Tags: Barack Obama | Barack Obama | Kenneth Tate | escort | Atlanta | CDC

Security Guard Who Escorted President Now Out of Job

By    |   Monday, 03 November 2014 11:21 AM

Sept. 16 was one of the best, and worst, days of security guard Kenneth Tate's life.

Just moments after proudly meeting President Obama, shaking hands with him and operating the elevator in which he was riding at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta for a briefing on Ebola, Tate found himself fired from his $42,000-a-year job.

"This was unjust and has been a nightmare," Tate, 47, told The New York Times. "I’ve tried to rationalize it. It won’t go away."

Tate, an African-American from Chicago, was assigned to accompany Obama on his visit to the CDC, and told the Times, "It was something to tell my mom — if I meet him, everything will be complete. I didn’t know it was going to be my job."

Before the day was over, Tate would become part of the security scandals embroiling the Secret Service — a knife-carrying man, Omar Gonzalez, who leaped the White House fence on Sept. 19 and made it well inside the mansion before being tackled and revelations about Secret Service agents and prostitutes during a 2012 presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia — that brought about the downfall and resignation of Secret Service director Julia Pierson, The Washington Post reported.

Tate first ran into trouble during the president's visit when he attempted to take photos of Obama as he left and was cautioned by Secret Service agents that he was too close to "the Beast," or presidential limousine, and was ordered to get back, the Times reported.

When questioned by Secret Service agents after the incident, Tate turned over his .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and two magazines issued by the CDC, surprising agents who did not know he was armed during the encounter with Obama, the Post reported. Tate was fired on the spot.

Initially, it was reported that Tate had felony convictions, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said, "Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family. His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if [Tate] had pulled out his gun."

Later corrections noted that while Tate has been arrested several times, including arrests for robbery and assault, he had no convictions. Nonetheless, the Post reported, a protocol measure called the Arm's Reach Program requires that background checks be run on anyone who will come into contact with the president and arrests are sufficient to block that person from accompanying the president. Secret Service agents, however, did not discover Tate's criminal record until after the incident.

"You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president, and they never did a background check," Chaffetz told the Post.

Tate, who worked for Professional Security Corp., said when he was questioned, "I was just proud. That was a big accomplishment to me. He acknowledged me, said, 'How are you doing?' He said, 'What's your name?" I told him my name and he extended his hand, shook my hand, and I said it's a pleasure to meet him. And I proceeded to escort him upstairs," the Times reported.

The incident is still under investigation by the inspector general's office of the Department of Homeland Security.

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Sept. 16 was one of the best, and worst, days of security guard Kenneth Tate's life.
Barack Obama, Kenneth Tate, escort, Atlanta, CDC
Monday, 03 November 2014 11:21 AM
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