FBI pays visit to blogger as potential “threat”

In the wake of the Arizona shooting, the FBI questions a blogger-critic of a Missouri congressman

Topics: FBI, War Room, Gabrielle Giffords,

FBI pays visit to blogger as potential "threat" (Credit: Reuters/Adam Hunger)

 This local ABC report out of southwest Missouri suggests a law enforcement response to the mass shooting in Arizona that has, until now, been conducted behind the scenes:

CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Mo. — A local blogger who was critical of Rep. Billy Long during last year’s congressional campaign has been interviewed by the FBI about his encounters with the congressman.

Clay Bowler, who lives in Christian County, says he was shocked to find an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his doorstep. Accompanying the agent was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

The agent asked Bowler if he was a threat to Long, a notion Bowler finds laughable.

Long, an auctioneer and former talk radio host, is a freshman member of the new Congress. The blog in question, Long is Wrong, is now behind a password wall. Though Long is a Republican, the blog apparently attacked him from the right.  While Bowler apparently “confronted” Long at some campaign events, there’s no suggestion in the ABC article that he ever threatened the candidate.

The local sheriff casts some light on what may be going on here:

Arnott confirmed to KSPR News that Bowler isn’t the only local person who’s been scrutinized in the wake oflast weekend’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) during a meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson, Ariz.

Arnott said U.S. Capitol police canvassed members of Congress to come up with a list of people across the country who might be considered potential threats to members of Congress.

Asked if there is some new initiative in place, a spokesperson at the FBI’s national office in Washington told me: ”We wouldn’t comment on anything like that.”

Asked if the sheriff’s comments were accurate, a spokesperson for the Capitol Police said: ”We don’t discuss anything that has to do with security of members of Congress. I’m not sure why anyone is talking about that.”



Clearly, if a threat is made against a member of Congress, the authorities are obliged to follow up. But if the line separating sustained political criticism from threats has not been crossed, willy-nilly visits by the FBI could have a real chilling effect on the democratic process. 

The New York Times recently reported that “studies of assaults on public figures have found that attackers have almost never telegraphed their intentions to their targets or to the authorities ahead of time.”

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>