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Secret Service Reads Livejournal

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the underemployed-civil-servants dept.

United States 277

Prong_Thunder writes "A livejournal post written on October 18th (google cache, scroll down to 'a prayer for dubya') resulted in a visit from the US Secret Service nine days later, as it 'constituted a possible threat to the president'."

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If you read the posts... (5, Informative)

Apiakun (589521) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657063)

She goes on to say that they didn't just stumble upon the page and pay her that visit. One of the people that regularly reads her blog "turned her in". Pretty scary thing to happen, but in other countries it could have turned out much worse. *cough*China*cough*

RIP some civil liberties (5, Insightful)

waterbear (190559) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657376)

According to the livejournalist concerned here, her statement of opposition to the current president, including, as it did, a juvenile or immature death-wish upon him, has earned her among other things an FBI file, and a "strong possibility" according to her attorney that she may be placed on the US no-fly list.

That would be a significant penalty imposed without due process, and no matter what other posters here have said, this is also an obvious free speech issue.

I'm not sure what kind of a comfort it is to say that it likely would have turned out even worse in China.

Whatever one might want to pray happen to the president, it's arguably time also for a prayer in memory of some traditional US civil liberties and protections.

-wb-

Re:RIP some civil liberties (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657866)

Being investigated for threats against another person's life does not violate due process. The FBI keeping a record of the people that have made threats against another person's life doesn't violate due process, either. Having an FBI file doesn't restrict any liberties.

The no-fly list is an entirely different beast. There are some serious problems with a secret no-fly list. But, I don't have any desire to the argument against the no-fly list as some sort of support for an ass-bag who threatens the President's life, so this is emphatically not the forum for discussing those problems.

Re:RIP some civil liberties (4, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658052)

There was no threat. It was not only clearly satire, but it was a prayer to God that He kill Bush. Unless the FBI thinks that God exists and that this person was conspiring with Him to kill the President, there was no threat, period.

Free Speech does not include the right to threaten (0, Flamebait)

jgardn (539054) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658083)

... the president!

Yes, I have free speech. But I can't go around yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. I can't call up the cops and report non-existant crimes, or call the FBI and say, "I have the man you are looking for." Just as well, I can't go around telling people, "I am going to kill you!"

If I use my "free" speech to testify in court, and tell lies, and get found out, guess what? I go to jail. If I'm a lawyer and I use my free speech to tell my clients that what they're doing is A-OK! when it's really not, I go to jail! If I'm a doctor and I use free speech to tell a patient, "Here, take three of these cyanide pills a day and you'll get better in no time!", what should happen to me?

Let's just clarify: Sure, you have free speech. The government can't throw you in jail because you disagree with them. But they can throw you in jail for threatening people, harming people, or doing all kinds of bad stuff with your free speech!

Re:RIP some civil liberties (2, Insightful)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658123)

Every year a new young person learns that making any statement about the president and death gets him/her a visit from the secret service. Actually, from the couple instances I know, the penalty was more severe (they restricted the person's travel, and required them to notify the SS of any interstate travel) but I guess now it looks like they aren't coming down so hard, which is surprising given the current state of things. Yet still, the comment had the wrong idea-- the last thing you'd want to do is martyr a bad leader, because you'd have to suffer his glorificaion in the media for years (ever heard a Republican say anything bad about JFK?). Let this clown live to see that he is regarded as the most incompeent president ever.

SS does not read LJ (1)

cbr2702 (750255) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657386)

And as this shows us that the Secret Service does not read Live Journal, it becomes clear that even the Headline-writer didn't RTFA.

Re:If you read the posts... (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657820)

No, the author claims that the Secret Service (or the FBI, I don't think the author knows the difference) claims that they "recieved a report."

The author has absolutely no idea how the Secret Service or the FBI came upon her journal, except that they claim that someone "recieved a report." She says that the agents "as much as told [her]" that it was reported by a concerned citizen, but they did emphatically not actually tell her any such a thing. She's just assuming that she knows what happened.

For all anyone knows, an FBI department recieved a report from the NSA, or the Justice Department, or another department of the FBI, or even from Santa Clause.

Regardless, a Live Journal isn't a private journal. It's a public journal, for broadcasting your public thoughts. It's never been a secret that public statements that can be construed as threats against someone's life are not looked on favorably. Public threats against the President of the United States are especially stupid.

Re:If you read the posts... (0, Flamebait)

superyooser (100462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658057)

*cough*China*cough*

No country tolerates incitement to assassinate its leaders. I'm not at all disturbed by what happened to this militant hatemonger. I say KUDOS to the Secret Service for doing their job. I hope they put her through the wringer.

What's scary to me is that this American (?) would spew such venom that you would expect only from outright enemies. Her sentiments are identical to those of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Yassir Arafat, Kim Jong-il, and every other dictator and terrorist out there. Her actions are clearly seditious. They represent not only a threat to George W. Bush but to the nation's civility and democratic processes.

.mil (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657070)

Anyone who reads their web logs knows that there are all sorts of interesting people who are reading your blogs and sites. My personal site [maniacallaughter.com] gets all sorts of .mil traffic.

Re:.mil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657204)

I hate to disappoint your ego but anybody surfing from a military base has a .mil TLD. I don't think the military is reading your site for information about building nuclear warheads.

Re:.mil (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657251)

What? My blueprints aren't cool enough? Sad. . . . .

Halfway issue (3, Insightful)

captnitro (160231) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657086)

I read about this, but hadn't seen the post. To be honest, it's strong, but I'd stop way short of calling it investigation-worthy, or even worth a trip to the kid's house. (But, the Secret Service investigates all threats made against the President, so that one's out of my jurisdiction.)

