Secret Service questions college journalist over Bush editorial
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK The Secret Service has been accused of trampling on the free-speech rights of a college student who wrote a satirical editorial asking Jesus to "smite" President Bush.
The letter was published last week in the Stony Brook Press at the State University of New York campus in Stony Brook. It was written by Glenn Given, 22, the paper's managing editor.
Titled "Editorial: Dear Jesus Christ, King of all Kings, All I ask is that you smite George W. Bush," it also asked Jesus to strike down Bush's cabinet and MTV personality Carson Daly.
A faculty member apparently contacted authorities.
Given said two Secret Service agents and a campus police officer showed up Feb. 14 to interrogate him.
They had him sign waivers authorizing them to check his medical records, threatened to charge him with a crime and searched his apartment, according to a letter of protest sent to the Secret Service by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
"The editorial was clearly a form of satire and political hyperbole" in response to Bush's well-publicized devotion to Christianity, the letter said. "We believe it is inappropriate to harass a journalist, editor, writer or citizen for exercising his or her right to free speech."
Given said his work was "a piece of absurdity."
Tony Ball, a Secret Service spokesman in Washington, D.C., said the agency had received the letter, but declined to discuss the case.
"We take all threats seriously," Ball said. "We don't have the luxury to do otherwise."
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