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]