• Secret Service Handcuffs The First Amendment

    May 9, 2016

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America


    Thomas Jefferson said that an informed citizenry is critical to a democracy, and with that as a cornerstone the Founders wrote freedom of the press into the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    The most basic of ideas at play is that the government should in no way be allowed to control what information the press can report to the people, and cannot place restrictions on journalists. One of the principal characteristics of any fascist state is the control of information, and thus the press is always seen as a check on government power that needs to be stomped on. Ask any surviving journalist in North Korea, or Saudi Arabia.

    And so it is with terror we learn the United States Secret Service, in the name of security, is for the first time in our Republic’s history running background checks on thousands of journalists who plan to report from this summer’s Republican and Democratic Party nominating conventions.

    Journalists who don’t pass the security screening process, for which of course there are no publicly-stated criteria and which has no system of appeal, will be denied credentials to cover the GOP convention in Cleveland, and the Democrats’ in Philadelphia. As the Daily Beast writes, this is the government deciding who can and can’t be a journalist, and through that process, heavily influencing what will be reported. Happytime government stenographers from CNN? Step right in, sir. Investigative, real journalists from The Intercept? Um, maybe not. Will a journalist from an “un-American” news source such as The Daily Worker be denied simply based on affiliation?

    Oh, the issues are many.

    For example, security clearances are typically denied to persons with an arrest record. Will that also apply to journalists who have been arrested in protest situations while exercising one or more of their First Amendment rights? Drug use is also often a negative indicator for a security clearance, so does that mean a person busted for a loose joint in college may not report from inside the convention hall?

    The Secret Service denies that a protest arrest will lead to a denial, though admits that arrests for assault, or domestic violence, charges could. At issue is that such arrests can cover a very broad spectrum of behavior, determined at a very local level. For example, imagine an African-American falsely charged with assault in some mean Texas backwater. Note also, as in most security clearance processes, the standard is an arrest, not necessarily a conviction.

    Obtaining security clearances also involves the “voluntary” turning over of personal information to the government, to often include associations, employment history, professional affiliations, fingerprints, financials and the like. If a journalist wishes not to hand over that information to the Secret Service, does that automatically bar him/her from playing his mandated role of informing the public? Apparently it does.

    There is also the question of control of all that personal information. The Secret Services states on its website that it has a contract with the Ardian Group, a private contractor, “to capture that Personally Identifiable Information for credentialing production” (though the Service itself makes the actual yes or no decision to allow access.)

    In a widely distributed “Dear Colleagues” letter, John Stanton, Washington bureau chief of BuzzFeed, asked the capper question: “Should the Secret Service have jurisdiction over the First Amendment?”

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      A journalist’s first priority is to keep the sheeple amused. If Beyonce gives the opening speech at the Dem Convention then they’ll all be there since Beyonce “runs the world” according to Obama who plays with his Prince action figure- lots of splits and twirling- when he’s misplaced his Beyonce doll.

      05/9/16 8:52 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Wait..ummm, aren’t the two main political “partys”…private organizations? I know they are NOT government affiliated. They can’t be. And if that is correct, then how, pray tell, can a government agency or bureau or whatever, step in an take over the security apparatus..hmmm? Something stinks here. No one in these organizations are paid by the USG, right? So how is it that the USG has any say in their activities? Like conventions. Did I mention something stinks?

      Notwithstanding that concern, even if the USG has some sort of legal standing within the partys structures, WTF is it doing saying WHO can..and WHO can’t enter the conventions? Especially “journalists” I mean, does the SS control the entire power to say who can.. and who can’t attend? If so..I smell another rat. A big stinking rat.. just like the other one.. the SUPER DELEGATE rat.

      Oh…wait…wait…. I get it. You’re talking about.. NORTH KOREA!!

      hahahaha. You almost had me fooled. Dumb me.

      Insert two rolling eyes smiley here.

      05/9/16 9:45 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Wrong. Various post-9/11 laws allow the Secret Service to self-designate certain events as “National Security Events” and take over security. Previously such designations have included the Super Bowl and the Olympics.

      05/9/16 10:02 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Ok, joke of the day…


      ps. Given these “partys” make up “rules”, that totally circumvent the voting process..like “Super Delegates”, I submit the entire voting thing is one great big SHAM. Moreover.. that scumbag Democratic party chairman cunt..Debbie Wasserman-Shultz is the biggest con artist alive..


      05/9/16 10:05 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      “Your papers please…. Sorry you don’t seem to be on the official invite list to the people’s gathering event to chose their leaders. I suggest you consult with Michaele Salahi on how you might best sneak in.”

      05/9/16 10:09 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      wemeantwell said…

      “Wrong. Various post-9/11 laws allow the Secret Service to self-designate certain events as “National Security Events” and take over security.”

      Self designate. right.

      Damn. I completely forgot about that.

      Nevermind. Meanwhile, I too can self designate things. I designate the Secret Service the Murikan Stasi. The only thing missing on their person is a swastika.

      05/9/16 10:09 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...



      05/9/16 2:41 PM | Comment Link

    • Secret Service Handcuffs The #FirstAmendment http://wemeantwell.com… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊) said...


      […] Service Handcuffs The #FirstAmendment https://wemeantwell.com/blog/2016/05/09/secret-service-handcuffs-the-first-amendment/ "an informed citizenry is critical to a […]

      05/9/16 6:02 PM | Comment Link

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