Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has formally requested Attorney General Eric Holder investigate reports of SWATting attacks against conservative bloggers, intimidation tactics allegedly tied to convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin.
In a SWATting attack, a phony call to 911 operators triggers a massive emergency response to the victim's home. In a letter to Holder, Chambliss requested the Department of Justice investigate the cases to determine whether any federal laws were violated.
"I am writing with concern regarding recent reports that several members of the community of online political commentators have been targeted with harassing and frightening actions," Chambliss wrote in the letter, dated Tuesday. "While these incidences are currently small in number, and have fortunately not led to any accidental physical harm, they are extremely concerning. The perpetrators appear to be targeting individuals who are vigorously exercising their First Amendment rights to political speech."
"Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse. Those who choose to enter into that political discourse should not have to worry about potential threats to their or their family's safety," he continued. "While I am certain that local law enforcement is reviewing each of these instances, I am asking you to please look into each of these cases as well to determine if any federal laws may have been violated. Future targets of SWAT-ting, whether engaged in political speech or not, may not be so fortunate as to escape physical harm."
Among those who claim they have been SWATted are Patrick Frey, a Los Angeles deputy district attorney and conservative blogger who writes under the name "Patterico" and Erick Erickson, editor of RedState.com. In Frey's case, sheriff's deputies descended on his home in July 2011 after receiving a call that he had killed his wife.
Erickson's case took place last month after "Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day," a digital show of solidarity. Erickson, who lives in Georgia, wrote on Twitter: “Sheriff is at my house. Someone spoofed my phone number and said someone had been shot at my house." He added in a separate post: “We’re ok. After I started writing about #BrettKimberlin I informed the local sheriff’s office to expect this to happen."
Kimberlin, now director of the George Soros-funded Justice Through Music nonprofit organization, has denied any involvement in the SWATtings against Frey or Erickson.
“Of course not, it’s ridiculous. It’s totally irresponsible for them to even say this,” Kimberlin told ABC News. “There is no truth to anything about the SWATting.”
Chambliss requested a response from Holder no later than June 29.