Security Professionals always look at incidents of violence perpetrated against public figures with a slightly different perspective than the general public. Such was the case when I heard about the tragic story of CBS News Corespondent Laura Logan. The journalist was a victim first of detention by the Egyptian authorities and following her release and return to the region a brutal assault by a mob.
The offical account goes as such: The evening of the attack, Ms. Logan, 39, the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, was covering the celebrations in Tahrir Square in central Cairo with a camera crew and an unknown number of security staff members. The CBS team was enveloped by “a dangerous element” within the crowd, CBS said, that numbered more than 200 people. That mob separated Ms. Logan from her team and then attacked her.
I, as well as scores of my peers, have had first hand experience dealing with massive crows that are whipped into such a frenzy that you can feel the threat looming, so much so that it’s almost a tangible thing. At that point, independent of even the clients wishes, a decision must be made to leave the area for the safety of the Protectee. You might get chewed out or even fired later, but your client will live to tell the tale. After initially hearing this story, the obvious question to me was, exactly how did her secuirty team become seperated from her?
While researching I stumbled upon outtakes of an interview Ms. Logan conducted with Esquire Magazine, conducted after the detention, but before the assault, that appeared to shed a little more light on the incident:
Esquire: On whom she was traveling with:
Laura: “I’m not the only one going back, my producer is coming with me. And with my husband. We made this decision together. And with my boss.”
Esquire: On the precautions they’d be taking:
Laura: “We’ve made sure that the Egyptian embassy in the U.S. knows we’re going. They’re fully aware of it. They know what our purpose is, that we’re journalists. We’ve made every effort to try and get media accreditation before we left, but the embassy said because of the backup they couldn’t [get it to us], so they’re trying to help us on the ground. There are no surprises here this time. It is a better plan. Again, it’s not foolproof, you know?”
Esquire: On worrying about a repeat scenario:
Laura: “Sure, of course you can never discount [that], it would be foolish to discount that possibility.”
Esquire: On traveling with private security:
Laura: “No. We are not. It’s been so chaotic. I think we do have a security person on with us now, on our team, but I haven’t had a chance to even address that.” (emphasis mine ~ES)
While in no way placing the blame of the assault on Laura Logan herself, I do think at least at the time of the interview, security was an afterthought. There may or may not have been a trained agent from the states with her, and if there was, his available resources may have been minimal. It is also likely that a local(s) could have been used, at which point the vetting process could have been anywhere on the scale of “bad” to “very bad’. It is also possible that none of this was the case and the network provided Mrs. Logan with an equipped team of seasoned security professionals qualified to go into a potential hot spot with their primary responsibility of protecting their client — not of making sure she got an award winning news story. It’s possible, but based off of my personal experiences, unlikely.
This is a story i’ll be following with great interest, and it is my hope that corporations placing their employees in hostile situations overseas begin to recognize the value of being proactive with security. Sadly, Laura Logan has paid a high price for that lesson.