Criminal or Comical? Investigation Finds An Antifa Supporter Behind Hoaxes Triggering The Extreme Right

The_ScreamThe Washington Post recently made an interesting find when it sought the person responsible for recent extreme right actions like the appearance of heavily armed citizens at Gettysburg on Independence Day.  Two members of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., demanded that government investigate and identify who was behind the Gettysburg hoax and similar false claims in nine other cities this summer. While there has been evidence of extreme right groups fueling violence in the recent protest, the Post found instead Adam Rahuba, a part-time food-delivery driver and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Rahuba said he supports the ant-fascist movement Antifa, a loosely organized group that I have criticized in the past for its anti-free speech agenda. Rahuba, 38, was trying to make chumps out of the far right but some have suggested possible criminal liability for the hoaxes.

Rahuba did not just make chumps out of the far right. The mainstream media took his fake postings hook, line, and sinker as a far-right call to arms.  He would spread rumors under false identities about efforts to confiscate guns or tear down statues to trigger the media and the far right.  Notably, many of those tweets and messages would reference Antifa as was the case with his hoax that there would be flag burnings at Gettysburg.

When the Post caught up with Rahuba at a friend’s apartment in Harmony Township, Pa., he admitted his culpability and said that he is a democratic socialist who supports Bernie Sanders. He also said that he supports Antifa but is not part of an organized group (“I am antifa. But I think you’re antifa as well . . . as is everybody with common sense. But as a part of an organized group? Absolutely not.”).

He is in many ways a homegrown version of the Russian trolling operation: creating fake identities to try to get people to tear each other apart.  Throughout his life, he has lacked the courage to speak under his own name or to take responsibility for his actions.  He has thrilled at the notion of causing fights and confrontations, including one that may have resulted in a gun shot wound.

But is it a crime?

Under federal law, the most serious penalties for hoaxes are found in bomb threat cases brought under 18 U.S.C. § 1038.

A recent case could shed light on this question. New York’s intermediate appellate court ruled in People v. Burwell that some hoax laws violate the First Amendment.  The case (which was discussed recently by Eugene Volokh) concerns New York Penal Law § 240.50(1), that defines the crime of “falsely reporting an incident in the third degree” as “knowing the information reported, conveyed or circulated to be false or baseless, … initiat[ing] or circulat[ing] a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence … of a crime … under circumstances in which it is not unlikely that public alarm or inconvenience will result.”

That language would seem to encompass the type of false reports created by Rahuba.  However, the Court found that it violated the First Amendment (including a reference to the ruling in United States v. Alvarez on stolen valor claims that we previously discussed).

[I]nasmuch as this statute criminalizes a certain type of speech, namely false speech, the restrictions on speech are content-based, rather than time, place or manner limitations…. Absent certain historical categories which do not apply here (see United States v. Alvarez [2012]), even false speech is considered protected and, in that context, content-based restrictions are subject to “the most exacting scrutiny.” Under this exacting, or strict, scrutiny standard, governmental regulation of speech “is enforceable only if it is the least restrictive means for serving a compelling government interest.” “The First Amendment requires that the [g]overnment’s chosen restriction on the speech at issue be actually necessary to achieve its interest. There must be a direct causal link between the restriction imposed and the injury to be prevented.”

We have no trouble finding that Penal Law § 240.50(1) is designed to address at least two compelling governmental interests—preventing public alarm and the waste of public resources that may result from police investigations predicated on false reports. However, when examining whether the statute uses the least restrictive means for serving those purposes, as applied to defendant, we reach the conclusion that the statute is impermissibly broad. More particularly, neither general concern nor the Twitter storm that ensued following defendant posting the false tweets are the type of “public alarm or inconvenience” that permits defendant’s tweets to escape protection under the First Amendment, and, therefore, the speech at issue here may not be criminalized.

What is interesting however is the Court noted that few people actually retweeted or spread the false rumor. That is not the case with Rahuba:

To that end, although it was “not unlikely” that defendant’s false tweets about a racial assault at a state university would cause public alarm (Penal Law § 240.50[1]), what level of public alarm rises to the level of criminal liability? Indeed, United States v. Alvarez [Breyer, J., concurring] informs us that criminalizing false speech requires either proof of specific harm to identifiable victims or a great likelihood of harm.

