Patricia Nell Warren

Campaign Security: WHAT were they thinking?

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | February 22, 2008 8:23 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, Politics
Tags: campaign security, U.S. Secret Service

I'm still reeling at the breaking news that the U.S. Secret Service called off routine weapons security during Obama's visit in Dallas. According to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: "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."

The newspaper added that the order was apparently given by the U.S. Secret Service, who insist "that it was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on."

And this happened in Dallas?? What on earth was the U.S. Secret Service thinking? A Secret Service that is under direct command of a Republican President who would rather not see a Democrat in the White House? Oh -- my -- god -- and -- goddess. My good friend John Selig, who lives in Dallas, told me today: "I am shocked and outraged by this!. I live about 2 miles from where the Obama rally was held on Wednesday. For those of you not in Dallas or don't know the area, Reunion Arena is about 1/4 mile away from where President Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963. There have got to be some crazed bigots out there that don't want a African American sitting in the Oval Office."

In a later update today, the Star-Telegram reported, "The U.S. Secret Service on Friday defended its handling of security during a massive 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." The newspaper added that it had been inundated with messages -- that there was "public outrage across the country, with most people saying they were shocked."

The Star-Telegram say they've received reports that cancelling of weapons searches has happened on previous candidate appearances, many of them Obama's. If these reports are true, well... I'll bet my bottom dollar that the Secret Service never cancels anything of the sort when President Bush is making an appearance. From what I've read in the news, security on the President is obsessively tight. You can't even wear an anti-Bush t-shirt into a Bush rally without risking arrest.

Public outrage? You bet. The more, the better. The Dallas cops who questioned the Secret Service's good judgment are right on the money, as the story hits the major network media. Congress should investigate immediately, and quite a few heads should roll. We all know there has been an undertone during this campaign, with some Americans feeling queasy and talking quietly about candidate safety with so much riding on the outcome of this election.

Oh, and what about security for Hillary Clinton? Has it been called off at any time as well? There are bigots out there who wouldn't like to see a woman in the Oval Office either.

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I had the same response, "In DALLAS!!" How stupid does it get? And I don't know since when the Secret Service's mission included "getting everyone through the line quicker."

WTF? I think we wouldn't have had to put up with Bush's sorry ass for 7 years if this were standard operating procedure.

Michael Bedwell | February 22, 2008 10:01 PM

Sing out, Louise! As much as I am a CJOQ—Certified Jaded Old Queen—as much as I have made it plain that I would only be happy if Obama were on a joint ticket with Sen. Clinton, my jaw is still sore from hitting the floor when I first saw the headlines about this. I initially thought it was some kind of tabloid hoax that had found its way into "serious" media. But Christ of the Andes!

Forget, the concerns "in this day and age," expressed by one cop, as both of you have emphasized: it was DALLAS people! Hellooooo. JFK! Lee Harvey Oswald! Jackie in a beautiful Chanelesque pink suit with her husband's brains splattered across it! Does one have to have lived through that horrible November to GET IT?

And before the TexASSes weigh in, the point is not that there are more loons or racists in Dallas, though I betcha there are, Blanche Water, I betcha there are, but the attraction such crazies have, wherever they're actually from, to the greater attention they'd get tying two historical events together.

So much for legendary Texas lawmen balls [and I've run into them—and not in the good way]. I would have said, "I don't give an armadillo's ass what agency you work for, Sparky! You wanna take the metal detectors down, do it yourself, but just gimme a second to go fetch those TV camera fellas!" What's Sparky gonna do—arrest the sheriff for protecting a Presidential candidate TOO much?

Understandably not mentioned a lot in the press for fear of contributing to self-fulfilling prophesy, but in the days when most black voters were still supporting Sen. Clinton, one of the reasons some gave was that they feared helping a black man rise up to that level would only result in his being killed.

I still feel sexism will trump racism is this election, but given the criminally negligent stupidity evidence by those Secret Servicemen who are supposed to be the best and the brightest makes even jaded old me weep for the basement level intelligence of some people. Not a week has gone by lately without me fearing waking up random mornings to hear that either O or H had been shot. The level of emotions swirling around this election are dangerously high. Now this!

