Re: Good Luck

1

Dallas, check! Democrats and presidents, or at least presidential candidates, check! Somehow, this lacks originality.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:15 AM
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Granted it wouldn't be easy to pull out a rifle and aim in a big crowd, but who knows, and a good shot can easily hit a target at 300 feet.

Not if you're being jostled, have no way to rest the firearm on something steady and couldn't even see the speakers from the non-secure area

It's the in-the-crowd glad-handing stuff that's scary.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:21 AM
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Granted it wouldn't be easy to pull out a rifle and aim in a big crowd, but who knows, and a good shot can easily hit a target at 300 feet.

You've got to be kidding me, ogged. Maybe dial back the number of episodes of 24 that you're consuming.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:23 AM
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Whatever—a good crazy will easily believe that he can easily hit a target at 300 feet. Whether he can or not is sort of after the fact by the time he's firing, at least insofar as judging the security lapse is concerned. Close counts!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:27 AM
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How much is all of that screening stuff just security theater, anyway? I don't want to downplay the very real risk of violence, but I think there are wide-open questions that are actually empirical:

1) Does searching prevent people from bringing weapons?

2) Do searches deter people from bringing weapons?

3) Is the risk of violence meaningfully reduced by searching attendees? (That is, I'm prepared to believe that two hotheaded baseball fans are less likely to do damage in a brawl if they aren't carrying guns, but if someone wants to assassinate a political figure, I'd be worrying about things like bombs under the concrete, as in that thing in Russia a few years ago. Or maybe it was some other Eastern European country.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:27 AM
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You've got to be kidding me

In any arena, there are walkways and cordoned areas that are usually clear, or have little traffic, even when the place is packed. All you need is about ten seconds to hop into one, take out your weapon, and fire a shot or two, and maybe get lucky.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:28 AM
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It was in Georgia. It's a barbaric place.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:30 AM
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2) IMX, w/ n=3, yes.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:30 AM
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6: Someone who knows guns should speak to this, because I don't, but don't you need a rifle (that is, too big to hide and whip out in ten seconds) to take any kind of accurate shot at that kind of distance? I have the vague belief that someone firing a pistol at a target at the other end of a football field has no hope in hell of hitting what they're aiming at.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:31 AM
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6, 9: Doesn't this all depend on what risks you're trying to mitigate? The risk of a crazy person doing something that is unlikely to kill a particular person but likely to create chaos is one thing.* The risk of harm to one particular target is another. They are overlapping but not identical.

*I'm thinking of the Atlanta '96 Olympic bombing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:33 AM
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I think a "two inch group" is realistic for a trained shot with a handgun at 100 yards. That's under ideal conditions, of course, but it's not like there's wind in the arena. But you could even hide a rifle in your pant leg.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:35 AM
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You've got to be kidding me, ogged. Maybe dial back the number of episodes of 24 that you're consuming.

100 yards isn't that far for a man sized target.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:35 AM
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In any arena, there are walkways and cordoned areas that are usually clear, or have little traffic, even when the place is packed. All you need is about ten seconds to hop into one, take out your weapon, and fire a shot or two, and maybe get lucky.

It's not as if no one has ever tried to assassinate a leader before. Has anything like that ever happened? And--I'm less sure this is crazy--can people actually set up that quickly for a long-distance shot, without SS seeing it and jumping on the candidate? Finally, as long as we're in Movieland, what provisions are they taking against the deployment of sharks with lasers mounted on their heads?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:35 AM
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what provisions are they taking against the deployment of sharks with lasers mounted on their heads?

I heart Tim.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:36 AM
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You could put thirty or forty rounds in his direction in a couple of seconds from some sort of SMG - small enough to hide under a jacket, but gives you a reasonable chance of hitting the target at least once or twice.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:37 AM
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What if somebody had snuck in a laser?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:37 AM
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7 to 10.

It's sounding more and more like The Manchurian Candidate. MacManus must be pleased.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:38 AM
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Before Obama gave a speech at that rally, a Secret Service advance team will have walked every inch of that building, figured out where to place security, where to place countersnipers, how to get Obama out quickly should anything go wrong, and a backup plan in case whatever screening they had in place wasn't effective or just security theatre.

I am prepared to believe that 300 feet away, behind a metal barrier, with no clear shot, is sufficient.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:38 AM
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you guys are completely wigging me out.


Posted by: Katherne | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:38 AM
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Timbot the Sanguine, look at this picture. You can see where the Secret Service are standing and there are plenty of places where you'd have a good three to five seconds to stand up and get a clear shot.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:39 AM
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Now how the fuck did I get pwned on that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:39 AM
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16: That would be of little use unless they had also smuggled in a shark in their pants. Which, take it from me, is no cakewalk.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:39 AM
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ogged, you don't get those three to five seconds. Those are some of the secret service. Those are not all.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:40 AM
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I think a "two inch group" is realistic for a trained shot with a handgun at 100 yards.

Whoa there. 100 yard shots are possible with a handgun, but it's pretty difficult. 2 inch group? Not too likely. Almost no handguns are even mechanically capable of that precision, not to mention the shooters.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:40 AM
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5: In fact it was a startling story and it stuns me to this day that it did not take its place as an event second only to 9/11 in significance. A would-be assassin, Vladimir Arutyunian, tossed a live grenade into a small crowd attending a speech by President Bush. Had it not been defective, President Bush would probably be dead. Arutyunian was caught after a police shootout, and he confessed to his desire to assassinate the president and explained how his plan would have worked (pull pin, throw grenade). Nonstory!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:41 AM
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I defer to you, gswift, but some googling turned up this.

On the other hand, serious slow-fire match-target shooters would find this degree of accuracy completely unacceptable. For example, a National Match pistol is required to shoot three consecutive groups, 10 shots each, into 2 1/2 inches at 50 yards with Match grade ammo. And frankly, most competitor's pistols will usually group under 2 inches, particularly if they take time to find the match-grade load that shoots best in their gun. And IHMSA (silhouette) shooters often get their specialty long-range single-shot guns to produce one to 2-inch groups at 100 yards, naturally with handloaded ammo.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:42 AM
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This thread threatens to freak me out so much that I don't think I can bear it. But, I've been reminded lately of the extraordinary, um, something -- physical courage? ego? drive? some combination of those and other traits? -- that one must have in order to run for president.

