secret service expansion
January 25, 2006 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Section 605 of the House's Patriot Act renewal bill is entitled THE UNIFORMED DIVISION, UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE. The Secret Service has broad authority (included arrest powers without warrants) when it comes to protecting the President. The "uniformed division" (previously the "Executive Protective Service") handles most of the grunt work. Talkleft has been analyzing this text and has come to the conclusion that the President can, upon passage of this bill, use his "Uniformed Divison" (aka private army) on a whim: (11) An event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance.Section 3056(e)(1) of title 18 reads simply: When directed by the President, the United States Secret Service is authorized to participate, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, in the planning, coordination, and implementation of security operations at special events of national significance, as determined by the President.
posted by taumeson (135 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Many people predict things like Republican National Conventions will become "events of national significance", bringing us to about page 120 in Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here", where the protagonist goes to the Democratic National Convention and sees "Minute Men" beating on members of dissenting political parties.

I don't expect to see any beatings taking place, but I do expect to see broad detentions made for little or no reason.

And what's great is that it will be enshrined in law that there are no reasons necessary:

make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony

suspicion of committing a felony can lead to arbitrary arrests, and the authorities will lie about it.
posted by taumeson at 7:38 AM on January 25, 2006


Weren't there already broad detentions made for little or no reason, in NYC at the most recent GOP convention?
posted by rxrfrx at 7:46 AM on January 25, 2006


inch by inch, the hammer falls...
posted by billder at 7:50 AM on January 25, 2006


Why under the Secretary of the Treasury?
posted by leapingsheep at 7:52 AM on January 25, 2006


Except we already have broad detentions at political rallies, look at the 2004 republican convention, for example.
posted by delmoi at 7:52 AM on January 25, 2006


No beatings? Not even a little one? You guys have got a lot of catching up to do!
posted by public at 7:53 AM on January 25, 2006


I am relatively versed in law, and I have no hesitation in saying, from an unbiased position, that this gives the POTUS a great deal of power over the populace as a whole. This means that any offence that is classed as a felony (including felonious misdemeanours), can be punished immediately by detention and (see extension of c) use of reasonable force. The SS... hmm, where did we see those initials before.....?
posted by malusmoriendumest at 7:53 AM on January 25, 2006


The Secret Service has always been able to do this, and was doing it before Bush came to office.

This prompts the question of why is this even in the Patriot act? Most likely they want to put, in the form of legislation, PDD-62, which puts the USSS in charge of Special National Security Events, such as the Super Bowl, Olympics, or whatever the President decides is such an event, like Jenna Bush's sorority initiation, etc. But PDD-62 was signed by Clinton, so no one cares.

See here
for a description from the DHS of PDD-62.
posted by Brian James at 7:55 AM on January 25, 2006


Oh you had to go and Godwin the thread already didn't you malus.
posted by public at 7:55 AM on January 25, 2006


Please explain. I'm not really up to your cynical idioms at this time of day.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 7:57 AM on January 25, 2006


Weren't there already broad detentions made for little or no reason, in NYC at the most recent GOP convention?

Well and also there are the Orwellian Free Speech Zones used at both conventions.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:59 AM on January 25, 2006


said by leapingsheep Why under the Secretary of the Treasury?

Because the Secret Service is a division of/run by the Treasury.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:01 AM on January 25, 2006


I'll come back to this thread after I get home and make popcorn.
posted by alumshubby at 8:01 AM on January 25, 2006


"The issue isn't whether or not we are the same as the Nazis, the issue is that we aren't different enough."

Avi Schlaim
Israeli historian, on the issue of comparisons to Nazi Germany (in this instance referring to Israeli government and military leaders, but the parallel works here as well).
posted by Relay at 8:05 AM on January 25, 2006


I would like to think that I am as passionate in my support for civil liberties as anyone, and as dismayed as anyone by the sense that those liberties are being diminished in the current climate. That said, this post seems unnecessarily alarmist to me. The quotation about "arrests without warrant" is simply equivalent to saying that Secret Service officers have law enforcement powers--no police officer in the country needs a warrant to arrest someone for a crime committed in her/his presence, or for a felony that the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect has committed.

"Events of national significance" include/have included things like the Super Bowl, the Salt Lake City Olympics, etc.; this provision simply authorises the Secret Service to be included among the law enforcement officers who can be deployed at such events, and who can be involved in their security planning. It's hard for me to detect much that's insidious here.
posted by muhonnin at 8:07 AM on January 25, 2006


Its funny how I am reading things like:

When directed by the President, the United States Secret Service is authorized to participate, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, in the planning, coordination, and implementation of terrorist operations at special events of national significance, as determined by the President.
posted by j-urb at 8:10 AM on January 25, 2006


"any offence that is classed as a felony (including felonious misdemeanours), can be punished immediately by detention and (see extension of c) use of reasonable force"

How is this different from current normal police procedure?
posted by mischief at 8:11 AM on January 25, 2006


Correction: suspicion of a felony or definite act of felony. For example, littering. Creepy Scenario:

Bystander: *hums, accidentally drops a piece of paper*

Faceless SS guy reads them their rights after pinning them down and/or incapacitating them with "reasonable force", i.e baton, mace, etc.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 8:13 AM on January 25, 2006


Why under the Secretary of the Treasury?

Because the Secret Service is a division of/run by the Treasury.

Because SS was a bureau of the Treasury Department. It's now under Homeland Security. When they created DHS rather than going through every line and replacing them, the Homeland Security Act just say's, 'for every time you see Treasury, insert Homeland Security.'
posted by Pollomacho at 8:14 AM on January 25, 2006


Oh, for corn's sake. Seriously, get off my side. You're making my side look stupid.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2006


This provision would create the first uniformed police of national jurisdiction. Our very own "Federales."

I, for one, welcome our new Unsecret Service Overlords.
posted by rdone at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2006


Since when is littering a felony?
What a bunch of paranoids!
posted by mischief at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2006


I saw this on dKos earlier today. As far as I can see, this is just left-wing paranoia and jumping at shadows.

But I'm keeping an open mind about it.
posted by empath at 8:17 AM on January 25, 2006


(that was for malusmoriendumest)

Pollomacho: I think you might be mistaken.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:18 AM on January 25, 2006


All hail King George!
posted by homodigitalis at 8:24 AM on January 25, 2006


The Secret Service has always been able to do this, and was doing it before Bush came to office.
posted by Brian James at 9:55 AM CST on January 25


Exactly. But reality doesn't matter when there is some outrage to be had.
posted by dios at 8:30 AM on January 25, 2006


Oh wait, looks like the Department of the Treasury needs to update their site. (Scroll to the bottom)
posted by fandango_matt at 8:32 AM on January 25, 2006


Any big attack that hits a large event in America will impact the President poorly. So he wants to take charge of those events so that his image isn't hurt by state and local agencies messing things up?

