Laurel Rosenhall and Ryan Lillis / Sacramento Bee & Don Thompson / Associated Press – 2006-10-16 08:59:19
US Agents Threaten Girl for anti-Bush Page on MySpace
Laurel Rosenhall and Ryan Lillis / Sacramento Bee
(October 13, 2006) — Julia Wilson, 14, got a surprise visit from two Secret Service agents Wednesday at McClatchy High after the words “Kill Bush” appeared on MySpace.com. Her mom, Kirstie Wilson, says she should have been present when her daughter was questioned.
The latest Sacramento resident to be questioned by federal agents in possible threats against President Bush is a 14-year-old girl with a heart on her backpack and braces on her teeth, a freckle-nosed adolescent who is passionate about liberal politics and cute movie stars.
Her name is Julia Wilson, and she learned a vivid civics lesson Wednesday when two Secret Service agents pulled her out of biology class at McClatchy High School to ask about comments and images she posted on MySpace.
Beneath the words “Kill Bush,” Julia posted a cartoonish photo-collage of a knife stabbing the hand of the president. It was one of a few images Julia said she used to decorate an anti-Bush Web page she moderated on MySpace, the social networking Web site that is hugely popular among teenagers.
The Secret Service refused to answer questions about the case or even confirm an investigation. Eric Zahren, a Secret Service spokesman, said the agency does not discuss its work “due to the sensitivity of our mission.”
But Julia’s mother, Kirstie Wilson, and an assistant principal at McClatchy High said two agents showed them badges stating they were with the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
Federal law prohibits making serious threats against the president, and Julia and her parents say what she did was wrong.
The couple are disturbed, however, that federal agents questioned a child at school — without her parents present. And First Amendment lawyers question whether the Secret Service over-reacted to a 14-year-old’s comments on a Web site made for casual socializing.
“I don’t condone what she did, but it seems a little over the top to me,” said Julia’s father, Jim Moose. “You’d think they could look at the situation and determine that she’s not a credible threat.”
Earlier this month, federal officials arrested two Sacramento-area men for allegedly threatening the president. Elk Grove resident Michael Lee Braun has been charged with sending two threatening letters to the El Dorado Hills country club where Bush recently made an appearance. Rocklin resident Howard J. Kinsey is accused of threatening the president through a text message.
Here is how Julia Wilson’s family tells their story:
Two Secret Service agents arrived at their Land Park home about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon, Kirstie Wilson said. They told her they wanted to speak with her daughter about threats to the president that she had posted on MySpace.
“She was in molecular biology, and I said I really didn’t want to take her out of class for this,” Kirstie Wilson said. “I said I’d make sure she came right home from school.”
She asked the agents to come back in an hour, and they left. Then Wilson sent her daughter a text message instructing her to come straight home from school.
“… there are two men from the secret service that want to talk with you. Apparently you made some death threats against president bush. Dont worry youre not going to jail or anything like that but they take these things very seriously these days,” Kirstie Wilson wrote.
“Are you serious!?!? omg. Am I in a lot of trouble”? her daughter replied, using common teenage shorthand for “Oh, my God.”
Kirstie Wilson called her husband. While they were on the phone, she received another text message from her daughter: “They took me out of class.”
It was a 15- to 20-minute interview, Julia said. Agents asked her about her father’s job, her e-mail address, and her Social Security number. They asked about the MySpace page she had created last year as an eighth-grader at Sutter Middle School.
“I told them I just really don’t agree with Bush’s politics,” Julia said Thursday. “I don’t have any plans of harming Bush in any way. I’m very peaceful; I just don’t like Bush.”
The MySpace page under question was a group page, similar to an online club. Most of the groups Julia is a part of are fan clubs for movie stars like Jake Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor. The group that got her in trouble was called something like “People who want to stab Bush” — Julia said she doesn’t remember the exact name because she soon changed it.
After an eighth-grade history lesson in which she learned that threatening the president is against the law, Julia said she changed the group name to “So Bush is an idiot but hey what else is new?”
The group primarily consisted of her teenage friends who share her liberal political interests, Julia said. She deleted the group page over the summer when she decided that MySpace was juvenile and taking up too much time.
Moose and Wilson say they had no idea what their daughter had posted online.
“I was more than happy to have them talk to her about the severity of what she did. But I wanted to be here with her,” Kirstie Wilson said.
