Back to previous post: Why Does Nader Hate America?

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Leaves of Lettuce

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

February 25, 2008

The Secret Service writes off security for candidates
Posted by Teresa at 12:01 AM *

Here’s the initial story: the Dallas police, who are more conscious of these issues than most municipal police forces, told reporters that the Secret Service ordered them to suspend weapons screening while people were still arriving at an Obama rally this past Thursday. From the Dallas Star-Telegram:

Police concerned about order to stop weapons screening at Obama rally

DALLAS—Security details at Barack Obama’s rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department’s homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order—apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service—was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena’s vacant seats before Obama came on.

“Sure,” said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned by the great number of people who had gotten into the building without being checked. But, he added, the turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a “friendly crowd.”

(WTF? Is he holding out for a swarthy, disaffected anarchist who’ll come skulking along, singing It’s Sister Jenny’s Turn to Throw the Bomb, and carrying a bowling ball with a fuse sticking out of it?)
The Secret Service did not return a call from the Star-Telegram seeking comment.

Doors opened to the public at 10 a.m., and for the first hour security officers scanned each person who came in and checked their belongings in a process that kept movement of the long lines at a crawl. Then, about 11 a.m., an order came down to allow the people in without being checked.

Several Dallas police officers said it worried them that the arena was packed with people who got in without even a cursory inspection.

That is to say: in a state with few gun laws and no shortage of racist crazies, and in a city with a high crime rate and a history of political assassination, they had less security for a major campaign appearance than many high schools apply every day to their students. They had less security than I’ve run into at concerts, baseball games, and second-string amusement parks. They had far less security than was in force at comparable campaign events during the previous two elections. They had much, much less security than the torpid Republican National Convention in NYC had on its slowest day, in a year when all they had to do was renominate Bush.

More pertinently, they didn’t have an atom of the security that’s lavished on a the most minor and unannounced semi-public forays of George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. (Mind you, Bush and Cheney’s personal security protocols verge on the insane.)

Two points to bear in mind: first, the Secret Service is run by the Executive branch of the government.

Second, we’re talking about an administration that didn’t hesitate to turn FEMA into a branch of its PR organization; fired U.S. District Attorneys for failure to pursue partisan, politically motivated prosecutions; and outed one of our own undercover intelligence agents in retaliation for that agent’s spouse accurately reporting information that Bush, Cheney & Co. found inconvenient.

Would those guys hesitate to turn the Secret Service into their own private security force, even if it meant they scanted or ignored the Secret Service’s other assigned duties? You don’t even have to ask. To think of the question is to know the answer.

Back to the Dallas police force:

They spoke on condition of anonymity because, they said, the order was made by federal officials who were in charge of security at the event.

“How can you not be concerned in this day and age,” said one policeman.

Bear that in mind. Later we’re going to see the Secret Service deny that they decided to suspend weapon checks, on the grounds that they didn’t decide to do it, but instead intended to do it all along. You wouldn’t think that could be true, would you? But it is. I know this because I have a secret privileged information source.

Onward.

To state the obvious, security has been a major concern since Barack Obama started running. He started getting Secret Service protection since May 3, 2007, which is the earliest it’s ever been assigned to a candidate. He needed it. The man’s been a target for death threats and hateful craziness all along.

It’s been interesting watching the reactions to the initial story. There’ve been 3,682 votes cast so far in the Star-Telegram’s poll that asks the readers how good they thought security was at that event. The breakdown: excellent, 11%; suitable, 6%; a bit below par, 7%; unacceptable, 77%. Right now the story’s comment thread is 54 pages long. It makes interesting reading, if you ignore the nutbars. The citizens are outraged. They ask what the bleep the Secret Service thought it was doing, and demand that the person who gave that order be fired. They point out that people don’t get let in unchecked at concerts, rodeos, football games, or the state fair. A couple of them speak from the viewpoint of security professionals:

I served at the 2002 Winter Olympics as part of Joint Task Force Olympic Gold. In almost every event we (US Army/National Guard/Secret Service/US Customs/Local police) protected there were more than 17,000 spectators. Troughout the Olympics we were able to sweep 100% of all spectators entering the venues, before the event took place. The Secret Service agents we worked with (I was with the Missouri National Guards 110th Engineer BN) were professional and subject matter experts on protection. I Find it hard to believe these men and women would on thier own accord stop searching individuals entering the venue, it goes against their very being. :: Posted by: [name left blank] :: 2/22/2008 3:25 PM :: 2595.310

I have had many friends work at times in the security business. If they had done what the U.S. Secret Service got away with at Reunion Arena, they would have been summarily fired. Moreover, the long lines were caused by a lack of planning by the Secret Service. This is an abysmal performance by one of our alleged premier government security organizations. It deserves an outright formal investigation. Oh, but I forgot, Bush is still the “President”. :: Posted by: DrToketee :: 2/22/2008 2:55 PM :: 2595.277

And here’s a comment about the Star-Telegram’s followup story, which we’ll be getting to in a moment:
Hey Editor, how about doing your job and pointing out in your followup that the Secret Service confirmed the story is true in every detail and their only defense was that this is standard procedure. That is the real story and an even greater scandal than an “Oops it won’t happen again” response!

A casual reading as you have written the story gives people the impression that the Secret Service is saying it didn’t happen, bolstered by the headline. That’s not what they’re saying at all!

As for the interview, any reporter worth hiring would have asked the apologist for the Secret Service if this is the same security they would provide for…oh I don’t know, maybe President Bush? Let’s start refining those journalistic skills. :: Posted by: Jerry C. :: 2/23/2008 7:13 AM :: 2595.455

He’s got a point. Here’s the followup, in which the Secret Service replies to the initial report:
Secret Service defends security strategy at rally in Reunion Arena

The U.S. Secret Service on Friday defended its handling of security during a huge rally in downtown Dallas for Barack Obama, saying there was no “lapse” in its “comprehensive and layered security plan,” which called for some people to be checked for weapons while others were not.

Jerry C.’s right. The problem isn’t that there was a lapse in the Secret Service’s plan; it’s that what they had wasn’t a security plan at all. If you check some people, then let a bunch of unchecked ones into the same area, you’re no more secure than you would be if you hadn’t checked anyone at all. This is a basic principle.
A report in the Star-Telegram that said some security measures were lifted during Wednesday’s rally sparked a public outrage across the country, with most people saying they were shocked that a routine weapons search was lifted at the front gates of Reunion Arena an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage.

“This relaxed security was unbelievably stupid, especially in Dallas,” Jeff Adams of Berkeley, Calif., said in an e-mail, noting the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas more than four decades ago.

Others said they had attended large political events in the recent past, many of them for Obama, where security screening was halted.

Jeremy Dibbell of Boston said in an e-mail that he attended an Obama event in Boston and “the same thing happened there. We waited for hours in line as people were screened, and then suddenly everyone was just allowed in without going through any inspection at all.”

I believe we can confirm Jeremy Dibbell’s report from Boston.

This is the heart of the story. It’s also where that 54-page comment thread in the Star-Telegram comes into its own. That’s my secret privileged information source. The thread contains nearly two dozen independent corroborating accounts of Obama’s and Clinton’s campaign appearances in cities across the country. All but one describe the same pattern of events: security gets set up in advance of the event. For a while, they check the people going in. It’s slow. Then, an hour or less before the event is supposed to start, they drop the security checks and let in everyone who’s been waiting.

(The one exception is a comment that claims that security at Reno, NV was “very tight BUT NOT necessarily visible,” and calls it “top-notch.” Since it’s unlikely that security personnel managed to remain invisible while checking attendees for weapons, I doubt security was top-notch, or even minimally satisfactory.)

If the same thing is happening at every event in every city, it’s not a lapse. It’s planned to work out that way. And that is a complete and utter outrage, because what the Secret Service is enacting isn’t security; it’s security theatre. They know it’s inadequate. They go in with inadequate equipment and personnel, and give a full check to the early arrivals. Then, a half hour to an hour before the main event, when people are arriving in droves, they turn off their metal detectors and wave everyone through.

Since every Abba revival concert and monster truck rally in this country manages to check its attendees for weapons and other interesting baggage, this policy on the part of the Secret Service can only be taken as deliberate neglect of the safety of the candidates and the people who come to see them.

Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for Obama in Texas, said the campaign would have no comment on whether there was a security breach in Dallas. He referred questions to the Secret Service.

Jessica Santillo, spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton in Texas, said the Clinton campaign works with the Secret Service to “protect the safety of everyone who attends our campaign events.”

I doubt the Obama campaign wants to announce that their candidate is a sitting duck. The same goes for the Clinton campaign.
‘No security lapses’

Eric Zahren, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, said precautionary measures went as planned for the Obama rally. “There were no security lapses at that venue,” Zahren said. There was “no deviation” from the “comprehensive and layered” plan, implemented in “very close cooperation with our law enforcement partners,” he added.

