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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Terror by Any Other Name

Convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin now targets conservatives online.

Michelle Malkin has called Brett Kimberlin an "online terrorist ringleader," while blogger Jimmie Bise Jr. prefers the phrase "lying felon," but Kimberlin's political allies call him a "progressive activist." During the past week, Kimberlin's bizarre methods of "activism" have made him the focus of intense scrutiny from conservative bloggers, arousing the interest of major news organizations, so that the convicted felon once notorious as the "Speedway Bomber" is likely to become even more notorious in the near future.

Since 2010, Kimberlin has been suing, smearing, harassing, and otherwise attempting to intimidate bloggers who write about his criminal history. It seemed he was intent on silencing the truth and -- although I had never even heard of him until May 17 -- within four days of my beginning to report about him on my personal blog, Kimberlin began targeting me with his thug tactics. On Monday, May 21, I left my Maryland home and departed to another state where, for the past week, I've continued a series of reports I've called "The Kimberlin Files." These online dispatches have been filed from an undisclosed location, my whereabouts concealed in order to protect myself and others from the menace of a dangerous man who by all rights should still be behind bars.

Kimberlin was convicted in federal court of 22 felony charges in connection with a weeklong bombing spree in September 1978 that terrorized the residents of Speedway, Indiana. Drug smuggling, perjury, forgery, impersonation -- Kimberlin's criminal career began while he was a teenager and continued until Dec. 29, 1981, when he was sentenced to federal prison for the bombings, one of which brutally maimed Vietnam veteran Carl DeLong. Prosecutors had recommended a much longer sentence -- 79 years, so that Kimberlin, then 27 years old, could never again "walk the streets to terrorize any other citizen," as Assistant U.S. Attorney Kennard Foster told the court. U.S. District Court Judge William Steckler was more lenient, imposing a mere 50 years and, because this was before "truth in sentencing" reforms, Kimberlin served a mere 17 years. He was paroled in 1993, returned to prison in 1997 on a parole violation, and finally released in 2001.

Kimberlin became briefly famous in 1988, and for a few years thereafter remained somewhat of a cause célèbre among liberals, because of his claim to have once sold marijuana to a young Indiana University law student named Dan Quayle. Kimberlin has been described as a "top-flight con man," a skill that has made him quite successful in the world of progressive activism, where left-wing donors are always willing to contribute to cynical hustlers who tell them what they want to hear. Within four years of his release from prison, Kimberlin started a tax-exempt non-profit called the Justice Through Music Project (JTMP) which has raised approximately $1.8 million in the past six years, including grants from the Tides Foundation, the Heinz Family Foundation and the Barbra Streisand Foundation. Kimberlin also partnered with liberal blogger Brad Friedman to create another non-profit group called Velvet Revolution.

Kimberlin endeared himself to left-wing bloggers by claiming that Republicans had stolen the 2004 presidential election through vote fraud, offering a $100,000 reward for evidence -- a reward that was never paid, for a claim that was never proven. Failure to prove his allegations of GOP perfidy, however, seemed neither to deter donors to Kimberlin's projects nor to undermine his credibility among progressives. A 2007 Time magazine article reported that Kimberlin had "found a home in the blogosphere" by "repeatedly asserting as fact things that are not true."

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