Next Free Speech Zone 3000 Miles

Criticizing Cheney to His Face Is Assault

"I didn't even know he was in town," Howards says. "He was walking through the area shaking hands. Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, `I can't in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.' So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, `Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.' And then I walked away."

But the Secret Service did not take kindly to his comment. "About ten minutes later, I came back through the mall with my eight-year-old son in tow," Howards recalls, "and this Secret Service man came out of the shadows, and his exact words were, `Did you assault the Vice President?' "

Here's how Howards says he responded: "No, but I did tell Mr. Cheney the way I felt about the war in Iraq, and if Mr. Cheney wants to be shielded from public criticism, he should avoid public places. If exercising my constitutional rights to free speech is against the law, then you should arrest me."

Which is just what the agent, Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr, proceeded to do.

At the jail, the charge against him was reduced to harassment, he says, and he was released on $500 bond. The Eagle County DA's office eventually dropped that charge.

On October 3, Howards sued Reichle for depriving him of his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from illegal seizure.

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16 Responses:

  1. dr_memory says:

    "Did you assault the Vice President?"

    "No, I just peppered him."

  2. omarius says:

    I hope he wins his lawsuit, and then I hope he goes back in time, with Cheney, and wins it again.

    • Maybe Bush will just invoke the State Secrets act and make it all magically go away. :)

    • korgmeister says:

      Likewise. And I'm a certifiable right-wing death beast.

      If Cheney's allowed to tell Democratic politicans to go fuck themselves, then surely this dude's allowed to politely state his opinion on foreign policy.

    • decibel45 says:

      I'm curious as to how much choice the agent had in the matter. It wouldn't surprise me if the official policy is now to arrest people and "let the system sort it out" in cases like this.

      In any case, someone (the agent or the agency) should sure as hell have to compensate him.

  3. Three cheers for Howards!

  4. devilpump says:

    wow. Things sure are getting weird. Wonder if the Democrats if they get in power will be any saner.

  5. saltation_lj says:

    Aren't the police still hunting that farting dissident in Poland?

    [jwz] [avanova]

    There must be something going around.

  6. saltation_lj says:

    You know, what you Americans could do is consider putting together some sort of document that's legally binding even on the government, preventing and protecting against exactly this sort of governmental abuses of individual freedoms.

    You'd need some sort of snappy name for it. Call them "Rights" or something.

    Maybe, if you get together enough popular demand, you could overthrow the government and create a new one and incorporate these rights in your new Constitution.

    It's been done before.

    • now that would make us unlawful enemy combatants, enemies agsinst the states, and guilty of other treasonous acts, and then we would all get free airfare and housing in Cuba...