment I am having trouble understanding how so many people were never indicted while Ray Nagin and Mark St. Pierre were crucified..albeit we haven't seen Nagin's sentence yet.

Heebe's exculpation was not based on his innocence...it was the result of money and power.  This sickens me, I simply can't let it go.  Ray Nagin, on the other hand, was simply a chump and his cronies were McChumps.  They were mere pawns on a chessboard in a game that ended in a trebuchet.

Heebe was above the game entirely.  So far above it that he has the power to manipulate it post-exoneration.  Perhaps we're still watching the third act unfold with Nagin's conviction and the identity of "aircheck" ...how's that for "conspiracy theory"?

I believe Fred Heebe has the ability to not just influence the First, Second and Third Estate but the Fourth Estate as well.

Let's call Heebe's playing field the $th Estate.  Ray Nagin would probably call it the "shadow government".
People you tru$t
Whatever you call it, it stinks like a landfill....and I just can't let it go.


Anonymous said...

With Fred having an insider at NOLA and John owning the Advocate. "The Families" have the MS Print Media in the bag.
Oh, and I see that Chuck and Bride of Chuckie (Vaughn) are at it again! Doug has been 404'd again.

jeffrey said...

Here's the big difference between Heebe and Nagin with regard to how the comments business will affect their cases.

Nagin will be looking to get a conviction overturned on the grounds that prejudicial comments on a website constitute gross prosecutorial misconduct.

Heebe merely used his knowledge of the comments to intimidate DOJ into getting his charges dismissed.

So it's probably better to ask if the Danziger cops rather than Heebe "got the memo" on this.

Anonymous said...

BINGO !!! It has always been Heebe manipulating the system. We are in the same choir and I intend to help you as much as I can.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Jeffrey make sure you click the Estate links. Particularly the 3rd.

Jason Brad Berry said...


"The Times-Picayune’s motion for additional time does not indicate whether the newspaper plans to appeal Wilkinson’s order. Rather, it says, producing the information by Wednesday may be difficult because “the individuals associated with The Times-Picayune who have the ability to retrieve the information at issue are located out of state, and the retrieval of the information involves review of multiple databases by personnel in several states.”":

I just laughed so hard I think I just shit my pants.

Anonymous said...

Did Slabbed get shut down because in addition to all the Broussard related stuff that pissed off the goat herders, he also had a lot of Riverbirch related stories, and the commenting scandal thing may be hitting close for some of those people this week?

Why now, on the goat-related issue? He`s pretty careful about those guys, and Broussard is in jail.

They can`t possibly have a fresh reason to bug him.

The collected works of Slabbed on the the topic of landfill politics, however, might be worth re-reading, to connect as many commenting scandal dots as possible this week.

Someone wanting that archive of stories to be off line while this commenting story is happening... that I can see.

Why do I suddenly want to go into the kitchen to make myself a tinfoil hat?

Anonymous said...

originally intended for slabbed but we think under the present circumstances relevant here:

doug, we suggest that it is factually naive for you or anyone to think that the only leaks out of a grand jury in the louisiana eastern district court house is via the fbi personnel solely. we believe mr. gibbons knows better - as he himself is a club member of the incestuous lawyer cartel that controls both the prosecution and defense bar of this very same grand jury district.

we are not suggesting that the allegations enumerated by mr. gibbons in his memorandum are disingenuous, or for that matter, do not have any basis in fact. however we do believe there are any number of 'unidentified souces' the press had and/or have contact with aside from fbi agents - lawyers (prosecution and defense), us marshals, court personnel, individuals on the inside or peripheral to the investigation, etc.- any number of who could provide the 'alleged leaked information' as complained of.

in reality there is no 'secret' grand jury - it's maintaing the legal fiction that we submit is the hypocrisy.

Doug Handshoe said...

Thanks for the mentions in comments. Leary and Perret successfully hounded dreamhost into terminating our hosting relationship. I will have a new site up and going in a day or so.

Anonymous said...


Why are they doing this now?

Anonymous said...

So aircheck is Jim Letten & Advance Media/Times Pic is fighting like crazy because they don't care about the commenters but rather a former employee who was on the take creating an enormous Payola scandal which would subject Advance/Times Pic to a litigation nightmare in the form of a class action by those who signed up for Nola.com accounts. Like many I really hope the allegations regarding a former reporter at the TP who may have been on the take aren't true.

