Yet again I am being inundated with your e-mails, text messages, phone calls and unannounced house visits. (The latter is new, unwelcome and the fastest way to get a non-expiring entry on my media blacklist.)
I could easily spend all my time answering the same questions with the same answers instead of taking some time to think for myself. This is not your fault. I can see there’s a story here and you need to cover it. I just hope you’ll forgive me for writing down my thoughts just once on this blog. I realize you may “just have a few questions” or desperately need my voice or footage of my talking head, but I’ll most likely still point you to this text. It’s nothing personal.
On December 14 of 2010, the US Department of Justice has had a court order issued to force Twitter to send them various bits of information regarding my Twitter account as well as of the twitter accounts of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Jacob Appelbaum. In my previous blog post, I have erroneously referred to this order as a subpoena, which it isn’t. I’m not a US lawyer, but some apparently profound thoughts about various aspects of this order can be found here.
I found out about the order because Twitter did the right thing and successfully fought for a second court order so they were able to tell us. The e-mail from twitter also says we have ten days to announce that we’re fighting this in court or otherwise they’ll give the DOJ the requested information. I’ll write more about Twitter’s role soon.
Apparently someone thinks that whatever records Twitter has regarding my account are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation”. It is not clear from the documents that have presently been made public what my role in this apparent investigation is.
So what does Twitter have on me?
Basically my tweets, which are publicly accessible, and the IP-numbers I connected from. I don’t use Twitter all that much and for convenience my tweets are generally posted through a plugin on this blog. I have never sent or received private messages on twitter. In other words: what Twitter has on me is unspectacular.
This matter does beg the question who else has gotten such court orders and whether other parties have silently complied with such orders. Hello Facebook? Google?
Why did this happen?
I don’t know. But from the list of names we can speculate this has something to do with the release of the “Collateral Murder” video in april of 2010. That video, shot from a US helicopter over Baghdad, shows the shooting of a Reuters photographer and subsequently of the civilians that try to rescue him. I travelled to Iceland to help out with the preparations for disseminating this video. I feel, probably like most people that saw the video, that showing that video served the important purpose of shining light on the hidden realities of present-day war.
The entire process of releasing this video is ridiculously well-documented as Raffi Khatchadourian, a journalist for The New Yorker, was with us the whole time. I recommend his article for an in-depth look at what happened. For a broader look at my life over the past year or so, I recommend reading a keynote speech I delivered in Berlin a few weeks ago.
So what am I going to do now?
Being involved in a criminal investigation, and especially one which is likely to have huge political pressure behind it, is a very serious matter. So I am talking to lawyers, trying to better understand what is going on and I am weighing my options. Frequent readers of this blog will likely be the first to know if I have something new to say.