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Feb 25, 2008

Obama's Security -- A Little Too Much Hush


I don't see the point of tip-toeing around it.  Is Obama getting adequate security, or not?

In the NYT story published on-line yesterday ("In Memories of a Painful Past, Hushed Worry About Obama"), we're told of supporters who won't vote for the candidate out of concern for his well-being.  We're told how Obama likes the guys in his security detail, plays basketball with them and has made peace with the risks of running for president.  We're even told how Obama's motorcade passed Dealey Plaza and the Texas Book Depository building last week, and the candidate didn't even notice.

So, what I'm wondering (but, probably won't receive an answer for "security reasons") is: was the decision to terminate screening procedures last week at Reunion Arena in Dallas an hour after the gates opened, but over an hour before Obama was to appear, a security lapse or not?

If the article in the Times completely ignores the situation in Dallas (although, I'm assuming, was inspired by it), the accompanying 13 shot slide show -- focusing on Obama's security detail -- might as well be a commercial for the Secret Service.

In considering just one of the images, we see the dramatic silhouette of a law enforcement figure seeming to hover -- like Big Brother -- over Obama's rally last month at the Bartow Arena at the University of Alabama.  Courtesy of an illuminating open thread at AmericaBlog, however, we get a somewhat different slant on that event -- and the photo.

Inviting feedback from people who have attended Obama rallies around the country, an AmericaBlog reader who attended this particular rally suggests the same kind of lapse that occurred in Dallas.  The commenter writes:

Early this month my family went to see [Obama] speak in Birmingham, AL. The line to get in was 3-4 people wide and circled an entire city block. It was moving very slowly at 1st, with people stationed every 100ft or so telling you "no bags were allowed of any type, have all camera's and anything else metallic in your hands before going through security". As we got closer to the 2:00 start time the pace picked up. When we got up to the doors of Bartow Arena there was no security evident. We walked through the turned off metal detectors and it seemed at least 50% of all women had bags. We thought it was strange at the time and other people were talking about it before Obama came out and started speaking. I have quite a few pictures of the event and it's obvious that it was possible to get very close to the Senator.

In considering the issue of protecting our presidential candidates, especially one as popular and groundbreaking as Obama, I was also drawn to the discussion thread of Roanoke Times blogger Shanna Flowers.  In reaction to her concern about the Dallas situation, her readers question why the protection of a presidential candidate wouldn't automatically rank as a first-order priority of national security.

More readers weigh in about Obama's security (AmericaBlog)
Questionable security practices at Obama event in Dallas (Carpetbagger Report)
image from: NYT Slide Show:
Security Details
Barack Obama visits Birmingham's Bartow Arena - Check out this photo gallery, including the pix from the bottom row (The Terminal)
In Memories of a Painful Past, Hushed Worry About Obama (NYT)
What the heck is the Secret Service thinking? (Shanna Flowers/Roanoke Times)

(image: Damon Winter/The New York Times.  January 27, 2008. Birmingham, AL.


I'd be curious about whether these "lapses" occur with Clinton and McCain also.

Wow, that is a great photo. The threatening soldier figure in the background leads the eye down to...a prominently well lighted woman in a purple hijab and a standing young man who looks very Middle Eastern.

Are you sure this is a positive photo for him?

It looks like he's speaking off to the side, slyly leading the way for militarized Islam. Which is exactly the smear his enemies are trying to put on him.

tina, 'It looks like he's speaking off to the side, slyly leading..'
- have you considered the possibility he's a planted undercover SS guy ?

Questions must be raised- is this routine at the rallies of other presidential candidates, or is this unique to Obama solely because he's the only one who can draw such crowds. Or is it because he's now officially on the list of those who really control who gets to play?

May he be safe from harm and lead our country out of the dark, dark wilderness we've wandered into.

Thanks, Bag for bringing up this extremely important issue.

He is drawing the biggest crowds, and yes, this should be the nation's top national security issue -- but my guess is that Bush would protect Obama much like Mushy protected Bhutto.

May he be safe. May he be well. May he be free from harm.

perhaps a black man's jeopardy is not so much bodily harm, but character assassination?

=> Obama Slams Smear Photo

DRUDGE : “...stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a "dressed" Barack Obama. The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat [sic] frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, [ie., ‘Muslim’ implicit], during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya. The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

Frank Rich, New York Times => The Audacity of Hopelessness

I can't believe that people think it's really possible to "protect" anyone. If they want to get you bad enough they will. Obama will probably be fine, and if not... well... it won't be the first time. You can't let that stop you from trying!

Anyway, security is often a cure worse than the disease. The photo also made me think of Obama bringing on some kind of militarized future. To me the greatest "threat" in that photo is the backlit guard in the doorway.

The photo above, and the series surrounding it, picture a strangely dark atmosphere. They look like stills from an assassination thriller. As if the script was already written, the big scene will be any moment now. Dour, concerned security-people trying to stop the inevitable; the public is present but far away; in this kind of movie, only the cops and the robbers count, the intended victim and the public are incidental, necessary but amorphous presences. Here, we are shown the cops. Now who is going to play the guy in the black hat?
Are they trying to give people ideas?

Ponder this: He's getting better security than the citizens who are paying for his security get. . . . .

The same thing happened when Obama spoke in Boise Idaho on the 2nd of February. Heavy security for the first hour or so then it just went away and they let everyone in without being screened. I walked through the doors and there were a couple of security types just watching. No metal detectors or anything. There was somebody outside reminding people not to bring any bags/purses etc. inside.

lukas, that was my thought when I first heard about it.......DALLAS of all places. It was as if "they" were trying to connect the dots in our brain. How paranoid am I?

I saw Michelle and Barak being interviewed last year, before anyone thought he had a chance. This very possibility was asked of Michelle and she said they had thought about it and come to accept it as a possibility they would have to live with. But I can't imagine the nightmares she must have about it.

Where did you get that picture from? That ominous silhouette figure in the background is pretty scary. At least everything turned out all right, right?

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