Was WeinerGate a setup by Andrew Breitbart, Mike Stack, Dan Wolfe, Patrick Frey, and the Conservative blogosphere? Is SWATerGate the next master plan from the VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY?!1
Editorial Notes -
- Mike Stack claims the Direct Messages sent from Dan Wolfe on May 5, 2011, about where he first heard of the “scandal involving involving a member of Congress” are missing and were possibly hacked.
- These DMs may have been shared with former Raw Story journalist Ron Brynaert (German? ed.), suspected by Patrick “Patterico” Frey of involvement in his SWATing. Mr. Brynaert has not returned our attempts to contact him. This is an ongoing investigation..
- Dana Loesch denied a request for interview.
- Matt Drudge has not returned our request for comment on the assertions made in the New York Times and other publications of a rumored connection between an associate of his and Dan Wolfe.
- Dan Wolfe’s interview with Film Ladd was not his last. The interviews with Joe Brooks & John Sexton of Verum Serum have been added.
- No one claiming to be “Jennifer George” called Lee Stranahan’s blog talk radio. That was reported by Neal Rauhauser. The caller is believed to be the SWATer however, and days later, an individual claiming to be Lee called and harassed Jennifer George of Boston to the point where she filed a police claim, which was found “not credible” after an investigation.
- Seth Allen does not blog for BreitbartUnmasked.com; this was assumed when one of his posts was cross-posted there. My apologies to Seth.
The irony, the broad cast of characters, the rampant speculation, and the mocking headlines that accompanied the sex-scandal of former Congressman Anthony Weiner could’ve been written as a bad Greek tragic-comedy. A drama of lies beginning on May 28, 2011 became a national and international media frenzy which ensued for two agonizing weeks following the accidental tweet with a link to a lewd yfrog.com account photo by the New York Representative to a 21-year-old Washington State student with whom he’d allegedly been having an extensive private relationship.
The scandal ended on June 6, when the Congressman finally admitted to being the author of the tweet and man in the photo [Read: New York Times, Michael Barbaro – “Weiner Admits He Sent Photos, Won’t Resign”] The abrupt confession came as Andrew Breitbart, whose publication first broke the story, began releasing more images of the Congressman that had allegedly been obtained from another of Anthony Weiner’s online mistresses. In true Breitbart fashion, he showed up at and upstaged the Congressman at his own media press conference to, as lead “WeinerGate” reporter for Breitbart.com Dana Loesch put it: “set the story straight in an unparalleled new media moment” which Business Insider called “Andrew Breitbart’s most famous moment.”
“Are there any repercussions for journalism on the Left, when they falsely claim that I’m the hacker?”
For the mainstream news media, it was the final act of the scandal. However, on the rims of online politics the fallout still continued for months on end, as the “search for the truth behind the Anthony Weiner setup” remained a cause du jour for radical Leftist activists in the blogosphere.
Originally, it was the Congressman himself to claim his Twitter account had been either compromised or hacked, resulting in the errant tweet which was quickly observed and recorded by the online conservative activist who went by the name “Dan Wolfe” (@patriotusa76). Wolfe then manually copied the tweet and forwarded both it and the yfrog picture link to the accounts of multiple journalists in Conservative New Media. Andrew Breitbart was online at that moment in the evening, received the tip instantly, and contacted Dana Loesch, who was able to obtain her own records of the image before the Congressman scrambled to delete his mistake. By early the next morning, they had obtained enough verification to run the first story.
For a week and a half, the Congressman took to national media and vehemently denied responsibility in the whole affair, buoyed by online Left-Wing new media publications that attacked the credibility of Andrew Breitbart and the sources in the story while themselves failing to meet much of a sense of ethical standard in pursuit of it.
Pre-WeinerGate: The Activist Who Cried Wolfe
One of Dan Wolfe’s early online sidekicks was Mike Stack (formerly @goatsred) of New Jersey, who at that time was politically involved, leans Republican, but hardly a serious activist. Mike has been blogging at thecryingwolfe.wordpress.com while pursuing leads on the culprits behind his SWATing – a sinister “prank” where law enforcement agencies are tricked into storming a targets house on reports of a murder.