The class action attorneys will be lining up outside the courthouses in a mad race to file.

Anonymous said...

Because it's the last "free" press left?

Anonymous said...

Not to threadjack but here are a few possibilities for the Slabbed takedown.

Could have been the Frank Magazine cover that was recently posted.

Could have been the link to Zappa's Joe's Garage.

Could have been a preemptive strike against Tuesday music.

Tuesday music link, Frank Zappa (live)

Jason Brad Berry said...


I don't have that answer.

I just have theories.

Anonymous said...

A comment earlier was poorly worded, and apparently didn't meet the standards of the blog.

The tool used to 404 the referenced blog is clear from the relevant twitter feed. Frankly speaking, the post which triggered action which led to the 404 was likely a recent post. Which may well be different from the motivation to use the tool.

Perhaps the link to a certain Frank Zappa song was also not appropriate for posting; several entertaining and inspirational versions of Keep It Greasy may be found on Youtube.

Jason Brad Berry said...

"Like many I really hope the allegations regarding a former reporter at the TP who may have been on the take aren't true. "

Right. Well...I don't care about hopes....I just care about truth.

I have no idea what is true, I just have questions at the moment. I would like to see the questions answered.

I can deal with the outcome and aftermath whatever it may be.

Anonymous said...

A TP employee on the take? Exposing the identities of commenters for pay from... someone?

How did I miss this? Is the name of the allegedly corrupt employee being bandied around? Who is it?

I watch DemocracyNow! sometimes. They are a little too lefty for me. But Amy Goodman has balls of brass, and they cover important stories no one else in the mainstream media will touch. She has mentored and given air time to many of America`s best real reporters.

So there was a recent show about Snowden and Greenwald, and an interview with Snowden`s lawyer.

I`m personally not sure what to make of the guys like Snowden or Manning who work inside a system and then tell tales. It`s a case by case thing for me, and I never feel like I have the information I need to properly evaluate their claims or their motivations.

I can see the big personal hits they take, and I don`t think they would do these things for anything but conviction... still, I`m a little wary. Snowden going to Russia struck me as weird.

But American journalists are supposed to have First Amendment rights, so I feel really easy saying that whatever you`d think of the whistle blower and his motivations, the journalist gets to run with stories, and let the chips fall where they may.

American ideas about a free press are the most obvious and central example of the USA as an awesome country.

And attorney-client privledge, which the people on that show alleged was being interfered with to some extent, is part of the suit of rules about how lawyers operate that go back to Roundhead fights against absolute monarchs in England.

Some of the best lawyers in the England of the day had tight ties to what would eventually become Harvard University in the USA.

The proto-USA nurtured many of the best aspects of the English legal tradition that every British colony, and the independant USA, inherited.

Say what you will about any individual whistleblower, and for me the verdict is mixed, but the rights of journalists, attorney-client privledge, and other aspects of due process of law should be sacrosanct.

Without those things, are you even living in a civil society anymore?

How sad if TP employees, who benefit from press protections, sold out their noble estate the way some city employees seem to have sold out their public offices! And how ironic that the REAL journalists like you and Doug are facing threats to your free speech.

bruthasback said...

I knew the commenting scandal was going to be big. The question I have though is want kind of formula is being used to determine which cases the comments will impact?

Jason Brad Berry said...

"So aircheck is Jim Letten & Advance Media/Times Pic is fighting like crazy because they don't care about the commenters but rather a former employee who was on the take creating an enormous Payola scandal which would subject Advance/Times Pic to a litigation nightmare in the form of a class action by those who signed up for Nola.com accounts. Like many I really hope the allegations regarding a former reporter at the TP who may have been on the take aren't true. "

Just to clarify...that's not what I said. I believe there was a mole in the TP, yes. I didn't say it was a reporter. I just want to clarify that.

Anonymous said...

But you still believe the first 5 words of the above to be true?

Question: aside from an IP address, what (if any) identifying information would the subpoena yield (e.g., name, email address). Thanks.

Jason Brad Berry said...

I believe it is highly possible that aircheck is Jim Letten or a magistrate federal judge. I don't know why Nola.com is stalling...I don't think it is because of the mole issue but I don't know.

Speculating but what if aircheck is Letten? First thing out or the gate is that he perjured himself. He will most likely be charged. If there is a subsequent investigation would he have to take the stand and possibly spill the beans on everything he knows about the commenting scandal? Was he leaking information to TP reporter(s)? The whole thing could get really nasty.

