Thursday, October 12, 2006

Don't Disagree With The Veep -- You Might Get Cuffed

Having once worked in the Executive Branch and on national campaigns, I have nothing but respect for the difficult job the Secret Service does. Putting your life on the line everyday to protect the President and others is an endeavor so noble; it should be rewarded with the highest praise and honor. Yet, for the most part, the Secret Service lives in the shadows, with little or no fan fair. That is why it pains me so when I read stories like this one.

Criticizing Cheney to His Face Is Assault?

Apparently on June 16, Steve Howard, an American citizen with no criminal record had the audacity to stand two feet away from VP Cheney and calmly say "Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible." After he made this statement, he walked away. Ten minutes later while standing with his eight year-old son, he was handcuffed by a Secret Service agent and hauled away to jail.

I don't know for sure what happened, I wasn't there, but I can't blame the Secret Service. I know from experience that their intentions are not political. They are given a thankless task that they can only perform to the best of their abilities in the hope that the unthinkable never happens on their watch.

But I can blame the Bush Administration's systematic erosion of our civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. The agent had no choice. This administration has repeatedly engaged in rhetoric that either claims or implies that disagreement with their Iraq policy is somehow un-American and detrimental to the security of our nation. Therefore, anyone with the courage to calmly question our elected leaders performance must be a potential threat that needs to be examined.

These are sad days. People are dying every day in Iraq, our world is growing more dangerous and more volatile, and the very first right afforded to us under the Constitution is being eroded to the point that a simple statement of disagreement with our direction as a nation is being perceived as a potential threat.

Please, don't blame the Secret Service. They do a job that few have the courage or the honor to perform. But do take a moment and reflect on what this means for your rights as a citizen of the greatest country on earth. Suddenly, the country that defined freedom for the world is rethinking its position and personally, I'm not real happy about the direction we seem to be going.

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