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February 28, 2005

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» Posing as a Journalist from Odd Quanta
I believe the quote "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death you're right to say it." is attributed to Voltaire. I was thinking of that when I saw that JustOneMinute uncovered this item from Editor and Publisher: ..."... [Read More]

» Gay-Baiting Continues On the Left from :: Political Musings ::
Atrios links to this post by a blog called The Poor Man: God made Jeff Gannon a c#@k-headed man-whore in order to make a point; Satan made the details of the affair clownish, and made sure that all of his hilariously embarrassing come-on photos were... [Read More]

» Gannon-fodder for the gay-hating Left. from EtherHouse

I'm stunned by the gleeful openness of the Left's jihad against this guy for having allegedly been a gay escort, and discouraged the free pass the Left gets from gays. This is one of the many reasons why, though I care a great deal about civil rig... [Read More]

» White House Correspondents on Gannongate from Myopic Zeal
The WHCA has weighed in in response to the Gannon / Guckert thing. "The board felt like none of us were happy about Gannon being in the briefing room, but we all view it as the price we pay for a system that favors inclusion over keeping someone out... [Read More]

» Jeff Gannon Spotted at Beirut Protest from The Jawa Report
Is this Jeff Gannon / James Guckert at an illegal anti-Syrian protest in Beirut, Lebanon? But I thought the homophobic GOP was about anything but freedom? The tentacles of KKKarl Rove's VRWC run deep. More photos from Lebanon here.... [Read More]

» The Ever Myopic: Tom MacGuire from Media in Trouble: All the News That's UNfit to Print
But all White House press passes are distributed by the White House Press Office with no WHCA involvement. [Read More]

Comments

MisterPundit

This is excellent news!

If anything, I'd say Gannon/Guckert came out of this looking less idiotic than the leftwing blogs.

richard mcenroe

Dammit, they're ALL Karl Rove plants! Don't you SEE?!

Sinclair

Am I missing something here? I am not trying to zing Hutcheson or anything, but someone who makes thier living with words ought to be careful:

"I'm not comfortable in passing judgment on who is a journalist and who isn't" -Feb 15

and now:

"The bottom line is that none of us are comfortable with Jeff Gannon posing as a journalist,"

doesn't that "posing" comment mean he isn't a journalist in Hutcheson's judgement? I have never read one of Gannon's articles all the way thru, but the excerpts I have read seem a fairly straightforward reporting of facts and he was published. Talon may be a marginal news source, but so is my local paper (published for a community of a couple thousand,) comparative to a larger circulated newspaper. If Hutcheson's uncertainty is caused by Talon being a strictly on-line presence (as Mr. Maguire's comments seem to indicate) how will he define journalists from news sources when they move to all online publishing?

'Kos I Said So

'Credentialing procedures'...yeah, yeah..'changing the system'..uh huh, uh huh..'tipping point'..HEY! YOU CALL THIS A GUCKERT STORY? WHERE ARE THE PEE-PEE PICTURES?

Lord Whorfin

This scandal will end when something else comes along to take its place.

David Ross

I'd say it ended when people found records of him asking hardball questions from the right. That QED'd the point about him not being a partisan shill. I suppose that makes him an *ideological* shill... but if that were a problem, there'd be a lot of empty seats in those press conferences.

That and the penis thing.

Forbes

So it was all just a multimedia production of an SNL spoof of the WH press corps--with this end note serving as the Emily Litella line: "Never mind!"

Shawn

Why is it the media, and bloggers on the Left and Right, are missing the real story - how Gannon/Guckert was able to get credentials under an alias. If someone can get into the White House under an assumed name why should I feel safe getting on an airplane? This is a major breach of security that no one seems to want to talk about.

Brainster

To me the more interesting story has always been the left-wing blogosphere's bizarre reaction to the gay/prostitution angle. It's right up there with their sudden interest in prosecution for "treason".

Joanne Jacobs

Shawn, G/G submitted his real name to get his daily press credentials. I once was admitted to the White House with a bunch of other journalists to interview Hillary Clinton. I gave the Secret Service my married name, which is on my Social Security records and drivers' license; my maiden name, which I use professionally, was on the badge.

j.pickens

Shawn wrote: "This is a major breach of security that no one seems to want to talk about."

That's because Guckert identified himself to the White House security people under his true name using his bonefide ID.

I suppose you don't watch Larry King, Geraldo Rivera, or ever paid attention to Senator Gary Hart, either.

Laura C

Shawn, somehow you seem not to have learned that he did not gain credentials under an alias. He gained access (credentials) under his real name, but published under an alias. This has been posted on numerous blogs who link to their sources, please don't take my word for it, do some research and you will find that it is true.

Laura C

9:15, 9:16, and 9:17, we all posted basically the same thing... commenting in stereo? A few more like that and it would've been surround sound. :-)

JorgXMcKie

But you're all missing the REAL POINT. He asked a couple of softball questions of Republicans. Thus he can't be a real "journalist" like Helen Thomas. She always asks hard, but non-partisan questions. She would never ask softball questions of a president. (Just a moment. What? She asked Pres. Clinton what? And she also asked what?) Oh, well. Nevermind.

Emily Litella

Warmongering Lunatic

Shawn, it's really, really simple.

The White House has stated that he got the pass after a background check under his real name. Nobody has been able to provide any evidence that it was otherwise. In the absence of any such evidence, there is no "real story", because a "real story" is one that has basis in verifiable fact, not unverifiable rumor.

Steven Jandreau

"Talon may be a marginal news source,"

It's not marginal, it's not a news source at all.

TM

From JoAnne Jacobs:

I gave the Secret Service my married name,...

Let me just say, "D'oh!" The "married name/maiden name" exception must be somewhat common - has everyone heard this but me?

Hmm, break it to me gently...

Robert Crawford

It's not marginal, it's not a news source at all.

It's on par with the NYT.

jukeboxgrad

"[Talon] is not marginal, it's not a news source at all."

It goes beyond that. Talon didn't even exist at the time Gannon first started showing up at the White House.

By the way, Gannon didn't just get day passes for two years. He also was invited to a couple of White House Christmas parties (for press). Russell Mokhiber is the only example I've seen raised of another person who was given day passes on an extended basis. (There are a variety of important differences between Mokhiber and Gannon, not the least of which is that the former actually appears to have a history of writing things.) It would be interesting to know if Mokhiber was also invited to those parties. I haven't seen anyone make a claim about this one way or another.

Speaking of differences between Gannon and Mokhiber, the former wasn't just admitted. He was also called on frequently by Scottie and also called on by the president (live on national TV). It's not clear Mokhiber was ever granted that privilege.

As far as the latest from the WHCA, I think it's a good idea to remember these are exactly the same industrious, curious, sharp-eyed folks who managed to sit next to this guy for a couple of years and only got around to saying they weren't "comfortable with Jeff Gannon posing as a journalist" after a few amateurs in pajamas found some interesting information about Gannon that the so-called journalists in the White House weren't curious enough to look for on their own.

In other words, it's no surprise that these folks are interested in downplaying the importance of the Gannon matter. If they acknowledge it's important, they have to explain why there were asleep at the wheel.

"The 'married name/maiden name' exception"

I've heard a number of people say (contrary to Joanne's experience) that married female journalists are required to have their married/legal name on the badge, even if they'd prefer to have their maiden/professional name. I've haven't seen anything I would consider a definitive statement about this.

"none of us are comfortable with changing the system to keep him out"

The White House already seems to grant itself the right to restrict access for certain people, for mysterious reasons. Mokhiber said "he was denied access to the White House for about four months in 2001 and told only that it was for security reasons."

I wonder if Hutcheson is "comfortable" with this apparent effort to keep Mokhiber out. In contrast, it seems that Gannon never was greeted with anything but open arms, even though he was using a phony name, had no prior paid experience as a journalist, and had criminal connections (prostitution and tax cheating). Note that we're expected to believe that the White House, in a post-9/11 security environment, didn't notice or care about any of that, and was willing to admit him on a daily basis, and that favoritism and personal connections were not a factor. Note also that a few amateurs easily found out a lot about him even though they started with only his phony name. The White House had the benefit of also having his real name, his DOB and SS number (not to mention the best research resources in the world).

Note that the Secret Service that supposedly had no curiosity whatsoever about Gannon's criminal connections is the same Secret Service that sent agents far from Washington to check on some folk-singing high school kids. Somehow teens with guitars, singing the exact words of a 40-year old Bob Dylan song, were seen as a security threat to the president, warranting a personal visit by federal agents. But at the exact same time, someone with connections to two different kinds of criminal activity was being waved into the White House on a daily basis, and placed in close physical proximity to the president. And we're supposed to think favoritism had nothing to do with this.

Sinclair

Now, now as much as a sad sack the NYT has become it is still not marginal like Talon. Other than being conservative leaning (which I know is a major black mark in some circles), what makes it's employees less of journalists than _The Springfield Record_ serving a couple of thousand readers? It's purely online presence? It's newness of establishment? I said marginal to describe Talon because I think that it is not a competitive publication. Political slant, readership (circulation), age of establishment, brick or online, and the veracity of it's reporting all contribute to competitivness; of these I think that the last is the only true determining factor to journalistic legitimacy. As far as I know, Talon has not yet published an untruth without correcting it.
How does this translate into Hutcheson's statement that JG was "posing" as a journalist as opposed to being one?

Linda

This if fun!! I love to get my daily laugh out of this non story. All of a sudden the little lefties are worrying about security checks. as Glenn would say Heh.

