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FF Sparks (Casual)

[Politics] Secret Service and LJ Posts

Interesting post here. Summary is that the Secret Service showed up on someone's door over an LJ post they made.

Edit, since folks have in some way misunderstood my gripe about this: I'm going to clarify here. I do understand that the Secret Service is required to investigate any reports of a death-threat against the president. (And also against his opponent, during an election... though as stephdray says, I'd be interested to see how vigorously that was enforced.)

From what I understand, the original post basically expressed the opinion that Bush used military force to remove heads-of-state that he didn't agree with, and then posed the rhetorical question that if might-makes-right, where are the assassins when the American people need them. Yeah, it was a vitriolic statement, but it hardly seems the sort of thing that needed Secret Service agents to show up on the doorstep of the individual in question.

If they had to go to the effort of getting this person's information from LJ and their ISP, you'd think they'd have had time to read the thread and go 'eh, it's just another college liberal wanking in their blog. Not worth our time.'

And no, the Bush administration is not alone in this. The liberal side is equally quick to point fingers and claim conspiracy, even if they don't have the ability to sic Homeland Security on... well, Homeland Security! I admit my use of the rather sensationalistic politipost meme as an example is, itself, a mild instance of this.

And what I blame the Bush administration for is not investigating the claim, but the air of distrust and paranoia that's led to a situation in which such a claim is made. Instead of a country founded on personal freedoms, we have a country now where people can point fingers and report those they don't agree with, either to the government (i.e. visits from Secret Service agents, Homeland Security agents, FBI files which leave a black mark on future background checks and suchnot) /or/ to the court of public liberal opinion (letter-writing campaigns, general displeasure, hundreds of indignant e-mails and posts being sent around, etc.), and these claims are treated with undue weight.

You're entitled to disagree with me, of course, and feel there is no increased air of distrust, paranoia, suspicion or trigger-happy reactions; that's your right, to disagree. I promise not to report you to anyone for it. ;)

Edit 2: Okay, I've been convinced that even given that, they still needed to show up. Fair enough, in this case. I think other stuff, like the photographer who was reported to Homeland Security just for being brown, did not need to drag on nearly so long, and I think the fact that anyone reported the original LJ post /at all/ is still a sign of a rising paranoia. So I stand by my statement, and I still feel unhappy with the growing distrust and division in the American public.

Edit 3: WTF? Okay, well, evidently this particular post was a bad damned example if I wanted a soapbox to vent about the growing distrust and paranoia. The rumor now circulating is that it was someone reporting a political post vindictively not out of paranoia or some sense of 'duty' fostered by an increasingly fearful atmosphere... but because they were jealous that the poster's Harry Potter fanfics got better reviews than their own, or something. Gah. Some days, I wonder about people...

Edit 4: The original post can be found here in Google's cache, just look for 'a prayer for dubya' to find the entry. Now I drop the topic.

Comments

Wow... that's just...

Dang. Wanna move up here, hon? We could put you on our couch till you got a place... gah. ;P
Nothing at all. But yeah, it's their obligation.

I don't really get upset about it, to be honest -- it's disturbing, but the fact is somebody reported them and they had to take that seriously. And it is certainly NOT just this administration, which is what really irks me about so many of the comments made on that story. The Secret Service reportedly investigates 1500 threats a year. That's about 5 a day!

However, with as much vitriol as people are spewing at Bush in so many rather violent ways... is it really a surprise we hear more about it?

I wish I knew what was really said, though. That makes judging the validity of it very difficult.

Interesting article about the Secret Service here: http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa040398.htm
Again, I agree that threats need to be taken seriously. I think, however, that they're /too quick/ out the door on any random report. An example is here, about a photography student who was harassed for being reported. What was reported? He was dark of skin and taking photos... HE MUST BE A TERRORIST! AAAH!

More seriously, I think the Bush administration has promoted an atmosphere of paranoia. On BOTH sides. The loyal supporters of the current administration go 'aaah, nasty threat, must be a terrorist sympathizer!' and call out the g-men. Those opposed see any action the government takes -- even reasonable ones -- and go 'aah! Civil liberties being violated!' in response.

This is an air of distrust and conspiracy-theories the likes of which I've never seen. I don't know what to make of it, but I don't like it; I think stories like this (where someone reports your average college liberal blog-wanking political rant, and the Secret Service shows up on the poster's doorstep... or like Ian Spiers' photography class horror story) are not the problem... but they are a /symptom/ of something very wrong in our nation of late.

However, I'm willing to concede I'm wrong; give me evidence that the Secret Service and some equivalent of Homeland Security were as quick out of the mark under Clinton's administration as Dubya's -- that things like Ian Spiers' story happened just as readily -- and I'll eat my words.