Zahren rebutted suggestions by several Dallas police officers at the rally who thought the Secret Service ordered a halt to the timeconsuming weapons check because long lines were moving slowly and many seats remained empty as the time was nearing for Obama to appear.

“It was never a part of the plan at this particular venue to have each and every person in the crowd pass through the Magnetometer,” Zahren said, referring to the device used to detect metal in clothing and bags.

Score another point for Jerry C.: the Secret Service has confirmed that the story is true in every detail, and their only defense has been that it’s standard procedure.
Asked whether the Secret Service would re-evaluate its security procedures at such events, he said, “We’re always re-evaluating security measures … and we make adjustments as necessary.”
That’s a blow-off answer. They’ve used the same procedures and gotten the same results at one campaign after another, so they must not have felt adjustments were necessary. The only reason they might re-evaluate their policy is if there’s sufficient public outrage.
A security ‘success’

The Dallas Police Department said in a statement Friday that the Obama rally was a “success from a police standpoint.” Lt. V.L. Hale III, a spokesman for the force, also said in the statement that city officers were not in charge of the metal detectors. He declined to comment further on security issues.

I think “success from a police standpoint” means “nothing too awful happened this time around.”

Here we get into a piece of inexplicably bad journalism: the reporter interviews a security consultant who wasn’t at the event, had no connection with it, doesn’t appear to have spoken to any of the people who were running security there, and is discussing it from an entirely speculative viewpoint.

The Secret Service may have been doing all it could at the rally, said Keith Howse, a lawyer and consultant for security concerns and a former assistant police chief for the sprawling Baylor Health Care System.

Howse, who was not at the rally, said the Secret Service may have been screening the people closest to the candidate while letting others go in unchecked who were seated far away in the spacious, 17,000-seat arena.

“It may have ended up not being the best of all worlds, but it might not have been a flat-out security breach,” he said, adding: “I think it’s important to understand that the Secret Service would not sink below minimum protection” for a presidential candidate.

Wrong. The Secret Service was not screening people by zone, and they most certainly did sink below minimum protection for Barack Obama. The Star-Telegram really needs to read their own comment threads:
I attended the event and, I must say I was shocked by not being screened. I made my way to the rope line and shook Barack’s hand. Think about It. :: Posted by: D. Guillory :: 2/22/2008 3:07 PM :: 2595.291
Here are the rest of the reports of negligent Secret Service security from that comment thread. Sorry about the length. It’s data.
The same thing happened at the speech in Virginia Beach, where we had 18,000 people. I was pretty surprised when they stopped screening and opened all the doors, and even if it’s a “friendly” crowd, it only takes one to cause a disaster. :: Posted by: Ben :: 2/22/2008 11:59 AM :: 2595.24

I went to Obama’s rally in St. Louis. We were just allowed into the arena. Our bags weren’t checked nor were metal detectors used. There were over 20,000 at that rally. :: Posted by: Kelly :: 2/22/2008 12:02 PM :: 2595.31

The same thing happened in Green Bay, WI at the Kress Center on February 15. People were just waved through to the auditorium during the last 15-20 minutes - No visual checks whatsoever or passing through a metal detector. The goal was to start on time apparently, which the rally did. :: Posted by: Green Bay reader :: 2/22/2008 12:15 PM :: 2595.58

I attended an Obama rally in Reno, NV and security was very, very tight BUT NOT necessarily visible. However, I imagine after this story, the Secret Service will probably add some visibility to their security protocol. I also understand the sensitivity of the Dallas Police Department but I think Sen. Obama’s security is top notch. :: Posted by: Metro :: 2/22/2008 12:30 PM

This is exactly what happened in NYC last fall when Obama made an appearance in Washington Square Park. They screened people with metal detectors for the first two hours, but when it became apparent that most of the crowd would not make it in for several more hours they just let everybody flood the park with no screening. :: Posted by: ea :: 2/22/2008 12:32 PM :: 2595.90

When Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Salinas, CA the police did not scan either. There was an obvious S/S presence but it was all very casual. A local DNC woman just had the few of us at the door fill out a donation form. Then right in we went. :: Posted by: Bubba :: 2/22/2008 12:37 PM :: 2595.94

Sam thing happened in Houston. A friend and I arrived about 30 minutes before he spoke and walked right through the font doors of the Toyota Center without going through any medal detectors, wands, etc. Rediculous that the security is so weak and that our law enforcement is not taking the necessary steps to protect against anyone wishing to do him harm or wishing to do harm to the thousands that show up at these events to support him. :: Posted by: JDM :: 2/22/2008 12:43 PM :: 2595.107

The same thing happened at the Obama rally that I attended in San Francisco. We waited in line for hours and then suddenly the speed of the line picked way up and we walked right through the metal detectors which had been turned off. I would’ve much rather gotten into the rally late than had the individual who I hope will be the next President of the US endangered by “expediency” efforts. :: Posted by: Kari Chao :: 2/22/2008 1:15 PM :: 2595.158

I was amazed in Seattle at the Key Areana that the security was more lax than for a WNBA Storm game. It was good to feel the trust, but also caught my attention. :: Posted by: :: 2/22/2008 1:21 PM :: 2595.169

The exact same thing happened at the Denver rally. I did not think about it too much at the time, but this is bad. :: Posted by: Tim Tribbett :: 2/22/2008 1:30 PM :: 2595.188

The same thing happened at the outdoor Wilmington, Delaware rally I attended. Over 12,000 folks showed at that one. It appeared the officers were overwhelmed with having to check so many people. What I really found interesting were the snipers and scouts on the roof of the old courthouse. I noticed two of them captivated by Obama’s speech and simply put their binoculars down. I remember praying, please don’t let anything happen. :: Posted by: L. :: 2/22/2008 1:48 PM :: 2595.209

This happened in Kansas City, Missouri, too, but only a few people - perhaps 100 or so - got in without being screened, including me. The few they let in without screening were among the last to be let in after metal detectors had been taken down, when they initially determined that the venue was full. Officials opened about a few more spots and we got in without any check at all. :: Posted by: LM :: 2/22/2008 1:57 PM :: 2595.217

I was told that the same thing happened in Hartfrd,CT :: Posted by: R. Guzman :: 2/22/2008 2:34 PM :: 2595.253

I also attended the rally and was astonished that everyone’s bags and purses etc?.were not checked. It was obvious the lines were extremely long way before the doors officially opened at 10:30. I’m not with Secret Service, but even I had the bright idea of allowing people to enter the arena early so security checks would not impact the start of the program. It seems to me that allowing people inside a facility that could handle the capacity is a LOT SAFER and SMARTER than jeopardizing the safety of our next potential president. They don’t even let people with checking them for a rodeo or music concert. Hmmmm…I wonder if they would have made the same decision if it was Clinton or McCain. :: Posted by: Delilah Tinsaye :: 2/22/2008 3:10 PM :: 2595.298

When I saw Obama in Oakland, CA last summer, it was ridiculous: anybody could have gotten to him. I told the lady next to me that I hoped he would be protected better because of our history. :: Posted by: Juan Quinones :: 2/22/2008 3:30 PM :: 2595.319

I was at the Barack Obama rally in Houston at the Toyota Center. Depending on where you sat, half of the people went through a metal detector and the other half were not checked at all. I crossed from a “non-checked” area into a “checked area” and an usher took me to the Secret Service and through a metal detector. However, my friend who was with me did the exact same thing and no one saw him at all. I never thought about it until I read this article. How could security be so lax? :: Posted by: SCNTEXAS :: 2/22/2008 3:59 PM :: 2595.329

At the Virginia Beach Convention Center rally a few weeks ago, screening was taking a very long time. The line of 18,000 people was taking hours to get in the building. Eventually all screening was stopped for those who didn’t care about being the closest. They opened up the back doors and thousands of people flooded in. He would have started speaking before 1/5 of the people were even in the building had they not done so. 3 TSA personnel just isn’t enough for such large crowds… Haha. :: Posted by: Joe :: 2/22/2008 7:22 PM :: 2595.404

I got to see obama up close and personaI in Iowa several times times and was never checked by anyone. I believe it would be immensely easy to kill any presidential candidate on the campaign trail if you were willing to be caught. This DOES worry me a great deal as my friends and I often found ourselves commenting on how lax security was. :: Posted by: Ron Orf :: 2/22/2008 8:03 PM :: 2595.411

I attended a rally in Oakland and there was no checkin gate there either. A friend in New York said the same thing. :: Posted by: AJ Fish in San Francisco :: 2/23/2008 11:51 AM :: 2595.471

In Omaha, I noticed the exact same thing! I was somewhat alarmed at blatant dismantling of the metal detector, at the entrance to a large side chamber to the Civic Auditorium, while it was beginning to fill up with people just prior to Obama coming out to us. I and others pulled out digital cameras and/or camera phones, and no way that a weapon would have been noticed in time. And this dismantling of metal detectors and zero screening of audience is happening at other campaign stops too???? (Security was much more lax than it had been at the same site when the Vice Presidential debates were held in Omaha, about 20 years ago in the 1980’s, when we were not “in a state of war” as this administration likes to put it. ) :: Will Monif, Omaha, Nebraska 2008 :: Posted by: Will Monif :: 2/24/2008 6:08 AM :: 2595.514

same exact thing happened when he spoke in washington square in new york. :: Posted by: lol :: 2/22/2008 5:32 PM :: 2595.378

I was at the Dallas rally and there was no security - no purse checks and no metal detectors. I was appalled. I couldn’t believe it!! Anyone could have brought a gun into Reunion Arena. There were purse checks and metal detectors for Barry Manilow and he is a threat to no one! We need Sen. Obama as our leader and he needs to be kept safe! :: Posted by: Shirley :: 2/22/2008 6:05 PM :: 2595.388

We have a problem.
Comments on The Secret Service writes off security for candidates:
#1 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 02:18 AM:

Great. I've worried that Obama will be another LBJ. Now I can worry he'll be another RFK.

