Sunday, November 30, 2003

Bush makes protesters 'disappear'

Casper Star-Tribune


Brett Bursey, of South Carolina, attended a speech given by the president at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. He was standing among thousands of other citizens. Bursey held up a sign stating: "No more war for oil."

Bursey did not pose a threat to the president, nor was he located in an area restricted to official personnel. Bursey wasn't blocking a corridor that the Secret Service needed to keep clear for security reasons. He was standing among citizens who were enthusiastically greeting Bush. Bursey, however, was the only one holding an anti-Bush sign.

He was ordered to put down his sign or move to a designated protest site more than half a mile away, outside the sight and hearing of the president. Bursey refused. He was then arrested and charged with trespassing by the South Carolina police.

Bursey was indicted by the federal government for violation of a federal law that allows the Secret Service to restrict access to areas visited by the president. Bursey faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Members of the U.S. House, including those on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to drop the federal criminal prosecution of Bursey.

Prof's note:

If the Secret Service was trying to protect the president, wouldn't they hold back ALL protestors instead of just the anti-Bush ones? What sense would it make for someone intent on harming the president to hold up an anti-Bush sign knowing they would be corralled far away when they could hold up a pro-Bush one and get as close as they want? Clearly, this is coming from Rove or someone else on their PR team, and the Secret Service is the fall guy just like they are trying to do with the CIA and the Iraq war.

This case should go to the supreme court. Even though they will side with the administration, at least the argument would be in the public debate.