Perhaps the secret service will recruit ceiling cat next...
November 23, 2008 6:37 PM   Subscribe

West Wing Filter: What's that dude doing walking on the roof?

I just started watching The West Wing on DVD. I know, I'm about a zillion years behind. I'd watched a few seasons before, but with the AWESOMENESS of the Obama administration, I've gone all nerdy and started reading about politics for the first time ever, which of course meant that I absolutely had to RIGHT NOW start watching TV dramas about politics. That is to say: PLZ NO SPOILERS. Not that I anticipate any, but y'know.

ANYHOW. The actual substance of my question is very simple. In season 1, there is what I assume to be stock footage of the White House that clearly shows a man walking along the roof. Is he Secret Service? Checking for snipers? Is this standard procedure?

(Any other tidbits about security related weirdness also appreciated.)
posted by grapefruitmoon to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pretty sure he's Secret Service, and just there because otherwise, that's a whole big area nobody's watching, and the Service (calling them the SS seems... notright) is appropriately ultra-paranoid about their wards.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:41 PM on November 23, 2008


No, he *is* a sniper. The secret service has sharp shooters on the roof of the Whitehouse.

You used to be able to see them from the restaurant at the top of the Hotel Washington on F St.
posted by meta_eli at 6:43 PM on November 23, 2008


I heard they have undercover guys dressed up as homeless people in the park across from the Whitehouse too, but that may just be urban legend. I've seen the snipers, however.
posted by meta_eli at 6:45 PM on November 23, 2008


What happens on the roof of the White House is a pretty big secret - it's one of the areas that's blurred in aerial photos. But you can bet it has something to do with the Secret Service.
posted by awesomebrad at 6:45 PM on November 23, 2008


Yeah, I think the roof is definitely manned with snipers at all time. I've heard it has SAM-sites, too. If you haven't made it to the end of season 1 yet, I want you to realize that you are in for one of the greatest season enders ever & season openers (s2) ever.
posted by disillusioned at 6:47 PM on November 23, 2008


There are anti-air missile emplacements and snipers on the white house and surrounding buildings to take out any attempted airplane strikes/attacks. Back in the day you could see the redacting on google maps, now it appears they've used a little more than ms paint to blot them out.
posted by wavering at 6:47 PM on November 23, 2008


If you want to make sure no one is up to any shenanigans around/outside a building, I'd bet the roof offers a really good vantage point.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:55 PM on November 23, 2008


Great images of the roof from cryptome.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:26 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


f you haven't made it to the end of season 1 yet, I want you to realize that you are in for one of the greatest season enders ever & season openers (s2) ever.

Dude, this is what I meant by "no spoilers." KTHNX!

posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:44 PM on November 23, 2008


When I lived in DC, I knew someone who worked in another government office with a clear view of the White House roof and grounds. He mounted really big binoculars (maybe 20 x 80) on a tripod and would use them to watch whenever something interesting was going on. He could always tell when Marine One was coming or going because there would be more rooftop activity. One day the Secret Service came over and told him to cut it out. The tripod bothered them as much as the binoculars because it looked like it could accommodate a weapon.
posted by carmicha at 7:45 PM on November 23, 2008


FWIW, where I work occasionally has a VC-25 around (Air Force One when the president is on board). The snipers are on the tops of buildings even though the president is no where near. So yes, they are snipers.
posted by printdevil at 8:36 PM on November 23, 2008


The guys on the roof are technically a counter-sniper team, and they're part of the Secret Service Uniformed Division. [source][another]

There's another unit known as the Emergency Response Team. There was a widely-circulated press photo of one of them taking cover behind a column outside the WH during one of the post-9/11 security flaps. Basically, it's they're SWAT squad.

There are anti-air missile emplacements and snipers on the white house and surrounding buildings to take out any attempted airplane strikes/attacks.

Funny, this used to be assumed to be the case for the Pentagon, but 9/11 showed it either didn't exist or was beset by technical or procedural glitches in the event of the first actual attack. But I believe they must have something now.
posted by dhartung at 11:33 PM on November 23, 2008


[please, let's convert "no spoilers" into "just don't tell me what happens" and stop doing it, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:44 AM on November 24, 2008


« Older Is it possible to be a polymath these days?   |   Making New Friends in a Busy Social World... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.