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FBI Seeks Suspect's Web Game Records 446

wiredmikey writes "The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday asked the administrator of an Internet game to hand over records of communications by Jared Loughner, following a Wall Street Journal article describing disturbing messages the accused shooter wrote over a three-month period last year. In an interview, David McVittie, the administrator of the Web game Earth Empires, said he was contacted by the FBI, which requested the files, including 131 messages that Mr. Loughner wrote."
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FBI Seeks Suspect's Web Game Records

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:51PM (#34865792)

    The going after twitter messages looks kind of dubious, but this request has more grounding - it would be very easy for someone to use any online RPG to use as a conduit for messages if they thought someone might be monitoring email or phone. Given that the U.S. is treating him as a criminal suspect (which I'll leave the validity of to the side), this request seems pretty reasonable to build a case against someone.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:51PM (#34865798)

    Why exactly is this news or a surprise? Will everyone be shocked because they request credit card, banking and cell phone information too?

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:56PM (#34865906) Journal

    Given that the U.S. is treating him as a criminal suspect (which I'll leave the validity of to the side),

    Say what? You'll leave that to the side, will you? Well color me flabbergasted. He is technically a criminal suspect, because he has not been tried yet, but dozens of witnesses directly observed him committing murder. How can you question the validity of treating him as a criminal suspect?

  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:59PM (#34865934) Homepage

    This is just another example of our fascist dictatorial government shitting on free speech.

    Really? Is his right to free speech being infringed upon simply because the government is looking to see what he said?

    If you want to say something but don't want anybody else to know what you said, mumble to yourself. But if you speak out loud, don't be surprised if somebody heard you.

    And "freedom of speech" was never about "no consequences for your speech".

  • by fermat1313 ( 927331 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:03PM (#34866024)
    I don't think the prosecutors are worried about proving he did it. However, his defense will likely mount an insanity plea. Proof of pre-planning pretty much kills an insanity plea, so any evidence that they have that he pre-planned this is definitely important to the prosecution.

    Also, I think they haven't ruled out that someone else was involved in the planning of the attack, so they are still looking for any evidence relating to this. Getting these records is simply competent lawyering by the prosecution.
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:07PM (#34866102) Journal

    Lots of folks did do something to help. It is pretty clear that nearly everyone who knew him saw his descent into madness and tried to help in some way. But it is very hard to help the mentally ill against their will.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:09PM (#34866152) Journal

    I'm pretty sure "exhortation to violence" is actually protected speech (in the US), as long as it's not immediate violence - a clear and present danger. If a skinhead website wants to go on a rant about how the Jews are evil and should be killed, without suggesting any specific and immediate illegal acts ("are there any queers in the theater tongiht? Get em up against the wall!"), that's protected. Eventually we'll fuck the constitution yet again and outlaw unpopular speech (aka hate speech), but it hasn't quite happened yet.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:10PM (#34866164) Journal

    Even if he is mentally ill, he is a criminal suspect. Insanity is a possible defense against criminal charges, it does not negate criminal charges. At his trial, he might be found not guilty by reason of insanity. Until then, he is a criminal suspect.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:16PM (#34866264) Journal

    Correct, it must be an immediate exhortation to violence. Sorry if that was unclear.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:55PM (#34866850) Journal

    Your fiction is a fiction. Nobody was claiming he was a Tea Partier or conservative, they were claiming that crazy people are like powder kegs, and that pundits on the right have been throwing lit matches everywhere hoping to set one off. They have succeeded in setting off the crazies again and again in the last few years, and they will continue to try to set off the crazies against their opponents on the left. The way I see it, pundits on the right have gotten away with murder, more than once. They know full well that their words will have an impact on crazy people. Look at that loon arrested for trying to blow up the Tides Foundation. Never heard of it? Then you must not watch Glenn Beck, he is the only person on national television ever to mention the Tides Foundation, and he portrayed them as anti-American. But of course, the crazy who tried to blow them up is not his fault, even though said crazy would never even have known about the Tides Foundation were it not for the likes of Glenn Beck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:59PM (#34866930)

    Pro-pot or anti-pot, atheist or believer, the actions of Loughner reflect only on Loughner.

