Friday, July 29, 2005

Cold Case 

Via Josh Marshall: You will certainly remember the case of the three Denver residents who were ejected last March from a taxpayer-funded speech by George W. Bush because their car bore an anti-war bumper sticker. Plainly the free-speech rights of the Denver Three were violated; in addition, the unidentified White House volunteer who gave them the boot may have violated federal law by posing as a Secret Service agent. It is our great pleasure to report that this troubling matter has now been resolved to the complete satisfaction of the Bush White House:
Federal prosecutors have declined to press charges of impersonating a Secret Service agent against a White House volunteer who forcibly ousted three people from a speech by President George W. Bush in Denver on March 21.

The announcement was made without explanation today in a letter from the Secret Service to Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. Mark Udall and Diana DeGette, all Democrats who had asked for the agency to investigate the incident . . . .

A Secret Service agent who investigated the incident said the man admitted ousting them solely because they arrived in a vehicle bearing a "No-more-blood-for-oil" bumper sticker. The Secret Service has said the man was not an agent but refused to name him because he was not charged.

The incident raised questions in Congress about whether the man had committed the crime of impersonating a federal officer.

The man's identity has been a matter of mystery for four months. The three have repeatedly demanded his identity, saying they wanted to sue him on free speech grounds.

Bush appeared at the Wings over the Rockies Museum to promote his Social Security plan. Because it was a public event paid for by taxpayers, considerable debate has erupted over whether it was legal to bar people over their political speech. Eight of Colorado's nine members of Congress – four Republicans and four Democrats – have objected to the idea of ousting people over a bumper sticker.
Our learned colleague Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left has posted the letter from the Secret Service to the three Colorado congresspersons who demanded the probe here. The response, by Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. Diana DeGette and Mark Udall, is here:
"It's puzzling that the Secret Service would take five months to come up with nothing. Frankly, if the Secret Service and White House have nothing to hide, and if no law was broken, don't the American people have a right to know the results of the investigation and who was responsible for ejecting the Denver 3?" Udall said. "Hopefully the White House will put in place procedures for town meetings that allow all views to be heard and that respect all law-abiding individuals."

“Political debate in our nation has gotten too partisan and aggressive. We need to encourage people of differing viewpoints to listen to each other’s ideas,” said Rep. DeGette. “The removal of three Coloradoans from a public, taxpayer-funded Presidential event on Social Security does nothing to foster civil discussion. While I am disappointed that the White House continues to refuse to identify the person involved, I hope that they will at least make their events open to all Americans in the future....”

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