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There I was, out enjoying some well deserved sunshine on a lovely South Florida Memorial Day weekend, when, against my better judgment, I happened to peek at my Twitter timeline appearing on my ever-present Android mobile phone. Prominently littering my stream were many tweets from one David M. House (aka @axiarch), the semi-famous Boston attention hound from Alabama who masks his accent with a Charles Emerson Winchester affectation.

House was busy thinking he was “outing” my identity on Twitter.  As I will get to in a moment, this happens fairly often on Twitter, but before we go there, let me give you some pertinent background on House, and myself (sort of).

Background on David Maurice House

This is the same opportunistic operator, and self-styled “hacker” who knew Pfc. Bradley Manning for about 15 minutes during  a party in Boston, and upon hearing he was arrested in the Wikileaks saga, cleverly recognized a gravy train when he saw one.

With travel funds from an unspecified source, he made the long journey to visit Manning about 8 or so different times at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. Returning from one such visit, he told any blogger or media outlet that would listen that his dear friend “Brod-lee” (apply  Brahmin accent from Beacon Hill here liberally), who was once such a charming, alert, and intelligent “fellohhh,” was now nearly “catatonic” as the result of relentless and inhuman torture he was receiving at the hands of his Quantico guards, according to his accounts, and those told by Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald, and House’s co-bloggers at Fire Dog Lake.  This was a very interesting professional diagnosis coming from a computer programmer with—according to renowned hacker and co-wikileaks celebrity, Adrian Lamo—only limited computer talents, and of course, no medical degree.

It was House’s (clearly coached) diagnosis that was widely blogged by Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher’s Firedoglake, that was mostly used to catapult the “torture” meme into and around the global Internet and media blatherspaces. And it happened with barely a single serious effort to confirm or validate much of anything that was claimed. Virtually all of the “Manning torture” hysteria was based on the specious, totally undocumented stories of two bloggers, and this unverified, anecdotal medical “evidence” from Dr. David House. It was ludicrous, and remains an indictment of a global media that is content to just take dictation from bloggers, because it’s much cheaper than covering a hot story themselves.

House’s trips to see Manning unceremoniously ended when Manning’s father, Brian Manning, and evidently Manning himself, were sickened by the relentless ways that House was using Manning’s incarceration to promote himself, and I suppose  whatever book and movie deals he felt were waiting for him at the end of his 15 minutes of lame.

You can see this in a PBS Frontline Chat, down around the 2-minute mark:

2:02 Comment From David House
This is David House. You say I was using Bradley for 15 minutes of fame… this is very hurtful and surprising to hear. In earnest, on what basis do you make the remark?

2:03 Brian Manning:
Please clean your own house. Bradley told us. If you do not believe me ask him!

Oh snap! “Ask him.” Well, he may not be able to do that for awhile, but you can be sure we’ll hear more about that soon from Manning himself in some future letter or statement.

As I once predicted after only the most modest investigations of Manning’s reported “torture,” the layers of hyperbole and bullshit surrounding Manning would eventually unravel, and it would embarrass a lot of people.  That’s just now starting with David House. I remain confident that before this is over, he will be exposed as the pretentious operator who jumped on Manning and rode that pony for all the mileage he could get out of it.

Since that bit of opportunistic wanderlust is coming to an end, House has now moved on, probably again with Greenwald’s help (but I can’t say for sure), to file a lawsuit against the government with the assistance of the ACLU. They are protesting the “seizure” of his laptop at an airport last year, when the Government was clearly interested in finding out who helped Manning. I think House forgot to check the security rules at the airport, because they can do almost anything they wish with what you choose to bring through security.

Ok, so much for the background on House. Now a bit about me.

Background on Shoq and his damned “anonymity.”