Instead of spin about their "comprehensive and layered security plan" they should be telling us how many Secret Service agents have been fired because of this, and issue a public apology to Obama. Hell, the story alone could trigger [no pun intended] someone who’s previously been resisting the temptation to try something for whatever reason to do it.

Ever looking for an LGBT history teaching moment, this is as good an excuse as any to mention that it was a gay man, Oliver Sipple, who saved President Ford from Sara Jane Moore’s bullet in 1975 as he was exiting a San Francisco hotel. Sadly, in one of Harvey Milk’s lesser hours, he outed Sipple to the press without consulting him first. The story was picked up by the wire services and his conservative parents and brother in Detroit, with whom he’d never discussed being gay, were harassed and mocked by neighbors and coworkers. As a result, he and his parents became estranged for several years. He sued the papers for invasion of privacy, succeeding only in becoming a subject for journalism ethics classes.

Sipple got a thank you letter from Ford:

"I want you to know how much I appreciated your selfless actions last Monday. The events were a shock to us all, but you acted quickly and without fear for your own safety. By doing so, you helped to avert danger to me and to others in the crowd. You have my heartfelt appreciation,"

but was disappointed that he never got to meet him. Already a shell shocked Vietnam Marine veteran, he spiraled into poverty and alcoholism, dying in a cheap Tenderloin apartment of pneumonia at age 47. Only 30 people showed up for his funeral, but patrons at his favorite bar marveled at a posted letter:

"Mrs. Ford and I express out deepest sympathy in this time of sorrow involving your friend's passing. President Gerald Ford, February, 1989.”

The incident frozen on film:

Michael, thanks for sharing Sipple's story.

As a 'Texass' native, I actually agree, this state has it's fair share of bigots and nutcases, including the wannabe Texan in the white house. Dollars to donuts this type of thing has never happened at a John McCain or ayatohlla Huckabee rally.

Unfortunately incompetence and stupidity has been the rule of the day with this administration. That and bigotry, hatefullness and cronyism has made Bush's presidency into an object lesson in how not to run the country.

But then, this is Bush, a little more blood on his hands wouldn't bother him in the least.

John R. Selig | February 23, 2008 1:15 AM

I just received the following from a dear friend who attended the Obama rally in question here in Dallas. In fact, Patricia, you have met him.

"I was there in that line, so I know what happened. It went very slowly for about two hours, and at 1pm, suddenly everyone outside just went in without the slightest delay. What they should have done is walk the crowd with a portable metal detector, tag them as "ok" and allow the crowd to move more quickly. It seemed as if the huge crowd was going through one entrance and one metal detector, which was not nearly enough for that size group. They had an entire side of the building that was not used as an entrance. In fact, on the way out, we had to exit through one small door, while all other doors were guarded by Dept of Transportation people, doing nothing but stand there. Answer: hire more people, get more metal detectors, use portable units, and use more entrances and exits to keep the crowd moving while checking each person. They didn't do that."

My partner (a Clinton supporter) and I (not) went to Hillary's Davie, Florida (west of the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood area) rally the night of our 'no candidate is winning any delegates' primary. Before the doors opened the Secret Service swept the facility but there was absolutely no metal detector walk thru, no wand waving or bag searching of anyone once the doors opened.

Yaouzzzaaaaa! The Secret Service serves the Treasury Department and the Office of the President and others whom we are not allowed to talk about. It does not take too much to surmise that the Secret Service is responsible for the President and works for the President. So what is the big deal? Their lack of care, or supposing concern, that it may not have had any oversight from above. Hey, all of the big boys are busy with the GOP candidates and the President who has been on the road. The home team is likely the left overs, recent graduates, or having been benched for the last several years after serving President Clinton. Who knows? Maybe another Clinton is calling the shots? Perhaps, the strategy is to win the race by default or...... Well, we won't go there!

You can bet that they will be checking for guns, baseball bats, curling irons, spatulas, and dildos from here on out. Ya-betcha!

