December 07, 2002
2600 REPORTS ON A PHOTOGRAPHER ARRESTED FOR PHOTOGRAPHING DICK CHENEY'S HOTEL:
As he was putting his camera away, Maginnis found himself confronted by a Denver police officer who demanded that he hand over his film and camera. When he refused to give up his Nikon F2, the officer pushed him to the ground and arrested him.
After being brought to the District 1 police station on Decatur Street, Maginnis was made to wait alone in an interrogation room. Two hours later, a Secret Service agent arrived, who identified himself as Special Agent "Willse."
The agent told Maginnis that his "suspicious activities" made him a threat to national security, and that he would be charged as a terrorist under the USA-PATRIOT act. The Secret Service agent tried to make Maginnis admit that he was taking the photographs to analyze weaknesses in the Vice President's security entourage and "cause terror and mayhem."
When Maginnis refused to admit to being any sort of terrorist, the Secret Service agent called him a "raghead collaborator" and a "dirty pinko faggot."
I find this story rather hard to believe -- though sadly not impossible. I wonder, though, if 2600 isn't making too much of the Patriot Act angle. Here's an InstaPundit item from August of 2001:
LOOSE THREADS IN THE SOCIAL FABRIC: Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn tells the story of a man who photographed some Amtrak cops in Chicago roughing up a drunk. The cops seized his camera and exposed the film. (He has witnesses). Zorn admits that this is a fairly minor civil rights violation, but he's right to say that things like this are important: "This claim shouldn't clog our courts. But it's worth noting because it describes one of those frequent little abuses that corrode respect for authority, breed mistrust and set even good people against those who ought to be their natural allies. The police may have gotten the film. But do they get the picture?"
The police took advantage of the fact that they were armed to intimidate this guy into surrendering his property. If you or I did the same thing, we'd be treated as criminals. Instead, the victim is being treated as a nuisance and a whiner. My advice: help him get some real revenge -- write your Congressperson and suggest they abolish Amtrak!
It's not unreasonable to question people who are taking pictures in a way that looks suspicious. The "confiscate the camera" impulse, however, is right out, though it's been a common one with law enforcement since long before 9/11. If this guy's story is true, he should sue and make a stink. He has just as much right to take pictures in a public place as someone working for The Rocky Mountain News.
And if Dick Cheney can't stay in a hotel without infringing the rights of people for blocks around, then he shouldn't stay in a hotel. He should stay on military bases, or stay home.
UPDATE: Via the World Wide Rant I find this report by Rob Carr of a somewhat similar experience, though only somewhat.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Wilde thinks this is probably a hoax.