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Everything You Wanted to Know about Social Engineering -- But Were Afraid to Ask...

Meinel's response to Shipley's threat to sue:

February 28, 2000

Brian J. Finn
333 Gellert Blvd.
Daly City, CA 94015

Dear Mr. Finn:

Thank you for your communication regarding the material I sent to Pete Shipley for fact checking. However, you and he apparently misunderstand the purpose of fact checking. The objective of fact checking is to request that people provide information that will help a journalist write a more accurate story. A threat to take legal action fails to shed light on whether there are any facts Mr. Shipley could present that might counter the allegations that many people have made about him.

For example, many news stories about Mr. Shipley published in major media such as the New York Times identify his participation in the Se7en hoax. There are many photos, including one in the New York Times, which link Se7en to your client. There are hundreds of witnesses to your client's various activities with Se7en. If your client truly is the victim of a massive conspiracy, if the sources I am using are all lying about him, if these news stories in the major media are all false, then they are the ones who have libeled him, not me.

If everything regarding Shipley in the draft of my book is, as you say, false, he must be the victim of a very large conspiracy, indeed. Of course that is possible. The point of what I wrote was to illustrate how easy it is to fool even major news organizations. If Mr. Shipley will provide information countering what these sources have said and written, I will be happy to revise my book to reflect this. I also would be happy to post Mr. Shipley's responses to these allegations to my web site, which over 100,000 people visit each month, and to my mailing list of 140,000.

In the meantime, absent any evidence, I refuse to publicly claim, as you request, that all my sources are lying. If Shipley so desires, I will be happy to post his claim on my web site that they are all lying, and he can take the consequences. In the meantime, I am posting your letter and this response to my web site as an illustration of how hackers use lawyers to attempt to intimidate people out of exercising their First Amendment rights.


Carolyn Meinel

(Note: at this date, May 24, 2000, Shipley's lawyer has not made any more threats to sue Meinel.)

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