If there had been a better (any?) Federal response to Katrina, I may trust the Secret Service to handle the vallet parking at the Super Bowl, but as things stand... eesh.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:33 AM on January 25, 2006


If the apparent effect of this bill has been available for years [1], then what's the point of adding it into the patriot act? Does it clarify something in the PDD?
posted by boo_radley at 8:43 AM on January 25, 2006


Fandango_matt, I'm pretty sure Pollomacho is right : see the entry for 2002. The site you cite could stand some updating.
posted by muhonnin at 8:45 AM on January 25, 2006


... Godwin the thread ...

What a tiresome and un-helpful concept....
posted by lodurr at 8:45 AM on January 25, 2006


mischief: Since when is littering a felony?
I don't know, but I'm guessing: Since a long time ago.
posted by lodurr at 8:50 AM on January 25, 2006


Yes, muhonnin, I noticed.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:52 AM on January 25, 2006


Sure, lodurr, common citizens should quake in their boots when they haul trash to a convention by the truckload.
posted by mischief at 8:57 AM on January 25, 2006


I don't know, but I'm guessing: Since a long time ago.

If people choose to dump truckloads of garbage in front of the superbowl or the RNC, I think a secret service takedown is in order.
posted by loquax at 9:00 AM on January 25, 2006


Next week on TalkLeft: a breaking analysis about how Bush has secretly created a process whereby he can "veto" acts of Congress and overrule the will of the people like the fascist he is.
posted by dios at 9:04 AM on January 25, 2006


Garden variety littering is not a felony. The links lodurr provided look like they have to do with cases prosecuted under a Florida law. Under the Florida law the "littering" has to be egregious to rate as a felony.

403.413(c) Any person who dumps litter in violation of subsection (4) in an amount exceeding 500 pounds in weight or 100 cubic feet in volume or in any quantity for commercial purposes, or dumps litter which is a hazardous waste as defined in s. 403.703, is guilty of a felony of the third degree....
posted by Carbolic at 9:04 AM on January 25, 2006


LOL, Dios!! The president has never vetoed ANYTHING laid on lis desk.
posted by Balisong at 9:05 AM on January 25, 2006


Er.. His desk
posted by Balisong at 9:06 AM on January 25, 2006


Arlo-Guthrie style? I think the local cops should give them a littering fine.
posted by anthill at 9:07 AM on January 25, 2006


mischief: Sure, lodurr, common citizens should quake in their boots when they haul trash to a convention by the truckload.
[shrug /] You asked, I answered. Ask a stupid question, get a smart-ass answer.
posted by lodurr at 9:08 AM on January 25, 2006


public:
First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I did not want to Godwin.
Then they came for the anti-Americans
and I did not speak out
because I did not want to Godwin.
Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out
because I did not want to Godwin.
Then they came for me
and Godwin was already all fucked up.
posted by bonaldi at 9:10 AM on January 25, 2006


... But seriously, conservakrew, the key word is "suspicion." Meaning: They dont' have to have actually done anything, and there doesn't really even need to be evidence (not the kind that would normally be expected, in any case).

If any President wants to do it, he can. The only thing protecting us from the initial abuse is the President's attitude toward civil liberties. I think Bush's attitude on that matter is pretty abundantly clear.
posted by lodurr at 9:11 AM on January 25, 2006


Most likely they want to put, in the form of legislation, PDD-62, which puts the USSS in charge of Special National Security Events, such as the Super Bowl, Olympics, or whatever the President decides is such an event, like Jenna Bush's sorority initiation, etc. But PDD-62 was signed by Clinton, so no one cares.

Well, I'm not about to scream "facist!" but the blurb you link to only (as you note) talks about who is in charge in those situations. Does PDD-62 specifically establish a "Uniformed Division" as the section from the Patriot act describes? If it doesn't, that seems to me a bit different than simply codifying something that already exists.

But reality doesn't matter when there is some outrage to be had.

dios defines the right wing far more succinctly than I could ever hope to...
posted by jalexei at 9:13 AM on January 25, 2006


What are you, bonaldi, some kind of communist?
posted by lodurr at 9:13 AM on January 25, 2006


Come on, guys... The president would NEVER abuse any of these powers he has granted himself.
posted by Balisong at 9:16 AM on January 25, 2006


wait, this was only JUST covered under the Patriot Act? I'm sorry to bring this to light to all of you, but its been around lot longer. All an officer has ever needed to arrest an individual is Probable Cause. They've never needed warrants unless it involves search and seizure - in homes or private property.

All I see in this section is the ability to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony" enables this section of the police to make arrests without consulting the local police force. Which is autonomous from the federal police forces (such as the secret service). They STILL can't jump into your home without a warrant to drag you out kicking and screaming - though they can probably wiretap you to GET a warrant now.

You should all read ATWATER V. CITY OF LAGO VISTA SUPREME COURT 532 U.S. 318 (2001). This law is nothing new. It's retarded and gives an officer the right to arrest you for something as insignificant as a "seatbelt violation"!!!
"An officer may arrest an individual without violating the Fourth Amendment if there is probable cause to believe that the offender has committed even a very minor criminal offense in the officer’s presence."

I wouldn't get so worked up about THIS as much as I would about lettingsomeone like Alito into the Supreme Court.
posted by Doorstop at 9:16 AM on January 25, 2006


The president would NEVER abuse any of these powers he has granted himself.
posted by Balisong at 11:16 AM CST on January 25


Um, are you suggesting that the Secret Service's ability to arrest people without warants is a "power Bush has granted himself"?
posted by dios at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2006


They dont' have to have actually done anything, and there doesn't really even need to be evidence (not the kind that would normally be expected, in any case).

This is the essential difference between a police arrest and a citizen's arrest. Any person can arrest another using reasonable force if they observe someone committing a crime. Only police officers can do the same on the suspicion of a crime being committed (or the existence of a police record for the person in question). Whether this power is abused or not is another matter, but arrest on suspicion is nothing new or unique to the secret service.
posted by loquax at 9:20 AM on January 25, 2006



Quick comment:

The Secret Service has always had a 'Uniformed Division'. This seems to just talk about expanding when and where they can be used. There are two flavors of SS - SS that look like cops in cop type outfits and SS that look like PI's in suits n such.

carry on
posted by cavalier at 9:23 AM on January 25, 2006


Thank you Public for bringing in the example of Wolfie at the Labour Parry Conference. That is exactly what this will do. So a man in his 70s, survivor of the Holocaust (this is NOT a Godwin moment) shouts "nonsense" during the PMs speech and is arrested under the Terrorism Act! Hello!
posted by Wilder at 9:26 AM on January 25, 2006


Um, are you suggesting that the Secret Service's ability to arrest people without warants is a "power Bush has granted himself"?
posted by dios at 9:18 AM PST on January 25 [!]

