Will the VP debaters be checked for electronic devices?

After all the suggestions about George W. in his final debate in '04, and the suggestion that one of the current vice president candidates may not be really on top of a lot of presidential stuff, is there going to be a check for devices which may assist the debaters? I am completely serious.

Any sufficiently-advanced technological ability to spoon-feed a candidate answers electronically and undetectably on camera is indistinguishable from being prepared.

Oooooh! Batman for Vice President!

Doubt that they’d allow that. But can’t you also have electronic jamming devices, or would they mess with the television feeds?

Devices of that nature are illegal in the United States.

The jamming devices or the electronic do-dads for feeding candidates answers?

goodevening usa
from captain midnight
$700 billion bail out ?
No way !
[house/senate beware!]

Jamming devices.

The foofaraw over George W. was spurred by combination W haters/wishful thinkers dreaming up the most negative thing they could to explain a photo of an ill-fitting jacket. In the real world, while having such a device is technologically possible, not even W would be stupid enough to use one. Even if the device weren’t detected (and that would be hard to pull off), the mannerisms of someone using one would be virtually certain to be noticed. One way or the other, there’s always the possibility of its use being found out, and the fallout from such a discovery would be politically fatal and never lived down. I can’t imagine any candidate risking that.

Bush clearly had something under his jacket during that debate, and it was also clearly visible under his t-shirt in later photos taken at his ranch. I’m not saying it was a transmitter (that wouldn’t make sense in the ranch pics) but something was there and it would be interesting to know exactly what.

As for the upcoming vp debate, how would they check for devices? Strip search? Ear hole check?


The most likely candidate for what Bush had under his jacket and in his ear was this unit. Suit wrinkles don’t show up with this consistency.

As for repeating what one hears, it’s a skill that one can learn. A couple of years ago, I had to transcribe a lot of audio interviews. I’m not an amazingly fast typist, so I looked around for an alternative technique. The system I adopted used a well-trained copy of Naturally Speaking to capture my speech, WinAmp to play the original audio and a headset with microphone. I listened to the original audio through earphones, and “echoed” what I heard in my ears into the microphone. This is done by TV news anchors and Stenomask operators.

The likelihood that the Bush administration actually did this has increased dramatically recently, based on the stuff they have since gotten away with.

The mannerisms were noticed, that’s why some speculated that there was a device.

Which statutes does it violate? Federal or state? Felony or misdemeanor? Does affected radius matter?

Follow up added:

This is what I found on the subject:

If that is the prohibition cited, notice that the Communications Act prohibits interfering with licensed or authorized operation. It’s unlikely that this sort of operation would be licensed or authorized. More importantly, it’s also unlikely that a successful jam would be reported “I was planning to cheat on that debate, so I sought authorization, and those (insert partisan epithet here) jammed my signal!”

That looks right, but why on earth would he be wearing it while driving his pick-up around his ranch, as in this photo?

Great reference. As an aside, did you know that Captain Midnight still sells satellite TV equipment in Ocala, Florida? I wonder if he still gets business from his 15 minutes.

Regarding Bush’s device, there is this possibility. I’m not sure I buy it, but it makes sense in the other photos.

Just like you don’t have to have a license from the FCC to operate hand-held radios (like those you might use while camping or whatever), one wouldn’t need a license to operate a device like those we’re talking about. The devices are approved by the FCC for a particular use. If you interfere with those devices, you’re breaking the law.

This is in contrast to an unauthorized device, like say you decided to build and operate your own TV transmission tower without complying with laws and FCC regulations.

(FTR, I think this talk of candidates using electronic devices is plain nonsense.)