You really do have to be willing to die. It's horrible to contemplate what that must be like for Michelle Obama. Or either Clinton. Or Cindy McCain. The idea that every time your spouse goes off to work they might not come home that night. I know, from a good friend, that cops deal with this. But it's much higher profile in the case of presidential candidates. Though maybe the odds are longer.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:42 AM
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6,9: Precisely. A guy from behind a barrier who pulls out a gun and misses because he doesn't have a clear shot counts as a win. They're not security for all the people, just for Obama.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:42 AM
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As an engineer and bureaucrat. this makes me crazy. Fix your logistics, Secret Service!

I'm not going to sign onto the 'Secret Service is willing to let Obama get assassinated' theory, when there is the 'Secret Service incompetently underestimated the crowd and what they would need to process it quickly' theory. That seems so much more likely, but incredibly frustrating.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:44 AM
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Though maybe the odds are longer.

I suppose it depends on the number of years you're willing to look back, but "maybe"?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:44 AM
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People seem to be conflating "the mysterious international assassin known only as 'The Whippet'," "former winners of America's Next Top White Supremacist" and "Squeaky Fromme." I blame The Parallax View.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:44 AM
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25: Oh, wait a sec, that's a completely different story. I mean the one where the attackers planted bombs in a sports stadium, under newly poured concrete. The bombs went off, killed several people (including IIRC the politicians targeted).

I could probably find the article if I had time to Google.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:44 AM
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Someone could use a less-faulty grenade. I'm seriously concerned about grenades right now.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:44 AM
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34

the other saturday we with my friend went to see a broadway show
she stayed with me and intended to go her place after the show that's why she carried a small suitcase, i don't know may be there are coin storage boxes at the station, no? couldn't find one
and the suitcase was asked to be opened
two asian women with a suitcase to a show
very very suspicious even from my point of view
better i mean safe than sorry, Bhutto etc


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:45 AM
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Once again, I'm playing Dick Cheney to the "risk? what risk?" crowd. Ok, it doesn't seem worth arguing over our tolerance for risk, though it does seem like the Secret Service should be more like me than like you.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:45 AM
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Timbot the Sanguine, look at this picture. You can see where the Secret Service are standing and there are plenty of places where you'd have a good three to five seconds to stand up and get a clear shot.

From the description everyone in that shot would have gone through the screening process.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:46 AM
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35: There's a novel about such thinking by the Secret Service. Haven't read it.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:47 AM
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Once again, I'm playing Dick Cheney to the "risk? what risk?" crowd.

Yeah, that's worked out well in other areas.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:48 AM
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I defer to you, gswift, but some googling turned up this.

Those guys pulling it off are using hand tuned pistols that cost thousands of dollars, and running handloads that that particular gun seems to favor. Sure, it's possible. Not a common skill though.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:49 AM
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ok we were asked to open the suitcase, now it sounds better


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:50 AM
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Did anybody see Shooter, with Marky Mark? This is reminding me that I rather like the first 45 minutes of that movie.

Anyway, while an on target shot at Obama is unlikely (though not impossible) it's the potential for collateral damage that I find more distressing. I, for one, like to know people have been screened in such settings. Hell, I liked knowing it when I saw the Dalai Lama speak.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:51 AM
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29: There's also the 'Secret Service knows what the acceptable levels of risk are as evidenced by this being their backup plan before' idea. Incompetence would be an awful fallback position.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:52 AM
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From the description everyone in that shot would have gone through the screening process.

Yeah, that's true, assuming that they did in Dallas what they did in Boston, but we don't know that yet.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:52 AM
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Is this the "there's someone who wants to assassinate everybody" room for an argument, or the "Amerika won't let a charismatic black progressive leader live" room for an argument?

Because I was talking to my sister about this in the car last night, and I think you have to measure the tenor of the times before you summon up the days of wine and rages.

When Dr.MLKjr took his bullet, revolution was in the air, and white supremacy had big butterflies in its beer tummy. Obama promises a needed correction, and sure there's people that hate him, but he has been thoroughly deodorized of upheaval's taint. So don't really worry so much.

Unless it's the first room, in which, yeah, you pays your money, you takes your chances.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:52 AM
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If several of you aren't in jail by day's end, the national security apparatus really does suck.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:52 AM
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24 is right. One inch at 100 yards is one minute of arc. That's very good performance for a rifle - not the shooter, the weapon. In other words, not all rifles are capable of that. (Most assault rifles are anywhere from 1 to 6 MOA).
I'd be impressed to find a handgun that could get anywhere close to 2 MOA at 100 yards - maybe an Olympic target pistol. A shooter who could get that sort of result is shooting at very, very high standards. And getting that sort of accuracy from a snap shot over unknown range, rather than the steady, slow shooting the Olympics allow over their 10m, 25m or 50m ranges (120 minutes for 60 rounds)... that's out of "world class" and into "miracle class".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:53 AM
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As I remarked to a friend the other night (the same friend who thought that Obama is Muslim, *sigh*), the fact the GWB has survived 7 years indicates that the Secret Service is doing their job very well.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:53 AM
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41: Jane Dark's Sugar High on the best parts of Shooter:

(Mark Wahlberg dressed as a frickin' yeti for the final showdown; Ned Beatty's career-long conversion into Buford T. Justice)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:55 AM
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I don't think the choice is as stark as all that, Wrongshore, and don't think the stakes are the same when we're talking about Obama or Clinton being shot. There's no revolution in the air, but there are still people in this country for whom the idea of a black president is unacceptable. And honestly, it would be a much bigger deal of Obama got shot than if, say, McCain, did.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:55 AM
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Now I'm trying to imagine it. You're the Secret Service, you're on the road and Obama's turnouts are out of scale to your projections. You're in Dallas, had a few days(?) turn-around, can't access additional equipment rapidly and besides, there are only a few staging areas where your equipment can be placed.

So you, what? Suck it up and decide people can wait in line for five hours? Do as many as you can, then with an hour left to go, do what?

I suppose you make some sort of risk estimate and go with it.

