Cracked Writer Questioned By Secret Service Agents Over Humorous Article About Kidnapping President's Daughters

from the someone's-still-reading-the-entire-internet-every-day dept

Defenders of national surveillance have often asserted that the government (specifically, its intelligence and investigative agencies) isn't interested in your "emails/phone calls to Grandma" or your "cat videos." It's a stupid dodge which attempts to portray internet surveillance as only focused on legitimate threats to national security.

But the surveillance is omnipresent, and even those who would have honestly felt the government was unconcerned with their internet activities sometimes find themselves being questioned by Secret Service members over humorous articles that dared to invoke the word "President."

Cracked writer Daniel O'Brien, due to certain preoccupations with very specific subject matter, found himself chatting with two government agents due to a previously published humorous article (since removed, but archived here) that dealt with kidnapping the president's daughter. This, combined with research for his book, apparently got him flagged in a national security database.

I wrote a book about president fighting called How to Fight Presidents, which just came out today. It's a comedic nonfiction book that teaches you, appropriately enough, how to beat the crap out of every single lunatic who ran this country.

Or not every president. People who buy the book (which you can do right here or here) might notice that I've curiously left out every president that's still alive currently. Well, when you do the kind of research associated with this subject matter (Google "Bill+Clinton+weaknesses"), certain flags are raised, flags that the government takes notice of…

I won't get into the specifics of the article, but it was sort of a "how to" guide and has since been taken down (I've no doubt someone in the comments will clarify which article I'm talking about). In addition to having to take the article down, I also get stopped and pulled aside at airports five out of six times that I fly.
The end result was the Secret Service contacting Cracked's HR department in hopes of reaching O'Brien to "discuss" his "lightly treasonous" article. O'Brien's first contact with the Secret Service was via a phone conversation with an agent who explained (rather sympathetically) that while the agency had the capability to recognize satire, it had the duty to run out every ground ball, so to speak.
"I just mean I'm not some, I don't know, government dud. Believe it or not, I've got a sense of humor; most of us do around here. I know it's a comedy website, I know you're doing jokes. It just so happens that it's my job to pay attention when certain ... concepts are brought up online. That article, combined with your fascination with fighting presidents ... well, that's the kind of thing I need to know about."
However, his next stop was a trip to downtown Los Angeles to meet with two Secret Service agents who weren't quite as blessed in the humor department. The two agents were clearly taking the situation as seriously as anyone can take subject matter that describes President Jimmy Carter's daughter escaping a kidnapping vessel by "slicing through the ocean like a goddamned dolphin."

When O'Brien attempted to defend his humorous article by stating it was full of "impractical" and "useless" advice, the agents took it as an admission that he knew plenty of practical and useful ways to pull off the kidnapping of a First Child. The innate ability of the agents to use his own answers against him, as well as their apparent innate lack of a sense of humor, led to O'Brien being asked unanswerable questions like this one:
"In entry #2," Agent Hardass began, "you point out a number of common mistakes people make when breaking into the White House, including, quote, leaving either too much or not enough semen around, end quote. Why did you say that?"
Nothing makes a joke funnier than a long explanation of what's funny about it, and apparently O'Brien was forced to live through this particular form of post-joke hell for a majority of the two hours he was questioned.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to watch comedy as a concept die, I can assure you it's me sitting in a freezing room explaining to two angry government agents why "murder-boner" is an inherently more richly comedic pairing of words than "death-erection."
After exhausting the comedy-or-threat possibilities of O'Brien's article, the agents went on to more easily-answered (but equally difficult to prove) questions like, "Are you a terrorist?" and "Are you affiliated with any terrorist groups?" And... "Do you have the skeleton of Pocahontas stashed in your closet?"

So, all's well that ends well, I suppose, but O'Brien will likely be rewarded for his anti-presidential writings with extra attention at airports and a heightened sense of (mostly justifiable) paranoia. The government may not care about cat videos and grandma, but it still takes every joke about certain subject matter very seriously.