Nope, I guess that's as silly as your suggesting that the president would veto acts of congress.
posted by Balisong at 9:30 AM on January 25, 2006


Balisong. Do you honestly believe my point in that comment was to suggest Bush was going to veto anything? Can you not read that comment and understand the point of it is to suggest that these dipshits over at TalkLeft are acting as if Bush has given himself some new power that has never existed before in an effort to have more executive power? It would be as equally absurd if they started railing about this new "veto" power.

I thought the point was fairly obvious, but I guess some people choose to read my comments differently.
posted by dios at 9:33 AM on January 25, 2006


As it's been already stated that the secret service already had these powers, why grant them again?
What has changed? Is there subtle wording that gives new juristictions? Is there wording that (LOL) limits their juristictions?

It raises flags for me when they re-authorize something that was already in place.
posted by Balisong at 9:34 AM on January 25, 2006


Dios, I can't honestly believe anything you say.
posted by Balisong at 9:34 AM on January 25, 2006


The only thing "new" about it is that it places some ability to direct the Service in the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Treasury. It is a simplisitc jurisdictional bill. There are no new threats to this country or your civil liberties. But again, don't let that get in your way of a chance to get outraged.

I am amazed at the lengths people will go to in order to try to generate outrage.
posted by dios at 9:38 AM on January 25, 2006


Dios, I can't honestly believe anything you say.
posted by Balisong at 11:34 AM CST on January 25


Then do me a favor: don't bother ever responding to me or reading my posts. If you can't be bothered to read and attempt to understand what I am saying, then don't waste all of our time and board space by mucking it up with your responses.
posted by dios at 9:40 AM on January 25, 2006


I am amazed at the lengths people will go to in order to try to generate outrage.
posted by dios at 9:38 AM PST on January 25 [!]


I think we are prone to outrage because the president has shown that he will abuse any and every bit of power around him.
There are no slippery slopes with this president, only new lows.
posted by Balisong at 9:42 AM on January 25, 2006


don't waste all of our time and board space by mucking it up with your responses.
posted by dios at 9:40 AM PST on January 25 [!]


You too, sir.
posted by Balisong at 9:43 AM on January 25, 2006


Well, the full text of PDD-62 is a classified document, so it's obviously hard to tell how this proposed change is any different than the existing directive. That being said, there are a number of reasons to include the provisions in legislation, even if no substantive changes are made. For example, PDD-62 might expire by its own terms--again, because it's classified, we just don't know. Some lawyers in the Executive branch may have reason to believe that certain provisions of PDD-62 couldn't be implemented by Presidential fiat, and instead require a grant of authority from Congress.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:46 AM on January 25, 2006


This provision would create the first uniformed police of national jurisdiction. Our very own "Federales."

The uniformed division of the Secret Service has been around forever. I see them all the time around here (in DC). And there are plenty of other uniformed federal police forces already. Hell, the USPS has its own police force!

I am amazed at the lengths people will go to in order to try to generate outrage.

I agree with you that there's really nothing going on with this. But given the amount of negative sentiment about the Patriot Act in general, shouldn't you expect people to scrutinize things like this a little more than they otherwise would?
posted by me & my monkey at 9:58 AM on January 25, 2006


I wonder if Halliburton will get the contract to supply them with their new Brown Shirts. ; )
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 10:02 AM on January 25, 2006


There's something very significant happening here, but people are kind of missing the point.

The point isn't that the SS can arrest people without warrant. Any cop can do that.

The point isn't that the SS can do it anywhere in the country, as long as they have jurisdiciton. That's not new...it's just that the jurisdiction was, boiled down to it, "protection of the executive branch"

The point isn't that there's a uniformed SS crew. They've existed for a while now.

The point is that there may soon be a paramilitary (read: heavily armed) uniformed (read: combatant) force that can be personally, arbitrarily controlled by the president that has civilian arrest powers and is not limited by any kind of oversight.

Frankly, I didn't know of the existence of the PDD...I can really tell the difference between the PDD and section 605 when you get down to it, except that the PDD is just the SS, while the 605 is the Uniformed (read: grunt) division as well.
posted by taumeson at 10:04 AM on January 25, 2006


Also, keep in mind that the primary purpose of the bill in question was to reauthorize those provisions of the Patriot Act which expired on December 31, 2005. Because of the filibuster and cloture failure in the Senate, the bill never got passed, and those provisions in the Patriot Act expired. Because now Congress must reenact rather than simply reauthorize those provisions, don't be surprised if this bill gets substantially rewritten.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2006


Also, I think that maybe there's not too much going on with this either...I mean, we're all for smarter communication and control of big events lest a terrorist plot destroy it, right?

My problem really just stems at how arbitrary it seems. "National Special Security Event" seems like a much tougher criteria (as found in the PDD) than "special events of national significance".
posted by taumeson at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2006


loquax: ... Any person can arrest another using reasonable force if they observe someone committing a crime. Only police officers can do the same on the suspicion of a crime being committed (or the existence of a police record for the person in question). Whether this power is abused or not is another matter, but arrest on suspicion is nothing new or unique to the secret service.
Indeed, you are correct. (Funny, though, how a certain breed of "conservative" seems so ready to abuse that power...)
posted by lodurr at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2006


taumeson - i'm still not seeing anything new.
scruff mcgruff the crime dog says "buckle up. it's the law."
posted by Doorstop at 10:09 AM on January 25, 2006


The Secret Service has always had a 'Uniformed Division'. This seems to just talk about expanding when and where they can be used. There are two flavors of SS - SS that look like cops in cop type outfits and SS that look like PI's in suits n such.

Thanks for the clarification.

Can you not read that comment and understand the point of it is to suggest that these dipshits over at TalkLeft are acting as if Bush has given himself some new power that has never existed before in an effort to have more executive power? It would be as equally absurd if they started railing about this new "veto" power.

Somewhat related: Bush's casual attitude toward the requirements for a FISA search is well documented, and while I don't have the legal training one might require to disentangle the validity of the competing claims, that many prominent conservatives are as alarmed as many on the left of Bush's warrantless domestic spying points to an issue that clearly goes beyond the "dipshits" at TalkLeft.

