Top Administration Prosecutor In Idaho Threatens Prosecution For Those Who “Spread False Information or [Engage] In Inflammatory Statements” Regarding Alleged Rape By Sudanese Teens

U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy J. Olson, was appointed by President Obama in 2010.There is a disturbing threat from an Obama Administration official that the Administration could prosecute those who “spread false information or inflammatory statements about the perpetrators” in an alleged sexual assault by juvenile Muslim migrants in Idaho.  The remarks of  United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson has triggered concerns over the criminalization of speech.

 

The controversy began when two boys from Sudan were arrested on June 17 for allegedly sexually assaulting a 5-year-old special-needs girl in the laundry room of the Fawnbrook Apartments in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Olson then issued the following press release in the state case:

“BOISE – The United States Attorney’s Office extends its support to the five-year-old victim of assault, and her family, at the Fawnbrook Apartments in Twin Falls.

The United States Attorney’s Office further encourages community members in Twin Falls and throughout Idaho to remain calm and supportive, to pay close attention to the facts that have been released by law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney, and to avoid spreading false rumors and inaccuracies.

Grant Loebs is an experienced prosecutor, and Chief Craig Kingsbury is an experienced law enforcement officer. They are moving fairly and thoughtfully in this case. As Mr. Loebs and Chief Kingsbury informed the public, the subjects in this case are juveniles, ages 14, 10 and 7. The criminal justice system, whether at the state or federal level, requires that juveniles be afforded a specific process with significant restrictions on the information that can be released. The fact that the subjects are juveniles in no way lessens the harm to or impact on the victim and her family.”

That part is not particularly notable. Indeed, it is most striking in how little it actually says.  However, Olson then added:

“The spread of false information or inflammatory or threatening statements about the perpetrators or the crime itself reduces public safety and may violate federal law. We have seen time and again that the spread of falsehoods about refugees divides our communities. I urge all citizens and residents to allow Mr. Loebs and Chief Kingsbury and their teams to do their jobs.”

Really?  Spreading inflammatory or false information “may violate federal law.”  Which law would that be and who will not stand in judgment of what is inflammatory and what is false?

This follows the comments by  Attorney General Loretta Lynch after the San Bernardino massacre that she would take “aggressive action” to prosecute “anti-Muslim” rhetoric that “edges toward violence.”

I have previously been highly critical of the trend toward the criminalizing of speech in the West. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).

This concern was heightened during the first term of the Obama Administration over the support of the criminalization of anti-religious speech. Much of this writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt and Pakistan to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech.  We have discussed the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.

Olson is actually a former adjunct professor at George Washington University.  After clerking, she served as a trial attorney and later Deputy Director of the National Church Arson Task Force in the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Olson joined the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Idaho in 1997.

I can understand the concern over false information in such cases that inflame public opinion. Indeed, early reports of Syrian refugees were incorrect.  While this is a state case and would not ordinarily involve the Justice Department, the Obama Administration has been highly proactive in the intervention of such cases.  However, the inclination of both Lynch and Olson to threaten speech is highly disturbing.  Such threats are intended to chill speech and deter people who may say things that the government finds offensive or unacceptable.  The sweeping character of these comments belies the absence of authority to actually criminalize the speech of those commenting on these crimes.  As public officials sworn to uphold our Constitution, such threats are in my view abusive and highly troubling.

What do you think?

80 thoughts on “Top Administration Prosecutor In Idaho Threatens Prosecution For Those Who “Spread False Information or [Engage] In Inflammatory Statements” Regarding Alleged Rape By Sudanese Teens”

  1. Who is a racist?

    One easy, clear indication of virulent racism is someone who writes repeatedly of “feral drooling blacks”. Find someone who does that, and you’ve got yourself a racist.

  2. @KCF

    Lefties love fascism because they have run out of arguments to advance their various victimhood narratives. How can they explain the “benefits” of illegal immigration to America at large, when the only benefit is the Democratic Party which picks up more barefoot, pregnant voters to keep the white liberals in power?

