Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Running Background Checks on Bloggers and Commentators: Ethical or not?

I've posted over 100 articles on this site since 2010 which has generated a decent amount of comments from readers.  I've allowed all comments to stand, regardless of view point, with the exception of those who have attempted to bombard the site with personal advertisements to sell products.

I'll occasionally look at someone's blog profile to get a sense of where he/she is coming from and what personal interests influence their point of view.  I'll even visit their website, if listed on their profile...people simply interest me from all walks of life and I find that we may hold similar interest out side of UFOs.  But that's where it ends for me.  I go no further.

Recently, an interesting [and equally disturbing on a number of fronts] story has emerged surrounding a couple of blog posts on Rich Reynold's "UFO Iconoclasts" blog site.  Over the past weekend Rich posted the writings of one of his regular commentators that apparently caught the attention of Anthony Bragalia.  I don't know if Tony or this particular individual got in a debating pissing contests, but for whatever the motivation, Tony did a Google check on this individual and came across information that showed that said individual had a criminal record...a very disturbing record.

For the record, I enjoy reading most of the posts listed on The UFO Iconoclasts.   Rich has built a blog that provides thought provoking elements to the discussion of UFOs.  Yet, it continues to amaze me how things can quickly get out of hand on a site such as his that handles a thousand times more traffic than my little blog.  I guess it goes with the territory.

Apparently, Tony emailed Reynolds, who abruptly deleted the individual's post and certain comments.  Since Paul Kimball had linked to the origianal post on his site, Reynolds had emailed Kimball with an explanation on why the post and comments had been deleted.  [I sense this to be the case based on Paul Kimball's Facebook entry and a since deleted UFO Iconoclasts post.]

Here is Reynolds take on the issue,  "The Horns of a Dilemma"  still listed on

Our friend and colleague Anthony Bragalia came across, during a Google check of a UFO Iconoclast(s) contributor’s background, an aberrant moment that incurred a criminal record, causing me to delete a contribution and some comments by the person Mr. Bragalia’s search discovered.
The “infraction” considered to be serious by some persons who frequent this blog and whose opinions I also take seriously thought it would be wise to distance the blog from the person and “infraction” so as not to taint the blog, which has enough goofy notoriety already.
I notified Paul Kimball, also a friend, who had linked to this blog’s contribution of Mr. Bragalia’s discovery.
Mr. Kimball thanked me for the heads-up but was disturbed to think that Mr. Bragalia was running background checks on persons who comment on his (Mr. Bragalia's) blog posts here or references to his UFO research.
Mr. Bragalia told me (and Mr. Kimball) that he wasn’t running background checks on anyone (although his business is geared to do just that as he’s a headhunter for government and businesses).
Mr. Bragalia, it seems, was just interested in the credentials of a person who was posting here and often commenting on posts by him and others. Mr. Bragalia merely, he wrote, found the incrimination by a superficial Google search, wherein the “infraction” showed up.
Mr. Kimball didn’t accept that and wrote me that he (Mr. Kimball) would disassociate himself from me and this blog if I continued to maintain Mr. Bragalia as a team-member and contributor here.
What to do?
Scrap Mr. Bragalia who has been tolerant of my mischief about his (often) private disclosures to me about Roswell, Socorro, Nitinol, et cetera and helpful during some recent serious illnesses I was subject to?
Accept Mr. Kimball’s decision to abandon our 10 year friendship during which he has provided books and information that has been invaluable, about UFOs and other topics that interest me?
Do I need to lose either or both Mr. Bragalia or Paul Kimball in this matter?
What do you think – and be serious, please?

Paul Kimball's concerns goes a little further than that as Paul has posted on his site that Tony had threatened to do a "background check" on him since Paul's questioning of Tony's motives and ethical behavior demonstrated that Paul had something to hide.  Apparently, Tony heads a company that specializes in doing background checks for private and government agencies...that from Tony.

 To be clear, Bragalia threatened me with a full background check, because - as he noted in an e-mail that was forwarded to me (with his permission) - if I opposed background checks then I must have something to hide. I want folks to know exactly who they're dealing with, so here is what Bragalia wrote: 

"It is concerning me and has me wondering now just what Paul himself is hiding. He protests too much. There is something PK is worried that Iwill find out. Not sure just what it is, but let him know that I aim to find out...he will be the third person that I vet and investigate. And I mean it... Pass this on to him.

 TPS Does the man even know what I do for a living? Does he know that I
am paid to find out about people and that my skills in doing just that
are unexcelled? He will soon see."

He later backed off... allegedly. But can anyone take him at his word that he has only done it once, when (a) his first instinct is to threaten me with a background check, and (b) his claimed reasons for having run one this "one time" are thoroughly specious? 