Mr. Stack recalls innocently meeting Dan through Twitter because of their shared political interests and Wolfe’s Ronald Reagan avatar (Twitter image). Mike was an active associate of Dan’s #BornFreeCrew, who vigorously (some would say obsessively) policed Anthony Weiner’s twitter account – especially his interactions with young women [read: A Twitter Group Warned About Weiner]. Mike himself had strong reservations about a few of its members early on.
In an interview with Stack, I asked who originally was suspicious of Anthony Weiner and if Dan Wolfe was adamantly and narrowly focused on Anthony Weiner in their private correspondences, or if he was this way about many politicians and issues. Mike shared the entirety of his records with me that confirm it had been Wolfe who began noting the Congressman’s pattern of interacting and following young women. Members of the Born Free Crew together tracked these behaviors and at Wolfe’s direction it was usually the mothers of the group who would approach the young women Weiner followed through Twitter.
The intensity of Wolfe’s hunt increased however on May 5, 2011, when a 26-year-old Texas woman named Meagan Broussard emerged with records of direct messages with the Congressman as well as a picture she had requested from him (it was not sexual in nature). This is also the same day that Mike Stack claims Wolfe told him through private direct messages on Twitter that one of Dan’s friends, who he claimed knew Matt Drudge, had suggested a “scandal involving a member of Congress was coming soon.”
By May 11, Wolfe had persuaded Stack to go public on Twitter with the rumor about Weiner and his misconduct online. Dan then retweeted that rumor, attributing it to Mike:
Seeking to attribute his own rumors to Mike Stack publicly?
For the next couple of weeks, Wolfe continued to monitor Rep. Weiner’s tweets, documenting a few more cases of suspicious activity, one account which would turn out to belong to the Seattle co-ed whom was the intended recipient of the errant picture. Emails also document that Wolfe urged Mike Stack to forward the story to an aide to Rep. Darrell Issa’s office when he offered, a contact with whom Mike had mild interaction for nearly a year out of an interest in staying informed on matters of Congressional Ethics.
It was the Seattle girl in particular that had triggered Dan Wolfe’s interest on the night Weiner was caught. Earlier in the evening, the Congressman had made a tweet in which he announced he was going to be on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” using the cryptic hashtag “#Thats545inSeattleIThink.” Wolfe claimed that after seeing this, he kept Weiner’s Twitter account open on a separate browser window while doing other various online activities, curious if the Congressman would tweet something else odd.
Wolfe said he was not expecting the photo which was tweeted at 11:30pm Eastern time, however he did happen to notice it in the near instant moments between when it was made and when Rep. Weiner realized his error and scrambled to delete the tweet, and then his yfrog photo account.
WeinerGate: The Feeding Frenzy
Andrew Breitbart contacted Dan Wolfe on Twitter within moments of receiving the tip. After explaining that his crew had been watching the Congressman for this type of behavior for a while, Wolfe sent Breitbart an email naming Stack as his right-hand man in the effort and offering to join Andrew for a conference call on the matter early the next morning when Mike was awake.
Breitbart’s reply to Wolfe at 2:15 in the morning: “Will protect your identity. Andrew.”
By early Saturday morning, Wolfe had compiled a cache of documentation that included live screenshots of the tweet from multiple tracking points, the lewd picture as well as the contents of the rest of the yfrog account before it was deleted. Additionally, he forwarded the Breitbart team the information they had on the girl to whom the photo was intended and Weiner’s other suspicious online relationships.
Mike unintentionally became a gatekeeper between the Breitbart team and Dan for information. Unintentionally, because in all their dealings with each other it never struck Stack that Wolfe would shy away from a phone conversation with a major new media publication when the two were standing on the verge of exposing Anthony Weiner on the very suspicion they’d been pursuing for months. In their emails and at the behest of Andrew Breitbart, Joel Pollak, and Larry Solov, Mike pleaded with Wolfe to participate in their conference calls to verify the details. [Read: Vetting By “The Bigs” Part I] Dan repeatedly declined, first only citing nebulous “major personal problems” and encouraging Stack to stand in for him.
Breitbart and Stack immediately faced immense pressure after Rep. Weiner denied the story and especially once it started dominating the national news media days later. Far Left publications Salon, Gawker, and the Daily KOS all eagerly embraced the conclusion that the Congressman’s Twitter account had been hacked by Wolfe and Stack – or that Wolfe was Stack – and sought to identify, discredit, and counter-accuse Anthony Weiner’s “accusers.”
