EXCLUSIVE: SECRET SERVICE SAYS TIMES ARTICLE ON CHENEY, RUMSFELD HOMES IS NOT A SECURITY THREAT;
RUMSFELD'S OFFICE CONFIRMS GIVING PERMISSION FOR PHOTO OF HIS HOUSE.
A spokesperson for the Secret Service has told me that the New York Times article providing details about the homes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is not a security threat, as many conservative commentators have been trying to argue.
Relatedly, Rumsfeld's spokesperson also confirmed to me that his office gave a Times photographer permission to photograph his home.
Over the weekend, a host of right-wing web sites were aflame with allegations that this story in the Times was a major threat to the security of Cheney and Rumsfeld because it provided details and a picture of their houses. Some even suggested the paper was deliberately endangering their security. Michelle Malkin suggested that Bill Keller had published the story "because al Qaeda already must have an inkling that Rumsfeld and Cheney live somewhere in the greater Washington, D.C. area." Others posted the personal information of the photographer who took the picture. And there was much, much more vitriol and bloodthirsty howling of all sorts.
But I just got through talking with Hollen Wheeler, director of public affairs for Rumsfeld's office. She confirmed what Glenn Greenwald has reported -- that the photographer, Linda Spillers, had been granted permission to photograph Rumsfeld's house by Rumsfeld himself.
"She got approval to take a picture," Wheeler told me. "She called, we said fine, go take the picture. And that's it."
Wheeler also added of the picture: "It's already out in the public domain. I'm a little confused about why this has caused such an uproar." Wheeler declined to directly discuss the question of his security, saying that it was something they don't discuss as a rule. But she said: "Did it affect the Secretary's schedule in any way? No. Does it affect in any way how he does his business? No."
I also checked in with Jonathan Cherry, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, which guards Cheney. His first response was not direct. It was this:
As you can imagine, we would prefer less information than more in that regard. However, we take necessary steps to provide security wherever one of our protectees lives, and do our best to be as unobtrusive as possible to neighbors and the general public.
Then, when I asked him directly whether the story posed a security threat, Cherry emailed:
No, it is not a threat.
So there you have it. That should settle this, right?