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Profile: National Special Security Events
National Special Security Events was a participant or observer in the following events:
UN General Assembly Hall. [Source: UN]Preparations are underway in New York City for the upcoming meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. [US Congress, 4/23/2002] The Secret Service has an additional 100 employees in the city for this event. [PCCW Newsletter, 3/2006] Four communications soldiers from the 1108th Signal Brigade are also temporarily assigned to New York to support the Secret Service. [Fort Detrick Standard, 10/18/2001] Presumably, the specific event being prepared for is the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders, scheduled for September 24 to October 5, which President Bush is due to address on September 24. [Reuters, 9/12/2001; Associated Press, 10/29/2001] For example, one report says Secret Service Officer Craig Miller is in New York today “to do advance security work for President Bush’s then upcoming visit to the United Nations General Assembly.” [American Rifleman, 2/2002; United States Secret Service, 4/29/2002 ] The General Assembly is designated as a National Special Security Event (NSSE). [New York Times, 11/10/2001; US Congress, 7/9/2002; US Department of Homeland Security, 7/9/2003] Since 1998, the National Security Council has been authorized to designate important upcoming events as NSSEs (see May 22, 1998), which puts the Secret Service in charge of the planning and implementation of security. [United States Secret Service, 2002] It is unclear whether the UN General Assembly received NSSE status prior to 9/11, or is later designated as an NSSE due to the attacks. However, the UN’s previous ‘Millennium Summit’ in New York in September 2000 was an NSSE. [US Department of the Treasury, 2000, pp. 177 ; US Congress, 6/29/2000; White House, 1/10/2002] And in 2003, Secret Service Director Ralph Basham states: “Each year, the UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] is a manpower and resource intensive effort for the Secret Service.” [US Congress, 5/1/2003] So it seems likely that it was designated as an NSSE before 9/11. There are questions about how preparations for an NSSE could have affected security in New York. The Secret Service says it conducts a “tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination” for NSSEs, involving a “variety of training initiatives,” which include, “simulated attacks and medical emergencies.” [United States Secret Service, 2002] Furthermore, former FBI Director Louis Freeh will later tell the 9/11 Commission that in 2000 and 2001, the use of airplanes by terrorists in suicide missions “was part of the planning” for NSSEs. [9/11 Commission, 4/13/2004] Whether any such preparations are taking place in New York on or around 9/11 is unknown. The Secret Service is also mandated to create capabilities for achieving “airspace security” over NSSEs, which include “air interdiction teams” used to detect and identify aircraft that violate the restricted airspace above the event. [US Congress, 3/30/2000 ; Security Management, 2/2002] Again, whether such capabilities are already available in New York in advance of the UN General Assembly is unknown. Even though only four or five events per year are designated as NSSEs, preparations are also underway in the Washington, DC area for a separate NSSE (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001). [US Department of Homeland Security, 7/9/2003; US Department of Homeland Security, 11/8/2004] The UN General Assembly’s gathering of world leaders will be cancelled due to the 9/11 attacks but is rescheduled for November. [CBS News, 9/19/2001; BBC, 11/10/2001; Guardian, 11/10/2001]
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