It’s such a truism that it’s almost a cliché: if you don’t like the news, shoot the messenger.
That is precisely the scenario that is unfolding as this is being written, according to three separate reports received today by LouisianaVoice.
- The first is an unsubstantiated (to this point, at least) report that LouisianaVoice is about to be named a defendant in a defamation/libel suit by certain employees of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
That would be the Louisiana State Police (LSP), since those are virtually the only DPS personnel I’ve written about.
And if they want to play that game, I’m more than ready because any litigation on their part will open them up for discovery of every questionable, unethical or illegal act they have ever committed during their entire careers. If they don’t have a little dirty laundry they don’t want exposed, then bring it on.
Anyone can sue and whenever feathers are ruffled, the potential for litigation is a given, but it does not come without risks on the part of the plaintiffs. They will be propounded with more interrogatories and requests for documents than they ever thought possible.
But the other two actions, in my opinion, are far more ominous.
- A terse email from one person says simply, “Rest assured, he (State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson) has already begun trying to destroy you. He is frantically trying to learn who emailed you.”
- That’s a normal reaction by someone backed into a corner but for the third message received today by telephone. The caller said simply, “LSP has IT (Information Technology section) being paid overtime in efforts to determine who is communicating with LouisianaVoice and who is the ‘Trooper Underground.’”
If Edmonson is indeed finished at LSP as several sources have indicated, then there are two possible explanations about the timing of these efforts. One is they were initiated prior to the serving of those 18 subpoenas and while he was still trying to hang on to his job by discrediting his critics—and most likely cleaning house of those he deemed to be malcontents.
The second possible explanation is that as he exits, he fully intends to pull others down with him. And if the right (for Edmonson) person is appointed to succeed him, it will be a seamless transition and the witch hunt will continue unabated and heads will roll with collateral damage hopefully extending to the pesky media, i.e. bloggers.
And just to clear the air a little, LouisianaVoice is a Web blog which covers the entire spectrum of Louisiana politics and Trooper Underground is a Facebook blog that concentrates on matters of concern exclusively to Louisiana State Troopers and retired troopers. We are separate entities.
The ones behind this effort should know that if this is true, and they’re doing this without a valid search warrant, there well could be serious legal (read civil and criminal) repercussions for their actions.
Be that as it may, the efforts to out whistleblowers and to discredit those who report waste, favoritism, fraud, and other nefarious activities within the agency charged with protecting the state’s citizens presents a chilling prospect not just for LouisianaVoice or the Trooper Underground, but for all of us.
This is reminiscent of Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s raid on the home of a Houma blogger because the blogger, a city policeman, dared to criticize Larpenter. More puzzling even than the sheriff’s efforts to silence a critic fully protected under the First Amendment was the fact that a sitting judge actually signed the search warrant. Thankfully, it was quickly ruled unconstitutional by an appeal court.
It’s also reminiscent of a number of other tyrants, dictators, despots and demagogues down through history. Names like Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon come immediately to mind. There are others who ruled entire countries and waged wars while silencing critics. You know who they are.
These are the acts of desperate people who will go to any end to exact revenge on those who, unable to improve things from within, go outside the agency for help. Whether or you agree with them, were it not for the Baton Rouge Advocate (see its recent outstanding series on the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola), New Orleans TV reporter Lee Zurik, retired TV reporter Ken Booth, Lamar White’s CenLamar, Bob Mann’s Something Like the Truth, Robert Burns’ Sound Off Louisiana and yes, LouisianaVoice, to whom could these people turn?
The Attorney General? He’s too busy running for governor. The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney? We don’t know where the hell he is. The Louisiana Office of Inspector General? (Insert chortles, yuks and guffaws here).
So, let them come after us. We’re ready. If we go down, we go down swinging.
Lawsuits can be filed in both directions.