Sunday, May 06, 2007

Massive Security For '08 Conventions

By Cernig

Details are now coming out about planning for security at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Thousands of police officers from across the state and hundreds of Secret Service and FBI agents will be deployed to provide security for the convention, and National Guard troops will be on standby.

...There will be special teams from Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hostage negotiators and hostage rescue teams. There may be specialty teams from the military to identify airborne contaminants, and military planes will patrol the skies.

With 20,000 convention delegates and guests expected to turn up along with 15,000 members of the news media, Twin Cities hotels will be jammed.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who will be part of a May 8 meeting to map security plans, said it will be a huge logistical challenge.

They security planners will break into 18 subcommittees to tackle such issues as civil disturbances, gathering intelligence and organizing security for St. Paul's Xcel Center, the site of the convention Sept. 1-4, 2008.

"There are two fundamental elements for large venue security," said David Cid, a former FBI agent in Minneapolis. "One part is physical security, using bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors. The other is an intelligence system.

"You have to have an intelligence system that is sufficiently broad and robust that it will bring to you indicators of terrorism activity so you can disrupt the terrorism planning at the convention."

Cid, who is now deputy director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, a research organization in Oklahoma City, said work will become more intense as the convention nears. Authorities will be watching for everything from "a couple guys in a garage who are angry with the government, to the major terrorism cells ... anywhere in the world," he said. [Yes, that means spying on US citizens...again. C]

...With the convention designated a national special security event, the Secret Service will take charge of security, but St. Paul police will have the ultimate authority, in consultation with the Secret Service, over protest marches.

[Matt] Bostrom [deputy St. Paul police chief] estimates there will be about 1,000 Secret Service agents at the convention. He expects to need 3,000 to 4,000 police officers, which will require contracting for police from other jurisdictions to supplement the Minneapolis and St. Paul police forces.

He estimates having 500 to 2,000 members of the National Guard in a backup role, although nothing has been negotiated yet. "If we are completely overwhelmed, that is when we bring in the Guard."
Bostom and others estimate a maximum of 30,000 protestors outside the event although some demonstration organizers are promising 1000,000. At one point, there was talk of a massive fenced open-air gulag for those arrested, although there's nothing more about that plan in this report.

The RNC dog and pony show will cost about at least $50 million for security, funded by the House Appropriations Committee. The DNC conference will run to about $35 million (although legislators have asked for the same $50 million appropriation just in case) and have much the same panoply of security - bomb sniffers, thousands of cops and federal agents and SWAT teams. But there's no mention - so far - of National Guard backup, flying WMD detectors, widespread intelligence muckraking or open-air prison compounds.

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