Saturday, July 19, 2008

Guess Who Protected Obama in Afghanistan?

It's funny how, with all the press coverage of Senator Barack Obama's trip to Afghanistan, nobody has mentioned who's working overtime to protect the presidential candidate and his Secret Service guards from harm.

Especially because he has been such a critic of private security contractors.

Who were all those armed civilians keeping a discreet distance from the politician and running the diplomatic security convoy that picked him up at Kabul airport? They weren't Secret Service!

News reports say that Obama's trip is being treated as a congressional delegation or codel. Standard practice for codels visiting Afghanistan and Iraq calls for the lawmakers to be protected under the Worldwide Personal Protection Services (WPPS) program of the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. That program is carried out by private security contractors, of which Blackwater is the most important in both Kabul and Baghdad.

Obama has been such a critic of Blackwater (though he recognizes the need for the company's services) that it would be news for him to accept the company's protection in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the other hand, if someone broke with standard practice and had a private security contractor other than Blackwater guard the senator and his Secret Service detail, that would be news too.

So far, nobody's saying anything. And reporters aren't asking.

The Associated Press featured Afghan police wielding battered Kalashnikovs and frisking the locals, but had nothing to say about who was providing the unusually tight security for Obama and the Secret Service agents.

Let's see how long it takes the press to report this one.

5 comments:

Chris Beam said...

Hi, I am a reporter. How do you know they're private contractors and not military? Please reply to: jcbeam@gmail.com.

Standish said...

My post was pretty straightforward. I have no special knowledge about the Obama security detail, but was commenting based on standard operating procedure for the safety of visiting US congressmen and senators under the State Department's Worldwide Personal Protection Services program. That's why I recommended that reporters ask questions. Why don't you ask the Obama campaign who protected the candidate and his Secret Service guards?

Chris Beam said...

http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/trailhead/archive/2008/07/22/dodging-blackwater.aspx

Standish said...

Nice article, Chris. I wouldn't accept a "no comment" from anybody, particularly Obama's campaign, as an answer one way or the other. Although one can take the Secret Service's statement at face value that it doesn't "utilize" private contractors, I really doubt that our embassies in Baghdad or Kabul would let a presumptive presidential nominee travel around without benefit of everything Blackwater has to offer. When President Bush visits Iraq or Afghanistan, Blackwater assets are used, so I don't see how it would be any different with Senator Obama. Keep digging.

GaryL said...

Let's see how long it takes the press to report this one.

Better bring your calendar...

Snow will blow in Hell before the legacy media would be caught dead reporting this inconvenient fact.