Members of six victims’ families of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook massacre event in addition to FBI agent Bill Aldenberg have filed a defamation lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court naming radio host Alex Jones and well-known Sandy Hook Truth activist Wolfgang Halbig as defendants. The suit seeks damages “in excess of $15,000.”
The lawsuit accuses Jones, a staunch gun rights advocate who operates Infowars, a website that routinely propagates conspiracies, of “a years-long campaign of abusive and outrageous false statements.”
“While the nation recoiled at the terrible reality of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Alex Jones saw an opportunity,” the families’ attorney Josh Koskoff said. “He went on a sustained attack that has lasted for years, accusing shattered family members of being actors, stating as fact that the shooting itself was a hoax and inciting others to act on these malicious lies.”
The plaintiffs are the parents of four children killed at Sandy Hook — Jacqueline and Mark Barden, parents of Daniel; Nicole and Ian Hockley, parents of Dylan; Francine and David Wheeler, parents of Ben; and Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman, parents of Avielle — as well as Donna Soto, Carlee Soto-Parisi, Carlos Soto and Jillian Soto, the mother and siblings of first-grade teacher Victoria Leigh Soto; and Erica Lafferty-Garbatini, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung. FBI agent Bill Aldenberg is also a plaintiff.
“As a result of Jones’ campaign,” the families and Aldenberg said they have been “forced to endure malicious and cruel abuse at the hands of ruthless unscrupulous people.”
Their lawsuit also names Wolfgang Halbig, a Florida man who founded the now-defunct website SandyHookJustice, his associate Cory Sklanka and Infowars itself.
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, cites Jones’ public assertions, including one from Sept. 25, 2014, in which he said video from the day of the shooting showed that the same children were cycled in and out of the school and that no emergency helicopters were sent to the school, and were “clearly staged.”
The lawsuit quotes Jones as saying on Jan. 13, 2015, “Yeah, so, Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured.”
The plaintiffs called such statements, among others, “outrageous, deeply painful and defamatory.”
Connecticut allows for libel and defamation actions to be brought “within two years of the date of the act complained of.” The lawsuit cites statements made by Jones in 2014 and 2015, suggesting the suit may in fact be dead on arrival. It will nevertheless generate substantial news coverage for the parties bringing the action.
Jones and his broadcast enterprises were named as defendants in another lawsuit filed by two other sets of Sandy Hook parents last month in Texas.
Several corporate news media recognized the “World Press Freedom Day” on May 3 with promotional messages in the pages of their respective publications and via social media.
The occasion is in fact sponsored by the United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a vital arm of the UN that has overseen a multitude of social engineering projects since its founding in 1948 by individuals including eugenicist Julian Huxley.
In 2018, UNESCO will lead the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day. The main event, jointly organized by UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Ghana, will take place in Accra, Ghana on 2 – 3 May. This year’s global theme is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’, and will cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public. The Day will also examine contemporary challenges of ensuring press freedom online. (Emphases retained)
"Without press freedom there is no democracy" – @mariaressa
Journalists are society's eyes. Let's defend #PressFreedom to avoid going blind!
In celebration of UNESCO’s observation the New York Times, which has had a historic information-sharing and censorial relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency instructs its audience on examples of the vaunted Western “free press.”
The fact that such entities are promoting “Press Freedom” is especially noteworthy in the wake of the recent court decision that legally codifies the CIA practice of selectively disclosing select information to journalists and news outlets of its choosing.
The event is also recognized by US Senator Diane Feinstein, who encourages her followers to “fight fake news” by reading quality journalism. In 2013 Feinstein proposed legislation that would effectively define “journalism” as being only something practiced by individuals drawing a salary, thus eliminating a broad array of independent, citizen journalists from the information gathering, sharing, and analyzing equation.
A free press is essential to speaking truth to power, to hold governments accountable for corruption and abuse. Our democracy wouldn’t exist without journalists free to do their work. Fight fake news this #WorldPressFreedomDay by reading quality journalism.
