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Secret Service Manhandles Reporter Who Asked Rumsfeld an Actual Question


By Jeff Norman

[photo by Tonia Young shows Jeff Norman being detained by Secret Service after questioning Donald Rumsfeld]

Gold Star mom Nadia McCaffrey wound up her Southern California visit yesterday by attending Donald Rumsfeld's speech at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. The Secretary of Defense spoke before a capacity audience at a luncheon presented by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

Rumsfeld continued to dismiss reports that prisoner abuse by American military personnel is widespread. He praised his subordinates for "conducting investigations," and claimed the torture problem has been solved. Rumsfeld insisted recent news coverage of prior incidents only makes it seem "like it's new allegations."

Nadia, whose son Patrick was killed in Iraq in June of 2004, attempted to approach Rumsfeld to ask him about what she believes are his various inconsistent statements, but was blocked by security. In an interview after the event, she told me the military leadership has failed to protect troops with adequate equipment that is readily available.

"We have thousands of M113 armored vehicles sitting in storage," Nadia complained. "Why has Rumsfeld decided only recently to ship them to Iraq?" (Although Stars and Stripes reported on January 4 that M113 personnel carriers would finally be transported to Iraq, it has not been confirmed that the vehicles have actually arrived and are in use.)

Dana and Frances from CODEPINK interrupted Rumsfeld's speech and tried to unfurl a banner while telling the Secretary that he had "lied" to the American people. They were immediately dragged out of the ballroom.

As Rumsfeld was leaving the event after his speech, I took a few steps out of the media area where I had been sitting, and said to him, "Mr. Secretary, military families think you're lying to them. Why won't you meet with them?" The Secretary ignored me as two men who appeared to be Secret Service agents aggressively removed me from the premises. I know of no other instance in which government agents have been used to physically assault a reporter for mildly questioning a public servant. None of my media brethren have so far come to my defense, despite the possibility they could be similarly bullied merely for doing their jobs.

The strategy of intimidating journalists is futile, because even hawks now recognize Rumsfeld lacks credibility. On his Fox News TV show Wednesday night, Bill O'Reilly revealed, "I don't have any confidence in Donald Rumsfeld at this point...I don't think he's leveling with the American people."

The effort to hold the Bush administration accountable continues tomorrow in Cawford, Texas at the vacation home of President Bush. Members of Gold Star Families for Peace plan to confront the President about why U.S. forces are still occupyng Iraq, and ask him to explain exactly why he believes the mission is a "noble cause." According to Gold Star founder Cindy Sheehan, the families will stay "until we are arrested or satisfied with the answers."

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Thanks Jeff for, I guess doing your job. It's sad when I have to thank somebody for actually doing something this country so desperately needs, finding members of the administration and then asking them questions. Maybe the others can follow your example. Just out of curiosity where were the other media when this was going on?

It seems that the Secret Service have become the Gustapo for the
Bush Administration.Freedom to assemble or question any administration
official is met with rough treatment and abuse.Don't unfural a banner
or try to ask a civil question or you will be detained or arrested.
Are we in America? These goons answer to no one! They do as they pplease to anyone. Protection is one thing but intimidation is another. I guess freedom to assemble is gone.

Ah, sucks don't it? ;-)

When I was getting my Eagle Scout award I got to hear about how
I was held to a higher standard to defend and help those in need
at all times and always stand for Truth.

When I received my 32nd Degree Freemason degree, I was again charged
with the sacred duties of a Knight Templar, to defend women and
children while always fighting against tyranny.

Damn, if it don't suck to get your head split open by some macho
Pinkerton cop while you are trying to carry out these sacred charges.

And it really sucks when they send out the "shadow" goons like the
KKK. They do nice things like make death threats to you and
your wife while they kill your animals that you love. THEN,
because they don't like your politics, they make a phone call and
you lose your job and overnight you go from being one of the most
sought after International IT/Communications Support Engineers
to being one of the "Untouchables." Then all your "born again"
neighbors say you deserve it because you aren't "saved" and
you are just "wrong".

