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Judge Frees "Cannibal Cop" Who Shared His Fantasies Online

timothy posted about a month ago | from the not-my-first-choice-for-babysitter dept.

Crime 185

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes The story is classic: Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Boy goes on the internet and writes about his fantasies that involve killing and eating Girl. Boy goes to jail. In this case, the man in question, NYC police officer Gilberto Valle, didn't act on his fantasies — he just shared them in a like-minded internet forum. Yesterday, Valle was released from jail after a judge overturned his conviction on appeal. U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe wrote that Valle was "guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts... We don't put people in jail for their thoughts. We are not the thought police and the court system is not the deputy of the thought police." The judge concluded that there was insufficient evidence, since "this is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace" and "no reasonable juror could have found that Valle actually intended to kidnap a woman... the point of the chats was mutual fantasizing about committing acts of sexual violence on certain women." (A New York magazine article covered the details of the case and the implications of the original conviction earlier this year.)

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First "OMG the common sense" post (3, Insightful)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about a month ago | (#47376793)

That's fairly surprising, and really quite reasonable.

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about a month ago | (#47377039)

It is because he was a cop. Recall that people have sent to jail for creating 'terrorist fantasies' because the FBI gave them the means and opportunity to carry out the fantasy. The courts do and have sent people to jail for fantasies. It is called conspiracy. In this case the fantasy targeted specific females, while the cop had means and opportunities to make those fantasies a reality. Remember that he went as far as using the police database to compile a list of real women he fantasized of eating, and was convicted for misuse of that database, so the fact this was moving out of fantasy has been proven. This is not a flight of reason. I am sure if a common person used a database to collect information on the judge or the judge's family and then wrote a detailed plan of how the family was to be murdered, we would not be getting of with a simple misuse of private information. This is clearly another case of no consequences for cops who break the law.

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377245)

He wasn't convicted of misuse of a database. He was convicted of conspiracy to kidnap, and murder. Presumably the act of misusing a database occurred before there was even a conspiracy agreement in the first place, therefore arguably the overt act of miusing a database shouldn't be contributed to the conspiracy to kidnap...

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (5, Informative)

anagama (611277) | about a month ago | (#47377555)

Actually he _was_ convicted of misusing the DB (max sentence 12 months). He's been in jail for more than 18 months so at this point, he has served more than enough to satisfy the highest possible sentence.

As a side note, the most disturbing part of this case to me, was Valle's illegal use of the DB to find out information about people for purely personal reasons. I'm sort of shocked that such a crime carries a max 12 month sentence. What that says to me is that law enforcement agencies and the governments that set them up, don't really care how their own misuse government power. Nor does the media for the most part as demonstrated by the thousands of words spent on the prurient charms of this case, but in any article, there is at most a single sentence about the DB issue.

Here's an example:

Tabloid same as NY Times, you'll have to search the page for "database" to find that single sentence.:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... [dailymail.co.uk]

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07... [nytimes.com]

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377823)

I think you're confusing the words "accused" and "convicted."

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (2)

maz2331 (1104901) | about a month ago | (#47377267)

The arrests for terrorism only happen when there is an overt act taken in the real world (aka "meatspace") where an actual attempt is made to do damage. The cops just ensure that the damage isn't actually possible, but the target of their investigation doesn't know that.

That said, those cases do need to be very carefully reviewed for entrapment concerns. If the cops are coercing or near-brainwashing someone with a weak personality into doing something that they wouldn't otherwise do then there is a big problem, whereas if they are only playing along with a pre-existing plot or tendency then it is not entrapment.

This is a case where there is plenty of probable cause to have initiated an investigation and termination of employment, and any appropriate punishment for misuse of public records, but until the acts discussed were actually acted upon in some way in the real world it wasn't yet a crime.

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (2)

dougisfunny (1200171) | about a month ago | (#47377523)

I would think the fantasizing, "I am going to have to use the database to find someone who fits these parameters" would be the fantasy, and actually using the database to find someone who meets the target requirements would be the overt act.

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377669)

I would think the fantasizing, "I am going to have to use the database to find someone who fits these parameters" would be the fantasy, and actually using the database to find someone who meets the target requirements would be the overt act.

Except that's not what happened, at least according to what I've read. He used the database not to FIND victims, but to look up personal information about women he already knew. It's still abuse of police power, and he should be punished for that (and was).

