On radio this morning, Glenn was joined by former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino to discuss a new bill that could result in protestors unknowingly violating federal law and land in prison.
Here are the facts: the House of Representatives passed a bill called the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act this past week. Ostensibly, the bill expands federal law protections for the areas near the president, vice president, and those under the protection of the Secret Service. For example, jumping over the fence at the White House and running across the lawn would be elevated to a federal crime once the bill is signed into law.
By failing to include the term “willfully,” the statute apparently changes the definition of Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code in such a way that one only has to be in a restricted area — with or without prior knowledge of that fact — to violate the law. This is arguably a change required in the mens rea (state of mind) necessary to commit the crime covered in the new statute.
So if you plan to protest at the next Obama, Romney or Santorum speech, you could unwittingly violate the statute and be thrown in jail for standing in a place the Secret Service deems specially protected.
Bongino is currently running for Senator in Maryland. He served in the Secret Service during Bush's years and a portion of Barack Obama's term before stepping down because, as Glenn described it, he felt the country was in trouble. He had found out that his wife was pregnant the day he submitted his resignation, knowing that it was more important to help the country than have financial security.
Bongino warned that this was just the latest in what he called a "slow creep" of encroachments on civil liberties.