Hearing Security Rather Lax

For those dull times in between revelations about U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ medical condition, the media have been defaulting to covering the squabbles about increasing government security. (To those who cry hypocrite, my excuse here is that security is always my topic of discussion.) So last week when I attended what I anticipated would be a contentious EPA hearing on the fight over greenhouse gas permitting authority, I was prepared to meet with a full-out security suite: metal detectors, bag searches, ID checks, and of course several security personnel. Instead, I met Martin.

Martin Rodriguez, a Dallas police officer, told me that even his presence at the hearing – which turned out to be the opposite of antagonistic, with almost every single speaker getting up to praise the agency’s action – was practically an afterthought.

"I don’t know that they had really thought about it before last week, with what happened in Arizona. But after that, it seemed like it would be a good idea to have an armed presence, so they got me," Rodriguez told me. "It was kind of a last-minute thing.” 

I would have opted for a little more security. Even though it wasn’t necessary, people have strong feelings about the tension between energy extraction and environmental protection, and while no one expects a fistfight or worse to break out, no one expected someone to attempt to assassinate a congresswoman at a Safeway store, either.

But perhaps my expectations have been formed by my experience: I spent all of my life, up to about six months ago, in the hyper-sensitive D.C. area, where I was pulled aside for questioning at the age of 12 after security guards discovered I brought scissors into the Natural History Museum in my backpack. That is what security in Washington is like right now; should it get stricter? What do you think?

Posted by Laura Williams on Jan 18, 2011

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