Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

More On The "Homeland Security Agents" In Boise

Earlier this week, I blogged about a report that a Boise submariner and anti-war activist had been accosted by "Homeland Security agents" in the parking lot of the federal building he works at and told to remove banners from his car. Initially, I thought sounded a lot like the fake report made by a Dartmouth student last year about "Homeland Security agents" attempting to trample free speech. Then, I read another report that indicated that the encounter had been witnessed and tape recorded, so I figured it wasn't completely made up.

The story's starting to spread a little bit, as shown by this post at Boise Guardian, and another one at New West Network. (Still nothing at the Idaho Statesman, though.) My concern with the story, other than federal employees wasting their time bugging people who are clearly within their rights under the Hatch Act, is that the blogs that are covering the story are using moonbatty terms that threaten to erase whatever real news value the story might have.

The Boise Weekly story talks about "Homeland Security agents" as if they're some super-secret zampolit organization. It turns out, from what I've been told, that the "agents" involved were uniformed members of the Federal Protective Service. Not really a Gestapo agency, they "provide law enforcement and security services to over one million tenants and daily visitors to all federally owned and leased facilities nationwide" -- kinda like mall cops. It looks reasonable to assume that someone at Dwight Scarbrough's (the submariner) office complained about the truck in question, and someone at the local level made a decision to try to take care of it without really understanding the issues. When they found out that the submariner in question had done his homework, they backed off, and are getting a resolution at a higher level. My guess is that they'll get their pee-pees slapped for stepping over the line. Not really evidence of a great Rovian conspiracy to imprison all liberals.

I tried to comment over at the Boise Guardian on the issue, but my comment got rejected for being potentially "confusing" to the readers. (The webmaster had a point: I sarcastically discussed a potential "Bush/Cheney/Rove/Halliburton/Major League Baseball conspiracy" that I normally use over at BlameBush!, which I admit is confusing in normal discourse.) He offered to let me re-post my comment, but I decided to answer his article, and various commenters, here instead.

Staying at PD....


Blogger Vigilis said...

BH, to get a clearer idea about expressions of free speech, note restrictions at federal courthouses, the USPS post offices, etc, commissioned ships, etc.

We sacrifice for and expect to live in a society of law an ORDER. Personally, I do not wish to see federal employees distracting each other or the public with the equivalent of loud, anarchistic posters, clothing or automobile "attire," anymore than we can permit union activities to interfere with the conduct of our government's business.

Sure, lawyers take issue with opinions like mine, but then their incomes derive almost entirely from criminal activities and differences of opinion (they will tend to promote both).

What union is organized at Dwight's employer, if any? I should think a management employee (if he is) would have the good sense to observe equal or better decorum to that required by rank and file employees (probably who he has offended).

Free speech, no matter what, tends to be anarchistic. He is not only driving transportation to his place of employment, he is transporting partisan advertisement there (see the photo in your link). No shame on him for having his strong opinions, but he is attracting attention to himself in a disruptive manner. As owners his proxy employmers, how can we give this man credit for the sound business judgement?

Let me ask what might happen if you decorated your own vehicle as lavishly as Dwight's, drove regularly to your place of employment for about a month. Whatever extremes we allow to pass now will certainly bite us in the ass when our radical Muslims cite precedent.

2/20/2006 1:34 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Vigilis -- If I drove a truck like that to work, I'd expect to be told not to drive it anymore, and be fired if I persisted; that's because I don't work for the government anymore, so I'd be parking on private property. If an active-duty type was doing it, I'd say they're being prejudical to good order and discipline. In this case, since it's public property, and the Hatch Act is fairly specific, I think the FPS employees went over the line. If they were to put out a memo with a new "interpretation" of the Hatch Act to all federal employees, and train on it, and it survived the inevitable court challenge, then it'd be OK. I just don't like local GS-5s or whatever getting power-hungry and trying to enforce their own interpretation of the rules.
Of course, if they do make a new regulation about banner size, the next Democratic President will rescind it, and we'll see complaints when right-leaning Federal employees come to work with huge truck signs opposing various liberal causes.

2/20/2006 5:12 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

BH, remember, the next Democrat presidential candidate will probably be a lawyer, because the DNC is controlled by lawyers (Howard Dean is a very temporary figurehead).

2/20/2006 2:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an officer with the Federal Protective Service, but not in Boise, Idaho.

This is just a case of the FPS officers making a bad call on their citations. The regulation they used is intended to preserve federal buildings and grounds by not allowing anyone to randomly post signs or flyers on the premises, to keep the buildings from turning into giant bulletin boards or college dorms. The regulation certainly doesn't extend to bumper stickers on POVs (privately owned vehicles).

My personal advice, Mr. Scarborough should continue parking his vehicle on government property. If he is cited, he should not pay the fine, just wait for a court appearance date before a US magistrage judge (if it even gets that far -- the US Attorneys Office will probably just decline to press charges at all). At some point, clear-thinking, rational minds will assume control of the case and clarify that this regulation was improperly cited by the FPS officer.

There is no vast right-wing conspiracy here. My guess is that, as usual, the messages on his truck must have rubbed somebody the wrong way and they complained by making a phone call to the FPS office. The easiest thing for the FPS officer to have done would have been to just inform the complainers that no law or regulation was being violated and there was nothing that FPS could do. It could also be possible that if such a complaint took place, the officer may have been ordered to write the violation notice by a supervisor who did not have a good understanding of the regulation. Who knows. But this one is a no-brainer.

2/27/2006 4:51 AM

Anonymous loyal citizen said...

I'm so glad that you guys are out there in attack boats and boomers protecting my right to say anything that I feel with sooooooo much vigor and enthusiasm. I'm sure Scarborough appreciates your "service" too.

Heil Bush!

3/09/2006 8:56 PM


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