Hence, to offer as hyperbole a statement that recent events show is not all that far removed from what seems to happening, and to then call out people for pointing to the obvious (Bush clearly would enjoy claiming new powers, even if he hasn't literally done it, and he sure seems to have the Justice Department scrambling to push every conceivable loophole to its groaning, straining limit) is kind of ridiculous.
posted by jalexei at 10:10 AM on January 25, 2006


Here is the existing US Code governing the Secret Service Uniformed Division. It was formally transferred to the DHS in 2002. Under different names, it has existed since 1860.

Here is an annotation of that code to show what would be changed:

Powers, authorities, and duties of United States Secret Service Uniformed Division

(a) There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the `United States Secret Service Uniformed Division'. Subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division shall perform such duties as the Director, United States Secret Service, may prescribe in connection with the protection of the following:

(1) The White House in the District of Columbia.

(2) Any building in which Presidential offices are located.

(3) The Treasury Building and grounds.

(4) The President and his immediate family, the Vice President (or other officer next in the order of succession to the Office of President), the President-elect, the Vice President-elect, and their immediate families.

(5) Foreign diplomatic missions located in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia.

(6) The temporary official residence of the Vice President and grounds in the District of Columbia.

(7) the Vice President and members of his immediate family;

(7) Foreign diplomatic missions located in metropolitan areas (other than the District of Columbia) in the United States where there are located twenty or more such missions headed by full-time officers, except that such protection shall be provided only--

`(A) on the basis of extraordinary protective need;

`(B) upon request of an affected metropolitan area; and

`(C) when the extraordinary protective need arises at or in association with a visit to--

`(i) a permanent mission to, or an observer mission invited to participate in the work of, an international organization of which the United States is a member; or

`(ii) an international organization of which the United States is a member;

except that such protection may also be provided for motorcades and at other places associated with any such visit and may be extended at places of temporary domicile in connection with any such visit.

(8) Foreign consular and diplomatic missions located in such areas in the United States, its territories and possessions, as the President, on a case-by-case basis, may direct.

(9) Visits of foreign government officials to metropolitan areas (other than the District of Columbia) where there are located twenty or more consular or diplomatic missions staffed by accredited personnel, including protection for motorcades and at other places associated with such visits when such officials are in the United States to conduct official business with the United States Government.

(10) Former Presidents and their spouses, as provided in section 3056(a)(3) of title 18.

(11) An event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance.

(12) Major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates and, within 120 days of the general Presidential election, the spouses of such candidates, as provided in section 3056(a)(7) of title 18.

(13) Visiting heads of foreign states or foreign governments.


The members of such force shall possess privileges and powers similar to those of the members of the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia.

(b)(1) Under the direction of the Director of the Secret Service, members of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division are authorized to--

`(A) carry firearms;

`(B) make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony; and

`(C) perform such other functions and duties as are authorized by law.

`(2) Members of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division shall possess privileges and powers similar to those of the members of the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia.

`(c) Members of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division shall be furnished with uniforms and other necessary equipment.

`(d) In carrying out the functions pursuant to paragraphs (7) and (9) of subsection (a), the Secretary of Homeland Security may utilize, with their consent, on a reimbursable basis, the services, personnel, equipment, and facilities of State and local governments, and is authorized to reimburse such State and local governments for the utilization of such services, personnel, equipment, and facilities. The Secretary of Homeland Security may carry out the functions pursuant to paragraphs (7) and (9) of subsection (a) by contract. The authority of this subsection may be transferred by the President to the Secretary of State. In carrying out any duty under paragraphs (7) and (9) of subsection (a), the Secretary of State is authorized to utilize any authority available to the Secretary under title II of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956.'.


Some of these changes are cosmetic -- for instance, the Secret Service itself already protects the VP and family and the P/VP-elect and families. This probably eases the burden on the Secret Service by allowing their most highly-trained agents to focus on critical body-protection duties, and assigning the uniformed division to such things as gatekeeping.

Section (10) indicates that the SSUD will also now be responsible for security for Clinton, Bush Sr., Carter, and Ford (although as in the past, they are free to refuse such protection).

Section (11) is potentially the most interesting, but the Secret Service authorizing language already gives it authority at "events of national significance". This just expands the authority to the Uniformed Division. The biggest issue here is that Congress only asked for an end-of-year accounting of when this was done; they could have asked for 30 days' notice or some such. I suppose a good question would be how much the uniformed division would be expanded and how often it would be deployed at these events.

Section (12) is, again, standing authority for the Secret Service, now expanded to include the Uniformed Division. So is Section (13). Note that most permanent diplomats would be protected by the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, a very similar agency to the Secret Service but with a much lower public profile. I think that the language allowing outsourcing by contract or transferability to the SoS is enabling language for the DSS.

I don't think the parts in (b) are extraordinary -- most federal security agencies have similar language. Even the "arrests without warrant" language is echoed from other such enabling legislation.

Now, what's undeniable is that this represents a major expansion of the scope of the Uniformed Division, which has hitherto been restricted to being essentially a security force for a handful of Executive-Branch facilities. They'll have authority similar to the US Marshals and the FBI, and the "events of national significance" suggests a counterterrorism role. It's not clear that they would be competing with the existing agencies overseeing specific terrorism investigations, although that could potentially be a concern as well.

Thus, even a calm, sober reading of the proposed language suggests that this would indeed create a new, powerful federal police force under the DHS. Indeed, they could be deployed at party conventions and the like. It's not clear to me at this moment what agencies' roles are being usurped here, although the FBI, Marshals, ATF, and others are all known to have presence at such events.

It's also unquestionable that this will probably make permanent some of the ritual surrounding Presidential appearances such as the Inaugural Parade, campaign trail and town meetings. These will be rigidly controlled events that permit few people who aren't pre-screened, if what we've been seeing already (in 2000! before 9/11!) is any indication.
posted by dhartung at 10:12 AM on January 25, 2006




I know a couple of cops through a mutual friend. I've asked about how they arrest people. If they want to arrest someone, they will come up with a reason to do it -- and there are loads of reasons on the books. The reason they don't abuse this all the damn time is that they, or their superiors, can get into heaps of trouble for it.

But if the president, who has shown no willingness to play by any rules other than his own, is the only higher-up involved in this secret armed force... that's just goddamn scary.
posted by cmyk at 10:29 AM on January 25, 2006


It really is revealing -- and amazing -- to see the absurd reactions to this Patriot Act revision. ALL law enforcement officers have the same power to arrest anyone for having committed a felony in their presence or upon reasonable suspicion. Police officers do not need a warrant to make arrests. This has been the standard under which police officers operate for many, many years.

(Yes, your local police department has been part of this right wing consipiracy to arrest felons . . . )

No "new powerful" "private army" and "usurping" police force is being created. The Secret Service has been around for a long time and has been part of DHS since its inception.