It should come as no surprise to my Twitter stream that I prefer to tweet anonymously. I have several reasons for choosing to do that. The two most important of them are these:

  1. First and foremost is the security of my aging mother who, thanks to my political nature, has been relentlessly harassed in the past. But it’s also for the sake of my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, partners, friends, and acquaintances who have a constitutional right to privacy, or at least a moral right to not be annoyed or harassed because some guy with a cat avatar likes to piss on Republicans, conservatives, pretentious phonies, or plain old crappy bloggers in cyberspace.
  2. Secondly, way back in the AOL days, CEO Steve Case took a lot of grief of allowing “screen names” and allowing identities to be anonymous. He defended his decision because he believed that without anonymity, people would not be free to speak their mind politically for fear of reprisals from employers, churches, friends, etc. And as digital information sharing in the medical and insurance community was only recently becoming common, he also felt that any such medical issues should be openly discussable without fear of insurance companies, familes, or employers learning of it.

In my view, Steve Case was exactly right on both counts.To this day, I have many close friends who say they wish that they had kept at least one online persona anonymous so they were free to speak politically, or personally, without fear of their words showing up at the office the next morning—or in the NY Times.

I could spend 10,000 words on this topic, or you could Google for literally millions of discussions on it. You can even read what I’ve written about my choice to be anonymous right here on this very blog. To make it easy for you, I’ll even give you this link to that discussion.  Regardless of your own views on the subject of anonymity on the Internet, in the end, we all choose our paths, and mine was to remain anonymous. I don’t really owe anyone an explanation for that. So long as I am not breaking any laws, misleading, nor harming anyone, my identity online should be my business.

I am not alone. Whether we consider the noted bloggers, @Digby56, @Atrios and @mudflats (legends in the progressive space who were once anonymous), Mark Twain, Publius, or the more typical twitter personalities, such as the anonymous Gottalaff, I am hardly the first person to choose anonymity in the entire running history of on or offline social spaces.

If you don’t like my choice to be anonymous, the simple solution is to just not follow me, block me, and ignore me whenever you see me. It’s just that simple. And some do choose that path, and I would never contest their right to do so. But for thousands of others who choose otherwise, they see my “identity” as that which I have tweeted or blogged under quite consistently for many years, and am quite protective of my virtual reputation.

Now, if you don’t think there’s a reputation worth protecting in that history, you either haven’t been online very long, or have virtually no need or desire for people to trust you.  I have both that need and that desire, so I am quite conscientious about how my “Shoq” persona behaves publicly and privately. At times he can be just as thoughtful, kind, helpful, rambunctious, annoying, condescending, insightful, defensive, inspiring, sexy, tiring, insipid, hilarious, tedious, or as just plain dull as almost anyone else on the Internet.  That is who he actually “is” on the Internet. Who he actually is in real life  (IRL) is not really relevant. What he looks like, what he wears, his place of residence, who he works for, whom he falls in love with or sleeps with at night¸ are all absolutely immaterial to that defined persona which so many have come to know in that far reaching identity-space called the Interwebs. It may not always be so, but it is now.

For almost two decades now, I have concealed my actual identity, using a variety of planted names, pseudonyms, account IDs, avatars, etc. Every few months, some new rocket scientist discovers one—-or is directed to one—and they scream “Eureka! I’ve got that damn cat by the tail at last.” When they finally recover from their orgasmic frenzy, they rush off to tell all their friends, pat themselves on the back, and then tweet a frenzy of self-congratulatory reverie, as David House (aka @locklean) can be seen doing here, just today:!/lockean/status/74909129482838016!/lockean/status/73849578465665024

Now, as I have blogged and tweeted, House is not the brightest LED on the panel. So, given a bit of bad information from any one of hundreds of conservatives that had it, he might have spent even a few minutes asking around. He would have discovered that this same bogus account (which, amusingly enough is not even one of the many decoy accounts I’ve created, but just the handiwork of some random conservative dolt who  planted the account himself based on a tip he received from someone else that was wrong earlier) is just one of many names that have been traveling around the #TCOT and #P2 communities on Twitter since mid-2009.

Had Dr. House been a wee bit sharper, and done just the teensiest bit of research, he would have found this tweet way, way back in January of 2011, which was proffered by me when his quasi-boss, Jane Hamsher came up with the exact some bad information, as I had chronicled in this lengthy screed, which continues to haunt her and her staff to this very day.

So Dr. House, like many before him, thinks he has “outed me,” and in so doing, only outed himself as a petty, venal, churlish little man who seeks to  win arguments not with facts or merits, but with intimidation, disparagement, or or whatever other bullying tactics he feels might work.