This is OK, being surprised and underprepared once, especially if turns out OK in retrospect. But twice is bullshit. They need to adjust their crowd projections.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:56 AM
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But ajay, gswift, setting a two-inch group as the limit of accuracy and saying that's unrealistic given the circumstances doesn't rule out a fatal shot from a handgun at 100 yards. That's totally possible, right?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:57 AM
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49: Or a Muslim president, depending on how whether America's gunloving white trash take those "Hussein" e-mails to heart or, God save us, just evidence to use cynically against even stupider white trash.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:57 AM
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SS stopped screening the crowd at a big Bush event a few years ago, which surprised me. But the rationale was the same: lots of people are going to miss the event (a graduation) if we don't just wave them through.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:58 AM
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there are still people in this country for whom the idea of a black president is unacceptable

Yes, there are individuals, but there's not the same sense of social calamity that there was in the 60s. And I think assassination attempts are bred in social climates. And therefore I think the chances of assassination are much, much lower than they appear when you recall the 60s. Obama probably has double the chances of Clinton has double the chances of McCain, but it's still not very much.

Also, 48 was me.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:58 AM
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There's no revolution in the air, but there are still people in this country for whom the idea of a black president is unacceptable.

I think those concerned about a Muslim president are by far the bigger threat.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:59 AM
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33: 300 feet is also a long way to accurately throw a grenade, which is about the world's least lethal infantry weapon anyway.

26: I believe this only strengthens my point. These are slow-fire target shooters. They take ages to get those groups, not the five seconds you'd get to shoot a candidate.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:00 AM
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I wonder if there is also a risk calculation (people getting crushed in angry mob) in turning a lot of people away. Shoot. Now you have (small) potential harm on both sides.

This is eminently solvable with additional security resources.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:01 AM
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doesn't rule out a fatal shot from a handgun at 100 yards. That's totally possible, right?

Very possible.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:04 AM
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Is it not likely that the Secret Service know more about their job than Ogged does?


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:04 AM
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Jeez, people. This is all a little too detailed and public for my tastes. I would try to fuck a laser bearing shark before I screw with the IRS or Secret Service.


Posted by: Simone Weil | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:04 AM
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51: sure, it's possible, in the sense that the bullet will phsically fly that far - but it's ridiculously unlikely to hit. As I said above, your best bet would really be spray and pray with some sort of SMG. Even then chances are very low. You might have better luck flying over an Obama rally in a light aircraft and trying to hit him by dropping cans of tuna out of the window.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:04 AM
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51: Pretty close given that the two-inch group in question is a measure of the gun's accuracy, without taking human error into account. Impossible? No. Very, very unlikely? Yes.

53: Yea. Taking this as evidence that the Service has been compromised to provide poor security for the black candidate (when he's been given protection much earlier than candidates normally would. Usually, it's after the convention that the person is treated as equivalent to a sitting President) is tinfoil hat talk.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:05 AM
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Yeah, that's true, assuming that they did in Dallas what they did in Boston, but we don't know that yet.

Oh my gawd. What about the Secret Service? Who is watching the watchers? We don't know that they haven't been infiltrated, and those four guys around the podium could probably just turn around and blast away. Didn't Sadat and Indira Gandhi die in just that way, or am I misremembering those events?

If only Obama held his campaign rallies at secure, undisclosed locations.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:05 AM
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Back in 2004, I wasn't allowed into the secure area of an outdoor Kerry rally because of my tiny, and incredibly blunt, pocket knife.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:06 AM
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because of my tiny, and incredibly blunt, pocket knife rocket.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:08 AM
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...because of my tiny, and incredibly blunt, pocket knife blog.

Fixed.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:10 AM
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63: Sadat was killed by an army officer, but not I think an actual bodyguard. Indira Gandhi - yes. Her bodyguards were Sikhs, somewhat incensed that she had, some months prior, ordered the army into the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh sanctuary.

A quick Google also brings up Laurent Kabila (president of Congo), a Chechen leader called Markidonov, Nigerien president Ibrahim Mainassara (maybe) and various figures from ancient history.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:12 AM
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A friend was playing frisbee in a Cambridge park when GHWB's copter landed (he was heading for a speech at Harvard) and she tried to bean him with a frisbee. The Secret Service were unamused, and did not return the frisbee.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:13 AM
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A friend of mine was busking on an island in Greece when GHWB came for a visit. Along with all the scruffy hippies on the island, he spent the night in jail.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:14 AM
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Sadat was killed by an army officer, but not I think an actual bodyguard.

Or so the mullahs would have you believe. The very same mullahs that are directing Secret Service recruitment right now!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:14 AM
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60: shit, I just suggested a method of assassinating the next president of the United States to a known Iranian.

Er, see you around.

(running feet)
(slams door)
(screeching tyres)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:15 AM
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The day Obama and Clinton spoke at the SC Capitol, several friends of mine watched from a building across the street. They opened a window to hear better and in minutes a half dozen cops were there, shouting at them to close it.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:17 AM
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71: So, fucking the laser-bearing shark is the first step, but I'm not sure what step two is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:17 AM
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72: Ha, I worked in that building, in an office facing the capitol. And, just to keep arguing, "in minutes" is too long to stop a shooter.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:18 AM
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doesn't rule out a fatal shot from a handgun at 100 yards.

Hell, under the circumstances there I'd stand behind a podium and let you try it, given a few thousand $ as the bet.

Damned near anything is possible, like the guy who killed himself shooting at railroad track with a high-powered rifle from 100 yards or so away. The curve in the rail sent the bullet almost directly back. That sort of thing is not reasonably probable tho'.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:20 AM
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71: poor-spelling racist.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:21 AM
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Witt: 2) Do searches deter people from bringing weapons?

Biohazard: 2) IMX, w/ n=3, yes.

Bio, you were deterred three times from trying to assassinate someone because there was a weapons check?

You are less hardcore than I thought.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:21 AM
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Ogged, I'm surprised. At some point this is inevitably going to be hopeless. Unless civilization collapses, technology is going to make it easier and easier to kill people. Screening will become increasingly cumbersome until we just can't take it anymore. As Bruce Schneier has pointed out, our resources would be better spent on strengthening the target, improving our intelligence-gathering to catch plots early, and taking steps to mitigate the fallout from a successful attack. All of which is to say that I think what we need is a robo-Obama that can deliver speeches while being controlled from a safe distance.


