Secret Service Protection – Barack Obama

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Aired May 4, 2007 – 13:00 ET
LEMON: All right, it’s no secret. Secret service agents are a new and visible presence around Barack Obama. Now here he is in New York today at a fundraiser. He was at the Metropolitan Club. An agency spokesman says he isn’t aware of threats against the Democratic presidential hopeful, but fellow Senator Dick Durbin says disturbing information of a racial bent triggered yesterday’s action by the Department of Homeland Security. Joining us now from Miami, a former secret service agent, Joseph Lasorsa. Talk to me about this. They said there was no threat that they could think of. There was some chatter on the internet, possibly, maybe among hate groups, some hate mail sent to his campaign. What distinguishes a threat or someone just on a blog, you know, writing something nasty? What makes a threat a threat in that respect?

JOSEPH LASORSA, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well, essentially any type statement indicating an intent to inflict physical harm or a plan to disrupt or create a situation that could inflict some physical harm.

LEMON: So that’s what — we’re not, again, not sure if there was a threat but they did say that there was chatter and that type of thing. Having chatter of this sort of bent — especially of a racial bent, unusual in a campaign? I would imagine it may have happened when Jesse Jackson ran back in the ’80s.

LASORSA: Probably did as well, yes.

LEMON: He was protected early on as well. Talk to me about that.

LASORSA: His protection began a lot earlier than usual, but, again, it’s not unusual to establish protective coverage if there’s any heightened level of threats being articulated.

LEMON: You served with several administrations, I would like to know how, now, might the candidates, Barack Obama’s life change, the security detail around him. The number of people around him coming and going. I’m sure it will make it a little bit more difficult. How might his life change now.

LASORSA: Essentially it’s going to make it a little less private, but on the other side, it’s going to probably lend towards some — some additional smoother logistics in planning. LEMON: How many people are we talking about around him?

LASORSA: There’s usually a standard detail that they apply in presidential candidates. Specific numbers, they could vary. But I wouldn’t be able to get into the specific numbers on it.

LEMON: All right, well we thank you for joining us and helping us to clarify some of this information.

LASORSA: No problem Don, my pleasure.

LEMON: Have a great day, thank you.

LASORSA: You too, take care.