The question is whether he ever appeared to use that information in any way that would further his supposed "conspiracy." And the actual evidence says that not only did he NOT use that information to plan attacks, but he deliberately kept that information to himself. He never shared any information from the databases with his supposed "co-conspirators," and in fact deliberately changed up personal details of the supposed "victims" (including mixing in false things with true) when he posted about his fantasies.

If he were actually trying to use this information to plan an elaborate plot to kill people, why would he intentionally avoid sharing this (illegally-obtained) information with his "conspirators" and why would he feed them false information? On the other hand, if he was a generally law-abiding cop who felt guilty about his inappropriate access to personal data and actually wanted to be sure his "conspirators" never went too far, his behavior makes perfect sense.

Furthermore, in terms of "overt acts," one needs to consider the history of all of these "plots." There were many, many "plots" hatched, dates mentioned, all sorts of details given, but there's no evidence that any of these actors in the "conspiracy" ever actually took actions in the real world to make any of these detailed plots possible. This would suggest that there was no intention to actually carry out most of these "plots," and the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to prove that some particular plot was ever actually serious and set in motion... since in context, it's clear the default was that the plots were fantasy.

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about a month ago | (#47377463)

Presumably he'll get some sort of mandatory time in front of a psychiatrist to make sure he's fit for active duty.

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a month ago | (#47377113)

Yes, now let's hope that they extend the result of this ruling to apply to all citizens, not just ones in employ of the King (by which I mean the government).

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377227)

Didn't we throw a guy in jail who did the exact same thing (fantasizing and sharing online) about eating kids?

How is this any different? Shouldn't this guy get a mandatory psych evaluation to see just how nuts he is?

I'm not so sure... (4, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about a month ago | (#47377395)

If this was just a guy posting trash on Facebook I'd probably side with you. If you read the details of the case, you will find that this is not just someone ranting. This appears to be someone conspiring to commit rape, murder, and kidnapping.

Whether the primary web site has a disclaimer or not, does not change the fact that this goes beyond the simple act of writing about a sick fantasy. He offered to kidnap someone for 5,000.00. He went and found a recipe for chloroform, then built a pulley system to string up one of the people he was talking about kidnapping and murdering. He used a Police database illegally for the purpose of gathering personal information about the people he appeared to be conspiring against (it was more than 1). This goes well beyond simply discussing "unconventional thoughts".

Lets change the scenario a bit. If I was to claim I want to kill someone on Facebook, I'd be a person of interest but not doing anything illegal. When I go out and search for recipes for poisons, I'm still not illegal but I should be under watch, especially if the poison is generic household items which I may have on hand. Once I start illegally gathering personal information about the targets I claimed I want to kill, would I not be conspiring to commit murder? What if I owned a gun, would that be enough? (Remember that this person was a Cop and had a Gun, as well as a position of authority to abuse, and could have been legally stalking victims without anyone's knowledge on "patrols")

If you believe it's reasonable, would you want the guy as a neighbor? Invite them over over for dinner? If so, good for you. I'd prefer to see a person like this under watch and psychological monitoring at a minimum.

Re:I'm not so sure... (2)

tibit (1762298) | about a month ago | (#47377689)

Under watch is OK, but that's not the same as in jail.

Re:I'm not so sure... (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a month ago | (#47377767)

Which to me means that it was not reasonable to throw out the charges. Change them to something that allows watching.

Re:I'm not so sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47378115)

Which to me means that it was not reasonable to throw out the charges. Change them to something that allows watching.

Umm, that's exactly what the judge did [cnn.com] .

Valle was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation, and to surrender travel documents and weapons. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe also ordered GPS home monitoring for the defendant.

Re:I'm not so sure... (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about a month ago | (#47377897)

Where's the line between "fantasy" and "conspiring"?
Surely you must have one defined to be able to make your judgement call?

And what's up with restricting people we find creepy for what they might do? I honestly think you are creepy and that you have the potential to commit some heinous acts. Should we put you under constant watch and psych monitoring too?

Due process. It's not a difficult concept.

Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47378169)

I realize this is really about the privileged elites, their protectors and keeping their plebs in check, but if this man now acts out on his fantasies, everybody who participated of keeping this man's freedom is now guilty of enabling and aiding a planned crime, except for his lawyer.

Of course, the courts will never deliver such justice as presedent and not law rule the land.

Not really sure what is right and wrong here, but I believe the man should get assistance in switching to an occupation better sui.... oh wait, this is perfect of course. Nothing wron ghere. Nothing to see. Move along people!

Should probably be locked up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47376797)

Didn't he use a police database to look for women? Didn't he browse the web looking for ways to cook human flesh?
Fuck this guy.