    This tarring of everyone with continent-wide brushes is bullshit from ALL sides.

    And anyone who engages in it goes right into my "part of the problem" bucket.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:23PM (#34867296)
    It is important to be aware that the question he asked her was something very close to, "How do you know words mean anything?" How do you answer that question when it comes at you out of nowhere? So, her answer wasn't a politician's non-answer to a politically dangerous question. it was a non-answer to a question that didn't really have an answer (at least in that context).
  • by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestes@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:24PM (#34867310) Homepage Journal

    Have you read anything about this? Reading his rants, and reading accounts from his friends and acquaintances makes it clear that this is probably not a case of "hornies". A couple years ago he attended an event that Giffords was holding and asked her something like "how can their be government if all words are lies" or something close to that, she didn't answer him, he was mad.

    He was probably experiencing an escalating case of schizophrenia (judging by the course of events, his words, and his writing style), she was a target since she was "controlling grammar" or such. I'm also guessing he did it to draw attention to his "philosophy", hoping an event like that would make people read (watch) his stuff, and realize the truth of the "new currency", and "grammar"... (Notice the shear amount of crazy?).

    This topic has made me doubly sick. I'm, obviously, sickened that this disturbed person slaughtered innocent people. I'm also sickened that we somehow want to turn it into bullshit politics*, and idiotic partisan rhetoric. Doing so completely misses the point, and mocks the actual event. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party movement, or the GOP had NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THIS. I'm a lifelong Democrat, and a bona fide socialist, I have nothing against calling out the Republicans on their crap, but this isn't the appropriate event for it. It is actually a bit distasteful. The kid was insane, and not obviously politically motivated (at least motivated in any way us sane folk can really comprehend).

        Hell, before a single fact actually rolled down the media pipeline, we were already blaming Palin. Before we KNEW anything at all outside of the fact that someone shot a democrat and a bunch of innocent bystanders we already were ramping up the partisan rhetoric. And now we're running with it, even when the available facts point in the other direction, and we still don't even have half the facts.

    Do these people here on Slashdot realize that by blaming the GOP, they sound just like the idiots that blame violent video games for violence?

    Sorry of the rant, it needs to be said.

    * This part isn't aimed at you, just a convenient place to put it.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:26PM (#34867348) Homepage Journal

    You are not intereacting with the sort of Tea Party members I have. In fact, my expeience is the opposite of yours - the Tea Party members I've intreacted with are entirely focused on issues of taxation, immigration, healthcare financing, and states' rights. And they are a healthy mix of various races, admittedly almost all openly heterosexual, both married and unmarried, and also overhelmingly spiritual, mostly Christian.

    If they hated "everyone who isn't a rich white protestant heterosexual in a traditional family role.", about one half would hate the other half. And the other half would hate themselves. That's not entirely implausible, but usually the self-loathers don't bother to go so far out of their way to do so. They have ample opportunity to hate themselves before they get their teeth brushed in the morning, no need to form a political movement to do so publicly.

    More precisely, you're full of it. Enjoy. Sad life.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:33PM (#34867478)

    He's being tagged as a conservative because it was a Democrat that was shot. Would the tables be turned if it was a Republican? Would we assume the shooter was a liberal? Doubtful.

    You're right that it's not fair to put him in the conservative camp. Conservatives are shocked at this too. That said, it's not quite as simple as you're making it out to be. He did what many tea partiers are saying they'll do: shot an elected official. He seemed to be upset about healthcare reform. He used a gun. He shot a democrat who Palin happened to "target." All circumstantial obviously, and I could be wrong, but I suspect he would identify himself as a conservative or tea partier.

    The bigger issue though is: so what? So he (might be) a conservative? It doesn't change anything about his actions, nor does it reflect badly on all the other millions of conservatives who haven't murdered innocent people. You could make the case that a small minority of conservative talking heads are being irresponsible with their words, inciting violence, sure, but it's not a stain on all conservatives like some are quick to call it.

