FBI Astroturfs the Astroturfers to Nab Nut Who Threatened Sen. Patti Murray
An FBI Special Agent impersonated a representative of a real, legal anti health care reform group in order to positively identify a Washington man who allegedly left a series of anonymous death threats on the office voicemail of Sen. Patti Murray (D-Wash). The agent called up Charles Alan Wilson claiming to be a representative of the group Patients United Now. FBI spokesman Fred Gutt told me that the FBI doesn't normally impersonate members of real, active groups without getting the group's permission first. However, this time agents assumed that Patients United Now was defunct because the telephone number on the group's website was disconnected. The FBI didn't contact PUN's parent group, Americans United For Prosperity, Gutt said. You can read my whole story at AlterNet.
On the one hand, it's satisfying to hear that a notorious astroturf group was itself astroturfed to catch a potentially dangerous suspect. Wilson told the agent he was packing heat and "wouldn't blink" if confronted. He has a registered .38 revolver and a concealed carry permit. So, we should all be glad this guy is off the street and charged with threatening a public official.
On the other hand, it strains credulity to think that the FBI just assumed Patients United Now was defunct without contacting its parent organization. The PUN website they got the number from clearly identifies the group as a project of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation--one of the most visible and well-funded opponents of health reform in the country. The FBI spokesman admitted to me that investigators probably should have been more persistent in trying to contact AFP.
The mere fact that contact info on a website is out of date is not a good enough reason to assume an organization is defunct. It's disturbing that the FBI would charge ahead on that basis. Secret agents shouldn't go around impersonating members of real, legal, non-violent groups without first getting permission. Clearly, the feds felt they had to act quickly to protect the senator. Still, what happened in the investigation is a troubling detour from the FBI's normal procedure of getting prior permission.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.
- Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
- Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
- It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.