|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
he mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who was arrested last week for interrupting a speech by Laura Bush is being investigated by the Secret Service for threatening remarks she made about President Bush, a Secret Service official confirmed yesterday.
The woman, Sue Niederer, 55, who lives in Hopewell, N.J., made the comments on a Web site, according to the Secret Service official, who was reached by telephone in Washington. He referred further questions to Special Agent Tony Colgary in the Trenton office of the Secret Service, who did not respond to messages.
Mr. Colgary, however, confirmed the investigation to The Trenton Times.
Mrs. Niederer, reached by phone, said: "I don't want to talk about it. Leave it alone."
The federal officials are apparently investigating comments made by Mrs. Niederer in May on the Web site counterpunch.org, a political newsletter. In the Web postings, she is quoted as saying she "wanted to rip the president's head off" and "shoot him in the groined area."
It is a federal crime to threaten the president, though civil liberties groups are expected to argue the case on free speech grounds.
Mrs. Niederer told The Trenton Times she was upset about her son's death at the time. When asked if she wanted to threaten the president, she answered, "Absolutely not."
Mrs. Niederer is being assisted by a volunteer lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union, according to Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the civil liberties group's New Jersey chapter. Ms. Jacobs, who did not return a voice mail message left at her office late yesterday, told The Associated Press that Mrs. Niederer's comments on the Web site were protected by court precedent from a 1969 case. In Watts v. United States, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a man who three years earlier had claimed at a public gathering that he would "set his sights" on President Lyndon Johnson if he was drafted.
The court ruled that while the nation had an interest in protecting the president, the 1917 statute on which the case was based "must be interpreted with the commands of the First Amendment clearly in mind."