Ah Las Vegas. Home of gambling, sin and hardcore libertarian, anti-government gold bugs.
The Las Vegas Review Journal recently reported on the trial of Robert Kahre, a guy accused of setting up a scheme to pay employees in gold coins so that they may tell the IRS they were paid by the coin’s nominal, face value, rather than what that gold is actually worth when converted into dollars.
Not surprisingly, the story attracted many angry commenters, who hate the IRS and who hate paper currency.
Now, in a case that should once again test the (established) privacy rights of web commenters, the newspaper has be subpoenad for their info. And it’s not just your garden variety names and IP addresses that the government wants.
Editor Thomas Mitchell wrote this weekend:
This past week the newspaper was served with a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office demanding that we turn over all records pertaining to those postings, including “full name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers … the IP address,” et (kitchen sink) cetera.
Tantamount to killing a gnat with an A-bomb.
There was no indication what they were looking for or what crime, if any, was being investigated, just a blanket subpoena for voluminous and detailed records on every private citizen who dared to speak about a federal tax case.
Queue more conspiracy theorizing.
In any event, the paper has just announced that it’s rejecting the subpoena, while offering some more background on it:
The reason for the subpoena came up in court, outside the jury’s presence, after an alternate juror sent a note to Ezra, explaining that his spouse had told him to avoid a certain talk radio station, which was discussing the trial. Ezra retained the alternate after he determined the man did not know any details of the broadcast.
Ezra said this past week in court that he would not be handling the subpoena. However, “anytime we get people writing … that if a particular verdict isn’t reached, that jurors ought to come to physical harm — that’s no good. And if somebody wants to investigate that, that’s their perfect right.”
One commentator said, “The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds.”
Another writer suggested supporting Kahre with a public protest at the courthouse. A third writer advised moving it across the street from the courthouse, or to the local IRS office, to avoid court security officers.
Kahre has been gaining an opinionated Internet audience after an armed team from several law enforcement agencies raided several of his business locations — including his sister’s home office — in 2003 to collect evidence for the tax case.