As a culture of fear deters witnesses from coming forward, a federal grand jury in Philadelphia yesterday accused a drug dealer and his girlfriend of conspiring to intimidate a witness by having his neighborhood plastered with flyers labeling him a “rat” and a “snitch,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The information came from whosarat.com, a site that lists more than 4,300 informants from around the world, and was assailed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan as the “new enemy” of cooperating witnesses and law enforcement.
While Meehan said the site is protected by the First Amendment, the FBI and local law enforcement will aggressively pursue anyone who tries to intimidate witnesses. Chris Brown of whosarat.com said the Web site was merely a forum of public information posted by others. He said that he “can’t believe that someone got indicted for hanging a flyer” and that such publicity only “makes the site that much more popular.”