2600 has received a tremendous amount of correspondence regarding the December 4th edition of "Off The Hook," and the news article that followed, in which Mike Maginnis told his story of harassment by the Secret Service.
Although many readers find Maginnis's story highly believable, others have criticized the article due to a lack of corroborating evidence. It is true that Maginnis was given no paperwork in relation to his ordeal, and so far no one has come forward as a witness to Maginnis's arrest across from the Adams Mark Hotel in Denver.
Quite a number of people have written in with similar stories of harassment for taking
pictures of everything from trains to motorcades to public buildings. Others
have expressed a degree of skepticism, some even accusing us of all kinds of
things from being anti-American to engaging in shoddy journalism. As much
as we disagree and find offense in such statements, we actually
understand much of the feeling behind such anger. We believe this outrage
is a not-so-distant relative of the outrage that we feel when we report on
stories like the Maginnis case. In this instance, those who chose not to
believe the story aimed their anger at us for saying something they found
offensive. And that's something we can agree with - it WAS offensive. The
difference is that we also believe it was real.
We think it's right to be skeptical when reading any news account and
that we should be treated no differently. We'd like to think that every story
reported on in the mainstream media is questioned thoroughly, although we
all know this is rarely the case. In the end, whether it's 2600 or Time,
the decision on whether there is truth in a report lies with the reader.
This story has been frustrating for us because - like those who have sent us mail - we want there to be a smoking gun, some
way of proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the events told to us by
Mike Maginnis were completely accurate. As is often the case in a story
of injustice, particularly when that injustice involves law enforcement,
we're often left with a solitary voice calling attention to it. When that
happens, we're faced with a difficult decision - do we not devote any
attention at all to what happened because there wasn't a crowd of witnesses?
Or do we give the person an opportunity to be heard and base our conclusions
on what they say and how they respond to questions, along with some
rudimentary fact checking? In this instance, we chose the latter and we have
no regrets at all for doing so. We believe the story is accurate for a
number of reasons.
- First off, very little can be gained from making such accusations against
law enforcement in the town where you live. It's almost literally like
painting a big target on your back. And we all know what happens
when you piss off the Secret Service. It's unlikely someone would put themselves in this
position unless they were either completely insane or telling the truth. At the very least, Maginnis stands to be ridiculed for claiming to be detained by police when they deny ever having had him in custody.
- We were unable to find any holes or inconsistencies in the story as
Maginnis told it when interviewed on our radio program. Not one person
who has written in has been able to either. In his firsthand account of his experience, Maginnis comes across as highly credible. We encourage all readers to listen to the December 4th edition of "Off The Hook," and make a personal judgment as to his credibility. Maginnis was also completely up front
about previously getting into trouble for trespassing. That admission alone
could risk his being labeled as a troublemaker who deserved what he got.
But if he wasn't telling the truth about what happened last week, why make that admission in the first place?
- Maginnis has intentionally not spoken to other news media. If he was seriously pursuing any type of political or social cause, speaking to the major media would have been the next logical step after 2600. There are a number of news organizations attempting to contact Maginnis through us but he has requested that his privacy not be invaded any further.
- Most importantly, it's a very believable scenario. As mentioned above, we've
gotten reports of all sorts of similar encounters. They include a man being threatened with arrest by a Secret Service agent in front of the same hotel for overtly attempting to photograph the agent. We've been aware of
other such occurrences well before this story broke. Those who believe such an event cannot
happen in our country have simply not been paying attention to what's been
going on. It seems a foregone conclusion that the United States is heading in a direction of increased civil rights abuses. The case of Jose Padilla illustrates just how easy it is to bypass due process these days.
Now let's turn the tables and examine the other side. We contacted both
the Denver Police and the Secret Service to find out if the story was true.
They both took our information and neither of them ever got back to us.
Their silence has been deafening and it's perhaps the most significant
statement they could have made.
We realize that there will still be people who remain unconvinced. And so
we hereby invite them to help us get to the bottom of this by proving us wrong:
The Vice President is always staying somewhere and one day he's certain
to stay somewhere near you. When that happens, simply go down to the hotel he's
staying at and take as many pictures as you can. Be sure to photograph the snipers
and the military guard as well. When we receive pictures proving that we
do indeed have the right to take photos of public places while standing in
a public place, we will be more than happy to make that known. We will also
welcome and make public any correspondence from appropriate law enforcement agencies who
wish to say for the record that such freedoms will not be challenged in the
As it's now gotten to the point where Mike Maginnis is being harassed at his
home and even his parents are getting calls from reporters, he is now
rightfully asking to just be left alone. It took a great deal of courage
to speak out in the first place and we hope that the nightmare he's lived
through has come to an end. For the rest of us, keeping our eyes open has
never been so important.
As always, we welcome your critiques and input. You can send mail to the radio show at firstname.lastname@example.org or to our website at email@example.com. All tips will be treated as confidential.