So, you regroup, learn from it, and go back to fighting for the dream. Like the man said, "I feel that I owe it to someone."
I've had a wonderful life, but there are a lot of people that aren't
even getting a chance at one. . . and as we say hyere in North
Cackilacki "That just ain't right!"

"If you don't like the way I'm living,
You just leave this long-haired country boy alone."
- Charlie Daniels Band

peace.

There is a verse in the Bible that says, "And men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil". Donald Rumsfeld, in keeping with this administration's modus operandi, evades the very people who pay his salary in an attempt to avoid confronting the sordid truth. They don't want to be called on the carpet and questioned because their deeds are evil. This man, who is charged with keeping our troops safe, has been a shameful overseer. He is so out of touch with the realities of military life--just ask any soldier who is or has been in Iraq and they will tell you about the shoddy equipment and the desperate attempts to keep vehicles running. Ask my son, he's been there twice, and he can tell you a few stories about "rigging" vehicles.
As for the "Secret Service" they are the 21st century equivalent of the KGB, the Gestapo, the Secret Police. We PAY the salaries of our ELECTED officials and yet when we want to talk to them, to question their motives, and to get answers we are shooed away like annoying flies. We are treated like criminals for approaching the very people our tax dollars support--our employees! I can understand Rummy, Cheney, and Bush's desperate dependence on them, though. If I only had 38% support for the way I was handling a war, I would probably want extra protection too.

I think it may be too late for america...I applaude the efforts of people like you Jeff and Cindy. But honestly I dont think it will make much of a difference. I think this country is doomed. Its going in a downward spiral. We are too far gone at this point to save it. The rich and powerful have the deck stacked. This country has been gift wrapped and sold to the highest bidder. Greedy politicians are pimping out thier elected offices and corporations with no alligence to america from haliburton to worldcom are getting in line over and over again to stick it to the american public while lining their own pockets. It truely is disgusting to me what this country has become. And nothing short of a revolution can change our fate. And I dont mean some 1960's peace,pot,and love revolution. I mean a govenment upheaval, a complete remodeling of our government. And we all know that is not possible and the rich and powerful will never let that happen. Everyday there are more cheney's and bush's and Carl Rove's being born and bred. Rich white boys who sit around doing coke all day and night, living off their daddy's schemes, while their less fortunate counterparts join the service looking for a better life and find themselves stuck in a ridiculous war. And they will grow up to make the same mistakes their fore fathers did. Just as Bush did, supporting the unjust war of vietnam from the sidelines in the lap of luxury. The years and years of alcohol and drugs have honestly given this man a false sense of reality. You can see it in his eyes when he speaks. He has never been in touch with reality, he's never had to be! He's been sheltered his entire life and he is sheltered in his presidency. Our fate has been sealed since kennedy died and the republicans turned our great country into a monarchy. I also believe deep down that Bush senior had something to do with that. That evil family has alot of secrets, many of which will never be known thanks to thier efforts... I only hope that people will wake up one day and see things for what they truely are..because if they dont, we may loose everything that is dear to us....so I pray everyday for a revolution.......for our childrens sake

The other reporters seemed unconcerned and/or too frightened to address this blatant freedom of the press violation. As of this moment, only Steve Young of KTLK (Los Angeles Air America affiliate) has interviewed me about what happened. He gets it. Where is everybody else?

To clarify my report: The protesters interrupted Rumsfeld's speech. By contrast, I interrupted nothing. I waited until Rumsfeld was leaving to shout out a question, which is exactly the sort of thing journalists have done forever. In the past, the recipient of such a query would merely ignore it if he or she did not wish to respond. Physically removing a reporter represents a new level of bullying. (I did not "crash" this event; I was granted access by the Public Relations Director of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.)

Neither the press nor any other attendees were prohibited from moving around the ballroom. Also, reporters had not been told to refrain from asking questions. Therefore, I violated no implied or explicit agreement. I merely stepped into the aisle to ask a question. Security personnel and audience members were between the Secretary and where I was calmly standing.

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