And an "Event of National Significance" is simply a term used to describe such things as a hurricane, presidential inauguration, WMD attack, -- even the SuperBowl can be an ENS.

Good grief.
posted by AJ at 10:37 AM on January 25, 2006


Good grief.

You think you get it, but you don't. It's written all up and down the thread: We know any cop can abuse their power. We know a lot of them do.

We also know that George W. Bush, our 41st President, thinks that he has a special mandate to do whatever he thinks he needs to, regardless of the ethics.

That's what we're afraid of, dude. That's why we're reacting so "absurdly."
posted by lodurr at 10:43 AM on January 25, 2006


what dhartung and others said. Also, don't ever forget that any event where there's any member of the administration present would be deemed a "event of national significance"

Just the other day, Gonzalez spoke at a law school and some students protested. Under this, they would have been hauled off to jail by this force.
posted by amberglow at 10:45 AM on January 25, 2006


AJ, we've never had a national police department before, have we? Have we ever had a President like this who does not allow regular Americans (whether they support him or not) to come to his appearances and events? Have we ever had an Administration that holds the President above the laws and Constitution (even more than Nixon)?
posted by amberglow at 10:50 AM on January 25, 2006


The answer to all of amberglow's slanted questions is "no" and it continues to be "no" today with Bush as president. The TalkLeft asinity doesn't add anything that would make any of amberglow's answers any more likely to be a "yes."
posted by dios at 10:53 AM on January 25, 2006


FWIW, amberglow, the US Postmaster General had very broad authority for a long time. Probably not in exactly these dimensions, but they were not restricted in the same ways as other law enforcement branches.

Also, pre-emptive to the counter-strike: The protestors at the Gonzalez event could have been arrested, not would have. "Would" suggests we're farther down the slope than we actually are.
posted by lodurr at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2006


But dios, you're clearly wrong. Bush clearly does not allow ordinary Americans to come to his events. They have to be vetted to demonstrate that they support him. If they try to protest, they are removed.
posted by lodurr at 10:56 AM on January 25, 2006


AJ, we've never had a national police department before, have we?

There are dozens of federal police forces in and around DC alone. Federal agents are all over this country and have been for years, all with varying powers to arrest, detain and monitor citizens.

ATF? Marshals? Customs? Border Patrol (now merged)? FBI? Postal Inspectors? Coast Guard? Park Rangers? "Revenuers"?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:04 AM on January 25, 2006


So then, the message from some is all of this already exists. Then why are they bothering with new legislation? To what end is legislating twice, thrice, four times (take your pick) over something that already exists?
posted by juiceCake at 11:19 AM on January 25, 2006


But dios, you're clearly wrong. Bush clearly does not allow ordinary Americans to come to his events. They have to be vetted to demonstrate that they support him. If they try to protest, they are removed.
posted by lodurr at 12:56 PM CST on January 25


I disagree. All Americans are allowed to go to his event, those that agree and disagree. But those who are there to protest and disrupt are not. If you think Bush is wrong, but want to sit there and listen to him, then you are free to go.

If you goal is to protest vocally and disruptively, then you aren't allowed to do so. And I support that. As I did when people were arrested in Chicago.

I refuse to accept the absurd suggestion that protestors have a right to disrupt an event and therefore Bush is wrong to not allow protestors to do that.
posted by dios at 11:19 AM on January 25, 2006


dios: Would it be an "absurd suggestion" if the protest were somewhere other than America? Or if the subject were soemone other than President Bush?

Would it be an absurd suggestion if the subject of the protests were Michael Brown? Hilary Clinton? The local dog catcher who's being accused of selling captured animals for medical experiments? A senator who's been documented to have taken bribes? A mayor who's used his control over his police department to strongarm bar owners into buying liquor from his brother?

You're on ground so shaky, here, dios, that it's not really ground at all. You're standing on nothing.
posted by lodurr at 11:35 AM on January 25, 2006


BTW, I'd be happy (indeed, I'm eager) to actually hear your answers to my questions. Treat them as literal, please, not rhetorical.
posted by lodurr at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2006


All Americans are allowed to go to his event, those that agree and disagree.

Um, not exactly.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2006


... oh, and: You are, in fact, factually wrong. "All Americans" are not allowed. If you do not have a history of supporting the President's party politically, you will not be allowed. That's got nothing to do with disruption, and you know that.
posted by lodurr at 11:37 AM on January 25, 2006


Yes, it is an absurd suggestion across the board. In case you thought it was a partisan issue, that is why I said the protesters at the DNC in Chicago should have been arrested.

Free speech does not guarantee a platform to be heard. The First Amendment does not and should not protect the right for an individual to disrupt anything they want. Do you want to protest a person? Than do so in a reasonable time, place, and manner. Standing up and disrupting an event with an intended purpose is not a reasonable time, place, and manner and is not absolutely protected speech.

So bringing this back full circle to the question amberglow asked: that is why it is incorrect to say that only Americans who agree with the President are allowed in to his speeches. That is incorrect. You can think he is the MeFi caricature of evil and you can still go to his speeches. You just can't disrupt it. Nor should you be able to.
posted by dios at 11:42 AM on January 25, 2006


monju: Again, you can fundamentally disagree with the President and still go to his speech. You can't disrupt the speech. I don't think those links refute that.
posted by dios at 11:44 AM on January 25, 2006


OK, then, dios, answer the questions: For each of those examples I cited, would you endorse arrest for disruption?

Free speech does not guarantee a platform to be heard.

You do understand the absurdity of that statement, don't you? All I have to do to eliminate free speech is to control the forums within which it can be "heard". I can say that "disruption" within any public space doesn't constitute "free speech", and is therefore prosecutable.

... that is why it is incorrect to say that only Americans who agree with the President are allowed in to his speeches. That is incorrect.

But we've demonstratd that it's not incorrect. It's a FACT: Only Americans who agree with the President are allowed to his speeches, except for those cases where he speaks to an audience who can be ordered to listen and cheer. (E.g., at Anapolis.)
posted by lodurr at 11:46 AM on January 25, 2006


dios: The links about signing a loyalty oath don't refute your case?
posted by lodurr at 11:47 AM on January 25, 2006


And in case you think I am just arguing that because Bush is the president (you are wrong): I would think the same thing about a person wearing an aborted fetus t-shirt to an abortion conference or any other example you want to conjure up. Protest can be done, and you can't get arrested for the content of what you are saying (free speech). But that you have free speech does not give you carte blanche to do and say anything, anywhere, any time.
posted by dios at 11:49 AM on January 25, 2006


dios, the stories told in those articles make clear that even if you bear no intent to disrupt the speech, as long as you refuse to sign the loyalty oath you won't get in the door. I don't know if that continues to be the practice at Bush speeches post-election, but given the typical fawning obsequiousness of the questions and comments at his faux "town hall" style events, I wouldn't be surprised.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:49 AM on January 25, 2006


dios: this thread is what I was talking about when I called you "Fightin' Dios" the other day.

