WaPo: Secret Service Sought Tactical Aircraft To Protect WH From Floyd Protests
The Secret Service reportedly sought a surveillance aircraft and Black Hawk helicopter with a “fast rope” commando team after unrest during the George Floyd protests in late May and early June created concerns about the White House’s vulnerability, according to The Washington Post.
- A breach on May 29 when crowds were able to break through White House barricades and a man made it onto the complex grounds forced agents to rush President Trump into a bunker and generated concerns about the White House’s potential vulnerability.
- Soon after the incident, the Secret Service asked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide aircraft that could be used in a rapid response operation. The agency ended up just giving the Secret Service live information from a surveillance plane.
- Kimberly Cheatle, assistant director for the Secret Service’s Office of Protective Operations, wrote to CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan in a letter on June 5 that stated:
“Due to the significant and unprecedented events occurring in the National Capital Region, the U.S. Secret Service is requesting the support from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations. CBP’s participation in the operational security plan is vital.”
- The Post reported that “The division is tasked with helping the Secret Service secure the skies over federally designated national security events where massive crowds gather, including Super Bowl games and presidential inaugurations.” However, this marks the first time the Secret Service has asked CBP to provide a helicopter operation to protect the White House.
- Democratic lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf about the legality of the surveillance in a June 5 letter:
“This Administration has undermined the First Amendment freedoms of Americans of all races who are rightfully protesting George Floyd’s killing. The deployment of drones and officers to surveil protests is a gross abuse of authority and is particularly chilling when used against Americans who are protesting law enforcement brutality.”