Declan McCullagh on Thu, 5 Jul 2001 04:56:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FBI is investigating an alleged "Black Bloc" threat sent to Politech

----- Forwarded message from Declan McCullagh <> -----

From: Declan McCullagh <>
Subject: FC: FBI is investigating an alleged "Black Bloc" threat sent to
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2001 14:53:55 -0400
X-URL: Politech is at

The FBI is investigating an alleged threat against the Cato Institute, the 
world's leading free-market think tank, sent to Politech.

Chuck0 <> sent a message to Politech that I forwarded -- as 
part of an ongoing discussion about privacy and globalization -- on Monday:

The message said: "Cato's little insult of the black bloc means that we'll 
be paying Cato HQ a visit this coming September. People who work in glass 
buildings shouldn't throw the first rhetorical stones."

The Cato Institute was reportedly vandalized in January during the Bush 
inauguration protests. 
( It 
is a prominent building with a huge glass atrium at 10th and Mass. Ave. in 
downtown Washington.

The insult directed at the Black Bloc appeared in an article written by 
Aaron Lukas, an analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy 
Studies. It was published in the National Review and I reposted it to 
Politech with Aaron's permission. Aaron wrote that "vandalism, violence, 
and harassment are acceptable behavior for the Black Blockheads and 
Ruckus-Societarians of the world." (

The Black Bloc is difficult to define, but it has been described as a 
revolutionary anti-capitalist action group, and also as a collective of 
black-masked anarchists who are the "special forces" of the movement. A 
Washington, DC "Anarchist Neighborhood" site 
( that lists Chuck0 as a contact says 
World Bank/IMF protests are scheduled for the city in September.

FBI Agent Dave Dawson in the agency's headquarters is investigating 
Chuck0's message sent to Politech.

Politech is a journalistic enterprise protected by the First Amendment, and 
I generally treat email sent to me in confidence, as a news organization 
would treat a confidential source. When someone sends me mail and indicates 
they would like it redistributed to the list -- typically done by emailing 
both and the list address, as 
Chuck0 did -- the relationship is akin to someone writing a letter to the 
editor of a newspaper and asking that it be published.

While I do not countenance attacks on property, responsible journalists 
don't like to chat with law enforcement about people who talk to them or 
send letters to the editor. It makes their readers less likely to trust 
their independence in the future.

I have not yet spoken with Agent Dawson. If we speak, my response will be:

1. I will not reveal information about Politech subscribers. Politech's 
privacy policy ( says: "We do 
not sell or rent information you provide us. We intend to challenge any 
subpoena or other legal process seeking access to the limited information 
we do store."

2. I will not reveal any other information I may or may not possess (such 
as complete headers of email messages or other correspondence that may or 
may not exist between me and Chuck0 or anyone else on this topic).

3. I will describe in general terms, such as I would at a speaking 
engagement, in an article or in conversation with a colleague, what 
Politech is and how long I have been editing it.

Editor, Politech

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