If someone said this at a public event, or on the radio, or written it in a newspaper:

Please kill George Bush. I hate him so much.. I want terrible things to happen to him.. And maybe you could have some media people there when the police find the body, so they can take pictures and stuff.. Please, please, please kill Dubya. And Dick Cheney. And everyone else in the Bush Administration."

He would be having a much, much worse night than a visit from a couple of guys in unmarked cars. I see this is marked under "Politics" not YRO, which makes it sound like a free-speech issue. It is, but it's not like Bush just started enforcing that when he took office OMGWTF LUONG LIVE TEH AMERICA!!!. It has, and always was, a felony to threaten the life of the President. Actually, it has been, and always was, a felony to threaten anybody's life; but not everybody has as diligent a private police force as the Service.

This kid was trolling, plain and simple: free speech, on the internet or anywhere else, can't be taken for granted, though I'd like to think we should expect it to be. You're behind a keyboard, so it's easy to say things without realizing you have a world-sized audience. This is one of the reasons I don't have a blog; frankly, I have a Montana-sized ego, so people know I have a knack for expressing my opinion. But I'd rather not have a google-cached word-for-word dossier of my views.

The only way, I believe, that this would have come to the attention of the Secret Service is if someone submitted it to them. And I respect their response -- they apologized and left.

Bad mod, no donut! (0, Offtopic)

BurritoJ (75275) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657184)

My kingdom for a mod point!!!

I can't believe that the parent was modded as flamebait! I guess the left-leaning slashbots can't understand a reasonable response.

Who moded this Flaimbate is an total idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657279)

There is no real text here the subject says it all.

Re:Halfway issue (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657493)

This kid was trolling, plain and simple
Are you refering to your post or the quoted one? I ask, because you've carefully edited what she wrote to remove any sign that it was addressed to God. Instead, with your editing, it looks like she's inciting the reader to kill Bush.

Re:Halfway issue (1)

captnitro (160231) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657572)

Ellipsis:

"the non-metrical omission of letters or words whose absence does not impede the reader's ability to understand the expression. For example, the last line in the following leaves the lexical verb understood: Hugh, he could fancy No one but Nancy, And Sally got antsy Just thinking of Chauncy, But Nancy liked Drew And Chauncy did too. (I.L.)"

Apologies, I used two instead of three periods. Geez.

Re:Halfway issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10658071)

omission of letters or words
whose absence does not impede the reader's ability to understand the expression.
I'd say that omitting the intended audience (God) impeded the reader's ability.

Thoughtcrime! (3, Funny)

Poppler (822173) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657105)

Please report to the Ministry of Love for reeducation.

that's minilove (1)

xutopia (469129) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657544)

in the latest version. It comes right before "nucular".

I doubt they read it (0)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657136)

I assume the secret service has a computer spidering the web and flagging "troublesome" content for further review. I doubt anyone reads your live journal to find out what color underwear you have on, or which pokemon character you are (except maybe your mom).

Re:I doubt they read it (1)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657360)

RTOP people... it states clearly that the Secret Service said that the page was reported to them by someone. They did not stumble across it, nor is there some bureaucrat reading through LJ in an official capacity.

One bit of confusion I have about the article... the author refers, seemingly interchangeably, to 'Secret Service' (part of the Treasury Department) and 'FBI' (part of the Department of Justice). Which was it that showed up?

See Below For Information (-1, Troll)

Schezar (249629) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657146)

This comment has been removed since it was clearly in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 871 [cornell.edu] (Threats Against The President) and / or Section 875 (Interstate Communications: Extortions / Threats). You can Read More Here [findlaw.com] . We're sorry to have to do this, and while we don't necessarily agree with this, it is still the law. When the Secret Service gets involved, we don't have many options. We appreciate your understanding in the matter. Please call (202) 406-5000 if you have any questions.

Re:Kill George W Bush, President of the United Sta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657197)

Ha! I hope your point/joke isn't lost on them.

See you in jail!

Re:Kill George W Bush, President of the United Sta (1)

bretharder (771353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657201)

Hah! Look forward to that knock on your door from the SS.

Now you are a thoughtcriminal as well (1)

Poppler (822173) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657233)

According to this post [slashdot.org] you just fucked yourself hard. :)

Heh heh.. Alright (1, Insightful)

Schezar (249629) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657302)

I hereby and formally state that the above comment was made as satire, and was entirely in jest.

My point is that there is an enormous noise-to-signal ratio on the internet as more and more information becomes available at a higher rate. Continuing the policy of automatic investigation of "any" written threat regardless of context will become an increasingly expensive, resource-consuming enterprise, and will furthermore become less and less effective due to the massive increase of false-positives.

Basically, if the SS actually knocks on my door, we're in a sad state here in these United States.

Re:Heh heh.. Alright (1)

bretharder (771353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657343)

You're still fucked.

Re:Heh heh.. Alright (3, Funny)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657348)

Basically, if the SS actually knocks on my door, we're in a sad state here in these United States.

My guess is they already knocked on your door, and compelled you to post this follow up message to dissuade the millions waiting to pounce on GWB next week at 2:45pm.

