The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
WASHINGTON – Last month a quiet Sunday night in Macon was disturbed when a police car showed up in Erick Erickson’s driveway.
Erickson, editor of conservative blog RedState, WSB radio host and CNN contributor, was surprised to learn a shooting had been falsely reported at his home. But he wasn’t shocked. He figured he was the latest victim of what is known as SWAT-ing.
Washington lawmakers, led by Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, are calling for a federal investigation into the practice, as three conservative bloggers have publicly revealed in the past year that they were impersonated in 911 calls confessing to a killing, prompting police to rush to their homes.
On Monday 87 House Republicans – including seven of Georgia’s eight GOP House members — wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder asking the Department of Justice to review the cases to see if federal laws were broken. Chambliss sent a similar missive last week.
The aim, Erickson said, is to find and prosecute the person who called police to the homes of Erickson, Los Angeles’ Patrick Frey – known as “Patterico” – and New Jersey’s Mike Stack. No one was hurt in the incidents.
Based on 911 tapes, Erickson believes the same man targeted all three bloggers for their political writings. A man called into an Internet radio show last month claiming to be Frey’s SWAT-er and referring to Frey and the show’s host as “wingnuts.”
The 911 calls are similar, with a male-sounding voice saying he just shot his wife.
“She’s dead now,” the person told Bibb County dispatchers. “I’m going to shoot someone else soon.”
Erickson said he had alerted authorities that he could be the target of such a scheme, and the first responding officer recognized him from CNN and handled the situation calmly. That is not always the case: Frey, a Los Angeles County prosecutor, wrote that he had guns pointed at him and was handcuffed.
“It’s very clearly designed to hurt someone and possibly kill someone,” Erickson said in an interview. His two children and a pair of nephews — all age 10 and younger — were at the home.
Chambliss wrote in his letter to Holder: “It is believed that these callers utilize some of the less traditional telecommunications methods, including voice over IP (VOIP) to make the call appear as though it is coming from the target residence and to better hide the true identity of the caller.”
In an interview Tuesday Chambliss said he is concerned about a problem extending beyond the three publicized cases.
“It could happen to a liberal blogger in exactly the same way, or a reporter, so it’s a phenomenon that’s out there that’s obviously got some traction in the community of folks who disagree with First Amendment rights,” he said.
Chambliss asked for a response from the Justice Department by the end of the month. Department officials did not respond to requests for comment.