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Secret Service Confiscates All Forks At Obama Event

President Obama’s speech at the ational Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials event in Florida yesterday included what seems to be a rather unusual security request:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. –Does a fork or dinner knife pose an unacceptable danger to President Barack Obama?

One wouldn’t think so, given the hundreds of lunches and dinners he’s attended ranging from state dinners to political fundraisers to run-of-the-mill stops on the rubber-chicken circuit.

However, at one such lunch Friday afternoon, guests heard an unusual announcement that they needed to hand over their silverware for security reasons.

“It’s very important that you use your utensils as soon as possible,” National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials board member Raquel Regalado told about 1000 delegates at the group’s annual conference.

(…)

A Secret Service spokesman confirmed that the agency made the request, but said such requirements are common at large events where the president speaks at about the same time people are dining.

“The Secret Service coordinates this process with staff and host committee to ensure tables are cleared of material that may be deemed hazardous prior to the arrival of the president,” Special Agent Max Milien told POLITICO. “Any implication that this was unique for this event is completely inaccurate.”

In other words, the announcement at the Latino officials’ event may have been unusual, but the removal of the silverware usually takes place without anyone realizing it’s a security measure.

Still, there are a wide variety of breakfasts, lunches and dinners the president attends where diners still have the full complement of silverware as Obama speaks.

Obviously security varies depending on the location and the size of the crowd, and apparently this isn’t as unusual as it might seem, but it does seem to be just a little over the top.

Table Setting photo via Shutterstock

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. DRS says:

    Kind of weird. You can get much further distance with a well-aimed bread roll – multi-grain, if possible – than with flat cutlery. Were the bread baskets removed too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. racehorse says:

    Were shoes allowed? I remember that deal with Pres. Bush.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. You’d think that for $1.5 billion per year, we’d be able to afford some bodyguards capable of defeating an attacker armed with nothing but a fork.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. JKB says:

    Hereby and forever more, only soup and pablum shall be served at events the President will speak at. – Executive Order 1000956

    You know where else they collect and count the utensils…. prison.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  5. al-Ameda says:

    It was a sushi dinner, so what’s the big deal?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. JKB says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s not really about the Presidential security. A Secret Service agent was attacked by a prostitute with a fork so they made a rule.

    It could all be a misunderstanding, see the Obama campaign told the board of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials to fork it over and they thought they meant to turn in the forks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  7. Andy says:

    I was at Disney yesterday. They closed the magic kingdom and most of the transportation for almost an hour. I guess water taxis full of sweaty tourists are a potential threat or something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Well, it would prevent the ugly possibility of disgruntled attendees telling Obama “hey, fork you!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Jeremy R says:

    I really dislike it when Politico does these sorts of stories. Obviously their RW-blog / Drudge hook is that you’re supposed to criticize the President over it, when it’s entirely the SS, responding to constantly changing circumstances and threat information doing what they feel necessary to keep their charge safe. Obviously the problem with playing politics with their decisions is you create a political incentive for the people they’re trying to protect to put politically motivated limits on their actions and on following their advice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. MM says:

    @Jeremy R: Politico does any other types of stories?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. John Peabody says:

    I’m also leery about this…someone with an axe to grind would point out this practice at a Latino event, because it adds that delicious racial taste to the article. I wouldn’t be surprised of this were a common practice. In the meantime, this sounds about as the juicy (and subsequently found false) story about the $16 muffins.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  12. I think the only reason its a story is because someone at the event decided to announce over the microphone that they needed to get the lunch ware cleared before the President could speak.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. M. Bouffant says:

    Maybe they just don’t want the silverware clattering while the Pres. is speaking.

    Biggest question, of course, is if this sort of thing happened during the Bush admin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. Dave says:

    They obviously didn’t want anyone to stick a fork in Obama, since he’s done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Dave says:

    Oh, and no citizen of a free republic should have to give up utensils, fer crying out loud. I don’t care who the president is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. ThirteenthLetter says:

    @John Peabody: If confiscating silverware from all present before the President arrives really is a “common practice” doesn’t that make it even worse? And shifting the responsibility off on to the Secret Service does not absolve all others of responsibility for this kind of nonsense. The entire country is not run for the convenience of the Secret Service.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Ed Wallis says:

    TWO observations:

    1) Latino outrage at this racism in 3…2…1…
    *crickets*
    Jalapeno Hypocrites.

    2) The Dems clearly could have avoided this embarassing moment by simply asking everyone there for their Green Card. Oh, WAIT…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  18. I heard a report that the prohibition also includes even plastic knives and forks.

    There is part of me that thinks that this rule is the Secret Service’s idea to nudge, however slightly, the minds of the electorate away from Obama. Its agents have no affection for him, and some reports are of resentment since Obama treats them personally no better than anyone else who is “beneath” him.

    As the prostitute scandal showed, the Secret Service has become America’s Praetorian Guard, answerable to almost no one. I don’t think it at all a leap to consider the possibility that the Service could covertly decide to initiate “security” measures that have the effect of holding the president to public ridicule.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Kage says:

    Ummmm…How odd the hispanic group wasn’t allowed to have utensils when Obama was in the room, but a muslim group is allowed to have them. Take a look at the image (while you can) from this NYTimes article and you can see everyone in this image still has their knifes and forks.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/14/us/politics/14obama.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0