All of a sudden the little lefties are making up things, and worrying about unproven allegations. Allegations they make. I really feel sorry for Gannon/Guckert, but I really can't help but laugh about all of this nonsense about a non-story for all of this time. The little lefties are all a twitter, and histerical in the process. It is fun to read, because the only people taking them serious are themselves!

TM

Jukebox, we are going to see if we can get you to play another tune:

the White House already seems to grant itself the right to restrict access for certain people, for mysterious reasons. Mokhiber said "he was denied access to the White House for about four months in 2001 and told only that it was for security reasons.".

C'mon - odds of that being a post 9/11 over-reaction?

It would be interesting to know if Mokhiber was also invited to those [White House Christmas] parties.

Ask the half-journalists at Media Matters, who discovered that Gannon made the list, but never troubled to cover more than half the story (even if that answer might help them). Or maybe they did learn the answer, but aren't saying.

...a few amateurs in pajamas found some interesting information about Gannon that the so-called journalists in the White House weren't curious enough to look for on their own.

Do we often read stories about reporters outing each other?

Note that the Secret Service that supposedly had no curiosity whatsoever about Gannon's criminal connections is the same Secret Service that sent agents far from Washington to check on some folk-singing high school kids. Somehow teens with guitars, singing the exact words of a 40-year old Bob Dylan song, were seen as a security threat to the president, warranting a personal visit by federal agents.

For heaven's sake, what will the left find to stew over next? First, they may have been "far from Washington", but they weren't that far from the Secret Service field offices in Colorado Springs and Denver.

Secondly, as you no doubt know, there were allegations of a death threat, and the Federal routine took over.

Just for the record, do you suppose that in post-Columbine Colorado, folks are (a) more, (b) less, (c) about as worried about anything involving teen-agers and allegations of violent intent as folks in the rest of the country? Maybe they have a "better safe than sorry" mentality. Maybe of all the hundreds of Dylan songs, folks were concerned that they picked one with violent, death-related imagery.

Put another way, if these kids sang that song and then burned down the school, everyone would agree after the fact that it was an obvious warning sign. Your guess?

...someone with connections to two different kinds of criminal activity was being waved into the White House on a daily basis, and placed in close physical proximity to the president...

Someone with no criminal record passed through regular security screenings (which I suspect includes a metal detector). I bet the heavy talent in the President's Secret Service detail figured they could take Guckert unarmed. Little did they know.

jukeboxgrad

"odds of that being a post 9/11 over-reaction?"

Dowd applied for a hard pass and was rejected (at the start of the Bush administration), even though she had already been covering the White House for many years. Her pass was finally approved, but only after a new Secret Service background check that apparently lasted several months. That obviously wasn't "a post 9/11 over-reaction." Was it a pre-9/11 over-reaction? Yes, it was for a hard pass, not a daily pass. But still. Several months? For someone who had already covered the White House for many years? And with Gannon they don't even run his SSN to notice he's a tax cheat? They don't bother to notice that "jeffgannon.com" and "hotmilitarystud.com" have the same owner? They don't raise an eyebrow to do these basic checks even though the guy has a phony name and no prior experience earning money as a journalist, and therefore sticks out like a sore thumb? Even though a daily pass issued every single day is effectively the security equivalent of a hard pass? Puh-leez.

By the way, Gannon first showed up in the White House less than a year-and-a-half after 9/11, at around the same time our government was telling us to stock up on duct tape. Good luck trying to argue that 2/03 was suddenly no longer a time of heightened security, in the country and at the White House.

"Do we often read stories about reporters outing each other?"

This wouldn't have been a case of "reporters outing each other." This would have been a case of reporters outing a tax-cheating hooker who was using a phony name to pose as a reporter.

Anyway, I think you have a point, which is that the reporters in that room hide behind some code of professional "courtesy" even at the expense of meeting their obligation to the public. Kind of like how it can be hard to find a lawyer who is willing to sue a lawyer (or even willing to sue a "lawyer").

"what will the left find to stew over next?"

It's nice to know you think that intimidating a kid with a guitar isn't an abuse of government power. You would have felt right at home in the Soviet Union.

"they weren't that far from the Secret Service field offices in Colorado Springs"

Thank goodness we have agents stationed there, in case some other kid in the heartland comes up with another president-endangering folk song.

"as you no doubt know, there were allegations of a death threat"

As you no doubt know, the only "death threat" is what an alarmist could construe from the exact words of the song, as Dylan wrote them forty years ago, and as the kids exactly sang them. Then again, Dylan is another of those traitorous liberals who should have been locked up a long time ago.

Incidentally, the song first appeared on Dylan's second album, in 1963. The album has been re-released several times (including in the last couple of years) and has sold millions of copies. Rolling Stone recently called it one of the top 100 albums of all time. The song also appears on several other Dylan albums and has been recorded by numerous artists. I guess the song should come with a warning label: "sing this in public and the Secret Service might show up." I sure hope the government is keeping a list of the millions of unpatriotic freedom-hating subversives who would choose to keep buying such dangerous trash. Hopefully we'll soon have a national ID card to make it easier for the government to keep us safe from ourselves, in this manner.

Some people say "a country is not free if its citizens cannot go to a public place and express dissent from the ruling power without fear of reprisal." In fact, Bush gives a substantial amount of lip-service to that idea. Do as I say, not as I do.

"if these kids sang that song and then burned down the school, everyone would agree after the fact that it was an obvious warning sign. Your guess?"

Last time I checked, Boulder has its own parents, teachers, school principals and police. Given that Republicans ostensibly want smaller government, more local rights and less interference from Washington, it sure is a surprise to hear that the folks in Boulder can't be trusted to figure out, without personal assistance from a couple of G-men, the difference between a kid with a guitar and an arsonist wacko.

By the way, even though the song has been around 42 years and has undoubtedly been listened to millions of times, as far as I know there isn't a single documented instance of it inspiring anyone to be an arsonist. Although it probably has inspired people to oppose unnecessary wars, which I guess is almost as subversive as being an arsonist.

By the way, the Secret Service isn't in the business of making sure kids in Boulder don't burn down the school. The Secret Service is in the business of keeping the president alive. So to justify what the Secret Service did, it's not enough for you to argue that the kids were a threat to the local community (and of course even that alone is a giant stretch). You have to argue that the kids were a threat to the president. Keep trying.

By the way, if a known criminal operating under a phony name was repeatedly admitted to the White House press room and then somehow caused harm to any other person in that room, "everyone would agree after the fact that it was an obvious warning sign. Your guess?"

"I bet the heavy talent in the President's Secret Service detail figured they could take Guckert unarmed."

Since your concept of White House security is that it consists simply of making sure the tax cheats and hookers leave the Glock in the car, please explain why the kids armed only with guitars were considered a threat, even though they were about 1700 miles from the president, as compared with about 17 feet. Also please explain how security concerns kept the unarmed non-criminals Dowd and Mokhiber out for months at a time, unless you want to admit that "security concerns" is a euphemism for "handy excuse to do whatever the hell we want."

Steven Jandreau

It's on par with the NYT.

Posted by: Robert Crawford | March 1, 2005 09:00 AM

This is preposterous.


TM

Jukebox, I see that this Dylan song incident has you shaken. Have you actually checked any stories other than the ABC link you left? If you had, you would not be writing stuff like this:

...As you no doubt know, the only "death threat" is what an alarmist could construe from the exact words of the song, as Dylan wrote them forty years ago, and as the kids exactly sang them.

...I guess the song should come with a warning label: "sing this in public and the Secret Service might show up."

...Last time I checked, Boulder has its own parents, teachers, school principals and police. Given that Republicans ostensibly want smaller government, more local rights and less interference from Washington, it sure is a surprise to hear that the folks in Boulder can't be trusted to figure out, without personal assistance from a couple of G-men, the difference between a kid with a guitar and an arsonist wacko.

This is from the Rocky Mountan News:

Some students and parents apparently let the Secret Service and talk-radio stations know they were unhappy with the plan of a trio of students to do a poetry reading of the song, accompanied by background music, according to Ron Cabrera, the school's principal.

Rumors were rampant that during an audition and rehearsal for today's talent show, the students changed Dylan's powerful last verse at the end of the song to say that they hoped that President Bush was going to die.

The last verse begins: "And I hope that you die; And your death'll come soon."

Secret Service agents interviewed Cabrera on Thursday to determine what all the uproar was about and whether any threats were being made against the president's life.

"They were following up and doing their due diligence," Cabrera said of the agents' visit. "They had been receiving calls from the community and, in the course of the talk show, felt like they had heard (the students) inciting physical harm to the president."

Cabrera said he talked to the students and teachers who have been working with them, and he was told the group, which calls itself the Coalition of the Willing, made no reference to Bush.

So let's see - the Sec Service interviewed the principal, rather than "intimidated the kid" (well the kid may have been intimidated, since this eventually made the news, but I would guess it was the talk-radio effect);

the Secret Service got involved in response to calls from concerned local parents or crazed radio jocks;

and, regardless of the actual lyrics, there were rumors (however credible the typical High School rumor mill may be) that the lyrics were going to be changed to name Bush directly. Also, we don't know what was said during the radio show, but the principal is quoted as saying that "in the course of the talk show, [the Secret Service] felt like they had heard (the students) inciting physical harm to the president."

As to whether the parents and classmates in Boulder over-reacted, it looks like it, but not knowing anything else about the kids in question, who knows.