And very good question about what exactly the TP will have to turn over. I would assume it's IP address and email account that each commenter used to set up their Nola.com account. In the case of aircheck, if he/she set up the Yahoo account through an anonymous proxy, it may not be trackable. But if he/she was commenting from his house or work outside of the anon. proxy then that can absolutely be traced but it will require a second subpoena to aircheck's ISP.

This may end up hitting a road block. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Okay...thanks for the reply, which begs the question: what led you to believe the Canary to be JL or a US Magistrate (versus a federal law clerk, US marshal, or some other fly on the wall)?

Anonymous said...

You need to stay on this ... AMDG

Jason Brad Berry said...

Just a hunch. Take it or leave it. This is the comment section and we're thinking out of the box, eh?

Anonymous said...

Crunch, crunch. That is the sound of me munching popcorn. This movie will be riveting!

Anonymous said...

If I we're an amateur sleuth which you ain't!

Anonymous said...

this all lands at the door step of the canal street brothel case. letten will get cover because he gave cover.

Anonymous said...

If Jim Letten was commenting, holy fuck, was that ever dumb.

Or, alterntively, intentional, and he is a very loyal servant of some mysterious master, which sure ain`t the one he sowre publi oaths to serve.

And that would be a heavy charge to lay on a man who seemed to many who have read and commented on this blog over the years to be working damn hard to seriously address several deep deep piles of shit in a physical and social environment that was broken and tramatized.

If he was commenting, I rather believe he was dumb. But so dumb that he`d comment about caes his office was supposed to be working? Jesus, that is dumb.

So let`s hope your hunch is totally wrong. I want it to be totally wrong. No offense, beause usually I like it when you are right.

But I hope no one holding any kind of public power is either that stupid or that corrupted, and the idea of having to pick one option does not sit well.

I don`t like the man who appointed him, but from what I read in the paper, I liked the guy`s work ethic, and I thought he was in earnest. I

Anonymous said...

The comment made by the anon who was curious about which cases might end up affected seems right on to me-- that is a good question.

So how many ways do they come at this?

Do they look at people involved in controversial recent events, and try to find out if they posted online comments?

(I`m remembering your Dark Yoda showing up to bug Cerasoli at meetings. Did anyone involved in investigating Bennett or Fradella post?)

Do they focus on the cases, or on the comments?

Everyone`s comments, or just the IDs of people whose IP addresses seem to point to official government buildings?

Can they ask for access to the home computers of government employees?

Is it the owner of the home computer that counts, or suspicion that a targeted person may have used the computer?

This seems totally crazy.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Anon @ 1:01 am,

I, too, hope it's not Letten. Personally, I think the entire thing was blown out of proportion to begin with but here we are standing in Kiev.

My real issue is not with who was commenting, it's what lengths Heebe went to manipulate the Justice system and admonish himself. I think this is a much bigger deal than people commenting....much bigger.

Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever know everyone on Heebe's dime. I have a lot of bread crumbs though.

I see things a lot differently these days. A whole lot differently.

Anonymous said...

>>>Heebe went to manipulate the Justice system and admonish himself<<<

Not to be an overly cunning linguist nitpicker, but possibly there is a different word other than admonish intended?

Jason Brad Berry said...

Jesus....I meant to say absolve. I'm not even stoned...which reminds me...I've got something to do :)

bruthasback said...

"from what I read in the paper"... LOL... the paper was on the payroll too weren't they? I'm sure garlandfill was a Letten pearl clutcher as well. I knew Letten was full of $h!t a long time ago. Would not me surprise the least bit if he was commenting.

Geoffrey Boulmay, Sr. said...

Jan Mann and I met Oct. 12, 2011and Nov. 5 Jan Mann commented: Copeland, Fazzio and Heebe are birds of a feather. Comment outed Jan Mann in Heebe CDC filing. WHAT made Jan Mann put Heebe in same category as Al Copeland corrupting Judge Bodenheimer? HEEBE "absolving" Heebe is a farce proven in N. O. Federal court crossed archived records given to Jan Mann by me. Records proved Heebe corrupted our EDLA chapter XI Judge with law partners Butler, Sr. and Hirsch, Jr. FOR CLIENT Al Copeland.