Otherwise, I'm sorry; I stand by my statement that the Bush administration has promoted an atmosphere of paranoia, distrust, and trigger-happy accusations. Even if I feel that atmosphere is on both sides. (And yes, I'm aware that my use of that LJ post as an example of my argument is, to some extent, itself an example of that atmosphere of distrust.)
These are verbal threats on Clinton (among other things), but they sound pretty innocuous, too:

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa040398.htm

Also included are some more plainly serious ones.

(Why About.com seems to have so much information for me today is surprising!)

Interesting discussion here:
http://qando.net/archives/002802.htm

And there's another one whose link I lost about a recent investigation into a threat against Hillary Clinton (in response to a letter a prison inmate sent to a prison psychologist.)

I won't dispute that the air of paranoia and fear has risen, for both valid and invalid reasons. I definitely agree with you there. I think part of it has to do with the facts of a post-9/11 world. I think part of it has to do with the volume of negativity that is given towards the president, and that people seem to see boogey-men around every corner. I'm just not naturally paranoid at all, so it mystifies me. I'm perfectly willing to accept some investigations, and while I think that sometimes people are too quick to point fingers and scream threat, I can also see the point that it's often the ones we think are harmless that are the most dangerous.

Kind of like suicides, you know? The ones who never say anything are the ones to really be afraid of.

But as I said -- I'm really curious as to what was actually said in the post, because without reading it we're just making assumptions.
As I understand it (admittedly from secondhand accounts), the original post basically concluded with 'so, where are the assassins when you need them' to make a point after stating that Bush's administration had demonstrated a belief that removing an uncooperative leader (Hussein) from power by force of arms was a legitimate method. Granted, that could be taken the wrong way, since I don't know the original phrasing. However, I think it's still a symptom of the rising distrust.

I think it's worth noting in the link you posted that the two minor Clinton threats were both ones made to his face; one, simply, was a minister walking up and going 'God will hold you to account,' and getting questioned by the Secret Service afterwards on the way out. (And considering the statement's ambiguity, I can see why they'd go, 'huh, better talk to that guy.') The other, notice that the folks were not arrested for what they said to Clinton, but for swearing and disturbing the peace in general.

Now, it may be my own opinion, but I'd take someone walking up to the president and going 'God will hold you to account for your crimes' a wee bit more seriously than some college sort posting a politiwank entry in their blog. Yeah, both Clinton cases were a snap reaction, but I don't think either displays evidence of the same level of paranoia as we've seen in the past four years. On /either/ side.
Unfortunately it's hard to find older information than newer, since they don't publicize what's gone on. YOu have to look in court cases. Ah well :)

And yeah, hence why I noted they were verbal, so they aren't clearly comparable, but are the best I could find on short notice :)

Although I can definitely see why a comment on 'where are the assassins when you need them' could be taken the wrong way. Not arguing about rising distrust in general, but I think it's a product of both the changing world /and/ the administration, not just the administration, if that makes sense? You never know when some nutjob is going to decide you're a threat because of their own paranoia.

I still hold by not necessarily being upset with the secret service for it, though, but that's me. I'm still more inclined to be more afraid of a silent threat than a vocal one.
Followed the 6 degrees of LJ to find this, as I look into the story:

What's to stop someone from reporting, say, a political blogger who makes an angry statement? Or a webcartoonist who puts political content in their strips?

I keep thinking that there's more to this story than we know, because there are plenty of angry bloggers and cartoonists in print and on the web, and they're not getting their doors knocked on.
See, the key is the report. Reports get investigated; they don't (thank god) just go out and find people at random. My issue is that a report being investigated goes into someone's permanent record -- for all future employers -- so it would be trivial for someone who disagrees with another person and sees them make a vitriolic rant to report them.

There are other examples of this 'guilty until proven innocent' mindset out there. I agree that the Secret Service needs to take seriously claims about death threats; I just happen to think that the way they'll jump immediately to personal intimidation and confrontation speaks of both a 'bully' mindset in our government, and a widespread paranoia the likes of which I have not previously seen.

THAT bothers me, a great deal; I think situations like this are not the illness, but they're a definite symptom that something is wrong.
*splutters laughing*

Oh no! Their slashy Snape/Draco fics got better reviews than mine! Waaaah!
Hey, if anyone writes Snape/Draco slash, they /deserve/ to get harassed by government agencies. ;P
Totally. The same with Snape/Ginny slash :P
My favorite part?


Edit 3: WTF? Okay, well, evidently this particular post was a bad damned example if I wanted a soapbox to vent about the growing distrust and paranoia. The rumor now circulating is that it was someone reporting a political post vindictively not out of paranoia or some sense of 'duty' fostered by an increasingly fearful atmosphere... but because they were jealous that the poster's Harry Potter fanfics got better reviews than their own, or something. Gah. Some days, I wonder about people...


Nothing quite like 'net jealousy of something so immaterial and pointless as 'fanfic'. ;)

I am amused. :)