Well, they're still not requiring us to salaam and shield our eyes whenever Bush's motorcade passes by (I guess that will come after the midterm elections), but it looks as if the presidency might turn a bit more imperial soon, according to (yes, really) Fox News:
A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any "special event of national significance" away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter.
Yup -- felony charges. And here's the kicker: The alleged felon doesn't even have to be anywhere near the alleged target:
Sen. Arlen Specter , R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored the measure, which would extend the authority of the Secret Service to allow agents to arrest people who willingly or knowingly enter a restricted area at an event, even if the president or other official normally protected by the Secret Service isn't in attendance at the time.
...the new provision would allow ... arrests even after those VIPs have left the premises of any designated "special event of national significance." The provision would increase the maximum penalty for such an infraction from six months to one year in jail.
..."You are talking about giving the executive branch broader authority to create these exclusion zones which could cover broad areas and last for days [during an event ]," David Kopel, a constitutional expert with the Cato Institute, told FOXNews.com....
The story goes on to cite "White House sources" who "say the measure was not instigated by the administration," but this stinks of Karl Rove (whose goal is to protect the securtity perimeter of every presidential photo op for the length of the news cycle during which it takes place). It also stinks of Dick Cheney, whose purchase of a house in Maryland has led to a permanent ban on overflights ("The no-flight zone, imposed last month, is in effect even when Cheney is not there") and a requirement that neighbors remain "barricaded in their homes while [his] motorcade passes by."
Can't wait to see what's next....