Unfortunately for the good doctor, he’s about the 50th person to use the same bad information, and as such, must go to sleep tonight with the sad realization that he’s not pulled the mask off the Dread Pirate Roberts after all. But even if he had, the blackguard would never admit it. But as important, none of his many friends would tell you either. In fact, most of his enemies wouldn’t tell you either.

Why wouldn’t people reveal Shoq if they knew?

The short answer is because it looks really bad for them to do that. What would be their motive, their own friends and associates might ask?  Are they trying to intimidate Shoq? To embarrass him? To ruin his career? To drive him from cyberspace? To do the very thing he remains anonymous to prevent?

Are they trying to keep him from speaking his own brand of truth to power?  Are they trying to deflect from whatever questions he asks about them or their activities or positions?  What exactly has this Shoq done but offer his opinions online, as millions of others do every day? Why would they be stupid enough to risk violating someone’s trust by exposing his personal information, just because someone else was mad at him for an opinion?  Would it be a random act of pettiness, a professional character assassination, or just a blatant act of nastiness that made them feel good?

Whatever their motive, they would need to explain it, and explain it well. They would have to explain to their friends, family, co-workers,and Twitter streams, and do it in such a way that those people would understand the motive, and later be comfortable knowing that the same fate might await their own private and personal information.

No, as Jane Hamsher learned, even threatening to “out” people’s identities is almost always seen as the worst kind of unethical dirty trick, most often performed by Right wing operatives for whom ethics always takes a back seat to strategic objective. But the Right wing lives in a cultural cesspool of such nastiness, and many actually take pride in the unctuous skullduggery

On the left, however, such depraved character demonstrations are not only frowned upon, but often seen as a stake through the heart of one’s own credibility. The people with character, protective of their own reputations, just don’t do it.




I get asked a lot why I persist in relentlessly calling on serious journalists to investigate the outrageous hyperbole and egregiously distorted facts about accused Wikileaks source, Bradley Manning. 

Well, perhaps we now have a good example of why it mattered so much to me. It seems that a famous story about Gitmo torture deaths by journalist, Scott Horton, doubted by some at the time, but which nonetheless won the National Magazine award, is now collapsing under a scrutiny that such a sensational story should have gotten when it first appeared.

Perhaps this fiasco will cause some to look again at the equally dubious Manning exaggerations now going into their 7th month.

Since last December, the Manning story has gone from a single post by Glenn Greenwald, who took ridiculous liberties with facts and his own beliefs to spin a yarn of government malfeasance bordering on conspiracy, torture, and a wanton disregard for established rules of military justice and decency. All without a single shred of proof, or even a credible source, outside of the accused's attorney, and a pretentious hacker named David House, who used 15 minutes of knowing Manning as a pretext for visiting him, then parlaying those visits into international fame by spewing psycho babble about Manning looking "catatonic" to his professional hacker's eye.

But as Greenwald often seems to do with his stories, that story had planted a seed that would then grow in the minds and blogs of the disaffected left, and particularly an angry civil liberties lobby that has welcomed any story of alleged abuse of power or other wrongdoing that could be used to shame, embarrass or inconvenience the Obama administration. 

Within weeks, the story was being aggressively shipped from, and pimped by Jane Hamsher's, Truthout, and countless other progressive and wikileaks-obsessed news sites and bloggers, all thrilled to have another new outrage that they could use to drive traffic to their web sites.

Inevitably, mainstream news outlets picked up the buzz, and without even a phone call's worth of effort to confirm a single fact or allegation, they repeated Greenwald's views and conclusions almost verbatim, and ad nauseam.

Soon enough, driven by Greenwald's grotesquely inflated reputation as a reputed expert on matters of constitutional law and torture (he wrote a book), the stories were being purportedly "investigated" by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations. Of course, in every case, the only reason these organizations were looking into it at all, were, by their own admission, because of "reports" of abuse by none other than Glenn Greenwald himself (citing the lawyer, himself, or self described torture experts from Firedoglake). Such a small world.

