Former Secret Agent: Bullet-Ridden Obama Shirt a Possible Threat - FOX 10 News |

Bullet-Ridden Obama Shirt a Possible Threat, Says Former Secret Service Agent


How does the Secret Service determine what is a threat, and what is an acceptable form of political expression?

We got some insight from someone who knows a lot about protecting a president.

We found out, it's a lot like saying "bomb" in an airport, just don't do it. You really shouldn't write, or post, or say or even suggest the president should be killed or harmed -- if you do you will be investigated by the United States Secret Service.

The photo of local students holding guns and a bullet ridden T-shirt of President Obama speaks for itself as to why it might cause a stir. But what about free speech?

After all, a lot of protesters pass along charged up rhetoric, so what's the big deal?

"The secret service takes every situation like this as a big deal," says Don Tucker, former Secret Service agent.

Don Tucker worked personally protecting a number of presidents, starting with Lyndon Johnson, as a member of the Secret Service. He says this photo isn't something to laugh at and shouldn't be taken lightly.

"What message were they trying to send? I understand they're trying to play it off ‘oh it was a joke we were just being funny' -- to me there's nothing funny about that."

Under federal law, joking is allowed but there is a line that cannot be crossed when it comes to the presidency.

The law mentions any "document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States" is an item worthy of investigation -- and blog postings and photographs certainly fall in that category.

Oscar Ortega is the most recent suspect accused of actually trying to cause bodily harm to the first family. But there's a big difference between firing bullets at the White House and firing up a protest crowd with offensive images.

Sarah Palin came under fire for the now notorious crosshairs map which some said encouraged violence against lawmakers. As far as this week's photo, the parties involved shouldn't be surprised if they get a knock on their door.

The biggest problem isn't just the potential threat of violence, but that a police officer actually posted that photo on Facebook. Don Tucker says that's unacceptable when federal and local agencies work together every day to ensure the president's safety.

Tucker believes Officer Pat Shearer, the decorated member of the Peoria Police force who posted that photo, should face disciplinary action. 


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