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a month ago | (#47376823)

Didn't he use a police database to look for women? Didn't he browse the web looking for ways to cook human flesh?
Fuck this guy.

What ever floats your boat, dude.

Seriously, Timothy - just why is this on Slashdot? Are you channeling something? Is this a hint? Are we trying to compete with the New York Daily News?
Does this actually matter?

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

Herder Of Code (2989779) | about a month ago | (#47376875)

Well, he used a computer at some point so it's Slashdot material :)

Re:Should probably be locked up (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47376981)

From TFA: "Gilberto Valle was 25 years old and still living with his father in Queens when, in 2009, he met Kathleen Mangan on OKCupid."

OKC strikes again! Someone met a creeper on OKC who still lived with their parents? Imagine that....

Re:Should probably be locked up (0)

Sentrion (964745) | about a month ago | (#47377425)

Well, he used a computer at some point so it's Slashdot material :)

Which, incidentally, also makes it patentable and a criminal offense. Back to jail he goes.

Re:Should probably be locked up (4, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | about a month ago | (#47377055)

Because a lot of us are freedom nerds, and this ruling is interesting in that it was allowed to go to trial, but the judge issued a judgment notwithstanding the verdict that preserves free thought.

As to GP post, yes, they should have tried him for any crimes he committed using the police database, and I obviously assume he's no longer Popo, but this was not an actual conspiracy to commit a crime, locking people up because they are gross under the guise of conspiracy is not the solution to anything.

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

jythie (914043) | about a month ago | (#47377623)

It matters quite a bit. While this is an extreme case, it is closely related to the debate (and arrests) involving things like trash talking in video games or, well, the core player base of EvE Online.

Re:Should probably be locked up (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47377027)

What's wrong with that? Lots of amusing things come up when you Google that [google.com] . Hell, Google auto completed the search for me, suggesting "recipes" after I had typed in "human meat".

Incidentally, I'm not much of a whiz in the kitchen, but I suspect human flesh would work pretty well in a red sauce or curry. The bigger problem of course would be the cost of obtaining it, followed by the difficulty of obtaining lean cuts, particularly if you reside in the first world....

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a month ago | (#47377105)

A western liver of a commited cereal eater should be like a good fois gras.

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377109)

Incidentally, I'm not much of a whiz in the kitchen, but I suspect human flesh would work pretty well in a red sauce or curry.

... with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a month ago | (#47377403)

It's hard to find deer meat at the local grocery store, but yet all my friends have tons deer sausage overflowing out of their freezer. The key is to simply change your mindset and harvest the "wildlife" you see coming out of a vegan restaurant. Myself, I like corn-feed meat, so I would probably set up my hunting blind in a Golden Corral parking lot. I've been told it tastes like veal.

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47377627)

so I would probably set up my hunting blind in a Golden Corral parking lot

Hunting blind? Why would you need one of those? Your prey is too busy looking at its cell phone to notice you sneaking up on it.

Re:Should probably be locked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377639)

I think any game taken from a Golden Corral would taste like foie gras and be way too greasy. But anything from the vegan restaurant would be gamey with a patchouli aftertaste.

Re:Should probably be locked up (1)

butchersong (1222796) | about a month ago | (#47377731)

He was definatley working himself up to live his fantasies and he definately should have been convicted for misuse of the law enforcement database and anything else that could have stuck. Conspiracy to kidnap and murder.. they almost had enough for that but even given that he talked about his intent and purchased implements for a kill that probably shouldn't be enough to convict. Misleading slashdot headline though. This guy was almost certainly preparing for a kill and actively hunting he just hadn't settled on a target yet.

and yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47376811)

We throw kids in jail who post fantasies about killing bullies. Maybe this is the first step towards fixing that problem.

Re:and yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47376861)

The kid can have his free pass when he gets his badge.

Could have been ... (4, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a month ago | (#47376867)

... a novelist or script writer or something. Imagine Hitchcock or Stephen King before they made it big. They must have such dark thoughts, some of them committed to paper. Easy to imagine the "script" as a thinly veiled attempt by a depraved individual to distance himself from his perverted fantasies. Well, they did not have internet then, and they had the sensibility to pitch it as novel or script.

Re:Could have been ... (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about a month ago | (#47377029)

... a novelist or script writer or something. Imagine Hitchcock or Stephen King before they made it big. They must have such dark thoughts, some of them committed to paper.