Given the adamant vigor with which Born Free Crew had pursued Anthony Weiner, sufficient enough questions were being raised for the Breitbart staff to start desiring more verification about Mike Stack’s and Dan Wolfe’s identities [Read: Vetting By “The Bigs” Part II]. Stack was pressured to provide his full name, residential address, Social Security Number, and online IP address. Worst of all, Andrew Breitbart admitted bluntly to Mike that given Dan Wolfe’s refusal to give his identity or join a conference call even he couldn’t be certain if Wolfe and Stack weren’t the same people.
Even before this, Bill Bastone, editor of The Smoking Gun, had contacted Mike privately as early as May 31 (3 days into the story) seeking an interview where Stack could disprove that he was @PatriotUSA76. When I asked Mike if the June 3 Smoking Gun article on him was the first which publicly identified him (as he was only recognized publicly as @goatsred), he was reminded that “Bastone heavily implied in our phone calls that he already knew who I was.” [Read: the story behind the email address accompanying Bill Bastone's first email to Mike Stack]. Indeed, Stack was dismayed to learn Andrew Breitbart was a friend of Bill Bastone (and Matt Drudge) and for a time believed he had been thrown under the bus by Andrew. However, Bastone’s ties run deep in the Left too.
Stack apparently forwarded Bastone his email correspondences with Dan Wolfe to vindicate the fact that they were two different people. Bill took those emails and used them as the basis for two pieces: on June 2, first he casted aspersions on the mysterious Dan Wolfe, citing the emails where Wolfe expressed fear about Congressman Weiner’s connections to the Clintons, and claimed extreme family legal issues as the reason why he so adamantly protects his identity. [Read: The Wolfe At Anthony Weiner's Front Door].
The next day Bastone then ran a hit piece revealing incredibly personal and unflattering details he’d learned about Mike Stack. [Read: The Dark Past of the WeinerGate Co-Pilot]
Presumably in response to the leak, Dan Wolfe then deleted his Twitter account. This set off a new wave of doubt and speculation. [Read: Charles Johnson - Breitbart Source for Weiner Smear Deletes Twitter Account]
Despite hand-wringing criticism from the online Left that the Right-Wing blogosphere was trying to protect Breitbart.com, which did not publish anything regarding the controversies boiling over Dan Wolfe & Mike Stack, the leading Conservative new media bloggers were very critical in their approach and analyses of the timeline of events. Ace of Spades examined and discarded six popular theories which had arisen about who was Dan Wolfe and did he hack Anthony Weiner [read: http://ace.mu.nu/archives/317132.php].
Ladd Ehlinger Jr., Conservative filmmaker, was incredibly suspicious of Wolfe’s behavior, which earned him the last bizarre chat interview Wolfe would give before disappearing completely [read: Film Ladd’s Interview with @PatriotUSA76]. [correction: Dan Wolfe gave two more online interviews: to Joe Brooks on June 4 & June 5, and then with John Sexton of VerumSerum on June 7 following Weiner's confession - "Dan Wolfe Would like an Apology from the Left Wing Media" -MH]
In the interview Wolfe praised Ace’s logic and excoriated former Breitbart Staff Writer Lee Stranahan’s open speculation on his blog that it was plausible Dan might have gained access to Congressman Weiner’s Twitter account. [Read: A New Bizarre yet Logical Answer to WeinerGate]
“But here’s my short response, directly to Patriot – you lied to people who considered you a friend and then you threw them under the bus to take the fall for your own long-term resentment towards Rep. Weiner. That’s not cool. man.”
– Lee Stranahan, June 3, 2011
Following Wolfe’s interview, conservative law-blogger Patrick “Patterico” Frey analyzed a couple of points of behavioral eccentricity as well as inconsistencies in Dan’s statements with assertions made in previously reported articles: most notably that Wolfe claimed to have learned of the rumor of Weiner’s suspicious interactions with young women online, rather than through an insider connected with Matt Drudge.
On the mainstream media, Rep. Weiner persistently pleaded his innocence, and it began to look as if he might even file an FBI report claiming he was hacked. Then, the momentum on the story suddenly shifted again. Breitbart confirmed that a completely new source had stepped forward claiming to have carried on an online affair with the Congressman, and supplied a new cache of photos of him from their private communications. Andrew gave an ultimatum to Weiner to come clean or he’d release the images, which eventually is what happened. As seemingly spontaneous and dramatically as it began, the scandal was over.