McClatchy Assistant Principal Paul Belluomini said he usually does not notify parents when law enforcement officials come to school to interview students. “Parents usually interfere with an investigation, so we usually don’t notify them until it’s done,” he said.
Sacramento City Unified School District policy calls for parents to be notified but doesn’t say whether it should happen before or after a student is interviewed. State law doesn’t require parental notification.
In any case, said Ann Brick, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Julia Wilson’s post did not sound like a “true threat” to the president, making it political speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
“The courts have to distinguish between political rhetoric and hyperbole and a real threat,” Brick said. “A reasonable person would have to interpret what was said as indication of a serious intent to commit harm.”
Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, said in the current political climate, “the threshold that brings (agents) in has gotten lower.
“It’s a cautionary tale for kids who are on MySpace that putting something on MySpace like ‘Kill the President’ is not the same as saying it on e-mail or over the phone,” Scheer said. “The government is not systematically listening to all phone calls or going through e-mails, but it probably does search the Internet.”
The Bee’s Laurel Rosenhall can be reached at (916) 321-1083
Teen Questioned for Online Bush Threats
Don Thompson / Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Oct 14, 2006) — Upset by the war in Iraq, Julia Wilson vented her frustrations with President Bush last spring on her Web page on MySpace.com. She posted a picture of the president, scrawled “Kill Bush” across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She later replaced her page on the social-networking site after learning in her eighth-grade history class that such threats are a federal offense.
It was too late.
Federal authorities had found the page and placed Wilson on their checklist. They finally reached her this week in her molecular biology class.
The 14-year-old freshman was taken out of class Wednesday and questioned for about 15 minutes by two Secret Service agents. The incident has upset her parents, who said the agents should have included them when they questioned their daughter.
On Friday, the teenager said the agents’ questioning led her to tears.
“I wasn’t dangerous. I mean, look at what’s (stenciled) on my backpack – it’s a heart. I’m a very peace-loving person,” said Wilson, an honor student who describes herself as politically passionate. “I’m against the war in Iraq. I’m not going to kill the president.”
Her mother, Kirstie Wilson, said two agents showed up at the family’s home Wednesday afternoon, questioned her and promised to return once her daughter was home from school.
After they left, Kirstie Wilson sent a text message to her daughter’s cell phone, telling her to come straight home: “There are two men from the secret service that want to talk with you. Apparently you made some death threats against president bush.”
“Are you serious!?!? omg. Am I in a lot of trouble?” her daughter responded.
Moments later, Kirstie Wilson received another text message from her daughter saying agents had pulled her out of class.
Julia Wilson said the agents threatened her by saying she could be sent to juvenile hall for making the threat.
“They yelled at me a lot,” she said. “They were unnecessarily mean.”
Spokesmen for the Secret Service in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., said they could not comment on the case.
Wilson and her parents said the agents were justified in questioning her over her MySpace.com posting. But they said they believe agents went too far by not waiting until she was out of school.
They also said the agents should have more quickly figured out they weren’t dealing with a real danger. Ultimately, the agents told the teen they would delete her investigation file.
Assistant Principal Paul Belluomini said the agents gave him the impression the girl’s mother knew they were planning to question her daughter at school. There is no legal requirement that parents be notified.
“This has been an ongoing problem,” said Ann Brick, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in San Francisco.
Former Govs. Pete Wilson and Gray Davis vetoed bills that would have required that parents give consent or be present when their children are questioned at school by law enforcement officers. A similar bill this year cleared the state Senate but died in the Assembly.
Julia Wilson plans to post a new MySpace.com page, this one devoted to organizing other students to protest the Iraq war.
“I decided today I think I will because it (the questioning) went too far,” she said.
© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Online Comments in Response to Sacramento Bee Article
• Criticism of Der Fuhrer Is Verboten! See: The Furhrer’s New Enabling Act and More
• Anyone mature enough to be on the internet alone should have known better than to use the words and graphics she used. I share her contempt for the criminals in the Bush regime, but come on.
• Kinda sheds some light on why the SS let the Prez continue with the goat story though doesn’t it? They KNEW he was in no danger. (Reply to this)
• Maybe if Bin Laden got a myspace page Bush would be able to get him?
• “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.”