It's a stupid fucking thread about a non-issue, but you choose to get into a huge number of fights about it. You make snarky replies, and then willfully misinterpret their snarky responses, in order to feign outrage at the people of metafilter.

This thread is a perfect example of you in your Fight Mode. Far more interested in stirring things up than in making a point of any sort.

You should be better than this.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:50 AM on January 25, 2006


dios: this thread is what I was talking about when I called you "Fightin' Dios" the other day.

It's a stupid fucking thread about a non-issue, but you choose to get into a huge number of fights about it. You make snarky replies, and then willfully misinterpret their snarky responses, in order to feign outrage at the people of metafilter.

This thread is a perfect example of you in your Fight Mode. Far more interested in stirring things up than in making a point of any sort.

You should be better than this.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:50 AM on January 25, 2006


dios: this post in particular is an example of you being willfully ignorant, as an excuse to insult others and to feign outrage.

The only other explanation is that you're the dumbest motherfucker on the planet, but I don't believe that. I know you're smart, you just like to fight
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:53 AM on January 25, 2006


as long as you refuse to sign the loyalty oath you won't get in the door.

Were those required at the Inauguration? Or were they required at private campaign rallies?
posted by dios at 11:53 AM on January 25, 2006


Coast Guard?

Coast Guard is military, not civilian.

Have we ever had a President like this who does not allow regular Americans (whether they support him or not) to come to his appearances and events?

Bush clearly does not allow ordinary Americans to come to his events. They have to be vetted to demonstrate that they support him. If they try to protest, they are removed.

But we've demonstrated that it's not incorrect. It's a FACT: Only Americans who agree with the President are allowed to his speeches, except for those cases where he speaks to an audience who can be ordered to listen and cheer. (E.g., at Anapolis.)

No it's not a "fact", it's perception - basic image management.

Image management is near universal in politics, although this President has a tighter leash on it than most. It's not that he does not "allow" American citizens to come to his events, it's that he hand-picks those who are sympathetic to his cause.

It's an evolution of the Tarmac Strategy*, put into play so deftly by Reagan.

There is a huge difference.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:54 AM on January 25, 2006


I Love Tacos, I don't have a clue what you are talking about in referencing that comment. Now, hopefully you won't call me willfully ignorant in making that statement because it is the truth.

I made a snarky statement, yes (I didn't know I was the one person forbidden to do so here) that TalkLeft might come up with some new shocking revelation about some common presidential practice. I thought that was fairly obvious. Balisong responded as if I was suggesting that Bush was actually using that practice--a comment which shows a complete lack of understanding of what I was being snarky about. Now you are accusing me of being willfully ignorant in that comment? I do not understand what you are saying. Call me willfully ignorant or dumbest motherfucker if you want, but you aren't making any sense to me.
posted by dios at 11:57 AM on January 25, 2006


Dios,

How is wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt a disruption?

I will state, however, that this side dispute about whether the President allows persons who disagree with him at his events is irrelevant to your general point, to wit: This law does not represent anything unprecedented or alarming.

I agree that this law is not unprecedented, but I will echo dhartung's comment above and disagree that we should not at least be a little alarmed at the change (sorry about the double negative). The law does increase the police powers of the uniformed Secret Service, which is under the control of President Bush.

By itself, in isolation, perhaps this is no big deal. However, those that are worried about this do not trust the president. Based on his actions and character, including the illegal NSA domestic spying that the president ordered, we feel that there is a strong likelihood that the president will abuse this power and use this arm of the Secret Service for his own ends and in contravention of our free society. I submit that this attitude is reasonable, even if some of the rhetoric is a bit "hyperbolic", so to speak.
posted by JKevinKing at 11:58 AM on January 25, 2006


How is wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt a disruption?

Why would someone where it if it wasn't to get attention and cause a reaction?
posted by dios at 11:59 AM on January 25, 2006


So then, the message from some is all of this already exists. Then why are they bothering with new legislation? To what end is legislating twice, thrice, four times (take your pick) over something that already exists?

When something is mandated in legislation it thus becomes impossible to change policy and practice through simple regulatory changes. In order to change something in a legislative act requires another legislative act. Sometimes these take the form of snippets in "omnibus" bills, other times when other legislative changes are needed all pertaining to a similar subject, like say, security, then many changes are lumped together into a single security bill.

The Patriot Act pertains to security and law enforcement. It is a bill full of small changes to enforcement and security policy and procedure already mandated by Congress in previous bills. Some were tweaks because of ambiguities or confusion, some were direction changes. Patriot renewal is the same sort of bill.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:59 AM on January 25, 2006


dios: oh, so now you want to fight me? Yes, this is your standard MO. You play stupid, so you can find an excuse to be the victim "fighting back".

I'll remind you of the posts, since you've conveniently mis-read them.

Post 1) balisong says something or another
Post 2) you write back with a snarky comment about the left, that references veto power.
Post 3) balisong makes a snarky remark referencing the fact that Bush hasn't actually vetoied anything.
Post 4) you pretend that balisong misinterpreted your comment, and insult him.

Truly, the only options are that you're socially retarded, or you enjoy fights. All available evidence points to the latter.

I'm not going to be drawn into your trap, but the other day you emailed me asking why I called you Fightin' Dios, and agreed that you're almost funny. That post was a prime example.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:06 PM on January 25, 2006


"Why would someone where it if it wasn't to get attention and cause a reaction?"

-Dios

To make a political statment--the very conduct the 1st Amendment is designed to protect.
posted by JKevinKing at 12:07 PM on January 25, 2006


Why would someone where it if it wasn't to get attention and cause a reaction?

Is the threshold for disruption really that low? That says more about the people who're reacting than anything else.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:08 PM on January 25, 2006


dios: Why would someone where it if it wasn't to get attention and cause a reaction?
So, just to be clear: Any time anybody does something "to get attention or cause a reaction", it's not unconstitutional to prosecute them for it?

I'll qualify that: Any time anybody does something "to get attention or cause a reaction" in reference to government.

It would be useful to understand where you think this doctrine of punishing attention-seeking kicks in. Is it at the Federal level? State? Municipal? Garden club?

Basically, you're applying your own aesthetic for public behavior to other people, and sayign that they have to live by it. (Though you seem to do a lot of attention seeking, yourself.)
posted by lodurr at 12:11 PM on January 25, 2006


Why would someone where it if it wasn't to get attention and cause a reaction?
posted by dios at 2:59 PM EST on January 25 [!]