About their girlfriend? Is there a difference between general deviant thought and deviant thoughts against a specific person you interact with regularly? Just askin...

Re:Could have been ... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a month ago | (#47377149)

Also, there's probably a difference between having thoughts, and writing down those thoughts and posting them on an internet forum. Death threats are illegal. Posting online that you are going to kill and eat a real person could probably be considered a death threat.

Re:Could have been ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377311)

Also, there's probably a difference between having thoughts, and writing down those thoughts and posting them on an internet forum. Death threats are illegal. Posting online that you are going to kill and eat a real person could probably be considered a death threat.

Not unless you actually, well, threatened someone. A "death threat" involves actually contacting the target or posting a message in a place where it will be communicated to the target. Thus, the person is threatened.

Posting a message in some random place that the target is unlikely to read it is NOT a death threat. It may be evidence of intent to commit murder (and hence evidence for a charge of attempted murder), or, if discussed with others, it might be evidence of conspiracy to commit murder (again with sufficient evidence of intent).

But both charges of attempted murder and conspiracy require proof of intent to actually commit the crime. That was lacking in this case, hence the acquittal. But they couldn't charge him with making a death threat, since that would involve his actually communicating the threat to a victim.

Re:Could have been ... (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a month ago | (#47377465)

The trick now is to re-phrase your death threats in the form of a fictional story, poem, or lyric and post it online as a work of art. Recall that movie that involved a plot to assassinate Bush?

Re:Could have been ... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a month ago | (#47377201)

Not really.

Re:Could have been ... (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about a month ago | (#47377181)

"People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk." -Stephen King

Re:Could have been ... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a month ago | (#47377205)

Hitchcock should have been hanged.

I take it (2)

present_arms (848116) | about a month ago | (#47376903)

I take it he just didn't post "I'd love to eat her out" then. Seriously though it's getting rather dangerous when people are being jailed for thinking something bad, who here at one time or another hasn't had "evil" thoughts at one time or another?

Re:I take it (3, Interesting)

u38cg (607297) | about a month ago | (#47377075)

It appears he had a very strongly developed paraphilia; but the long and short of it is there was no evidence that he ever intended to take practical steps and there was no psychological evidence of risk. This is one that really shouldn't have gone to trial to start with; however, it's easy to understand why the jury convicted.

Re:I take it (2)

jythie (914043) | about a month ago | (#47377671)

One of the core problems is that many people believe that having paraphilia means the person will act on it. Males who deviate from normal are assumed to also be incapable of controlling themselves, thus unlike 'normal' males, these deviates will take what they want no matter what.

Personally, it kinda reminds me of all the heterosexuals I have seen claim that what they were doing was not child abuse because 'they are not gay'.... every time I hear people talking about how people with fetishes will go to non-concentual extremes to satisfy their desires I wonder if they have a nugget of rape in their past they are trying to convince themselves could not have actually been rape since THEY are not a deviant.

Re:I take it (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a month ago | (#47377129)

He went victim-shopping on a classified police database, the only charge that actually stuck.

Dude wasn't just fantasizing, he was conspiring.

Re:I take it (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a month ago | (#47377871)

I have to agree. If someone posts Jihadist fantasies online and is also heavily involved in a pyrotechnic hobby, I think we (law enforcement) step in and do something about it. Kids have been arrested and tried as adults when they had notebooks filled with very detailed Columbine-like plots against their schools. You are free to have creepy thoughts all you want, but if those thoughts appear to a jury to be a murder or terrorist plot, then be prepared to serve some time for those thought.

Is this true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47376917)

We don't put people in jail for their thoughts.

I'm not convinced this is true.

Re:Is this true? (3, Insightful)

praxis (19962) | about a month ago | (#47377003)

We don't put people in jail for their thoughts.

I'm not convinced this is true.

Neither was the judge, I take it. I believe that was a statement to remind us how we intend to live not how we do live.

Re:Is this true? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a month ago | (#47378057)

We don't put people in jail for their thoughts.

I'm not convinced this is true.

You should have said "I don't think this is true." And then immediately been incarcerated.

Would be different (4, Insightful)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about a month ago | (#47376923)

I bet you if he wrote about child pornography or terrorism it would be a different story.

However, I agree with the judgement. It's a very slippery slop once that line is crossed and you have to take the good with the bad when you want ANY freedom.

Re:Would be different (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47376955)

I bet you if he wrote about child pornography or terrorism it would be a different story.