Pardon the turn of phrase, but this blew me away when I heard about it. Stupidest. Move. Ever.

In case you haven't seen this blog posting, you should:

It's titled Pride and Palpitations, and was written by Lower Manhattanite over at the Group News Blog right after Iowa.

It gave me chills, and is especially relevant in really bringing home why this security lapse is such a big deal...

Michael Bedwell | February 23, 2008 4:43 PM

Wasn't going to comment on the conspiracy theories some have expressed. Is there some residual doubt in my mind that "Oswald acted alone"? Or the guy who killed MLK, Jr.? Yeh, at least in terms of people who encouraged them, gave them money, etc.

But there's enough empirical stuff to be paranoid about in life, particularly if one lives in San Francisco where "the Big One" is always supposed to be right around the corner of the calendar, or has buried so many friends from a disease that we hadn't previously known existed and from governmental and societal neglect that we knew existed all along but had no idea in our most cynical moments would stand by for so long and yawn as the bodies piled higher and higher to go looking for it where there is nothing but mental instability to suggest it exists.

No, I don't believe that government "engineered AIDS" even though I could describe to you for several minutes the chemical and biological horrors they have played with in the past as a result of studying the history of CBW for a demonstration I helped lead long ago at the Newport, Indiana, plant that had produced and then still stored MILLIONS of doses of VX gas that kills within a couple of minutes at most.

I don't believe the moldy with age but still living, "black men just want white women and/or are congenitally prone to rape."

I suppose it goes without saying that I similarly don't believe that "gay men are congenitally prone to rape little boys."

I don't believe Queen Elizabeth and Bill Clinton were huge international drug traffickers, BC using government planes and isolated air strips in Arkansas to smuggle massive quantities of coke into the country. [If these are new to you, Google them and you'll discover that an also ran for President tried to popularize Her Majesty as Drug Queen.]

Alex and I have joked about it, but, no, I don't believe the Clintons had Vince Foster killed, though one of Indiana's most famous native sons is probably still convinced they did and made a media fool out of himself trying to prove. [I've always wondered whether the Germans asked him about that when he was Ambassador to Germany. Is he still? Pardon me for not keeping track of all my fellow Hoosiers, of the loon variety anyway.]

I don't believe "the Jews were warned about 9/11" and, thus, avoided work in the Twin Towers that day. Nor do I believe, demonstrable war criminal that he is in so many other ways, that Bush engineered the attacks.

And, again, no matter how devious, despicable, even evil I believe George Bush fils is I don't believe any order or encouragement came down to loosen security protections for Obama OR Clinton that might have endangered their safety. It was MONSTROUS in its stupidity but the cause IS stupidity not monsters.

Nope, I wasn't going to comment, and then I read "Who knows? Maybe another Clinton is calling the shots?"

Now I know that many Bilericians like swimming in demonization of the Clintons more than they do sex, free front row concert tickets, and cold, ripe watermelon on a hot summer day, and, identified as a hopelessly blind partisan they will dismiss my own opinion. But I must ask: why has no one else risen to say, "How dare you!"?

Concerning conspiracies, there are more things worked behind the scenes than any sane person would want to know. Trust me, but the meanest and dirtiest workings from the back room is the Barney Frank, and HRC exclusion tactics and the continued Trans marginalization they are peddling.

As for some someone standing up and berating a citizen for asking a question, which needs to be vetted, I do not know. What did he say, "How dare you?" Gee, I am still trying to figure out what the meaning of "is"... "is!"

while this is totally out of line, what has been the standard for other rallies, talks, appearances? how do they regulate an outdoor appearance by obama, what kind of crowd control do they have?
i find it interesting that there has been little mention of this in the mainstream media. i don't watch much tv, but do read a ny times owned daily the lakeland(fl)ledger. nothing was reported.
i have always listened/read a spectrum of political thought, one of which is a very fundamentalist radio commentary. know thy enemy. while i disagree with 80 to 90%, they do make some interesting points. they were the only ones who commented on this story and rather question the bushites as being responsible they blame the old clintonites in the secret service. some things never change. however they did call for an investigation which i feel is necessary.