Certainly, general concern by those reading defendant’s tweets does not rise to that level, nor does the proof adduced at trial, which established that defendant’s tweets were “retweeted” a significant number of times. In fact, because these “retweets” led to nothing more than a charged online discussion about whether a racially motivated assault did in fact occur, which falls far short of meeting the standard set forth in Alvarez [Breyer, J., concurring], we reach the inescapable conclusion that Penal Law § 240.50(1), as applied to defendant’s conduct, is unconstitutional.

Indeed, Penal Law § 240.50(1) is a “[b]lunt [t]ool for [c]ombating [f]alse [s]peech” and its “alarming breadth” is especially on display with respect to social media. Notably, “[t]he remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true” (Alvarez) and “social media platforms are information-disseminating fora. By the very nature of social media, falsehoods can quickly and effectively be countered by truth, making the criminalizing of false speech on social media not ‘actually necessary’ to prevent alarm and inconvenience.” This could not be more apparent here, where defendant’s false tweets were largely debunked through counter speech; thus, criminalizing her speech by way of Penal Law § 240.50(1) was not actually necessary to prevent public alarm and inconvenience. {Overbroad enforcement of speech restrictions may also result in a chilling effect as to political speech where opinion and facts often collide and “those who are unpopular may fear that the government will use that weapon selectively” against them.} …

Rahuba was more successful with the help of the mainstream media.  However, as probably will not come as much surprise to many on this blog, I still believe that the free speech values should predominate.  In terms of flag burning, such acts are themselves protected speech.

In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is considered one of the core cases defining free speech in the United States. Brennan was joined by Marshall, Blackmun, Scalia, and Kennedy (Kennedy wrote a concurrence). I agree with the decision as did conservatives like Scalia. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a powerful concurrence where he famously stated:

Justice Kennedy
Justice Kennedy

“For we are presented with a clear and simple statute to be judged against a pure command of the Constitution. The outcome can be laid at no door but ours. The hard fact is that sometimes we must make decisions we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result. And so great is our commitment to the process that, except in the rare case, we do not pause to express distaste for the result, perhaps for fear of undermining a valued principle that dictates the decision. This is one of those rare cases.

Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.”

To the extent that Rahuba was calling (falsely) for flag burning, it should be protected to the same degree as calling for actual flag burning.  Any hoaxes calling for criminal acts of destruction could be come closer to these criminal laws. In the Burwell case, the court only found the law was unconstitutional “as applied.”  While Rahuba’s hoaxes did cause confrontations with the police and cost resources to address, it probably still fell short of the line for a criminal charge absent additional examples.  He is connected to an incident three years ago when an armed man who went to Gettysburg in response to a purported flag burning and accidentally shot himself in the leg with a revolver.  Rahuba thought that that was enormously funny, stating “There’s some comedic value to that happening.”

Despite the injury, the discharge of the gun was due to the negligence of that individual.

He has called for criminal conduct like the desecration of confederate cemeteries. If people responded to the call, this might again be a closer issue.

Of course, this still leaves Rahuba as a thoroughly reprehensible person who enjoys causing fights and divisions. He did so after 9/11.  Despite thousands of dead victims and tens of thousands of grieving family members, Rahuba taunted us all from behind his false identities.  He created a website called declaring “Those people deserved what they got, mostly because people from NY are pompous jerks.”

My view therefore is that Rahuba is neither a comical nor criminal figure.  He is the embodiment of some of the worst aspects of our society, someone who derives joy from watching others harmed or pushed into fights.  It is a sad existence for anyone but he found easy prey in the media on and on the Internet.

46 thoughts on “Criminal or Comical? Investigation Finds An Antifa Supporter Behind Hoaxes Triggering The Extreme Right”

  1. I’ve yet to see anything from the NYT that is fit to print or worth reading.

  2. Most of them are easily recognized by illiteracy, and lack of basic knowledge on the subject behing discussed,

  3. I understand how this hoax made chumps out of the Far Right and the Mainstream Media (doesn’t take much for the latter when they seem to be incapable of doing any research and have abandoned any pretense of journalistic integrity), but didn’t it also make chumps out of the two members of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.? I’d like to believe that their intentions were good, but I can no longer pretend. The current Congress is far from collegial. It is tribalist to a fault, and there simply had to be some ulterior motive. I’m guessing they wanted desperately for someone “far right” to be to blame (RE: PJ Media or anyone with right leanings who they can paint and the media will label as “dangerous,” “radical,” and “far right”). Moreover, if it made “chumps” out of the far right, which is often just a catch-all for anyone who has any right leanings, it would seem to be only fair that it made chumps of the far left as well, who have made it so (aided by their sycophants in the MSM of course).

