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The DNC, The RNC & ICON Executive Protection

The DNC, The RNC & ICON Executive Protection

 

For the past several months i’d been fairly immersed in negotiating, researching, planning, and finally, executing an assignment that was challenging, rewarding, and in many ways, “historic”. Historic because of my participation in both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions at a pivotal time in our nation, but also because I had the opportunity to involve several of the former ICON Academy students in the assignment. For the past 17 days, our agents had the opportunity to interact with all levels of local, state and federal law enforcement, from the United States Secret Service on down. The mix of Politicians, Celebrities, Corporate Higher Up’s and Delegates coexisted with massive crowds, inclimate weather and protesters. The senior Protectors took those with less experience under their wings, and illustrated by words and actions, that every post was an important one, and everyone (including me) got (re)familiar with that EP staple, “Halls & Walls”. In the end, while sore feet, and bags under the eyes were prevalent, the words of thanks and admiration for the work done personally made by the client made it all worth it.

Of course I do not want to make it seem that this was all brand new, in 2008, ICON Services Corporation also played a significant protection role for clients for both the DNC and RNC, and if the positive feedback was any  indication, once again be lacing up the shoes and adding the lapel pin four years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happened to Lara Logans Security?

What Happened to Lara Logans Security?

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.

~Elijah Shaw

The Challenges of Protecting the Pope

The Challenges of Protecting the Pope

Catholic.net did a recent interview with retired Swiss Guard Captain roman Fringeli, producing what I feel is a great article on the challenges and preparation needed to protect one of the most recognizable people on the planet.   The duties & risks of  the Executive Protection Agent multiply dramatically when faced with crowds, political & religious tensions, and international travel on this type of scale.

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For 12 years, retired Swiss Guard Captain Roman Fringeli was fully trained and prepared to lay down his life for the Pope.

Between 1987 and 1999, he protected the soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II as one of his five personal bodyguards on papal trips — a period of duty that involved 15 apostolic voyages to Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

For three and a half of those years, Fringeli led the Swiss Guard contingent when John Paul travelled abroad. “If the circumstances were such, I would sacrifice myself for the Pope,” he recalled. “This was always my thinking during the trips.”

Originally from Basel in northern Switzerland, Fringeli left the ancient pontifical army over 10 years ago. But his enthusiasm remains and he is eager to share his happy — and sometimes agonising — experiences of those momentous visits.

He vividly recalls struggling to keep back a lunging crowd in Nairobi, shouting at the military in Mozambique to prevent a mass of people from getting too close to the Pope, and facing the daunting task of protecting the Pope in front of a million-strong crowd of faithful in Seoul.

Click HERE for the full story.

Private Security Remains in Afghanistan

Private Security Remains in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has abandoned plans to scrap private security firms in the country by mid-December, the interior ministry says.

Fifty-four private security firms have been dissolved in recent weeks in a drive to clamp down on the industry.

But interior ministry officials said most of the 52 mainly Afghan firms remaining would retain their licences.

Private security firms provide guards at everything from diplomatic missions, aid agencies and supply convoys.

…In August, President Karzai gave private security companies four months to end operations in Afghanistan following concerns that some contractors empowered warlords and power brokers operating outside government control.

But recently aides to the president have advised him that the move to disband the network completely was ill-advised, as the security forces could not fill the gap.

“Their future operations will continue in accordance with the law and regulations in place,” an interior minister told a news conference in Kabul.

He said some of the 52 firms still operating remained under criminal investigation and could face closure; a list of banned companies would be announced on 17 December.

Mr Farahi said that those which remained would have to follow tighter rules. They would have to wear uniforms and would not be allowed to stop vehicles or block roads for security reasons.

For the full story, click HERE.

See previous:  Ban for Afghan Private Security Contractors

SO first the crackdown, and then the reshuffle.  It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out both through official and back channels.  ~ES

Secret Service Agent Tells of Almost Shooting President in New Book?

Secret Service Agent Tells of Almost Shooting President in New Book?

A Secret Service agent came close to shooting President Lyndon Johnson just hours after Kennedy’s assassination, according to “The Kennedy Detail”, a new book that claims to be the first account of the tragedy by members of Kennedy’s security detail:

___

The night after the assassination, Blaine says he was assigned to protect Johnson’s two-story house in Washington when he heard the sound of someone approaching.  Instinctively Blaine picked up the Thompson submachine gun and activated the bolt on top. The unmistakable sound was similar to racking a shotgun. He firmly pushed the stock into his shoulder, ready to fire. He’d expected the footsteps to retreat with the loud sound of the gun activating, but they kept coming closer. Blaine’s heart pounded, his finger firmly on the trigger. Let me see your face, you bastard.

The next instant, there was a face to go with the footsteps.

The new President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, had just rounded the corner, and Blaine had the gun pointed directly at the man’s chest. In the blackness of the night, Johnson’s face went completely white.

A split second later, Blaine would have pulled the trigger…

Blaine struggled to regain his composure as the reality of what had just happened washed over him. Fourteen hours after losing a president, the nation had come chillingly close to losing another one.

___

The book also includes the first-ever account of the fateful day by Clint Hill, the agent who jumped on the back of the car in the midst of the shooting and pushed Jackie down into the back seat.

For the full story, click HERE.