#2 ::: Sara E ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 02:23 AM:

Oh. My. God.

Why the HELL is this not a national story?

I bet $100 this is NOT a problem for McCain--I'm sure everyone who goes into one of his events is fully searched.

I can't even wrap my head around the sheer wrongness of the Secret Service not protecting Obama and Clinton properly.

#3 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 02:39 AM:

...every Abba revival concert...

Hey! Do you know something I don't?

But for serious: this is incredibly frightening. It's almost like Bush wants something to happen that could give him an excuse to, say, suspend elections.

#4 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 02:51 AM:

ethan @ 3: "It's almost like Bush wants something to happen that could give him an excuse to, say, suspend elections."

Or just let the Democratic nominee be assassinated.

I am suddenly reminded of a little incident in Pakistan not too long ago.

#5 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 03:47 AM:

Shoot the candidate, and what would the Electoral College do? If I have it right, the EC could pick anyone they wished, so it's down to the integrity of the people selected (and the ballot isn't for specific people to be EC members).

No need to suspend the election if you can suborn the Electoral College. How many, however reluctantly, would opt for the Republican on the ballot, rather than a Democratic candidate who wasn't nominated? Especially if the national vote is close anyway.

(Here's a thought: are Obama and Clinton a mutual poison pill? Kill Obama, and you guarantee Hillary is elected, and vice versa.)

#6 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 03:52 AM:

Dave @5, if the model is RFK, the plan is get a Humphrey who is too compromised by his history to defeat the Nixon. In this case, that means Clinton who, in the last polls I saw, cannot defeat McCain.

#7 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:21 AM:

Ethan @#3 and heresiarch @#4: Yes, especially since I don't see why any people whose carreer is working in any part of the federal government would go along with this if there was any chance that their next boss might be a Democrat next year.

#8 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:28 AM:

you know what my security strategy is? It is to have a security strategy that I screen the first people that show up, and then let everyone in, and then I publicize that that is my security strategy because everyone will think that's great because everyone knows crazies are too antsy to wait out a long line. No way that anyone would ever be motivated to wait to be one of the last in with a big happy smile on their face after you announced those at the back won't be searched just to kill an historically important candidate that raises opposition in some of the most radical and violent parts of the population.

#9 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:44 AM:

I can just see Bush sitting in the White House and saying, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome candidate?"

#10 ::: Nathaniel Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:46 AM:

There's another very large discussion of this at DKos from a few days ago, when the story came out.

To save reading 500+ comments, the most optimistic interpretation that anyone there came up with was: seating at these events is generally first come, first serve; to sit close you have to be one of the first few thousand to arrive, and those people get screened. The rest, well, you might be able to get a weapon in, but you try pulling off a tricky shot at a few hundred yards when surrounded by people who will tackle you the instant they see the gun. (And that's the other attendees, not the Secret Service agents monitoring the crowd.) And close-up interactions (signature lines, etc.) are handled by the "if you reach into your coat suspiciously you find yourself up against a wall with your head spinning" method.

Or that's the theory, anyway. Is this the real reasoning that the Secret Service has been using? It's consistent with their claim that they planned to check some attendees and not others, but -- we'll probably never know. Is it good security? In terms of whether it protects the candidates, I have no idea; I'm not sure who I would actually trust to tell me yes or no. In terms of whether it makes us feel safe and trust that things are under control... obviously not.

Still, thought I'd mention the counter-argument, since our host has done such a good job of laying out the other side.

Some might also appreciate this comment, though of course there's no way to confirm it either.

#11 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:16 AM:

As I read this, I opened the NY Times front page in another window, and saw this story.

One seems to answer the other, no?

#12 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:27 AM:

Hm, while I haven't seen that many people with personal protection teams, I have seen it once or twice. Last time, the king of Sweden was scheduled to speak in an auditorium where the film society I was a member of screened films. During the security prep, I needed to do some preparatory work for the evening's show, so I was in the projectonist booth (high up, small windows facing the stage where the king would be speaking).

First thing, I had to show ID to be checked off against the film society projectionist list. Second, I was not left alone in the booth but rather had to work with two quiet men from teh personal protection team watching me and the entrance door.

Based on my understanding of the realities of threats and the political climate in the US, I can only assume that the Secret Service is not fulfilling their duties as regards personal protection of presidential candidate Obama (I don't know if Clinton's protection is much different, I believe she should still have a personal protection team due to having once been First Lady).

#13 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:05 AM:

Both Democratic candidates are at greater risk of an attack than, say, McCain. (And, frankly, if everyone who voted for either one of them voted for the eventual Democratic nominee in the general election, that nominee would win in a landslide. It's amazing how some campaigning can make that happen. Look at McCain before the primary season started.) Based on the data Teresa posted, it certainly looks like the Secret Service security for both are equally lax.

For whatever reason, everything associated with the current administration favors security theater over actual security. Unless they correct themselves, we can only hope that they get away with it.

(It really would be interesting to find out what security is like at McCain events. Presumably, it's just as lax.)

#14 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:23 AM:

Out of curiousity, anybody in the comment threads describe anything similar at Republican candidate events?

[Heck, we already know that for the President, suspicious t-shirts and bumper-stickers are sufficient cause for eviction...]

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:38 AM:

Lis, we know there's been far more security at any event where George has "appeared in public." Aside from that, what we've got is one or two datapoints on Hillary Clinton, a bunch of them on Obama, and nothing at all on McCain, Huckabee, or Ron Paul.

Yog, how hard is it to rig a gun to drop out of someone's sleeve?

#16 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:42 AM:

Just found a Seattle Times article:

In this campaign, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has had Secret Service protection from the beginning, because she is a former first lady. None of the other candidates accepted it during their primary campaigns, and Sen. John McCain does not have Secret Security protection at this time.
and
Obama has been surrounded by Secret Service agents since May 3, the earliest a candidate has ever been provided protection. (He reluctantly gave in to the insistent urging of Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and others in Congress.) As his rallies have swelled, so has his security, nearly rivaling that given to a sitting president.

#17 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:50 AM:

My only experiences here in Manchester were not encouraging - first with a John Edwards event in Manchester, where I volunteered. It was outdoors, held in a park downtown (Victory) - which is surrounded on 3 of 4 sides by tall overhanging buildings, including yes, a library, and even worse, a big parking garage. I was extremely concerned in that the security people there hadn't closed off any of them - I know exactly how to get on top of the library and the arts center through back ways without being noticed (having worked in one and taken classes in the other), the garage is dark and mazelike and offers excellent views of the park, the historical society building was closed for renovations, which is going to stop everyone who obeys a no-tresspassing sign - and yes there are trees but they're not everywhere around the central theatre area.

I mentioned my concerns to one of the Secret Service men and they shrugged it off, which I trusted meant they had people up there, because I couldn't get away to go check myself at that point.

The Edwards campaign staffers were only concerned with checking incoming attendees for being clandestine Bushies - we were told to screen for Bush pins, Bush signs folded up and carried, etc, and exclude these people. And we volunteers were the only ones checking entrants.

Later, at the Kerry rally in front of City Hall, (also surrounded by tall buildings, not impregnable) there were metal detectors and they did afaik make everyone go through them - but they didn't catch my bronze 7" long hairpin which I had forgot I was wearing. So I don't know how well they were working. And people were allowed to go right up to the rail, and shake hands, and I didn't see any security personnel monitoring the whole area like I have at sports events or, indeed, the country fairs here.

Both times I was distracted throughout from what the candidates were saying and how audiences were responding because I was so worried about a Manchurian Candidate scenario, and I heard other people in the crowd express concerns, too.
Fortunately there were only normal protestors, but it seemed very sloppy.

#18 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:59 AM:

'I can just see Bush sitting in the White House and saying, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome candidate?"'

You can see Bush using the word meddlesome?!!?

#19 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 07:00 AM:

Feb. 18: Former President Clinton Visits Steubenville:

Security was light at the rally, with a bomb-sniffing dog used to make a sweep of the Big Red gym and area around it about 90 minutes before Clinton arrived. Those attending the rally were not subjected to searches or swept with metal detectors.
Local officials said the Secret Service informed them that, as a former president, Clinton is considered a low-risk target, thus the metal sweeps and heavier security afforded candidates and the sitting president are not used.
I also found a January article making it uncertain whether Edwards had or requested Secret Service protection during his run. But most sources seem to agree that while McCain and the Republicans "qualify" for Secret Service protection, they haven't yet accepted it. One described McCain as having several private bodyguards, though.