As to your comment that:

It's nice to know you think that intimidating a kid with a guitar isn't an abuse of government power. You would have felt right at home in the Soviet Union.

I would say that with your "scream first, research later" approach, you will be right at home at the Daily Kos. (Hey, if they are pushing this particular *outrage*, please leave a link - we are always looking for something to mock, and it might be fun to throw rocks at their Boulder story).

Back to Guckert - Ms. Dowd got turned down for a hard pass, as you note, although your point eludes me. However, this makes me smile:

a daily pass issued every single day is effectively the security equivalent of a hard pass?

Really? When the President flew to Europe recently, there were reporters on the plane. Think any of them were there with a day pass?

As to "tax cheat", I wonder if any of the other reporters in Washington are in less-than-full compliance on their nanny taxes - your guess as to whether we could flush out a few more "tax cheats"?. (I have a relative who was well-connected in the Washington nanny scene - she says tax-cheating is common, but that just puts one data point and my common sense on my side of the argument.)

Good luck trying to argue that 2/03 was suddenly no longer a time of heightened security, in the country and at the White House.

Good luck explaining why Mokhiber was *not* able to get a day pass for about four months in 2001, and then was able to, again. Maybe the Security people were all Democrats and they forgot about 9/11; maybe they adopted new procedures that were less of a clamp-down then those followed in the immediate aftermath (assuming that Sept-Dec were the four months in question). Who knows?

jukeboxgrad

"I see that this Dylan song incident has you shaken."

Unlike you, it's not entirely OK with me that our Secret Service is paying very close attention to a 42-year old folk song being sung by some kids 1700 miles from Washington, while ostensibly paying very little attention to a tax-cheating hooker who gets to pose as a journalist and hang out inside the White House for a couple of years.

"Have you actually checked any stories other than the ABC link you left? ... the Sec Service interviewed the principal, rather than 'intimidated the kid'"

Have you actually checked any stories other than the one you cited? The Secret Service showed up at the school, apparently unnannounced. They also talked to the teacher who was involved, not just the principal. And then according to one of the kids, "someone told me the Secret Service was looking for me." The same kid said "I've seen a Homeland Security van going up and down the street outside my house and trailing us."

It's nice to know you don't think it's fair to say the Secret Service "intimidated the kid."

"the Secret Service got involved in response to calls from concerned local parents or crazed radio jocks"

This report explains that a student called a couple of radio stations, making a false claim about the nature of a rehearsal. It snowballed from there, although no student or parent took the trouble to complain to the principal. According the principal, many witnesses at the rehearsal later corroborated that the claim was false.

I find it very hard to understand why this ever went beyond a discreet phone call from the Secret Service to the principal (a phone call that apparently never happened). Instead, the Secret Service showed up at the school, apparently during school hours, apparently unannounced, tailed by news crews. This doesn't look to me like an honest effort to keep the president healthy. This looks like an act of political intimidation, with the local Secret Service taking sides against a particular principal who is probably very popular with some parents and very unpopular with other parents.

"regardless of the actual lyrics, there were rumors (however credible the typical High School rumor mill may be) that the lyrics were going to be changed to name Bush directly."

Not exactly. The rumor was that at a rehearsal/audition, the lyrics had already been changed. The kid who called the radio stations claimed that the lyrics were actually changed in the rehearsal. Later she admitted that all that had happened was that Bush's picture had appeared on a screen in the background while the song was performed, with the exact lyrics from 1963.

Anyway, it's all quite absurd, and it only proves that our government is willing to overemphasize security when it's politically convenient (in Boulder) and underemphasize security when it's politically convenient (with Gannon).

"As to whether the parents and classmates in Boulder over-reacted, it looks like it, but not knowing anything else about the kids in question, who knows."

It seems evident that the parents, teacher and principal working directly with these kids understood quite clearly that the kids were making a simple political statement, and they weren't in the process of planning arson or assassination. It also seems evident that some other people in the community had a problem with this political statement. All that is quite unremarkable. What's remarkable is that the latter group found it quite easy to enlist the government in a process of intimidation against the former group.

I notice how smoothly you glide by the heart of the story, which is not primarily that parents or kids overreacted: it is that our government overreacted.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the people currently protesting in Lebanon and Egypt are singing protest songs, maybe even American protest songs. If Assad and Mubarak start sending out men in black to demand lyric sheets, I'll be interested to see if you react with a similar shrug of your shoulders. While we're working overtime ostensibly to export freedom to those folks, we should remember to keep some around here for ourselves.

"your 'scream first, research later' approach"

Since my research is obviously more thorough than yours, you should back that up.

"Ms. Dowd got turned down for a hard pass, as you note, although your point eludes me"

I guess for some mysterious reason you have trouble scrolling up, so let me help out. You were trying to suggest that Mokhiber had been excluded for months because it was post-9/11, as if they suddenly decided he looked exactly like the sort of fellow who would try to sneak a box-cutter onto an airplane. I mentioned Dowd to show that the White House had no trouble arbitrarily excluding certain people for months, based on phony "security concerns," even before 9/11. Did I make that simple enough this time around?

By the way, we only know that Mokhiber was excluded for four months in 2001. We don't know which four months. It's entirely speculation on your part to suggest that those four months began around 9/11. Maybe this is what you mean when you say "scream first, research later."

"When the President flew to Europe recently, there were reporters on the plane. Think any of them were there with a day pass?"

I'm well-aware that this is an important security distinction between a day pass and a hard pass, but it's probably the only important security distinction. Anyway, it's not a good sign if the best you can do is say "well at least we didn't let him get on Air Force One."

"I wonder if any of the other reporters in Washington are in less-than-full compliance on their nanny taxes"

Uh, apparently ignoring a judgment for about twenty grand goes a bit beyond "less-than-full compliance on ... nanny taxes." Uh, and he wasn't just "in Washington." He was in the White House press room, up close, on a daily basis, getting called on frequently.

And by the way, I realize you're determined to miss the point. It's not that there's no one in that room who ever threw away a parking ticket, or forgot to return a library book. It's also not a question of making sure newspapers don't hire tax-cheats or prostitutes, former or present. It's that this guy had not a shred of prior experience as a paid journalist, and he also had connections to two different kinds of criminal activities, and we're supposed to believe the Secret Service just didn't notice. So it isn't a question of claiming that a tax-cheat couldn't also be a good journalist. It isn't even a question of claiming that a prostitute couldn't also be a good journalist. Those are fascinating hypotheticals. But the reality in this case is that while he had good credentials as both a tax-cheat and a prostitute, he had virtually no credentials as a journalist, but the White House put out the welcome mat for him anyway, and repeatedly handed him a microphone. They also apparently never subjected him to the kinds of delays and obstructions experienced by Dowd, Mokhiber and Chris Graham. And we're supposed to believe the White House, which has a history of screening people just trying to get into a campaign rally, simply didn't know certain striking aspects of his biography that a few bloggers were able to find out without even leaving the house. Yeah, right.

TM

Since my research is obviously more thorough than yours, you should back that up.

Well, you hid it well with your first attempt. Good job finding the Daily Camera article (eventually); I found two others that mentioned that, but never troubled to track it down.

Your gist seems to be, what if this happened in Egypt? My gist is, this is not Egypt, handwringing about Ohio notwithstanding.

The rest of your gist, as taken from your unresearched initial effort, was this:

Note that the Secret Service that supposedly had no curiosity whatsoever about Gannon's criminal connections is the same Secret Service that sent agents far from Washington to check on some folk-singing high school kids. Somehow teens with guitars, singing the exact words of a 40-year old Bob Dylan song, were seen as a security threat to the president, warranting a personal visit by federal agents. But at the exact same time, someone with connections to two different kinds of criminal activity was being waved into the White House on a daily basis, and placed in close physical proximity to the president. And we're supposed to think favoritism had nothing to do with this.

I think your subsequent research has satisified you that the Secret Service was *not* responding to some Rove-iniated order from Washington to clamp down on dissent. IN fact, with both the Dylan song and the Guckert pass, one might say they are just doing their job. And since someone outed the Dylan singers (*any* chance at all that the principal is covering up, and that rumors of changes to the lyrics were discussed? Are you *certain* that no one backstage said "Wouldn't it be totally awesome if we sang this...), one might say they were doing their job.

Cecil Turner

"This report explains that a student called a couple of radio stations, making a false claim about the nature of a rehearsal."

Actually, it explains that there is some dispute over the facts:

Some students and parents said the band, originally called the "Taliband," advocated killing George W. Bush. Band members denied the accusations, saying they would never advocate violence.
As to the propriety of teachers' involvement in a project that shows pictures of the President (or anyone else, for that matter) while playing lyrics like:
"And I hope that you die/ And your death'll come soon/ I will follow your casket/ In the pale afternoon/ And I'll watch while you're lowered/ Down to your deathbed/ And I'll stand over your grave/ 'Til I'm sure that you're dead."
I think we'll have to agree to disagree. And I admit having some sympathy for the SS rationale for their "overreaction":
We are very sensitive to the First Amendment rights, but we still have to investigate allegations of threats, regardless," he told the paper.
And not to put too fine a point on it, why is it that all these allegations of "McCarthyism" or "overreaction" start out the same:

"Wolf! Wolf!"

"Where?!?"

"Right there!"

"Are you talking about the rabbit?"

"He's got big fangs!" . . . .

And perhaps he does. But before summoning the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (of which we have a limited supply), and reading from the Book of Armaments, it might be reasonable to check whether the "big fangs" aren't just enlarged incisors which typify rodents.