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:22 AM
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74: But you didn't see the counter-sniper. He's a bit faster than "in minutes".


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:22 AM
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Well, the people who know about guns can debate whether you could kill someone with a handgun at 100 yards. There's still the rifle in the pant leg scenario, which Timbot will surely quicly ridicule, but which seems realistic enough to me.

How unlikely, by the way, were Oswald's shots? He hit a moving target in the head.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:22 AM
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Ha, I worked in that building, in an office facing the capitol. And, just to keep arguing, "in minutes" is too long to stop a shooter.

I am pretty sure if they saw anything that looked like a rifle the cops would have been preceded by a bullet that would have got there much quicker.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:23 AM
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sure, it's possible, in the sense that the bullet will phsically fly that far - but it's ridiculously unlikely to hit.

Generally, the way you establish your ethical upper limit on range for handgun hunting is the distance you can keep a string of shots "on a pie plate". With some type of aid resting the gun, there's lots of guys who can put a bullet in a pie plate at 100 yards.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:24 AM
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You don't think someone would tackle the shooter while they were extricating the rifle?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:24 AM
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He They hit a moving target in the head.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:24 AM
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I've been waiting patiently for the first person to cop to believing the Oswald sole-shooter story. I now begin waiting for the dissension.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:25 AM
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Sweet, within 3 comments and before I even got mine up!


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:26 AM
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You don't think someone would tackle the shooter while they were extricating the rifle?

Maybe, maybe not. People are likely watching Obama, not the guy a few feet to their side.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:27 AM
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ogged, 61 gets it right -- the airborne tuna-can attack has better odds of killing Obama than a pistol shot at 100 yards. It's always possible to kill a politician -- but at this point we've narrowed the threat down to an extremely lucky white supremacist Olympic-level target shooter. At some point, you say "good enough for me."


Posted by: d7c | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:27 AM
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And also remember there's a parallel story here: Secret Service personnel, citing "security concerns", have recently been turning away supporters from Obama rallies. Sources close to the campaign worry privately that this may hurt the candidate's chances of cutting into Clinton's lead. Polls have shown that as voters learn more about Obama, they are more likely to vote for him. Is the Secret Service in the pay of the Clinton campaign?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:28 AM
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77: I'm not hardcore when it comes to no gain. IMX in the deep South people would regularly return to their cars to leave guns behind if they ran into a check. I have no idea how many got past the detectors tho'.

However, I often ignored signs about weapon prohibitions if that's all there was.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:28 AM
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It is the tragedy of my life that people would rather talk about guns and attitudes and their experiences more than event organization.

You can't know how I suffer.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:28 AM
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There's still the rifle in the pant leg scenario

Maybe they still visually screened for pants that were eight sizes too big. You need to think outside of the box. What about a banana in the tailpipe of the car driving Obama? He dies from carbon monoxide poisoning or because the driver "falls asleep" and crashes. Simple and easy, and I bet it's even easier to sneak a banana past security than a rifle in one's pants. (That's a guess, though.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:29 AM
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Obama clearly needs to hire Blackwater for protection.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:30 AM
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"Excuse me, sir, is that a banana in your pants?"


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:30 AM
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At some point, you say "good enough for me."

Yeah, that's fair enough. If the gun folks are in agreement that 100 yards plus whatever other circumstances obtain sufficiently mitigate the risk, I won't argue, but I'm not ready to assume that the Secret Service has the Boston plan in place everywhere and I certainly wouldn't just trust their competence.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:30 AM
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People are likely watching Obama, not the guy a few feet to their side.

Probably not Secret Service, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:30 AM
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There's still the rifle in the pant leg scenario

But does Labs have the range?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:31 AM
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Listen, even if someone can be counted on to tackle the shooter, maybe that someone is standing right next to me, or is me for that matter; I am heroic. Someone still probably gets shot is this scenario and given my luck it is probably me. Not acceptable.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:32 AM
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Will no one think of Sybil Vane??


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:33 AM
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Isn't the main issue that the area where non-security checked people go doesn't have any good line of sight to the candidate? If this is true, there really ought to be very little to worry about.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:34 AM
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There's the rifle AS the leg scenario. I don't know if the Secret Service is prepared to halt that.

gswift is right if the guy has a gun rest and time to set it up, but how entrancing is Obama as a speaker that you see the guy setting up and you don't even scream?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:34 AM
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99: There are some risks we have to bear in a free society.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:34 AM
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That's clearly my question.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:35 AM
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99: Certainly not Dorian.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:35 AM
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Anyway, the death inflicted by sapphire bullets of pure love is highly metaphorical.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:35 AM
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98: Secret Service isn't charged with protecting you. They're not relying on you to tackle the guy in any case, but they're not the general security crew.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:35 AM
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Of course, risks we have to bear, etc. I don't worry about the lack of security at the grocery store. But here we have a situation where the experts are aware of a need for security procedures and then abandon those procedures for scheduling reasons. I do not know that the right to begin a speech on time or the right to avoid poorly executed security procedures trumps my expectation that steps be taken in risky situations.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:37 AM
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And, just to keep arguing, "in minutes" is too long to stop a shooter.

My thoughts, too. #81 probably gets it right, but I was a little surprised that the building wasn't evacuated for the duration of the event.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:39 AM
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Secret Service is not tasked with protecting me. But my expectation that they do their job has the bonus effect of affording me a relatively safe space. the two can't be very effectively separated. Further, my death at an Obama rally is bad copy for him.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:39 AM
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I do not know that the right to begin a speech on time or the right to avoid poorly executed security procedures trumps my expectation that steps be taken in risky situations.

"Did not know," surely. Now you do. Is the Secret Service making an assumption that people attending the speech are comfortable with that level of (I believe minimal) risk? Maybe, and that doesn't seem crazy. More properly, Cala seems right: SS is there for the candidate.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:43 AM
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It's not a poorly executed security procedure if you're as safe as you would be in any other large crowd event. It's not like the only security measure in place is the metal detector.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:44 AM
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85:I am a "lone gunman" person. Just spent some time at Wiki, and Oswald was close enough to marksman or sharpshooter to be credible at that distance. Good, but believable.

