First Amendment? I thought they got rid of that when they instituted “Free Speech Zones” during the last presidential election… Then again, the Founding Fathers didn’t specifically state that the First Amendment applied to comments on the Internet. So I guess the .gov’s covered.
Seriously though, arresting someone based on these kinds of comments really could have a chilling effect on the dialogue both political and otherwise We the People are growing accustomed to on the web. The conspiracy theorist in me could easily come to believe that this is exactly the reason for such arrests. I really don’t think the .gov is sufficiently coordinated to pull off such a conspiracy. But the aggregate effect of all these small usurpations is really indistinguishable and produces the same net effect.
As to the request for the user’s IP address: I too would rather they had insisted on seeing a warrant before releasing the data. For every inch we give the .gov will try to take a mile.