Guesst

The worst has been seeing so-called conservative right wingers helping to butcher Guckert by taking the leftist point of view.

The left is dead-wrong in their rhetoric, as is anyone who agrees with them on this subject.

Right OR Left.

Paul Zrimsek

Who says the security concerns that kept out Mokhiber and Dowd were phony? For all we know Dowd may have been claiming Mokhiber as a dependent at the same time he was deducting illegitimate business expenses connected with his gay escort service. We all know that enforcing the Internal Revenue Code and the vice laws of the District of Columbia are an important part of the Secret Service's job.

I have also heard rumors that Laura Bush isn't a Real Journalist® either-- and she's in a position to stab the President in his sleep. Why doesn't the SS do something about this security threat?

jukeboxgrad

"you hid it well with your first attempt"

The fact that I didn't initially throw a zillion URLs at you is hardly any reason for you to claim that I "hid" anything. And it's highly ironic for you to accuse me of "scream first, research later" when in fact it was your own incomplete research that led you to incorrectly accuse me of having my facts wrong. Next time I suggest you do your homework before you put your foot in your mouth this way.

"Good job finding the Daily Camera article"

Thanks for the compliment. It wasn't brain surgery. It's the tenth result on this google: "boulder dylan secret service high school radio."

"this is not Egypt"

I realize that Boulder is very different from Egypt, just as the crimes we committed in Abu Ghraib are very different from the crimes Saddam committed in Abu Ghraib. Trouble is, in both cases, not different enough. In other words, it's not a good sign that your best argument is to point out "we're not as bad as Egypt" or "we're not as bad as Saddam." That's faint praise.

If we claim the right to teach the rest of the world the meaning of the word democracy, it doesn't help our credibility when folks like you dismiss these comparisons as "handwringing," and set such low standards. Is this really the best we can do? When we set such a poor example we look like hypocrites, and we hand a victory to those who claim we're there for the oil, not for principle.

If ostensibly fighting for democracy is important enough to justify thousands of our kids coming home dead or maimed, it's important enough for us to raise an eyebrow when we notice democracy getting flushed down the toilet here at home. In my opinion, the Boulder story and the Gannon story are both examples of democracy getting flushed down the toilet.

I know enough about history to realize that the road to hell is paved not primarily with cataclysmic events, but rather with a series of relatively small corruptions that people like you are inclined to dismiss. If you don't understand what's at stake, that's your problem.

"your unresearched initial effort ... your subsequent research has satisified you"

I have no idea on what basis you claim that my "initial effort" was "unresearched," or that there is any inconsistency between what I said first and what I said later, or what it is that I'm "satisfied" about.

"... some Rove-iniated order from Washington to clamp down on dissent ..."

You're the first to mention Rove here, but in fact I think there is indeed a deliberate campaign "to clamp down on dissent." When there are many, many incidents of dissenters being fired, harrassed and threatened, I think it's fair to say we're seeing a campaign to "clamp down on dissent." I think the Boulder incident is a good example of this, and I have no idea what would give you the impression I think otherwise.

"one might say they [Secret Service] are just doing their job"

"One might say" anything one pleases, but I think it's clear enough that in one case (Boulder) they were overdoing it and in the other case (Gannon) they were underdoing it. By the way, nice job not bothering to explain why they couldn't do "their job" by just making a discreet phone call to the principal, as compared with showing up at the school with the press tagging along. The fact that they did the latter makes it clear they were more concerned with political intimidation than they were with the president's physical well-being.

"since someone outed the Dylan singers"

Actually, someone made up a lie about the Dylan singers, and essentially admitted, later, that it was a lie (the student who started the trouble by calling the radio stations "later said the band only showed pictures of Bush on a screen"). Anyway, nice spin there in your effort to create the false impression that there was anything to "out." In the end, no one claimed that anyone had ever heard anyone make a threat to Bush, or alter the song's lyrics, or even talk about altering the song's lyrics.

"*any* chance at all that the principal is covering up ..."

"*Any* chance at all" that Gannon is who Bush meant when he talked about his "man-date?"

"Are you *certain* that no one backstage said ..."

"Are you *certain*" that Gannon's dirty condoms aren't sitting in the bottom of Dubya's socks drawer?

Nice job asking me to prove a negative, and nice job engaging in exactly the kind of unsupported and libelous speculation you guys are quick to condemn, when it suits your purposes to do so.

One more time, from the detailed report you couldn't find on your own: "Cabrera also said he interviewed teachers and students who watched the rehearsal and none said they heard threats against the president. He said no student or parent expressed concerns to him before calling the media." According to the principal, by the time the Secret Service left they were "satisfied there was no account to the rumor."

Nice to know that's not good enough for you, and you still insist there was something to "out." I realize one of the Kremlin principles you admire is guilty until proven innocent. Better yet, guilty despite being proven innocent.

By the way, since you apparently think it's important for the government to investigate and prosecute lawbreakers, please explain why Gannon has still not been arrested for prostitution. *Any* chance at all that this customer review, complete with photo, which references someone named Jeff, aka Bulldog, who has a website called USMCPT.com (and a variety of other identifying details of a highly explicit and personal nature), is solid proof that Gannon is a hooker?

TM

Jukebox, relax - now that you have discovered "Google", maybe you won't go off half-cocked next time by recycling old Barbra Streisand-style hysteria.

Hmm. let's see why I thought you had not done any homework at all. One more time, from your first post:

...the same Secret Service that sent agents far from Washington to check on some folk-singing high school kids. Somehow teens with guitars, singing the exact words of a 40-year old Bob Dylan song, were seen as a security threat to the president, warranting a personal visit by federal agents.

I think we now agree that the agents, although physically "far from Washington", were not operating under specific instructions from Washington.

As to "somehow" the band was seen as a threat, I think the mechanism is a bit more clear now. You say I am being libelous by speculating about what a high school rumor mill may have thrown at a shock-talk radio jock; I disagree, and in fact, lacking a tape, neither of us know what was phoned in.

As to the kids being "intimidated" - your first ABC story left out the tidbit that this was a follow-up to an anti-war sleep in of about 7o students. Attention-seeking behavior seemed to be the tactic of choice here.

As to the student being intimidated becasue she saw a homeland security van near her home, I just have two questions - what do they look like, and when did they ground the Black Helicopters?

Sorry, I am not an expert on Secret Service procedures; perhaps you are. My guess is that in an incident attracting this much publicity (news crews, radio shows), the bureaucratic rule is "CYA". Maybe sometimes the Secret Service does simply make a few phone calls, but in a visible situation, they probably groan, send some people out, and make a show of doing their job. I also bet they left the body armor and pump shotguns in the trunk of the car when they approached the school building.

As to the dubious pedagogy noted by Mr. Turner, I would have paid extra if the band had sung "Master of War" while the projector put up phots of Gen. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, and Clinton, to complement slides of JFK, Johnson, Nixon and Bush. Of course, maybe Bush could be up there for Afghanistan...

Then the teachers could have talked about "good wars", and how we judge them, and so on. Never mind.

Cecil Turner

"Nice job asking me to prove a negative, and nice job engaging in exactly the kind of unsupported and libelous speculation you guys are quick to condemn, when it suits your purposes to do so."

Hmm, okay. But it was your source that claimed: "Some students and parents said the band, originally called the "Taliband," advocated killing George W. Bush." Without any indication it was the same as the folks who got excited about the radio talk show. And I'm having a hard time seeing why the SS shouldn't be interested in multiple reports of advocating the President's death, however credible, while it should be interested in Gannon's "weapon." ("Cannon"? [--You did not say that!] I did, but it was a joke. [--Not funny!] Sorry.)

Paul Zrimsek

I'm willing to believe that the SS overreacted even if you take CYA into account. I'm also willing to believe that in the public schools of 2005, where students are subject to expulsion for bringing in water pistols, the kids may be a bit more blase about official overreaction than they let on. Since neither the nonviolent federal offense of tax evasion nor the nonviolent, nonfederal offense of prostitution could possibly present a threat to the President even in the eyes of an overreacting SS official, the Dylan-Gannon connection-- excuse me, the Zimmerman-Guckert connection-- remains as obscure as ever.

TM

the nonviolent federal offense of tax evasion...

You have neither seen nor heard me at tax time...

Paul Zrimsek

Actually, what's been lurking in the back of my mind ever since people started harping on Guckert's supposed dangerousness was the Onion's story (from Our Dumb Century) about Al Capone's conviction for tax evasion, which went on at length about how Capone would no longer terrorize the good citizens of Chicago with his brutal underreporting of taxable income.

jukeboxgrad

Cecil said "it explains that there is some dispute over the facts"

Nice job trying to keep a rumor alive, even though you have nothing to work with except the rumor itself. I realize you live in a world where unfounded and libelous accusations are frowned upon only when they come from the other side.

As I've said elsewhere, by the time the Secret Service left they were "satisfied there was no account to the rumor." In other words, there is no longer any "dispute over the facts."

"As to the propriety of teachers' involvement"

Nice job revealing what's really going on here. The Secret Service is no longer just in the business of keeping the president alive. The Secret Service is now in the business of enforcing the idea that certain forms of speech (which allegedly lack "propriety") are politically incorrect and to be subject to government intimidation.

"while playing lyrics like"

Presumably you're not among the millions of people who own and love that album. Perhaps you think it would be a good idea for the government to keep close tabs on those who do.

