True or False?
April 20, 2001 8:02 AM   Subscribe

True or False? According to Karl Mueller (a.k.a. "Gus"), the FBI came a knockin' on his door after taking his "Trench Coat Mafia" parody site a little too seriously. I can imagine it happening, but considering what a prankster he is, one does wonder whether this is all a late April Fool's joke. What do you think?
posted by lia (11 comments total)
I can see it being true, but I can also see it being false. Having spent 2 fun filled years in the same college co-op with Gus, I have no problem seeing it as made up or embellished a little. Gus is a skilled prankster, so who ever knows. I can remember him showing off a paper that he wrote for some music class that had a bunch of made up references -- using the names of other students. On the other hand, he had a knack for doing things that attract the attention of authorities (dorm room fire, etc.).
posted by eckeric at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2001

Check out his message board if you haven't already.
posted by waxpancake at 8:28 AM on April 20, 2001

Well . . . either way, it's pretty anemic, isn't it? The guy didn't get arrested. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to imagine that if you post something on your website about bombing the Pentagon, you might come under some scrutiny--the Feds tend to be rather humorless about things like that. This guy's disingenuousness is a little ridiculous.
posted by Skot at 8:31 AM on April 20, 2001

It has happened.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:38 AM on April 20, 2001

I experienced something of a crisis yesterday after doing the interview with Declan at Wired (he's super cool by the way). Declan contacted the FBI and they did the usual "neither confirm nor deny" thing they always do - which usually results in the death of a story (since it's just he-said-she-said at that point).

But the FBI had failed to cover their tracks adequately! (And I think this demonstrates the level of police work done here.) They'd gone and talked to Detective John Healy in Jefferson County, Colorado without telling him to shut his yap about it. And since Healy is something of a media hound and had sent email to my service provider suggesting they yank the site, I had a copy of his contact information, which I forwarded to Declan at Wired.

Declan talked to Healy and Healy confirmed that three weeks before the FBI had contacted him about my site (it's all in that Wired article). So that's confirmation that at least the FBI were involved. It's also true that their are two officers in the West LA office with the names I told Declan, and one of them "hung up on" Declan during the phone call the moment he asked about this case.
posted by vodkatea at 8:40 AM on April 20, 2001

Wow Karl, that was fast. I have to say I admire your thinking -- if you guys haven't read his April 19th journal entry (it's in frames), the last three paragraphs are as follows:

"After the FBI guys were gone John sat there looking like he'd just been hit on the head with a stout iron rod. "That didn't just happen!" he demanded. I assured him that it had and that this sort of thing isn't really all that unusual in my life. "My parents are radicals," I reminded him.

"John didn't really know what advice to give other than "take the site down and get a lawyer."

"But by the time I got to work I thought a better tactic was to alert the press. It took a surprisingly small amount of effort to get interviews lined up with and"

Which to me ties in rather nicely with some comments from a past thread (I forget which one, but it was within the last week) wondering something like whether the internet was going to provide a whole new way for people to respond to articles written about them. It's just so meta, y'know?
posted by lia at 8:45 AM on April 20, 2001

Free speech: absolutely. In fact, as a member of the US military, I am committed to defending an American's right to free speech. I even approve of flag-burning as a symbol of protest against those who would deny anyone such freedom. But this site - whether in jest, satire, reality, whatever - is just stupid. If the author of same just wants to make a point, I think that his elaboratations are (no pun intended) overkill. If he is so creative and smart, I'd wager he could find other means of expressing his feelings (whatever they may be) and political orientation in ways that do NOT attract the attention of law enforcement and do NOT seem to approve of or encourage Columbine-style carnage. Just seems like whatever talent and creativity that he has is being wasted on something so pointless.
posted by davidmsc at 12:29 PM on April 20, 2001

davidmsc, i think it was a great satire. cracked me up. see, the wonderful thing about the first amendment is that no one has to give a fuck if you think it's pointless.
posted by pikachulolita at 2:15 PM on April 20, 2001

Actually, I think it's better if speech occasionally pushes some limits and provokes law enforcement to do idiotic embarrassing things they live to regret. Artists & writers need to test periodically to see if the First Amendment is still valid. If all we do is talk in blandly uncontroversial speech, we'll never know our rights are being taken away until it is too late.
posted by vodkatea at 3:04 PM on April 20, 2001

davidmsc: I was going to agree with you until your site crashed my browser (MSIE 5.5 on Win2k SP1). I guess the combo of too many open windows and Frontpage javascript is deadly. =
Other than that a blog from a non-college student, tech job person is interesting.
posted by redleaf at 5:42 PM on April 20, 2001

Ohh yeah, as far as if this is happened, sure. Ever since the Oklahoma City bombing, aren't the Feds a bit touchy about anniversaries? And as far as the site, this thing is worth the price of admission.

"They kind of shoved him around a little bit," Mueller said, stating that the agents pushed him with their chests and acted thuggishly.

So no one played good cop? What kind of policework is that?
posted by redleaf at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2001

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