The bill known as HR 347 passed through Congress with little objection from either party and was signed by Obama.
In short, anyone protesting in the vicinity of the president or anyone the president deems must be protected by the Secret Service can be arrested on the spot and convicted of a felony. Part of the reason they can is that the Secret Service can decide that an area or building where someone in their protection is at is a “restricted area”; and inside that area, they can arrest you for heckling or protesting Obama. If you are convicted of protesting inside this restricted area or building, you can be sentenced up to ten years in a federal prison, or even sent to Guantanamo.
Before any of you decide that you have to run to Snopes to disprove this is even possible, here is their link….SNOPES HR 347
Snopes, in a hissy fit of credibility, decided to punt this one to a bunch of various legal types, including the ACLU, and then gave it a “Mixture” rating–meaning that it is partly true/partly false in the eyes of the liberal hosts that run Snopes.
Basically, I think they were covering their backsides on this one.
According to them, Gabe Rottman of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office opined that this bill did in fact made it easier for the Secret Service to abuse this statute:
H.R. 347 did make one noteworthy change, which may make it easier for the Secret Service to overuse or misuse the statute to arrest lawful protesters.
Without getting too much into the weeds, most crimes require the government to prove a certain state of mind. Under the original language of the law, you had to act “willfully and knowingly” when committing the crime. In short, you had to know your conduct was illegal. Under H.R. 347, you will simply need to act “knowingly,” which here would mean that you know you’re in a restricted area, but not necessarily that you’re committing a crime.
Any time the government lowers the intent requirement, it makes it easier for a prosecutor to prove her case, and it gives law enforcement more discretion when enforcing the law.
Think about what he just said: if you know you are in a restricted area and protest Obama, it is not necessary for the government to prove that you knew you were committing a crime, only that you knew where you were or that whoever you were protesting was there.
That, my friends, is what Snopes defines as a middle-of-the-road verdict.
Remember this episode?
Code Pink “willingly and knowingly” illegally crashed the Republican Convention and attempted to rush the stage where Senator John McCain was giving his acceptance speech. The previous version of this statute written in 1971 was in full force at the time, and it was the Secret Service’s responsibility to not only protect John McCain but to arrest Medea Benjamin (the founder of Code Pink) for her actions.
It didn’t happen; the real question is when will Obama use this bill to remove and ARREST anyone who protests him around the country?
If you are Code Pink, one of Obama’s biggest bundlers, you can rest assured that you will be gently asked to leave and escorted to the door.
Let’s just say Code Pink won’t be invited to any Easter Egg rolls on the White House lawn any time soon.
But if you are a member of the Tea Party, you might be going to jail…