Re:Heh heh.. Alright (2, Funny)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657404)

I, a friend of Schezar, hereby threaten to take the life of the president of the united states. I make this threat for the sole purpose of getting the secret service to come to my door. I think it would be great fun to talk to them, possibly go to court and learn some secrets. I think it would be especially awesome if they use any provisions of the Patriot act in their visit. That way when I go to court I can be the guy who challenges their constitutionality. Also, it would be great fun and bring an element of excitement into my life. Not only that, but it will give me a great story to tell everyone on the net and everyone I know/meet about how the secret service investigated me because they are so incredibly stupid they cannot differentiate a serious threat from a joking one.

Yea (1)

Schezar (249629) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657457)

Yea, go to his door. Not mine. I'm a wuss, and I really don't want to be arrested. ;^)

Funny. Apreche always said he WANTED to be sued by the RIAA back at Uni. Wanted to fight them in court and all that. Now he wants the same thing from the SS.

I don't know if he's brilliant, insane, or just has a death wish... ;^)

YHL. FOAD. (0, Troll)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657407)

If this were a country that celebrated freedom of speech, you'd be okay.

Unfortunately for you, Americans are a small, scared, nasty bunch who like nothing more than beat their chests and show how they're much Holier than Thou, and they know how you should act. In fact, they'll pass some laws to force you to act their way.

So, freedom of speech may have worked back in 1776, but in the technological vastness of today's future, it is an idea that is as obsolete as "freedom from unreasonable searches," "separation of church and state," and "innocent until proven guilty."

With that in mind, when the SS comes to your door, do not make any sudden movements; do not look them in the eye; and follow their directions quickly and without protest.

*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (4, Informative)

nuxx (10153) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657160)

That girl wasn't too bright to get herself into trouble. If you read the original post (also mirrored here in PDF format) she made threatening statements about the President. The Secret Service, doing it's job of protecting the President, investigated, found nothing, and went about their way.

For more information as to what they were likely under take a look at US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 41, 871(a) [cornell.edu] :

Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


That said, this has nothing to do with the First Amendment and free speech, because while there are protections of free speech, it is well established that there are things you cannot say. These are commonly summed up as the 'yelling FIRE in a theater' statements. This also does not apply to anything Patriot-act related. It's a simple Secret Service investigation of a percieved threat. End of story.

Hopefully she has now learned that publishing something on the internet (and that's what LJ is) is not much different from standing on a street corner and shoting something, except with an eternal echo.

Fixed Link to Original Post Mirror (3, Informative)

nuxx (10153) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657196)

Sorry, I must have somehow screwed up the link to the PDF. That mirror of the Google cache (in case she asks for it to be removed) is at http://www.nuxx.net/files/dumbgirl.pdf [nuxx.net] .

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (3, Insightful)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657239)

Sorry, how does a prayer that something happens constitute a threat? No where in that post did she say she was going to do it or encouraging anyone else to do it. (Unless you count God) She was merely expressing a hope that it does. I don't share her opinion - I don't think Shrub is an evil person - just simple minded and easily manipulated - which is reason enough to get him the hell out of office.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (5, Insightful)

nuxx (10153) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657282)

I agree, I don't think it was much of a threat, but it really is the Secret Service's job to investigate such things. I also don't think that the Secret Service feels she is a threat either, anymore, after they took a look and investigated things. After all, that's all they did...

I think it comes down to not wanting anything to fall through the cracks. What if someone really was to want to injure the President and was really quiet about it, but occasionally let things slip and made ranting (such as the aforementioned) posts online? If something happened, the Secret Service would have it's head on a plate for having had a lead and not investigating at all.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657604)

Also it could be semi coded speach, you know a request for a hit is exact the way it was worded. Except well it was to God.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (3, Insightful)

bretharder (771353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657254)

She asked God to kill GWB.
She didn't say "I'm going to kill GWB".

It's not a fucking threat.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (2, Informative)

CXI (46706) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657339)

She requested the president to die, that is a threat plain and simple. It's their damn job to check into it, especially when someone specifically complained about it, and they'd do it regardless of who was president.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657370)

that is a threat plain and simple.
How is it a threat? What is she doing by wishing death upon the President that is, in any way, increasing the chance that the President will die?

If it doesn't increase, and isn't intended to increase, the chances of the President dying, it certainly isn't a threat by any stretch of the imagination. It's just a juvenile, foul mouthed, pointless barrage of hate.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657502)

No, it's a freedom of religion issue. She prayed that God do something for her.

You know you live in a police state when you are "Shaken Down" by the Praetorian Guards for praying.

I'll say this about The President:
We deserve what we got. The republican party and the democratic party just feed us their little prepackaged presidential candidates and we blithingly "choose" between the two most corrupt and ass-kissing people in the country.

As The Governor of California said: "Girlie-men." (taken out of context, of course)

Read Paul Graham's What You can't say [paulgraham.com] .

And you, annie, enjoy the ride.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (2, Insightful)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658077)

Unless God exists, Bush won't be killed. Since he doesnt...

On the other hand, if you think you are god and this stupid girl asks you to kill Bush... That's your problem, mate.

I can't understand how this can be a threat especially the requested entntiy is a fictional character...

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657364)

If I ask a hitman to kill someone I am just as guilty as the hitman, I think. Just because you don't pull the trigger doesn't make you any less responable.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (2, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657638)

While true, there are a few issues here.

A) The "Hitman" here is "God". There are no legal proscriptions whatsoever about god killing someone. Hence it wouldn't actually be murder (murder is by definition illegal killing - as long as its legal it can't be murder). If this were not the case then the FBI shpould be looking for god as he has several billion suspicous deaths to answer for.

B) No law can possibly apply as any law that applied to a request made to god would be to make a law 'respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof' (which is also why point A is the case..)

