Tuesday, July 17, 2007

White House Manual for Silencing Critics


White House Manual for Silencing Critics

July 9, 2007 By Matthew Rothschild
So the truth comes out.

After a myriad of stories about people being excluded from events
where the President is speaking, now we know that the White House had
a policy manual on just how to do so.

Called the "Presidential Advance Manual," this 103-page document from
the Office of Presidential Advance lays out the parameters for how to
handle protesters at events.

"Always be prepared for demonstrators," says the document, which is
dated October 2002 and which the ACLU released as part of a new
lawsuit. (For a copy of the lawsuit or the document itself, go to

In a section entitled "Preventing Demonstrators," the document
says: "All Presidential events must be ticketed or accessed by a name
list. This is the best method for preventing demonstrators. People
who are obviously going to try to disrupt the event can be denied
entrance at least to the VIP area between the stage and the main
camera platform. . . . It is important to have your volunteers at a
checkpoint before the Magnetometers in order to stop a demonstrator
from getting into the event. Look for signs they may be carrying, and
if need be, have volunteers check for folded cloth signs that
demonstrators may be bringing."

In another section, entitled "Preparing for Demonstrators," the
document makes clear that the intention is to deprive protesters of
the right to be seen or heard by the President: "As always, work with
the Secret Service and have them ask the local police department to
designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed,
preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route."

The document also recommends drowning out protesters or blocking
their signs by using what it calls "rally squads." It states: "These
squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators. The
rally squad's task is to use their signs and banners as shields
between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the
demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive
chants to drown out the protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!). As a last
resort, security should remove the demonstrators from the event site."

The document offered advice on how to recruit members for such
squads: "The rally squads can include, but are not limited to,
college/young republican organizations, local athletic teams, and

The document does contain a warning in bold, however: "Remember-avoid
physical contact with demonstrators." It also advises to make sure
that whatever action is taken to drown out the demonstrators does
not "cause more negative publicity than if the demonstrators were
simply left alone."

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