• Nothing to see here, shut up, mind your business, go back to shopping. Give us your taxes, we will protect you. Spend,Spend, Spend and get use to it, either you are with us or you are against us. I am the Great Decider
• Two important issues this article raises. First the principal of the HS arrogantly states he intentionally directs students to be interrogated by Homeland Security or law enforcement without parental involvement. Sounds like the principal has issues with parental rights and students right to counsel, especially at fourteen. Secondly, the agents demand of the fourteen year old student’s social security number and the father’s employment background. Was this meant as a thinly veiled attempt to threaten the economic viability of this family? On a fundamental level, so much of this story bothers me, as an American citizen, that I am frothing at the mouth.
• Agreed. I was livid upon first coming across this article. Keep in mind this happened in Scwarzneggerland. Kalifornia is going militarized police state bigtime. See this from today: Ex-Admiral Is Named New L.A. Schools Chief
• You shouldn’t doubt “the threat” for a second. It’s there.
• So the SS is checking this teen out for making threats? This PROVES that they saw no threat on 9-11 when they let the President sit in a classroom reading to kids while the country was “under attack”. We really should instruct our kids to firmly refuse to be interrogated by anyone without parents and attorney present.
• Ok,so here we have a child of (14) five or six state’s away from “He Who Can’t Put A Complete Sentance Together” making a childish threat that could never be carried out and not one but two armed seceret service bozo’s yank her out of class (no child left behind sounds rather ominious all the sudden huh?) and de-brief her regarding matters un-connected… such diligance pryior to 9/11, what with all the advance warnings and dare I say just a tad of insider tradeing by those who dubya wont even look for may have interfeared with and or put a complete stop to the carnage.Oh, thats right children are just play things meant to be recepiants of X-rated e-mail filth sent by perverts that state for all to hear how badly their locking up for life is desired…wake up people were not in Kansas anymore
• I mean…seriously. Why shouldn’t Bush (the Satanic, evil animal, who laughed as he put people to death as governor of Texas) be put to death? After all, he IS responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghanis (not to mention the thousands he murdered in the WTC on 911). In this country, that is an offense, for which the punishment is death. So, as I see it, Bush deserves to be put to death. It is insane that average people are put to death for far less serious offenses, but an animal, like George Bush, can get away with mass murder, fraud and theft. I say, put Bush to death and the world will be far better off for it. While we’re at it put the entire Bush mafia to death. Now, SS fascist troopers, come visit me.
• Add her to the growing list of people censored in America. Currently, the US gov’t detains protestors, bans books like “America Deceived” from Amazon, and fires 21-year tenured, physics professor Stephen Jones because he proved explosives, thermite in particular, brought down the WTC buildings. Censorship has arrived and will get worse. Be defiant, support indy media (while it’s still around). Final link (before Google Books caves to censorship and drops the title): America Deceived (http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?&isbn=0-595-38523-0)
• My family and I suffered the same fate as Julia did. Two SOB from the SS (New American Gestapo) came to the door at home without any grounds, just because my wife and I were Arabs. Guess what, I am now living in Mexico with my family and nobody calls me terrorists or Arab niger, etc, etc. Bush is the new Hitler of the world and he is using any means to control us and the world. Similar to Hitler, he will be destroyed.
• Okay, people. It seems as though we’re going through a time-warp into Nazi Germany 68 years ago. It’s been five years since the Patriot Act (eerily similar to Hitler’s Enabling Act, and the circumstances are also eerily similar…)
The description in the first paragraph reminds me of Bush and his love for “signing statements.”
• This prick thinks he’s ABOVE the law. (And he IS.)
• And we’re building our own Auschwitzes and Dachaus thanks to Cheney’s Halliburton.
• But I highly doubt to a degree of near-certainty (~99%) that these detention centers are for illegal immigrants. After all, big business just loves illegal workers. Now that Bush’s new torture bill has passed Congress, kiss our First Amendment rights goodbye. I’d wager those detention facilities are for dissenters.
• If there’s one piece of wisdom I must impart upon all who read this, it is this: The people of Nazi Germany were conned with massive propaganda, and as such, they practiced blind obedience and patriotism. They thought they were the sit, and on top of the world. And now, I wonder why more people don’t fail HISTORY class… because it’s obvious that HISTORY is about to repeat itself. (Then again, school is all about dumbing kids down to the point where they cannot think for themselves and follow orders blindly.)
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