And I am still not using my nme on this thread.


Posted by: Simone Weil | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:45 AM
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I mean poorly executed in the sense that they couldn't get in everyone they needed to without abandoning procedure.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:45 AM
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The discussion of assassination politics is bringing me down. I would be much happier if we could return to our regularly-scheduled comments accusing one another of sexism racism for our failure to support Hillary the lovely and talented Alan Keyes.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:46 AM
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113: But the procedure is there for the candidate, not you, right? So, as Cala says, you're as safe (or safer) than you would be at a concert.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:47 AM
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I mean poorly executed in the sense that they couldn't get in everyone they needed to without abandoning procedure.

It doesn't seem like they are abandoning procedure though. It sounds like this is their procedure. Get as many people into the screened area as they can and then put everyone they can't into a separate lower security area.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:48 AM
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this is their procedure. Get as many people into the screened area as they can and then put everyone they can't into a separate lower security area.

Do you think that? I was guessing it was a compromise because they were surprised and overwhelmed. If a two-tier system is the plan all along, I would love to see their risk analyses.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:51 AM
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113: I am operating under the assumption that it wasn't abandoned without a backup plan and that the metal detector is mostly to stop the obvious nuts from getting an easy shot.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:51 AM
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117: These guys have plans for evacuating the candidate in the event of an assassination attempt. Do you think they're overwhelmed by a large crowd?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:53 AM
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I would love to see their risk analyses.

So would would-be assassins. Hmm....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:55 AM
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25: The Georgian nut with a grenade did not, actually, manage to threaten the President's life too direly. His grenade toss fell a full 20 meters short, and while close does count with hand grenades, there is no partial credit past a certain distance.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:58 AM
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If you love the Secret Service so much, Cala...


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:59 AM
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.. I should serve as a character witness for a friend who has been employed by them since 2002?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:01 AM
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98 109

This is silly. If you just want to kill Obama supporters you can spray the line waiting to go through security.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:01 AM
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119 - That was my guess, that their preparations were inadequate because they underestimated the size of the crowd. I assume their goals are candidate safety and quickly admitting the crowd. Quickly admitting the crowd was sacrificed, and then I figured they were willing to (incrementally) increase the risk to the candidate to get everyone inside at the end.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:01 AM
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These are just so fucking cool. I mean, as long as I was in the Wiki sniper area, I just had to, ya know.


Posted by: Simone Weil | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:02 AM
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I have pictures from the Boston rally of not-visible Obama. They're on my camera at home, I can post them to the pool tonight if people want to see what the situation was. If you look at page 8 of this pdf, the black dots are about 30 feet apart. The stage was about 75 feet from the wall in the bottom right corner, the non-secure barrier ran vertical on the map about where the "B" is.
There were about 20 TSA and Mass troopers in the lobby looking at everyone who came in. I'd also note that the closest non-screened people were by my estimate 300 feet away, but they were all packed together. It was another 100 feet before the crowd was thin enough to walk around or pull nefarious sharks from your pants.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:03 AM
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Silly SP, you don't need to pull sharks from your pants if they have laser beam eyes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:05 AM
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I don't know how likely the gun scenario is, but I get a little nervous when I see pictures like this one, with the candidate surrounded by college students aiming digital cameras at him at point-blank range.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:05 AM
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126: This, from the linked article, is really funny:

The XM107 was originally intended to be a bolt-action sniper rifle, and in fact it was selected by the U.S. Army in a competition between such weapons. However, the decision was made that the US Army did not, in fact, require such a weapon. The rifle originally selected under the trials to be the XM107 was the Barrett M95.
When the Army decided it no longer needed these weapons, it found that it had money already allotted for "XM107 rifles," and rather than deal with this complication, the decision was made to change the M82's designation to M107, and use the money to purchase those type of rifles instead.

"I want a cat." "You can't have a cat, we decided to get a dog and we put the money aside for it." "Can I get a cat if I name it Fido?" "That works."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:05 AM
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129: I was thinking. You want to assassinate the candidate, you want to get yourself a job as a press photographer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:07 AM
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85, 112: There are so many loose ends in the Kennedy assassination story that I find the official version impossible to believe. (Most striking to me: Oswald's previous life and activities and his affiliations with the Russian emigre community, his almost immediate death in custody, and Jack Ruby's own death in custody and some of the things Ruby said before he died. I've known lots of loners and losers, and Oswald was something different.)

A recent book, Assassination Science, provides a pretty detailed criticism of the autopsy, the Zapruder film, the events on Nov. 22, etc.

Obsessive conspiracy-theory debunking is a good litmus test for blind adherence to the received wisdom. Every theory of the assassination but one is false, obviously, and most of them may be crazy, but the lone-gunman theory strikes me as one of the false ones.

Assassination ranks high on the list of historical events that are most commonly conspiratorial. The belief that all conspiracy theories are ludicrous is itself ludicrous.

A lot of it is American exceptionalism. Nobody is skeptical when there's an assassination conspiracy in Egypt or India or Pakistan or Africa or Latin America or pre-WWII Europe.

My own interest in the Kennedy assassination is presently in the quetion, "Granted that it's now a fait accompli, what kind of fait accompli is it?"

I suspect that the investigation was completed satisfactory and that the results are known by someone. But not by us.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:08 AM
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I don't actually think I am safer than I would be at a concert once the search procedures are abandoned because I assume less crazed motives to kill Radiohead, or whatever, than Obama. That's sort of the point of secret service, no?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:08 AM
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nervous when I see pictures like this one, with the candidate surrounded by college students aiming digital cameras at him at point-blank range.

Yeah, I think Ahmad Shah Massoud was killed by an exploding camera by people posing as journalists.