Now this sounds like quite an interesting book.   I hope it goes further into the reaction of the former President.  (Likely, he wasn’t too happy.)

Justified? Joe Miller’s Bodyguards Detain Reporter

Justified? Joe Miller’s Bodyguards Detain Reporter

Alaska Dispatch founder and editor Tony Hopfinger was grabbed and handcuffed by a private security detail working for U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller on Sunday while trying to ask the Fairbanks Republican questions following a town hall meeting at Central Middle School in Anchorage on Sunday.

Hopfinger was reportedly pressing Miller on whether the candidate had ever been reprimanded for politicking while working at the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2008. Alaska Dispatch and other media have sued for the release of records related Miller’s time at the borough. Various accounts of what happened next generally agree on this course of events:

  • Two or three bodyguards told Hopfinger to stop asking questions and to leave the building.
  • Hopfinger continued to ask questions while apparently videotaping the candidate.
  • Bodyguards told him that if he persisted they would arrest him for trespassing, but refused to identify themselves to Hopfinger.
  • Hopfinger asked why he was trespassing, as the event was at a public school. Seconds later, he was then put in arm-bar and later handcuffed and sequestered at one end of a hallway for at least 30 minutes. He was told, “You’re under arrest.”
  • Anchorage Police arrived on the scene shortly after.

Police were still trying to sort things out as this was written.

Miller had been at the school for a town hall meeting. State Sen. Fred Dyson, a Republican from Eagle River, appeared there to praise Miller, as did at least one other speaker. Miller than spent about forty-five minutes fielding questions from an audience that had been invited by Miller supporters. Hopfinger, who had learned at the last minute of Miller’s planned appearance at the public school, ducked into a hallway after the meeting to pose his own questions to Miller.

Click HERE for the full story.

Considering there were multiple agents on this assignment, stopping the individual from advancing (short of a citizens arrest) and removing the Principal (Mr. Miller) from the area would have been the more traditional approach.   It definitely would have spared the client the negative publicity he is sure to endure as a fallout from this.  ~ES

*EDIT:  You can now click HERE for a video news report that includes interviews with the Security Agency Owner and the Reporter.

Man Throws Book at President

Man Throws Book at President

A paperback book was hurled towards President Obama seconds after he completed a Democratic rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, but aides say the incident in no way affected the event.

In video of the President, the book appears as little more than a blurr hurdling past his head to his left as he waved to the crowd on his right.  It is not clear how close the book came to him but it is apparent the President does not notice it at all. The paperback seems to be coming from the direction of the audience penned in closest to the stage, not from the thousands of other spectators behind barricades farther back…

The US Secret Service found and interviewed the man who threw the book onstage.  He was deemed to be an “overexhuberant” supporter who wanted the President to have a copy of a book he had written, according the Special Agent Edwin Donovan of the Secret Service in Washington.  “He was deemed not to be a threat and was not arrested,”

For full story, click HERE.

Definitely  not as much of a security risk as another individual who decided to throw something at the US Commander in Chief.   Also looks like an Agent had an eye on the object but didn’t overreact.

IRAN – Anatomy of a Presidential Detail

IRAN – Anatomy of a Presidential Detail

the good folks over at STRATFOR posted an excellent analysis of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s security detail as he navigated the crush of the crowds during a recent public appearance.  It was during that appearance, depending on who you ask, an explosive was detonated or a firecracker thrown.  Regardless, viewing the video shows you the challenges the Iranian presidential guard faces and the marked difference between this motorcade and that of say a US President.

To watch the analysis, as a part of their Above the Tear Line series, click HERE.

See Related:  Assassination Attempt on Iran’s President

Mexican Mayor Killed By Bodyguard

Mexican Mayor Killed By Bodyguard

The drug trade fueled violence in Mexico continues.

According to news reports, six police officers in Mexico have been arrested in connection with the murder of a mayor kidnapped early this week in the ultra-violent north of the country, local authorities said Friday.

The officers, including one who acted as bodyguard to Edelmiro Cavazos, the slain mayor of the town of Santiago, were paid off by a drug gang to facilitate the crime, the regional governor and the prosecutor, Rodrigo Medina and Alejandro Garza, told reporters.

Apparently his other bodyguard was overpowered and beaten but otherwise left alive during the kidnap attempt.

Click for the Full Story of The Mexican Mayor Killed by Bodyguard & Police and Violence Rises.

Afghan Government to Ban Private Security Contractors

Afghan Government to Ban Private Security Contractors

Now this is interesting…

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree Tuesday disbanding all private security firms within four months.

The decree involves international and national private security companies and the security employees of those companies are able to join the Afghan national police with their weapons.

“In order to protect Afghan life and property, avoid corruption, security irregularities and the misuse of military weapons, ammunition and uniforms by the private security companies which have caused tragic incidents, and after the required assessment, I approve shutting down all private security companies within four months, including both domestic and foreign,” the decree said.

…The move spotlights the issue of the role and conduct of U.S. security contractors, who protect embassies and companies, perform training, and help convoys move through dangerous areas. Violent incidents involving such
contractors have enraged Afghans.  U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Monday that U.S. officials will study the decree, which was expected to be issued.

If US, Afghan relations weren’t icy before.   It’s no secret that private security contracting in war zones is now big business.  Can’t see these companies going quietly into the night.  Developing…

For the full story, click HERE.

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