Thursday, August 21, 2008

SECRET SERVICE: Your tax dollars at work

Every day the Secret Service thinks: Today could be THE day.

That's the sober mind-set going into the presidential conventions this fall. Both conventions present special security challenges considering it’s the longest political campaign in history.

The Secret Service and FBI are not ignoring the traditional terrorists groups, but are adding special attention to other extremists; radicals from the left or right, anarchists, lone wolf crazies who may become unhinged. The uniqueness of the Obama campaign raises the risk factor.

Mark Potok, who regularly monitors white Supremist Blogs for the Southern Poverty Law Center said: "I think that officials have every right to be worried."
However, these same crazies despise Republican John McCain, too. "They see him as a traitor, a guy who lies about immigration."

The Secret Service budgeted more than $15 million for both conventions, but it will cost a couple of million more because of Democratic candidate Barack Obama's decision to accept his party's nomination at an open-air stadium in Denver.

Tens of thousands of delegates, reporters and protesters will flock to Denver Aug. 25-28 and St. Paul Sept. 1-4. These conventions are attractive platforms for terrorists and other groups that want to cause disruptions. There will be 4,400 agents and officers working the conventions this year.

It costs the Secret Service about $45,000 a day to protect each candidate. Obama received protection almost a year earlier than officials expected and has had a detail since May 2007. And as soon as each candidate announces his vice presidential pick, new protective details are deployed for the second-in-command hopefuls.

Tom Ridge, the country's first Homeland Security secretary said the Secret Service, which became part of his department in 2003, is up to the task. "They'll get it done."

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