"I admit having some sympathy for the SS rationale for their 'overreaction'"

Nice job not bothering to explain why keeping Dubya safe required showing up at the school along with the press, and a discreet phone call to the principal somehow would not have sufficed.

"it might be reasonable to check whether the 'big fangs' aren't just enlarged incisors which typify rodents"

I realize you think it's perfectly fine to chew away at our fragile and precious democracy as long as it's done in small, easily overlooked bites.

"But it was your source that claimed: 'Some students and parents said the band, originally called the 'Taliband,' advocated killing George W. Bush."

Let me translate that into English: "a bunch of fact-challenged people got involved in spreading a rumor." Just like you.

"I'm having a hard time seeing why the SS shouldn't be interested in multiple reports of advocating the President's death"

Nice job trying to put words in my mouth. I never said they shouldn't be "interested." I said that making a big show of it, with the press tagging along, tends to indicate that their true agenda was political intimidation, not presidential survival.

jukeboxgrad

Paul said "We all know that enforcing the Internal Revenue Code and the vice laws of the District of Columbia are an important part of the Secret Service's job ... Since neither the nonviolent federal offense of tax evasion nor the nonviolent, nonfederal offense of prostitution could possibly present a threat to the President"

Nice job missing the point. I don't think it's up to the Secret Service to make sure that a tax-cheating prostitute posing as a reporter absolutely never steps foot in the White House press room. I do think it's implausible to suggest, as some have, that the Secret Service somehow didn't know all this about him.

"Guckert's supposed dangerousness"

Same point. I'm not suggesting that Gannon's history indicated he might suddenly attack Bush with a big wet sloppy kiss. I'm suggesting the implausibility of this particular White House being naive and clueless about exactly who it was they were dealing with and calling on so frequently. It would be a very different situation if Scottie simply said "yes, our normal cursory background check revealed these things, but we saw no reason to care." Instead, Scottie is playing dumb, in my opinion, and I think this creates the impression that there's more to the story than meets the eye.

"the kids may be a bit more blase about official overreaction than they let on"

No kid I know is blase about the idea of Secret Service guys walking around their school.

jukeboxgrad

TM said "now that you have discovered 'Google'"

Uh, I think you made it clear enough that you are the one who is somewhat google-challenged.

"Barbra Streisand-style hysteria"

I realize that when you resort to condescending terms such as "hysteria" and "handwringing" that it's a sure sign you've figured out the facts are against you.

I also notice you haven't bothered to explain why it's a form of "hysteria" to suggest that we should be willing to protect at home the same principles we're telling our kids they should be willing to die for overseas.

"I think we now agree that the agents, although physically 'far from Washington', were not operating under specific instructions from Washington."

I think I made it clear enough (for example, by my comparison of 1700 miles to 17 feet) that the only significance of "far from Washington" is that the kids were hardly in a position (without traveling 1700 miles so they could hit Dubya over the head with a guitar) to pose a threat to Bush's safety. Nice job trying to put words in my mouth. (I also realize my 1700-miles remark was in my follow-up message, not my first, but you're still taking wild liberties in your interpretation of what I said.)

As far as "operating under specific instructions from Washington," I never made that claim, although obviously you're doing your best to try to pretend I did
(by making the asinine assertion that "far from Washington" and "operating under specific instructions from Washington" are somehow synonymous). Since you're asking, though, I think it's fair to say that the CO agents were operating in a climate of suppressing dissent, which I've commented about elsewhere.

"You say I am being libelous by speculating about what a high school rumor mill may have thrown at a shock-talk radio jock"

Nice job putting words in my mouth again, and nice job running away from your own statements. What's libelous is you still claiming that the students were "outed" even after you know there was nothing but a rumor, and therefore nothing to "out."

"As to the kids being 'intimidated' - your first ABC story left out the tidbit that this was a follow-up to an anti-war sleep in of about 7o students. Attention-seeking behavior seemed to be the tactic of choice here."

Nice job with the non sequiturs. The sleep-in, or their motives for it, or, for that matter, their motives for singing the song, has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether or not the kids were intimidated by the Secret Service.

By the way, it's quite humorous that you claim "attention-seeking behavior seemed to be the tactic of choice here." That's a perfectly good way to describe the behavior of the agents, who apparently felt like they couldn't do their job properly unless there were some news crews there to help them out.

"As to the student being intimidated becasue she saw a homeland security van near her home, I just have two questions - what do they look like, and when did they ground the Black Helicopters?"

Forget about the van. Please let me know whether or not you would find it intimidating if the Secret Service showed up at your school, with the press, because they had some very important questions about a song you sang.

"My guess is that in an incident attracting this much publicity (news crews, radio shows), the bureaucratic rule is 'CYA'. Maybe sometimes the Secret Service does simply make a few phone calls, but in a visible situation, they probably groan, send some people out, and make a show of doing their job."

You know as well as I do that they could have interviewed the principal privately and discreetly and then issued a statement to the press. Please refer me to another incident where the Secret Service ended up embarrassed because it was shown that they didn't take a folk song seriously enough.

Thanks for admitting that their objective wasn't to keep the president alive; their objective was to "make a show."

As far as "this much publicity," it's clear that the SS acted in a way to increase the publicity. It's pretty clear, for example, that they invited the press to come along. This wasn't necessary for CYA. This was necessary only to the extent they were interested in pandering to the local political constituency that had very recently voted for their boss.

"I also bet they left the body armor and pump shotguns in the trunk of the car when they approached the school building."

I imagine you're right, but I'm also sure there was never any doubt that they were carrying personal weapons. Nothing intimidating about that, right? And nothing intimidating about knowing that the heavy metal is just a few steps away, right? At your kid's school it's no big deal to have guys with concealed firearms walking around, right? No big deal to know that the car they just parked next to the playground has weapons inside you usually don't get to see outside of certain kinds of movies. Nice to know that there's nothing the slightest bit intimidating about any of that. No sir.

Maybe you live in an urban war zone like Newark NJ. In that case, I can somewhat comprehend your inclination to take all this in stride. Otherwise, I can't.

"As to the dubious pedagogy noted by Mr. Turner, I would have paid extra if the band had sung 'Master of War' while the projector put up phots of Gen. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, and Clinton, to complement slides of JFK, Johnson, Nixon and Bush. Of course, maybe Bush could be up there for Afghanistan..."

I don't think the subject at hand is "dubious pedagogy," although it seems you and Cecil would like that to be the subject. I didn't know that the SS had signed on to be a subcontractor for the DOE.

Anyway, you don't know what other photos might have been used, so it might be a good idea not to speculate.

Anyway, nice job implying that this war is the same as every other war we've ever fought (speaking of "dubious pedagogy"). Also, nice job implying that all those other presidents had just been reelected a few days before this incident.

"Then the teachers could have talked about 'good wars', and how we judge them"

A crucial subject obviously. I'll make a wild guess that this school has more healthy and open discussion of that topic, compared with lots of other schools.

Paul Zrimsek

Jukeboxgrad: Nice job (to borrow your favorite verbal tic) admitting that the security issue is a red herring. That's all I want for now.

Cecil Turner

As I've said elsewhere, by the time the Secret Service left they were "satisfied there was no account to the rumor." In other words, there is no longer any "dispute over the facts."

For the third time, your source said:

Some students and parents said the band, originally called the "Taliband," advocated killing George W. Bush. Band members denied the accusations, saying they would never advocate violence.
That is a dispute over facts. The SS may well be satisfied there's nothing to it, you apparently think they shouldn't have checked. Whatever. Cheers.

TM

OK, Jukebox, nice job finding uses for the phrase "nice job".

jukeboxgrad

Paul said "red herring."

You're either ignorant, or you're trying to put words in my mouth. Maybe both. A red herring means introducing something irrelevant to draw attention away from the original issue.

The central issue here is the White House actively undermining the concept of a free and effective press. Setting an absurdly low security hurdle for Gannon is not the central complaint (although some on your side would like to pretend it is, just like they would like to pretend that the central complaint is his sexual orientation). But the security anomaly that Gannon represents is an important clue to the bigger picture: it looks like he didn't stroll in there without some help.

So the security question is not irrelevant. On the contrary. And it's not a way to draw attention from the main issue (although I see you trying to use it that way). On the contrary.

There is also no inconsistency in me taking this position, while acknowledging that the Secret Service wasn't necessarily obligated to put him in shackles the first time he stuck his toe in the door. It's just that it's implausible to suggest that they didn't smell something funny about this guy. I think someone important encouraged them to stop sniffing. Maybe the same someone(s) who seem to be currently shielding him from prosecution for prostitution.

By the way, think of your own verbal tics.

Cecil said: "That is a dispute over facts."

That "dispute" ended when the kid who called the two radio stations admitted that her report (of altered lyrics) was false. In other words, much ado about not much.

"you apparently think they shouldn't have checked."

No. I said there was no need to make a big show out of it, by appearing at the school with the press tagging along. I've been highly explicit about this, so your continued effort to misquote me only hurts your own credibility.

TM said "nice job finding uses for the phrase 'nice job.'"

I really don't deserve the credit. I couldn't do it if you weren't so transparently and consistently exactly what you called yourself: a White House apologist. The candor is refreshing.

Paul Zrimsek

If it's not "up to the Secret Service to make sure that a tax-cheating prostitute posing as a reporter absolutely never steps foot in the White House press room", then to let someone into the White House press room despite being a tax-cheating prostitute is not to set "an absurdly low security hurdle". QED.

jukeboxgrad

Since you're willing to throw around sexy language like "red herring" and "QED," I assume you're not actually too dumb to understand something this simple. Or maybe you're just determined to split semantic hairs in a lame effort to miss the point.