Tom Clancy penned a novel in 1994 that ended with a 767 being flown into the United States Capitol. Seven years before 9/11. Nobody put him in jail, before or after.

Re:Would be different (4, Funny)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a month ago | (#47377087)

Tom Clancy penned a novel in 1994 that ended with a 767 being flown into the United States Capitol. Seven years before 9/11. Nobody put him in jail, before or after.

Because it was mostly politicians being killed. And because Harrison Ford survived.

Re:Would be different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377103)

I bet you if he wrote about child pornography or terrorism it would be a different story.

Tom Clancy penned a novel in 1994 that ended with a 767 being flown into the United States Capitol. Seven years before 9/11. Nobody put him in jail, before or after.

When politicians came out and said NOBODY EVER THOUGHT OF USING PLANES AS MISSLES!" [youtube.com] ...I thought...don't any of them read Clancy?

Re:Would be different (2, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a month ago | (#47377337)

The conservative talk radio stuff was yammering about that when it happened. G. Gordon Liddy was praising one of the victims, a man who had predicted hijacked airplanes hitting the World Trade center [wikipedia.org] and insisted on either leaving or training for evacuation without the aid of useless first-responders. This is a man who got all of his people out of Tower 2, then went back in to find anyone else that might be in there. The damn thing collapsed with him in it.

Then, conservative politicians pop up talking about how nobody ever thought of that shit.

So, conservative talk show host praises conservative office manager for predicting 9/11 as the most likely form of terrorist attack in 1995. Conservative politicians scream that nobody ever thought of that form of terrorist attack before. Face palms all around.

Re:Would be different (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47377417)

Tom Clancy was actually interviewed by CNN on 9/11. I remember listening to it on the local radio station, which decided to cut their normal feed and broadcast CNN Radio for the duration of the day. We got all of our news from the radio that day, along with the extra edition of the local paper, because we were at work with no television and the internet was too bogged down to be useful. None of us actually saw what had happened until we got home from work, which made it really surreal.

For some reason the Clancy interview is one of the things that sticks out in my mind when I think of that day. Maybe because I had already read Debt of Honor.

Re:Would be different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47378099)

Wow, assuming the Wikipedia page isn't exaggerated why wasn't that guy front page news? He probably single handily saved over 1,000 lives (possibly up to 2,600) apparently in direct contradiction to official instructions to stay in the building. And after that marched right back into Tower 2 and was unfortunately killed.

Re:Would be different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47378095)

Or the circa 1995 Bojinka plot...some of us were paying attention.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oplan_Bojinka_plot

Re:Would be different (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a month ago | (#47377119)

I bet you if he wrote about child pornography or terrorism it would be a different story.

Tom Clancy penned a novel in 1994 that ended with a 767 being flown into the United States Capitol. Seven years before 9/11. Nobody put him in jail, before or after.

I'm still waiting for the Teeth of the Tiger shopping-mall attacks. We saw what happened in Kenya recently. Just imagine that in several malls across the US.

Re:Would be different (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47377327)

I'm still waiting for the Teeth of the Tiger shopping-mall attacks. We saw what happened in Kenya recently. Just imagine that in several malls across the US.

After 9/11 we actually got pretty good at keeping terrorists from getting to the United States, so I don't think attacks like these are a particularly likely occurrence. First you've got to get enough committed people here to carry out the attacks, which means you have to find people that aren't already on the radar of American intelligence, then get them through the Visa process. Once they're here you've got to obtain all the weaponry you'll need, because you're sure as hell not bringing it here in your checked baggage, so now you've got to deal with the American criminal element (not exactly the most trustworthy lot) to get your hands on a cache of firearms and explosives, all while remaining off the radar of law enforcement. It's really not as easy as it sounds when you open those technothrillers....

Even if you pulled it off, I doubt you could duplicate what we saw in Kenya or Mumbai. American law enforcement isn't likely to shrink from the confrontation like some of the Mumbai police did. They're well armed and well trained for these sorts of things. You've also got a non-zero chance of running into armed civilians and private security, depending on your choice of targets. I doubt the average civilian concealed carrier or rent-a-cop could stop a committed assault, but they've got a decent chance at taking one or more bad guys out with them, so that's yet another thing that could go wrong from the perspective of the would be attackers.

I suppose you could worry about domestic terrorists doing the same, because they're already here and would have an easier time arming themselves. Of course, shooting up a shopping mall doesn't seem like their style, and the Government is fairly adept at infiltrating these types of organizations before they can pull off anything serious.