    Obviously all Muslims weren't to blame for 9/11, all Christians weren't to blame for the crusades, and the rest of us liberals aren't responsible for whatever idiotic things hollywood liberals say. If he was a conservative, that only means that his muddled brain used politics as a backdrop for his violent delusions. Could have easily been liberal politics, religion, or baseball and still resulted in violence.

  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:04PM (#34868004) Homepage Journal

    You don't just go crazy.

    You've not met many unstable people, have you?

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:20PM (#34868304)

    There is a certain philosophical consistency to liking both "The Communist Manifesto" and "Mein Kampf", but Ayn Rand doesn't fit there anywhere.

    I disagree. They are all consistent with a simpleton - a person attracted to simplistic solutions to complex real-world problems. But that's completely normal for a 20 year old.

  • by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestes@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:43PM (#34868664) Homepage Journal

    The fact that Palin & the GOP's rhetoric included references to reloading, using the ammo box instead of the ballot box, "taking out" bad politicians, removing the liberal disease, and putting targetting crosshairs on a map while listed the name of the politican who just happened to be shot in the head, are a complete coincidence.

    Yes, probably. I'm not agreeing with or defending rhetoric, I find it distasteful, and find it one of the more depressing trends to strike my country in a very long time. While Palin and the GOPs rhetoric is nasty, there is no evidence that they lead to this event. That is the point. It is as good an explanation as the NASA connection (Loughner believed the Mars rover was a lie, Giffords' husband is an astronaut), meaning not very good, since it is nothing more than speculation. Or that he said he liked Mein Kampf, and she was a Jew. Or that he is in Arizona so this somehow comes back to immigration policy (I, surprisingly, haven't seen that one in the wild yet).

    So, since it is a total coincidence, should we stop examining violent rhetoric that has been said by politicians or should we take a moment to reflect? Why should we be concerned about the words that politicians use, knowing that there are disturbed people who might engage in violence?

    Never said that, we SHOULD examine the violent rhetoric, even if this even has nothing to do with it. Just because they look nice when you link them together, mean they are linked, or should be associated with each other. By doing so your using this tragedy towards your own ends, which is a bit disgusting, no matter how good your ends are.

    If it comes out that there is a connection to the current GOP rhetoric, then by all means make a point of it. These is no causal connection yet discovered though. If we find Sarah Palin posters, and a bust of Glenn Beck wreathed in flowers, then we can use this to show how partisan (not just Republican) rhetoric is dangerous.

    The infamous crosshairs map may not be to blame in any way, but it is still irresponsible. Personally, I have a very hard time believing that this guy was obsessed with a member of congress to the point of attacking her, yet had never read a blog post about h

    I'm sure he has. But his previous experience with her was definitely not a "tea party" question. "How can there be government if all words are a lie" isn't the type of thing I've heard any Tea Party person say. I doubt it is a Palin speaking point. It is a strange a deluded question spawned from a sick mind.

    We don't even know if Giffords was attacked because she was a politician or because she was a high visibility target.

    I think there is a great deal of difference between playing a game like Grand theft auto, and listening to a politician say that their opponent is destroying this country and ending our way of life.

    You realize that politicians have been saying that as long as their has been politicians saying things, right?


  • by cawpin ( 875453 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:56PM (#34868836)

    At his trial, he might be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

    And this is one of the major flaws in the American justice system IMO. Not Guilty by reason of insanity shouldn't exist. The proper finding is Guilty BUT insane.

  • by PraiseBob ( 1923958 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:40PM (#34869416)
    In reality, less than 5% of those who plead insanity are successful in the attempt. When they do succeed in their insanity plea, it doesn't let them off the hook. They are remanded to a mental hospital instead of a prison, and spend on average, a longer time in the hospital than they would in a prison for the same crime.

    The insanity plea isn't a get out of jail free card. It means rather than jail, you spend years of your life in a padded room, possibly strapped down or restrained in jackets, and fed high doses of anti-psychotic narcotics.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.