The NSA (and others) may claim they grab more data than content, but all this limitation really does is ensure your content and data will be completely divorced from their context. O'Brien wrote obviously satirical articles about presidents and had to go explain humor to Secret Service agents. Anyone else who says something that trips the surveillance triggers is now a potential national security target, and at the mercy of agencies that can work backwards through thousands of datapoints and content snippets, completely free to construct their own narrative from the context-free information just sitting around on their servers.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    I wonder...

    If you buy the book, can you be put on the No-Fly list?

    I wonder what people who think the NSA isn't spying on them have to say about this.

     

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  2.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:15pm

    Men in Black said it best

    "No ma'am, we here at the FBI do not have a sense of humor that we're aware of."

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    It's good to know that priorities are set appropriately. I mean, questioning a comedy writer over obvious satire is clearly far more important than, oh, I dunno, tracking down a hundred serial rapists. Because terrorism.

     

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  4.  
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    Timmy, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:37pm

    Wow, you just gotta wonder what the basis for clarifying that semen question was. I mean, have people broken into the White House and left semen around, or has semen been found around the White House and no-one would own up to it?

     

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  5.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    Finding him was easy, finding actual criminals takes work, of course they're going to go for the easy targets.

     

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    Trevor, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Oh Myyyyyy

    ""In entry #2," Agent Hardass began, "you point out a number of common mistakes people make when breaking into the White House, including, quote, leaving either too much or not enough semen around, end quote. Why did you say that?"

    I literally LOLed after I read that quote. Thanks Streisand Effect! Where can I find this book??

     

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  7.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    Well, who would want to own up to those drunk Navy seamen that passed out in the White House?

    Seriously, they're such a disgrace.

     

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  8.  
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    Lord_Unseen, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:45pm

    Re:

    The latter. Turns out it was just Clinton's though... Sorry about that joke, I'll see myself out.

     

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  9.  
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    Nick (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:48pm

    Ah, but think of the alternative! If the FBI is forced to adopt a sense of humor, then that means they won't investigate obvious jokes! Then the Terr'ists only have to "joke" about their plans in specific painstakingly accurate details and it will fly under our radar!

    The FBI: because having a sense of humor will cause another 9/11.

     

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  10.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    Yeah, don't forget we're paying these people to do this to us.

     

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    DogBreath, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    Good thing he didn't tell them his real name...

    is "Snake Plisskin", or he would be in Gitmo right now.

     

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  12.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:52pm

    So very close...

    Had the matter just been the original phone call, maybe a meeting with other agents also able to distinguish the difference between satire/humor and reality, I would have had no problem with the government's actions here.

    Write a book mentioning fighting presidents and kidnapping the daughter(s) of the president? Yeah, you really shouldn't be surprised if you get a little attention for that. However, as soon as it becomes clear that it is satire and completely fictional, then that should have been the end of it, drop it and move on to real threats, even if those take actual work to deal with.

     

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    Baron von Robber, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:09pm

    Um

    "After exhausting the comedy-or-threat possibilities of O'Brien's article, the agents went on to more easily-answered (but equally difficult to prove) questions like, "Are you a terrorist?" "

    Respond, "Um, aren't you a little more qualified to answer that question?!"

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    There is an intersection not too far from Stanford University that has a stop sign. It's on a popular road to bicycle on and most people on bicycles ignore the stop sign. For a long time, once a month the police would sit at the stop sign and give tickets to very bicycle that ran through it.

    One person had enough and when he was stopped, demanded to know why the police were harassing bicyclists. The officer answered, "We aren't harassing bicyclists. We have quotas of tickets to write, and bicycles are much easier to stop than cars."

    I'm sure the Secret Service enjoys investigations like this. The worst danger is not being able to keep a straight face while asking some of the questions and then having to beg for an autograph afterwards. Much better than going after real criminals that might shoot at you.

     

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  15.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Um

    Heh, government agents, 'qualified', good one.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    I wonder if the screenwriters for Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down got any special treatment

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:31pm

    In the article he says they requested he not write about it. That is the first thing I would have done. Furthermore, after the first time I got stopped by the TSA, I would have purchased some sort of covert recording device and traveled with it on every time after that to record more material for future pieces. The only thing it seems the government responds to is embarrassment.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:32pm

    Isn't it great to know your emails, phone calls, or any electronic communications are free from snooping? How more condemning that what we are being told is hog wash than this article?