C) Satire

Read the post. This is obviously not even a serious prayer as it begins with a statement that the prayer does not believe in the existance of the prayee (herein refered to as "god"). Hence this is more of a stylized wish than a prayer. I am aware of no proscriptions about wishing bad things would happen to people.

Can I conspire with a hitman that I don't believe exists? Maybe. What if there is reason to believe that I didn't know he was serious and was joking? Think, throw
momma from the train.

-Steve

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1)

superyooser (100462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658114)

It's quite obvious to me that she doesn't believe in God.

So, she intends for a person to do it -- herself or somebody else.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657268)

I read the Google cache of her comment and cannot see how it was "threatening". Threatening, in general, doesn't mean to "wish God would kill someone", it generally means to imply a threat exists or to create one. If she was organizing the killing of our beloved leader, or even encouraging others to do so on her behalf, then that would be something, but...

...but just asking God to do it is stretching things. It's clearly not serious, it's clearly not an attempt to kill anyone, and it certainly doesn't fit into anything of the quoted US code: It isn't a document containing a threat to take the life of (...) upon the President of the United States (...) or (...) otherwise (is making) any such threat against the President"

Be reasonable, please. Don't stretch definitions to this kind of degree.

I realise, incidentally, that I may simply not understand your point of view because I'm an atheist. If you're a God-fearing Christian, and seriously believe that God, on receipt of a message from a foul-mouthed blogger, would say "Well, goodness. I better do as she asked and get rid of this Bush fellow", then, obviously, we're at odds, though such a view would seem wrong on so many levels that I don't know where to begin understanding someone who'd think that way.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657707)

IIRC, there was a minor fracas recently (in the last twelve years or so) when the secret service visited a woman who was using witchcraft to wish the President dead. I'm really quite fuzzy on the details; it may well have been early in Clinton's terms.

Considering I was living in South Florida at the time, it may have been a Santeria practitioner. Judges and local officials occasionally wake up to find chicken feet and blood on their doorstep, and the news periodically trots out a story about it.

--
Evan

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (3, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657756)

Well, Bush believes in the power of prayer, so, to him, this IS a legitimate threat.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658128)

I read the Google cache of her comment and cannot see how it was "threatening".

It wasn't the content that got her into trouble, it was the fact that someone turned her in.

Furthermore, the Secret Service must investigate all threats on the president's life no matter how ridiculous they seem to be. If I tell the Secret Service that you implied to me that you were going to do something to the president, I guarantee the Secret Service would contact you. They take all threats very seriously.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (4, Insightful)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657417)

...containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon...

What this boils down to for me is whether:

I don't like X
and wish he were dead.
is the same as:
I don't like X
and will kill him.
. I don't think they're the same at all.

It sounds to me like whoever reported it over-reacted, and the SS were just doing their jobs.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1, Offtopic)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657673)

I love it. From now on, everybody please use "SS" to stand for Secret Service.

Before all the flames start. When I was 7-10, I used to sleep in a bed in a room upstairs at my great-grandmother's house, near Paris France.

She later told me that during the second world war, two SS officers were billeted in that room. One of them slept in that bed from 1940 to 1944.

My mother was born in 1943. At that house. My grandfather spend 2 years in a german work camp, in Baden-Baden, then returned to France to work the farm so that german troops could eat. The only reason my mother got enought milk and food is because those SS officers made sure she did. Also, early in '44, the young one came back early and cried in my great grandmother's arms. His entire family had been killed in an American bombing raid in Germany. He was 22 or so. In July, as the american approached, the two germans left with their units. My great grandmother never saw or heard of them again.
All this to say that they were well meaning and doing their jobs with the diligence required by wartime military discipline.

The Secret Service ought to chill and let people express themselves.

Re:*NOT* a Free Speech and/or Patriot Act Issue (1)

exi1ed0ne (647852) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657831)

This is not the "end of story" unfortunatly. Without any due process whatsoever, this person will have their rights restricted. Ask Sen. Kennedy how easy it is to get off the no fly list. While I admit it was kinda stupid, even the S.S. thought it was harmless. Why the FBI file? Why the possibility of a phone tap? This is a severe curtailment of the 4th and 5th amendments.

Post a public journal article... (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657166)

... and it gets read by the public.

And what did you bloody well expect, children?

Hay it is an open network (1)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657169)

If you put it on the internet any one can see it, don't say in your blog what you would not say in a crowed public venue. When you put on your blog (or slashdot comments or what ever) expect every one can read, your friends, your enimeys, the goverment, a foreign goverment, people you don't know. So the secreat service reads liver journal, big deal, this is not a invastion of priviace, they person put it there for the world to see, the world saw it.

horray for the secret service! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657191)

down with the president! hopefully someone will **** the president....errr, i mean, long live the president!

Not all free speech is free, eh? (3, Funny)

Slime-dogg (120473) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657202)

I wonder. If it's not legal to pray for someone's death, as it constitutes a threat against them, then would it be legal for me to make a voodoo doll of them? I mean, would you get busted by the secret service if you had a 'W voodoo doll that you stuck pins into? The quote from the chick is that he can 'feel it every time you pray for him.' Well, how about every time they twist the doll's head around in circles?

I'd rather have a Kerry doll, though. Then I'd probably try to pin the skin around his eyes up, they're so damn droopy. He reminds me of a basset hound. Then again, his IQ is around the same.

Re:Not all free speech is free, eh? (1)

Rentar (168939) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657350)

Remember: Noone ever told her it was illegal. The Secret Service had to investigate it because someone in the FBI thought (after a tip off from a fellow LJer) that this might be a threat. They checked that, found that it's not a threat and left. No legal humble-jumble involved.

