Secret Service investigates cartoonist
- In this "free" society, sometimes even being funny can get one in trouble.
The following article, attributed to the Associated Press, appeared on page
A8 of the Wednesday, July 23, 2003 edition of The Arizona Republic and
is available at this url:
SECRET SERVICE ASSAILED FOR CARTOONIST INQUIRY
Washington--The Secret Service used "profoundly bad judgment" in seeking to
question a Los Angeles Times cartoonist over a political cartoon depicting a
man pointing a gun at President Bush, a senior House Republican said Tuesday.
Representative Christopher Cox, Republican of California, chairman of the
House Homeland Security Committee, said that the Secret Service owed Pulitzer
Prize-winning cartonist Michael Ramirez an apology and that "the public is
owed an explanation both of whoo this happened and why it will not happen
The use of "federal power to attempt to influence the work of an editorial
cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times," Cox said in a letter to U.S. Secret
Service Director Ralph Basham, "reflects profoundly bad judgment."
The Times, in an article in its Tuesday edition, said a Secret Service agent
visited the paper's Los Angeles office for what he said was a routine inquiry
following the Sunday publication of Ramirez's cartoon. The agent talked to a
Times attorney but was told he could not speak to Ramirez.
The cartoon is a takeoff on a chilling 1968 photograph from the Vietnam War
showing Vietnamese police General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting a man he said
was a Viet Cong in the right temple on a Saigon street.
In the cartoon, the man pointing the gun at a caricature of the president
has "politics" written across his back, and there's a sign on the street
scene in the back reading "Iraq."
The Times quoted Ramirez as saying he was not advocating violence against
Bush but trying to show that the president is the target of political
assassination because of his State of the Union address, in which he used
faulty intelligence to back up claims of Iraq's nuclear weapons program.