    Gee, unskilled, illegal immigrants directly compete with black unskilled workers. Large numbers of illegal unskilled labor is not justifiable through any school of economic thought. Sooo, the lefties just call the other side racisss! and try to disrupt the rallies.

    Force and intimidation is all that is left to them. It will get worse.

    @autumn

    You’re welcome. There are lots of articles out there about the neo-fascist social justice warriors.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  3. Thanks for posting that Squeeky – had not seen that footage since I don’t do the MSM. Some of the cops seem pretty happy to hit the protesters. The other thought that comes to mind is that Trump has attracted protesters — as well as both Hillary and Bill Clinton. The only time I’m aware of protesters at a Bernie rally are the animal rights protesters which used the event to get some media. Hmm…..

  4. @MarkKernes

    I know you just hate being confronted with anything with which you disagree, sooo just pretend the protesters are naked and maybe you can get through this video.

    🙂

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. From wikipedia:

    “A non-apology apology or nonpology is a statement that has the form of an apology but does not express the expected contrition. It is common in both politics and public relations. It most commonly entails the speaker saying that he or she is sorry not for a behavior, statement or misdeed, but rather is sorry only because a person who has been aggrieved is requesting the apology, expressing a grievance, or is threatening some form of retribution or retaliation.

    An example of a non-apology apology would be saying “I’m sorry that you feel that way” to someone who has been offended by a statement. This apology does not admit that there was anything wrong with the remarks made, and additionally, it may be taken as insinuating that the person taking offense was excessively thin-skinned or irrational in taking offense at the remarks in the first place.”

    Yep, she’s so sorry she got caught being the fascist she is!

    1. Jill defines nonpology: “A non-apology apology or nonpology is a statement that has the form of an apology but does not express the expected contrition.”

      Doesn’t this presume that the apologizing party will fail to express the expected contrition prior to seeing what he’s written? Perhaps public condemnation of such an order should come after seeing what is written.

      And just what is the expected contrition? I didn’t see this as part of the order. Yet another presumption.

  6. @MarkKernes

    Sooo, you are in favoring of prosecuting the social justice hooligans and illegal Mexican thugs who shut down the Trump rallies??? And were attacking people.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. People who commit crimes based on their hatred of the people they’re committing crimes against should be prosecuted, with a “hate crime” enhancement tacked onto the other charges. That said, “shutting down a rally” through a mass of people protesting isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a crime unless shots are fired or punches thrown—and your characterizations of the people you claim did so make it pretty clear where your politics stand.

  7. Bigotry, especially against immigrants, has long been the “American way,” from day one.

    United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (March 26, 1790).

    “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof on application to any common law Court of record in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such Court that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law to support the Constitution of the United States, which Oath or Affirmation such Court shall administer, and the Clerk of such Court shall record such Application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a Citizen of the United States.

    …he has behaved as a man of a good moral character, attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same.”

    1. KCFleming – it appears Mexicans feel the same way about immigrants.

  8. I can see where the government is coming from with this, but absent the bigots actually starting a riot or causing one, the government is (and should be) powerless. On the other hand, the administration can talk as much as it wants about why bigotry, even against immigrants, in NOT the “American way.”

  9. The follow-up statement was pure campus PC. JT mentioned this guy was a teacher @ his university. Even if JT hadn’t given us that background, when he says “unsafe environment” you know from whence he came.

  10. KC, thanks for the update!
    Again, as I have previously stated, we should accept ZERO level of encroachment upon ANY of our rights regardless of personal affect in the short term or long term. Period NONE.
    Challenge the government for their lazy political expediency every time they need to deteriorate our rights.

