Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

December 2, 2009

A martial artist looks at the White House party crashers

Filed under: Martial arts — Tags: , , — Stephen W. Browne @ 1:29 pm

Tareq and Michaele Salahi, in hot water for crashing the White House party, are now saying they had applied for invitations and showed up, “to just check in, in case it got approved since we didn’t know, and our name was indeed on the list!”

Oh God, I hope it’s not true!

Crashing a White House party is major cool! and the Salahis got some face time with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden. Double cool! I so hope this was a prank and not just dumb luck.

I know the President’s guards have security concerns and are catching hell for this. But damn, what bragging rights!

I’ve got an observation about this from the point of view of a martial artist, and it doesn’t matter if it was planned or dumb luck.

Presidential security, any security organization charged with protecting life and property, is trained to perceive and deal with threats. A threat, to bodyguards, is most often a person or persons nearby with the intent to do harm. That intent creates in an aggressor, certain subtle patterns of behavior that people with experience and competent use-of-force training learn to recognize.

The below-consciousness interior dialog in a trained man’s mind might sound something like, “Why’s that guy wearing a long coat in warm weather? Why’s that guy roaming around the periphery of the crowd so purposefully? Why’s that guy got shifty eyes?”

One can be trained to avoid giving these signals to a target’s security, but it’s difficult at best, especially under stress.

The Secret Service fell asleep on this one precisely because Salahis weren’t assassins, spies, or saboteurs. They weren’t on a mission – they were on a lark.

The Salahis were completely without malice, and thus failed to alarm the trained “instincts” of the President’s bodyguards.

The most skilled interloper will, when up close, run afoul of what the Japanese call “wa,” often translated as “group harmony.” PODJAPAN defines it, “Wa is a feeling close to perfection: a group situation in which everything goes smoothly, without contestation or ill will, everyone knows their place and acts accordingly.”

Pros like the Secret Service can feel when there’s someone in the group with ill intentions – but try explaining that. I have no idea what the investigation into security lapses is going to reveal about procedures not followed, or which need to be revised. But I’d bet the most important factor isn’t going into the report.

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