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Police: Woman Arrested For Spreading Facebook Photos Of Undercover Cop
CBS News ^ | 15 Oct 2012 | CBS News (unattributed)

Posted on 10/15/2012 11:03:49 PM PDT by coloradan

MESQUITE, Texas (CBS HOUSTON) – A North Texas woman has been arrested after being accused of posting Facebook photos of an undercover policeman who testified against her friend in court.

Mesquite police arrested Melissa Walthall, 30, for allegedly posting the photo of the officer, who authorities say recently testified in a drug case against her friend. Her Facebook post identified the person as an undercover officer, according to a federal affidavit.

After a caller tipped off Mesquite police to Walthall’s Facebook post about a week ago, an investigator found that it posed a “viable threat to that officer’s safety,” the affidavit said.

(Excerpt) Read more at houston.cbslocal.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Government; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: donutwatch; facebook
The cop had a facebook account in which he posted pictures of himself under his real name. For identifying this person as an undercover cop, a citizen is now facing criminal charges.
1 posted on 10/15/2012 11:04:01 PM PDT by coloradan
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To: coloradan

This seems facially unconstitutional.


2 posted on 10/15/2012 11:06:06 PM PDT by TheConservator ("I spent my life trying not to be careless. Women and children can be careless, but not men.")
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To: coloradan

All the woman needs to do is read up on “doxing”. The, her attorney can demonstrate in court that it is relatively trivial to locate someone on facebook using a photo from somewhere else as a reference. If they can do it, any other criminal can as well; the officer screwed himself by posting his own photos. Once they’re up there, it doesn’t matter what his covert “name” is; he can be found just by his face. What she did is trivial compared to what a more violent criminal could do with that info, i.e. spread his real name and face to the rest of the criminal underworld, at which point he’d either be immediately at risk of being shot on sight, or if they’re smart they’d use him as a disinformation agent.


3 posted on 10/15/2012 11:34:17 PM PDT by Little Pig (Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici.)
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To: coloradan

I cannot discern anything illegal in what she did.

I am not a lawyer, just a citizen.


4 posted on 10/15/2012 11:44:18 PM PDT by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: coloradan
For the record, I oppose outing undercover agents and I approve of the prosecution of people who do so.

That being said, the fault is not in the stars or in social media as this article implies but in this destructive war on drugs that has more and more become a war on ourselves.


5 posted on 10/15/2012 11:57:09 PM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: Bobalu
I cannot discern anything illegal in what she did.

I am not a lawyer, just a citizen.


Well, in that case, you are not qualified to read the US Constitution, because you will never be able to see all of the emanations of the penumbras. Now go back to work and pay your taxes.
6 posted on 10/16/2012 12:08:15 AM PDT by fr_freak
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To: coloradan
He blew it... if he is undercover he should not have social media accounts that truly depict him. His social media accounts should also be undercover. I have a relative in LE and no social media for them... it would compromise their work.

Idiot is the undercover poor excuse for LE.

7 posted on 10/16/2012 12:14:59 AM PDT by antceecee (Bless us Father.. have mercy on us and protect us from evil.)
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To: coloradan

The ones who are biting the hands that feed them should be exposed.


8 posted on 10/16/2012 1:39:35 AM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: antceecee

“He blew it... if he is undercover he should not have social media accounts that truly depict him.”

I agree completely. While I don’t condone what this woman did, the LEO did a very foolish thing by putting himself out in the public eye. If your job is to go unnoticed by drug dealers and the like, it’s best to keep to the shadows when it comes to something like FB.


9 posted on 10/16/2012 1:42:52 AM PDT by DemforBush (100% Ex-Democrat.)
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To: nathanbedford

For the record, I oppose outing undercover agents and I approve of the prosecution of people who do so.


I do not agree, i believe undercover agents working against the citizens of this country is wrong because it is sneaky and sleazy, one side gets sleazy, the other side gets sleazy, soon Americans are just sleazy.


That being said, the fault is not in the stars or in social media as this article implies but in this destructive war on drugs that has more and more become a war on ourselves.

I don,t use drugs but i agree.


10 posted on 10/16/2012 1:54:10 AM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: coloradan

It occurs to me that if he had been a CIA agent working in a foreign country and she had been the New York Times, she would not have been arrested. The double standard seems odd.


11 posted on 10/16/2012 1:56:12 AM PDT by TN4Liberty (My tagline disappeared so this is my new one.)
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To: nathanbedford

That being said, the fault is not in the stars or in social media as this article implies but in this destructive war on drugs that has more and more become a war on ourselves.


Agreed!