The "absurdly low security hurdle" is not particularly embodied in the idea that they ever let him in. Trouble is, they did a lot more than just let him in once or twice. They put out the welcome mat more-or-less everyday for two years, and put him in a privileged position with regard to getting called on frequently. During all this time, what is arguably the most elite security team in the world somehow managed to remain completely unaware of some highly irregular features of his biography, even though he stuck out like a sore thumb in more ways than one, and even though a few guys in PJs, operating with very limited information (compared with what the White House had, i.e., his real name, DOB and SSN), were able to quickly figure this guy out without even leaving the house. If you think this adds up, maybe you also think 1+1=3. That's your problem.

Cecil Turner

"That "dispute" ended when the kid who called the two radio stations admitted that her report (of altered lyrics) was false."

You continue to conflate the statement about "students and parents" claiming the band "advocated killing George W. Bush," with the kid who called the radio station claiming the lyrics were changed. Nowhere in the story does it say they're the same, nor does it say the "students and parents" (except for the student who called the radio station) retracted their claim. The band members said "people misinterpreted the lyrics," which seems to indicate they were at the rehearsal . . . whether they talked to the Principal or not.

And a casual reading of the article suggests the Camera report failed to uncover the SS "intimidation," and seemed more interested in the "notoriety" caused by the event, and the propriety of teacher involvement in guiding political dissent. (As opposed to the Progressive's "McCarthyism Watch" article, which makes a rather breathless case for intimidation.)

Meanwhile, the connection between this extended detour and the Guckert case remains obscure.

Paul Zrimsek

We're privileged to witness the birth of the new discipline of Homeopathic Criminology. Sure, a tax-evading prostitute might be considered nonviolent if you only see him once. But let him in every day for a year, and the cumulative effect practically adds up to terrorism!

jukeboxgrad

"You continue to conflate the statement about 'students and parents' claiming the band 'advocated killing George W. Bush,' with the kid who called the radio station claiming the lyrics were changed."

Indeed, because there isn't the slightest reason to treat them separately.

You continue to pretend there's some essential difference between those two things ("students and parents claiming" and "kid who called"), when it's apparent that it all started with one or more persons who witnessed the rehearsal (probably just one; there's no reason to believe it was more than one), made up stuff about what they witnessed, and then communicated what they made up to various other parties, including students, parents and radio stations.

If you're considering some other version of reality, you should say more clearly what it is and show your evidence.

You're implying that there was some other witness, other than the one who ultimately retracted her false allegation, after she had already called two radio stations (and after the SS had poured gasoline on a fire by creating a PR spectacle at the school). In fact there's no sign whatsoever of such a witness. And the Secret Service apparently believed the principal when he said "he interviewed teachers and students who watched the rehearsal and none said they heard threats against the president."

"Nowhere in the story does it say they're the same"

That's sort of like talking about a news story that mentions "the Bush administration" and also mentions "the White House," and claiming that these two are not the same because "nowhere in the story does it say they're the same." Your claim requires a very deliberate suspension of common sense.

Nowhere in any of the stories is any reason given to support your entirely imaginary theory that they're not the same. Nowhere in any of the stories is any reason given to support the idea that the various unnamed ''students and parents" had anything to work with other than the mass hysteria they picked up through the rumor mill.

"nor does it say the 'students and parents' (except for the student who called the radio station) retracted their claim."

This is sort of like saying "not everyone who ever claimed they saw a UFO, or retold a story they heard about someone else who saw a UFO, has retracted their claim, therefore this is proof that UFOs exist." Or "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Or "guilty despite proven incident."

You're sort of claiming the rumor must be true since the reporter didn't personally go through the community and interview everyone who had a role in spreading the rumor in order to get them on record as apologizing for spreading the rumor. In the absence of such an absurd effort, yes, you are technically correct to say that not everyone who contributed to the rumor has explicitly "retracted their claim." So what?

By the way, not everyone who thinks Gannon is Scottie's boytoy has retracted their claim. Therefore it must be true.

What I find especially revealing and typical is the persistence of your reality-distortion field. You insist on treating your entirely ungrounded and libelous speculation as if it's a fact, even in the face of the SS walking away (but not until they made sure the press had a chance to suck some blood), and even in the face of the principal reporting that multiple witnesses corroborated what the original witness finally admitted: the allegation was never true to begin with. Still you say (paraphrase) "I think it's true." In other words, you're doing exactly what the people in Boulder did, except worse. They spread a rumor before it was debunked. You're spreading a rumor even though you're in a position to know it's been proven wrong, even to the satisfaction of the SS. Nice.

"The band members said 'people misinterpreted the lyrics,' which seems to indicate they were at the rehearsal"

I think it's pretty clear that part of what happened is that some people (like you) took offense even at the original, unaltered lyrics. And some misinterpreted those original lyrics as a literal threat of violence against the president. This probably includes both people who were at the rehearsal and people who weren't. But this is a separate matter from the false claim that one particular student made to two radio stations: that the band had altered the lyrics and mentioned Bush explicitly. This is a material distinction.

If you or anyone else wants to argue that this particular 42-year old song should be banned, then go for it. I realize for some people "freedom" is just a meaningless and disposable slogan. But the heart of the Boulder story is that someone falsely accused the kids of putting Bush's name in the song.

"the Camera report failed to uncover the SS 'intimidation,'"

There's nothing to "uncover." I think the reality of "intimidation" is apparent from the basic facts of the story: very serious guys with concealed firearms suddenly showing up at a school because some kids sang a song (even though a discreet phone call obviously would have sufficed as a method of keeping the president alive one more day). If you choose to not see this as "intimidation," that's your problem.

"the propriety of teacher involvement in guiding political dissent"

That's a valid and interesting question, and I'm sure the good people of Boulder have done their share of thoughtful private and public dissection of that issue. However, there's something very strange about getting up-in-arms about "the propriety of teacher involvement in guiding political dissent" while not being able to manage more than a yawn about the propriety of government involvement in suppressing political dissent. I think local folks in Boulder and elsewhere can ultimately be trusted to decide for themselves (without any assistance from Washington bureaucrats, with or without guns) whether or not their kids are being brainwashed by commie subversives. Therefore the latter issue is much more of a concern for me.

"a rather breathless case for intimidation"

I realize you think it's no big deal if guys with guns show up at your kid's school because a kid sang a song. Not everyone feels that way, so therefore "breathless" is a matter of interpretation.

"Meanwhile, the connection between this extended detour and the Guckert case remains obscure."

It's not plausible to suggest that the same elite and thorough Secret Service that took a serious and immediate interest in a folk song would not also raise an eyebrow to notice that the large strange character hanging out near the president for a couple of years happens to be a tax-cheating hooker pseudonymously posing as a reporter. Note that my main point is not necessarily to argue that the SS should have immediately thrown him out. That's an interesting but separate question (although I realize a lot of folks on your side would like to misdirect the discussion in that direction). My main point is to suggest that the White House is being curiously disingenuous when they play dumb about the reality of Gannon's identity.

That's the more direct connection. The more general connection is to observe that the same administration which chips away at democracy by eroding civil liberties is also chipping away at democracy by doing everything they can to turn the press into a corrupt useless joke (not that they aren't getting a substantial amount of help from the press itself). We once had leaders who understood why the press matters. Actually, our current leaders understand this all-too-well, which is why they're working overtime to undermine the press.

I realize the Boulder story shouldn't be told without also mentioning a case where threat of arrest was used to suppress political speech. The best indication of how far we've come is the nature of the statement that was considered politically incorrect and subversive: "protect our civil liberties." Jefferson is spinning in his grave.

Paul said "But let him in every day for a year, and the cumulative effect practically adds up to terrorism!"

Uh, it was actually two years. And people who deal in the real world of things like insurance and security understand the very simple principle you'd like to obscure: making a questionable decision several hundred times is materially more dangerous than making it once. Understanding this hardly requires the birth of a "new discipline." It just requires common sense, which I realize is in short supply around these parts.

Anyway, nice job missing the point again. It's not that Gannon was a potential shoe bomber. It's that the White House is disingenuously playing dumb.

Cecil Turner

"You continue to pretend there's some essential difference between those two things ("students and parents claiming" and "kid who called"), when it's apparent that it all started with one or more persons who witnessed the rehearsal (probably just one; there's no reason to believe it was more than one), made up stuff about what they witnessed, and then communicated what they made up to various other parties, including students, parents and radio stations."

So all the "students and parents" got their information from one student?

"I think it's pretty clear that part of what happened is that some people (like you) took offense even at the original, unaltered lyrics. And some misinterpreted those original lyrics as a literal threat of violence against the president."

Oh, so now it's "some people"? Okay, I think we're getting closer to the Camera's version. (BTW, I think that's probably exactly what happened, which is why the SS "took a copy of the lyrics, interviewed Vacca and left.")

"It's not plausible to suggest that the same elite and thorough Secret Service that took a serious and immediate interest in a folk song would not also raise an eyebrow to notice that the large strange character hanging out near the president for a couple of years happens to be a tax-cheating hooker pseudonymously posing as a reporter."

I think it's rather more plausible they took immediate interest in several reports of a band who publicly "advocated killing George W. Bush"--only to find out it was just a stupid folk song. And I guess you're suggesting the SS should now be responsible for enforcing vice laws in the District of Columbia? Or that Guckert represented some sort of threat? Sorry, still don't see it.