    Some guy writes a book in humor, with obvious humor in it, and gets looked at for being serious. He does it very publicly I might add. Not something hidden in a dark corner or something. He's not saying go do something bad to political figures.

    Having nothing to hide takes on entirely different meanings when you run into something like this.

     

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  19.  
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    John, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:35pm

    Mass protest required

    I wonder how the Secret Service would handle a mass 24 hour protest where millions of users posted articles, blogs & searches with trigger words. Of course we could all end up no fly lists...hmm I might short sell airline stocks. I might as well profit if I can't travel.

     

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  20.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:39pm

    Re:

    They work for Hollywood, much like large portions of the government, so probably not.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Next Week's Cracked Article, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:42pm

    5 Mind-blowing Ways Cracked Can Prove They Are Not Affiliated with Dan O'Brien in Any Way, Shape or Form

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:47pm

    Re:

    Really? I'll leave this Lewis Black quote here for you...

    "You know a religion has no sense of humor, when a guy can stand up and say, ‘you know, if you commit suicide for Allah, after you die you will be met in heaven by 70 virgins,' and nobody in the room just goes, 'AHAHAHA! Son of a bitch! That was great!'"

    A lack of a sense of humor is part of the problem that causes people to become terrorists.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:51pm

    "Yes, I was totally going to kidnap the US president's daughters, while writing about it beforehand in a big media outlet".

    Morons.

     

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  24.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    This article has nothing to do with surveillance. They were questioning him about things he published. I don't really have a problem with the Secret Service spidering the net. It's public information. They can get Google alerts just like anyone else. And they can make their own Internet Archive. Why not?

    The end of the article makes it seem like the Secret Service reading web pages and books is some sort of police intrusion. I think of it as the patrol car on the beat. They should do that, and I'd be shocked if they didn't.

    Really, this article is good news. The headline should read Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence. That's something we can't take for granted anymore.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    How are they recognizing innocence if the author is now curiously pulled aside at airports for extra screening just about every time he travels?

     

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  26.  
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    Nick (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re:

    As is typical of the internet, after posting this and reading your response, I realize the massive gobs of sarcasm I heaped upon my keyboard did not translate through to my post as I'd hoped.

     

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  27.  
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    Jake, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:36pm

    You know... I have to admit that if I had their job, I wouldn't find this kind of thing all that funny either.

    Besides, I've seen enough of the comment threads under Cracked articles that I could totally believe there's someone out there who'll read this book and decide to go out and do everything in it.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Re: So very close...

    Fuck the President and the Secret Service.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Re: Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    Bent must think that the author's freedom is outweighed by his own false sense of security.

    Being unreasonably stopped and questioned, coerced into removing published work and told to cease making similar work by overpaid government workers, some of whom realize the stupidity of what they are doing, is just something that Bent thinks we have to accept as a good thing.

     

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  30.  
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    JMT (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:07pm

    Re:

    "...has semen been found around the White House and no-one would own up to it?"

    "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

     

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  31.  
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    JMT (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    "Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence"

    ...by putting him on a national security database of innocent people, so he can be stopped at the airport and reminded of his innocence...

     

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  32.  
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    Zos (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:26pm

    If you've ever wondered what it's like to watch comedy as a concept die, I can assure you it's me sitting in a freezing room explaining to two angry government agents why "murder-boner" is an inherently more richly comedic pairing of words than "death-erection."


    this wins the internet for the day. i'm turning off my computer and going to bed, because nothing will beat this quote.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:32pm

    Re:

     

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  34.  
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    Gracey (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    So now, the US has given the terrorists the ideal plan. Have one terrorist be the comedian, make and publish videos and jokes about how to get rid of the president ... then when all the agents are busy stomping on the terrorist comedian, the terrorists can get on with it.

    Nice diversion. Provided by the US itself. Good job.

     

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  35.  
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    Beech, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    Consider the Source

    I would take this article with a large sized grain of salt. This is a comedy writer, not a news reporter. His primary goal is to entertain, not convey a 100% accurate depiction of events. He also has a book to shamelessly plug.

