The Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq was the post war fortified security zone for American military headquarters, the provisional government, and, later, the elected Iraqi government.
Today in Tampa, Florida, the Secret Service, commanding the Florida National Guard, local police and sheriff, the Coast Guard, and Florida State troupers, has re-created the Green Zone for the Republican National Convention.
When the first day of the Convention was cancelled due to a tropical storm which was 350 miles to the west, it was rumored that the Secret Service had ordered the cancellation. While Convention officials denied that rumor, the SS agents were ever present in and out of the zone and even in the media center.
The Tampa green zone is nearly as secure as its Baghdad namesake was during the war.
A fortified perimeter of high steel mesh sections buttressed by concrete barriers has walled off many blocks around the Convention Center (designated as the media center) and the arena four blocks away where the Convention has finally begun.
Outside the perimeter, streets leading into it are blocked by three foot high steel barriers which can lower to let authorized vehicles through but remain up to prevent any vehicle of any size from ramming
into the fortified zone. On two such street ends, I saw city dump trucks placed across the road as further barriers.
In the streets leading to the zone, traffic control police direct every vehicle and engage in conversation with every driver. On the corners, small groups of National Guard troops, some armed with
AR-15,s watch the pedestrians and the vehicles in the street.
Parking the car in the nearest parkade about a half mile from the Media Center, I walked toward the steel mesh fence. I had to show the correct badge in the correct color for the correct day to enter the zone.
Once inside the steel mesh barrier, my bag containing computer, headphones, and other broadcast stuff was thoroughly inspected by a local police officer under the watchful eye of an armed National Guard
Twice more, at other checkpoints within the zone, my credentials were checked and I went through a magnetometer before I was let into the Media Center. The war and the “security” of the green zone had come home to America.
Once inside the media center, I listened to speaker after speaker,and interviewed one advocate after another preaching the need for a return to freedom in American society.
I had to agree. Let’s start with the Convention itself.
I attended my first political convention in 1964 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco as a “Youth for Goldwater” Delegates had to have credentials to get on the floor of the convention, but there were plenty of “guest badges” to let even me and my teen age friends go on the floor during speeches.
Back then, the media (then called ‘the press’) sat in the gallery above the convention along with the public to observe the proceedings.
That year, the police were visible, but security (checking credentials) was handled by party volunteers. The Secret Service was in Washington protecting the President, not running the convention of the challenger.
I can hear people say “yes, Roger, but that was a long time ago and things have changed”
Yes things have changed and not for the better. This green zone “security” has placed a barrier between the political class and We the People. Who is being protected? From What?
And how many more years before the Secret Service decides who the next President is just as the Praetorian Guard did in ancient Rome after the fall of the Republic.