Look, We Worry About This Stuff

A Dallas-Fort Worth newspaper reports that someone — the Secret Service? — ordered that security be dropped at an Obama rally yesterday. In Dallas. (Please, stop the flashbacks….)

Star-Telegram.com: | 02/21/2008 | Police concerned about order to stop screening: 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.

(spotted via The Agonist)

If this came from the campaign — and I hope that's where this originated — there's no story here except how blasé they are about security. You have to wonder if they are thinking straight. Even if it means empty seats for the cameras.

If it came from the Secret Service itself, we need to know a lot more, and fast.

The Secret Service has in the past enjoyed an excellent and largely non-partisan reputation, but this has been greatly tarnished by its role in restricting lawful and peaceful anti-Bush protesters, helping the White House hide records relating to Jack Abramoff's White House visits, and arresting a citizen who had the temerity to tell Dick Cheney that, “I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible” — and then fabricating a criminal charge, orchestrating a cover-up.

And then there's a case, which has been running for eight years (!), in which almost 60 African American secret service agents allege that they were subjected to racial epithets at work and that white agents with lower scores on promotional exams got better assignments or promotions above them. Although the case is still in procedurally early stages, the judge has repeatedly sanctioned the Secret Service for failing to comply with court orders to produce evidence. Not only has the Secret Service's general stonewalling tactics got it into trouble, but in recent testimony the Inspector in charge of producing evidence to the court, one Carrie Hunnicutt, admitted destroying documents two days before testifying despite a court order to preserve all evidence.

We really really don't need any doubt about the Secret Service's willingness to protect Barack Obama.

Much ado about nothing?

[Update: See Secret Service Says Low Security is All Part of the Plan]

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21 Responses to Look, We Worry About This Stuff

  1. Kevin Hayden says:

    I’m 100% with you on this, Michael: if Team Obama ordered it, it’s acceptable but risky. If it came from the feds – in Dallas no less! – somebody should be off the beat if not fired.

    That’s an impermissible breach by any measure and the reporting of the fact could embolden every crackpot in the country to attend his appearances ahead.

  2. Sedgequill says:

    If the Secret Service ordered the checking for weapons stopped early, and if they nonetheless kept Secret Service personnel in position to guard Obama, they were potentially placing their own personnel in harm’s way to a greater extent than usual. I would hope that unions and organizations concerned with government security personnel would be among the voices calling for fact-finding.

  3. SP says:

    They did this in Boston the night before super Tuesday, it was the only way to get everyone inside in under 6 hours (line formed at 5, event start scheduled for 8, security dropped at 10, Obama spoke at 11.) People who hadn’t gone through security were separated from those who were by a double line of metal barriers at least 300 feet from the stage with a line of state troopers in the aisle formed by the barriers. I couldn’t even see the speakers from the non-secure area, the press stands were also in the way. I thought I could see Obama’s red tie but it was actually Deval Patrick’s.

  4. Arubsto says:

    Great! Any wingnut with a weapon just got a freebe to Obama’s events. Robert Kennedy redux.

  5. Sedgequill says:

    Star-Telegram.com should revisit the story. If other security measures were implemented to compensate somewhat for the cessation of checking for weapons, making that fact known could reduce misperception. Fairness is not the only issue; there should be no potentially attractive appearance that there is an easily-exploited security vulnerability if there is not one.

  6. AC says:

    The bush crime family’s specialty is plane crashes — not lone gunmen. This report is not a risk to Obama.
    (do some research on number of Saudi royal family that have died in plane crashes in TX, it is more than a dozen!)

  7. Arubsto says:

    Great! Any wingnut with a weapon just got a freebe to Obama’s events. Robert Kennedy redux.

  8. AC says:

    The bush crime family’s specialty is plane crashes — not lone gunmen. This report is not a risk to Obama.
    (do some research on number of Saudi royal family that have died in plane crashes in TX, it is more than a dozen!)

  9. malcontent says:

    I think this is the SS’s way of testing how much they can get away with. I agree with Arbusto from above: eerily reminiscent of RFK.

    The establishment will do whatever is necessary to insure that whoever the next figurehead is fully corrupt and therefore controllable.

  10. ckerst says:

    Why didn’t the police just say screw you and keep on screening. Any moron could have seen what a bad idea it was. The person in charge of Obama’s security detail should be fired.

  11. Tony says:

    I went to the Dallas Obama rally on Wednesday. Waited in line for 2 hours with barely any movement, then the line started moving so fast that we were practically running by the time we reached the arena. As I was scurrying toward the arena, I thought, “they’ve stopped using the magnetometers, good Lord!” Renunion arena is about 6 blocks from where JFK was assasinated. I was happy we got in in time to see him, but dropping the security was a bad bad bad bad bad idea.

  12. Brendan says:

    It comes down to one simple fact: America loves remaking the classics. It would only be fitting that the first truly inspirational public figure in American life since RFK would be gunned down during his presidential campaign in the same city where his brother was killed.