But for many of those in Conservative New Media who had helped break the story and covered it, the crisis had just begun.
Post WeinerGate: No Safe Harbor
Almost in tandem with Bill Bastone’s Smoking Gun hit piece on Mike Stack, from the depths of the Daily KOS, emerged two radical Leftists with an unhinged obsession with Stack’s supposedly conspiratorial involvement in the Anthony Weiner scandal, which they were convinced beyond approach was a Right Wing setup. The first was infamous cyber-mobster from TwitterGate Neal Rauhauser, now a close proxy to convicted domestic bomber Brett Kimberlin of the Liberal “Velvet Revolution” organization.
The other was a peculiar character and presumed confidant to Rauhauser that is known by the name “Darrah Ford,” who today is believed to be the individual behind the @OccupyRebellion Twitter account, well known for her disinformation and rumor campaigns, vile rage, hatred, and frequent threats directed at Conservatives. Interestingly, she might have very well been drawn into WeinerGate because of her prior knowledge and interactions with Mike Stack, who had been a moderator with the user name “redgoat” at an online forum populated by insiders from the Pornography industry where “Darrah Ford” was also a member. Lately, Darrah has not been nearly as singularly fixated on Weiner Trutherism as she once was. Instead, currently she is one of the lead fomenters of a new conspiracy theory which asserts that the recent SWATings of Conservatives have been perpetrated by somebody connected with the right-wing, not the left.
Stack strongly believes it was Darrah and Neal who tipped off Bill Bastone to his history on adult forums. [Read: "WeinerGate" Ends When Mike Stack et al Are Investigated]. Throughout the course of being harassed by the Left, at one point Neal’s network (specifically username “vets74″) had dug up a photo from a protest where a man who allegedly looks like Mike Stack was being peppered sprayed (Mike asserts the claim is totally false, however the photo does allegedly feature James O’Keefe and an associate named Patrick Howley). It stuck in Mike’s head forever when Bastone asked him one day “How did the pepper spray feel?” seemingly out of the blue. [Read: Doug Matthew Stewart – The Smoking Gun’s Carelessness Leads to SWAT Team Raids on Individual]
The SWATing of Mike Stack occurred on June 23, 2011, and he was not the only one. Three seperate fake phone calls were placed, two of which were Stack’s previous addresses. A young couple living in Mike’s former residence, uninvolved politically, were pulled out from their front porch sliding glass door and cuffed on their lawns while officers investigated. Ace of Spades had also received threats during his coverage. Then, it is believed the individual who would is the SWATer called the Lee Stranahan blog talk radio show during a discussion over WeinerGate. Days later, someone claiming to be Lee Stranahan, sought to reach a Jennifer George in Boston, and allegedly threatened her, which was investigated and found to be “not credible.” Jennifer George was the name behind a Twitter account which once had falsely claimed to Mike Stack and others to be one of Anthony Weiner’s online mistresses.
Finally, one week after Mike Stack’s SWATing, it happened to Patrick Frey as well, who also had continued to inquire passively into some of the subplots of WeinerGate.
On July 4, four days after Frey’s SWATing, Neal offered his newest convoluted theory at the Daily KOS on how WeinerGate was organized by people who had defended James O’Keefe from Brett Kimberlin. [Read: “Patterico’s Penalization” and “Patterico’s Prattling Puppet’s”] This is noteworthy because up until the point Neal made it, there was no logical connection between WeinerGate, the SWATing of Mike Stack, and Brett Kimberlin. However, it is a sign that Neal Rauhauser had at this time begun his association with Kimberlin.
Neal asserted that Liberal blogger Seth Allen not only was potentially Dan Wolfe, but also that “it’s highly probable he [Seth] knows what a Spoof Card is and Spoof App is another way in which one can present someone else’s number in caller ID.” This is strongly believed to be the means by which SWATing is conducted, mentioned just four days following Patterico’s, and eleven after Mike’s. On the other hand, while he’s been accused of being a WeinerGate conspirator and having been arrested for faux death threats directed at Brett Kimberlin, Seth Allen’s anger apparently is trumped these days by the good fun of partisan dirt-digging. He has has his own blog, davefromqueens2.blogspot.com, where he posts opposition research on prominent Conservative bloggers and activists.
