Cracking Down on Protests

| Tue Jan. 31, 2006 4:48 PM PST

The Secret Service will have a much easier time breaking up protests and arresting protestors if the latest version of the Patriot Act passes, according to Fox News:

A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any "special event of national significance" away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored the measure, which would extend the authority of the Secret Service to allow agents to arrest people who willingly or knowingly enter a restricted area at an event, even if the president or other official normally protected by the Secret Service isn't in attendance at the time.Just to be clear, the Secret Service already has the power to haul demonstrators away on felony charges if they breach a "security perimeter" while the president or other VIPs are around. But now, apparently, that power's being extended to occasions when no one important is in the area. From the looks of things, the Secret Service could name just about anything they wanted a "special event of national significance" and lock up anyone who crashes. Why? What possible security purpose does this serve, besides clamping down on dissent?

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