The arrest of Steven Howards in 2006 after he approached Vice President Dick Cheney at a Colorado ski resort and denounced the war in Iraq has become a blowup, with Secret Service agents accusing one another of unethical and perhaps even illegal conduct, reports the New York Times. Howards sued five agents for civil rights and free-speech violations. The agent who made the arrest, Virgil Reichle, said he was left hanging with an untenable arrest because two agents first agreed that Howards had assaulted Cheney, then changed their stories to say that no assault had occurred.
Reichle said in a deposition he believed the vice president's security detail wanted the Howards arrest to go away so that Cheney would not be inconvenienced by a court case. Another agent, Daniel McLaughlin said Reichle asked him in a call several hours after the encounter to say that there had been an assault to bolster justification for the arrest. Howards spent three hours in jail. He said that Reichle had told him he would be charged with assaulting the vice president, but that local law enforcement officials filed only a misdemeanor harassment charge, which later was dismissed.