Joshua Benton, the Director of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation-funded Journalism Lab disagreed with some views a commenter left on the organization’s blog, so he did a bit of research, found out who the commenter was, and on May 4 decided to reveal the person’s name and identity in a series of Tweets. The “doxxing,” or “outing” of the commenter has resulted in an ongoing investigation by her academic employer.
Fransesca Viola is an attorney and professor of journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. She set up a Disqus account called “truthseeker” using her Temple email address. The Disqus service allows users to freely comment across a range of websites.
The Nieman Lab’s director identified Viola by seeing the email address attached to her Disqus account. “Ms. Viola voluntarily logged into a commenting service and left a comment on our site using her Temple email address,” Benton said. “All I did was click one link to see all the other comments she had posted using her Temple email address.”
But instead of seeking to personally contact Viola and discuss her views via email, Benton used his personal Twitter account to publicly ridicule several of the comments she left at the Niemen Lab and other sites under her nom de plume. It’s almost beyond question that Benton did this with the intent to create tension between Viola, her academic employer, and the pious liberal sect that require strict adherence to its doctrinal requisites at most every US university.
As of this writing the identity disclosure and attack remain posted on Benton’s Twitter feed and have been archived here.
I think that this attitude — permanently rejecting a news source because it accurately reports something you don't like — is exactly what you want in a journalism professor, yes? Also, spell our name right, Francesca Viola of Temple University https://t.co/VBssWkSvlYpic.twitter.com/aNXjY36IP0
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Viola rightly took issue with Benton and the Nieman Foundation’s decision to publicly identify her. “I dispute the incorrect attributions and specious allegations posted by Joshua Benton on his Twitter feed at Harvard’s Nieman journalism think tank,” she wrote.
I am appalled by his improper ‘doxxing’ and by his flagrant violation of the Twitter, Disqus, Nieman and Harvard’s terms of service, the apparent violation of the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act — as well as the ethical and legal standards of journalism. I consider this a personal defamatory attack as well as an attempt to silence academic freedom and people everywhere. Most importantly, as an investigation is now underway, I would ask the community not to assume I am the author of some or all of those comments.
Benton replied in a statement that “no one was doxxed.” This is laughable considering it’s uttered from a man whose professional career is devoted to understanding “online journalism.” For example, here’s the Harvard journalism expert commenting on the industry in 2012.
While none of Viola’s personal information was released, Benton’s actions fit within the very essence of “doxxing,” which involves successful attempts “to tie an anonymous online profile to the true identity of the person behind it and then publicly reveal that person’s real name.”
Viola established her “truthseeker” identity to post comments anonymously and with the belief that webmasters would respect her privacy. Benton exposed her, and the content of his “Tweets” suggest that he did so with great relish.
“I was shocked to see that these comments…were coming from a journalism professor, posting with her Temple email address,” Benton declared in a missive to Temple’s student newspaper.
Everyone is entitled to their political opinions, but I think students and staff should be able to know when someone charged with teaching young people journalism holds these sorts of fringe and debunked views.
In other words, Benton is seeking to convince Viola’s colleagues and students that she is a “conspiracy theorist.” The Harvard staffer’s bio indicates that “he has reported from 10 foreign countries,” suggesting a possible intelligence background.
While it’s improbable that even a reporter with numerous accolades will move in a straight line from the Dallas Morning News to Harvard, Benton has no doubt executed the Agency’s 1035-960 technique against Viola with aplomb.
“Professor Viola has admitted to writing some but not all of these posts and specifically denies writing the post that is derogatory of Muslim protesters, a comment we find particularly abhorrent,” Boardman remarked in a public statement. “We are troubled by the content of some of the other cited posts but acknowledge that those in the Temple community are entitled to exercise free speech within constitutional parameters.”