    Welcome to Animal Farm. All are welcome to apply, but it should be noted, if applicants have any record with the thought police, they will be cancelled immediately because all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    1. I’m confused as to what your point is in referring people to another JT post about his website.

  4. American Thinker

    July 18, 2020
    Democrats Are Forcing a Civil War
    By William L. Gensert

    Through Antifa and BLM, the Democrats are preparing for war. The riots, looting, arson, and public beatings taking place every day are merely practice for the coming revolutionary conflagration. They are war-gaming to see how best to seize control of the streets and intimidate citizens into ceding their right to vote for the candidate they support.

    From the beginning, they forced the police to stand down. The constant drumbeat for defunding the police has sent a message to LEOs everywhere: “Don’t interfere” when the insurrection goes hot.

    Knowing that the police can be constrained into allowing anarchy to reign, they then went after the National Guard and regular army, saying it would be un-American to deploy troops to quell the violence and restore law and order against “mostly peaceful” protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.

    They appear to be having great success in controlling the narrative, but if they think this nation is going down without a fight, they have another “think” coming.

    Americans believe that one can never be too rich, too thin, or too well armed. And we are, indeed, well armed, with citizens who are beginning to see the game that is being played. Many estimate that between 300 million and 700 million firearms are in the hands of the public.

    If only 10% of those guns are brought to bear, it would mean a minimum of 30 million weapons deployed against Antifa and BLM. No one wants to see bloodshed, especially gun-owners, who for the most part want to be left alone to protect their families, homes, places of worship, and places of employment.

    Yet people are not going to stand by and watch America become another “socialist paradise.” Americans are going to fight back — this should worry the left, as every hunter is something of a sniper.

    Leftists are pushing to see how far they can go before the people confront them. The push for “change only they can believe in” is going to force this country in a series of bloody battles the left cannot win.

    Before the economy-killing and unnecessary lockdowns, and the rioting, I would have said the civil war would happen after the election, no matter who won. Yet, those on the left are not going to allow that grace.

    Everything they are doing speaks to a political movement preparing to overthrow a nation. They think this country is owed to them and they are determined to take it.

    Having sidelined or neutered the National Guard and police, the facts on the ground today are Antifa and BLM rioting in most cases unopposed. They will run rampant in the days and weeks preceding the election unless citizens stand up to them. It is early, but it seems that more and more people have had enough of their terror tactics.

    As far as the election is concerned, the police probably will be ordered to stand down, and the National Guard, if they are out at all, will be unarmed. Democrats think voter intimidation will be easy. Why not use rioting, chaos, and anarchy to shut down the polls in areas suspected of supporting the president? Remember the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia in 2008 — something like that, but more so.

    Yet regular Americans vastly outnumber the forces of the left — they can terrorize the populace into submission only if normal people allow them to.

    Part of their plan is to use the media to push the BLM message and social media to destroy anyone who does not go along. The “fake history” 1619 Project, claims of systemic racism, the national monument defacements, the toppling of statues with no real coherence as to the reasons why — are all done to rewrite the history and force-sell the notion that all they do is justified because we are to blame.

    It is all propaganda to convince citizens that they must acquiesce to the violence or be labeled a racist and be canceled, their jobs gone, and their lives ruined. People are not even allowed to remain silent because “silence is violence.” If they can get people to apologize for their privilege, all the better.

    It is all about getting people to be active participants in their machinations to install the “king of aphasia,” Joe Biden, as the new president.

    Once Americans accept their culpability, the left can begin the process of healing by abrogating the constitution on which our republic is based. The violence they will use to make this so will be a “healing violence.” After all, one cannot make a revolution omelet without breaking some heads.

    They think they can convince Americans to forgo the fight and accept what they will force upon us. We must not allow them to succeed. They must be confronted when they come for our country. We must fight.

    To date, the vast majority of Americans do not support the premise that America is unfair and must be changed. In response, the Democrats, in conjunction with Antifa, the party’s paramilitary arm; BLM, the ideological arm of the party; and the media, its propaganda arm, are planning outright rebellion. What we are witnessing now from the Democrats is insurrection. It is a revolution that will end in bloody civil war. The left could not win total control of the nation at the ballot box, so leftists intend to take it.

