Boy Warns of Repercussions of Bin Laden Killing; Interrogated by Secret Service

(Original story at The Daily Mail here.)

Alright, this borders on the ridiculous. This is not at all like the story of Paul Chambers, the Brit who foolishly (jokingly?) threatened to blow up Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire in January 2010.

It reminds me of a story where a family with two children was detained and interrogated for hours at the Singapore Changi Airport because the mother, while explaining to her 13-year-old daughter why they had to remove their shoes for screening, said “bomb.”

Most of the stories that I post here are of things that people should never have posted on their social media profiles. Those stories usually evoke ridicule from readers, but this boy deserves our sympathy.

It is also a good reminder of how the authorities can and will overreact to what you say on social media, and so, to be always mindful that what you post can be taken out of context and used against you.

War on… teenagers: Boy, 13,  interrogated by the SECRET SERVICE for posting message about Bin Laden on Facebook


Last updated at 11:40 AM on 18th May 2011

A 13-year-old boy was interrogated at his school by Secret Service agents without his mother’s permission after posting a message about Osama Bin Laden on Facebook.

Following the Al Qaeda leader’s death, Tacoma schoolboy Vito LaPinta wrote on his Facebook page that President Barack Obama should be be wary of repercussions.

‘I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers,’ he said.  

A week later he was sitting in class at Truman Middle School, Washington, when he was called into the principal’s office.

Vito said: ‘A man walked in with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service.

‘He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the President. I was very scared.’

The Tacoma school district admitted a Secret Service agent questioned the boy and a security guard called the child’s mother because the principal was on another call.

The school district said they did not wait for Vito’s mother to get there because they thought she didn’t take the phone call seriously.

‘That’s a blatant lie,’ claims Timi Robertson, who said she had just finished lunch with a friend when she received the phone call.

‘I answered it, and it’s the school security guard who’s giving me a heads up that the Secret Service is here with the Tacoma Police Department and they have Vito and they’re talking to him,’ she said.

‘I just about lost it. My 13-year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he’s being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.’

She then rushed to the school only to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour.

The seventh grader said that once his mother arrived the agent finished the interview and told him he was not in any trouble.

Ms Robertson said she isn’t financially able to take legal action but hopes the episode raises awareness about the treatment she said her son endured.

The Seattle branch of the Secret Service did not respond to requests for comment.

It follows revelations that Egyptian veteran militant Saif al-Adel is Al Qaeda’s interim operational leader before the expected permanent appointment of its deputy chief.

Al-Adel is one of Al Qaeda’s leading military chiefs and will be interim leader while the terrorist group collects pledges of loyalty to Al-Zawahri to replace Osama Bin Laden.

The incident is a reminiscent of a number of reactions by the Secret Service to  seemingly innocuous threats to the President’s life.

A mother was interrogated by the Secret Service in December 2010 after making an offhand remark about ‘killing the President’ on a phone call to a civil servant.

Sue Velezquez, 52, made the mock threat after being driven mad by a worker at the U.S. passport agency.

‘It’s not like I’m gonna kill the f*****g president,’ Ms Velezquez said as she asked for her daughter’s documents to be returned in time for the girl’s wedding.

The mother of three thought no more about it until she was phoned by a man identifying himself as a Secret Service agent who said he was outside her home.

The Secret Service also investigated a Facebook poll in September 2009 that asked whether people thought President Obama should be assassinated.

The poll asked respondents, ‘Should Obama be killed?’ The choices were: ‘No’, ‘Maybe’, ‘Yes’, and ‘Yes if he cuts my healthcare’.

The online survey was taken off the popular social networking site quickly after company officials were alerted to its existence.

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Boy Ranks Girls for Sexual Desirability; Charged

(Original story at the Chicago Sun-Times here.)

I remember that when I was a sixth grader, some boy in my class had brought a list to school. The list ranked the hotness of all our female classmates in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The list unfortunately went missing and was found by a girl. The girl, horrified, reported it to our teacher. Our teacher was not amused at all, and interrogated the boys. Of course, no one would admit to it. Our teacher gave us a very stern warning and dropped the matter.