Paul Zrimsek

As far as I can tell, Cecil, being nonthreatening becomes threatening if you do it often enough. Assassinating the President is one of those activities you have to take in easy stages.

jukeboxgrad

Paul said "being nonthreatening becomes threatening if you do it often enough."

Awesome logic. Let's see how it works in another domain. I just drove home from work, and I decided to try doing it at 100 MPH. Guess what? No collision, no cops. Therefore, I will now plan to do that every day for the next two years, because obviously there's no reason to be concerned that something "nonthreatening becomes threatening if you do it often enough." Please feel free to imagine your own examples regarding cigarette smoking, skydiving, jogging in a thunderstorm, or about a zillion other things in the real world. Including letting strange characters wander in and out of the White House on a daily basis.

"Assassinating the President is one of those activities you have to take in easy stages."

Exactly right. One of the most obvious and rudimentary principles of security (with regard to terrorism and other forms of crime) is to understand that professionals plan. Why do you think we make a big deal about dark-skinned people taking pictures of bridges and dams? Why do you think OBL is famous for planning his operations years in advance? Obviously a professional criminal/terrorist is highly motivated to gain repeated access to a target (area and/or person).

I realize you're ignorant about all this, but I'm sure the SS isn't. Therefore it stands to reason that the SS would have done about ten minutes of homework on this guy, somewhere during the two years he spent in close proximity to the president and other potential targets.

By the way, I'm not suggesting that Gannon was part of a dastardly plot to one day sneak up on Dubya and choke him by forcing a large (and highly-photographed) item down the president's throat. Imagine that, the first-ever assassination by sexual asphyxiation. (Excuse me while I answer the doorbell, a couple of G-men just showed up here.) I am suggesting that the SS was not asleep at the wheel, and the White House is lying when it tries to create that impression.

Anyway, nice job revealing how little you know about security. I think the only mystery is why Bush didn't pick you to run HSA, since you're a vivid example of his hiring policy: loyalty over competence.

jukeboxgrad

Cecil said "So all the 'students and parents' got their information from one student?"

Ultimately, yes, in exactly the same sense that all the people who get a chain letter have received it (ultimately) from the first person who dreamed it up.

It was possibly more than one student, since it's possible that there were one or more other kids who witnessed the same original non-incident the first kid witnessed, and similarly falsified it, the way the first kid did.

Since you seem in the dark about this, let me take the liberty of acquainting you with some very simple concepts regarding how rumor and gossip work (most of us learned this in kindergarten). Someone (Person A) makes something up, of a pejorative nature, regarding some other person (Person X). Person A then communicates this item to Person B. Person A and Person B then proceed to communicate the item to lots of other people, who do the same, in turn.

Within a few nanoseconds (relatively speaking), virtually every sentient being in the vicinity has become either a receiver and/or transmitter of some version of the original story (having two radio stations involved would tend to accelerate the process). Typically there are multiple mutant versions that have only a vague connection to the original item, which of course itself had only a vague connection to reality.

An important part of how this game works is that Person X is often among the last to know. (That fits the pattern here, because no student or parent complained directly to the principal, who was obviously the person with ultimate responsibility for what kids do under the roof of his school. This tends to create the impression that the gossipers were interested only in the tittilating amusement of gossip and public spectacle, rather than actually addressing an alleged problem in a responsible and direct way. This also is in the very nature of gossip.)

For further reference, read about memes and viruses.

By the way, your remark seems to be an indirect way of saying "it just isn't possible that this entire brouhaha started with the words of just one person." That only reveals you're ignorant (or pretending to be ignorant) about the basic mechanics of gossip.

"I think that's probably exactly what happened, which is why the SS 'took a copy of the lyrics, interviewed Vacca and left.'"

I'm not clear what you're getting at here. I have a feeling you might be saying, sort of indirectly, that there really isn't any material difference between the kids altering the song as compared with the kids playing the song as written. If that's true, it leads to all sorts of interesting implications (perhaps Bush should require the record company to issue a "presidential safety product recall" so that the original offensive product can be replaced with something approved by James Dobson).

"I guess you're suggesting the SS should now be responsible for enforcing vice laws in the District of Columbia?"

No. I'm saying it's implausible to suggest (as many do, including the White House) that our elite and eagle-eyed Secret Service just had no idea who they were really dealing with here.

Speaking of "enforcing vice laws in the District of Columbia," I wonder if you find it odd that not only does the Secret Service have no interest in that (which of course is as it should be), but as far as I can tell there is indeed no other law enforcement agency that has an interest in it, at least insofar as regarding Gannon's very public and well-documented history as a prostitute. His apparently magical immunity from prosecution tends to create the impression that he has one or more important clients who would like to avoid taking responsibility for their own criminal behavior.

I guess the government wants to enhance the free press by letting prostitutes know that press passes are being handed out, and the government also wants to enhance the free-market economy by letting prostitutes know that DC is a now a sex-for-cash free-trade zone. Maybe Gannon will soon be hired to produce government-sponsored infomercials.

"Or that Guckert represented some sort of threat?"

He represented enough of an oddball character that it's obvious he would have provoked the SS's curiosity (unless someone important had dropped a very subtle hint regarding the career problems that could ensue as a result of having too much curiosity). The SS is definitely very much in the business of being intensely curious about people who get to be close to the president, especially on a repeat basis. That the SS would suddenly turn selectively deaf dumb and blind in the presence of this strange dude is a peculiar circumstance that hasn't yet been explained.

By the way, the SS would not be in a position to know whether or not Gannon "represented some sort of threat" until after they took a few very simple steps to check him out (the kind of stuff some amateurs accomplished with a few clicks). The idea that the SS had no impulse to do that doesn't pass the sniff test.

TM

Let me see if I can summarize a few of Jukebox's many, many points here:

(a) Jukebox admits that the original report/rumor that the lyrics were altered may have been started by one, two, or more kids. However, Jukebox is going to declare that one kid started it, and that the rest of us are liars.

(b) anyone who disagrees with Jukebox on this is openly rooting for the descent of the dark night of fascism.

Whatever. Messrs. Turner and Zrimsek, we all know how much fun barrel-fishing can be, but you are engaged with the rhetorical equivalent of a hydra - lop off one point, and two more spring up.

And more importantly, I have tossed out an idea on how to liberate North Korea which needs to be taken apart and reassembled; we would value your thoughts.

My suggestion is that we concede to Jukebox the last word (or ten thousand), and move on. (Anyway, I expect I'll sneak back in a week and leave something suitably snarky).

And for Jukebox: I noted with interest that on several ocassions, you stated that I made "libelous accusations".

Let's roll some videotape:

nice job engaging in exactly the kind of unsupported and libelous speculation you guys are quick to condemn, when it suits your purposes to do so. 8:05 AM

You insist on treating your entirely ungrounded and libelous speculation as if it's a fact... 8:05 AM

What's libelous is you still claiming that the students were "outed" even after you know there was nothing but a rumor, and therefore nothing to "out." 5:03 PM

I realize you live in a world where unfounded and libelous accusations are frowned upon only when they come from the other side. 5:01 PM

Well, that captures the flavor, I hope. Anyway, I have a very simple request (cue theme music to "Mission Impossible"): please provide one example of a libelous statement I made. And try to bear in mind that a broad statement like "some student may have lied" can't be libelous, since it does not relate to a specific student. I will, for these purposes, waive a "public figure" defense, so if you can find a libelous statement about the principal, you win.

Or, after you fail, I hope you will understand why I am quite comfortable characterizing your posts as "hysterical", and demonstrating a certain Barbra Streisand quailty.

Jukebox, over to you...

Bic

Juke,
First off, congrats on a posting that didn't manage to fill my screen twice over. Much appreciated.

Second, the Secret Service's responsability for screening reporters pretty much stops after a criminal check is done (not including the physical screening done on entry to the building). They may repeat the check from time to time but they can't really screen out a reporter based on past history, even if they know about it, that has no affect on his/her level of risk. It is simply not their jobs to judge the quality of journalists, just their risk to the President.

Third, can you please give an accounting of the frequency Gannon/Guckert was called on compared to other reporters that raised their hands. I hear this claim all the time but have yet to see anyone back it up with fact.

jukeboxgrad

TM said "please provide one example of a libelous statement I made"

There are essentially two distinct scenarios, as far as what happened at the famous rehearsal.

A) Some kids sang a Bob Dylan folk song, singing the lyrics as they were originally recorded in 1963, and as they appear on one of the best-selling albums of all time.

B) Some kids sang a Bob Dylan folk song and altered the lyrics in such a way (i.e., by using Bush's name) as to be making a threat of personal violence against the president.

Note that A is a form of political speech. B is a crime.

Let's consider the evidence in favor of A, as compared with the evidence in favor of B.

The sole evidence in favor of B is that one unnnamed student, who was apparently a direct eyewitness, reported B to two radio stations. As a result, the idea of B spread around the community as if it were an established fact. By the way, the fact that many people were believing B, and repeating B, does not represent "evidence." That's because most of us realize there's a difference between "rumor" and "evidence." (For example, the fact that many Bush supporters believe we found WMD in Iraq is not evidence that we actually found WMD in Iraq. Likewise for the idea that Saddam was behind 9/11.)

In contrast, there's a great deal of evidence in favor of A.

1) The unnamed student who called the radio stations quickly admitted that her allegation (of altered lyrics) was simply false. In other words, the only known eyewitness who ever claimed B rapidly decided to instead claim A.