    They have miscalculated; what we are about to see in the streets of this country is going to make the violence and destruction of the riots seem mild by comparison.

    But in the end, they lose, and we win…

  5. Getting the extreme-right to believe anything these days is easy, but not looking up facts is a belief system that they live by, the alternative reality lives on. Just look at the “Bill Barr Summary” opinions that Turley gives out almost daily.

    1. That’s an interesting thing to say at a time when thousands of people on the left have been protesting and supporting BLM about a problem that doesn’t even exist. Talk about your alternative realities and hiding from the facts. LOL.

  6. Hiding under false names? That describes 99% of those who respond on this blog. They’re afraid to use their own name because they fear that somebody will get them. As for this guy stirring up “the far right,” just what is the “far right” anyway? It’s actually a term leftists use for patriotic Americans.

  7. Carole – Andy Ngo, who has been following the Portland riots, had a good statement on that. It is easier to arrest people if you use unmarked cars. Your local PD uses them, too.

    1. What I don’t understand is why there isn’t better intelligence on the people promoting violence and destruction. Identify them and drag them out of bed the next day at noon and pack them away for arraignment and trial. Maybe 50 thugs handled that way in Portland would make a difference.

      The saying is that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

      Mayor Wheeler of Portland is beginning to look like a ham sandwich.

      1. Young – Mayor Wheeler is a ham, all we need are two pieces of stale bread and we can indict him. He might have had a come to Jesus moment last night. The rioters broke into and burned the Police Union building. It will be interesting to see what he says about that.

        1. I saw that about the police union building. That was actually declared a riot. These maniacs need to be funneled into Wheeler’s neighborhood and left room to destroy. Probably the county prosecutor and a couple of judges should have them as new neighbors too. They have the power to stop this. What they lack is incentive. The rioters do bring incentive.

          1. Young – the purpose of the rioters is to overthrow the federal government. I think the mayor is antifa adjacent.

              1. Young – you deserve the people you vote for. Portland voted for him, they deserve him.

                1. I wonder now if they did vote for him. Do you imagine that a mob that would attack a federal building and federal officers would scruple at voter fraud? This needs to be investigated.

                  1. Voter fraud could explain why Wheeler is so nice to Antifa. That makes more sense than the alternative which is that he seems plain nuts.

  8. It comes under the ‘Freedoms with Responsibilities’ section of the sacred papers: yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre, joking about bombs on planes in an airport or on a plane, etc. This mutt was pouring gas on a fire. The big question is, when the idiots armed to the teeth show up for a confrontation; is that the same thing? What’s the difference between this guy’s hoax bringing dozens of idiots armed to the teeth and ‘loaded for bear’ to a specific place and similar idiots occupying the Michigan capital building, armed to the teeth. This Rahuba fellow is performing a very necessary service, focusing on the perversity of the interpretations of rights and freedoms. Arrest the thugs in Michigan. Arrest the idiots at Gettysburg. Arrest Rahuba.

    1. How interesting that Isaac calls the anti-shutdown protestors in Michigan “thugs.” Did they destroy property, graffiti everything in sight, beat up people, etc.? Oh, I forgot, those actions are done by “peaceful protestors.” My what an upside-down world Isaac lives in…

  9. The heart of what Snyder is saying is right, but he is barking up the wrong tree in some ways. We are watching theater happening behind a scrim. Beware the jabberwocky.

    “The “politics of eternity,” as Snyder terms it, is an authoritarian narrative that convinces people they are powerless to take on a timeless threat. “Eternity politicians manufacture crisis and manipulate the resultant emotion,” writes Snyder, but ordinary people invite that persuasion, too.

    Snyder: In Germany, one of the ways by which National Socialism was able to rise was its clearing out of the facts of the moment in favor of one big story that made sense of everything. That story was more tempting to many Germans during wartime chaos. What happened was that people shifted from a pluralistic media landscape to a monoculture with a big lie.”

    That monoculture can be of our choosing, too. Instead of examining a variety of perspectives, we snuggle into one that is comfortable. It doesn’t help that truth is scattered about–a little bit here, a little bit there.

    “Authoritarians stoke fear by dismantling factuality, or trust in truth. Totalitarian control over the public’s sources of information makes that assault on facts easier. The politics of eternity are a more potent threat to Russia and the U.S. with the internet.