#20 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 07:27 AM:

So, just to be clear, what we're talking about here is the Secret Service, who work for the incumbent president, scanting security on Democratic candidates in the hope that they'll get shot?

That's almost funny. Except for the part where it really isn't.

And (according to the Times article) they call him "Renegade," do they? Hmm, bet *that* nickname was just pulled out of a hat...

#21 ::: Jason B ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 07:45 AM:

In Minnesota they know what can happen when a candidate dies close to election time:

Wellstone's plane goes down, Coleman wins.

I even heard some people grumbling that time that the plane crash might be a Bush conspiracy, since Wellstone was one of very few in Congress to pose strong and vocal opposition to the Bush Regime. I always thought that was far fetched, but what the hell is this security mess? It makes one think.

#22 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 07:54 AM:

ObSFRef - discussions of leaders pulling security or leaving lax precautions from political adversaries as an official handwashing figure prominently in Cherryh's first Foreigner trilogy from the mid-90s - not a new concept in fiction as in history.

#23 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:02 AM:

One thing comes to mind: with the security for spoorts events at a stadium, the site operators and local police should have a very good idea of the time and resources needed to check people on entry. Metal detectors and bag-cjhecks seem to be routine, and I would guess that people attending a political rally would have some idea of the timing.

So the Secret Service don't check everyone themselves, but why don't they supervise the people who do the job as routine? Or would that have to be paid for out of campaign funds? Is there any reason why the involvement of the Secret Service stops site operators from doing bag checks? Maybe it's in the details of liability insurance?


#24 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:12 AM:

heresiarch @4: I don't think Clinton or Obama would feel safer if they had Blackwater handling the security.

#25 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:27 AM:

All this talk of security theater makes me wonder what would happen if they just held the political rallies in airports.

#26 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:41 AM:

Well that's just depressing.

#27 ::: pxcampbell ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:41 AM:

Funny thing, but this isn't news or startling to me.

Many years ago - in 1976 - I won a scholarship. The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Gerald Ford. This was a couple of months after Squeaky tried to pop him, and since the organization in question was a bunch of females, security was "tight" (okay, it was the 70's) and everyone was being screened.

But I was late and didn't know where to go and one of the organizers hustled me through -- told the nice SS guys that my parents and I didn't need to be screened. So, no argument, no screening, no purse check... straight up to the stage where I sat six feet behind Mr. Ford.

I guess, at the end of the say, the strategy is to form a human shield.

But I do like the imagine of the bomb with the fuse hanging out -- that gave me a nice chuckle this morning.

#28 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:02 AM:

25: Well, I suspect the black guy with the Muslim name and the history of opposition to the Iraq war would get pulled aside for fairly serious search and questioning...

#29 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:17 AM:

If you check some people, then let a bunch of unchecked ones into the same area, you’re no more secure than you would be if you hadn’t checked anyone at all.

Thinking on this a little: If you do something like this, once, due to extraordinary circumstances*, you have a hole in your security, and if you're lucky nothing will happen. If you have a regular hole in your security, then it isn't security; it may even be worse than no security if people think there's security but there isn't.

Dave Bell @23 Potential budget or personnel problems for security; seriously? In post 9/11 USA? What measures aren't excessive, going to what lengths are too far to preserve democracy? (/sarcastic) There is something seriously wrong here.

* But you don't do it, because how do you know those extraordinary circumstances haven't been arranged by someone hoping for a hole in your security?

even if it meant they scanted or ignored the Secret Service’s other assigned duties?

Good news for counterfeiters I imagine.

#30 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 29:

even if it meant they scanted or ignored the Secret Service’s other assigned duties?

Good news for counterfeiters I imagine.

And this startling news: A federal agency caught skimping on the job. Which one? We'll tell you after this break.

#31 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:41 AM:

As a wise woman once said, "I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist."

#32 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:58 AM:

Dave Bell @ 5: "(Here's a thought: are Obama and Clinton a mutual poison pill? Kill Obama, and you guarantee Hillary is elected, and vice versa.)"

That was my thought too, though your thoughts about suborning the electoral college are frighteningly plausible. At that point, I guess there'd be no choice but to declare a benevolent dictatorship and appoint your daughter Secretary of Education.*

*obscure, terrible SF reference.

Rob Rusik @ 24: "I don't think Clinton or Obama would feel safer if they had Blackwater handling the security."

Heh.

#33 ::: Doug spots comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:58 AM:

It's #32 from "arya", who's never posted here before.

#34 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:00 AM:

Lis Riba (#16): As his rallies have swelled, so has his security, nearly rivaling that given to a sitting president.

They don't say which sitting president, though; I suspect the answer is "James Garfield".

#35 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:01 AM:

I also couldn't help noticing the difference between today's above-the-fold NY story on this topic (which Teresa links to above (of course)) and her piece. One of them is serious journalism on a serious topic; one is mostly fluff. No points for guessing which one.

As Brad DeLong would say, why oh why?

(I hyperventilate a bit more on this topic here.)

#36 ::: Nina Katarina ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:04 AM:

The same thing doesn't happen at McCain rallies because he doesn't have SS protection yet, and also he doesn't draw enough interest to have huge lines at his rallies.

#37 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:08 AM:

Comment spam at #32.

#38 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:08 AM:

I can see a rather big lack here; no one interviewed the Obama campaign. Because as someone pointed out at James Nicoll's blog, the Secret Service are supposed to listen to what the subject wants, within reason. And the SS has a very big prestige investment in not having someone assassinated under their guard, and very little in having full rallies; and while the Obama campaign is even more invested in not having Obama assassinated, they also have a big investment in having full rallies and not having thousands of potential voters standing outside, angry at not being let in.

So before I suspect dark conspiracy, I'd find out how the candidate wants things handled.

#39 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Gah. That put the chill back in this warm February morning...

Also, "more conscious of these issues than most" doesn't just apply to the DPD...this whole city is very conscious of that dark part of its legacy. It surprises me not at all that after many, many similar events across the country that apparently had similar issues which were largely unnoticed, it would be Dallas residents and Dallas area news teams that would pick up this story and run with it.

If there is a hole (and this sounds like one to me, Nathaniel's points at #10 are rather weak, IMO), let's hope this attention forces it to be closed. I concur with others who have pointed out that metal detectors, bag searches, and even pat-downs have become standard at large music events. It's got to be easier to search for guns than for cameras...

#40 ::: Vardibidian ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:21 AM:

In 1992, when Bill Clinton came to the corner of 24th and Mission in San Francisco, there was no screening of any kind. I was in the front and shook his hand; I had a satchel over my shoulder that hadn't been checked by anybody. The woman next to me handed him an envelope (which he handed to his guard). I was aware of the lack of security, although I was also aware of the riflemen on the rooftops.

Also, that was Bill Clinton. Later, in 2001 or 2002, I was an employee at a location where he came to speak; the Secret Service had done their stuff and arranged a route. Some of the staff who weren't going to get in to the event had figured out that they could get a glimpse of him in the stairwell: the path that he was to follow brought him in and up, and the people gathered just down. The ex-president came in, saw the riffraff down a half-flight of stairs, and walked down instead of up, and made himself even later by shaking hands. The security guys let it happen; nobody had been searched.

I don't think the security theater is anything new, or anything uniquely disturbing, except to the extent that Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton are unusually likely to make crazy people crazy.

Thanks,
-V.

#41 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:49 AM:

Dave Bell #5: "(Here's a thought: are Obama and Clinton a mutual poison pill? Kill Obama, and you guarantee Hillary is elected, and vice versa.)"

Not true.

Obama gets assassinated. The right-wing media hounds howl 24/7 about Clinton being to blame, with Vince Foster and her known thirst for power as 'evidence'. McCain wins the presidency in a walk.

All that plan needs to succeed is lax security, hoping that there's one nutjob out there willing to do the dirty work. It could happen.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:50 AM:

I'd think it would be a good idea to check everyone, because, while there might not be a gun-carrier in the crowd, there might be a gas canister carrier, and they could be in the group allowed in without screening.

It sure sounds to me like someone somewhere gave orders to not bother screening everyone, in hopes of having something happen.

#43 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:12 AM:

Good point, PJ. Of course, the Secret Service isn't charged with protecting the crowd, but Homeland Security, the local police, and/or whoever the facility has on security detail certainly should be.

#44 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:20 AM:

Teresa @15:

You don't even have to have the gun "up your sleeve." You CAN fire a gun through the side of a purse.

And, yes, Hillary Clinton still has her own personal protection unit from the Secret Service. All outgoing Presidents and their immediate family do. Just because you've become a "former" President, doesn't mean the crazies will stop coming after you.

