When President Obama and two-thirds of the world’s leaders gather in New York City, it is up to the U.S. On a warm September evening in New York City, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slowly walked down the staircase of his official plane, idling in a remote corner of John F. Jack does not consider Ahmadinejad a friend, and he is somewhat uncomfortable being one of the few Americans the Iranian leader has gotten to know firsthand.
Ahmadinejad was in New York for the 65th United Nations General Assembly—or UNGA, typically pronounced just the way it looks.
Yet, remarkably, the General Assembly has become an almost unremarkable event, at least by Secret Service standards.
In exchange, I was able to witness how a smallish, secretive federal agency under some bureaucratic duress assures security at the General Assembly, an event for which two-thirds of the world’s leaders, many of whom have been subject to past assassination attempts, gather in one of the most crowded, open cities in the world.
For Jack and the rest of the Iranian detail, that meant “keeping things simple,” as he explained to me. Ahmadinejad was in his private suite, preparing for a series of interviews with American television hosts. But arguably the clearest signal that Ahmadinejad was no ordinary VIP was the fact that his media appearances throughout the day all took place within the hotel itself. Paint is peeling off the clapboard sides of what looks like an abandoned warehouse on the edge of the East River in Brooklyn.
The warehouse is a short drive from the Secret Service’s New York field office, which occupies the (again, highly secure) top floors of an otherwise anonymous Brooklyn office building. The New York field office is the service’s largest, averaging six protective assignments a week under normal circumstances as well as dozens of counterfeiting cases—responsibility for which the service, until recently a part of the Treasury Department, has fought zealously to retain.
When I visited in June, Brian Parr, the special agent in charge of the field office, pointed out that terrorists had twice attempted to attack New York City within the past year, failing only because they’d made mistakes, not because they had been detected by law enforcement. Top storiesChina's 'Suez Canal': Beijing Wants to Build 'Golden Waterway' in AsiaChina explores ways to bring to life an ambitious infrastructure project that could alter Asia's strategic landscape. While the Iranian leader’s visit was particularly high-profile and politically fraught, it was by no means unique. There have been 38 “National Special Security Events” since President Clinton first coined the term in a classified 1998 national-security directive.


The Secret Service receives dozens of requests each year from reporters who want a peek inside the agency; most are quickly turned down. It is the job of the Secret Service, in concert with a host of local, state, and federal agencies, to make sure nothing goes wrong. For the week, Ahmadinejad was just another “high”—that is, someone who receives the highest level of Secret Service protection. In the corridors outside, the Secret Service agents and Ahmadinejad’s own Iranian security detail—immediately recognizable by their open-necked collars—generally kept apart, though they were mutually respectful. When the time came, he rode a dedicated elevator down to a small, makeshift studio in the basement to be interviewed—under the watchful eye of his security detail—by the likes of Larry King and Charlie Rose. During the General Assembly, the Secret Service used the building as a secure location to house at least 100 armored limousines and SUVs, as well as numbered crates containing hundreds of MP5 assault weapons and thousands of secure radios. The field office had been located in Tower 7 of the World Trade Center—along with an important CIA station and the New York emergency command center authorized by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani—until its destruction in the September 11 attacks. He cited the case of Najibullah Zazi, a bus driver who was intercepted by the NYPD and the FBI as he prepared to bomb the New York City subway system in September 2009.
You can restore your account within 30 days by following the link sent to the e-mail address you entered during registration.CloseCommunity standardsThe fact of registration and authorization of users on Sputnik websites via users’ account or accounts on social networks indicates acceptance of these rules. Granted unprecedented access, our author tells the story of how the agency pulls off the most complicated security event of the year, from counter-surveillance to counter-assault, hotel booking to event scheduling. In 2010, the annual event required more than 200 Secret Service details for foreign leaders, American officials, and spouses, along with another 60 or so State Department security details for lower-level protectees. Most of these NSSEs have occurred since September 11, 2001, and 14 of them since 2007, including the two presidential conventions, President-elect Obama’s pre-inauguration whistle-stop train tour, the inauguration itself, and the 2008 and 2009 G-20 summits. Typically, the service provides context for media coverage of its major security events by opening its training facility in Beltsville, Maryland. During his stay, the Iranian president was ensconced in the smallish, 20-floor Hilton Manhattan East.
Over the course of the event, advance agents would arrive as needed to pick up their keys, their guns, and their radios.
For months afterward, until the money came through for a new permanent office, the Secret Service worked out of three temporary locations, leasing space from, among others, John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Midtown.


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The General Assembly poses greater security and logistical challenges than many, if not most, of these events. There, it can put on a show—complete with motorcades and simulated attacks—in a tightly controlled environment. Users are obliged to speak respectfully to the other participants in the discussion, readers and individuals referenced in the posts. But there was at least one face in the small crowd that Ahmadinejad recognized immediately, that of a U.S. This is due in part to its size, and in part to the fact that habit is the worst enemy of protective security, and the assembly offers an extremely attractive, recurring target: many foreign leaders stay in the same hotels and attend the same events at the same times each year. It took me more than 18 months to persuade the service to let me be the first reporter to see the process from the inside in a real-world, real-time situation. No demonstrators were outside when I visited (a somewhat surprising absence, given that the day’s newspapers had disclosed the location of the hotel), but a couple dozen plainclothes police officers were stationed around the building just in case.
The websites’ administration has the right to delete comments made in languages ??other than the language of the majority of the websites’ content. I agreed only to withhold some details about protective methodology that would imperil the service’s ability to do its job. This was Jack’s third stint as a senior agent on the Iran detail, but his first as detail leader. In the case of repeated violations of the rules above resulting in a second block of a user’s account, access cannot be restored.




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