Re:Would be different (0)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a month ago | (#47377371)

I'm still waiting for the Teeth of the Tiger shopping-mall attacks. We saw what happened in Kenya recently. Just imagine that in several malls across the US.

After 9/11 we actually got pretty good at keeping terrorists from getting to the United States, so I don't think attacks like these are a particularly likely occurrence. First you've got to get enough committed people here to carry out the attacks, which means you have to find people that aren't already on the radar of American intelligence, then get them through the Visa process. Once they're here you've got to obtain all the weaponry you'll need, because you're sure as hell not bringing it here in your checked baggage, so now you've got to deal with the American criminal element (not exactly the most trustworthy lot) to get your hands on a cache of firearms and explosives, all while remaining off the radar of law enforcement. It's really not as easy as it sounds when you open those technothrillers....

Remember how they got over in the book: our southern border is very porous. And once inside the country guns are very easy to get, and even semi-automatic rifles purchased legally can be dangerous in the wrong hands. All you need is one convert or supporter here to buy the guns at a gun show, gun stores, or even privately over the internet.

Re:Would be different (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47377571)

That's FUD. Yes the Southern Border is porous. Find me one example of a terrorist that has entered the country via that route. Just one. I'm not aware of it having happened. The United States shares intelligence with Mexico and Canada, so you're still dealing with the same fundamental problem of getting into the Western Hemisphere without being detected. Effectively you've given the security forces two bites at your apple, because you're going to have to sneak past Canadian/Mexican customs and American customs (legal route) or the Border Patrol (illegal route). If it was as easy as you make it sound it would have happened already. Heck, they've actually tried it from the Northern Border [wikipedia.org] , and been caught while doing so.

The gun stuff is FUD too. It's "very easy" to get your hands on a cache of firearms large enough to conduct a Mumbai style attack? Where exactly is it "easy" to do that? You can't go the legal route as a non-citizen. That leaves you with the choice of obtaining them from private sellers and/or the black market. Option #1 doesn't scale and Option #2 runs the risk of detection by law enforcement. The only way I can see pulling it off would be to have a sleeper agent in the United States months before your planned attack, who slowly assembled the required weapons cache, but the longer you're here the more likely it is that you get caught. Murphy's Law applies even to terrorists.....

Re:Would be different (1)

PPH (736903) | about a month ago | (#47377635)

After 9/11 we actually got pretty good at keeping terrorists from getting to the United States,

Actually, no. Some noteworthy [wikipedia.org] cases involve people in our military. That is getting pretty deep into our society, IMO. What we are good at doing is keeping a lid on the extremism that allows such people to organize and plan something more destructive than a crazed lone gunman.

Most of the Muslims in this country are much less extreme than their brethern in the Middle East. I guess they look around and figure that they have things pretty damned good here compared to back home.

Re:Would be different (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47378171)

Uhh, he was a natural born American citizen, so how exactly do you propose we keep him out of the United States? I was referring to foreign terrorists, in fact I believe I even made a comment about would-be domestic terrorists having an easier go of it.

Re:Would be different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377359)

Nobody goes to the mall anymore; we all shop online.

Re:Would be different (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about a month ago | (#47377429)

I'm still waiting for the Teeth of the Tiger shopping-mall attacks. We saw what happened in Kenya recently. Just imagine that in several malls across the US.

The scenarios from Larry Bond's The Enemy Within are also pretty scary. If they came to pass, it's likely the entire US highway system would be completely TSA'd.

Re:Would be different (1)

swb (14022) | about a month ago | (#47377785)

I think the fact that those kinds of attacks haven't happened is a very good argument that terrorism is highly overstated.

Despite all our collective disgust with cameras, eavesdropping, and so on, America remains a very easy society to move about freely and there is very little security over the kinds of targets terrorists would have a field day with, like shopping malls, power substations, oil refineries, and so on.

What effect on the economy would a series of coordinated attacks on malls have on the day after Thanksgiving? Even if you could get people to go out and shop, sales would be off disastrously. What kind of economic impact would even a half-intelligent and coordinated attack on electric transmission of a given region?

None of it seems very hard to pull off, especially if you consider the impact of the involvement of a state actor who could provide funding and basic training in tactics.

Re:Would be different (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a month ago | (#47377923)

If the plot from Invasion USA starts to be implemented, I am holding Chuck Norris personally responsible to get out there and kill ALL the terrorists. With his fists. While drinking hot tea.

Re:Would be different (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about a month ago | (#47377161)

That's because he wrote it in English. If he had written the book in Arabic, it would have been classified as a terrorist training manual.