#45 ::: Captain Slack ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:29 AM:

@Heresiarch (#32+1 due to the deletion of the spam comment): At that point, I guess there'd be no choice but to declare a benevolent dictatorship and appoint your daughter Secretary of Education.

And make sure nothing happens to Thorley. (Should I be more ashamed of how long it took me to grok the reference, or that I remember the books in the first place?)

@Remus Shepherd (#41+1): Obama gets assassinated. The right-wing media hounds howl 24/7 about Clinton being to blame, with Vince Foster and her known thirst for power as 'evidence'. McCain wins the presidency in a walk.

...it's a sign of the sad state of this nation that I suspect they've already discarded that plan because they fear the Masses still have enough of a gag reflex to resist swallowing bullshit that blatant.

#46 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:36 AM:

When I attended an Edwards rally last summer there was NO security. I'm under the impression that he did not ask for a detail of agents. Having attended several events where the President was in attendance, I have to say the Secret Service folk are not hard to spot, so it's really obvious when there aren't any.

#47 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:46 AM:

James @9: I can just see Bush sitting in the White House and saying, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome candidate?"

I can't. Cheney? Sure. But that's a lot of polysorbet...er...pollysybil...er fancy talk for dimwit to get out all at once.

#48 ::: SisterCoyote ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Adding a data point:

I don't know about security for Obama in Reno (although I can ask), but I can say that security for Clinton in Reno at the local community college was non-existent. No one was checked for weapons at all.

#49 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:56 AM:

At the Denver rally, several thousand people were sent to a spillover area because they wouldn't fit in DU's arena. None of those people were screened even though Obama came out and addressed them first.

#50 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Cap'n Slack @ 45:

@Heresiarch (#32+1 due to the deletion of the spam comment): At that point, I guess there'd be no choice but to declare a benevolent dictatorship and appoint your daughter Secretary of Education.

And make sure nothing happens to Thorley. (Should I be more ashamed of how long it took me to grok the reference, or that I remember the books in the first place?)

(1) Definitely the latter. Why, oh why, did I read several of them?

(2) Hey, how about some PHP / Perl trickery that allows us to refer to the number of a previous comment with a number that automatically updates upon spam removal? Or, I suppose we could use names + link to the comment in question. Or, just trust the ML Crew to do simple arithmetic. Never mind.

#51 ::: Robin Grantham ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 12:24 PM:

It's true. In Chicago on February 5th, only ticketed people were supposed to be able to get close to Senator Obama. The weather was bad, though, so even though I thought I would have to stand in the spillover area (I didn't have a ticket), I walked straight in and stood twenty feet from the podium. There were no lines by then. A man searched my purse, but no one checked me with a metal detector. The woman in front of me in line ended up center stage behind the podium -- where there were no bulletproof shields.

I thought this was a hush-hush thing done because of the bad weather. Also, the secret servicemen -- and there were a lot of them -- seemed very attentive despite the change in procedure. Several of the people I walked by who were handling the event did seem distraught about the change, however.

In conflict with what Nathaniel @ #10 reports regarding an optimistic interpretation of the thread at DKos, it wasn't true that it was "first come, first serve," as far as getting close to the stage. As I mentioned, you had to have a ticket to get close, but when there were gaps, they filled them in with unchecked latecomers who did not have tickets. I, of course, was thrilled to be one of those latecomers. In retrospect, however, I suppose it would have been safer to fill in the gaps by letting the spillover crowd move down. They had been through security earlier, when they were still wanding everyone.

If you really want to be a conspiracy theorist, consider the implied proposition -- the ones who really love him aren't going to vote for him because they don't want to see him get hurt. Hmm.

#52 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 12:31 PM:

I'm grateful to the Dallas police. They wanted to do a good job and when they weren't allowed to, they went public about it.

#53 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 12:33 PM:

As far as security goes - you don't have to target the plane candidate. What happens if an unscreened person in the back detonates a suitcase? The blast doesn't get anywhere near Obama, but who cares?

I would guess that the effect politically would be effectively random - it might entrench the Democrats, but it might move a lot of ABHers to the GOP. Randomizing a winner-take-all isn't a great tactic - until you're certain you'll lose without the coin-toss.

Cynical, me?

#54 ::: touchstone ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 12:34 PM:

I understand the mockery of the 'friendly crowd' phrase, but I don't think it was as idiotic a comment as you implied, Teresa. It seems like a reasonable statement if the officer in question was primarily worried about crowd control / group disruptions rather than assassination. And that does seem like the side of the affair that the Dallas cops would be most directly worried about...it's more their balliwick.

#55 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 01:35 PM:

...it's a sign of the sad state of this nation that I suspect they've already discarded that plan because they fear the Masses still have enough of a gag reflex to resist swallowing bullshit that blatant.

I don't know about that. These are the same folks (The American Electorate) who believed there were WMDs in Iraq, which had something to do with 9/11.

There could be footage of Dick Chaney pulling the trigger and enough people would still believe the cover story.

#56 ::: JerolJ ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 01:37 PM:

We saw Barack at the Minneapolis rally and we were early arrivals so we got screened. I did notice that after the speech when he started shaking hands he had guys on either side of him that were definitely serious about their business. The kind of men that can spot that bullet coming and will step in front of it without hesitation. While I totally believe in Rethuglican conspiracy theories I tend to think that the Secret Service has far too much pride to even think of being lax with Obama. They're the best in the business when it comes to protection.

I recall some description of a Hollywood charity event years ago. The Bush daughters showed up for some reason, with a small Secret Service detail. Lots of Hollywood types had their own security there as well. And according to the author of the piece it was clear that the later was all just bravado and steroids, but the guys from the Treasury dept. were just clearly the kind that radiated "Don't even THINK about fucking with us".

#57 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 01:40 PM:

There's one glaring falsehood quoted without comment in this post, which I'd like to think discredits the whole thing. It's the second half of this sentence:

"There were purse checks and metal detectors for Barry Manilow and he is a threat to no one!"

#58 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 01:42 PM:

Touchstone, I acknowledge your point. For a police officer, the mood of the crowd is a much more pertinent point.

...

Apropos of not much, I've had Hard Times running through my head all day.

#59 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 03:53 PM:

I've done PPD (sorry, personal protection details). Let's just say that my reactions to this were not fir for print in "legitimate" publication.

WTF?

Deep breath, attempt to be more coherent.

It's a recipe for disaster. A couple of tests and the flaws in the system are evident, and so exploitable. I don't want a martyr to be hagiographically memorialised (a la RFK), but rather someone who gets to run (and one hopes, elected).

I am appalled that the Secret Service seems to be another chunk of the federal services which has been corrupted by contact with the present executive.

This one, actually, managed to surpise me, some. I'd love to have reports about folk attending McCain events (and suddenly I have a desire to go to one). I've been to Clippers games and truth to tell, getting a weapon into one of them is pretty easy. They could do a lot more to secure that venue).

Given the rhetoric Orcinus has been sharing, the idea that the front half of the crowd is all one needs to worry about is either stupid, or deliberate malfeasance (though by whom we don't yet yet know).

#60 ::: Lisa Harrigan ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:11 PM:

Well, I was at the Salinas Clinton Rally. And they thoroughly checked the building with dogs and then let the handicapped in without any checking (my mom is in a wheelchair). Since I was up close and personal I saw what the Real Security is. It isn't the metal detectors, it's a ton of men and women in dark suits with ear wires, using their sharp eyes to see what the crowd is up to. Prepared to put their bodies between Hillary and anyone with a Bad intentions. I told one of them Thank you for all the hard work and real danger. He Smiled.
There was security all right, but like I said, the secuirty is real. Not fakey with Metal Detctors.
Still with Obama I really worry, just because the Bushites are not above killing an opponent who has a chance. But that's the real sticky Conspiracy theory. Then again, if the Bushites try that, then they are going to need to be real worried that they have allowed everyone to keep their guns.
LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

#61 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:19 PM:

I've been trying to figure this story out since it broke a few days ago. If -- as some people are saying -- these same procedures have been in place since last century, for candidates of both parties, that seems to refute the claim that this is something new, some plot of the Cheney Regency to kill off Obama.

That leaves the question of whether these procedures actually work. To which my answer is: I don't know. I don't know what else they're doing in addition to screening people with metal detectors.

I am a bit amused at the notion that Dallas is somehow more dangerous than other places for a presidential candidate. (I'm lookin' at you, Jeff Adams of Berkeley, Calif!) As if the place is haunted by a malignant spirit that'll possess people and make them reenact the JFK assassination. It's kin to the logic the TSA uses when it makes people take off their shoes: "Some bad guy did this exact thing once, so we need to guard against this exact thing."

And I've got "Everybody's Got the Right" going through my head.

#62 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Avram #61: As if the place is haunted by a malignant spirit that'll possess people and make them reenact the JFK assassination.

Rejick, Redjac, Red Jack!

#63 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:16 PM:

Lisa Harrigan: The guys in the vests, with the earbuds and the hardware are the final line of defense.