Never one to let ethics dampen his enthusiasm for promoting a good story, Greenwald would make a huge noise every time one of these organizations would appear to confirm his conclusions that Manning was being tortured, rarely if ever hinting to his readers that their interest was generated by Greenwald himself.

Since then, I have continually tried to use my Twitter presence and blog to alert journalists and the media to the many holes, half-truths, and outright distortions in the Greenwald and Jane Hamsher narratives about the Manning story.

Detail: About Dr. Jeff Kaye, Firedoglake, and Pfc. Bradley Manning

More of my posts:

Alas,because of Greenwald's weird popularity, driven by the blogosphere's increasingly sloppy criteria for what a "journalist"is (Greenwald doesn't actually call himself one, but dresses in the trappings of one with nearly every word he writes), and probably his legendary tenacity for attacking and bullying critics, it was only a very few columnists like Joy Ann Reid who took my bait and looked deeper:

Finally, Someone Else Has Questions for Bradley Manning & David House

Joy-Ann has done a lot more work since, and tells me she has some revelations coming on this case. I am eagerly awaiting them.

In the meantime, I urge every thinking person to consider this embarrassing Scott Horton fail, and realize just how deeply susceptible we have all become to these sensational stories that can gain swift traction on the Internet, but which are rarely vetted by it.

Instead, the mainstream media diligently takes dictation, happy to echo the totally free content and accrued site visitations which they receive as a result of this thin and dubious reporting from the aggressive self-promoters like Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher.

I realize that liberals like to feel a kinship with victims of injustice. But we have more than enough real ones to worry about, without outrageous exaggerations, ginned-up by people always on the lookout for something which might be used to embarrass the Obama administration.

I will now head off to find some lunch, and await Greenwald's loyal minions (or Glenn himself as sock puppet), who will comment below that another "Obama cultist" has smeared their Dear Leader again.







As some know, I have strenuous disagreements with Glenn Greenwald. But they are usually less on the issues than on tactics. While I think his criticism of executive overreach are consistent, they are also overblown and nearly hysterical at times. And his tendency to viciously attack and berate his critics in attempts to intimidate them are melodramatic, churlish, and too often excused by his fanboys and girls.

And of course, his many exaggerated claims about Bradley Manning's treatment (without immediately disclosing that he had a book coming out with a major chapter on such mistreatments) was a blow to some of his credibility in my eyes.

I feel that Greenwald appeals to a global civil libertarian lobby that, while quite vocal and often strident, is largely impotent and entirely ineffective. I'd like to see leaders emerge on the left who can be much less divisive to the left. People who can persuade by sheer force of evidence and moral argument, than by hyperventilating so often that outrage fatigue is the net effect on many.  Such people would be able to fight for our rights without helping to enable and empower the Republicans and Corporatists who are so keenly bent on making our lives and liberties that much worse.

Even so, I completely agree with Dave von Ebers here:

So, while I disagree with him at times, I nonetheless respect him; and no matter what any of us thinks of Mr. Greenwald’s substantive positions on the issues, we have to be alarmed by this, as reported on the Tech Herald website today:

This thugocratic effort to discredit or intimidate Greenwald, assuming it's all true as written by the Tech Herald, is a throwback to some of our darkest days when politicians and industrialists (and even some Unions) often acted with impunity against domestic enemies. It cannot be acceptable, even as a plan that is never executed. (There doesn't seem to be any evidence that any of what the Tech Herald exposed was actually implemented, but given what we know from Wendell Potter about Cigna's efforts against Michael Moore, I am inclined to believe some of them were  implemented—or at least close to being implemented.)

I am weary of people on the left and the right who think that all issues and disagreements are one-dimensional affairs, when our problems are so multi-dimensional. Like Dave, I can strongly disagree with Greenwald's manner and tactics on parts of an issue, while respecting his views and passions on others parts that issue. I think we'd all make more progress if others were more willing to make concessions to situational pluralism;  openly, honestly, and without hesitation.

That said, and without excusing these planned corporate gangsta tactics in any way, I also think this can serve as a reminder to Glenn, his fans, and everyone else, that bullying and other forms of intimidation are never acceptable, no matter who unleashes them on whom.

Marcy Wheeler and Digby have more