    Snyder: In my book, I wanted to show how an old idea in intelligence—turn the enemy against himself—had been made much easier by a new technology. There’s a lot of great research on how the internet distracts people. What Russian information agents have done is treat the internet like the great big psychological vulnerability that it is. Many people think that they are in control of their screen time, when in fact they are facing lots of people with lots of clever ideas about how to break them down. The current trend of anti-factuality would be very hard to move forward without this technology that works at the speed of emotion rather than the speed of cognition.”

    It ain’t just Russia, and they might be a red herring.

  10. What is your take on the counter-protestors in NYC who are using black paint to block our a portion of the yellow BLM street art that says “DEFUND THE POLICE”?

    One lady was blocking out enough so that it would say “REFUND THE POLICE”. She was arrested. Would this be a free speech violation by the police?

  11. “The Washington Post recently made an interesting find when it sought the person responsible for recent extreme right actions like the appearance of heavily armed citizens at Gettysburg on Independence Day. Two members of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., demanded that government investigate and identify who was behind the Gettysburg hoax and similar false claims in nine other cities this summer. While there has been evidence of extreme right groups fueling violence in the recent protest, the Post found instead Adam Rahuba, a part-time as a food-delivery driver and a DJ who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders. Rahuba said he supports the ant-fascist movement Antifa, a loosely organized group that I have criticizedin the past for its anti-free speech agenda. Rahuba, 38, was trying to make chumps out of the far right but some has raised that questions over his possible criminal liability for the hoaxes.”

    Let me guess: the Washington Post‘s editorial columnists, not having a boogaloo operation to talk about, but an antifa operation, instead, switched over to the “Nothing to see here, folks… move along, folks” mode they made infamous when video revealed Nathan Phillips moved to invade young Nick Sandmann’s personal space, not vice versa. Breach of the peace isn’t an offense when the Left does it, if you trust the press. Increasing numbers of people have decided not to trust the press, for just that reason.

    I’m surprised that the Washington Post‘s news desk was as forthcoming as they were this time. In poor Nick Sandmann’s case, the Washington Post’s character assassination machinery was out in full panoply. suppressio veri and <suggestio falsi were shamelessly employed to the extent that Sandmann and other students from Covington Catholic High were unjustly suspended from school.

    Adam Rahuba thought he could count on that sort of knee-jerk press reaction, once he stirred the pot at Gettysburg, and he nearly succeeded. The Washington Post‘s reporters on this case deserve credit for their probity and professionalism. I suppose multi-million dollar lawsuits have had an educational effect.

  12. This sounds like it came from The Onion.

    Disharmony being sown from Harmony, PA…

  13. I just do not know on this one. How can you trust anything you hear anymore. Here on the west coast we are told that unmarked cars with men in soldiers outfits are randomly stopping and arresting people. So is this a hoax or is it real? If there is a car randomly stopping do this how is it that people know where the car is and film it. Makes no sense. This again is another example of the left accusing the right of doing something their actually doing. For years there was the Right Wing Conspiracy that actually began with Hillary when she was first lady. She went on national television and talked about a vast right wing conspiracy that is out there to destroy her husband. Who did this hoax a democratic. Probably the most glaring one is Trump and Russia but who really colluded with Russia the Democrats. I just which we had an honest media who would collectively report this. These lies and hoaxes will forever be believed. So there is real damage.

    1. You do realize that the police often use unmarked cars, right? Right? I mean, you get that don’t you? The ‘soldiers’ you are describing have POLICE written on their uniforms. There are lots of videos of this happening in Portland, for example.

      But people keep talking about ‘unmarked’ vehicles as if that’s important.

      And the stops aren’t random. They are getting people they have identified for past criminal behavior or are getting those currently engaged in it. Again, that’s what the police do all the time.

      As far as videoing, if you are running around with a mob committing crimes, the police aren’t coming there ‘randomly’, they are coming because of the crime and others are filming it and then pretending that the whole thing is so shocking.

      1. Lorenzo, adding to your last point, their videos are usually totally out of context, so the crimes that brought the unmarked cars are conveniently edited out.

  14. Is it free speech to burp? To artFay? To use piglatin for cusswords? What is an artFay?
    An itShay?
    If you don’t know then read the new York times for all the news that’s fit to print.

Leave a Reply