Disclaimer: I'm not from the USA and strongly dislike the current way of politics there but can still understand that reaction by an agency that only exists to protect the president (and vice-president, and president-elected and what-not).

Re:Not all free speech is free, eh? (2, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657637)

agency that only exists to protect the president (and vice-president, and president-elected and what-not).

Just so you know, the Secret Service does more than just protect the President. They are also responsible for investigating counterfeiting, forgery, and various other crimes.

As for the issue at hand, one of my college profs was ex-Secret Service and he described stuff like this happening all the time. Write something like that about the Pres and get a visit. If you're not a threat, as apparantly was the case here, they move on. Seems to me, as you did, that they were just being diligent in their work.

How many SS are there? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657809)

As for the issue at hand, one of my college profs was ex-Secret Service and he described stuff like this happening all the time. Write something like that about the Pres and get a visit.
That doesn't sound statistically possible.

There are a limited number of Secret Service agents.

It takes time to visit each person and nothing actually bad happens to that person except some fame for being oppressed by the government.

Wouldn't the kids posting crap soon overwhelm the SS's ability to visit each and every one? Particularly if they started posting more crap after the visit?

Re:How many SS are there? (1)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657940)

Except, most kids know not to post shit on the internet about killing the president. Every few years, you'll year about some kid emailing the president or posting on some forum about how he is going to do that act- and then you heaer about the SS showing up very quickly to question him. Most people have the sense to not have "kill" and "president" in the same sentence- I am a bit scared that I'm doing it myself right now...

Re:Not all free speech is free, eh? (1)

cjpez (148000) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657373)

If it's not legal to pray for someone's death
Er, if you actually read her response to all this, you'd find out that the Secret Service spent about 10 minutes at the house, and after coming to the decision that there indeed, was no threat at all, left. Entire repercussions from posting that on a blog: 10 minutes of your time. She wasn't charged with anything and isn't even under suspicion for anything. So where in there do you infer that it's not legal to pray for someone's death?

Re:Not all free speech is free, eh? (4, Insightful)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657734)

Then why did she removed the post?

SHE GOT SCARED!!!

That, my friend, is called a shakedown, and it's a form of intimidation.

You don't have to be charged for a crime to be made to feel like you've committed one.

That's what's wrong with this story.

Re:Not all free speech is free, eh? (1)

cjpez (148000) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657823)

Er, of course she got scared. Anyone should be a bit scared if the Secret Service shows up on your doorstep. But did you bother to read what she actually wrote about it though? Here, I'll quote some of it for you:
After about ten minutes of talking to me and my family, they quickly came to the conclusion that I was not a threat to national security (mostly because we are the least threatening people in the entire world) and told me that they would not recommend that any further action be taken with my case.
... and ...
I did not feel that my civil rights were violated by the visit, and I did not feel intimidated by the Secret Service agents.
So what's wrong with that? The SS spends ten minutes investigating what could potentially be a threat, and then leave once they find out that there's nothing to be worried about. Whose rights are being trampled on here? How was that intimidating. She even used the word "intimidated" in the post, when talking about how she wasn't.

Re:Not all free speech is free, eh? (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657867)

she wrote in her blog:

>Obviously, I cannot link to the original LJ post that I made, because I have removed it from my LJ to protect myself and those who commented in that thread from receiving any further visits from the FBI.

She did remove it. She was intimidated to remove something she had written in a public forum. Without due process.

What's wrong with that? Dude, pick up "The Decline and Fall of the Third Reich". You'll see.

Re:Not all free speech is free, eh? (1)

cjpez (148000) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658089)

She did remove it. She was intimidated to remove something she had written in a public forum. Without due process.
No no no, you see, intimidation implies coersion. Intimidation implies threats. Intimidation implies nastiness and brutality. From every indication on her site, the visit she received was, if not cordial, very businesslike. If you disagree with the law that says that it's illegal to make death threats against the president, then that could be discussed in some other forum. The issue at hand right now is a simple, ten-minute investigation to determine if there's a real threat involved. There wasn't, so they left. She makes no mention of threats. She makes no mention of veiled hostilities. She makes no mention of even an official request by them to take down the site. She does, however, mention that the people came to investigate, who you claim have bullied some poor, defenseless person into taking content down, told her that no further action would happen as the result of this. Here, let me quote that one more time:
...and told me that they would not recommend that any further action be taken with my case.

Now how exactly was she "intimidated" (after also stating that she was not intimidated) "without due process" (as you put it), into taking something down by people who told her that no further action was going to take place? Yes, she did take the post down. There are many good reasons she may have decided to do so other than direct intimidation by the government, as you seem to think.

Regardless, you seem to have slipped into Godwin's Law territory here, so I guess I'll just leave it at that.

This is Messed Up (1)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657212)

If you read his journal he never once said he was going to kill the president. He merely said he was hopeful that the president would die. These are completely different things. Is it a crime to wish death on someone? Or is it perhaps that he was contracting God to kill Bush that made it illegal?

It was obvious to me that this was meant as a joke. I'm suprised it wasn't taken that way by the authorities. I mean really, shouldn't they be looking for real threats (like terrorists)?

Replace He with She (1)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657263)

I apologize. The journal was written by a woman not a man.

Re:This is Messed Up (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657327)

I mean really, shouldn't they be looking for real threats (like terrorists)?