Boardman refers to an anti-Muslim comment from “truthseeker” below, which may very well make the author a prime candidate for an officer’s spot in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Recognizing the violation of Viola’s privacy, on May 9 Benton issued an apology of sorts via Twitter for his failure to “adhere to rigorous reporting standards.”
Yet Benton’s actions overall really have nothing to do with journalism or adhering to any set of standards. The Harvard journalism expert saw red when he encountered political views that he didn’t agree with and turned to what are effectively methods of online intimidation (“bullying”) by threatening the individual’s livelihood.
The fear of being called a “conspiracy theorist” or the equivalent has, after all, been the main technique used to keep academics, journalists, and other salaried intellectuals in line for the past half-century.
Editor’s Note: As of this writing North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell remains suspended with pay pending an internal investigation centering on his social media activity. Harrell’s case is similar to that of James Tracy in that his employer has taken issue with the policeman’s extracurricular commentary on the American police state and mass casualty events principally because of its content.
Now Florida public employers within the purview of the Southern District of Florida may very well be using the TracyvFAU decision as precedent to discipline workers based on speech-related “thought crime” offenses. There is no dispute that such employers and their legal advisors are aware of the court’s decision, and that the State of Florida fought vigorously to establish such a legal precedent. Please see our previous discussion of Officer Harrell’s situation here.
A South Florida cop suspended for comments he made on his personal Facebook page explains his views in detail.
The media had a field day mocking North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell last month for suggesting on his personal Facebook page that the victims of the Parkland school shooting were “paid actors.”
The media attention resulted in Harrell placed on paid suspension while his agency “investigates” his comments.
But it’s been more than a month now and the only thing to investigate is whether or not Harrell made those comments while on duty, which may be a violation of department policy.
After all, Harrell never made those comments in his capacity as a police officer.
Instead, he made them on his personal Facebook page to his friends and followers, whom he says consists more of police accountability activists than police officers, including myself, who met him in person years ago.
In fact, he makes no mention of being a police officer on the About section of his Facebook page, not that he makes it a secret either as he frequently speaks out against police abuse on his page.
That being said, I believe some of his views about mass school shootings are far-fetched and irrational; based more on speculation than substance; a conspiracy-laden dogma arising from a complete lack of trust in the government.
But I also believe he is one of the sanest cops in the United States, which may help you understand my view of cops in this country.
This, after all, is a cop who is fully aware of the growing police state in this country, especially for those who stand up for their Constitutional rights; a cop who runs a YouTube channel called “The Penitent Cop” where he tries to educate people about their rights when dealing with police.
But I’ve been told my views are also radical, so I am posting the entire interview above to allow you to judge for yourself. Please let us know what you think in the comments section.
Joining us in the interview was First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza, a longtime PINAC reader who also asked Harrell some questions.
Harrell, a 19-year veteran of the North Miami Beach Police Department, said he had a red pill awakening a few years ago while looking into the conspiracy theories behind 9/11.
That led him to question the government about everything, especially about mass shootings, many which he describes as being hoaxes, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Las Vegas massacre.
And while it’s understandable such comments may offend the family and friends of the victims slain in those shootings, it’s not like he tagged them in his post.
As mentioned before, the only thing his department can discipline him for is if he was making those posts during work hours, which he says he does not remember if he did or not.
But even if he did make those comments during work hours, that is much more preferable to me as a taxpaying citizen than having him spend those hours destroying the lives of innocent citizens, which takes place daily in cities throughout the United States.
But then again, I am considered a radical for my views, so maybe I’m failing to see what the big deal is here.
Washington – The CIA can selectively divulge classified information to selected reporters in emails yet withhold that information from other journalists or members of the public when they seek the same information under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge in New York has ruled.
The decision appeared in the court record on Friday but became more widely disseminated Monday.
The ruling comes amid vigorous national debate over leaks to the media and the use of anonymous sources in covering national security news, including an ongoing FBI investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York ruled that the CIA does not have to release parts of five emails senior CIA officials sent to journalists from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Washington Post in 2012. At the time, the CIA was facing pressure over links it may have had to a Pakistani doctor who helped American forces hunt down Osama bin Laden.
