The FBI targets Screwtape

Well, it has been an exciting couple of days. First off, the Screwtape Files became the first on-line source to question the veracity of the now infamous story about tungsten-filled (or 'salted') gold story, which ruffled all manner of feathers around the gold- and silverogosphere. Since then, many other doubters have started to come out of the woodwork, and some serious examination of this story has begun.

This particular salted gold story may yet be proved to be true (although I personally doubt it, I have to admit), but the important issue was always about the challenging of dubious provenances of stories, and daring to question when certain others (including some mighty commentators) simply copy and paste.

I hope readers won't consider this too proud a boast, but the readership of Screwtape has been expanding of late, and we're delighted to welcome all our new readers and all the new people who have taken the time to comment on our articles. We always try hard to challenge, take the devil's advocate view, and never give in to group think. As I said in a recent comment: fans of Screwtape come here to hear the opposite of what they want to hear. Confirmation bias leaves one dead in the water in both Tradingland and Investingania.

Which makes us wonder all the more why even the Federal Bureau of Investigation now appears to have taken an interest in us.

Yes, imagine our surprise when the following entry popped up in our Stats pages:

The visitor came rather unambiguously from a network that was using the FBI Criminal Justice Information System, and a quick trace of the IP address produced an address (always approximate for such traces) just one mile from the FBI headquarters at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC:

(A = the IP address approximate location; B = FBI headquarters in DC)

So, unless anyone has a better explanation, someone is using an FBI computer to access the Screwtape Files. Shock. Horror. Nurse, the screens!

The attention seems to have been provoked by our salted gold story, but I'm pleased to report that the visiting chap or chapesse also took the time to check out the superb first post from our new contributor, Slow Lorris Larry [Hey, I bet you didn't know you'd signed up for that, did you, Larry?!?], as well as flicking a glance at my rather dry and technical article (even though I say so myself) on the platinum-gold ratio.

Further, a number of other sites have publicly claimed that they have been 'followed' by the authorities. I shan't name them here - we all know who they are (I mean the PM sites, not the authorities - presumably the latter are all just black helicopter types with ruthless smiles and too many tattoos...)

So, what are we to make of this? Well, as you all know well by now, I am far from a fan of conspiracy stories. Although I would love to be able to report that - due to our influence and importance in the 'Great Game' - the Screwtape Files is now firmly under the watch of "The Powers That Be", let's use Occam's razor here. Which is the simpler explanation?

1. A minor blog that makes cheeky comments about precious metals investing is perceived to be such a danger to the global establishment that we are now under official surveillance (albeit not very well hidden), or

2. Some guy (or guy-esse) in the FBI headquarters has a few PM investments and checks out the blogs during his/her lunch-hour?

The latter might explain the rather school-boy error of spying on sites using an official FBI ISP rather more than the former...

Which brings me to the point of what I'm trying to say here. One of the features of the gold- and silverogosphere that I find the most unpalatable is the constant paranoia about 'the powers that be', the 'controlling forces', or the deep conspiracy at the heart of every 10 c move in silver or $10 move in gold. The idea that a blog author or a person who leaves a comment is so important - so much of a threat to the status quo - that the system will want to react violently against them.

Reader, we live in a world where a bus can be blown up in the centre of London or a maniac can kill innocent children in Toulouse, despite the fact that our intelligence agencies have traces on them. The resources are simply not there to monitor even known and dangerous individuals, with known and terrifying ambition. Don't get me wrong - I'm not arguing for greater monitoring or more intrusions by government agencies into the lives of their populations. I would argue for exactly the opposite.

But what I am saying is that we live in a world of very real threats: terrorist, economic, and geo-political. The idea that anyone has either the time or the inclination to pay attention to your 'phyzz stash' or your blog about how to 'bring down the banksters' is laughable.

Well, it would be laughable if so many self-important entities in the PM blogosphere didn't hold this bizarre point of view. Perspective is always important, not least regarding ones' place in the grand scheme of thing.


Spicy Guacamole said...

I wouldn't worry JdA. The FBI is no doubt impressed with your investigative skills in debunking all the nonsense posted by the gold and silver fanatics. Perhaps they are about to offer you a job?

Boefke said...

Lol, I prefer the 2nd. Some guy in the FBI headquarters has a few PM investments and checks out the blogs during his lunch.

I can show you the most weird location hits in the world on my blog but aren't suspicious what they're up to. People in the western world have to much spare time at their work I guess, which won't last forever probably.

Anonymous said...

@Spicy Guacamole,

I'll assume you're not taking the piss, and thank you for your kind words ;-)

A job with the FBI would be cool. I could crack organised crime, break informants, and still find time to check the blogs at lunchtime... :-)


Ol'FordTrk said...

Well at least the FBI has better taste in websites that other agencies. All the other agencies seem to be addicted to porn.

Anonymous said...

Its probably just a clerk reading at lunch. I have has the POPE's office once on my old site. I have had EVERY single office of the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security visit...I used to get addicted watching the visitors and the number of times they hit my site..sometimes 350 a month..

Smiddywesson said...

LOL, that was me. Sorry, I'm a big fan, hardly a stalker. Just muching my sandwich at lunch and checking in. I found your site from Kid Dynamite's, Victor's, and FOFOA's sites, all of whom I really admire. If you Google it, you'll see this avatar's been around for a long time. I was quite a PM nut before I found you all. That was my first post on your site. Great article.

Anonymous said...


Just checked our stats and confirmed - it really was you! That's hilarious :-)

Well, you're very welcome here, and I'm glad you find time to check out our obscure little blog in between cracking drug networks and hunting down terrorists ;-)

So, about that job that Spicy Guacamole mentioned... what do you reckon? ;-)

And how about getting some of your photo experts to check out those tungsten gold bar pictures for us...? ;-)

Anonymous said...

And thanks for confirming the thrust of my article..!

Cullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TFV said...

Screwtape readership is expanding ...... It's because you write well and offer good and thorough coverage. Keep it up J'DA!

TFV said...

On another level, is your time zone BST? You may need to go into your settings to get your timestamps corrected my friend ... Just a heads up that the timestamps are indeed wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan - thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying the articles.

The time zone thing is sort of intentional. We're five contributors (at the moment) and live in time zones ranging from the US to Australia, so my thinking was that the most obvious time zone to pick is GMT, as it's sort of the 'average' time zone for all of us. Plus the prime meridian is a traditional reference point for organisations that have to work across many time zones, such as Screwtape (it's a constant source of problems for us, actually, not least in terms of replying to comments in a timely fashion). It was also the standard for the radio hams (remember them? Do they even exist any more, in these interweb days? I'd love to know).

However, Google has now updated GMT to BST (British Summer Time), and won't let me put it back to GMT. Grrrr. I do wish Blogspot would give us a bit more flexibility to do things 'under the bonnet'. Actually, what I really want is "Z" time ('Zulu Time' - identical to GMT, but used by the military, diplomats, NASA, etc.) If anyone knows how I can make Blogspot do that, then please send me an email.