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ACLU Defends Denver 3

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  • bigraccoon
    In 2005 Bush was going around the country talking up his Social Security plan. These activists obtained tickets to the taxpayer funded event, but when they
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2007
      In 2005 Bush was going around the country talking up his Social
      Security plan. These activists obtained tickets to the taxpayer
      funded event, but when they arrived in a car with bumper sticker
      "No blood for oil" which identified them as "opposing Bush" - they
      were pulled out of line and not allowed to enter the event. The
      White House said they weren't responsible - the decision was made
      by others. Now during trial proceedings a WH official admits it was
      White House policy to exclude potentially disruptive guests from
      Bush's appearances nationwide. Exactly what we've suspected
      - White House policy.

      Activists' Expulsion Cited as Bush Rule

      2005 FORUM IN DENVER By Bruce Finley - Denver Post Staff Writer
      03/03/2007

      A former White House official who ordered three activists expelled
      from a 2005 Denver public forum with President Bush says it was
      White House policy to exclude potentially disruptive guests from
      Bush's appearances nationwide.

      The former official, Steve Atkiss, revealed the policy Friday in an
      interview after two volunteer bouncers identified him and a current
      White House staffer, Jamie O'Keefe, as the officials who ordered the
      so-called Denver Three activists sent away from the event. The
      activists had done nothing to disrupt the forum, and two of them
      sued over the incident.

      In sworn legal depositions, bouncers Michael Casper and Jay Bob
      Klinkerman for the first time named the White House officials who
      they say ordered the Denver Three to be excluded.

      An American Civil Liberties Union legal team is challenging the
      expulsion in federal court, arguing that it violated the activists'
      constitutional free-speech rights. They had obtained tickets to
      attend the taxpayer-financed public forum about Social Security.

      Guests who disagree with Bush can stay at public forums if they are
      well-behaved, "but certainly, if there's an indication somebody's
      primary intent is to cause trouble, we are looking to avoid trouble,"
      said Atkiss, who now serves as a U.S. Department of Homeland
      Security Customs and Border Protection chief of staff.

      He was interviewed Friday by cellphone from an Alabama runway
      where he was waiting for a helicopter. "If it became obvious and
      apparent somebody is there to create a fuss, there was an effort
      made to ensure that didn't happen," Atkiss said.

      The expulsions before Bush's 2005 appearance in Denver happened
      at a time when "there was a concerted effort on the part of a lot of
      organizations to go way out of their way to intentionally disrupt the
      president's speeches," he said.

      ACLU attorneys now are planning to file a second case in U.S.
      District Court targeting the White House officials.

      White House security staff "certainly has the right to eject persons
      who try to shout a speaker down, block him from being heard or
      otherwise cause a disruption. But 'potentially' disruptive is not a
      legitimate reason to exclude persons from a public event," ACLU
      legal director Mark Silverstein said. "This is especially true in this
      case, where our clients were apparently labeled as potentially
      disruptive simply because they were perceived to disagree with the
      president." White House spokesman Blair Jones declined comment.

      Friday's revelations by the bouncers appeared to contradict a White
      House spokesman's assertion in 2005 that volunteers were
      responsible for ejecting the Denver Three - self-described
      progressives Alex Young, Leslie Weise and Karen Bauer. Only
      Young and Weise are involved in the federal lawsuit.

      That spokesman, Scott McClellan, who resigned last year, could not
      be reached for comment. McClellan at the time also said: "The
      White House wants a diversity of voices at these events."

      The ACLU team seeks a federal court ruling that a policy of excluding
      event guests violates the First Amendment. "We would hope, then,
      that the White House would change their policy," lead attorney
      Martha Tierney said.

      According to attorneys for both sides in the lawsuit, the bouncers
      testified that Casper told White House officials Atkiss and O'Keefe at
      the forum that several local volunteers had identified the activists as
      people with a history of disrupting political events. The White House
      officials then directed Casper to "please ask them to leave," which
      he did, the bouncers said in their depositions.

      "I don't think the law requires someone to actually become disruptive
      before you eject them," said Sean Gallagher, one of the attorneys
      defending Casper and Klinkerman. They had moved for the lawsuit
      to be dismissed, saying the bouncers operated under orders from
      federal officials and therefore were immune from lawsuits.

      A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied a motion to block the
      depositions.

      The incident happened March 21, 2005, shortly before Bush arrived
      for the forum at the Wings Over the Rockies museum in east
      Denver. Young, Bauer and Weise obtained tickets from the office of
      then-U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez. They arrived in a red Saab hatchback
      with a bumper sticker on the back: "No more blood for oil." They
      also wore "No more lies" T-shirts under their jackets.

      Klinkerman pulled them out of a line and told them to wait, then
      called Casper, who had heard from other Republican Party officials
      who deemed the three suspicious. The Secret Service later
      investigated whether a volunteer committed a crime of
      impersonating a federal agent. The U.S. attorney's office declined to
      press charges, giving no explanation.

      The Bush administration has run into trouble elsewhere after critics
      were ejected from Bush appearances. People in North Dakota
      complained they'd been put on a list of guests to be barred from a
      2005 event. The ACLU sued on behalf of two West Virginia residents
      arrested in 2004 after refusing to remove anti-Bush T-shirts at a
      campaign event.

      http://www.denverpost.com/ci_5341085





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