Saturday, February 6, 1999

Secret Service
grills author on
Clinton ‘threat’

Gardner McKay's article
saying 'kill him' failed to
amuse the agents

By Rod Ohira


Former television star and author Gardner McKay found out the hard way that the U.S. Secret Service doesn't have a sense of humor when it comes to threats against the president.

In a satirical commentary published Sunday by the Honolulu Advertiser, McKay wrote:

"No, impeachment has a hollow ring to it. Like bankruptcy. Everyone knows bankrupts can turn up anywhere, anytime, driving the same car, business as usual. Impeachment won't satisfy. Censure, reprimand, dismissal? No. Too good. Kill him."

The Secret Service was at McKay's East Oahu residence Monday morning, knocking on the front door. The agents left an hour and 45 minutes later, satisfied that McKay was not advocating an assassination.

"I did something foolish xxx it was a careless thing for me to do," said McKay, star of the 1959-62 television series "Adventures in Paradise" whose new novel

"Toyer" went on sale last month. "We learned a lesson."

McKay called Bill Clinton a "brilliant president," who he has met, and said what he wrote was satire.

"There's something funny in everything and my effort is to find it," McKay said. "The best release for anger is humor."

McKay views the incident as a learning experience.

"I broke the law so if the need arises, I'll write about the president with greater caution in the future," he said.

Albert Joaquin, special agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Hawaii, says federal law prohibits threats against people under Secret Service protection.

"We take every threat, even implied threats seriously," Joaquin said. "Gardner was apologetic, and it's a closed case.

"It's one of those articles that nobody gave any thought to before publication."

The Secret Service also paid a visit to Honolulu Advertiser Editor Jim Gatti.

"Some readers took exception and didn't interpret it as a satire as it was intended," Gatti said.

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