[ISN] Alarming Garden security breaches
isn at c4i.org
Fri Sep 3 06:14:01 EDT 2004
BY DAVID EPSTEIN
DAILY NEWS WRITER
September 2, 2004
On the eve of President Bush's address to the nation, the Daily News
has uncovered alarming breaches in security at the Republican National
The News learned yesterday that delegates and guests were freely
handing out unused passes.
A News reporter investigated - and within five hours he was inside
Madison Square Garden to catch Vice President Cheney's speech.
Even more shocking, the pass was obtained without anyone asking for or
checking on the reporter's identity.
The breach came after three security incidents in three days. So it
should have been near impossible to slip past the thousands of cops
and federal agents inside and outside the Garden.
But it was all too easy.
The generic credentials don't have the user's name, and as for a
photo, forget about it. In short, there was nothing to prevent anyone,
from protester to hardened criminal, from getting inside the Garden -
though we were checked for weapons.
Yesterday, The News sent this clean-cut reporter - dressed in a white
collared shirt adorned with a Bush-Cheney button - to several
delegates' hotels to check out whether it was true that credentials
were readily available.
One helpful delegate told us that plenty of passes had been available
Monday and Tuesday, but it was tougher to get one last night, when
Cheney was speaking.
Others suggested we try the delegation from Guam or Hawaii, because
not everyone had showed up.
Later, a delegate was going to a party and would be leaving the Garden
early. She said she would meet us outside and give us her credentials.
But she got cold feet. Someone had warned her not to give credentials
away. The police mentioned the previous security breaches, how
protesters have managed to get in - in some cases, getting shockingly
close to Cheney.
But later, at an ice cream parlor three blocks from the Garden, we
found someone wearing pro-Bush buttons. We told her we were from
Illinois and how we always wanted to witness history - which was the
"I really wanted to keep it," she said, pulling a guest pass from her
purse. "All right. Go have fun."
The last test was Garden security. With the credentials around our
neck, we walked into the frozen zone, showing a driver's license to an
NYPD cop. Then we walked up to the heavily manned security gate just
outside the arena.
After a thorough search for weapons, we were allowed in.
The reporter noticed a ruckus during Cheney's speech.
It was authorities dragging away yet another protester who had gotten
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