Brad Messer Commentary • KTSA • Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Hiding Protesters

When President Bush makes an appearance, and the TV cameras show demonstrators, what we see isn't necessarily all that's happening.

People carrying signs supporting the president are allowed access to his immediate area. People critical of him or his policies are herded into separate areas and kept out of sight.

That's just fact. Here's a lift from a report by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression:

"One specific incident cited in a lawsuit recently filed against the Secret Service is the treatment of a western Pennsylvania retired steelworker who was handcuffed and detained by local officials, apparently under Secret Service orders, after he refused to be herded into a remote "designated free speech zone" at some distance from the site of the rally at which the President would speak. Similar incidents have been reported in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas and Washington State."

The Jefferson Center seems to think this is something new, something to blame on President Bush.

It isn't new at all. More than three decades ago, I personally saw anti-war demonstrators forcibly kept blocks away from President Nixon, by the Secret Service. It isn't as much about bad publicity as it is about security.

Brad Messer Commentary, KTSA.

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