The arrest of Cindy Sheehan on February 1, 2006, in the House chamber of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., offers some valuable lessons to the investigative journalist. Presented below are a few of those lessons.Do not look for Capitol Police arrest records at the Capitol Police Website; it's not much more that a recruitment gateway. If, however, you actually want a job with the Capitol Police, then you should definitely go to that Website.Although the Website noted above is primarily for recruitment purposes, one link at the Capitol Police Website is to the Press Room, where you will now find a press release dated 02-01-06 entitled "Accountability", which deals with the arrest of Ms. Sheehan and the related, subsequent events. The document is remarkable in its clarity. While upholding the actions of the officers involved in the detention of Ms. Sheehan, it bluntly states the following:
[N]either Mrs. Sheehan’s manner of dress or initial conduct warranted law enforcement intervention.Also, do not call your Senators or your Representative to get help in tracking down any information. While some people have been fortunate enough to develop relationships with the aides to Members of Congress, the average citizen will come up bupkis. The people who work in those offices are almost to the last one of them bright, talented individuals. They will use their native intelligence to act like their as dumb as rocks when you start asking pointed questions about where information is hiding in Washington and why it's not where it should be.And the most important lesson of all has been reserved for last. Whatever you dono matter how hard up you are for a source, for a lead, for even a tidbit of informationdo not under any circumstances tell an important person, or even a person who thinks he or she is important, that you're a blogger. Lie through your teeth if you have to; just don't use the word 'blog' or any derivation thereof. You will be disrespected. You might very well get your feelings hurt. In fact, you'll be lucky if you don't get the telecommunications version of your backside kicked right out the door while it's still closed. And once you get up off the ground, dust yourself off, and go back to your blog to write a post, all you'll have is a story about how not to get the story you spent the whole stupid day chasing.
The Dark Wraith has thus offered some insights.