Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Secret Service

As I watch the Inauguration, I enjoy keeping my eyes on the Secret Service. For a few brief hours this past summer, our family had a great opportunity to meet VP Dick Cheney and his Secret Service. Mr. Cheney is from my hometown of Casper, Wyoming. He has many friends there and he went to Casper over the summer to have a small fundraiser for the Republican Party. My kids and I (my husband had to stay behind in Michigan to work) got to attend along with my sister and her husband and family. This is a picture from that visit. There was only about 50 people at the fundraiser so we got an up close and personal visit with the VP and had an hour prior to his visit, to meet with his Secret Service and ask questions.

This is my daughter and VP Cheney. He was very nice and really enjoyed the kids. He shook their hand and they could get a picture with him. Mr. Cheney's wife Lynn was there, along with their granddaughter. It was really exciting to meet them all.

The best part for me, was the Secret Service. I love all that CIA/FBI/secret agent stuff. We had to get security clearance a few weeks prior to the event. They did background checks on everyone. A few days prior to VP Cheney coming in, the Secret Service arrived in their black Suburbans and scoped out the place. My sister and her family live on a large piece of land along with their in laws (good friends of the Cheney's since high school) and other family members. They have a huge, very nice barn and meeting room right on their land, and that is where the event was held-so we got to see all the action.)
Huge bails of hay were set up at the entrance to the barn, so when the limo carrying the VP arrived, they could back it right up to the hay maze and he would get out and be protected. They set up many phone lines in the barn area. One that had a direct line to the White House. They cleared out many rooms in the barn, for safety reasons. They set up a sitting area, that was safe and protected, should the VP need a private area to rest. They sent Secret Service along the route the VP would take from the airport, to check for areas that they may need extra security. All bridges would be blocked off and police would be stationed under the bridge in the water for protection. Secret Service planned out a direct course to the hospital and closed off a wing there, should he need to be rushed there in case of any emergency. Some of his staff arrived a few days early and began to set up all the communications and the stage area where he would speak.

We learned that when the new VP and President come into office, they are weighed and measured and at least three custom podiums are made for each one. The one above is for smaller events, you can see the skinny base. It is made of solid lead and is bullet proof. If they speak at a large event, they have a full body podium, where they can hide behind it, in the event of an emergency. I thought that was really interesting.

The seal of the VP is not placed on the front of the podium UNTIL the VP is ready to use the podium. You can see in the picture above, it is not there yet.

The day of the event all of the Secret Service arrived early with dogs and combed the place for explosives and other things. We sat on my sister's front porch and watched the sniper gear up and climb the hill behind my sister's house and get into position. He looked EXACTLY like sagebrush. You would have never known he was there. We had to all go through security screening before going into the barn area. Everyone had to go inside when the motorcade arrived.

The Secret Service men and women were very nice. They smiled and gave special Secret Service pins to the kids. But, when the VP arrived they were ALL BUSINESS. They were very alert and watched every move you made. It was very exciting and an honor to be there. I'm thankful for the once in a lifetime opportunity.

I can't imagine all of the security details going on for President Obama. I'd love to know the inside scoop!


Krysta said...

Thank you so much for leaving a comment of encouragement on my blog. I love hearing stories like yours. They give me hope. Thank you also for your prayers, I really need them!!

HAT said...

No kidding! I wonder how many people total were involved in the security on inauguration day?

Krysta said...

I just read your comment on my blog and I started crying. You are so sweet and I'm blessed to have "met" you. I can't even begin to thank you enough for all of your prayers. They mean the world to me and you will never know how much I appreciate them! THANK YOU!!!!

There was an error in this gadget