Alongside general jubilation about the Obama victory, a number of my friends have expressed their concern about Obama’s personal safety. That certainly seems like a legitimate concern. Four American presidents have been assassinated while in office, and every president since Nixon has faced at least one attempt (though levels of credibility vary). During his victory speech on election night, most people probably noticed the transparent bulletproof barriers set up around the podium.
The Secret Service is certainly taking the threat seriously. According to a Stratfor briefing, Obama got a security detail earlier than any other candidate and, by the end of his campaign, it had grown to the size of a full presidential protection team – unprecedented for a candidate, and a significant strain on the manpower of the service.
Given the likelihood that Obama will be targeted by white supremacists or others – as well as the colossal impact his assassination would likely have – I certainly don’t envy the Secret Service at this point in time. While they have plenty of resources to provide physical protection, as well as identify and break up conspiracies, the risk from disciplined and capable lone wolf operators is impossible to eliminate while maintaining public appearances. Even with the assistance of the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc, there will be a measure of luck involved in ensuring that future close contact with the public does not produce disaster.