The little Secret Service agent at the National Constitution Center seems more interested in John Ashcroft’s tight USA Patriot Act spin-tour schedule than any constitutional rights when he stops me from following a flock of television reporters heading for a brief presser with the man who could not even beat a corpse.

“You can’t go in here,” says the little Secret Service agent, who was very nice to me the last time we met, inside Cuba Libre, when we were both awaiting a visit from that revered cigar aficionado Bill Clinton.

As the flock disappears down a hall in a hurried scurry, the bespectacled woman in the black dress who could have been Ainsley, the perky Republican from The West Wing, looks at me and waxes apologetic.

“I am sorry,” she says as the last of the camera crews whiz by. “But he is not talking to print. Only talking to television.”

Pens may no longer be as mighty as the camera, but apparently they make Ashcroft and his guardians squeamish.

I protest and try to follow TV.

This time around the little Secret Service agent is not so fun. He orders me escorted away from the scene.

And this in the only museum dedicated to our national principles. In the city where an irascible weekly newspaper editor helped create a nation with his press.

Emphasis added. Story here, via alert reader Steven B.