The Mantra of this Administration: Reward Your Friends and Punish Your Enemies.
They have been good at both, by using the various agencies of the government to reign terror upon citizens. The IRS, the FBI, OSHA, The Secret Service and more. The term Bully Pulpit has taken on a whole new meaning with this administration.
The Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups puts the federal government’s raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. in a new light, according to a recent Investor’s Business Daily editorial.
The government has accused Gibson of obtaining wood that was illegal in India and Madagascar. The government argues that this is a violation of the Lacey Act of 1900, which outlaws the use of plants and wildlife that have been taken or traded in violation of foreign law. Gibson stressed in 2011 that its Indian wood, which was seized by the government in a raid, was obtained via a Forest Stewardship Council-certified supplier, and that the Madagascar wood in question was obtained without violating Madagascar law… and it doesn’t stop there.
Tom Francois was visited by the Secret Service merely because he posted anti-Obama messages for his “large” Twitter following to read.
The Secret Service agents arrived at the home of Tom Francois and asked if they could come inside and take a look around. Noting that he had nothing to hide and not wanting to see his things tossed about if the agents were forced to wait for a warrant, the avid political cartoon creator let the men inside. Francois maintains that while he loathes Barack Obama’s policies, he has never threatened his being in any way, shape, or form. I scanned hundreds of Francois’ tweets (which were the cited reasons for the Secret Service agents arriving on the blogger’s porch), and saw nothing violent—just the same angst felt by millions of Constitution-loving patriots.
Francois was reportedly told by the Secret Service agents that his large Twitter following was a concern. While Tom does have a sizeable number of followers, his numbers do not make him anywhere near a household name – perhaps that is what President Obama was trying to prevent.
The Secret Service agents asked Francois to sign an Authorization to Review Medical and Mental Health Records form after a search premises document was signed. Tom signed the forms simply to facilitate matters so future visits would not be necessary. While the decision was both pragmatic and understandable, an American citizen should not feel compelled to share their medical and mental health records with the government simply because they exercised their First Amendment rights in front of 11,692 Twitter followers.
While the blogger’s signature was still drying on the intrusive documents, he was asked if he ever left his home state or traveled to Washington, D.C. The next question will not come as a shocker considering the current political climate. Secret Service agents asked Tom Francois is he owned any guns. President Obama apparently does not like either the First Amendment or the Second Amendment, and would probably be thrilled if we could just throw out the entire Constitution. A multitude of liberals feel the text the greatest nation in the world was founded upon is merely an outdated document anyway, so why would a Socialist-leaning president even bother to follow the freedom-ensuring dictates?
According to Tom Francois, Secret Service agents asked him if he had any intentions of “whacking” President Obama. The political cartoonist had this to say in response and during an Examiner interview:
“Of course not. I wish him no harm. I disagree with his policies and actions and I make no bones about it. It’s my First Amendment right and I intend to exercise it. I flat out told them I have never threatened Obama’s life! Yes, I despise him as you can plainly see, but I have that right! They actually admitted and agreed with me that I hadn’t threatened Obama. Yes, I am extremely critical of Obama in my posts, but I never cross the line and threaten his being. Ever. It’s just the idea of Obama’s Secret Service intruding on my life when they knew I wasn’t really a threat.”
The FBI reportedly compiled a thick file comprised of screenshots of Tom Francois’ Twitter posts. The agents also wanted to see the gun which a background check had already revealed Tom owned. When asked if they were loaded, Francois gave the same answer that any gun owner would utter, “What good are guns if they aren’t loaded?”
According to Tom, the Secret Service had this to say when he asked about why he was being harassed:
“They were concerned that since I have a large Twitter following, the things I said could be acted upon by some nut case out there! What the hell? They turned my life upside down for that?”
Francois also maintains that one Secret Service agent told him to be mindful of his actions, that “stepping over the line” means they will be back for his guns. Despite how much I loathe everything President Obama stands for, I would agree that any person who threatens the life of the president deserves to be in jail and have their world turned upside down – but only when such a violent threat has been made. A sarcastic cartoon posted on Twitter does not even come close to reaching a warrantless search or gun confiscation warning threshold.
The consent to search form Secret Service agents presented to Tom Francois allowed the men to search his computers, software, hardware, cell phones, date storage, and recording devices. The NSA could have saved the president’s men some time and just handed over all of Francois’ communications, since they have a massive facility filled with nearly all the same information on every single American citizen.
The privacy intrusion and trampling on the First Amendment did not end at Tom’s home. The Secret Service agents also paid a visit to his 22-year-old daughter’s house. The young woman was reportedly terrified about, not just what was unfolding in front of her, but for the safety of her father. The political cartoonist’s daughter stated that the agents told her that all the information would be turned over to Eric Holder, because he has the final word on what to do—if anything.
According to Nashville News Channel 5:
In the Nashville case, a Secret Service agent made a frantic call for backup to Nashville police after he and another agent went to the home of a Nashville man, investigating threatening comments on Facebook about the President. The man who posted them had refused to let the agents into his house.
“He shoved the door in our face and went around the corner. Looks like, we’re not sure if he … possibly he had a gun in his hands,” the agent told a 911 operator.
In a letter that he first sent to Secret Service headquarters, the Nashville police chief recounted what happened.