Leopold (left) and Johnson.
Since I last updated NB readers on this story (you really need the post to understand this one), Leopold or a minion posted more of Sexion's personal information as well as his parents' address and his mother's name late night on his blog and at Ace of Spades, ensuring it would remain overnight.
Sexion then received an email apparently from Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and state department guy who now seems to spend his time peddling conspiracy theories and promoting Jason Leopold and Joe Wilson. After divulging more of Seixon's personal information, Johnson all but threatened the blogger to stop his reporting :
I am willing to accept a written apology and move on. If you refuse to retract your statements about me I am prepared to ratchet this up several levels. I have not spent the last twenty years working with the U.S. military and the intelligence community to accept this kind of nonsense from a wet-nosed 24 year old coward, who is an armchair warrior but does not have the courage to enlist in the military when his country is at war.
Asked if that was a threat, Johnson replied:
I know where you are living. You forget that I do work for the European Union and friends in Interpol. I've offered you a mature way to deal with this situation. You're obviously too immature and inexperienced to recognize the offer for what it is. Too bad.
(This type of behavior isn't exactly unknown from Johnson. He has a habit of emailing critics in a similarly empty and pugnacious manner.)
Things got worse early this morning when Seixon received a phone call from someone who said he had written "naughty things" on his blog. When asked to identify himself, the caller laughed. "You're a dead man," he replied.
Questions: Now that a blogger is getting death threats and intimidating email which his local law enforcement considers serious, will liberal media reporters like Howard Kurtz, Bill Carter, and Jim Romenesko sit up and take notice of a very real threat to press freedom? Will a clearly disturbed individual like Johnson finally be banished from ever appearing as a credible commentator or informed source as he surely deserves to be? Will the lefty hand-wringers who complain about "Bush undermining our freedoms" denounce this?
Jeff Goldstein (who received a threat from a leftist professor earlier) is on the money about all the recent left-wing sock puppet scandals and how they reflect on the far left's reporters and public figures:
Many of those being cited as “experts” on issues that will shape public opinion and could, in theory, manifestly impact public policy and law, are in fact puffed up creations of an organized message machine whose goal it is to shape the official public narrative—even if doing so requires behind the scenes machinations. Because to adherents of such a worldview, anything is acceptable once you’ve decided that it is up to you to fight for the “greater good”—an impulse that I imagine grows even stronger once it joins forces with others who share that same tinpot Machiavellian’s sense of social pragmatism.
And now, with this new story, what we have is several reporters and a former CIA agent using base intimidation that has escalated into a potentially actionable—and quite serious—offense.
So while I agree with Brian that the public discourse is not particularly better for having sunk to its current level, I think it is important to cover these stories nevertheless—particularly when some in the “unified messaging” community are simply unable to keep their true natures hidden.
People who don’t follow politics closely need to see beyond the easy “progressive” bromides about supporting “tolerance” and being against “hate”.
Because the truth is, many so-called “progressives” are absolutely saturated with hate and will tolerate nothing that doesn’t hew to their idea of what the world should look like. And their impatience is beginning to show.
16:49. Patterico has more evidence that Greenwald is a puppeteer.
17:43. National Review's Byron York wrote an in-depth profile of Johnson last month that's worth reading. Here are a few excerpts:
On July 10, 2001, the New York Times published an opinion article titled “The Declining Terrorist Threat.” It was written by Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department counterterrorism official, who argued that Americans spent too much time worrying about terrorist attacks that would likely never come. “Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villains in our popular entertainment,” Johnson wrote, “Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism.” [...]
Surveying the security situation around the world, Johnson sought to reassure readers. “The greatest risk is clear: if you are drilling for oil in Colombia — or in nations like Ecuador, Nigeria or Indonesia — you should take appropriate precautions,” he wrote. “Otherwise Americans have little to fear.”
Two months later, the planes of September 11 crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. And Larry Johnson became known, at least in the eyes of some of his former colleagues, as the author of perhaps the most embarrassing op-ed ever published. “The worst,” says one such colleague. “On an issue of national interest, has there ever been a worse prognostication in the history of man?”
Probably not. Yet Johnson’s career as a commentator did not just continue after September 11 — it thrived.
In recent years, Johnson, who says he is a registered Republican, has made a new career of using his CIA credentials to bash the Bush administration. He has become a favorite not only of the left-wing blogosphere — on his website, called No Quarter, he writes entries like “Frog-March the Bastard,” which was a call for the indictment of Karl Rove — but also of the nation’s biggest newspapers and cable news networks. If you’re a reporter looking for a quote criticizing the president about warrantless surveillance, or about the CIA’s “secret prisons,” or about the troubled efforts to reform the spy agency, Johnson is your man. In just the last few months, his observations about intelligence matters have appeared in or on the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, the Sunday Times of London, the Guardian, the Associated Press, Knight-Ridder, National Public Radio, CNN, MSNBC, and more.
Why does Johnson receive such attention? Compared with some of the CIA’s other critics, like Bob Baer, who spent 21 years as a case officer, or Milt Bearden, who spent 30 years at the agency and left as a high-ranking official, Johnson’s credentials are a little thin. He worked there as an analyst, not as a top manager or a covert agent, for all of four years, 1985 to 1989, which means it has been 17 years since he was employed by the CIA. And his specialty wasn’t the Middle East or terrorism; instead, he dealt with issues related to Central America, a subject he’s rarely called on to comment about today. What experience he had with terrorism came not at the CIA but at the State Department, where he worked mostly on transportation-security issues from 1989 to 1993.
So why the demand for Johnson’s opinions? “He’s willing to say very bold things,” says a former intelligence official. “If you say things that are balanced and reasoned and calm, they’re less likely to ask you back than if you throw some bombs.”