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AP Reports Lack Of Security At Mandela Event

From a surprisingly forgiving Associated Press:

Confusion, security risks at Nelson Mandela event

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL and JULIE PACE | December 14, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the hours before President Barack Obama arrived at a Johannesburg soccer stadium to honor Nelson Mandela, the White House staff was in the dark on critical details. Where would the president and first lady Michelle Obama sit? When was Obama supposed to speak? Who else would be on stage during the speech?

The result was an array of confusion and security risks that typically would not be tolerated by the Secret Service in the United States. The situation showed just how the Secret Service often is at the mercy of foreign governments to make arrangements when the president is overseas.

Did Mr. Mandela die unexpectedly? Was  it a surprise that Obama would attend a memorial for him? (Hint: no and no.) The Secret Service had plenty of time to prepare.

Instead, they put too much trust in the South African government. Why did they do that? Was it from fear of being called racists, if they checked up for themselves?

There were metal detectors and X-ray machines at the stadium, but they were not used on the initial crowds streaming in for the ceremony, according to Associated Press reporters on scene.

Many people walked through with little or no screening. Inside the stadium there were few signs of the heavy security that routinely would accompany an event with Obama and other world leaders.

The VIP section was where Obama and dozens of other dignitaries sat, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. This area was protected by a short pane of protective glass that covered only those in the first row of seats. Obama and his wife were several rows back.

Large crowds were allowed to gather in front of where Obama sat, with no visible security nearby.

Holy carp! What an opportunity for any freelance terrorist.

When Obama made his way to the stage to deliver his speech, a South African sign-language interpreter stood an arm’s length away. This man later described himself as schizophrenic with violent tendencies, and he reportedly was accused of murder 10 years ago, according to the national eNCA TV news station in South Africa.

And, as we have noted, he was deemed to be mentally unfit to stand trial. So apparently, they just set him free.

Secret Service officials say the South African government was responsible for the decision to place interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie just inches from some of the most powerful people in the world during a four-hour memorial service…

Nobody at this White House ever accepts responsibility for anything.

It was apparent from Obama’s arrival in South Africa that security was not up to Secret Service standards. Roads typically are shut down for the president’s motorcade. But the highway between the military base where Air Force One landed and the suburban Johannesburg hotel where he spent time before the memorial service was filled with morning rush hour traffic, forcing the motorcade at times to slow to a crawl.

If Secret Service officials aren’t satisfied with security protocols for a foreign trip, the agency can and has advised against going, said Joseph LaSorsa, a retired Secret Service agent.

Hagin said that was the case when President Ronald Reagan wanted to travel to Egypt for the funeral of Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated in Cairo in 1981. "Reagan wanted to go and the Secret Service said no," said Hagin, who also worked in the White House under Reagan…

Of course, even if they told Obama not to go to Mandela’s memorial, he would have gone anyway. There were ‘selfies’ to take.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 16th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “AP Reports Lack Of Security At Mandela Event”

  1. GetBackJack says:

    In a fictional setting, written by an author of thriller fiction .. this would be described as a Missed Opportunity ..

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