“The Director of Central Intelligence is free to disclose classified information about CIA sources and methods selectively, if he concludes that it is necessary to do so in order to protect those intelligence sources and methods, and no court can second guess his decision,” McMahon ruled.
Attorney Louis Leo IV discusses James Tracy’s pending civil rights lawsuit against Florida Atlantic University with University of Minnesota Professor James Fetzer on GCN’s The Power Hour, Monday, April 23, 2018. Leo is the lead attorney representing Tracy in the federal civil rights lawsuit against the South Florida-based public university.
The two examine Tracy’s unlawful firing by Florida Atlantic University, the corrupt and fraudulent trial defense conducted by FAU’s corporate attorneys (who received significant aid from the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida), and the implications for public employees’ right of free speech and association in the wake of the decision. Leo and Fetzer also discuss the circumstances that led to Tracy’s termination by FAU officials, which followed a smear campaign by cyber trolls and major news media seeking to defend the Sandy Hook event’s official narrative.
One day after the interview was recorded, on April 24, US District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg issued a 31-page final order denying all post-trial motions, defending her October 31, 2017 summary judgement rulings in favor of FAU, and asserting that Plaintiff Tracy was provided with a fair trial in her courtroom. With the decisions the case now proceeds to the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
James H. Fetzer: My guest for the second hour has distinguished himself by representing James Tracy, who is an Associate Professor of Communications and the Media at Florida Atlantic, who is seeking to protect the American people from an elaborate scam by investigating the aspects of Sandy Hook, in particular, Lenny Pozner’s claim to have a son, Noah, who died there.
James was a skeptic at the time, but he was exercising his diligence and responsibility on behalf of the public to ensure they weren’t take in by a scam which wound up looting the American people of somewhere between $27 and $130 million in donations in the false belief that there’d actually been a shooting massacre, and that these 20 children and six adults had died. Divided by the 26 families that were impersonating the survivors, they split and derived over a million bucks apiece.
I believe this is one of the reasons Lenny Pozner has been so ruthless in going after those of us that have been seeking to expose the truth. James Tracy turned out to be targeted, where Lenny published several articles in the South Florida newspapers, including the Jewish journal, Forward, the Sun-Sentinel and others. Tracy ended up losing his position over this. The university had a flimsy excuse, but none better to address the issues here than Louis Leo IV, who represented him. Louis has a website, peopleoverpolitics.org, and he has authored a brilliant overview of Tracy versus Florida Atlantic, titled, “Legalizing Pretext: How an American Public University Conspired to Beat the First Amendment.” Louis welcome to The Power Hour.
Louis Leo IV: Thanks for having me.
Fetzer: I’m just delighted. Perhaps you’d like to begin with a thumbnail overview of what happened here, and how this American university beat the First Amendment.
Leo: Well, I can tell you there are a lot of moving parts in this case, but we’re still waiting for the court to rule on post-trial motions, which include a Motion for Judgement as a Matter of Law, as well as a Motion for a New Trial. And, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened. I guess you can say it’s been a long and disturbing ride through the legal system in this case.
Fetzer: I was just going to add that I too am a colleague, a collaborator, with James Tracy, and I was the head of his legal defense fund, and I believe in this man one-hundred-percent. In fact, I can’t imagine a less likely target for an action like this than James Tracy. He is so principled. He is so measured. He is so thoughtful. He is so intelligent. And he was actually undertaking at act of what’s technically known as super arrogation—going beyond the call of duty in an effort to determine the facts of the matter, and protect the American public from fraud.
Fetzer: They wound up being subjected to a theft by deception, by misrepresenting what had happened there. Lenny Pozner, Neil Heslin and others have defrauded the American people of a vast sum, and have gone on this stupefying campaign for gun control that’s completely one-hundred-percent the opposite of the interests of the American people. Louis, go right ahead.