The Secret Service primarily exists to keep the President and other public figures from getting killed/hurt. After Kenedy they really started taking this seriously. Someone I know was once pissed when he got pulled over by a cop and at one point said "I'm going to kill the president" Quote Unquote. The cop legally had to report him to the secret service even though he had no intention of killing the president at the time. And the Secret Service did show up to ask him some questions. We have had 4 presidents assinated in office and many more have had attempts on their life. They have to investigate every one that comes to their attention just to make sure. At this point Senator Kerry is on their protection list being a candidate this late in the game. If someone had said the same thing and it came to the attention of the Secret Service then they would also have to investigate.

On a side not, anyone that says that it is OK to take out any president cause you don't agree with his views/policy/action? Well, that aint Democracy its assanation politics. You either have to accept those who are voted in under the Electoral College system or move to another country.

Re:This is Messed Up (1)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657401)

She didn't threaten him! She hopes he dies. There is a difference.

On a side not, anyone that says that it is OK to take out any president cause you don't agree with his views/policy/action? Well, that aint Democracy its assanation politics.

Bush wasn't democratically elected. By the way, I don't think it is okay to kill Bush. That doesn't mean the entire world wouldn't be better off if he were gone. I for one strongly oppose the assassination of Bush.

Re:This is Messed Up (1)

Reducer2001 (197985) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657860)

I oppose it as well. I don't want Dick Cheney running the show.

No, no (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657447)

On a side not, anyone that says that it is OK to take out any president cause you don't agree with his views/policy/action? Well, that aint Democracy its assanation politics.

You have that one wrong: it is Chimpy's foreign policy.

America: Spreading freedom--whether you want it or not!--at the point of a bayonet for over 100 years.

Re:This is Messed Up (1)

cyber0ne (640846) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657489)

It was obvious to me that this was meant as a joke.

True. However, "obvious" is not always the driving factor in government. I'm not just randomly bashing the system, but pointing out that it has regulations in place that bring certain responsibilities. Court records are full of cases where it was "obvious" that someone was guilty, but the physical evidence didn't satisfy the requirements of the system. It can seem like a waste at times, but it's all part of requiring that the powers that be "make sure" before they act. Just as it's better to let a guilty man go free than execute an innocent, it's also better to ask someone a couple questions than to assume they're not actually intending to kill the president (or anyone else).

The Secret Service is a lot more than a handful of agents running alongside a car in a parade. Part of what they do is investigate every potential threat to the administration that they find. Even if they know in their gut that it's fake (99.99% of them are, so it's usually a good bet), they are still required to investigate. From what I understand, they wasted as little of their time on the matter as they could. But once the "incident" in question was officially documented, some kind of follow-up to close the "case" was required.

As for "looking for real threats," they're doing that too. But the fact is that a presidential assassination messes things up bad, both domestically and internationally. It's a headache no government needs. So, to attempt to prevent it, these policies are in place. We know of the handful of presidents who were shot, but none of us know exactly how many attempts are thwarted before they ever get off the ground.

Re:This is Messed Up (1)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657623)

She didn't threaten him! What's to investigate? I didn't threaten him either, should they investigate me also? You know, just to make sure I don't decide to kill Bush.

I had a similar experience (4, Funny)

flonker (526111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657217)

I had a similar experience on usenet. I had a .sig file that said
filter bait: He will assassinate the president, but needs the password.

-export-a-crypto-system-sig- RC4 in 3 lines of PERL
#!/bin/perl -sp0777i<X+d*lMLa^*lN%0]dsXx++lMlN/dsM0<j]ds j
$/=unpack('H*',$_);$_=`echo 16dio\U$k"SK$/SM$n\EsN0p[lN*1
lK[d2%Sa2/d0$^Ixp"|dc`;s/\W//g;$_=pack('H*',/((..) *)$/)


I got a call from the secret service asking me to come in and answer some questions. They found the post using Dejanews, and wanted to know what the secret code was. I told them it was a program. They said they would have their experts look at it. At the time, it was legally questionable to post that code to usenet due to ITAR, so I was polite when questioned, despite having to explain the difference between a web page and a usenet post, among other things.

In retrospect, I'm shocked I actually said this, but when they called me, I actually asked them, "Where did you get this number?" (The number was unlisted.) Their response, "We are the secret service."

It is their job (1)

macrealist (673411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657226)

How do they know if she is serious or not. If she was a threat and something happened, then the Secret Service would be blasted for not doing more. A visit is a non-issue. The Secret Service had better be doing everything they can to protect our president, including reading blogs. Just hope they have some software to scan it all for them.

And why is this in politics? Obviously her post was politically motivated, but the Secret Service is not acting based on politics.

Re:It is their job (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657317)

Does it matter if she was serious? I mean, there are two possibilities:
  1. She really would like God to terminate King George. Which means, precisely, nothing.
  2. She doesn't really want God to kill his glorious leaderness. Which, again, means precisely nothing.
What's the difference? Wishful thinking?

Re:It is their job (1)

macrealist (673411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657446)

True, but what if she was a pshyco, and this was a clue. To us, we read it and it is obvious that she is not serious. But if it were our job to step in front of a bullet for the president, it is worth investigating any possible trigger pullers.

The cost of investigating is much less than the cost of not, even given the context of her message.

Re:It is their job (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657600)

And it's not like she was roughed up, spent any time in jail, or was otherwise intimidated. She made a threat that, if she were a psycho, could have been an indication of actions to come. They spent 10 minutes ascertaining that she's not a psycho, and that should be the end of it.

If, as others have speculated, she ends up on a "no fly" list, then there's more to discuss. But that is PURE SPECULATION at this point.

