- An amateur photographer named Mike Maginnis was arrested
on Tuesday in his home city of Denver - for simply taking pictures of buildings
in an area where Vice President Cheney was residing.
- Maginnis told his story on Wednesday's edition of Off
The Hook. Maginnis's morning commute took him past the Adams Mark Hotel
on Court Place. Maginnis, who says he always carried his camera wherever
he went, snapped about 30 pictures of the hotel and the surrounding area
- which included Denver police, Army rangers, and rooftop snipers. Maginnis,
who works in information technology, frequently photographs such subjects
as corporate buildings and communications equipment.
- The following is Maginnis's account of what transpired:
As he was putting his camera away, Maginnis found himself confronted by
a Denver police officer who demanded that he hand over his film and camera.
When he refused to give up his Nikon F2, the officer pushed him to the
ground and arrested him. After being brought to the District 1 police station
on Decatur Street, Maginnis was made to wait alone in an interrogation
room. Two hours later, a Secret Service agent arrived, who identified himself
as Special Agent "Willse." The agent told Maginnis that his "suspicious
activities" made him a threat to national security, and that he would
be charged as a terrorist under the USA-PATRIOT act.
- The Secret Service agent tried to make Maginnis admit
that he was taking the photographs to analyze weaknesses in the Vice President's
security entourage and "cause terror and mayhem." When Maginnis
refused to admit to being any sort of terrorist, the Secret Service agent
called him a "raghead collaborator" and a "dirty pinko faggot."
- After approximately an hour of interrogation, Maginnis
was allowed to make a telephone call. Rather than contacting a lawyer,
he called the Denver Post and asked for the news desk. This was immediately
overheard by the desk sergeant, who hung up the phone and placed Maginnis
in a holding cell. Three hours later, Maginnis was finally released, but
with no explanation. He received no copy of an arrest report, and no receipt
for his confiscated possessions. He was told that he would probably not
get his camera back, as it was being held as evidence. Maginnis's lawyer
contacted the Denver Police Department for an explanation of the day's
events, but the police denied ever having Maginnis - or anyone matching
his description - in custody.
- At press time, the Denver PD's Press Information Office
did not return telephone messages left by 2600. The new police powers introduced
by the USA-PATRIOT act, in the name of fighting terrorism, have been frightening
in their apparent potential for abuse. Mike Maginnis's experience on Tuesday
is a poignant example of how this abuse is beginning to occur. It suggests
that a wide range of activities which might be considered "suspicious"
could be suddenly labeled a prelude to terrorism, and be grounds for arrest.
We will continue to post updates to this story as we learn them.