To express their point-of-view in much the same manner that a pro-Bush shirt expresses a point-of-view. Why would someone wear a pro-Bush shirt if it wasn't to get attention and cause a reaction as well?

Surely not everyone in attendance at a Presidential rally/meeting/town hall/what have you in democratic country will react negatively to an anti-Bush shirt and positively to a pro-Bush shirt. And vice versa. And if so, who cares if they have a negative reaction or a positive reaction?
posted by juiceCake at 12:12 PM on January 25, 2006


Patriot renewal is the same sort of bill.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:59 PM EST on January 25 [!]


I realize that, and with that renewal, the small changes should be examined and not simply said to already be the case, no difference, no big-deal. Similarities may well have existed and do exist. Is it so horrible to question the nature of the changes and what those changes may result in?
posted by juiceCake at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2006


Since when is littering a felony?
What a bunch of paranoids!
posted by mischief at 8:15 AM PST on January 25 [!]


If I have a bunch of trash like plutonium or some old X-ray machine bits and just toss it on the ground, I bet I *DON'T* get a littering charge.

Same if I take a bunch of $1 bills and dump 'em out my car window on a freeway. (It *IS* just scraps of paper, right?)
posted by rough ashlar at 12:17 PM on January 25, 2006


Personally, I think the main subject of this thread appears to be massively overhyped nothing.

As for the derail into Bush's press behaviour, I support his right to have closed sessions, and to isolate himself from criticism.

Whether or not it's a good idea is a different story, but I don't think the President should be legally required to speak only to politcally balanced groups.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:18 PM on January 25, 2006


I Love Tacos,

So do I.

As for the derail into Bush's press behaviour, I support his right to have closed sessions, and to isolate himself from criticism.

Whether or not it's a good idea is a different story, but I don't think the President should be legally required to speak only to politically balanced groups.


That's a good point, and the 1st Amendment probably would not require him to.

However, perhaps such a campaign rally would be treated like a public square, so that dissenting speech should be required at his speeches, consistent with proper decorum, especially if they are official government functions. Contrary to Dios' earlier statement, there are certain places, such as the "public square", where the government cannot restrict political speech. I'm not sure what the law is, and lack time to look it up. Does someone have some caselaw?

I have to think about it some before coming to a conclusion as to what I think the law should be on that.
posted by JKevinKing at 12:28 PM on January 25, 2006


I support his right to have closed sessions, and to isolate himself from criticism.

It's certainly his right... but is it a good idea? Makes him look like a cowardly nincompoop, in my opinion.
posted by BobFrapples at 12:32 PM on January 25, 2006


the small changes should be examined

That is why Congress people and the political parties, as well as lobbyists and special interest groups have armies upon armies of employees. Believe me, by the time a bill comes to a vote, every line has been examined, polled, dissected, plopped in front of a focus group, spun and shat upon.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:34 PM on January 25, 2006


... except for the PATRIOT act. That was pretty much waved on through without serious review.
posted by lodurr at 12:46 PM on January 25, 2006


JKevinKing: I don't think this one can be legislated away, without putting unfair restrictions on the President's actions, but I'd be very interested to hear a fair proposal.

I also believe it's likely that Bush has set a new norm, that will be followed (or escalated) in the future. The exception being if a candidate is either extremely popular, or if they're exceptionally good at handling criticism.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:48 PM on January 25, 2006


Believe me, by the time a bill comes to a vote, every line has been examined, polled, dissected, plopped in front of a focus group, spun and shat upon.

This in no way mirrors what I've been told by the Washington staffers that I know.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:50 PM on January 25, 2006


Why would someone wear it if it wasn't to get attention and cause a reaction?

Is the threshold for disruption really that low? That says more about the people who're reacting than anything else.


This bears repeating. An inability to tolerate even the smallest amount of confrontation is at issue here. It's not whether protestors have the right to throw every single gathering into chaos; it's the incredibly histrionic definition of "chaos" in these days of message discipline that's the problem.
posted by furiousthought at 1:08 PM on January 25, 2006


This in no way mirrors what I've been told by the Washington staffers that I know.

Are those the 23 year old phone answerer Hill staffers or legislative research Hill staffers?

... except for the PATRIOT act. That was pretty much waved on through without serious review.

Oh, it got plenty of review, just not by the people that should have been reviewing it. How do you think they had it up and ready so quickly? The neo-cons and security freaks had it as a wish list for the last 5 years but never could get anyone to bite, same deal with DHS.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:23 PM on January 25, 2006


This is ridiculous. I am an attorney working with many federal police force unions in Washington, D.C. These aren't crazy new provisions at all its just standard police powers that is all. There might be a dozen sections of the U.S. code with boilerplate language nearly identical to this. Just because Bush is a terrible president out to expand his powers beyond where they should be doesn't mean that this language is anything but standard language empowering a police force. These are just regular cops. They should be allowed to unionize though, and they are not.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:31 PM on January 25, 2006


There are many federal uniformed police forces. Park Police, UD, BEP, Mint, FPS, NIH Police, National Zoo Police (yes they do exist), and many others. This isn't a nationalized police force. The Constitution does not give the Federal Government the police power. D.C. is a federal reservation, after all. They have no authority outside D.C. except when a specific designation of a national security event occurs. Do we have to play into Bush's hands once again by screaming the sky is falling here?
posted by Ironmouth at 1:36 PM on January 25, 2006


“The point is that there may soon be a... force that can be... controlled by the president that has civilian arrest powers and is not limited by any kind of oversight.” - posted by taumeson
+ what dhartung sed

If that is true that is troublesome.

“There are no slippery slopes with this president, only new lows.” -posted by Balisong

I don’t want to single Balisong out, but the idea here is illustrative of my problem with “the left.”
It’s not just this guy, this president. This has been happening for a while. Clinton did a bunch of things I had problems with and a bunch of things happened on his watch that “the left” (and again - not anyone here specifically) seemed to ignore or dismiss as paranoid. Currently it’s folks on “the right” saying there is nothing to worry about.

I think it’s more a matter of the laws and the political checks that are in place being a constant than the character or agenda whoever is actually sitting in the chair.
And many folks here have said the POTUS shouldn’t have this power. The way it looks, reads, I have to agree. What’s wrong with all the security and agencies we have now?

“If you goal is to protest vocally and disruptively, then you aren't allowed to do so. And I support that.” -posted by dios

Is there a greater level of disagreement than diametrical opposition?
I suppose I’m with you on the “no fire in a crowded theater” concession. But when it comes to political speech I tend to set the bar just short of physical assault on the politician. They need to be disrupted. They need to constantly be forced to reconsider their ideas. Everyone always told Hitler what a great job he was doing. If you ignore your feedback systems you tend to get the smiles with the knives hidden behind the back. It happened to Caeser too.

