Friday, February 22, 2008

Careless Stupidity Has No Expiration Date

Report: Security relaxed at Obama speech

Feb 21 05:27 PM US/Eastern

DALLAS, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The Secret Service told Dallas police to stop screening for weapons while people were still arriving at a campaign rally for Barack Obama, a report said.

Police stopped checking people for weapons at the front gates of Reunion Arena more than an hour before the Democratic presidential hopeful appeared on stage Wednesday, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported.

Police said the order to stop using metal detectors and checking purses and laptop bags constituted a security lapse, the newspaper reported.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence -- who heads the department's homeland security and special operations divisions -- told the Star-Telegram the order had been intended to speed up seating of the more than 17,000 people who came to hear the candidate speak.

Lawrence said he was concerned about the large number of people being let in without being screened, but that the crowd seemed "friendly," the newspaper said.

Several Dallas police officers -- speaking on condition of anonymity because the order came from federal officers -- told the newspaper it was worrying to see so many people get it without even a cursory inspection.

The Star-Telegram said the Secret Service did not return a call seeking comment.
April and June of this year, respectively, will mark the 40th anniversaries of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. No Thanksgiving since 1962 has passed without the morbid remembrance of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Although the "official" descriptions and details of how these three killings occurred have never matched up to physical evidence and eye-witness testimony, no matter which side of the story you're on -- believing these men were killed as the result of conspiracies or by an epidemic of "lone nuts" -- no one can dispute that there is a commonality joining all three tragedies: a woeful, intentional lapse in security.

Dallas police in November of 1963 were ordered to stand down -- the late officer Roger Craig verified this in interviews -- and even some of John F. Kennedy's Secret Service detail were ordered away by Lyndon Johnson's Secret Service detail (there's footage readily available on YouTube of a Secret Service agent at Love Field in Dallas, running along side the president's limousine and being waved away by agents in the car behind). The Memphis police kept conspicuous distance from Dr. King in Memphis at the time of his assassination. And the ever-infamous Los Angeles Police Department were told to stay away from the Ambassador Hotel where Robert Kennedy made the final speech of his life, with the explanation that his private security would handle the occasion.

Since the times of these assassinations, new and updated rules for protection have been instituted, but in every case, had normal protocols of the time simply been followed, there's a good chance these killings might not have happened.

And so we have, here, again, Dallas, Texas taking lightly the security of an important figure in American life. The Secret Service ordered the Dallas Police to stop screening attendees of Barak Obama's rally for weapons. The crowed of 17,000 "seemed friendly." Since when does anything in our post-9/11 world "seem friendly" to paranoiac authorities? And since when is the Secret Service engaged in customer service? They claim their order to stop screening people going into the rally was done in an effort to speed up everyone's entry. Well holy shit, I enter the United States to work and the officials at the border have a distinct interest in moving at their own pace, the line of vehicles before them be damned.

Four decades hasn't been near long enough to heal the damage done to America by the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. I wasn't alive at that time, and I can't imagine the sense of chaos and hopelessness that must have taken hold of the nation after these tragedies occurred. This intentional relaxation of security at Barak Obama's Dallas rally was inexcusable and the people who made the ridiculous decision to stop screening for weapons should be fired and possibly charged with negligence.

Next time you're held up at airport security while some half-wit minimum-wage security guard examines your ballpoint pen to determine that it's not a neutron bomb, say: "Don't I look friendly?" This may lead to a rubber glove inspection of your person. And it should snap home the reality that we don't need FISA renewed, we don't need domestic spying, we don't need neighbors sniffing each others' underwear. We simply need our security officials to do their jobs. Because, when they don't, the course of the nation's future is at stake. And that's no exaggeration.

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