Friday, May 21, 2010
NICE CAMPAIGN WORK, GENIUSES
Apparently Team Corbett is too bloated to hide behind grand jury secrecy any longer. (Try cutting back on the salt, guys.) "We can't comment on an ongoing investigation (except when we feel like it)" just doesn't cut the mustard in the Show.
And we are most definitely in the Show. The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post Politico, Wired, even Keith Olbermann have taken an interest in the little assault on free speech we've got goin' on up here in Pennsyltucky.
(If you want to hear Signor Ferrari's incredibly sexy electronically-distorted voice, visit KDKA and WTAE)
Finally called upon to justify Tom Corbett's attempt to unmask his online critics, mouthpiece Kevin Harley brilliantly hinted the subpoena is related to today's sentencing hearing for a Bonusgate defendant.
As the kids say, O RLY? "Using the grand-jury process to get evidence in the aid of sentencing is an abuse of the system. Grand juries are to investigate potential crimes, not aid in prosecution," says Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania (a total rock star and our new personal hero).
Um...what was it that subpoena said again? "You are ordered to appear as a witness ... to give evidence regarding alleged violations of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Even if the blogger did turn out to be Corbett's favorite whipping boy, unless exercising free speech anonymously on the internet is now a violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that subpoena seems a bit, well, misleading.
Not everyone is buying this sentencing spin. As Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News asks, "if he's going after one guy, why go after two Twitter accounts?" Attorney Bryan Walk says his client is being used as a smokescreen and the real motive behind the subpoena is to stifle dissent.
But let's set aside the blatant violation of the First Amendment. Let's set aside the abuse of the grand jury system. Let's set aside the inveracity of the subpoena itself.
Let's indulge Team Corbett in their little fantasy. Let's say Twitter complies (quietly!) with the subpoena. Let's say the information Twitter divulges somehow definitively proves Signor Ferarri is who Corbett believes he is.
ACLU law professor Eugene Volokh mused to the New York Times that "if [the defendant] turned out to be one of the commenters," perhaps his online comments might "be at odds with a claim of contrition at sentencing."
Was this their plan? To use a grand jury subpoena to solicit information they might get to use in case a defendant were to make a statement in the future that contradicts a statement on a blog that they suspect he writes?
If it weren't so chilling from a civil liberties perspective, you'd have to admit it's pretty hilarious. Clearly, they're watching too many Law & Order reruns (the histrionic later episodes, not the Jerry Orbach classics). You just know they were fantasizing about a grand dramatic moment when they leap up and yell, "that's not what you said on your BLOG, sir!"
C'mon. That's funny.
Even granting the possibility of this truly bizarre scenario - and that is a stretch - exactly what statement on this blog might contradict any "statements of contrition?" After the dramatic Law & Order moment, what were they going to say? What statement were they going to cite?
As we said yesterday, for all their obsession with this blog, they're not reading it too carefully.
Special thanks to our new friend "TN2010" for the lovely illustration on today's post. We think the Corbett campaign should consider using it as a poster or maybe a direct mail piece.