12 posted on 10/16/2012 2:51:54 AM PDT by The Working Man
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To: coloradan
The cop had a facebook account in which he posted pictures of himself under his real name. For identifying this person as an undercover cop, a citizen is now facing criminal charges.

Sounds like the woman needs to hire herself a good constitutional lawyer and put a big dent this towns bank account. This is totally BS. Can one say 'Police State' mentality?!

13 posted on 10/16/2012 4:27:37 AM PDT by Ron H. (Ahh, how's that multi-culturism thing working out for you these days?!)
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To: coloradan

The officer’s incompetence does not excuse her malice.


14 posted on 10/16/2012 4:30:25 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: coloradan

Remember back when we used to have a First Amendment?

Good times.... good times....


15 posted on 10/16/2012 4:34:45 AM PDT by Haiku Guy (If Hillary reminds every man of his ex-wife, Joe Biden reminds every woman of her ex-husband.)
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To: nathanbedford
I see nothing wrong with what she did. The police should not get any special treatment. If it can happen to us it can happen to them. If the info is out there then too bad he should not have posted it.

This is just like the police not wanting to be recorded while in the performance of their jobs. The court case was obviously not a closed case so anyone could see who he was at the courthouse and then followed up with a search. Police should have to live with the same rules and laws as us citizens.

16 posted on 10/16/2012 4:51:34 AM PDT by Ratman83
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To: Ratman83
If you are grounding your reply and your opinion alone, then it is obviously just as valid as my opinion. But if your suggestion is that there is a constitutional right to out an undercover police agent performing his duties, I strongly disagree.

There is no constitutional right to out a CIA agent in the performance of her duties and most of us would agree that it is absolutely necessary for the furtherance of our national security to maintain secrecy at that and other levels. To the degree that a narcotics undercover officer is operating lawfully (not desirably but lawfully) he should be in the same category.

If it is your opinion that he ought not to enjoy protection against being outed in the performance of his duties, I suggest that the way to change that is in the polling booth not on twitter. If your opinion is based on the futility of our war on drugs which more and more is inevitably leading to intrusions into privacy and converting citizens into enemies of the government, I would agree with you and I will walk with you to the polling place.


17 posted on 10/16/2012 5:05:56 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: Ratman83
If you are grounding your reply and your opinion alone, then it is obviously just as valid as my opinion. But if your suggestion is that there is a constitutional right to out an undercover police agent performing his duties, I strongly disagree.

There is no constitutional right to out a CIA agent in the performance of her duties and most of us would agree that it is absolutely necessary for the furtherance of our national security to maintain secrecy at that and other levels. To the degree that a narcotics undercover officer is operating lawfully (not desirably but lawfully) he should be in the same category.

If it is your opinion that he ought not to enjoy protection against being outed in the performance of his duties, I suggest that the way to change that is in the polling booth not on twitter. If your opinion is based on the futility of our war on drugs which more and more is inevitably leading to intrusions into privacy and converting citizens into enemies of the government, I would agree with you and I will walk with you to the polling place.


18 posted on 10/16/2012 5:06:27 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: All

We should also start “outing” members of juries too. Facebook, twitter, posters in the offended gang area.

Conservatives who work for unions and the government also.

Let’s just get it all out there.

And let’s don’t forget to round up all of our conservative colleagues and our conservative students and send emails of their conservative rants on the net to their college professors.


19 posted on 10/16/2012 5:12:15 AM PDT by rbmillerjr (Conservative Economic and National Security Commentary: econus.blogspot.com)
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To: nathanbedford

“For the record, I oppose outing undercover agents and I approve of the prosecution of people who do so.”

I’m trying to imagine how they could charge her. Did she sign a security agreement? Is it the citizens responsibility to to help the police play secret squirrel? No.


20 posted on 10/16/2012 5:35:25 AM PDT by dljordan (Voltaire: "To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.")
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To: nathanbedford

It is not against the law for a citizen or a journalist to out a CIA operative, it is illegal for the administration to do it. The police man was not outed by the woman he was outed by himself on facebook. She just republished it. Show me in the constitution were the government has the right to control our speech. Remember the Constitution says only what the government can do, if it is not in there then they can not do it. The constituion is a limit on gevernment not on the citizens.


21 posted on 10/16/2012 5:45:09 AM PDT by Ratman83
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To: coloradan

What she did should be protected under the First Amendment.


22 posted on 10/16/2012 6:12:10 AM PDT by TheCPA
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To: rbmillerjr
Correct. After all, the First Amendment isn't about freely expressing ideas and opinions - it's about retaliation against enemies.

Similar to the reason why we have courts of law - not for silly nonsense like justice, but so that they can be flooded with nuisance lawsuits.