Re:Would be different (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a month ago | (#47377191)

He was already famous. Anyone writing a similar essay while in high school would be investigated, if not suspended or expelled. Even hand gestures [cnn.com] are grounds for punishment. And lord help you if you write anything about sex [go.com] !

Re:Would be different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377839)

> Nobody put him in jail

Considering he's been in solitary confinement since October and was put there by a group of hard-core Republicans, you're not right. His kind is disgusting. They always call for violence and hate people because of the color of their skin, and only vary rarely do they get punished. In this case, Clancy went to far for even the diehard murderous Republicans. He was the architect of 9/11.

Re:Would be different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377067)

It's a very slippery slop

And with the cannibal cop, the slop would be especially slippery. Uh oh, probably shouldn't be thinking about such jokes. Good thing the ruling went the way it did....

Re:Would be different (1)

byeley (2451634) | about a month ago | (#47377291)

Lots of people have been sentenced for similar material depicting minors under the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

The enforcement is pretty arbitrary though.

Re:Would be different (1)

RyoShin (610051) | about a month ago | (#47377831)

he wrote about child pornography

Glad you're already +5, because my mod points expired yesterday. The judge wouldn't have given him a second look if it was pedophilic(?) fiction, despite falling under the same kind of fantasy. (Of course, as others have mentioned, him being a cop probably landed him on the good side of the judge and a common citizen wouldn't have been freed.)

Disgusting though it is, disgust should not be used as the main criteria for laws.

Undercover Sting Op (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47376927)

The Prosecution and how could fuck up a bloody stink operation...

Government Approved Fantasies (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47376945)

Include:
-Working hard
-Buying things
-Having a family

All other fantasies will be regarded as anti-social

Sarcasm-fu (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377455)

Hey everyone, mod up the parent post because of its cooler-than-you post that drips so much juicy sarcasm you can fill a bucket with it. It's all patently true!
Government (which one?) is sentient - it has fantasies! Having a family and working hard are not values we should hold as a society! These things are obviously filthy and will only lead to the degradation of society! And buying things? That's for losers! The government should just provide us with everything, or you should steal it because it makes society better!

Seriously - next time, think twice about committing your idiotic comments to the discussion.

thought crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47376999)

This is the right outcome but this guy was pretty lucky to get it. Maybe now, the next person to get busted for thought crime can reference this case in their defense?

remind me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377051)

remind me how many people are in jail or got visits from the SS for joking about killing the president online

What kind of violence? (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a month ago | (#47377061)

>mutual fantasizing about committing acts of sexual violence

Umm, it sounded like acts of culinary violence to me.

Mmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377095)

She sounds delicious!

Though crime is here! (0)

guruevi (827432) | about a month ago | (#47377097)

I don't even know how they could arrest the guy. He had done nothing at that point, he had made no plans to do anything, no tools, according to his ex who installed spyware on his computer, he was supposedly writing on anonymous fetish sites.

And they were able to hold him for several months on this and he needed a psychiatrist to clear him? Ridiculous.

Re:Though crime is here! (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a month ago | (#47377155)

I don't even know how they could arrest the guy. He had done nothing at that point, he had made no plans to do anything, no tools, according to his ex who installed spyware on his computer, he was supposedly writing on anonymous fetish sites.

I presume you're basing this assumption on the contents of TFS.

I read some other articles about this case yesterday - he bought the tools, and used a classified police database to shop for victims. To me, that's a bit past "fantasy" and more into "planning to do this shit."

Re:Though crime is here! (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47377675)

Unless you can prove he actually was planning to do so, it doesn't matter. He could've been looking for people to fantasize about, rather than planning on actually doing it.

Re:Though crime is here! (1)

Nanoda (591299) | about a month ago | (#47377171)

He had done nothing at that point, he had made no plans to do anything[...]

It might not be in the particular article linked above, but this guy was using police databases to research a bunch of women. I'm certainly not happy leaving people like that to their own devices.

Re:Though crime is here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377943)

Definitely man. And he posted actual pictures of all his family on the forum, where all his fetish buddies talked about doing the same shit he was on about. I don't know about 7 months in custody but I think he should definitely been subject to psychiatric help/treatment.

Conspiracy to commit... (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about a month ago | (#47377137)

What is the difference between "talking about murder fantasies" and "conspiracy to commit murder"?

