Radio Chatter

Hear a Secret Service agent struggle to keep pace with attendees at a UN conference

Here’s the communications that took place around 2:30 p.m., September 23, 2010, as a Secret Service agent struggled to keep pace with arrivals and departures at the UN on channel “Baker.” (The service told me that I was the first journalist it had ever allowed to listen in on one of its encrypted transmissions.)

“Japan motorcade, Japan motorcade, we have imminent departure. Please make your way to the tent.”


“Georgia detail …” [A garbled transmission comes in.]


“Last unit, repeat?”


“Georgia detail. We’re departing on foot.” [This is the detail leader, reporting that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili wants to walk to his hotel.]


“Copy that. Break. Namibia motorcade, please come to the tent.”


“Namibia, copy.”


Meanwhile, on channel “Charlie,” Bosnia’s president was on the move:


“Clear one right.” [A motorcade is changing lanes, and the follow-up car is telling the limo that the right lane is clear to move into.]


“Bosnia, arrival, 43.” [43 is the code number for a specific site.]


“Bosnia, copy your arrival, 43.”


“Slovakia, arrival, 46.” [another coded site]


“Millennium CP”—this is the agent at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel command post identifying himself—“Slovakia, copy.”

And on channel “Oscar,” the frequency used by President Obama’s Presidential Protective Detail, an agent tested communication with the temporary command post at JFK airport:

“I have you five by five”—this means “loud and clear”—“How copy?”

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In