How Barr Misused His Power To ‘Unmask’ Nunes Parody On Twitter
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Former Attorney General Bill Barr, in a possibly illegal move, used the full weight and power of the federal government to try to determine the identity of the person behind a Twitter account parodying a top Trump-supporting congressman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
On November 24, 2020, the Department of Justice, via a secret grand jury, served Twitter, Inc. with not only a subpoena ordering the social media company to reveal the identity of Twitter user "@NunesAlt," but also with a gag order requiring the company to not reveal the existence of the subpoena, The Daily Beast reports.
The Wall Street Journal's Kevin Poulsen shows that Twitter recently tried to quash the subpoena:
This was just unsealed. In the last weeks of the Trump administration, William Barr's Justice Department tried to use a secret grand jury subpoena to unmask @NunesAlt, a Devin Nunes parody account.https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.dcd.224281/gov.uscourts.dcd.224281.3.0.pdf\u00a0\u2026— kpoulsen (@kpoulsen) 1621272650
It's not that the Twitter account was posting state secrets or classified government intelligence. The account's bio even reads: "Yes, it's parody."
So what does @NunesAlt, aka "Devin Nunes' Alt-Mom," tweet?
A random selection:
https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/1345804919526326273\u00a0\u2026— Devin Nunes' Alt-Mom (@Devin Nunes' Alt-Mom) 1609700020
Translation: I betrayed my country in a desperate late-stage ploy to gain power in the twilight of my lackluster political career, and now everyone hates me.https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1348834040577626116\u00a0\u2026— Devin Nunes' Alt-Mom (@Devin Nunes' Alt-Mom) 1610427060
Legal experts are expressing outrage.
NBC News and MSNBC Legal Contributor:
All hail @DevinCow and @NunesAlt. Long live @DevinCow and @NunesAlt!— Katie S. Phang (@Katie S. Phang) 1621278657
Former federal prosecutor Ken White, now a criminal defense, white collar crime and First Amendment litigation attorney:
This is absolutely outrageous.https://twitter.com/kpoulsen/status/1394344671761993731\u00a0\u2026— EveryKneeShallBowHat (@EveryKneeShallBowHat) 1621278931
First Amendment and defamation lawyer, and Free Speech Counsel at TechFreedom, a tech policy think tank:
Let's be clear about this: the DOJ attempting to secretly unmask a social media account that parodies an elected official is a gross abuse of government power and a severe threat to the First Amendment.https://twitter.com/kpoulsen/status/1394344671761993731\u00a0\u2026— Ari Cohn (@Ari Cohn) 1621282211
National security lawyer:
Clearly a great use of time and resources by DOJhttps://twitter.com/kpoulsen/status/1394344671761993731\u00a0\u2026— Bradley P. Moss (@Bradley P. Moss) 1621276232
Former Federal Prosecutor:
Every day we learn about more corruption in Bill Barr\u2019s DOJ. They actually served a grand jury subpoena on Twitter to unmask the identity of the person behind a Devin Nunes parody account. DOJ not only acted as Trump\u2019s personal law firm, they were also working for Nunes!https://twitter.com/kpoulsen/status/1394344671761993731\u00a0\u2026— Ron Filipkowski (@Ron Filipkowski) 1621279212
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