31 May 1999
See related files: http://jya.com/cejfiles.htm
May 31, 1999
Public call to U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan, Washington Western District, Tacoma, for immediate release of Carl Johnson, with federal apology and $100 million federal compensation for denial of Carl Johnson's First Amendment rights; false accusations, arrest and imprisonment; cruel and unusual punishment during incarceration; and political persecution.
Supporting statements for Carl Johnson:
1. From: U.S. Trial Brief for U.S.A. v. Carl Johnson, April 2, 1999
2. From: News Report on Carl Johnson Conviction, April 24, 1999
3. From: US Appeals Court Judge Betty Fletcher, in the Bernstein opinion, May 6, 1999
1. From: U.S. Trial Brief for U.S.A. v. Carl Johnson, April 2, 1999:
COMES NOW THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, by and through Katrina C. Pflaumer, United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, and Floyd Short and Robb London, Assistants United States Attorney for said district, and submits the following Trial Brief in this matter. Trial is presently scheduled to begin on April 12, 1999, at 9:30 a.m. ...
D. The Bernstein Case and the Specific Threat Against Judge Fletcher
On December 8, 1997, an issue of strong interest to the Cypherpunks came to the fore, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in an appeal known as the Bernstein case. The case involved a challenge to the Government's regulations prohibiting the export of encryption technology. The appeal was argued before Judges Betty Fletcher, Thomas Nelson, and Myron Bright. The day after the argument, the defendant posted another threatening e-mail to the Cypherpunks mailing list, via his Sympatico account, using the name "TruthMailer <firstname.lastname@example.org>." Defendant also encrypted and signed the message using PGP, but he did not encrypt the subject line of the message, which read: "Encrypted InterNet DEATH THREAT! ! ! / ATTN: Ninth District Court Judges / PASSWORD: sog.["] Although the message was encrypted, therefore, defendant included the password to decrypt it -- "sog" -- right in the subject line.
The decrypted message contained a long, profane discussion of the Bernstein case, including direct quotations from the oral argument. In its penultimate paragraphs, the e-mail stated, in relevant part: I will share the same 'DEATH THREAT!!!' with Judges Fletcher, Nelson and Bright that I have shared with the President and a host of Congressional and Senatorial representatives:
"You can fuck some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you are going to end up in a body bag or a pinebox before you manage to fuck all of the people all of the time.
Am *I* going to whack you out? Maybe...
The message purported to be written by John Gilmore (who denies authoring it), but also included "hints" as to the real author's identity. Among the hints were references to the Assassination Politics Bot and to the defendant's Canadian citizenship:
I can also be tied into Jim Bell's Worldwide Conspiracy to assassinate government authorities, through my implementation of an Assassination Bot. (I am willing to 'rat out' Jim for two bottles of Scotch. If he is willing to rat me out for less, then I guess it's just my hard luck, eh? <--that's another hint!)
The import of the threat, in its full context, was clear: The Ninth Circuit panel should decide the Bernstein appeal in favor of the defendant's position on the issue raised in that case or face the possibility of ending up "in a body bag or a pine box." The defendant also directed some of his comments specifically at law enforcement, daring them to come get him for making the threat. The message ended with a PGP digital signature generated by one of the defendant's PGP secret keys, called "Son of Gomez." That secret key was later found on the defendant's laptop computer by Canadian law enforcement and on a diskette that he had at the time of his arrest. "Son of Gomez" is also an alias that the defendant has used.
2. From: News Report on Carl Johnson Conviction, April 24, 1999:
U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan dismissed an additional charge that accused Johnson of attempting to threaten a judge [Judge Betty Fletcher] who presided over a 1997 challenge of White House encryption regulations.
He scolded the cypherpunks, several of whom testified last week, including Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Gilmore.
"A great deal of what the cypherpunks people put out on that list is based on ignorance of the legal system," Bryan said.
"I wish those who would criticize the legal system would educate themselves first," Bryan told the handful of people in the tiny courtroom. Johnson, a large, ungainly fellow, wore a brown T-shirt and slacks, and appeared very nervous.
When handing down the verdict, Bryan scolded Johnson for threatening officials. One message, posted anonymously but believed to be from Johnson, painted the image of a man hell-bent on revenge.
It said: "'You can fuck some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you are going to end up in a body bag or a pine box before you manage to fuck all of the people all of the time.' Am *I* going to whack you out? Maybe ..."
The anonymous message was signed with a digital signature that the court said could be clearly linked to Johnson. A copy of the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) key used to sign the message was posted anonymously to the list after Johnson's arrest, but his attorney said the mail was not significant to the case.
Bryan said that courts should not take threats lightly.
"Mr. Johnson, I had a friend of mine blown up at his desk," he said. "There are people who follow through on their threats against the judiciary."
3. From: US Appeals Court Judge Betty Fletcher, in the Bernstein opinion, May 6, 1999:
"Never has our ability to shield our affairs from prying eyes been at such a low ebb. The availability and use of secure encryption may offer an opportunity to reclaim some portion of the privacy we have lost. Government efforts to control encryption thus may well implicate not only the First Amendment rights of cryptographers intent on pushing the boundaries of their science, but also the constitutional rights of each of us as potential recipients of encryption's bounty."