Obviously, if you throw social media into such a story, things get out of proportion. Why? To those in the circle, it is amusing – not that I condone it. To everyone else – especially the victims and their parents – it is repugnant. When social media and electronic communication are used in the transmission of what could just have been dismissed as a distasteful joke, everyone who is likely to be offended can see the offending document, forcing school administrators to act harshly. In such a case, the police are likely to be involved because the victims’ parents are baying for blood.

Oak Park police charge boy who allegedly made sex-ranking list

By Bill Dwyer May 12, 2011 09:24AM

An Oak Park juvenile was arrested Monday for allegedly devising and circulating a list ranking 50 female Oak Park-River Forest High School girls by their sexual characteristics and alleged sexual behaviors.

“The subject was found to be responsible for an offensive list that was circulated at OPRFHS,” said Detective Cmdr. LaDon Reynolds. “Based on the evidence, the juvenile offender was charged with disorderly conduct and referred to (juvenile) court.”

The father of one girl targeted by the list confirmed Tuesday the arrest. His wife, he said, was contacted by Oak Park police Tuesday morning about the charges.

The list emerged in January and described the girls by explicit, derogatory nicknames and assessed their physical appearance, sexual desirability, sexual activity and other characteristics. It was posted on Facebook and hundreds of copies were printed and distributed at the high school during lunch period, before the school administration intervened.

“The school learned today from Oak Park police about the arrest of the former OPRFHS student…” according to a statement from OPRFHS spokeswoman Kay Foran.

This sad and troubling experience prompted the school to have very targeted and deliberate discussions with OPRF students, faculty, staff and families about the consequences and impact of bullying, cyber bullying and sexual harassment and about the remedies and supports available to those victimized by illegal and hurtful behaviors.

“This incident also has spurred us to review and augment our communications and educational outreach to students and families about these issues as we raise awareness and reiterate expectations of respectful behavior toward all,” stated Foran.

Reynolds said the Oak Park Police Department worked closely with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to build the case.

The boy was processed and turned over to his legal guardian, Reynolds said.

In February the boy was expelled from OPRF and sent to an alternative high school in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, according to sources.

Dale Jones, father of one of the girls, said that while he welcomed the arrest, he was concerned that a disorderly conduct charge was not serious enough of a response for a “very serious offense that affected many people.”

Still, he said, “I’m gratified that the investigation continued, and that charges are being filed. I’m hopeful they consider additional charges as they gather more evidence.”

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Soldier Creates Gay Hate Page; Charged

(Original story at The Sydney Morning Herald here.)

This blog has previously featured a British palace guard and a group of Australian soldiers. Both incidents were for making racist remarks on Facebook.

The story this time is about an Australian soldier who created a hate page promoting violence against gays.

Depending on what country we are talking about, homosexuality is either tolerated, none of anyone else’s business, or criminal.

In the United States military, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy tolerates homosexuality. In the Singapore Armed Forces, due to some archaic rules, homosexuality, while not criminal, renders a soldier unfit for combat duty. It seems like Australia’s military takes a none-of-our-business stance on homosexuality among its soldiers.

So why would that ex-soldier create a hate page against gays? Did he not understand that in the military, camaraderie and teamwork are of utmost importance and that his act is tantamount to creating tension and strife among his fellow soldiers? Did he not get that creating division based on something that the Australian government does not care about will not win him any sympathy or a promotion?

Creator of homosexual ‘hate page’ charged

May 5, 2011


A former member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been charged with allegedly threatening a senior army officer and creating a Facebook “hate page”.

A 32-year-old Kareela man was arrested at Surry Hills Police Station, in Sydney, on Thursday morning and charged with a number of offences.

On March 10, 2010, a major attached to the Australian army allegedly received email threats relating to his sexuality.

Sydney detectives launched an investigation and discovered a “hate page” on the social networking site that encouraged violence against homosexuals.

The page also named a number of ADF employees in an attempt to out them as homosexuals.

The Kareela man has been charged in relation to both the alleged threats against the major and the alleged creation of the Facebook page.

He will face court on one count of using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence and one count of using a carriage service to threaten.

He has been granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on June 3.

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