USA! USA! USA!

How Bush's advance team keeps the president -- and the press -- from seeing or hearing dissent.


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Tim Grieve
August 22, 2007 6:10PM (UTC)

When a reporter asked Laura Bush recently about her husband's abysmal approval ratings, she said she didn't believe the polls. "As I travel around the United States," she said, "I see a lot of appreciation for him." George W. Bush himself often notes the support he gets from the Americans he meets on the road. "Strangers stand up and say, in front of a couple thousand people, 'I'm praying for you,'" he said at an "Ask the President" event in West Virginia last year. "It helps do the job, it helps keep perspective."

Bush calls it an "amazing" part of the presidency.

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Amazing? Not so much.

From the recently released "Presidential Advance Manual":

"All presidential events must be ticketed or accessed by a name list method for preventing demonstrators. This is the best method for preventing demonstrators. People who are obviously going to try to disrupt the event can be denied entrance at least to the VIP area between the stage and the main camera platform ...

"There are several ways the advance person can prepare a site to minimize demonstrators. First, as always, work with the Secret Service and have them ask the local police department to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route ...

"The formation of 'rally squads' is a common way to prepare for demonstrators by countering their message. This tactic involves utilizing small groups of volunteers to spread favorable messages using large hand-held signs, placards or perhaps a long sheet banner, and placing them in strategic areas around the site. These squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators. The rally squads' 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 drawn out protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!). As a last resort, security should remove demonstrators from the event site. The rally squads can include, but are not limited to, college/young Republican organizations, local athletic teams and fraternities/sororities ...

"Once a group of demonstrators has been identified, the advance person must decide what action to take. If it is determined that the media will not see or hear them and they pose no potential disruption to the event, they can be ignored. On the other hand, if the group is carrying signs, trying to shout down the president, or has potential to cause some greater disruption to the event, action needs to be taken immediately to minimize the demonstrators' effect."

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Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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