I should hope not. People should avoid any and all contact with him. He is dangerous, both in principle and in practice.

Or maybe folks don't see it as a problem. Fair enough. As I said before, Caveat Emptor - don't say you weren't warned.


The question remains as to what motivated Tony to do such a thing.  Should anyone disagree with his point of view does he do more than a simple Google search and use the full force and means of his company to find any bits and pieces of dirt simply because someone disagrees with his UFO stance?  It causes me to wonder.  Paul's questioning, when taking into account my question, raises a valid argument as to the ethical behavior demonstrated by Tony.

BTW, getting background information on anyone is quite legal and easily had for a nominal fee to various websites.  What Tony did was not illegal, but based on motivation could be construed as unethical and based on Tony's email threat concerning Paul makes it equally disturbing that Tony would be willing to intentionally data-mine for personal information as a form of personal retribution.

Let's take this theme a little further, how does the above resources at Tony's beckon call influence Roswell witnesses, or family of witnesses since he is heavily engaged in the Roswell story?  If the story-line/testimony of said witnesses do not conform to Tony's point of view, would he be tempted to use the fore mentioned practice of digging up dirt on these individuals?

I'm not saying that Tony has done this regarding his Roswell research and there is no evidence that he has done so, but based on the personal resources available and the comments to Paul Kimball it does make me to wonder....


  1. Hi Tim-

    Despite who Paul has said- I do not "run background checks" -criminal or otherwise- on UFO bloggers. I do not subscribe to a criminal-check service nor do I know why Paul has chosen to think that I do these things.

    Since Joel Crook had posted an article on Richard's blog and I had never heard of him, in search of other of his writings I simply entered his name on Google. Within two or three pages in it is quickly learned that Joel Crook is a convicted pedophile. He served prison time for sex with a girl under 12.

    Rather than thanking me for discovering a child-rapist in our midst, Paul chose to make up a story out of whole cloth that I regularly run personal checks on everyone!

    I do not understand Paul's mean spiritedness towards me. He has called me a nut, a paranoid and a cultist. This is not the hallmark of a serious researcher, but rather of a jealous and petty person.


  2. Tony,

    Thanks for commenting. When first hearing of this story, I did a google search on the person in question. True, the criminal profile came up within the first page. So that item stuck out like a sore thumb and anyone doing a simple search would have stumbled across it.

    What bothered me was Paul's claim that you had threatened to do a background check on him (assuming that you are in a position to do so) because he had raised an objection.

    I know that you and Paul have a history of personal disagreements and what Paul had provided via his Facebook page gave me the impression that you had threatened to run a background check as a form of retribution. Honestly Tony, I found that to be disturbing,

    I've no problem with you notifying Rich in private about your Google search. Rich then must make a decision concerning who contributes to his blog...its his blog and he can do what he wishes. I too would be uncomfortable with a convicted child molester contributing to my blog. But this does lead us down a slippery slope if we are not careful and that was part of Paul's argument.

    I do appreciate that you had clarified my underlying questions concerning background checks in general. I'm hopeful that you and Paul will eventually be able to mend fences in the future.

    Tim Hebert

  3. Hi Tim,

    I simply don't believe Bragalia, and that was reinforced by his first instinct, which was to threaten me with a complete background check. What you're hearing now from him is spin, because even he must realize that he crossed a line. And even he admitted in his e-mail that I would be the third person he would run such a check on (and he wasn't just talking about a simple Google search, which was clear from his e-mail). So that begs the question - who were the other two? And if there were two before by his own admission (and he was willing to make me the third), can anyone really believe him now that he says he has never done it?

    Folks can choose to believe what they want about all this. Just remember - caveat emptor when it comes to Bragalia.


  4. @Mr. Braglia
    > I do not understand Paul's mean spiritedness towards me. He has called me a nut, a paranoid and a cultist.

    Looks those words up in a dictionary and you will understand Paul's accurate description.

    > This is not the hallmark of a serious researcher, but rather of a jealous and petty person.

    No one could be jealous of you. Again, check a dictionary to see your error.

    By the way, Tony, in case you would like to check up on me, to see if I deserve Christmas presents or coal this year, Censor is not my real last name, it's just a volunteer position.

  5. I would characterize this incident as regrettable in as many ways as I care to count. To go beyond this would be grandstanding on my part.
    It made me realize no matter how divisive the compounded results were and are in terms of vitriol, or feuding out of whatever sense of self righteousness one has, we all live in glass houses.
    Making oneself seem taller by making the other smaller has nothing to do with unidentified atmospheric phenomenon.
    There are no winners or losers in any of this. No conclusive argument.
    Again, all of this is simply regrettable.