As chronicled here, it was following the SWATtings that the Breitbart organization sought to help the victims pursue justice. Many have come forward to tell the stories of how their lives have been maliciously affected by the personal, professional and legal intimidation of Brett Kimberlin and Neal Rauhauser because of their choice to document their political activity. But even with the stories fully told, after a full year now, we have two closed investigations, two new SWATing cases with open investigations, no clear suspects, and still plenty of unfollowed leads.
In my article on Breitbart’s last months, we revealed that he and Mike Stack were indeed in communication again, and had largely made ammends over Bill Bastone’s hit pieces on himself and Dan Wolfe which had stirred up animosity. After learning of Andrew’s own massive legal headaches and constant threats from the Left, threats which compelled Breitbart to seek private professional security assistance at least on one occasion, Mike tells me that he felt that he’d seen his problems through a new perspective, but was ultimately grateful that Andrew sympathized with his plight and had vowed to aid in the investigations into the SWATings.
Is the mystery of SWATerGate going to remain definitively unsolved, much like the ultimate question of who really was Dan Wolfe and that second source who came to Breitbart at the end of WeinerGate?
Conclusions: “There is No Ace of Hack”
”From his behavior and bets, one card Anthony Weiner is NOT holding is the “Hacker” card.
If he held the Ace of Hack, or the King of Hack, or even the Deuce of Hack, he’d play it and call the FBI.”
- Ace of Spades, 06/03/11
The truth behind “Weiner Trutherism” boils down to these questions:
Who was Dan Wolfe?
I like the theory Ladd Ehlinger Jr. offered here:
“The most realistic supposition, to my mind, is that “Dan Wolfe” was a social-media opposition research team for a political campaign.. If it is indeed the case that “Dan Wolfe” was an opp-research social-media team run by political pros, they should never be allowed to work in politics again. Granted, they got rid of Weiner, and yeah, that was cool. But to do it, they recruited a bunch of decent civilians on Twitter and left them to fend for themselves when the likes of the creepy KosKids started doxing them – and I refer not just to Mike Stack. A lot of decent people were terrorized. Single mothers. Retirees.”
Did he “hack” Anthony Weiner? Was that Weiner’s photo?
On this, I think Patterico summed it up best:
“I love Ace, but his analysis has a gaping hole big enough to drive a truck through. Patriot could have hacked Weiner’s Twitter and Weiner would be behaving the same way — if the information Patriot had was information that Weiner didn’t want the FBI looking into.”
What and who are the links between WeinerGate scandal and the SWATings of Conservative bloggers?
It has been asserted that there is a misperception that every victim of “SWATing” has been a result of writing about the radical criminal history and current political associations of Brett Kimberlin. Yes, Erick Erickson was targeted May 27, 2012, two days after the Conservative online “blogburst” called “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day,” and Maryland Attorney/Conservative Blogger Aaron Worthing became prey on June 25 shortly after a highly publicized case where a peace order against him writing about Brett Kimberlin was revoked. It is true as well that Patterico was an early reporter on Brett.
Mike Stack, the first victim, however, did not know who Brett Kimberlin was at the time. He entered the public arena because of his involvement in WeinerGate.
The only common links between all of these phone pranking cases, other than the individuals from the Breitbart organization and Conservative bloggers who have been involved in WeinerGate and SWATerGate, are the Leftists who relentlessly attempt to frame those who were targeted as being part of a vast right wing conspiracy: Neal Rauhauser and his network.
The real paradox underneath this crude story about a deviant Congressman is the stories of the two men who exposed him. As he aggressively tracked Weiner, Dan Wolfe took every foresighted precaution necessary from beginning to end to mask his identity, while Mike Stack offered to be the public face for sourcing it without a clue that it was going to result in his life being turned upside-down forever. The irony is that if Dan Wolfe had been more willing to be a little more forthcoming, he might’ve been able to prevent the dangerous escalation that resulted in the aftermath. But perhaps even more cruelly ironic is: given what did happened in the aftermath – can anyone not sympathize with why Dan Wolfe was so paranoid to protect his identity?
“..Why is there no accountability for an entire weekend of false reporting that was based upon what I believe was Congressman Weiner’s strategy to blame the messenger?” –Andrew Breitbart