They are good, but they aren't perfect. The point of visible security is discouragement. Some of it is meaningful theater (someone who really wants to, and is smart, can get a weapon into anyplace.

But, the theater has to be the sort which really discourages. Reagan was shot, depsite the guys who knocked him down and hustled him to the hospital.

I dislike things which make it easier for the nutjobs to get a chance at pulling it off.

#64 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:32 PM:

Teresa #15: Yog, how hard is it to rig a gun to drop out of someone's sleeve?

Not hard at all. But why bother? Given enough explosives someone could make sure that Serious Men in Dark Suits Throwing Their Bodies In Front of the Candidate wouldn't help the candidate.

It isn't like there aren't people who have already been doing that in other parts of the world.

#65 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:44 PM:

Skwid @39: Also, "more conscious of these issues than most" doesn't just apply to the DPD...this whole city is very conscious of that dark part of its legacy. It surprises me not at all that after many, many similar events across the country that apparently had similar issues which were largely unnoticed, it would be Dallas residents and Dallas area news teams that would pick up this story and run with it.

In Asimov's joke collection, he stated that he never cared for 'elephant jokes', but for one:

"What did the Dallas chief of police say when the elephant walked into the police station?"

"Nothing. He didn't notice."
This of course was current following the JFK assassination and the death of Oswald in police custody. A reminder (as if any were needed) of what Dallas and its police department had to live with.

#66 ::: touchstone ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Hmm. Surely there does have to be a balance, though? It seems to me that if the Secret Service had imposed stringent enough security to give a high confidence of safety, and in the process had delayed admission to the point that the rally itself was disrupted, we'd be talking about how the administration was (once again) using security as an excuse to muffle opposing voices. And I think there'd be an element of truth in it, as well.

Where should the balance be struck? Ultimately, each one of us is alive today ONLY because no one has decided they want us dead badly enough - perfect security doesn't exist, and it's only through a certain level of mutual trust that we're able to function at all. At the same time, it'd be foolish to provide too easy a target...it makes sense to bid up the value of 'badly enough' far enough to dissuade the casual opportunist, at the very least. How much further than that, though? What do you think is the right level, and what's too far?

Tim, when you were doing protection professionally, did you have an opinion on that? Or was it your job to propose the best defense you could design, and let someone else bargain it down on the basis of other considerations?

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:08 PM:

One of the comments on this seen elsewhere was that people doing professional security with metal detectors and such know how long it takes, because they use that and the location size to decide how many search stations they need to set up.
It sounds here like they don't use enough stations, which makes me wonder even more about intent.

I'm assuming the Secret Service can do that calculation too. Or used to be able to do - these days, what government agencies are able to do frequently bears little resemblance to what they used to be able to do.

#68 ::: Edd Vick ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 07:27 PM:

We arrived late at Hillary Clinton's Seattle rally, and there wasn't a lick of security screening. We were in an overflow room, but with enough effort somebody could have gotten line of sight on her.

I'm too trusting. I didn't even think about the possibilities until this post.

#69 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:20 PM:

In thinking about this in the car today* I'm wondering if there's a new factor in the security equation which can't really quantified yet:

Has the "Post 9/11 War on Terror" culture significantly increased the odds of civilian intervention during an act of assassination/terrorism in a crowded venue? I'm thinking the "random nutjob" scenario might be far more difficult to pull off today, although I'm pretty certain the odds are less impacted for 'professional' level scenarios. Call it the Flight 93 Factor.

-----
* Mostly in an ongoing attempt to tame the I'm Shpx-ing Ben Affleck (NSFW) earworm that's been in my head all day. Yes, I am far far less cultured and infinitely more sophomoric than Teresa when it comes to earworms...

#70 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:29 PM:

In 2001 Mrs. Bush spoke at an event held by my organization. We were using the Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden that year. (In fact, it was September 22 and we had to cancel the morning breakfast with Mrs. Bush for vip-types which we were hoping would lead to donations for our organization.) IIRC the staff had to be there extra early so we could set up, leave the theatre to let the Secret Service then search the auditorium with dogs. So we would have had to pass through the detectors twice. (I got there late and only went through once.) They had metal detectors in several areas -- both behind the stage area which staff and stage-sitting guests had to use and, in conjunction with MSG, out front where our volunteers would be coming in. There were enough detection stations set up so that the 1200 or so attendees were able to get in, get their boxed breakfast, mill around the lobby eating and then enter to their seats (which were first come, first seat). Everyone went through the detectors.

It is possible to plan the timing of letting people in so that all people can walk through the detectors. This is lax security for Senator Obama and it is outrageous.

#71 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:05 PM:

I don't know about this time - I didn't have time to go to any events let alone volunteer, this winter - but in 2004 there were plenty of the Serious Guys (and Gals) in Dark Suits with earpieces, sunglasses, and guns getting out of Govt-plated SUVs around Edwards; if they weren't Secret Service they were doing a darn good imitation of them. And they were standing at his elbow during all the handshaking and crowd mingling.

But I'm not sure what good someone at ground level courageously jumping in front of their assigned candidate is going to do against a sniper shooting down from a third or fourth story of an overlooking building...let alone the worry of C4 in a coat-pocket.

#72 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:15 PM:

PJ, #42: while there might not be a gun-carrier in the crowd, there might be a gas canister carrier, and they could be in the group allowed in without screening

Now THAT scares the shit out of me. How close would someone with a Sarin canister have to be to get the speaker, and how many other people would they take out in the process?

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Lee, it does that to me, too. Or, say, an aerosol can loaded with some of that 'weaponized anthrax' that was being mailed out in 2001.

I can see some nutcase deciding that taking out everyone in the hall was an acceptable loss in order to get Clinton or Obama; to someone like that, they'd be uppity minorities and women, pinko students, and evil libruls, and thus targets in their own right.

I sure do hope that the Secret Service has people in charge of security who can see these possibilities.

#74 ::: I'd really rather not ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:32 PM:

All protection is limited by whatever the principal wants. Or what the staffer or handler wants for the politician. All politicians, regardless of party, or even nationality, disregard security advice from their protection detail because they have other objectives they find more important than security.

In this case, I would be very, very surprised if it was not a staffer who made the decision to suspend screening in order to fill the venue. A half empty venue does not project popularity. A candidate for the democratic nomination must be popular. Ergo, the venue must be filled. Security is not as important a principle to them as popularity.

Ultimately, the Service does what the principal requests, and does their best to protect him or her from him- or her-self as much as any attacker.

#75 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:46 PM:

#74
More than one principal is involved.
I haven't heard that Obama is getting less-than-large crowds anywhere, and even Clinton has gotten overflow crowds at times.
I could see that 'wanting to fill the hall' scenario, but not on the Democratic side: they aren't having that kind of trouble. It's the Republicans who have the small crowds.

#76 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:47 PM:

How close would someone with a Sarin canister have to be to get the speaker, and how many other people would they take out in the process?

Sarin? Lousy weapon. Note that in a coordinated operation involving multiple dispensers, in ideal circumstances for nerve gas, the Aum Shinrikyo only managed to kill a dozen people in the Tokyo subway attack.

The answer is probably "standing next to him," and even then that isn't 100% sure.

#77 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 12:26 AM:

Secret Service Agent Saves Obama From Egg Salad Assault

And no, it's not a parody from The Onion this time.

#78 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 12:36 AM:

This one, on the other hand, is....

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

#79 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Now I want egg salad.

#80 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:31 AM:

Captain Slack @ 45: "And make sure nothing happens to Thorley."

I'm proud, PROUD I say, not to remember who Thorley is. (And you definitely ought to be feeling the latter.)

I'd really rather not @ 74: "All protection is limited by whatever the principal wants. Or what the staffer or handler wants for the politician. All politicians, regardless of party, or even nationality, disregard security advice from their protection detail because they have other objectives they find more important than security."

Which makes me ask, why was the politician forced to make the choice between security and a full arena? Why isn't (s)he assigned enough security to search all of the people they expected to come in the first place?

#81 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:42 AM:

Jim: Thanks for saving me the effort on Sarin. The only agent which would be a, pretty, sure thing, is VX. GHB would be pretty good, but not a sure thing.

Gas weapons have never been all that people who don't have to deal with them thought they were.

Lance Weber: One guy with a gun did a pretty good number in Virginia, and more recently at the shopping mall.

I don't think the guy gets more than one chance, but one chance may be all he needs. As Jim points out, a bomb is a lot easier to make work (though it might not set off a metal detector, so that aspect of things isn't as much a given).

Were I in charge of the detail.... metal detectors, with an explosives K-9 team next to it. False positives worry me less than a built in hole, and dogs have a low false-positive rate.

#82 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:52 AM:

Given that rightwing nut case Hal Turner is calling for someone to off Obama on his website, this is deadly serious.

http://www.halturnershow.com/

Let me quote him, which is under the photo of Obama in Somali dress:

"Is THIS the type of guy you want running America? I Don't!
In fact, I'm starting to come to the realization that it may be up to a sole person, acting alone, to make certain this guy is never allowed to hold the most powerful office in the world. Sorry it may have to be that way, but it may."