23 posted on 10/16/2012 6:44:35 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: Ratman83; dljordan
Respecting the issue whether the officer outed himself or he was outed by the accused, the article says only:

"Texas woman has been arrested after being accused of posting Facebook photos of an undercover policeman who testified against her friend in court."

"Mesquite police arrested Melissa Walthall, 30, for allegedly posting the photo of the officer, who authorities say recently testified in a drug case against her friend. Her Facebook post identified the person as an undercover officer, according to a federal affidavit."

This can be read either way. I think the most likely reading is that the officer maintained a Facebook page which may or may not have presented himself in the likeness in which he appeared while undercover. If it did not then the outing was clear. If the officer himself posted an image which resembled his appearance while undercover, the issue remains whether a private citizen has the right to identify an undercover policeman as being undercover. He presumably did not out himself as an undercover policeman, she did.

As to the notion that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution deprives Congress or even a state from making any law affecting the freedom of speech, that is not now and never was the law of the Constitution since the beginning.

It is clear that the law has the power to restrict speech of all kinds and all kinds of situations. I am in the Hugo Black school on the First Amendment but even I recognize the government has a right to keep secrets. I think we were right, for example, to execute the Rosenbergs. No one has a right to claim free speech and then proceed to slander another person without civil consequences.

As to the notion that the First Amendment is a limitation on the government and not on private citizens, that is a proposition which I readily agree. So the issue becomes whether the state or municipality has the power (in the place of Congress) to enact legislation prohibiting the outing of undercover agents. I believe it does and that power is not limited by the First Amendment. If the law is not limited by the First Amendment then the inquiry becomes whether there is a reasonable relationship to a permissible goal, and the answer to that is obviously yes, protecting undercover officers is a reasonable extension of the police power. So the law is constitutional.

However, in this case the article generates confusion:

Stedham, 26, has been charged with retaliation . (emphasis supplied)

I do not know what "retaliation" means, I have never heard of such a crime. One would have to examine the ordinance or statute to discover what it means. But I presume, as I have said, that it is a constitutional law apart from the issue of free speech.


24 posted on 10/16/2012 7:31:43 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: wideawake

“the First Amendment isn’t about freely expressing ideas and opinions”

This incident has nothing to do with free speech. There is no “idea or opinion”, expressed. Only the outing of an undercover agent in retaliation for his doing his job.


25 posted on 10/16/2012 7:55:52 AM PDT by rbmillerjr (Conservative Economic and National Security Commentary: econus.blogspot.com)
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To: rbmillerjr

Read my post more carefully.


26 posted on 10/16/2012 8:13:36 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: nathanbedford
From a CNET article

It seems that the undercover cop might have used his real name in court. In any case, Welthall's friend reportedly found him on Facebook and Welthall allegedly posted the photo and spread it in a manner, presumably, that wasn't entirely flattering.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57532713-71/facebook-photos-of-undercover-cop-get-woman-arrested/

As far a the limits on the government that is clear. First the Constitution limits government it sets the limits and the duties and responsibilities it is not a limit on the citizens it is a limit on government. Liberals think that the Constitution is a limit on citizens and that we must go to the government to for permission that is not how the country was set up. The 1st amendment says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. make no law pretty straight forward.

As far a retaliation the government always wants to make up new ways to control the citizens. We should not give in.

27 posted on 10/16/2012 8:59:06 AM PDT by Ratman83
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To: Ratman83
As far a the limits on the government that is clear. First the Constitution limits government it sets the limits and the duties and responsibilities it is not a limit on the citizens it is a limit on government.

Quite true.

Therefore the relevant question now becomes did the government pass a law prohibiting this "outing" and if so does the First Amendment put a limit on the power of the government to do so? I do not believe that it does, other factors being equal or put aside as irrelevant to our discussion.


28 posted on 10/16/2012 9:31:51 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: fr_freak

So what about folks taking pictures, or video, of the police arresting someone? Is that “ok”? is that “legal”? If you’re a public servant, you should expect to get pictures and/or video of you discharging YOUR PUBLIC DUTY.

How is it ok for the police to video/picture me running a red light (not that I have) in public, but me taken video/pictures of them giving me a ticket is not ok?


29 posted on 10/16/2012 9:42:48 AM PDT by ro_dreaming (G.K. Chesterton, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It’s been found hard and lef)
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To: nathanbedford
Therefore the relevant question now becomes did the government pass a law prohibiting this "outing" and if so does the First Amendment put a limit on the power of the government to do so? I do not believe that it does, other factors being equal or put aside as irrelevant to our discussion.