"Honestly, I wasn't trying to get my wife killed, I was just really upset and venting steam, it's not my fault a professional hit-man decided to help me out"

Conspiracy != fantasy (2)

dwheeler (321049) | about a month ago | (#47377229)

The difference is that in a conspiracy someone plans to DO something unlawful, or cause someone else to do it... and not just talk about it. A "conspiracy" is "a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful". A fantasy is just the "activity of imagining things".

Re:Conspiracy to commit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377591)

IMHO, this cop is guilty of conspiracy. He didn't just concoct his own version of Silence of the Lambs. He actually used a database to select victims--a prerequisite for committing the actual crime.

Me, not guilty: Let's kill the president.

Me, guilty: I've staked out a spot with a good line-of-sight outside the metal detectors. POTUS should be in that zone for at least 10 seconds.

Dilbert Goes Bizzerk (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month ago | (#47378139)

The line between detailed fantasies and "planning murder" is still fuzzy. I've had detailed visions involving paper clips, rubber-bands, and staplers of things I wanted to do to torture egotistical conniving moronic co-workers. (It was just torture, not death.) It's a great catharsis, therapeutic even.

Oh oh, I hear footsteps... [NO CARRIER]

Re:Conspiracy to commit... (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | about a month ago | (#47377917)

Usually conspiracy requires that you actually have an agreement with at least one other party to commit the offense. Note that said other party however need not be truly intending to do so, nor that said other party's involvement needs to be a big part of the plan, just something deemed legally significant. However, it seems that has become rather nebulous over the years any communication of the intent with some act that could be seen to forward that intent significantly seems to often be the bar now.

No "thought police"? What about "hate crimes"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377165)

Assault someone with a bat and go to jail for 5 years. Say, "I hate black people!" while doing it and go to jail for 15 years.

So yeah, we DO put people in jail for thoughts.

Not always, though. Be a "minority" who shouts "I hate WHITEY!" while punching her in the face to knock her out and watch the excuse mongers crawl out of the sewers.

Re:No "thought police"? What about "hate crimes"? (1)

almitydave (2452422) | about a month ago | (#47377951)

Assault someone with a bat and go to jail for 5 years. Say, "I hate black people!" while doing it and go to jail for 15 years.

So yeah, we DO put people in jail for thoughts.

Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. Hate crime legislation DOES punish thoughts: we've decided that what you were thinking at the time of a crime somehow makes your crime worse than that of someone who wasn't thinking "hateful thoughts". If we hold to the principle that "the punishment must fit the crime," then hate crime laws seem to directly criminalize certain thoughts, which in the USA seems to come dangerously close to treading on the freedom of thought and expression protected by the first amendment, if not stomping all over it.

No actus reus, no overt act, no substantive step. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377189)

However he was charged with the crime of conspiracy. Unfortunately for him SCOTUS believes that no overt act is needed. Simply that there was an agreement to do an unlawful act. (United States v. Shabani). Note that Shabani was interpreting a fed. drug enforcement statute.

Should have written a book (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a month ago | (#47377313)

The problem is using a forum.

Steven King got rich writing stuff like this, but he did it as an "author".

Judge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377427)

"guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts"

Unconventional? Is that really the phrase that this Judge used? Because it is damn right disgusting and sickening. No reason he should be in jail, yet, but the Judge seems to have an equally warped mind.

Playing thought police (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about a month ago | (#47377499)

If we were to lock him up for ideas that if acted upon would be dangerous, the moderate left, center and right would be justified in openly exterminating the entire registered member list of every Socialist, Fascist and Communist movement in the US. Ideas do have consequences, one of which is that if you are going to declare that a hypothetical cannibal is a threat to his neighbors because he might snap and eat them (despite showing no signs of willingness to act on his depravity), then society would be justified in wiping out those political movements known to have a historic predisposition to slaughter their opponents.

Reading comprehension? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377661)

This::

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe wrote that Valle was "guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts... We don't put people in jail for their thoughts. We are not the thought police and the court system is not the deputy of the thought police." .. is wrong. His lawyer said that, not the judge. Seriously.

Exploding moon missing? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a month ago | (#47377685)

The story is classic: Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Boy goes on the internet and writes about his fantasies that involve killing and eating Girl. Boy goes to jail.

If the story is truly a classic, where's the silvery moon which then explodes for no adequately explored reason!?

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47377699)

>We don't put people in jail for their thoughts. We are not the thought police and the court system is not the deputy of the thought police.

Unless you're the UK, of course.

News for nerds (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a month ago | (#47378045)

Stuff that's delicious.

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