I guess Tom is right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:08 AM
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133: The Radiohead concert doesn't also have the same levels of security.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:09 AM
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126: I've heard rumors that a Barrett was used to snipe British soldiers in Northern Ireland at distances in excess of 1000 yards.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:10 AM
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I assume less crazed motives to kill Radiohead

Some people find Thom Yorke's voice really fucking annoying.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:12 AM
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Once we're down to metal detectors, the Radiohead concert does have the same levels of security. The security guards milling about are not quite analogous to secret service agents milling about, but Thom Yorke is not quite equivalent to Obama.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:12 AM
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You're not down to metal detectors.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:12 AM
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The assassin as photographer definitely happened in one season of 24. Black president, not white one, I think.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:13 AM
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No, I'm down to being behind metal barriers with a bunch on unsecured people.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:15 AM
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140: Was that "Naked Mandy" (as Ain't It Cool News called her)?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:15 AM
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After having been visually scanned by more than the average rent-a-cop, and having plainclothes security guys in the crowd, and countersnipers in the rafters.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:16 AM
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Thom Yorke is not quite equivalent to Obama

Not the same set of groupies, but I bet similar enough to considered equivalent.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:16 AM
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140 - Black presidential candidate (and Senator!), not president

142 - She killed the real photographer and stole his credentials, so that she could give them to the fake photographer, who had been surgically altered to look just like the real one.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:17 AM
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132:I don't like the motives, John, for one thing. I am not happy about Oswald's history and motives, but I don't like most of the conspiracy explanations.

And it isn't as if America doesn't have a history of Lone Gunpersons. The conspiracy is the outside exception. Power or Policy hungry Americans can buy in too easily.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:17 AM
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Unfogged: These random searches are evidence that the state wants to destroy our civil liberties on the flimsy pretext of anti-terrorism, expect when the lack of them is evidence that the state wants our candidate to be assassinated by the terrorists!


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:17 AM
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I thin it was a dude with a press pass and a gun that looked like a camera, but he ended up having some involvement with Naked Mandy.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:18 AM
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Pretty good amateur Hillary ad. (Works just as well for Obama.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:19 AM
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147: We contradict ourselves? Very well then, we contradict ourselves. We are large, and contain multitudes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:19 AM
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More generally, there are a lot of pop singers whose assassination wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing -- not just Yorke. And since pop singers don't have SS protection, that's who the rational assassins would be going after. But assassins aren't always rational.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:19 AM
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147: To be fair, it's only really "ogged." "Unf" hasn't yet taken a position.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:20 AM
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Visually scanned doesn't do much for me, but I take your point about the countersnipers and the plain clothes officers. I concede more safety than at Radiohead, but I still don't like the decision.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:20 AM
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There's no contradiction there; I assume it's meant as a friendly jibe, not a serious point.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:20 AM
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136:Barretts are just the bomb. From behind a picture window, from across an average suburban street, with the right ammo, you can go thru an 4+ plasterboard walls of an entire house and spray a back yard.

Smoking Aces had its moments.


Posted by: Simone Weil | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:22 AM
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I assume it's meant as a friendly jibe, not a serious point.

That's not the sort of assumption Dick Cheney would make.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:23 AM
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I am not happy about Oswald's history and motives, but I don't like most of the conspiracy explanations.

A little bit of statistical confusion is very prevalent here. Every explanation but one has to be wrong, but that doesn't mean that you can inductively conclude that they're all wrong. In fact, one of them has to be right.

What's in question is whether it's the received explanation that's right, or one (and only one) of the many others.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:23 AM
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It is hard to interpret this as malice, rather than a fuckup, if it's even a fuckup. If the Secret Service wanted Obama dead, this would be an idiotically ineffective way to go about it, given their opportunities.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:23 AM
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Hey I just bought some Cubs tickets.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:24 AM
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It is hard to interpret this as malice, rather than a fuckup, if it's even a fuckup.

It's hard for you to so interpret it. For a Lur, it is the work of a moment. Breeding tells.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:25 AM
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That's not the sort of assumption Dick Cheney would make.

If you understood Dick Cheney, you'd know that "I assume" means "This is what you meant, unless life in Gitmo sounds good to you." Naif.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:26 AM
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But there was this Tom Clancy novel, where the Secret Service was infiltrated by a naturalized Muslim, and he was going to shoot Jack Ryan, but the leader of the detail had secretly replaced his gun with blanks, and the day was saved!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:27 AM
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Hey I just bought some Cubs tickets.

Of course you did, Whitey.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:28 AM
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Hey Cala, how did that interview go? Has that already been covered somewhere?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:28 AM
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Oh, I got rejected.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:29 AM
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You'll probably recycle the stubs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:29 AM
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The Lincoln assassination was judged a conspiracy, and six co-conspirators were hanged. The attack on Truman was a conspiracy. Guiteau was genuinely crazy. Czolgosz and Sirhan Sirhan were probably but not certainly loners, but they did have definite political motives. Squeeky Fromme was an insane conspiracy. The King assasination had to have been a conspiracy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:29 AM
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One of my favorite Presidential assassin "conspiracy" factoids is that John Hinckley's older brother had been scheduled to have dinner with Neal Bush the day after the attempt on Reagan. Almost certainly nothing there, but George HW Bush does have a very small cameo role in the JFK story. (As I recall he phoned in some tip from somewhere else in Texas—most people agree that he had some manner of connection to the CIA at the time.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:29 AM
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136: several Barretts were indeed used in NI to kill several soldiers and policemen; but at 300m ranges, not 1000m. This is well within normal sniper or even assault rifle ranges; the main advantage of the Barrett was presumably psychological, and its ability to defeat body armour.

The record for a sniper kill is 2,430m (by a Canadian using a MacMillan .50 cal in Afghanistan). In imperial measurements, that's a hell of a long way.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:29 AM
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And ride your bike to the game.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:29 AM
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163: Do Italians count? I've never been sure.

When the Sox ran their "Real Men Wear Black" campaign several years ago, there quickly arose many, many "Real Men Are Black" tshirts.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:31 AM
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Oh, I'm really sorry. And sorry to make you bring it up. I hope you had a nice meetup to sort of compensate.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:31 AM
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But as for the thread in toto, this is a reason not to invest so much in individual leaders. Anybodys with a million dollars can get you.

Better 5 Senators or 20 Congresspersons or 50 state orgs than one charismatic President. Stength in numbers. Always.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:32 AM
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Vane is just twisting the knife to wrap up the SS discussion.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:32 AM
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Late 2007 and early 2008 has been the Era of Rejections for me.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:32 AM
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Squeeky Fromme was an insane conspiracy

Fromme was rumored to have been a Reed dropout, but I haven't been able to find any evidence of this.

