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Saturday, August 7, 2010

A visit from the Secret Service . . .

Heard an interesting story today:

A good friend of mine, and fellow Kiwanian, told me of a call he had at his home recently. When he answered the door two well dressed men asked him if he was so-and-so. He confirmed he was. They identified themselves as members of the Secret Service and asked if they might come in.

My friend let them in and was asked a great many questions, one of which was, did you Tweet the following comment several months ago? The tweet had to do with . . . "Someone should bomb the White House."

Long story short . . . they had traced the tweet to the IP, then to the cell phone, then to my pal, who was the owner of the cell phone service. Turns out the Tweet had come from his adult son.

The Secret Service asked if he was in the house. Yes, he was sleeping. Could you wake him up? My pal got up to waken his son and one of the Secret Service men stood up and followed him (apparently to make sure my pal didn't say, "Run, Forrest Gump, run!"

The son acknowledged having made the Tweet but the SS quickly determined it was not a national security threat, probably just a young adult frustrated at the passage of the new Health Bill; egged on, no doubt by his dad, (my pal) who was ranting and raving and thoroughly pissed off at and about the bill.

After filling out sheets of questions, the SS left.

This incident reminds me of a similar incident, about 20 years ago. This was back in the days of the old Computer Bulletin Boards.

The first George Bush was landing at Miramar Navy Air Station (since renamed Miramar Marine Air Station) for a visit in San Diego County.

Some BBS user had said something to the effect of . . . "I should head down there with my hunting rifle and put a bullet through Bush's head."

I saw this and thought it would be better to be safe than sorry; so, I called the Escondido Police Department. Talked to Danny Starr (since retired). Later, Danny would tell me . . ."boy, you sure set things in motion with your phone call."

Sure enough, about an hour later I had two Secret Service men at my door. They had already tracked down the kid who made the dumb statement, talked to his father, and now wanted to talk to me to complete their case file. They determined her that this was also not a national security danger . . . just an unwise comment in a public venue. I took particular note that neither of these SS guys had much in the way of a sense of humor. All business. Polite, but firm, nary a smile. They had their game face on.

As to my phone call? I would do it again, in an instant. You can't let statements like that slide. If you do . . . and something bad happens . . . you would not be able to live with yourself.

My pal today told me that the SS guys told him they have a crew of people within the SS that do nothing but monitor emails and cell phone traffic all day, trying to intercept potentially dangerous calls. They thought that a rather boring job . . . sitting in a room with four or five colleagues, all day, no windows, nothing but electronic equipment with which to work.

I agree.

All of these precautions and yet we had radical Muslims living right under our noses here in San Diego . . . who wound up flying into the World Trade Center.

Neither the SS, the FBI, San Diego PD, or Barney Fife caught on to them.

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