    Did he actually get interviewed by the Secret Service? Maybe.
    Is it believable that he faithfully quoted the agents verbatim, without taking any artistic liberties? Doubtfull.
    Can we trust him enough to actually write a whole article about it without liberally sprinkling in the word "allegedly"? I wouldn't, personally.
    Is Cracked.com really a reliable source?

     

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  36.  
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    justok (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Re: So very close...

    Just don't leave too much or too little semen around.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Consider the Source

    "Can we trust him enough to actually write a whole article about it without liberally sprinkling in the word "allegedly"?"

    He is thousand tines over more trustworthy than *any* governmental agency

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 6:34pm

    Re: Consider the Source

    Clearly the NSA thinks so...

     

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  39.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Consider the Source

    Trust a comedy writer to accurately describe an event caused by one of his books?

    Yeah, there could very well be some 'exaggerations' in there.

    Trust a comedy writer's version of events over that of a government official's of the same event(assuming they didn't just respond with 'No comment')?

    These days?

    Without hesitation.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 6:45pm

    Poe's Law

    Honestly that article leaves me completely uncertain if he was being sincere or just satire. It is disturbing that the government seems to have decided the best defense to satirization is to go beyond parody.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Mass protest required

    I have no doubt they would, without the slightest hint of shame, self-awareness, or common sense, declare that we were putting the nation at risk by overloading them with false positives.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 7:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah ok, happens to the best of us. :)

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re: Consider the Source

    Sadly, in much the same way that the Daily Show is a much more trustworthy news source than the mainstream media. (No sarcasm intended.)

     

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  44.  
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    Bob, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 8:01pm

    Re: I wonder...

    Maybe they'll post here and let you know... they are watching ;)

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 8:15pm

    Re: Poe's Law

    well, we live in a world were the satire of today is the news of tomorrow.

    I just wish it wasn't so.

     

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  46.  
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    Baron von Robber, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 9:32pm

    Re: Re: Um

    " qualified" not "competent"

     

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    Baron von Robber, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 9:32pm

    Re: Re: Um

    " qualified" not "competent"

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 10:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    Even assuming not everything was word-for-word in the blog post, it's still an overreach if they were told to take the article down. (And his Tumblr says: "A lot of commenters have asked how much of this story was true and, while no one has any reason to believe me, I promise it’s all true, right down to the fact that I still get randomly stopped at airports.")

    He probably should have just taken the fifth instead of responding to their questions. What did responding get him, if he's been put on their watchlists anyway?

    It might be different if the article actually gave information like a list of places the children were likely to be or where the Secret Service protection was weakest. The article contained nothing like that, not even in satire. In fact, it assumed you've ALREADY kidnapped them and can't remember why, so it contained literally nothing on how to actually kidnap them. It gave "advice" like putting them in a hot-air balloon to return them, and "try not to wet yourself too aggressively when the judge sentences you to a slow and embarrassing death."

    The writer should not even have been interviewed by the Secret Service. That should be reserved for actual credible or semi-credible threats. Not writers of four-year-old humor articles.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 11:07pm

    Wonder how much thought police get payed an hour, and if generally the pre-requirement is having to be a dick.

    Oh no's, i have bad thoughts, arrest me, arrest me, i speak negatively

     

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  50.  
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    btrussell (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 11:59pm

    Re:

    He would have to be a real jerk-off to get the right amount of semen.

     

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  51.  
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    David, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 1:44am

    Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    Why would the FBI track down a hundred serial rapists?

    They are perfectly capable of screwing the public without reverting to contractors.

     

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  52.  
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    Ninja (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 2:50am

    Do you have the skeleton of Pocahontas stashed in your closet?

    Why yes, I just don't know if it is from Disney or James Cameron. That would have been a most proper reply.

     

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    Violynne (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 3:32am

    I read O'Brian's article as a joke. :/

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 3:32am

    This honestly sounds like something the British would do.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 4:33am

    Re: Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    "It's public information. They can get Google alerts just like anyone else. And they can make their own Internet Archive. Why not?"