  13. Dennis says:

    This is horrifying!!!! I remember losing JFK all to well; He was my hero. I finally found the man worthy enough to carry that mantle and somebody decided that they’ll make it easy for another assassination? God I wish we’d get over this nonsense and realize that elections mean that the government is of, by and for the people whether or not we agree with the policies of that government. We cannot be run by anarchy.

  14. EoH says:

    Shades of Dallas. No, Mr. President, we’ve changed the motorcade route, you don’t need that infantry regiment scattered throughout the city, we’ve posted spotters on the grassy knoll, removed the guards from along side and on the back of your limo, and closed all the windows on Dealy Plaza. We’ll drive slowly so the crowds can get up close and personal….

    I can imagine an inexperienced (and soon to be unemployed) campaign manager asking to move the crowds through faster so that they can admire their man and he can start his speech on time and move to the next one. But it’s hard to imagine the Secret Service initiating or accepting a lowering of security. Protection is their job. It’s what they do, what they study, dream about and practice. They’re supposed to get it right, even in the face of conflicting demands from those needing to market whomever they’re protecting to the public.

    Moreover, these are the same security people that won’t let a Democrat, let alone a critic, near Cheney or the Shrub at an ostensibly public speaking event. They invented the extra-constitutional notion of “free (ie, NO) speech zones” miles away from cameras and the event. They toss people out of events for not smiling or cheering in synchronicity.

    Which makes this is a strange event, doubly so because Obama is the first person of color likely to become president. Our country has a history of violent discrimination. Under Bush, we have become the most armed and politically divided country since the Civil War.

    Obama should make it a priority to review the process and people that came to that decision. He’s gonna be the most attractive shiny object since Bobby and Martin. Anyone who’s read about or lived through 1968 knows that we cannot afford another year like it. Among other things, events that year gave us Richard Nixon.

  15. patriotscholar says:

    “The bush crime family’s specialty is plane crashes — not lone gunmen. This report is not a risk to Obama.
    (do some research on number of Saudi royal family that have died in plane crashes in TX, it is more than a dozen!)”

    It may include plane crashes, but it may not be limited to them.

    They should investigate and find out what happened for the order to be given. They screen everyone at many events, sports, etcetera, so why not check it out. There may have been a simple plausible reason.

  16. EoH says:

    Shades of Dallas. No, Mr. President, we’ve changed the motorcade route, you don’t need that infantry regiment scattered throughout the city, we’ve posted spotters on the grassy knoll, removed the guards from along side and on the back of your limo, and closed all the windows on Dealy Plaza. We’ll drive slowly so the crowds can get up close and personal….

    I can imagine an inexperienced (and soon to be unemployed) campaign manager asking to move the crowds through faster so that they can admire their man and he can start his speech on time and move to the next one. But it’s hard to imagine the Secret Service initiating or accepting a lowering of security. Protection is their job. It’s what they do, what they study, dream about and practice. They’re supposed to get it right, even in the face of conflicting demands from those needing to market whomever they’re protecting to the public.

    Moreover, these are the same security people that won’t let a Democrat, let alone a critic, near Cheney or the Shrub at an ostensibly public speaking event. They invented the extra-constitutional notion of “free (ie, NO) speech zones” miles away from cameras and the event. They toss people out of events for not smiling or cheering in synchronicity.

    Which makes this is a strange event, doubly so because Obama is the first person of color likely to become president. Our country has a history of violent discrimination. Under Bush, we have become the most armed and politically divided country since the Civil War.

    Obama should make it a priority to review the process and people that came to that decision. He’s gonna be the most attractive shiny object since Bobby and Martin. Anyone who’s read about or lived through 1968 knows that we cannot afford another year like it. Among other things, events that year gave us Richard Nixon.

  17. Elydog says:

    Twice in the last week, people I know told me they think someone is going to try to shoot Obama. If they think he is getting out of ‘control,’ I think so too. There are right wing elements in the goverment and society that use assissination all the time. There are also fascist elements that would shoot a partially black man on principle.

    Obama needs excellent security himself, body armour and should take precautions. You CANNOT trust the government. They have to get serious about this.

  18. Dui says:

    Well Michael, I SERIOUSLY doubt that the Secret Service would order this. The SS has no interest in filling seats. These are dedicated professionals that take pride in their job. I would bet my house that this came as an order from within the Obama team.

  19. euthyfro says:

    Any of these officers or agents known to have spent the night before at a nightclub/bar run by any shady characters? The media loves all these JFK & RFK comparisons but they just scare me. Senator, avoid all open cars and hotel kitchens, balconies too for that matter!

  20. Linda says:

    How will the SS (not) protect Obama after he becomes president?

  21. has_te says:

    I’m terrified of this…been for some time.

    This guy and his VP are likely to go for 16 years..
    They’re gonna do so much for healing our America.
    And a single bullet could stop it all.
    [There's way more 'nuf haters across the land.]

    I thought: “Well maybe avoid the south altogether
    and then recalled that RFK was done in CA.
    [And that wouldn't have worked anyway.]

    And then I thought,
    “Well certainly the security is gonna be super tight and …
    Then I read this.

    A nice thread from Pam over at Pandagon too.
    We need a response form the Secret Service post haste.

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