  11. Concerning threats to government officials (from Wiki)

    “Threatening government officials of the United States is a serious crime under federal law. Threatening the President of the United States is a Class E felony under 18 U.S.C. § 871, punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment, that is investigated by the United States Secret Service. Threatening other officials is a Class C or D felony, usually carrying maximum penalties of 5 or 10 years under 18 U.S.C. § 875, 18 U.S.C. § 876 and other statutes, that is investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When national boundaries are transcended by such a threat, it is considered a terrorist threat.[1] When a threat is made against a judge, it can be considered obstruction of justice.[2] Threatening federal officials’ family members is also a federal crime; in enacting the law, the Committee on the Judiciary stated that “Clearly it is a proper Federal function to respond to terrorists and other criminals who seek to influence the making of Federal policies and interfere with the administration of justice by attacking close relatives of those entrusted with these tasks”

  12. I disagree.
    She was backpedaling due to widespread criticism of a ham-handed fascist threat.

    Instapundit said it best:
    “IDAHO U.S. ATTORNEY WENDY J. OLSON: I’m sorry people misinterpreted my threats about prosecuting people for “inflammatory statements” to mean I was threatening to prosecute people for inflammatory statements.

  13. Fleming

    Thanks for Olson’s new statement.

    However, it is not an apology (which was unnecessary); it is a clarification of her first statement which lacked the reason for her concern – namely the threats to law enforcement.

    1. RosieS – actually you can threaten law enforcement. It is called free speech. Law enforcement is actually held to a higher standard in responding to threats.

  14. I have family in ID, and have been there multiple times. Threatening people who complain about this vicious crime against a child is seriously not going to go over well in Twin Falls.

  15. During this primary season it has become increasingly obvious that the MSM’s corporate agenda has affected their news coverage – everytime HRC got 50 folks together at a school playground they gushed all over her and even framed the shot as if she had a crowd. The majority of Bernie’s rallies were not covered and if they were the meme was “but Bernie can’t win” / “Bernie has no support from people of color” / “Bernie supporters are all young and naive” etc. The MSM did the same thing to Trump – even though he gets lots of media attention they seek to minimize his vast group of supporters as being “racist” / “angry white men” / “low information voters” etc.

    So I thought I got their game plan – little coverage of Bernie and unsubstantiated stories of Berniebros, lots of coverage for Trump albeit linked with how dangerous he is…

    But thanks to Mike and Will’s post yesterday I understand that they are actually lying to their viewers:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLgr3u_a3t4

    I get it – it is their job to protect the status quo and their corporate overlords.

  16. She has (partially) apologized.
    From WaPo, the Volokh Conspiracy:

    “I’m happy to say that today, Olson released a follow-up statement (thanks to the Idaho Statesman for the pointer):

    “Many in the press, public and online bloggers are misinterpreting the statement I issued on Friday, June 24, 2016, in support of the five-year-old victim of an assault in Twin Falls, Idaho, and in support of the law enforcement authorities there who are prosecuting the case. The statement was not intended to and does not threaten to arrest or prosecute anyone for First Amendment protected speech.

    I issued the statement because public officials in Twin Falls have received threats. Certain threatening or harassing communications may violate federal law and will be investigated. I am also concerned that intentionally false and inflammatory rumors are creating an unsafe environment in Twin Falls. In this case, it appears that the threats have resulted from false and inflammatory information spread about this crime, often times by those from outside of the community. I encourage all to be patient while the juvenile justice system works. I also encourage all to support this victim and her family.

    The “political speech of one who intends both to communicate his political message and to annoy his auditor — an auditor who might be his elected representative or [a high-level appointed official] — from whom the speaker seeks redress” is constitutionally protected, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held, even if it’s “inten[ded] to annoy, to abuse, or to harass.” True threats of criminal conduct are punishable; but mere harassing communications to high-level officials are constitutionally protected.

    I thus wish that Olson had limited her follow-up statement to true threats of criminal conduct, and didn’t also suggest the possibility of federal prosecution of an ill-defined range of “harassing communications.” Still, the revised statement strikes me as much better than the original.”

  17. The inimitable Jimmy Dore does a nice short piece on MSM’s “fact checking”

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