Another day, another death treath (1)

GQuon (643387) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657234)

Another day, another death treath [slashdot.org]

Oh, the stifling of dissent!

Not a threat? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657242)

What makes her not a threat? If she were a more devout Christian (she claims to not have a strong working relationship with ``the Christ"), would her prayers have been considered a bona-fide attempt on W's life?

Makes me wonder if Pat Robertson (?) got a visit, when he asked the Almighty and his throng to pray for the removal of the pro-Roe/Wade justices from the SCOTUS: "Lord, two of them are very old; they could easily have a heart-attack." If a prayer is a threat, it's only reasonable to think that PR should have a long file.

Re:Not a threat? (1)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657514)

Is Pat Robertson a real christian?? if he was he would know that Christ commanded us to pray for our enimeies ( also to love them ). I would not say that pro abortionist jugeds are our enimens (well not yet, but) So a real Christians prayer would be more like this "Lord please help lead the justes to wisdom, and bring them to repentence and revours the rulling they made on the sinful act of abortion. Thought Jesus Christ that lives and rains with you and the Holy Ghost ever one God now and forever. Amen"

Re:Not a threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657795)

Heh.
"Real" Christians. And my kids are "Real" Santa Clauseans.

Charlie Brooker - The Guardian -- too (2, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657246)

This is a surprise to anyone? The US SS is _required_ to investigate possible threats to The President. Do you think they've become more lax after 9/11??? You can be sure they've tightened their procedures quite a bit.

I suspect Charlie Brooker -Screen Burn- from the UK Guardian (original expired from the Google cache) is going to get a visit too. Plus be on the watch-lists for an indeterminate time. Fool -- does he expect policemen to have a sense of humor?

Disturbing (3, Funny)

Tyndmyr (811713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657259)

"OMGWTFBBQ THE SEKKRIT SERVICE CAME TO MY HOUSE OMG ;)"

Obviously, the profile of a possible assassin. If only they knew how common these people are... Half the aol chat rooms probably are out to kill someone.

Re:Disturbing (1)

AmBoy00 (812165) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657388)

L33T... and LOL I think.

Lese Majeste (2, Funny)

cmaxx (7796) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657260)

..back on the statutes in the US eh.

Her LJ Post (3, Informative)

bretharder (771353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657297)

10/14/04 09:25 am
a prayer for dubya

Dear God:

Wassup? How's it hanging? Yeah, I know it's been a long time since we talked. This probably stems from my belief that you do not exist. Anyway, the reason why I'm calling you is because last night, President Bush said that he could feel it every time we prayed for him, and since he apparently doesn't listen to anyone but you, Lord, I thought you might pass this along to him.

Please kill George Bush. I hate him so much. I think he is a giant dick and I want terrible things to happen to him. I'm not really big on the specifics of how he dies, but if you could at least arrange it so that the authorities find his dead body on top of an underage black male prostitute surrounded by a mountain of cocaine and child pornography, that would really be super-awesome. And maybe you could have some media people there when the police find the body, so they can take pictures and stuff. That'd be fucking GREAT. Am I allowed to say "fuck" in a prayer? Shit, I just said it again. Ah, well.

Anyway, that's my prayer, Lord. Please, please, please kill Dubya. And Dick Cheney. And everyone else in the Bush Administration. Maybe they can all commit mass suicide together or something. I don't know. You're the one with all the ideas. You come up with something. I need more coffee.

Smooches and Huggles,
anniesj

Re:Her LJ Post (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657498)

You go, girl.

Fuck the secret service! (3, Insightful)

Thomas A. Anderson (114614) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657320)

No bigger groups of idiots exists today. Lets looks at the facts:

President Bush is allowed to stay in a classroom for 7 minutes after hearing of the 2nd plane hitting the WTC. His trip to the school is pre-publicized (hence his location is not secret by any means). The secret service should have politly asked to speak to the president and then run his ass out of there the minute he was out of sight of the children. On the trip in the limo to Air Force One, a group of fighters should have been called up from one of the air force bases in florida and been above the plane before it took off. But this did not happen as fighters didn't meet up with the plane until it's next stop (can't remember the base he landed at briefly).

The secret service blew it big time and failed to protect the president and no one has said a word.

But then some kid says "I pray the president dies" and the secret service considers this a threat. What a bunch of fucking morons. Half the world wants this guy dead. Hell, I want the guy dead (He's put this country in more danger than it's been since the cold war by invading a sovereign nation that held *zero* threat to us and he is responsible for the needless death of over a thousand service american man and woman and well over a fifty thousand iraqi civilians). Is the secret service going to investigate *all* of us? Fucking morons!

Nobody so busy or dutiful (2, Insightful)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657434)

...as a guard who just earlier got caught sleeping through a burglary.

Re:Fuck the secret service! (3, Funny)

nusratt (751548) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657495)

"Hell, I want the guy dead"

Pardon me, but will you be at home tomorrow evening, and prepared to receive guests wearing black shoes, white socks, and crew-cuts?

Re:Fuck the secret service! (1)

Thomas A. Anderson (114614) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657838)

You mean the Blues Brothers are coming over? Cool!

You make a good point, and to avoid the Secret Service a wasted trip - I in no way intend to hurt the president of the united states. Except verbally (I do reserve the right to call him a fucktard any time I want).

The joke is that we all know the dude's going to lose this election. We just have to wait 5 more days and then he becomes just another "1 termer" who couldn't hack it as president (just like his papa). The worst thing that could happen now is someone attacks him because then people would vote for him (beware the sympathy vote).