....really it’s surprising we stuck to the Nazi SS and didn’t bring up the Praetorians...
posted by Smedleyman at 1:38 PM on January 25, 2006


... plenty of review ....

Pollomacho, point taken.
posted by lodurr at 1:39 PM on January 25, 2006


“These are just regular cops. They should be allowed to unionize though, and they are not.” -posted by Ironmouth

If that’s true then no, it’s not a big deal.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2006


smedleyman, we can bring up the Praetorians if you like. But the SS is a better analogy, I think.

Anyway, I worry more about Pinkertons. They don't have any Congressional oversight.
posted by lodurr at 1:41 PM on January 25, 2006


If your goal is to protest vocally and disruptively, then you aren't allowed to do so. And I support that.
posted by dios at 2:19 PM EST on January 25 [!]


How fortunate the Internets aren't like the real world for you then and those on the Internets that are Digital Individuals Optimized for Sabotage.
posted by juiceCake at 1:46 PM on January 25, 2006


Just because Bush is a terrible president out to expand his powers beyond where they should be ...

And, of course, practically every president expands the power of the presidency whenever they can. That's a matter of course.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:47 PM on January 25, 2006


Are those the 23 year old phone answerer Hill staffers or legislative research Hill staffers?

Ah, the ad hominem attack. Instead of adding something just, use a snide remark to attack my credibility. Nicely done.

Almost as nice as the way you simultaneously argued that every line is put before focus groups, and that only very limited groups of people have access to the bills before voting.

I wonder if all the minor earmarks are put before focus groups too, in your strange little world.
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:49 PM on January 25, 2006


What? It was a serious question. Are you talking about the people hired specifically for this task by each and ever congress person or the people that work in the offices making schedules and answering phones? There are many kinds of staffers in this town, my strange little world, not all of them are legislative researchers, not all legislative researchers work for congress members either.

Minor earmarks are usually put in place by congress members that have considered them for their own gain, however they, or the lobbyists that put them up to it have definitely considered it.

I never said anything about access to bills however, that was your imagination, what I was talking about is that some legislation, like the the Patriot Act, is developed behind closed doors. Concepts are thrown around, bounced by focus groups and polling and much of it never sees the light of day because the people would not take it might have been deemed somehow unfeasible.

After 9/11, things that had been shelved or placed on security agencies' wish lists was brought out and plopped down into bills. Most of it had been carefully considered and rejected or stalled or just plain scrapped for years, now it could be railroaded through by zealots and neo-cons under the heading of Security.

Democrats considered the backlash of Americans caught up in 9/11 fever prior to considering long term effects of bills, certainly not a great vetting process, but a vetting process none the less.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:13 PM on January 25, 2006


Are those the 23 year old phone answerer Hill staffers or legislative research Hill staffers?

Ah, the ad hominem attack. Instead of adding something just, use a snide remark to attack my credibility. Nicely done.

Please, for the love of god, look up what Ad Hominem means before you attempt to use it in an argument again.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:30 PM on January 25, 2006


And so, once again as always, dios (or someone like him from one side or the other) and those who respond drown out the discussion of the topic at hand with a lot of two-way snarking.

Honestly, people, aren't we all supposed to be better than this, or do most of the people REALLY prefer infighting nonsense to rational discussion?

This post probably just adds to the noise. Bah. So let us get to the point.

First off, this gives me hope for the future of our children.

Second off, this got Benjamin Franklin's quote in some mainstream media articles, which is groovy.

Third off, the fact that they were able to do this without (obvious) consequence is a perfect example of why "protest zones" and other such nonsense are exactly that: nonsense.

okay, back to snarking
posted by davejay at 2:40 PM on January 25, 2006


The National Institutes of Health have their own police? Where have I been?

Maybe I'm reading this sideways, but given his tendency to demand absolute devotion at all public affairs, couldn't he send out the SS to a far-flung Toby Keith concert he wanted to watch on pay-per-view, having designated it an "event of national significance?" Why be bothered by protestors there either? Or at his favorite rib joint, whether he's around or not? It's not like he wouldn't consider it.
posted by toma at 2:41 PM on January 25, 2006


Nice example sweet jesus.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:41 PM on January 25, 2006


I apologize for assuming it was a snide "you're just a know-nothing nobody" remark.

I don't know what his exact title is, but the friend I was referring to is a lawyer by education and works writing, and editing legislation. He may or may not have other tasks, but that's the only one he talks about. His wife has made similar remarks about the ease of getting some minor legislation passed, but I don't know what her job is at all, I only know who she works for.

Your comment stating: Believe me, by the time a bill comes to a vote, every line has been examined, polled, dissected, plopped in front of a focus group, spun and shat upon. just doesn't jive very well with what I've heard.

I'm under the impression that minor legal changes are fairly easy to get through, without anybody noticing or caring, so long as they aren't terribly disruptive.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:44 PM on January 25, 2006


Well, it depends on how minor. There are limits such as who will be effected, but even those things take some review to show who.

There's also the fact that it's not just happening in Congress critter's offices. Lobby groups, non-profits, issue groups and special interests are constantly working up legislature on their own and then feeding it to the members pre-screened in exchange for their support.

I don't mean that legislation will be screened for it's effectiveness or how well it will improve America, I mean it is screened and vetted for how it will affect the congressman's poll numbers.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:52 PM on January 25, 2006


Anyway, I worry more about Pinkertons.

Now that's an apt analogy man. I wonder who's heads they're going to bust instead of the wobblies? Who's "Carnegie" in this equation?

Yeah, that's got me thinking....

I posted on Mara Salvatrucha a while back. I wonder if a component of the SS, or some other organization will evolve into the Sombra Negra.

But the black shadow is *cough* disavowed *uncough* by the Salvadoran government. Dunno if we'd buy that. Maybe if it's for our own good. I heard a radio report on NPR that said just as many students applauded Gonzalez.

I suppose it's just a matter of how bad it could get.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:39 PM on January 25, 2006


I want to tell you something you probably don't know," he told us. "Every single bill that we vote on gets taken up the street to the Republican National Committee first. It lands on their desks, they add and subtract as they see fit, and then it gets rushed back to the House floor for a vote. We have no say on the matter. That's not how it is supposed to work!"

And i have still not got one answer to my questions above. Does any president work for those who supported them or for all Americans? Are they sworn to uphold the Constitution or to just keep their party in power? Are they sworn to quash dissent even when constitutional?
posted by amberglow at 9:28 PM on January 25, 2006


amberglow: the idea that politicians work to uphold the Constitution is sadly quaint.

There's no money in that.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:25 AM on January 27, 2006


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