#83 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 03:09 AM:

James @76: "Sarin? Lousy weapon. Note that in a coordinated operation involving multiple dispensers, in ideal circumstances for nerve gas, the Aum Shinrikyo only managed to kill a dozen people in the Tokyo subway attack."

That's not really evidence that sarin is a lousy weapon. Opinions differ on why A.S. carried out the attack the way they did, but it's generally agreed that they could've easily killed very many more people than they did. They used an unusually dilute preparation of sarin, and they relied on it seeping out of a bag rather than using any kind of spray or bomb. The most common theories about this are (a) they were more interested in chaos than mass deaths; (b) they wanted to give their agents some chance of getting off the train alive; or (c) they just weren't very smart.

#84 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 03:45 AM:

The thing is, protectinf the candidate, or the President, is like a lot of other stuff: the defence is layered. The perimeter security of metal detectors and bag checks is a different layer to the guys who, even in bullet-resistant clothing, have to get between the principal and the gunman and physically stop the bullets.

And according to the comments on the news story, the metal detectors and bag checks are a routine part of major events in the USA.

Add the suicide bomber to the mix, and whatever the reality of the threats, it starts to look as if neither the Secret Service nor the event organisers are taking the threats seriously.

#85 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 04:37 AM:

The only agent which would be a, pretty, sure thing, is VX. GHB would be pretty good, but not a sure thing.

GB, maybe? (GB is sarin; GHB is the infamous drug Xyren, used for spiking drinks...)

#86 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 07:04 AM:

Just on the general subject of Assassinations or Attempted Assassinations in American Political History, here's a fascinating little factoid I managed to miss.

Arther Bremer, who originally wanted to shoot Nixon, was sentenced to 53 years in prison after he settled for trying to kill Governor George Wallace of Alabama (running for the Democratic Party's nomination at the time). He was released after only 35 years, three and a half months ago, on November 7, 2007.

I guess Bremer didn't have any political motivation for shooting Wallace. It seems he was more of the Hinckley variety of assassin, or one of these Columbine types who had grievances against a cruel world and wanted to make his mark in a way available to almost anyone in this country who can't make his mark in any other, more positive way.

My right-wing brother thinks there is an even chance that if there is some sort of assassination attempt, there is an equal chance it will be against either the Republican or Democratic candidates. I don't really buy that, but I can't exactly say why.

There seem to be at least three reasons for assassination or assassination attempts. One, for political reasons. Two, for notoriety reasons. Three, for simple nut-bar reasons. Clearly, there is some overlap between all three of those motivations.

But it does make me wonder if the crucial factor determining whether an assassination attempt occurs is more the current zeitgeist of the country than it is the nature, or politics, or race, or gender of the particular candidates.

A lot of us in here will have lived through that terrible streak that started with President Kennedy and went through his brother and Martin Luther King, Jr., and George Wallace. It always seemed to me that there had to be an explanation for that streak. There had to be something about those times.

So if any of that is really the case, I have to wonder if we are entering another one of those times?

Me? Personally? I fear that we are. But that could just be the audacity of dread and terrible memories, I suppose. If we are entering such times, I don't imagine any amount of security will save us... which is no excuse for not doing our damnedest at all times to try to keep these people safe, of course.

#87 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 08:58 AM:

Gas is still a lousy weapon, since it cannot be controlled once it is released. Its usefulness is primarily in closed environments, and for inducing fear/panic. You still have the difficulty of making it -- one of the problems Aum had -- as well as releasing it appropriately. It might be slightly more feasible than the "liquid bombs" but just barely.

Guns are so easy to come by, and so easy to use, it's no wonder they are the weapon of choice for people having all sorts of psychiatric issues. People are like water in that respect: they tend to take the easiest path to their goals. Keep it simple, and it will be the popular choice.

Dogs offer more than just a low false-positive rate; they also provide some crowd control. ;-)

#88 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 09:05 AM:

Teresa, thank you, thank you, thank you for this excellent post. It's filled the local news over the past 4-5 days. One small correction. The paper you're quoting is the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Dallas paper (at least, the one that survives) is the Morning News. You may have noticed that I only quote the "Startlegram" here--that's because they're the one remaining bastion of reasonably liberal viewpoints here. Not to mention that they carried Mollie Ivins' column, along with The News' insistence that folks register to read even a single article.

We were working on a job in Dallas last Wednesday, and I mentioned during the trip down (45 miles) that I wish I could have arranged to attend. Three of the four employees who were with me also wanted to go, so we ditched the morning like school kids, got the labor crew started on cleaning up the jobsite, gave the customer our regrets, and got to Reunion Arena at around 09:15. There was already a line, and we waited, finally got screened, and went in. There were some people standing next to us who had friends who arrived late, and who mentioned in a phone conversation that they hadn't been screened when they came in. They soon came to our spot, fairly near the front, and although they mentioned again that they hadn't been searched, at the time, I thought they were just boasting of their importance. It never occurred to me that the SS had actually stopped screening.

(I'll add here that we drank all the Kool-Aid that was offered, shed tears, and hollered with the rest. Later that afternoon, one of my foremen, an African-American Viet Nam vet, made believers of our customer and his wife.)

I didn't see anything in our local papers about the security outrage until Friday, but I already knew about it from an odd source. Coincidentally, starting the following day (Thursday), we began what I call our Law Enforcement Seasonal Tour. Over the years, through referrals, I've picked up several customers who are in the upper echelon of county and state law enforcement in this area, and 3-4 times per year we schedule service calls for them. This is tree trimming time, and so far, since last Thursday, we've serviced six places, with two to go. These are regular customers, and over the years they've come to know I'm a liberal Democrat. Most years we just don't talk about it, but this year, every single one has mentioned the security lapses at the Obama rally. They are, to a man, furious.

#89 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 09:11 AM:

85: "(GB is sarin; GHB is the infamous drug Xyren, used for spiking drinks...)"

What's GWB?

#90 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 09:11 AM:

Michael Weholt @ 86

Can't say I've done any deep research on the subject, but I have read that, in the US anyway, violence, and especially "free-floating" violence like amoking and non-politically-motivated assassination appear to be more common in times of either greater state violence (wars, "police actions", "anti-terrorist campaigns", etc.) or times of economic hardship. We seem to be in a period of both just now, implying we could get a lot of assassinations and/or random multiple killings. Certainly we've gotten a few of the latter recently.

#91 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 09:14 AM:

Doug@ 89: A poison*. Alternatively, a poisson.

*"Poison, n, Person from New Joisey"

#92 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 09:51 AM:

Doug/Ginger @89,91: Based on the symptoms I'm pretty sure GWB is a fairly strong lead poisoning chemical warfare agent. The NSC notes that: "even very low levels of exposure can result in reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing..."

#93 ::: touchstone ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 10:01 AM:

My right-wing brother thinks there is an even chance that if there is some sort of assassination attempt, there is an equal chance it will be against either the Republican or Democratic candidates. I don't really buy that, but I can't exactly say why.

I'll suggest one explanation, at least: at this particular time and in the United States, 'armed, violent nutcase extremist' is a concept we associate with the right wing. In the public imagination at the moment, violent left-wing extremists start riots and lead protests that clash with police. Violent right-wing extremists congregate in rural areas with piles of weapons and plot to blow things up or shoot people. So it's not surprising it's easier to picture a right-wing assassination attempt; it fits better with the image.

Taking it from a different angle - for a person to really inspire assassination attempts, I think they have to be unique enough that it would make a DIFFERENCE. Even a nutcase would hesitate to assassinate someone who was just going to be replaced by someone else substantially the same. On that score, most of the Republican candidates this year were safe; they just didn't stand out enough to be 'worth it'. I think the only one who needs to be worried is Huckabee, and only if he wins the nomination, which seems unlikely.

#94 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:05 AM:

Taking it from a different angle - for a person to really inspire assassination attempts, I think they have to be unique enough that it would make a DIFFERENCE.

How did Gerald Ford draw not just one, but two nutcases? His veep was Rockefeller.

#95 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:33 AM:

How did Gerald Ford draw not just one, but two nutcases? His veep was Rockefeller.

One word: Disco

#96 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:39 AM:

I was early to the Clinton rally in Seattle, and the lack of screening at the doors was remarkable from the beginning. They simply opened the doors and let everyone in, in a sort of big rush. It was noteworthy to me, in that I was standing less than ten feet from Clinton on a couple of occasions, and everyone there was dressed for a cold night on the waterfront - bulky coats, sweaters, etc.

My Obama-supporter friends are pretty much fatalistically convinced that he'll secure the nomination, but be assassinated before he ever takes office.

I'm not sure if that's just a case of mentally preparing for the worst, even while we all hope for the best. It's that thing you see in people who've nearly had all the hope beat out of them: "Maybe it really will be different this time, but I'll just brace myself to get hit again, just in case."

#97 ::: touchstone ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:47 AM:

How did Gerald Ford draw not just one, but two nutcases? His veep was Rockefeller.

