Former NSA Official Thinks A Blog Containing Nothing But His Own Tweets Is 'Defamatory'

from the hilariously,-falsely-accusing-someone-of-defamation-is-defamatory dept

Many people have varying ideas as to what exactly composes defamatory content. Some mistake statements of opinion (“this product sucks”) for defamation. Some feel anything that doesn’t describe their products or services in glowing terms is defamatory. Some feel any sort of criticism is defamation, even if the criticism is based on known facts.

But John Schindler (whose strange foray into Wikileaks/Snowden conspiracy theories we’ve covered here previously), former NSA officer and holder of a PhD in history (just ask him!) has gone far beyond any of these misperceptions. According to him, things he actually said are defamatory if published by a third party.

I have no idea how someone as self-assuredly brilliant as John Schindler would make this error but here’s the chain of events. Schindler routinely berates anyone who questions his claims, calling them “stupid” and refusing to advance the argument past endless appeals to his own authority (the aforementioned PhD). Someone took notice of Schindler’s tactics and crafted a Tumblr blog containing nothing but screenshots of actual Schindler tweets.

Here’s a few of the tweets just to give you an idea of both Schindler’s “conversational” patterns and the blog’s content.

So, if there’s anything unflattering contained here, it’s Schindler’s own tweets. Oh, and this amazing banner.

But when someone brought this blog to his attention, this was his response.

A few other Twitter users, despite being on Schindler’s side, pointed out that there was nothing defamatory about collecting and posting Schindler’s own words. So, Schindler doubled down.

This, of course, resulted in more derision, including a repurposed movie quote from a very familiar hat.

All the PhDs in the world aren’t going to save you from having your own direct quotes turned against you. If anything, it only confirms what Schindler’s critics believe: that he’s pompous, arrogant and unwilling to actually engage in a debate. Instead, he prefers to belittle anyone who doesn’t hold a precious PhD in history, using his doctorate to paper over any flaws in arguments.

I can’t imagine it’s much fun to see your Twitter feed boiled down to little more than shouts of “stupid!” and continuous pointing to a framed piece of paper, but whether Schindler likes it or not, those are his words and those are his go-to rhetorical devices. For someone who frequently uses the hashtag #caring to show his contempt for the ire he provokes, he certainly can’t seem to take having his own abuse heaped on his Carebear-surrounded head.

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Comments on “Former NSA Official Thinks A Blog Containing Nothing But His Own Tweets Is 'Defamatory'”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While a delightful idea, it’s very unlikely he did so, people like that tend to run like crazy when they’re faced with someone able, and willing to list and provide references as to just how wrong they are, something Ken would have no problem doing.

More likely he tried the standard tactic for people like that of suddenly going quiet, and/or desperately changing the subject and hoping no one notices or calls him out on it.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: These seem fitting

Yes, this. I’ve known and worked with MANY PhDs in various fields, and I’ve noticed a few things they all have in common. One of them is that very, very few of them constantly point to their PhD in debates or demand that they be called “Dr.” unless they’re medical doctors — which is the same thing as pointing to their PhD.

The ones who do are invariably the least capable ones.

kyle clements (profile) says:

Re: Re: These seem fitting

I have a fair number of good friends with PhDs, and I am acquainted with many other PhD havers.

None of them ever point out the fact they have PhDs, it only comes up casually in conversation years later.

“Hey can you help me with this coding problem I’m having? Oh, wow, you are really good at math! Oh, you have a PhD in the subject? So I should have been calling you “Doctor” this whole time? Hahahah! Another round?”

The only person I’ve ever met to incessantly point out that they had a PhD was the worst, most useless prof I ever had the misfortune of studying under.

Generally, people who are really good at something don’t have to point out their qualifications, as their work speaks for itself.

mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: brilliance

>Dont get me wrong, most PhD’s are brilliant in what they
>>wrote their paper on,

From what I’ve seen, this isn’t necessarily so. A PhD is supposed to show proof of added training in an area as well as an ability to carry out an investigation in that area. I’ve worked with a lot of PhD’s in my career, and I wonder a bit about how well those two hold up. As for brilliance, if the frequency is higher in PhD’s than the general population, I don’t see it. I have known brilliant PhD’s, but I have also known brilliant people that did not go on to graduate school. One belief that I do firmly hold is that, when a PhD holds up their degree as a proof of higher intelligence, then the individual is not a member of the higher intelligence PhD group.

FWIW, I have a PhD… in polymer science. So, I am no doubt unqualified to speak on this topic. It’s what I see, though, in three decades of working in research laboratories.

GMacGuffin (profile) says:

Re: Re: brilliance

“One belief that I do firmly hold is that, when a PhD holds up their degree as a proof of higher intelligence, then the individual is not a member of the higher intelligence PhD group.”

Gotta agree with you on this one. I have known and worked with many PhDs. The ones who cringe when you call them “Doctor” are more likely the best and brightest; the ones who volunteer their PhD or mention it out of context generally lack some essentials … like breadth of common knowledge, self-awareness, stuff like that. (Like someone telling you how honest they are = red flag.)

steven roth (user link) says:


The problem with many PhD’s (we used to call the degrees, BullShit, MoreShit, and Piled higher and Deeper)is that their focus on a particular field is so narrow, they can’t see the forest for the trees, and are extremely close minded and unable to think from any other perspective other than their own ego. What separates true genius is the ability to think outside of your prospective, like Einstein did. The great minds of the scientific revolution, everyone from Galileo, Newton, and even DaVinci, to more recent minds like Tesla, what made them so brilliant is that they had a very good grasp of multiple disciplines in science, not just one. It seems anybody with half a brain these days and enough money can get a PhD and put it on their fridge next to the picture they colored in without going outside the lines. The most brilliant people I have met and known personally, have been self taught/educated, some even awarded honorary doctorates later in life for their success and contributions.

ECA (profile) says:


Im looking at this and cant figure out WHERe he gets this knowledge..

Dr. Schindler holds three degrees in modern history: a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. from McMaster University.

Then I see his title..
Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, where he is a specialist on intelligence, terrorism, and European security issues. He is also a Senior Fellow of the International History Institute at Boston University.

HOW do you get a professorship in security??

JustMe (profile) says:

John Schindler

John Schindler PhD (Pompous Hackneyed Ass) sounds like an idiot with the mother of all inferiority complexes. His self loathing manifests itself as anger toward anyone he suspects of being either smarter than he is (which is probably pretty much everyone) or not an expert (in his very specific and narrow field) because they are probably able to function in the big world on their own and not color outside the lines.

He also doesn’t appear to understand the definition of the word ‘defamation’ – which is funny to me. Looking forward to the Popehat smackdown.

I enjoyed reading his own words over at

Sardondi (profile) says:

We used to call this...

I see that Schindler’s Lists contain endless references to his professorship, which he attempts to use as a cudgel to silence those with opposing opinions. This kind of transparent boasting used to be regularly derided on the interwebz as, *ahem*, “dicksizing”, and was considered an absolute admission of one’s fears that one really didn’t measure up.

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