    If they weren't doing it with your money, you might have enough to store all that data yourself. Then they could ask you or someone like you for the relevant data.

    These are your tax dollars at work. Hows the homeless situation in the states?

    It is nice to know where peoples priorities are.

     

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  56.  
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    Robert, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 4:41am

    Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    Would have been a great deal more satirical if he had used drawn images or used none at all. Using real pictures of the presidents actual children definitely does push it into the poor taste area and does skirt the edges of requiring further investigation, no pictures or just drawings fine, actual pictures of the presidents children and talking about kidnapping, that author and the editor responsible deserve a good old whack on the back of the head for stupidly crossing the line.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    Oh yes, all of those horrible real pictures that anyone can just find on google.

    Or did you think he was walking around with a camera taking pictures of them?

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 6:54am

    Yet ANOTHER example of Techdirt doublespeak

    This is what the Secret Service DOEs. What do you want? You expect them to ignore it because why? For some arbitrary judgement that THIS guy's not dangerous ? If they did do that, YOU'D be the first to use it as a reason why some KKK member who was "just joking" should be ignored also. So would the KKK>

    See, the way this works and the REASON it has integrity is JUST BECAUSE they don't make exceptions for, any reason. Threaten the security of POTUS or his family and say hello to the Secret Service. It's just like that.

    Now, when they're talking to you they'll apply the "common sense" and good judgement you think they lack and adjudicate each case on its specific merits. But not before. That's called a fair and transparent system, something you claim you're all about the the government lacks. It's completely transparent- you know how to get the Secret Service to come calling. It's fair- no one gets special treatment.

    In the UK, their version of the Secret Service paid a visit to Morrissey after The Queen Is Dead came out because of the lyrics . I loved that album, I like the Smiths and I understand why they had to interview him also. Adults can resolve seemingly dissonant and opposite social forces in into a sophisticated nuanced understanding of the world they live in. Why can't you?

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Alan, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    "He probably should have just taken the fifth instead of responding to their questions. What did responding get him, if he's been put on their watchlists anyway?"

    If I was in his situation, my fear would be that taking the 5th may mean taking more rubber glove treatment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Security Apparatus Recognizes Innocence

    Nowhere does it say he was coerced into removing it. I just points out that it is no longer there. It likely was a decision made by the editors on the advice of their legal department to avoid further problems from the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 8:09am

    Re: Yet ANOTHER example of Techdirt doublespeak

    "See, the way this works and the REASON it has integrity is JUST BECAUSE they don't make exceptions for, any reason. Threaten the security of POTUS or his family and say hello to the Secret Service. It's just like that."

    Ah, an argument for zero tolerance policies. Because those have proven to work SO well. Zero tolerance policies remove the possibility of common sense ever being a factor. They remove any chance of logic or reason entering into the situation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 8:11am

    That funny secret service

    You know, it might very well be that those LA agents had a much greater sense of humor than they're being credited for. I have to admit, when I read the article, I found myself thinking if I were in their shoes, I'd be sorely tempted to play it the same way: treat a ludicrous situation with exaggerated gravity while asking patently hilarious dead-pan questions.

    It's like performance art!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 8:28am

    Re: Men in Black said it best

    I must be a fed.

    From what I've read, the book isn't funny at all. Mildly humorous at best.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 8:51am

    Re: Men in Black said it best

    "may we come in?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Jake, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re:

    This is not an insurmountable hurdle, I assure you...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 11:36am

    Re: Yet ANOTHER example of Techdirt doublespeak

    The issue isn't that the secret service investigated. It's the the secret service, once they could plainly see that the author was not actually a threat, punished him anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 11:42am

    Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    The Secret Service isn't in the business of tracking down rapists. That's a violation of state law. The USSS has no jurisdiction or mandate to enforce state law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    > For a long time, once a month the police
    > would sit at the stop sign and give tickets
    > to every bicycle that ran through it. One person
    > had enough and when he was stopped, demanded
    > to know why the police were harassing bicyclists.