So anyhow, hope you guys (the secret service) feel better. But feel free to send the blue brothers over if you like, but not Belushi - I'm sure he stinks pretty bad by now.

dead men working (1)

nusratt (751548) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658019)

"The worst thing that could happen now is someone attacks him because then people would vote for him (beware the sympathy vote)."

Well, now, wouldn't THAT be an interesting symmetry:
John Ashcroft (a man who lost an election to a dead man), working for a President who can't be re-elected except as a dead man.

Re:Fuck the secret service! (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658070)

"The joke is that we all know the dude's going to lose this election."

Um, NO. There's been a collosal amount of vote fraud ALREADY. Democrats and suspected democrats (blacks, essentially) are being stricken off roles at a good clip.

Yes, there are armies of lawyers ready to litigate once the election is over, in case George steals it, but with the supreme court set the way it is, once stolen, it will REMAIN STOLEN.

Don't be so complacent, my friend. This could go either way, and you should be damn sure to nag all your non-bush-supporting friends to be sure to vote, as their votes will be counting for some unspecified number of republican votes, where such number is tangibly (but let's hope only slightly) less than ONE.

I propose reversing this "security" thing (2, Insightful)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657331)

Lets change the law. Instead of having the secret service to protect politicians, lets instead ban politicians from being protected by any government employee. Also, ban them from hiring private bodyguards, and when they travel require them to walk, bicycle, take the public subway/bus/train, or fly "coach".

It's a lot easier to have casual contempt for Joe Public if you can flip the bird at him from behind tinted bulletproof glass.

well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657358)

Ya know I don't feel bad for the kid at all. Lesson learned. Now she'll know there are things you say and things you don't say. Period.

This is what he said: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10657510)

in a prayer to God:

"Please kill George Bush. I hate him so much. I think he is a giant dick and I want terrible things to happen to him. I'm not really big on the specifics of how he dies, but if you could at least arrange it so that the authorities find his dead body on top of an underage black male prostitute surrounded by a mountain of cocaine and child pornography, that would really be super-awesome. And maybe you could have some media people there when the police find the body, so they can take pictures and stuff. That'd be fucking GREAT. Am I allowed to say "fuck" in a prayer? Shit, I just said it again. Ah, well.

Anyway, that's my prayer, Lord. Please, please, please kill Dubya. And Dick Cheney. And everyone else in the Bush Administration. Maybe they can all commit mass suicide together or something. I don't know. You're the one with all the ideas. You come up with something. I need more coffee."

And:

"1) I hate George W. Bush. A lot. I hate him. I wish bad things would happen to him. If he died, I really would laugh. And dance. And scream. And there might be nudity. You all should know this about me by now, unless you're new, and in that case -- hi. I hate Dubya. A lot. Now you know. :) And now that THAT is taken care of ..."

is that so bad? I mean seriously? It's not much worse than the character assassination in Amercan (Fuck yeah) movies we see. Don't we all at some point wish someone to be dead even if in reality we don't really want anyone to harm him? I mean I sometimes would love to have the convenience of seeing some people disapear in some violent or embarassing ways. Some are political figures too. That doesn't mean I really want it to happen if I were the one who could roll the dice of chance on that person.

I can see why (2, Interesting)

Krieger (7750) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657523)

As much as I hate to say it, I can see why.

She specifically asks for something bad to happen to George Bush. Not just a "I wish he was dead, so I wouldn't have to deal with his shit anymore." But in fact a full blown, "God please kill George Bush." Followed by other self-described snarky comments advocating his death.

I think it looks like more of a consistency thing. She was consistently asking for someone to kill George Bush, which could technically incite someone to violence, which might be construed as a threat. (IANAL)

And while I think most people have made jokes about some president or other important official, friend, neighbor, etc dying, being assasinated, etc for the greater good. I think most people rarely couch it in terms of doing or asking someone to do it.

Perhaps the best speculative difference.

"I wish they were dead."

"God, please kill George Bush."

It's tough to say if I think it is a good/bad thing that the Secret Service checked up on this. Hopefully they also read the rest of her livejournal first. Hell that may have been why they *did* check up on her. If the rest of her livejournal had been a total peacenik LJ, they may have just gone on their way. Yet some of the other posts supported at least asking questions of whether or not she is truly a violent individual.

Wake up call. Violent ranting on the internet can be completely misconstured (much like email). Please confine all future rants to actual conversations with known audiences, so that when you make outrageous statements you audience knows you well enough to not turn you into the Secret Service.

So are we supposed to worry about the Secret Service checking up on all of us now?

OLD LADIES!! TOP TIP #1121-656 (2, Funny)

SimianOverlord (727643) | more than 9 years ago | (#10657711)

Feeling a bit lonely and bored now the kids have moved out and don't return your calls?

Get a livejournal account

Post an appeal for someone to kill the President

Report yourself to the FBI

Within a week, two nice, polite young men will stop by for a quiet chat about who you are and what you get up to. They will be very interested in you. They will listen to your anecdotes while they sip tea and munch homemade biscuits. And agree your son Albert is a good for nothing scoundrel who never calls his mother.

A week later, repeat process.

"Kill the president" By The Offspring (1)

kingj02 (698534) | more than 9 years ago | (#10658043)

So... 'Kill the president' is bad, but "Kill the President" By The Offspring [offspring.com] , is okay?

That's a song they did in 89/90 that's very much about the U.S. president. As far as I know, nothing ever happened to them regarding it. Unfortunatly, after 9/11, they removed the name from the discography section of the webpage--which was disappointing to me--but it's still on the album.
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