Hmm. A fair point. Fromme was just off her rocker, but Moore certainly had political motivations. Ford /was/ unique (having gotten the Oval Office without ever facing an election), but the same would have been true of Rockefeller if the assassination had succeeded, so maybe I'm ascribing too much forethought to violent wackos.

#98 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:49 AM:

I lived through the assassinations of the 60s. Bobby Kennedy's death killed something hopeful in me. Barack Obama has revived it.

My Obama-supporter friends are pretty much fatalistically convinced that he'll secure the nomination, but be assassinated before he ever takes office.

That's pretty much how I feel, when I let myself go there.

#99 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 12:01 PM:

#97 and above

Perhaps Ford was a stand-in for Nixon, in terms of assassination attempts.

#100 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 12:05 PM:

Doug at 89,

A peculiar cancer on the body politic.

#101 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Margaret @99:

I suspect Ford's pardoning Nixon, rather than making him face the music of impeachment, was one reason behind the assassination attempts.

#102 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Obama reminds me of a combination of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, in how he talks, what he talks about, and the kind of support he gets.

I fervently hope the resemblance will end there.

#103 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 12:39 PM:

I'm worried about someone taking a potshot at HRC since there's a lot more self-identified Hillary-haters out there. One person already brought a home-made bomb to one of her campaign offices early in the campaign, right?
I hope the Secret Service is on the job with all the candidates.

#104 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:01 PM:

touchstone @ 93: I'll suggest one explanation, at least: at this particular time and in the United States, 'armed, violent nutcase extremist' is a concept we associate with the right wing. In the public imagination at the moment, violent left-wing extremists start riots and lead protests that clash with police. Violent right-wing extremists congregate in rural areas with piles of weapons and plot to blow things up or shoot people. So it's not surprising it's easier to picture a right-wing assassination attempt; it fits better with the image.

And if they determine McCain isn't sufficiently extremist for their tastes? If they listen to Dobson, who says he'd refuse to ever vote for him? If they listen to Coulter, who says she'd vote for Clinton first?

#105 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Michael Wheholt #86: A lot of us in here will have lived through that terrible streak that started with President Kennedy and went through his brother and Martin Luther King, Jr., and George Wallace. It always seemed to me that there had to be an explanation for that streak. There had to be something about those times.

I'm sure there was. That span of time (Nov 1963 to May 1972) also covers the Kent State shootings, the '68 election protest in Chicago, and the founding of the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground. Extend it a couple of years and you include the founding of the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Hearst kidnapping.

That's why I kinda rolled my eyes at the cop in the news story who said "How can you not be concerned in this day and age". As if 2008 were an atypically dangerous time in American history.

#106 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:35 PM:

touchstone, #93: In the US, violent religious extremism is also associated with the right wing, whether rural or not. Operation Rescue, Fr*d Ph*lps, brutal murders of pagans and gay people, that sort of thing. There seem to be entirely too many people willing to convince themselves that behaviors they would sincerely condemn in anyone else become okay if you're "doing God's will". And that hatred can crystallize around any candidate, at any moment, for what seems (from the outside) to be incredibly trivial reasons. I would not consider McCain to be immune to that risk, and I do think that if he collects an assassination attempt, it won't be a liberal extremist who makes it.

#107 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 02:05 PM:

ajay: yeah, my brain cramped. There was a Soviet Gas-attack doctrine which took advantage of flaws in the M-17 mask, and I was forgetting the drill.

Fire a chemical (tolerably bad, in it's own right) which also happens to degrade, with great speed, the filters on the mask.

Then (because the M-17 [you can see what it looks like in Outbreak takes about ten minutes, for a practiced person, to replace the filters) in about 30 minutes, when the soldiers are vulnerable (either from useless filters, or being unable to mask) fire a different gas.

Michael Weholt: The prevalance of eliminational rhetoric, and the encouragement of, "lone wolves" by people like Turner are why I think violence of that sort is more likely to come from the right.

Given almost seven years of Bush being a terrible president, damaging the country and sparking all manner of offenses against the polity, we've not even seen an attempt on him.

The left just doesn't seem to have the sort of anger which leads to assasination attempts.

What happens if this goes on, I don't know. It's not as if there aren't those on the left who know how to shoot; and might be capable of the secretive planning required to pull it off.

#108 ::: touchstone ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 02:07 PM:

Lee - I agree. Frankly, if there were a group of liberal extremists in the US who were willing and able to attempt an assassination, one would think they'd have come out of the woodwork at some point in the last 5 or 6 years rather than waiting for McCain.

#109 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 02:14 PM:

hmm, I seem to remember an article from the old National Lampoon entitled Who didn't kill Nixon.
Promising an investigation into the the subject
of the title.

#110 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 03:39 PM:

If you want to panic a crowd (and that can kill people) ordinary tear gas would be quite enough. And, while it might be difficult to obtain without being traced in the subsequent investigation, it's something available. You don't need to run a chemicals lab.

You might even get away without being arrested.

#111 ::: diddo ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 05:48 PM:

James @9: I can just see Bush sitting in the White House and saying, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome candidate?"

bryan @18: You can see Bush using the word meddlesome?!!?

Lance Weber @47 I can't. Cheney? Sure. But that's a lot of polysorbet...er...pollysybil...er fancy talk for dimwit to get out all at once.

HAH! Thanks for the grim laugh. Helps lighten the crippling depression borne of cynicism.

#112 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 07:18 PM:

The seventies, when I attended primary rallies in Madison with my camera and shoved my way up front with the real (credentialed) news photographers, were a more innocent time. Security for candidates was a more laissez-faire thing than it is today. The Secret Service was there, of course, but they used their eyes, not metal detectors. When T and I recently went to the Hillary Clinton rally in Madison the night before the Wisconsin primary, some 4,000 of us faced the security line from hell. Standard airport-type security -- metal detectors, purses and backpacks searched, all metal out of your pockets (to simplify things, I stashed the extra lenses I had in my coat pocket in my wife's purse, so at least they wouldn't roll off the table). But everyone accepted it in patient, resigned good humor -- the times being what they are, and all the things that have happened in the interim, we all understood the necessity for modern security procedures. I remembered wondering how they ever processed the much larger crowd at the Obama rally.

So they started using shortcuts? I just find this incredibly disturbing. What would they say if something happened? Oops? Thanks for your post Teresa -- I've linked back to it on my blog.

#113 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Terry Karney @ 107: "The left just doesn't seem to have the sort of anger which leads to assasination attempts."

I don't think it's an anger thing, I think it's a how-do-I-express-my-anger thing. Liberals are plenty angry, but relatively few of them are comfortable with violence in the abstract, and even fewer would consider violence an acceptable form of self-expression. Violence and violent rhetoric is much more common on the right.

(A contributing factor could also be the incredible viciousness with which the FBI has cracked down on any violent leftist group, and the relatively laissez faire approach to violent rhetoric on the right.)

#114 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 01:57 AM:

heresiarch:

That's part of what I mean by "sort of anger". I'm plenty angery, and I am quite capable of violence. In the gripping hand, I am not prone to random acts of it. I know that killing Bush won't make things better, will probably make them worse and isn't likely to be at all effective in the way I desire.

That and I'm not the stuff of which willing martyrs are made (my expendability as a commodity of war notwithstanding).

The entire question of relative reaction to groups of violent rhetoric is also part of it. One would have to be a lone wolf leftist to have any hope of pulling it off, but a group of RR types will be, mostly, ignored.

#115 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 03:55 AM:

Their rationale for doing so might be to allow the people who come early to fill up the front and middle sections. The later ones, the ones who aren't screened, would then fill up the back. From the article and the comments I've read, it looks as though there are significant amounts of the screened let through, before the doors are freely opened to the public.

I'm not from America and I don't know the exact amount of mobility within the crowd nor gun specifics per se, but with greater distance, the risk should be lessened because accuracy would be reduced - and if a larger gun is used to increase accuracy, the size would make it easier to identify the threat and contain it.

#116 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 11:14 PM:

Terry Karney @ 114: Oh, okay. Agreed then.

#117 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 11:31 PM:

Terry 114: Even though I know just what you mean, I still flinch when you talk about your expendability. Just so you know.

#118 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2008, 02:54 AM:

Xopher @ 117

Most human beings, at some point or other in our lives, find something for which we are willing to expend ourselves. For some it's our children, for others our friends and neighbors, and still others our countries and our cultures. It can be a little unsettling to hear people talk about it so bluntly, but most people will act without hesitation when the choice comes to them.

I haven't made Terry's particular choice myself, but I decided long ago that I was expendable for the safety of my children. I'm perfectly happy not to have been presented with the opportunity; and I'm happy for Terry that he hasn't either, and I hope he never has to.

#119 ::: Melinda Snodgrass ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Oh, Teresa, you just set off my paranoia gene. I keep getting these disquieting echoes of 1968 with a charismatic politician who is inspiring young voters and who stands opposed to a deeply unpopular war.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.