Friday, February 04, 2005


I'm glad I'm not the only one who found this downright creepy: the White House assigning "handlers" to accompany journalists at the Inaugural events in Washington -- not to watch what they ask, but to keep an eye on their contacts:
Consider that the escorts weren't there to provide security; all of us had already been through two checkpoints and one metal detector. They weren't there to keep me away from, Heaven forbid, a Democrat or a protester; those folks were kept safely behind rings of fences and concrete barriers. Nor were the escorts there to admonish me for asking a rude question of the partying faithful, or to protect the paying customers from the prying media.

Their real purpose only occurred to me after I had gone home for the night, when I remembered a brief conversation with a woman I was interviewing. During the middle of our otherwise innocuous encounter, she suddenly noticed the presence of my minder. She stopped for a moment, glanced past me, then resumed talking.

No, the minders weren't there to monitor me. They were there to let the guests, my sources on inaugural night, know that any complaint, any unguarded statement, any off-the-reservation political observation, might be noted. But maybe someday they'll be monitoring something more important than an inaugural ball, and the source could be you.

I'm not sure which this reminds me more of: the Soviets or the Nazis. Either way, the totalitarian nature of this kind of intimidation should be self-evident.

[Via Pacific Views, via Tom Tomorrow.]

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