163: Do Italians count? I've never been sure.

Aren't you Italian and Irish, like me? I think we've been white for a while.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:33 AM
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I am not. I get rejected in my sleep anymore.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:33 AM
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177 to 175. But I'm not Italian and Irish either. Just Italian.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:34 AM
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147 and following: Yeah. It's not clear to me whether the concern here is that security was inadequate (due to incompetence, poor planning, insufficient risk analysis, what have you), or that there's some sort of conspiratorial lack of concern for Obama's safety that may carry on into future events. The two can go hand in hand, of course, but the latter is much more serious, and I'm hard-pressed to believe it.

Whether the security was indeed insufficient is a separate question, but given that Obama as President will be that much more at risk, public appearances of any sort, especially if you're worried about Sybil Vane et al., would require a frickin' full body search of attendees and an army of guards, or perhaps a security clearance for a select few attendees. I'm not sure how I feel about that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:34 AM
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169: Stats like that make me wonder why every single world leader hasn't already been assassinated. How do you secure all lines of sight at public appearances for over a mile?
Also, wasn't there a guy in Australia who, for fun, built his own cruise missile? With GPS technology widely available, it doesn't take too much technical ability.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:35 AM
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172: Haha.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:37 AM
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Further to my especially if you're worried about Sybil Vane et al., of course I just mean worried about bystanders.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:38 AM
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176: Fromme was rumored to have been a Reed dropout,

Doubtful, given this:

In high school Lyn became rebellious and began drinking and taking drugs. After barely graduating, she left home and moved in and out with different people. Her father put a halt to her gypsy lifestyle and insisted she return home. She moved back and attended El Camino Junior College.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:38 AM
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180: There really aren't all that many martyrs out there. While a determined, competent person who wanted to assassinate anyone could probably do it as long as they didn't mind getting caught, most assassins are kind of crazy, which cuts into the whole competence thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:40 AM
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176: That was Steve Jobs, not Squeaky.

Wiki: When U.S. Attorney Duane Keyes recommended severe punishment because she was "full of hate and violence," Fromme threw an apple at him, hitting him between the eyes.[citation needed]


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:40 AM
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180: You can't. But there aren't actually that many trained military snipers around with access to .50 calibre rifles and a burning desire to shoot presidents.

Also (see Shooter) you have to plan that sort of thing out, and presidential schedules aren't always published in advance.

And you get one shot. When Cpl Furlong missed an Afghan at 2000m, it didn't matter too much (except to the Afghan in question); he could be sure that another one would come along sooner or later. We don't know, after all, how many 2000m shots he took and missed. If you take a shot at a president and miss, a) he gets under cover pretty fast and b) you get chased pretty fast.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:41 AM
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176: Yep. But you have the Mick name and I have the Wop one. (And now I have even more Cubs tickets!)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:41 AM
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For some reason, my gut tells me Obama will become President. I doubt that he serves 8 years.

The Kennedy assassination was a real shock.By 1968 America was certifiable. Most cities of 50,000 were having riots (800+ in 68) and I swear, violence and death were everywhere. My smalltown white block of 20 houses had four young man deaths.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:42 AM
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It's not clear to me whether the concern here is that security was inadequate (due to incompetence, poor planning, insufficient risk analysis, what have you)

It strikes me that this just one of those times when SOP turns out not to be what everyone expects, but not really that big a deal. But it's worthwhile having the conversation; I'm guessing that pretty much everyone (including the Obamas) has had the worrisome thought cross their minds, so might as well bring it out in the open.

That was Steve Jobs, not Squeaky.

Oh yeah. I get them mixed up sometimes.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:44 AM
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Squeaky was part of my mom's caseload when she was a prison social worker. My mom thought she was a lovely person who didn't deserve to spend the rest of her life in prison. When Squeaky briefly escaped from prison (in 1989 or 1990, I think), we had U.S. Marshalls staking out our property because they thought she might turn up there. My family had to leave for a Christmas party, so my mom left a note on the door telling her she should let herself in and help herself to food and hot drinks. She made the marshalls promise not to haul Squeaky back to prison until we returned. (As it turns out, she was captured close to the prison and far away from my parents' house.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:45 AM
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OT: Hey, just noting Sybil's presence -- are we still offering periodic positive reinforcement/accountability on the non-smoking thing? How's it going?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:45 AM
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1968 America was certifiable

Maybe it's just me, and of course I wasn't there --- but it seems to me the country was a fair bit more sane in '68 than '08, all things considered. Which isn't said in support of riots, any which way.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:45 AM
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That's sweet, Di, but we can all support some more worthy cause. I am a total fucking loser at quitting.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:47 AM
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Have I mentioned that you'd quit if you really wanted to? Everyone totally agreed with me when I said that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:48 AM
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188: We're enough of a surveillance and security state at this point -- something we've internalized as normal, apparently desirable at times -- that it takes a crazy, or an external force, to create a real threat.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:49 AM
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When Squeaky briefly escaped from prison (in 1989 or 1990, I think), we had U.S. Marshalls staking out our property because they thought she might turn up there. My family had to leave for a Christmas party, so my mom left a note on the door telling her she should let herself in and help herself to food and hot drinks. She made the marshalls promise not to haul Squeaky back to prison until we returned.

This is unspeakably delightful.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:50 AM
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Just...I currently live in a blue collar neighborhood, mostly Latinos, and something about my youth has lead me to be amazed at how quiet it is here at night. Weekend nights, same type people, when I was growing up were filled with vicious drunks, gunfire, sirens, spousal abuse, car crashes. I just got conditioned.

Bad times, I guess.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:50 AM
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193: But you're a winner at continuing!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:50 AM
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That's sweet, Di, but we can all support some more worthy cause. I am a total fucking loser at quitting.

Yeah, like helping Knecht quit commenting on unfogged when he should be doing useful work. Because you lot have done jack shit for that.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:50 AM
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193: Sorry to hear it, and sorry about 194, too, which I feel somewhat responsible for opening the door to.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:51 AM
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Obama is soft on the Weather Underground!!!

This is super lame. I'm pretty sure I have more recent contact with one half of the specific couple in question than Obama. ZOMG I was at a panel at Northwestern with a former Weatherlady last year & I failed to publicly denounce her! The other one teaches at the same school as my husband!

