Peter Baker’s latest in the NY Times this morning:
Not that they’re worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn’t want any.
A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of “deterring potential protestors” from President Bush’s public appearances around the country.
We’ve known about this all along, but, still, the manual (uncovered as a result of an ACLU suit) yields the particulars:
Those invited into a VIP section on or near the stage, for instance, must be ” extremely supportive of the Administration,” it says. While the Secret Service screens audiences only for possible threats, the manual says, volunteers should examine people before they reach security checkpoints and look out for signs. Make sure to look for “folded cloth signs,” it advises.
To counter any demonstrators who do get in, advance teams are told to create “rally squads” of volunteers with large hand-held signs, placards or banners with “favorable messages.” Squads should be placed in strategic locations and “at least one squad should be ‘roaming’ throughout the perimeter of the event to look for potential problems,” the manual says.
“These squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators,” it says. “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.”