Obama: bullet-proof jacket, armored limo
If you're at all like me, when the just-barely-inaugurated Obama stepped gracefully from the safety of his Cadillac tank (more on that later) and into the open air of the inaugural parade, you were half expecting a sudden end to the dream. Maybe that sounds a bit cynical and surely a bit morbid, but it's cynicism and morbidity that runs the Secret Service.
"The fact that this is an African American is not lost on us," Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley says. "We understand that this is a historic event; we understand that this is different from other inaugurations. It is one additional piece that we factor into the plan."
Jack Tomarchio, who recently retired as the homeland security deputy undersecretary for intelligence and analysis operations, said that an African-American president could incite "a whole new cast of weirdos, like white supremacists or other people that might have a grudge against him purely because of his ethnic background."
I feel somewhat relieved to hear that Obama, though by all accounts brave, was apparently very well shielded - right down to a bulletproof coat!
Obama will wear bullet-resistant clothing, speak behind a protective glass shield and ride in the parade in the armored Cadillac limousine, with doors and windows so thick that he probably would survive a bomb blast, law enforcement officials said.
Trailing his car will be black vans loaded with Special Weapons and Tactics and counter-assault teams, high-speed communications equipment and electronic devices capable of jamming the detonators for homemade bombs.
Nondescript boxes that can detect the airborne releases of chemical or biological weapons such as lethal anthrax spores will be scattered among the crowds.
It's unclear what brand of body armor Obama sported at the inauguration, but several companies produce discreet, thinner vests that can be worn underneath clothing, inserted into an outer layer (like a coat) or woven into a shirt. Miguel Caballero, a Colombian company, makes bullet-resistant leather jackets, polo shirts, Windbreakers, and ruffled tuxedo shirts, which range from a few hundred dollars to $7,000 in price. There is a trade-off between efficacy and subtlety since, as a rule, it's more expensive to manufacture thin-but-reliable vests and shirts.
It's not just the coat though. That rolling bunker that somewhat resembles a Cadillac you saw Obama riding in, is nearly indestructible.
One day I would like to order a Cadillac from GM and ask for 8 inch armor plating, an emergency oxygen supply, a petrol tank capable of absorbing a direct grenade launcher hit, puncture and shred resistant Kevlar tires - oh and throw in a couple bottles of compatible blood to go with it, just in case I need a quick transfusion.
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