Not that there aren't 101 reasons I could never ever be elected to public office, but my suspicious ties to the Weathermen isn't one of them.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:52 AM
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Hey, Knecht, don't you have a job to do or something?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:52 AM
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192:Good jobs and lots of money helps a lot.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:52 AM
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Katherine, would you e-mail me at Knecht underscore Ruprecht at yahoodotcom? I gotta ask you something.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:53 AM
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Dude, quitting smoking, or coffee, or reading unfogged, or anything else, has to be just a stone cold decision: the line is here, now. Full stop. It's the power of no.

Hypnosis can help. Anyway, ogged's "if you really wanted to" is a hand-wavy version of the full stop.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:54 AM
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202: That's the spirit, Di!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:55 AM
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I went to an Obama campaign speech a few months back in San Francisco. The line was monstrous. The rumor was that they were screening everyone thoroughly. Then, apparently, some policy changed, we all surged forward, and I got into the building without walking through a metal detector or so much as really seeing any security.

Sounded like someone (Obama himself, hopefully, but I have no idea who) made the decision that actually getting people into the room was worth the risk.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:56 AM
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206: And it's obviously working well.

Ogged is the fucking Jimmy Cliff of adictive behavior modification.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:57 AM
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Epoch, were you cordoned off and very far away, or what?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:58 AM
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Epoch, were you cordoned off and very far away, or what?

And how big were your pants?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 12:01 PM
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47
As I remarked to a friend the other night (the same friend who thought that Obama is Muslim, *sigh*), the fact the GWB has survived 7 years indicates that the Secret Service is doing their job very well.

Does it? How many attempts have there been? It seems that any Republican would eagerly take a failed attempt as an excuse to be even more hawkish. If the Secret Service is doing anything differently, they're probably just getting a lot of false positives.

107: "abandon those procedures" s/b "probably, though admittedly we aren't certain, prevent people who haven't been through them from getting in line of sight of the candidate at all."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 12:16 PM
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190: Well aren't we just the high and mighty namedropper now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 12:50 PM
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What if a would be assassin snuck in a grenade and a bat?

Food for thought.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 12:55 PM
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How does that work -- you tie the grenade to the bat's feet, and train it to echolocate the candidate?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 12:57 PM
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214: well, first you would have to sprinkle the candidate with some sort of pheromone.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:02 PM
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214: It's not a question of how to attach the grenade; it's a simple matter of weight ratios. A five-ounce bat cannot carry a one-pound grenade.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:13 PM
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The pheromone idea would work better if you got a whole swarm of bees to jointly carry the grenade.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:14 PM
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216: Use feathered riding bats.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:16 PM
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Think outside the box, Merganser. That's outmoded twentieth-century mechanistic linear scarcity thinking.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:17 PM
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The chocolate bat can unerringly echolocate chocolate.

My mother kept a badminton bat under her bed to bat away the bats infesting our house.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:19 PM
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216: Not that I wasn't thinking exactly the same thing, but we have rules against that sort of thing here. Given that you apparently weigh the same as a duck, I'd watch yourself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:19 PM
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The "echolocate chocolate" pun is rife on the internet. So are chocolate bats and chocolate bat mitzvahs. And I thought that I was being so clever.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:23 PM
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A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat, LB.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:24 PM
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Bats carrying bombs.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:51 PM
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The 224 link describes an alternate universe in which the A-bomb was not necessary, because bat-bombs had brought Japan to its knees.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:53 PM
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Third, bats hibernate, and while dormant they do not require food or complicated maintenance.

I am fascinated by the idea of a mechanic with a very small set of brown furry wrenches carrying out complicated maintenance on bats.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:56 PM
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213 et al

I thought the idea was a baseball bat to propel the grenade farther than you could throw it. Accuracy would probably suffer though.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:57 PM
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Damn, Shearer, you have your sense of humor surgically removed or something?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 1:59 PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY4A-RuuXlE
Winnie, his friend and the bees, always loved it!
perfect for the snowy days i guess


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 2:02 PM
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bees are in the second clip, sorry
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyNaIFkucBc
i like how she distract the bees pretending that it's raining, nice camouflage!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 2:08 PM
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s


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 2:10 PM
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169: The best part of it was the Canadian sniper's description of what it felt like to fire the MacMillan -- 'like being slashed in the head with a hockey stick', as I recall.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 4:47 PM
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It's commonly believed that someone jostled Ağca when he took his shot at JPII. I can't imagine what would have happened if he had managed to kill him -- then again, nothing really happened. But you could have easily imagined an Archduke + WW3 scenario.

While we're talking about Clancy novels, Executive Orders was really quite dramatic with the sleeper agent. I imagine that life as a USSS agent's really quite nice: after the April rotorooter of your life, they probably fill our your 1040 as a professional courtesy.

All of this talk has got me thinking: every night hypothetical-President Obama is in office, I will pray for his personal safety.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 4:54 PM
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I added the picture from the rally to the flickr group. You can decide whether anyone from the non-screened area has a clear shot with their laser-beam shark eyes.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 5:55 PM
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bombs under the concrete, as in that thing in Russia a few years ago.

I thought this was in Chechnya.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:42 PM
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Kadyrov (not to be confused with successors of the same name). I think this still counts as "in Russia.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:46 PM
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"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:46 PM
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my friends and I had a complex, yet workable, plan to get GHWB. we were going to get a troupe of lemurs, and start them off eating mashed bananas out of the hollowed head of a life-like GHWB mannequin. then we'd start mixing in a small amount of human brains with the bananas and slowly upping the mix, while enclosing the feeding section with progressively tougher skins. then we'd just release the lemurs near where the prez was playing golf or whatever and THEY WOULD EAT HIS BRAINZ!!!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-23-08 12:15 AM
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156, 161: Isn't Dick's relationship with the SS is pretty much out in the open now?


Posted by: shpx.ohfu | Link to this comment | 02-23-08 5:09 AM
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238: very clever, but you failed to take one crucial detail into account: lemurs, being Madagascan, are repelled by golf sweaters. You should have used otters, and trained them on canned tuna.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:24 AM
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