Threatening the President is a Federal Offense? Really?

Apparently a fourteen year old girl named Julia Wilson threatened the President on her MySpace page sometime last spring. After learning that threatening the President is a Federal Offense, she took the threatening image down.

The girl and her mother are now criticizing the Secret Service for the “harsh” questioning. Within this post, I will critique some of the girl’s grievances pointed out in the Fox News article.

“I wasn’t dangerous”

Now if you want unwarranted attention from the Secret Service, threaten the President. This girl found that out the hard way. The girl was quoted by saying, “I wasn’t dangerous.” I may be confused here, but I don’t see how threatening the President conveys the message that someone isn’t dangerous.

“I’m not going to kill the President”

According to the article, the girl was also quoted saying, “I’m not going to kill the President.” Yet she had an image of President Bush on her MySpace profile that said “Kill Bush.”

Perhaps she was not going to kill the President, but the statement of “Kill Bush” was suggesting that someone else do it. Not only is that a Federal Offense, but the statement can be interpreted as conspiracy to commit murder by calling for others to perform the act.

The Secret Service questioned the girl without the parents present

One of the grievances the parents had was that the Secret Service questioned the girl without the parents present. Now were the parents present when the girl threatened the life of the President? Why should the parents be involved now?

The girl threatened the President. The Secret Service does not need a permission slip in order to question the girl.

“They were unnecessarily mean”

The girl was quoted as saying that the Secret Service agents were rather harsh in their questioning and were “unnecessarily mean.” Okay, and threatening their boss and our President isn’t mean? I wonder how the girl would feel if her life was threatened. Would that not be mean?

The Secret Service take threats against their President very seriously. No fourteen year old girl — nor anybody in the U.S. for that matter — is going to get in their way of protecting the President. The Secret Service probably wanted to find out if the girl was involved in any terrorist groups, had like-minded friends, and possibly if she contacted others to aid in an assassination attempt. Age doesn’t really matter when a threat is made.

If a person is old enough to make a credible threat against the President, then that person is old enough to take the intense verbal questioning that the Secret Service has.

There was no “real danger”

The parents said that the agents should have figured out that the girl and her picture poised no danger. How would the Secret Service agents have determined that had they not questioned the girl? Every threat against the President is taken seriously. The agents had an obligation to question the girl and get all the information out of her that they could. In fact, as a citizen of the U.S., I feel safer knowing that the agents take threats against our nation’s President as seriously as they do.

The questioning went too far

Once again, the girl brings up that the Secret Service agents took their questioning to an extreme level. She should have thought of that before she threatened the President. There is a consequence for every action, and unfortunately her consequence was “harsh questioning.” If that is all she got for threatening the life of the President, then she got off relatively light.

Conclusion

Threatening the President of the United States is a Federal Offense. It’s actually one of the more serious crimes a person can commit. I’m glad the Secret Service got involved and investigated the girl as well as they could have. It was rather stupid to post a death threat on MySpace against the President. Hopefully she’ll learn from her mistakes.

10 Comments

  1. A gentleman by the name of Morgan Freeberg was kind enough to reference this post. Please check out his post: Um, Hey, That's Illegal

  2. Some would disagree with the gentleman part and it's not unanimously agreed that I'm kind. But I'm a big fan when lazy, know-nothing, don't-bother-me-to-noodle-things-out thinking is trumped and handed it's own * cheeks by don't-pee-on-my-shoe-and-tell-me-it's-raining thinking. And that's what I saw in your post. Made my day. I'll check back often.

  3. I don't write those kind of posts too often, but when something bothers me that much, I do let my opinions flow. 🙂 I'm glad you liked the post.

  4. If I overhear such a threat, what is my obligation to report it?

  5. The web, emails, cell phones, offer such immediate opportunities to spout off, that many people have failed to develop a filter between their brain and their keyboard (or mouth). I doubt she will post or express threatening thoughts about elected officials anytime soon. And people around her probably won’t be vociferous about threats — in jest or not.

    I was in an auto parts store and a couple of guys in their 30s were talking about Obama and making violent suggestions with racist overtones. I went to my car, phoned the FBI who transferred me to the local branch, and the police were on the scene in less than 3 minutes, then the FBI arrived.

  6. Good to see my tax dollars put to good use, cleaning up the internet of all those darn kids thinking they can get away with expressing their first amendment right.

    All this fuss over an image that says Kill Bush? Absolutely ridiculous. ‘Why did I kill the president? Because some girl on myspace told me to…’ I guess we do live in an age now where the government is watching our every move… Now we even have to watch our jokes; we don’t want big brother to find out we’ve been conspiring with photoshop and using myspace to recruit troops to take over the country. I can just picture a swat team battering down the front door and rushing into the girls room with MP5’s and flashbangs.

    I’m just wondering who the heroic patriot was that snitched a 14 year old out to the secret service.

  7. victoria longoria

    March 23, 2009 at 10:02 am

    now that is llegal and she shouldnt be complaining if there questions are harsh cause she should of thougt of that before and this is boring

  8. @Victoria,

    On a different note, someone I follow on twitter was complaining about the airport. He mentioned he should kill everyone there.

    If DHS was monitoring this guy’s twitter account, I imagine he would have some explaining to do.

    Free speech works, but once one crosses the line of implicitly or explicitly threatening to harm somebody, free speech goes right out the window.

  9. I say we cant be too careful. Lock em all up and throw away the keys!

    Shoot them all and let god sort them out!

  10. With the number of threats that are likely out there on the internet, you’d think that this would be difficult to govern. This is particularly true if you consider that most verbal or written threats are for show and will never be acted out on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.