When Julia Wilson was "investigated" by Secret Service agents their procedure likely planted the seeds of radicalism in the entire school.
Teen questioned for online Bush threats - Yahoo! NewsNow, to me it is obvious that when you are investigating the potential of a possible threat, knowing that the person of interest is young and impressionable and surrounded by young and impressionable persons, you would want to make a very GOOD impression. Otherwise, there is a slight but real potential of creating the exact threat that you were trying to prevent.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Upset by the war in
Iraq, Julia Wilson vented her frustrations with
President Bush last spring on her Web page on MySpace.com. She posted a picture of the president, scrawled "Kill Bush" across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She later replaced her page on the social-networking site after learning in her eighth-grade history class that such threats are a federal offense.
You would also wish to avoid creating the impression that you have the right to act with impunity, disrupting the lives and educations of hundreds of students. You would certainly wish to avoid the appearance of an improper interrogation without benefit of council or parents even if the statutes permitting that are technically in favor of doing that. That might create the wrong impression in the minds of taxpayers who had not been closely following politics.
In this situation, there was absolutely nothing whatsoever to lose by proceeding in a courteous and considerate manner. Every investigator - and especially those who's duties require broad latitude and discretion - should be extremely conservative about approaching the boundaries of their authority. In this case, it looks a lot like they behaved in an intimidating way due either to thoughtlessness or in some pin-headed attempt to "send a message."
And indeed they did. Congratulations, gentlemen - the reply will be delivered to your supervisor by your employers.
That would be us.
The 14-year-old freshman was taken out of class Wednesday and questioned for about 15 minutes by two Secret Service agents. The incident has upset her parents, who said the agents should have included them when they questioned their daughter.
On Friday, the teenager said the agents' questioning led her to tears.
"I wasn't dangerous. I mean, look at what's (stenciled) on my backpack — it's a heart. I'm a very peace-loving person," said Wilson, an honor student who describes herself as politically passionate. "I'm against the war in Iraq. I'm not going to kill the president."
Had you investigated discreetly, you could have easily figured out that she was not a threat. Goodness, you might even have steered her safely into a career in the Secret Service. I understand that the federal government is finding it difficult to entice recruits of her potential caliber, and ironclad opportunities to speak to school age persons are not exactly leaping to the fore.
But no, you had to jerks. I admit that is an accurate representation of the current administration, and I suppose it may be difficult to resist slipping into that mindset, but I expect far, far more of one of the proudest and most respected enforcement agencies in the land.
On the rare occasions when I hear of your activities, I expect your actions to make me proud - not squirm in horrified embarrassment.
Yelling at 14 year old girls and making them cry is not a shining example of professionalism, nor is angering and frightening thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of parents. These "Internet tubes" go everywhere, these days.
Cindy Sheehan became a personal nightmare of this Administration simply because she was snubbed. Having your child personally threatened by armed paranoids in brown suits is an order of magnitude beyond that.
I believe that someone owes someone a public, personal apology. I would suggest that there are two agents who could use some sensitivity training, because if they cannot treat white, blond children with due courtesy according to the spirit of the constitution, it's not a big leap to assume that no-one will be afforded their rights.
When the rottweiler cannot tell the difference between a threat and a challenge, the rottweiler is put down.
We don't shoot agents, of course. We just have them fired, revoke their carry permits, their security clearances and suggest they pursue a less stressful career path that doesn't require much human interaction. I've always felt that unmanning lighthouses was a foolish mistake.
I do not believe it's part of the overall mandate of the Secret Service to create political problems for the Administration - much less create public situations that could crystallize a potential threat into a madman's plan. Gentles, as you never know what sort of nut is reading the news, it would behoove you to stay out of it. These days, you can't just rely on a couple of phone calls to ensure such a story goes away.
tag: Secret Service, Julia Wilson, Kirstie Wilson, Myspace.com, Digital Brownshirts, Cindy Sheehan, radicalization, unnecessarily mean, authority abuse, authoritarianism, constitutional rights, ACLU