25 July 2004
Prior report on DNC insecurity by James Atkinson:
James Atkinson writes:
This is really getting ridiculous. The double speak being used by the Secret Service clearly demonstrates that the security at the Fleet Center is completely screwed up and poorly thought out.
In a proper security environment there is not confusion and chaos of this magnitude, and while there may be a few MINOR delays in getting access into a secure area there is nothing as bad as this. The Secret Service/DHS is screwing up, and screwing up badly.
The journalist that said below, "There's a lot of confusion. It doesn't seem like anyone knows what's going on.", has said something very revealing and quite accurate. It is also something that I have been saying now for weeks prior to the convention
The FBI warnings about an unconfirmed threat targeting the media was bogus, and was just a way to get the media to shut-up about, to stop complaining about, and stop reporting on, the weak security at the convention. Essentially the government is trying to convince them that they could save their own butts by being silent. Sadly, by journalists being cowed into not reporting on the problems with bad security, they are allowing the government to get away with ridiculously poor security, which in turn is actually increasing the threat to the journalists' safety.
The "emergency call" in Hyde Park cited below was bogus, and is a well known tactic used by Law Enforcement when they want to search someone/something but lack a proper search warrant, or probable cause. Simply put, an "anonymous person" (usually another cops) calls in an emergency to 911, the police show up and under the guise of "the emergency" try to enter the premises. When and if the "victims" refuse to admit the police they forcibly enter (often with guns drawn) and search the premises in violation of the law.
The government is STILL only giving lip service to security, and is only taking palliative measures to create an illusion of security.
Confusion reigns as security rules
By Suzanne Smalley, Globe Staff | July 25, 2004
With 15-foot fencing and black netting, the area around the FleetCenter was transformed yesterday into the so-called hard zone, where uniformed soldiers and police officers in bright orange raincoats patrolled outside while the Secret Service completed its sweep of the facility for security threats in preparation for tomorrow's start of the Democratic National Convention.
Because of the security sweep, several hundred reporters and news crews spent up to two hours waiting to get to office space inside the zone.
''It's the Secret Service," said one Boston police officer, after he sent reporters to the wrong entrance. ''They keep changing orders."
About 500 journalists toting briefcases and cameras were herded around almost the entire perimeter of the FleetCenter, and across two ramps to Route 93 and onto the parking lot of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center.
Another 200 journalists cooled their heels at one entrance to the FleetCenter for more than 90 minutes not knowing that the media at another entrance was finally gaining access, at least to the magnetometers.
''I've covered 10 conventions," said Mark Z. Barabak, a Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. ''There's a lot of confusion. It doesn't seem like anyone knows what's going on."
The Secret Service chalked up the confusion to necessary precautions. ''The whole security screening process is a thought out and complicated process when we're doing something like this," said Ann Roman, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service.
Dump trucks from Boston Public Works blocked several streets leading to the security perimeter on Causeway Street, adding to the fortress-like atmosphere.
Two private security guards stood watch by a local Fox 25 news satellite truck parked on Friend Street outside the perimeter. The Fox 25 logo was covered with blue duct tape, perhaps in response to the FBI warning issued last week that a radical group of domestic terrorists may target news vehicles. Most network and local TV news trucks were parked in a designated lot inside the hard zone, authorities said.
A spokeswoman for CBS news said her bosses had instructed her not to talk about security preparations, but Sandy Genelius said, ''We feel we're as prepared as we can be."
Asked for updates about threats to media vehicles, Coast Guard Petty Officer Zack Zubricki said, ''There have been no incidents. It's been quiet so far."
The biggest sighting of the day by far was the arrival of a liquefied natural gas tanker traveling through Boston harbor with four tug boats flanked by four orange zodiac inflatable boats. Two US Coast Guard ships escorted the flotilla. Journalists standing on the roof of the nearby Boston Harbor Hotel gawked as the heavily fortified blue tanker cruised through the harbor with black military helicopters whirring overhead.
LNG tankers sailing into the Distrigas terminal in Everett have long been controversial as potential terrorist targets. Distrigas announced last spring that there would be no LNG tankers traveling into Boston during convention week. But Distrigas spokesman Douglas Bailey said yesterday that the delivery was planned well in advance with various law enforcement officials notified.
''We voluntarily scheduled our tankers' arrivals and departures so they wouldn't interfere with the DNC, which starts next week," said Bailey. ''We don't release when we bring them in," he said. ''Nobody is surprised by this."
Mayor Thomas M. Menino has repeatedly warned that LNG tankers pose a potential threat to the city when they cross the harbor and dock in Everett. But a spokesman for Menino, Seth Gitell, said that the LNG delivery yesterday was not a problem since the convention had not yet begun.
By last evening, there had been no security-related arrests.
But amid the heightened security, police answered an emergency call in Hyde Park yesterday and searched a privately owned school bus with Idaho plates that contained two small gasoline containers and a few 130-gallon propane tanks, Boston police said.
Some media members found amusement. Jim Mitchell, a CBS crew member, smiled at having to cross the highway to gain access to the magnetometers outside the media center. ''It was kind of insane," Mitchell said. ''Like, 'make way for the ducklings crossing Storrow Drive.' "
Stephen Kurkjian and Glen Johnson of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent Jack Encarnacao contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company