    Good for the cops. It's nice to see those arrogant bikers put in their place for once. I get so sick of their entitled attitudes, constantly lecturing everyone else about how they're as legally entitled to use the road as cars are, and they're considered vehicles just like all the others. And those same jerkoffs that get on their high horse about being legally entitled to the road are the ones who blow right through stop signs, blast past pedestrians in crosswalks and ride on the sidewalks, all of which is illegal and applies to bicycles as much as it does cars and trucks.

    They're only concerned about the law when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn't.

    /end of rant

    (Apologies for the personal pet peeve - I live in a beach community that is plagued with these asshole bicyclists who demand their 'right' to the road, but never follow any of its rules.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    > The worst danger is not being able to keep
    > a straight face while asking some of the
    > questions and then having to beg for an
    > autograph afterwards.

    If you think those agents had any desire to get an autograph from some no-name writer for humor blog, then you're living in a fantasy world.

    Secret Service agents constantly interact with the top A-list celebrities in every field-- movies, TV, sports, etc.-- day due to the nature of their job. The idea that they'd be so star-struck by Daniel O'Brien from Cracked that they'd be begging for his autograph is idiotic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    Broad brush much?

    You may have a problem with jerkwad bicyclists in your area, but it's not like that everywhere. Where I live, bicyclists are no more or less jerkwads than people in cars are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    I think you need to change the batteries in your sarcasm detector.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    icon
    Hot Corn (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 6:18pm

    Re: I wonder...

    The NSA surveillance issue is no isolated anomaly; consider, along with some of Giorgio Agamben's works, the medical experiments famously conducted on helpless American prisoners by other governmental agencies. Luckily Mr. O'Brien's satire was "clear" enough for him to avoid being arrested, prosecuted under various pretexts, and sent to the Rikers Island penal colony. See the documentation of America's leading "criminal satire" trial at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, Mar 20th, 2014 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Yet ANOTHER example of Techdirt doublespeak

    Hmm... Let me think...
    The KKK has actually taken action before (I.e. Lynch mob).
    This guy obviously has done nothing against the current or past President, and only a galactic level moron would be capable of thinking his book is threatening. I think those Secret Service agents should have a doctor with them at all times. In case they forget how to breathe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2014 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Great use of taxpayer dollars and government resources

    You have to realize, bicycles do not pose the same dangers as cars. At risk of sounding like an obsessive liberal, bikes are certainly "disadvantaged", and I believe they "deserve" more rights than they currently have. However, unlike cars they do not pose the same risk when they utilize these rights. If I'm on a bike and I speed past a stop sign, the realistic worst that could happen is that *I* would be the one getting hurt, whereas if a car does that, it can severely injure or kill someone. To all the people pissed off about cyclists who don't follow the same rules cars do, remember that you are able to go significantly faster than them (so stop complaining that they waste 10 seconds of your life), you can get into crashes and come out angry only about a bent fender, and not a broken skull, you can be sit in the warm padded interior with your heater or AC on while eating chips, and yet you complain that a cyclist isn't getting pulled over when they speed on bike paths, or go don't come to a full stop at stop signs, or god forbid, they go through a red light when there's no one for a mile around. If you're worried about having to avoid hitting a reckless cyclist and getting in trouble for what they did, then that points to a need to change the law to reduce your responsibility if the cyclist is irresponsible, not a heavy enforcement on what people on bikes are not allowed to do.

    In summery, your pet peeve seems quite unjustified. Those "asshole" bicyclists are less dangerous than you, and still go slower than you. What's unfair about giving them an advantage of having less enforced rules because... you guessed it, they are less dangerous when they break those rules!
    /rant


    Now to get on topic with the actual article, I must say this zero tolerance policy is utterly ridiculous. There's no shadow of a doubt that this is parody. It's not even remotely close to being affected by Poe's Law, because it's clear, obvious parody. These assholes are just giving us more excuses to remain (justifiably) paranoid about our government. I mean, this is 1st amendment violations plain and simple, it's our government interfering with our right to freedom of speech, even if you take into account the "exceptions" (btw, a right is by definition absolute, if there are exceptions and if it's revocable, then it's a privilege, not a right, and the name "rights" is just kept there to make us feel as if we're actually not utterly dominated by big brother).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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