Leo: I should start by saying that the reason Dr. Tracy lost in this trial is because of deception and fraud in the court, and it’s something that the court sanctioned, using the rules of evidence. This is outlined in our motion that the court made the grave error in excluding from trial evidence that showed just how blatant and pretextual the use of this policy was to terminate a tenured professorship.
Popular culture is often a field upon which political issues manifest and play out. In Germany and several other countries historiographic activity on certain events that may shed light on or contradict official narratives is verboten and can result in imprisonment. The purview of today’s censors using outrage to suppress utterances with which they disagree or take offense knows no limits.
If not for the First Amendment the United States such authoritarian maneuvers to silence debate on a host of issues and events would have already come to pass. Major corporations are only too happy to appease and abet such efforts, as the report below suggests. Internet behemoths such as Google, YouTube, and Amazon have already exhibited their censorial prowess to silence sociopolitical and cultural exchange.
Big businesses have joined growing criticism in Germany over the awarding of an annual music prize to a pair of rappers accused of antisemitic lyrics, with Airbus chief executive Tom Enders adding his condemnation of the decision.
German executive Enders told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper he was shocked by what he considered widespread ambivalence about the Echo award given to rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang on Thursday, which coincided with HolocaustRemembrance Day. The rappers deny they are antisemitic.
“That hurts Germany’s international reputation. Is antisemitism becoming acceptable in Germany?” Enders told the newspaper, adding it was his belief that an anti-Muslim text would have generated far more outrage.
The BVMI German music industry association had drawn increasing criticism in recent days for honouring the rappers’ album, which sold more than 200,000 copies despite lyrics considered offensive by many Jewish groups and others because of lyrics that refer to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.
In the song “0815“, the rappers talk about their bodies being “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners” while another says, “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming with a Molotov.”
In this debut of the MemoryHoleBlog’s news analysis and commentary video series we examine the lawsuits filed against Alex Jones and Infowars’ parent company on April 16, 2018.
In 2017 when Jones was sued by James Alefantis over “Pizzagate” the broadcaster settled out of court and agreed to never use the term again, thus leading the way in chilling investigation and commentary on the scandal. Will the public witness the same tactic used in responding to suits filed by Sandy Hook massacre victims’ families?
Broadcaster’s Comments Prompted Death Threats, “Torment”
Editor’s Note: In an ongoing war against free speech the popular media personality has been sued in Austin Texas by two families of Sandy Hook massacre event victims. The legal actions are significant because if they are allowed to proceed Jones’ defense team will have the opportunity to proceed through discovery with the parties, requiring information and sworn testimony pertinent to plaintiffs’ claims be provided before proceeding to trial.
Alex Jones has spent years claiming the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School ― where a shooter killed 20 small children and six adults ― was faked. He has claimed the parents of these dead children are liars and “crisis actors.”
Now, those parents are coming after him.
Radio host Alex Jones commenting on Sandy Hook massacre in January 2013
In a pair of lawsuits filed late Monday, the parents of two children who died in the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, say Jones’ repeated lies and conspiratorial ravings have led to death threats. The suits join at least two other recent cases accusing the Infowars host of defamation.
I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.Neil Heslin, father of a 6-year-old boy killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.
Neil Heslin, the father of a 6-year-old boy killed in the shooting, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who lost their own little boy, filed the suits in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ conspiracy-minded media outlet is based. Each suit is seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jones, Infowars and a related company, Free Speech Systems LLC. Infowars reporter Owen Shroyer is also named in one of the suits.
“Even after these folks had to experience this trauma, for the next five years they were tormented by Alex Jones with vicious lies about them,” Mark Bankston, the lawyer handling the cases for the parents, told HuffPost. “And these lies were meant to convince his audience that the Sandy Hook parents are frauds and have perpetrated a sinister lie on the American people.”