2) The principal "interviewed teachers and students who watched the rehearsal and none said they heard threats against the president." In other words, there are multiple other witnesses who claim A.

3) The SS was apparently satisfied that no crime was committed. They reviewed the lyrics of the song and left. They charged no one with a crime, and, in the end, accused no one of committing a crime. In other words, they were "satisfied there was no account to the rumor" that a crime had been committed.

4) There appears to be a distinct absence of any person, named or unnamed, who maintains that they witnessed the alleged crime.

Now here's some information that I think every blogger should know, about the law of defamation. Defamation essentially means saying something about someone that is both nasty and false. (Libel means it's done in writing, and slander means it's done by speech. The former is considered more serious, for fairly obvious reasons.)

Note that falsely accusing someone of a criminal act is considered an extreme form of defamation, what's known as "defamation per se."

Another very important distinction is about private figures vs. public figures. Out of respect for the First Amendment, speech about public figures is relatively protected. That means if you say something nasty and false about a public figure, the plaintiff has to show that you knew it was false, and said it anyway (that's called acting with "malice"). If the plaintiff is a private figure, they only have to show that you neglected to take reasonable steps to determine the truth or falsity of your statement. This is a somewhat lower hurdle for the plaintiff.

The three key figures in the CO story (as far as those who were accused of a crime) are the principal (Cabrera), the teacher (Vacca), and the main kid (Engstrom). Note that the first two are arguably public figures. The student definitely is not. (Splitting hairs a little bit, I should note that if a crime was committed, it was primarily by the student, but the teacher and principal were arguably complicit to the alleged crime.)

You said "since someone outed the Dylan singers" (3/2, 4:22 AM).

When you said the students were "outed," you are arguably accusing the students of having committed a crime. Otherwise, what does "outed" refer to? Singing off-key? In other words, you have arguably committed defamation per se, because there is a distinct absence of evidence that a crime was committed. A case against you would also pass the "malice" test, since you made your accusation after you had been presented with facts showing that there is no evidence of a crime. Given that the "malice" test is satisfied, not just the student (a private figure) but also the principal and teacher (public figures, arguably) would have a good case against you.

Often a mitigating factor in defamation is if the defendant promptly takes steps to correct their error. Therefore I think a wise move on your part (wise both morally and legally) would be to state that you understand that no crime was committed, and apologize for making an accusation to that effect.

By the way, I have no intention of advising anyone to sue you. But obviously neither of us know who is reading all this, or who might read this in the future, so I'm just trying, in a friendly way, to give you some unsolicited advice that might help keep your ass out of a sling, in this situation or in similar situations in the future.

By the way, obviously this discussion wouldn't be complete without mentioning that Gannon has threatened to sue for defamation. Indeed, if he were not a prostitute, he would have a point. Unfortunately for him, he himself created ample evidence of prostitution. The only mystery is why he's not (apparently) being prosecuted. The absence of this prosecution is remarkable and highly revealing.

"Jukebox admits that the original report/rumor that the lyrics were altered may have been started by one, two, or more kids."

Exactly. We have a specific report about one unnamed kid who called two radio stations. However, I'm not in a position to know or prove that there weren't one or more other kids who did something similar. However, in all likelihood, it was not many kids, since the principal said he "interviewed teachers and students who watched the rehearsal and none said they heard threats against the president."

Anyway, you haven't bothered to explain what difference it makes if it was one kid who made up a defamatory lie, or three or four kids. Who cares?

"However, Jukebox is going to declare that one kid started it"

That appears to be the most likely scenario. However, as I've said a couple of times, it's possible that student had one or more accomplices, although there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest the existence of these imaginary accomplices. Since the principal said he "interviewed teachers and students who watched the rehearsal and none said they heard threats against the president," that tends to create the impression that only one defamatory liar was present at the rehearsal, not more than one. However, I'm not in a position to know for sure. Also, as I've said, who cares?

"and that the rest of us are liars."

Another one of your famous non sequiturs. I never made a big deal about whether it was one kid or three kids who started the rumor. You're the one who's making a big fuss about this relatively trivial distinction. I also never called anyone a liar, with regard to this trivial distinction.

Nice job using misdirection to focus on a trivial aspect of the story, in an apparent effort to avoid facing facts with regard to what matters.

The distinction which matters is whether or not a crime was committed. You are indeed a liar if you claim a crime was committed (and I think your use of the word "outed" is tantamount to claiming that a crime was committed), and not just a liar but a libelous liar.

"anyone who disagrees with Jukebox on this is openly rooting for the descent of the dark night of fascism."

Nice job putting words in my mouth and using exaggeration in an attempt to avoid dealing with a fairly direct question. What I did say is this: I also notice you haven't bothered to explain why it's a form of "hysteria" to suggest that we should be willing to protect at home the same principles we're telling our kids they should be willing to die for overseas.

I still notice you still haven't bothered to offer such an explanation.

"we all know how much fun barrel-fishing can be"

I think anyone paying attention can see clearly that you're the one who has placed himself firmly in a barrel.

"lop off one point, and two more spring up"

Uh, I notice you can't be bothered to mention a single point you've managed to "lop off."

On the other hand, there are all sorts of points you seem to determined to sidestep. For example: why isn't Gannon being prosecuted for prostitution?

"And more importantly, I have tossed out an idea on how to liberate North Korea which needs to be taken apart and reassembled; we would value your thoughts."

I sincerely appreciate your invitation, which I'm sure is sincere. However I'll politely decline, for now. Also, please don't change the subject.

jukeboxgrad

Bic said "they can't really screen out a reporter based on past history, even if they know about it"

My key point, which I've now made several times, is that it's implausible to suggest (as the White House has done) that they were completely in the dark about who this guy really was.

So I'm not necesarily suggesting it was up to the Secret Service to boot this guy out (although I think a good case can be made in that direction). Rather, I'm suggesting that the White House is lying to you when they tell you they simply didn't "know about it" (the various remarkable elements of Gannon's unusual biography).

Further, I think this apparent act of concealment, as well as the absence of prosecution for prostitution, tends to create the impression that there are some very interesting aspects of the story that have not yet been revealed.

"can you please give an accounting of the frequency Gannon/Guckert was called on compared to other reporters that raised their hands. I hear this claim all the time but have yet to see anyone back it up with fact."

I haven't seen (or created) a detailed analysis that answers your question directly, but the following references point in a helpful direction, hopefully.

I think there's a particularly interesting comparison to be made with regard to Mokhiber, because he is frequently presented as an example (apparently the only example) of someone else who was granted day passes over an extended period of time. However, in contrast with Gannon, Mokhiber has never (as far as I know) been called on by the president during a press conference broadcasted live on national TV. As far as I know, Mokhiber has never been called on by this president, period.

A good analysis of how Mokhiber and Gannon differ is here. Among other things, it's clear the former has a long history of actually writing stuff. There are a variety of other very significant differences.

An account of the questions Mokhiber has recently asked appears here. I don't know if this list is complete (I'm guessing it is). It looks like he was called on 12 times in 2004.

A partial list of Gannon's questions appears here. This list shows in particular how Scottie used Gannon as a lifeline.

By the way, there are multiple indications that White House press conferences are now pretty carefully scripted. One interesting indication is here.

I think the best and freshest roundups of what this all means can be found here, here, here and here.

jukeboxgrad

By the way, TM, since you throw around the word "fascism" as if it's some kind of a joke, you should have a talk with the raving moonbats over at a magazine called The American Conservative. They seem to think you're whistling past the graveyard. Likewise for the well-known Barbra-Streisand-loving pinko subversive Lew Rockwell. You should let them know they're all just being hysterical.

Bic

Juke,
Just browsing back over old threads and saw this one again. Just in case anyone else reads this I felt I should add something to your "absence of prosecution for prostitution" is proof of higher up involvement statements.

They have no, I repeat, NO grounds to prosecute for a case of prostitution. Unless an undercover cop (or other law enforcement agent) actually exchanged money with Guckert/Gannon with the promise of sexual favors there is no crime here. The ads everyone points to are for an 'escort' service which in and of itself is not illegal. Now I will not dispute that many/most escorts are in fact prostitutes but until they are caught in a sting, they are perfectly legal. The same goes for massage parlors. The mere act of advertising yourself as an escort is not a crime.

Juke, unless you personally have used his 'services' and are willing to testify (of course that would make you a party to the crime) the DA would have no case. Even in that hypothetical situation, most DA's would not file charges, as a "He said, He Said" case is very hard to prosecute.

BTW, if Media Matters (your Gannon questions link from above) can only put together 5 instances over a 7 month period as showing how Gannon was the go-to guy then I think they should go back and ask MoveOn.org for more money for researchers. Or just skip the middle man and go to Soros directly.

jukeboxgrad

Bic,

"Just browsing back over old threads and saw this one again"

Likewise.

" ... proof of higher up involvement"

Nice job putting words in my mouth. I didn't say the failure to prosecute Gannon is proof of anything. I said it's "highly revealing." In other words, it raises questions.

"The ads everyone points to are for an 'escort' service which in and of itself is not illegal ... The mere act of advertising yourself as an escort is not a crime."

Nice job pretending that's all there is. I provided a link to a highly explicit review from a satisfied customer. The link still works. For anyone with an iota of common sense this review is probable cause to believe that Gannon sold sex for money. Probable cause that a crime was committed is not necessarily enough to convict someone, but it's enough for law enforcement to have a responsibility to ask questions. There's no sign they have. Why not?

The comments to this entry are closed.

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