As I stated earlier the 1st Amendment is clear “Congress shall make no law”

It is simple the government can try for the theft of information; stealing classified documents or a listing of actual undercover agents, etc., or the payment for the information. Publishing the info is not what they can charge you for, look at wikiLeaks no charges against Assange only against Manning. Same thing with the reporter, Novak, who reported about Plame he was not charged.

We cannot allow the government to exceed the limits placed upon it. Allowing the government to exceed those limits is why we have so many problems now.

30 posted on 10/16/2012 10:10:39 AM PDT by Ratman83
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To: nathanbedford

“For the record, I oppose outing undercover agents and I approve of the prosecution of people who do so.”

For the record, I oppose the use of secret police. Anything the government does they do in our name and nothing of the sort should be kept secret from us. We are their EMPLOYERS.

There simply isn’t anything that needs to be done in secret to investigate and prosecute criminals. It is simply a lazy way out of doing their jobs.


31 posted on 10/16/2012 10:16:06 AM PDT by CodeToad (Padme: "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.")
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To: Ratman83; CodeToad
That being said, the fault is not in the stars or in social media as this article implies but in this destructive war on drugs that has more and more become a war on ourselves.

I think we are in danger of conflating what the words of the Constitution say with what the Supreme Court today says it means because they are two very different things. The plain language of the First Amendment is, "Congress shall make no law…." However, as far back as the Alien and Sedition laws there have been limits imposed on free speech and limits imposed on newspapers which publish speech of their own or speech of others, and the tension about whether or not the Supreme Court will tolerate a law that Congress shall make, or not make, is everlasting.

When it comes to political speech, I am a strong supporter of a broad that is to say a literal interpretation of the words. When it comes to national security I am quite willing, indeed even eager, to impose certain limits on free speech. As I indicated by the quotation above, if the purpose of the restriction of free speech is not compelling then I am generally opposed to the restriction. I have come to believe that the war on drugs is a losing proposition which is increasingly intruding on our liberties therefore I am intolerant of intrusions such as government under cover agents to prosecute that war.

The liberty of speech is enshrined in the First Amendment. The right of privacy is found in several other parts of the Constitution although not explicitly by name. I am not particularly impressed by the desire of the government to spy on people, or more precisely, to infiltrate the drug culture to prosecute the war on drugs. On the other hand, I am quite eager in the era of Islamist terrorism, terrorists who are fanatical, who are suicidal, who might well get their hands on weapons of mass destruction to authorize the government to infiltrate mosques, just as they have the Ku Klux Klan, to keep an eye on potential mass murderers.

This is the nuclear age and I am far more concerned about the lives of millions of people that I am about the privacy of Muslims who in my judgment have done little to police their own ranks.

In other words, there has never been an absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment which prevails, there has never been an absolutist interpretation of the supposed right of privacy which prevails, there has always been a balancing of competing values. It does not advance our understanding to proclaim what the Constitution means without conceding that those whom we have charged with interpreting that document, the courts, may well have ruled otherwise.

Therefore, we can say that there is an absolute right to free speech but tell that to the judge after you have been arrested for threatening the life of the president. You can say that there is a right to privacy but tell that to the judge after you are arrested for plotting to blow up the Pentagon when you have been recorded speaking to an undercover agent.

We have remedies at the polling booth and we have remedies of the defense of entrapment if the government action becomes egregious. Meanwhile, we are going to proceed as we always have, interpreting these things on a case-by-case basis, weighing the compelling government interest against the rights of the individual which the Constitution enshrined as prohibitions against the government, but, despite the actual words have never been interpreted to be absolute in all cases.


32 posted on 10/16/2012 1:42:09 PM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: nathanbedford
Well of course the Constitution and the Supreme Court say two different things. The SC just like the rest of government is overstepping its bounds and screwing over the citizens of this country.

The government has always tried to overstep its bounds, we the people must push it back to where it should be. The government does not believe in nor does it support the Constitution. We must stand up for our rights and stop the government over reach. We must tell our representative that they need to follow the constitution, as the tea party movement is trying to do.

Unfortunately too many people in this country are now on the government gravy train and could not careless for freedom and liberty. Even some Freepers do not care, the one important place that the citizens can make a direct impact on our situation, jury duty, they will not participate. You here it over and over, the only people on a jury are those who are not smart enough to get out of it. Juries are where we can negate bad laws and bad court rulings. The mind set of both the government and the people must be changed.

Security for the country will not be achieved by police going undercover and then complaining that somebody reposts their pictures on facebook. Presently the balance for the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th Amendments all rests with the government. The government has overstepped its bounds on every one of these amendments and we are not more secure. As was stated by I believe Ben Franklin “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” We now have neither security nor liberty; we are slaves to the government.

33 posted on 10/17/2012 6:08:40 AM PDT by Ratman83
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